A new joint ministerial task force has been formed to address the increasingly damaging phenomenon of Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement activists entering Israel and organizing activities to delegitimize and destroy the country from within.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Deri announced in a joint statement Sunday that the news task force will be focused on tracking down the hundreds of BDS activities who already exist within Israel and who organize events calling for boycotts of the Jewish State.
The task force “is a necessary step in light of the malicious intentions of delegitimizing activists who work to spread lies and twist the truth about the reality in our region,” Erdan said.
“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to crush any boycott and to state clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed,” added Deri. The Interior Minister is responsible for the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority as well.
Both were firm that it is time to put a stop to the boycotts against Israel, and each expressed determination to fight the phenomenon via the laws and agencies at his disposal.
The move comes as the realization sets in that Israel is increasingly being seen in the international arena as a pariah state — an existential threat that must be turned around if Israel is to survive.
Speaking to the Knesset Committee for the Transparency and Accessbility of Government Information, Sima Vaknin-Gil said the goal of the Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Ministry is to replace that image with one that is more positive, hopefully within the decade.
Vaknin-Gil, director-general of the ministry, said that if all goes as planned and the current “narrative” is replaced, by 2025, no one will question whether the State of Israel has the right to exist.”
Meanwhile, as a start, the lawmakers will work to deport those involved in the BDS movement in the country, according to the statement released by the ministers. In addition, BDS activists will be barred from entering the country. Boycotting Israel, said Erdan, “must have a price.”
At least two dozen NGOs receive more than half of their funding from foreign government and other sources outside the State of Israel, and use the money to delegitimize and further isolate the Jewish State.
Erdan — who doubles as Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister — added that BDS activists make a point of traveling to Judea and Samaria to incite violence among citizens of the Palestinian Authority, and to block operations by the IDF and Border Guard Police.
Rita Faye has visited Israel a number of times in the past and is well known to the IDF for her harassment of Israeli soldiers at checkpoint crossings into the Palestinian Authority around Jericho. When it became known that she was on her way to Israel, the IDF requested the Interior Ministry block her entry into the country.
Faye is a member of a pro-BDS Christian organization. She was put on a plane and sent back to where she came from, with a deportation order signed by the Interior Minister.
Pro-Palestinian Authority activists are out in full regalia at the Democratic National Convention, led — of course — by liberal American Jews sporting bold bright black and yellow logos on white tee shirts that proclaim “I support PALESTINIAN Human Rights” as if to assert that no other human rights exist.
Florida delegate Ahmed Bedier responded on Twitter to the activists with equal pride that his delegation had “just raised [the] Flag of Palestine at #DNCinPHL during platform vote #ProgressiveforPalestine” .
Remember, readers, it’s not really about America, or the Democratic Party, after all, or even about the United States Democratic presidential nominee.
It’s all about the “nth” generation millenials who still dream about their fantasy status as “refugees” or that of their friends — or who have romanticized “the Cause” on their behalf.
But these armchair liberals have yet to spend a gap year with their grandparents or those of their friends in the homes they say they miss so much. The ones that once were administered by the Jordanian authorities or the Egyptians, that is.
They’re in better condition today, but those villages were so badly maintained that in many of them there was sewage running in the streets. More than 90 percent of the homes were forced to provide their own electricity via personal diesel-run generators and their own water from village cisterns and tanks on their roofs.
So many of the village had basic infrastructure that was so badly maintained, in fact — the numbers are so overwhelming — and the population has remained so hostile, that it has taken this long for Israel to be able to do anything about it.
But many of the residents, particularly in the Palestinian Authority where four generations have been fed a steady diet of government-sponsored incitement via the media, the mosques and the school curriculum, that they prefer their misery and their PA citizenship to any improvements from Israel.
But hey, why should anyone complain about their nostalgia for the “good old days” if that’s what they prefer? After all, Jordan is right next door and just a hop over the Allenby Bridge, and Egypt is just south of the border — assuming that either of their loving Arab brethren will open their doors to let them in.
A group of anti-Israel Jewish activists arrived in Hebron to award the city its first movie theater. But in the process, according to local Jewish residents, they destroyed the grazing grounds of a local Arab shepherd.
According to a JTA report by Andrew Tobin, dozens of American Jews spent Friday in Hebron “practicing nonviolent resistance against Israel’s presence,” singing “The World is Built with Loving Kindness” in English and Hebrew, clearing scrap metal, weeds and debris from a dirt lot with several low-slung cement structures, singing Jewish and protest songs, and passing around bags of popcorn labeled “Cinema Hebron” below a “triumphant” sign that read “Cinema Hebron: Coming Soon.” Indeed, the mission last Friday was to endow Hebron its “first Palestinian movie theater.”
Eventually, soldiers and police officers demanded that the activists leave the area, and when said activists sat on the ground, locked arms and sang “Lo Yisa Goy el Goy Herev,” they were pulled up one by one and removed. The Israelis in the group were detained, the Americans were let go (which was their strategy). Around 2 PM the American activists left the Israelis behind bars and proceeded to have a much deserved lunch.
There are many things wrong with the above two paragraphs, and we encourage you to read the entire JTA report to better appreciate our story (Peter Beinart joins US Jews for civil rights-style protest in West Bank). We spoke to Tzipi Shlisel, who is actually quoted by Tobin in his story, where he uses her as the obligatory reactionary settler’s counter-view: “[The activists] think they’re doing a good thing, but they’re really helping the terrorists,” and, “I’ll tell you, in the Holocaust, Jewish people helped Hitler, too.”
Tzipi Shlisel’s father, Shlomo Ra’anan HY”D, was stabbed to death by a local Arab back in 1998, the year when then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu handed over most of Hebron to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. Shlisel recalls it was a scene similar to the devastating stabbing of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, in Kiryat Arba two weeks ago.
But Tzipi Shlisel contacted JewishPress.com not because Tobin’s report treated her father’s murder with less empathy than it did the activists’ lunch, or Because Tobin used her as a necessary color stain on his canvas describing brave Jewish activists defying Israeli occupation with action and song. Tzipi Shlisel insists Tobin’s report is partial, and that he missed out on a wealth of historic and cultural information, including the fact that the area the Jewish activists weeded so energetically was prized for its weed by a local Arab shepherd.
The lands in question are in Tel Rumeida (biblical Hebron according to some authorities) which were purchased by the Hebron Jewish community 200 years ago, the first one in 1811, the second in 1816. During the 1949-67 Jordanian occupation, the Abu Aisha clan took over some of those lands. The neighborhood of Admot Yishai was built on a small part of this land, which is otherwise known as the Tel Remeida settlement, over which the Arabs are fighting the Jewish community. “But we have aerial photographs of the entire area, including the ancient olive trees which were purchased along with the land, as is noted in the purchase documents, and these lands all belong to the Jewish community,” Shlisel insists.
Near the neighborhood there’s an area where the army built a bunker behind which there is a copper factory which was shut down for environmental reasons more than 30 years ago. “It generated crazy air pollution, Jews, Arabs, no one could breathe,” Shlisel recalls.
“Eighteen years ago, after my father was stabbed to death by an Arab, the IDF created check points for the Arab traffic near our neighborhoods, and the area around the inactive copper factory is off-limits to Arabs.”
Hebron is divided into the H1 and H2 zones. H1 compromises 80% of Hebron, and Jews are forbidden to go there. The Arabs, on the other hand, can move freely in much of H2.
“Now, when the activists arrived with their tremendous singing, they cleaned up the area thoroughly, it was truly amazing, but the local Arab, a member of the Abu Aisha clan, who’s been claiming that these are his lands, and even says they are registered as his with the city of Hebron, was not consulted.
“Later, a police officer told me there was a military order (tzav aluf — lit. decree issued by a General) to evacuate the activists and that the Arab had filed a complaint with local police,” Shlisel said.
JewishPress.com contacted the local Hebron police station chief who said there had been no complaint filed. But a different source in the Hebron community who asked to remain anonymous told the JewishPress.com that the leftwing activists, one of whom was a former Tanzim activist from the Abu Aisha clan, convinced the Arab shepherd not to file a complaint. The fact is police and IDF soldiers did show up to remove the activists, and the Arab is seen asking police to chase away the American invaders.
In any event, in the video, shot by Shlisel for TPS, the Arab is telling police, “Yalla, take them from here … these are my lands …”
“I heard the same Arab complaining that they pulled out his grazing weed from the ground, that he owns a herd which he keeps in Dura village, and the old factory is one of the area where his goats graze. Those peace activists did a cleanup job on his source of livelihood. They raked and tore up the weeds, and from a Western culture point of view they did a fantastic job, but from this Arab’s point of view they destroyed his grazing field,” Shlisel said.
Responding to an inquiry JewishPress.com emailed Peter Beinart, Sharon Rose Goldtzvik of “Uprise – communications consulting for good guys,” wrote back:
The report you received is incorrect. Early in the day, Israeli police questioned Mr. Abu Aisha’s ownership of the land, and Mr. Abu Aisha quickly produced documents proving that he is indeed the owner. The police then dropped the claim. The “local Arab farmer” you reference was never named and was not present; in fact, there is no evidence that such a complaint was ever filed. Again, Mr. Abu Aisha was able to quickly prove that he owns the property and police recognized his rightful ownership. The IDF later returned with a “closed military zone” order; this was the basis for removing the activists.
I should also mention that the property was a relatively small plot consisting of a couple of cement and cinder block buildings, and a lot of debris. It could not have been used for animal grazing. I don’t know who reported otherwise.
But as can be heard on the video, Abu Aisha is clearly asking police to remove the activists, and says that he often grazes his animals there (watch the last half of the tape, shot by Shlisel for TPS, starting sec. 23).
As to the idea of “Cinema Hebron” (the name of the city in Arabic is Al-Khalil, meaning “friend,” after Abraham who was the friend of God, while Hebron is the colonialist-Zionist name used by the occupiers) Hebron is probably the most conservative religious Muslim city in all of Israel, where men and women are completely segregated, where Hamas rules, and where the very idea of attending a movie, never mind opening a movie theater, could get a man flogged.
That these American “liberators” would be so ignorant of the cultural and religious values of the people they have come to set free with song and hard weeding is possibly the funniest, even hallucinatory, idea of all.
“Which is why the only place where they could advocate having a movie theater in all of Hebron was near the Jewish neighborhoods, where at least no one would stone the living daylights out of them for their insolence, Tzipi Shlisel said, adding, “These human rights group who say they want to help the Arabs are actually ignorant of who these Arabs are. They step on their culture, trampling their values, with great glee and with a loud song on their lips.”
Nine Israeli leftwing activists from the Two States, One Homeland NGO, including journalist Meron Rapoport, on Wednesday had to be rescued from an Arab mob in Ramallah that was throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at their vehicle. According to an IDF report Wednesday night, the nine Israelis were on their way to visit a local journalist, also a member of their NGO, for the post-fast Iftar meal. Eight of them managed to flee on their own, a ninth reached the offices of the Palestinian Authority secret police and was handed over to the IDF near Beit El. All nine are under investigation for violating a martial law decree against unauthorized entry into Area A in Judea and Samaria.
Arab mob surrounding Meron Rapoport’s car in Ramallah
But one of the activists, Eliaz Cohen, told Walla that the group had not been attacked in transit, as Israeli media reported, but that a few Arabs had thrown the stones and one, singular, small Molotov cocktail at their parked car while they were inside their host’s home, dining. According to the activists they all took their time and had not been chased away, and only when the meal was over did eight of them calmly leave, while Rapoport went down to file a complaint with the PA police.
The NGO’s statement stressed that “despite some of the reports, at no point did we feel threatened, and our Palestinian friends were shocked by the incident. The thing that frightens the most those wishing to maintain the status quo are Israelis and Palestinians who talk and act together.”
Eliaz Cohen posted on his Facebook page that the group has been meeting in Ramallah once a month for the past four years, and they never ask for the IDF’s permission, nor are they usually attacked by anyone. Last night, too, things were going just fine, he claims, they were sitting and dining with their Arab hosts, when suddenly they heard yelling from outside and saw Rapoport’s car was on fire. He claims that Arab passers-by used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, and then a Ramallah firefighters’ truck arrived, as well as PA security forces.
Cohen makes such an effort to stress how unafraid he and his friends were in this situation, he completely forgets to describe who exactly had set fire to the car and why.
Rabbi Haim Navon commented on his Facebook page regarding the Eliaz Cohen insistence that the car had not been pelted with stones, “only” firebombed, and that the efforts to forge peace between individual Jews and Arabs will continue, saying, “The Arabs of Israel have understood that we are here to stay, and have accepted us. On the day the Palestinians understand they can’t defeat us — peace will arrive. In the meantime, don’t waste those cars…”
MK Amir Ohana (Likud), the first openly gay rightwing legislator, was assigned a security detail after he had received threats of being attacked during the Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade Friday. Ohana received the information from senior members of the Knesset Guard.
A source in Ohana’s circle told Ynet that just as he has never capitulated to terrorism and threats in the past, he will not cower this time either. The source said: “The knight of the LGBT agenda, who pride themselves on their tolerance, openness and pluralism, should ask themselves how they’ve reached such a situation facing almost the only coalition MK who’s been acting on behalf of the community for so many years, even if he is rightwing.”
Back in February, MK Ohana raised the ire of many in the LGBT community, when he chose to stay out of the Knesset plenum when the coalition voted down pro-gay legislation. The bills that were killed, and that as coalition member Ohana was not permitted to support, included banning the sending of LGBT children to conversion treatment, recognizing single sex families, and same-sex spousal contracts. One Facebook user, Alon-Lee Green, wrote at the time that despite the coalition requirement, MK Ohana should be ashamed of himself for helping to kill a bill he himself had praised. The post received hundreds of shares.
Perhaps it’s a sign that Lebanon has become safer and more Western-oriented: a group of about 50 LGBT activists from the Lebanon-based Helem association, for the first time in four years staged a sit-in outside the Hbeish police station in Beirut, where the “morality police” hold transgressors of article 534 in the penal code which criminalizes relations that are “against nature,” Naharnet reported. The protesters demanded that the law be revoked, and that four transgender women be released. They carried signs saying, “Homosexuality is not a disease,” “Sex is not illegal — your law is archaic,” and “Repeal 534.”
The punishment in Lebanon for “crimes against nature” is up to one year in prison.
An event that was scheduled to follow the demonstration, organized by Proud Lebanon, was canceled due to pressure from Christian religious authorities.
Helem leader Genwa Samhat told AFP that the sit-in, which took place two days before the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, “calls for the abolition of this section of law dating from the (1920-1943) French mandate in Lebanon.” She added: “Most people arrested under this law aren’t detained in the act but in the street because of their appearance.” Also, she said, people “continue to be fired if their boss finds out they’re gay. They’re made to say they quit voluntarily for fear of being outed.”
According to Naharnet, Lebanese police are known to raid nightclubs serving homosexual patrons, and homosexuality is a frequent subject of ridicule on television.
In 2012 dozens demonstrated outside a Beirut court to protest the use of an anal “test” for suspected gay men. According to Samhat, “these tests continue, despite the justice ministry asking police to stop the practice. This is humiliating.” Also, she noted that “arrested people are still screened for AIDS, while this should be voluntary. There is a preconceived idea that all homosexuals have AIDS.”
Just to compare, the Boston Globe recently wrote that Tel Aviv, only 130 miles south of Beirut, is the gayest city on earth. “Tel Aviv is, for lack of a better description, super gay,” the paper’s Christopher Muther told his readers, adding, “The long-standing rule of thumb is that 10 percent of the population is gay, give or take. The estimate by officials in Tel Aviv is 25 percent of its population is gay.”
This week a Syrian refugee actually managed to come all the way into Jerusalem, where he related the same details I have heard before, from a different Syrian refugee. Neither of these two men had any reason to lie. Both were brought to my attention by other Israelis, Syrians who by a bizarre twist of fate had become intimately involved with Israel.
On Wednesday, Amin’s tale was shared with students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where it was heard by the American-born Israeli blogger of Wizard of .il.
Much that was said by Amin, who spoke under a false name for his own safety, I and others have heard from Aboud Dandachi, a Syrian activist and refugee from Homs who has since become a blogger himself. ‘The Doctor, The Eye Doctor and Me,’ a book about his experiences as a refugee.
Nothing can come close to matching the offensiveness of hearing a murderous dictator who made refugees out of millions of Syrians, be described and pitied as a ‘victim of Zionist / Wahabi / CIA Imperialist Empire Building Neo-Con conspiracies…” Aboud, like Amin, is in contact with Israelis.
Both men told the same tale – identical details – of how children in the southern town of Dera’a had spray-painted anti-regime graffiti on a wall. The children were arrested, both men said – Amin this past Wednesday in Jerusalem, and Aboud in a conversation with JewishPress.com earlier this year. Both said the children were taken into custody, and tortured – and when their parents approached the man in charge of security in the region to seek their release, they were rebuffed. “Go home to your wives, sleep with them and make new children,” the security chief told them, according to both Syrians, who have related it to the Israeli audiences with whom they have spoken. “If you don’t, my own men will go home to your wives, sleep with them and make new children.”
Amin told a packed room how demonstrators who were shot by government troops were unable to seek treatment in hospitals because they could not risk the chance of arrest, which would lead to their “disappearance” forever. Medical staff and aid workers were the first to be targeted by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Amin said, as a means of crushing resistance.
Both describe the anti-Israel propaganda that warns Syrians from early childhood that Israel wants to destroy their country and expand into their lands. Syrians are taught they must attack the Jewish State if possible, and if not, they must be prepared to defend the homeland. A Syrian cannot ever fraternize with an Israeli, the enemy: such an offense would mean a permanent state of arrest.
Both men speak of the Israel’s generosity, its willingness to help its neighbors, the caring of its army and soldiers who help Syrians to reach medical care when they are hurt.
According to Amin – who is himself a member of the medical community – approximately half of Syria’s 23 million citizens are now displaced. More than 200,000 have been killed and more are wounded. Hundreds of those have received treatment in Israel.
Eventually both men were forced to flee. Aboud realized the window of safety was closing too fast for him to procrastinate any longer. Amin woke up overnight while already abroad when he found out his underground network had suddenly been discovered.
Each has discovered that the “truths” they were told all their lives about Israel were lies.
The Syrian regime was killing their people, and the Israelis were helping to save them.
Both men are still activists trying to help their people: Aboud continues his activity as a blogger, Amin continues as a medical person. Israelis are working with Syrians quietly to help however and whenever possible.
The civil war in Syria has killed and displaced more people in four years than all of Israel’s wars combined, in more than 67 years.
Their efforts might be seen as drops of water in a massive desert, but even the tiniest flicker of candlelight can chase away the darkness.
Let’s hope that when this is all over, the new era also brings with it a new understanding that Israel is not the enemy, either.