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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘conference’

Conference Debating Bringing Holocaust Images to Life [video]

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Films from the Holocaust period are filled with haunting images, providing a rare opportunity for researchers to piece together the stories of lives cut brutally short. In today’s digital age, such film footage is particularly compelling and stirring, granting us a glimpse into a living memory of a world that was – and is no longer. A groundbreaking conference on the subject, the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) workshop entitled “Holocaust Archival Footage as a Historical Source: Methodology and Ethics in the Digital Era,” is currently taking place at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

EHRI is a trans-national project aimed at supporting and promoting improved access to Holocaust documentation scattered across the globe. The workshop, designed especially for experts, convened some 30 top level professionals, providing tools and tips for researchers and historians from Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the US and other countries in utilizing Holocaust-era footage as a historical source. Sessions included newly-discovered footage located at various archives and collections of Holocaust-related material; the unique challenges entailed in locating, collecting and restoring these rare films; and technical and methodological dilemmas of using of source movies.

One of the stories featured at the conference was about David Teitelbaum, an amateur photographer who was born in Wielopole Skrzyńskie, southeastern Poland, in 1891 and later relocated to the United States, where he became a successful businessman. Teitelbaum would return to his hometown almost every year to visit his family, and in 1938, he filmed his trip. In June or July 1939 he traveled to Wielopole again, but only stayed for a short time, sensing that war was imminent. Members of the Teitelbaum, Rappaport and Sartoria families, as well as their neighbors and acquaintances, were likely filmed during that last visit.

Several years ago, this rare color footage depicting Jewish life in the shtetl of Wielopole before the Holocaust was donated to Yad Vashem. With the assistance of relatives (particularly Channa Rachel Helen Glucksman, David Teitelbaum’s niece), Yad Vashem has succeeded in identifying many of the individuals in the film, including a number of sick or elderly Jews who were murdered in an aktion in the town.

Since the film was uploaded to Yad Vashem’s Youtube channel, it has been seen by over 130,000 viewers, many of whom have commented on how deeply moved they were to have caught a glimpse of Jewish life in the town before it was destroyed forever.

The Yad Vashem Archives house hundreds of Holocaust-related films, including raw footage, newsreels, amateur films, propaganda and feature films, and postwar trials. What makes this footage so unique is that it contains many layers of information beyond the recorded data – the personal backgrounds of the subjects, the historical context of the events depicted, and even the motivation and ideology of the photographer – all of which may be revealed through painstaking research.

Efrat Komisar, Head of the Film Footage Section at the Yad Vashem Archives and one of the presenters at the workshop, explained the importance of correct usage, critical research and cataloguing of film footage. “These wartime films have a complex nature, stemming, among other things, from the photographers’ intentions in creating the film in the first place. Nevertheless, they are invaluable as original documentation. The films open a window onto the world of their subjects, as well as that of their creators. They supplement information provided by other forms of documentation, as well as priceless visual testimony of people and places before, during and even immediately after the Shoah.

“Historians, researchers and filmmakers alike have an obligation to investigate these precious films thoroughly, and present them to the public together with the most comprehensive and accurate information possible, thus building a more accurate visual memory of the Holocaust,” Komisar continues. “Moving images provide something that other kinds of documentation – written, aural and even still photographs – cannot give: multisensory scenes of people, places and events that depict often very personal accounts in real-time. In a way, seeing them almost brings them back to life.”

JNi.Media

Project to Build Visual Memory of Places & People Before, During the Holocaust

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Films from the Holocaust period are filled with haunting images, providing a rare opportunity for researchers to piece together the stories of lives cut brutally short. In today’s digital age, such film footage is particularly compelling and stirring, granting us a glimpse into a living memory of a world that was, and is, no longer.

A groundbreaking conference on the subject, the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) workshop entitled “Holocaust Archival Footage as a Historical Source: Methodology and Ethics in the Digital Era,” took place this weekend at Yad Vashem.

EHRI is a trans-national project aimed at supporting and promoting improved access to Holocaust documentation scattered across the globe. The workshop, designed especially for experts, convened some 30 top level professionals, providing tools and tips for researchers and historians from Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the US and other countries in utilizing Holocaust-era footage as a historical source. Sessions included newly-discovered footage located at various archives and collections of Holocaust-related material; the unique challenges entailed in locating, collecting and restoring these rare films; and technical and methodological dilemmas of using of source movies.

One of the stories featured at the conference told the tale of David Teitelbaum, an amateur photographer who was born in Wielopole Skrzyńskie, southeastern Poland, in 1891 and later relocated to the United States, where he became a successful businessman. Teitelbaum would return to his hometown almost every year to visit his family, and in 1938, he filmed his trip. In June or July 1939 he traveled to Wielopole again, but only stayed for a short time, sensing that war was imminent. Members of the Teitelbaum, Rappaport and Sartoria families, as well as their neighbors and acquaintances, were likely filmed during that last visit.

Several years ago, this rare color footage depicting Jewish life in the shtetl of Wielopole before the Holocaust was donated to Yad Vashem. With the assistance of relatives (particularly Channa Rachel Helen Glucksman, David Teitelbaum’s niece), Yad Vashem has succeeded in identifying many of the individuals in the film, including a number of sick or elderly Jews who were murdered in an aktion in the town.

Since the film was uploaded to Yad Vashem’s Youtube channel, it has been seen by over 130,000 viewers, many of whom have commented on how deeply moved they were to have caught a glimpse of Jewish life in the town before it was destroyed forever.

The Yad Vashem Archives house hundreds of Holocaust-related films, including raw footage, newsreels, amateur films, propaganda and feature films, and postwar trials. What makes footage so unique is that it contains many layers of information beyond the recorded data – the personal backgrounds of the subjects, the historical context of the events depicted, and even the motivation and ideology of the photographer – all of which may be revealed through painstaking research.

Efrat Komisar, Head of the Film Footage Section at the Yad Vashem Archives and one of the presenters at the workshop, explained the importance of correct usage, critical research and cataloguing of film footage. “These wartime films have a complex nature, stemming, among other things, from the photographers’ intentions in creating the film in the first place. Nevertheless, they are invaluable as original documentation. The films open a window onto the world of their subjects, as well as that of their creators. They supplement information provided by other forms of documentation, as well as priceless visual testimony of people and places before, during and even immediately after the Shoah.

“Historians, researchers and filmmakers alike have an obligation to investigate these precious films thoroughly, and present them to the public together with the most comprehensive and accurate information possible, thus building a more accurate visual memory of the Holocaust,” Komisar continues. “Moving images provide something that other kinds of documentation – written, aural and even still photographs – cannot give: multisensory scenes of people, places and events that depict often very personal accounts in real time. In a way, seeing them almost brings them back to life.”

The Yad Vashem Archives house the most comprehensive collection of Holocaust-era documentation in the world. Documents acquired by Yad Vashem through its many international efforts and cooperative agreements are preserved, cataloged and digitized to ensure accessibility for the public and future generations. For more information on the activity of Yad Vashem’s Archives Division and the vast wealth of information contained in its collections please contact:

Simmy Allen, head of the International Media Section, Communications Division at Yad Vashem. She can be reached at +972-2-644-3412 or by email at: simmy.allen@yadvashem.org.il .

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust commemoration, documentation, research and education.

Hana Levi Julian

Herzog Booed at Labor Party Conference

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

The Labor Party Conference opened Sunday in Tel Aviv with boos and catcalls directed at party chairman Isaac Herzog, as the delegates were preparing to vote on a date for re-electing Herzog or picking the next chairman. Several delegates called on Herzog to “go home,” and some waved in front of him pictures of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

After the catcalls, Herzog decided to abandon his earlier plan to speak to the party conference, and the delegates entered the secret ballots phase right away. Party Secretary General MK Yehiel (Hilik) Bar yelled at the booing members that “anyone comparing the chairman to Putin better leave the party.” It was a reference to a photoshopped image of Herzog standing next to Edrogan and Putin that had been handed out by the chairman’s opponents earlier.

Meanwhile, herzog told reporters, “We expected an attempt to blow up the conference. I decided with Hilik that he lead a move to remove from the party anyone who resorts to violence at the conference. Trying to blow up the conference is an act of violence.”

Herzog was critical of MK Shelly Yachimovich, his predecessor at the party helm, who objected to pushing off the election. He blamed her and MK Erel Margalit of encouraging inappropriate behavior by delegates “with their violent and excitable style.” He noted a comparison Yachimovich had made last May between Herzog and a lapdog, as the chairman was being seduced by PM Netanyahu only to discover that he had been used all along as leverage to bring MK Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into the coalition government.

Yachimovich said Herzog should man up and that he’d been using that dog reference more than 200 times since May, and should pick a new bone.

The delegates voted in a secret ballot on having the chairmanship election either in December 2016—as Yachimovich and Margalit want it, or in Juy 2017—Herzog’s preference.

In the end, the chairman’s position was accepted by a hefty majority of 750 to 402 votes, and the primaries in the Labor Party are officially postponed until July 2017.

David Israel

Does The Israeli Family Have A Future? Notes from the Ramle Conference

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

What is the most important challenge facing Israel today? Most of us can recite by heart the usual answers: Terrorism, lack of unity, anti-Semitism. But according to virtually every one of the twenty speakers at last month’s ninth Ramle Conference, the answer appears to be the threats facing the nuclear Jewish family.

Organized by several groups, principally Hotam and Komemiyut, the conference brought together experts from various fields, all of whom had a significant take on the subject. Attendees represented a varied cross-section of the population, from Ramle pensioners to policewomen, as well as National Service girls, social workers, legal experts, a Hesder yeshiva dean, yeshiva students and rabbis, grandmothers, and others.

What are the threats to the family that render the topic so critical? The most immediate threat has apparently been neutralized – for now – but many of the speakers feel the ideology that drove it is still very much in force. The reference is to a proposed drastic change in Israel’s “Parents and Children Law” – and it was only intense lobbying by pro-family activists that prevented the change from being voted on in the Knesset.

The proposal would have stricken the clause defining parents as a child’s legal guardians (authorized to represent the child before the authorities, to decide where the child will live and go to school, etc.), replacing it with one defining a new concept of “parental responsibility” consisting mainly of parents’ obligation to respect and uphold a series of “children’s rights” as defined by the bill. This “parental responsibility” could be limited or obviated by a court, should the authorities decide a parent is not carrying out his or her “parental responsibility” properly.

Social worker Ronit Smadar-Dror, founder of an organization called L’tzidchem (By Your Side), spoke of another threat to normative family life.

“Contrary to common misconception,” she noted, “it is not mainly women who are the victims of male violence but the opposite: In 50 percent of the cases of family violence, both spouses are violent, while in 26 percent of the cases it is the woman who is violent; only in 24 percent is it the man alone who is violent.

“Yet the wrong picture is constantly promoted. The problem with this misrepresentation of reality is that it causes men not to seek help because they know they will be mocked, disbelieved, and/or likely distanced from their families by the police and courts – and thus the families continue to suffer. What is a child to do or feel when he sees his father being victimized, yet is taught everywhere that men are violent?”

Another problem was highlighted by Rabbi Azriel Ariel of Ateret. “In my role as a marriage counselor I see that many couples simply don’t have time for their marriage or to deepen their relationship,” he said. “This requires not only work on their part, but also a public policy change. For instance, the Ministry of Economic Affairs forces its female employees to work full-time – meaning that the government does not allow them to invest in their families. This has to be changed.”

Moderator Aya Kramerman and a panel. Gil Ronen is on the far left.

Moderator Aya Kramerman and a panel. Gil Ronen is on the far left.

Gil Ronen, founder of the Femilistim pro-family organization, posited that the above examples, and others, are driven by nothing less than a Communist agenda, and that feminists in Israel have, wittingly or not, bought into a wide-ranging campaign to destroy the family unit.

“The dialogue in the country has changed, by design: Every flirting or untoward remark is reported as sexual harassment, and men are constantly portrayed as violent, instead of as protective. This is all part of a campaign to change the way we think.”

Predictably, those remarks elicited some strong objections, but Ronen was not deterred. He noted that some weeks ago, the gang assault of a Jewish woman by five foreign workers in Tel Aviv “was barely covered in the press, because it did not fit the agenda… while not long before that, an offensive remark by former MK Yinon Magal at a party [was dragged out in] headlines until Magal finally surrendered to the media charges of ‘sexual harassment’ and resigned.”

Michael Puah, father of 12 and a leader of the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) organization, told the audience that is “unfortunate that the religious-Zionist public does not take part in the struggle on behalf of the family the same way it did against the Oslo agreements. There are forces at work that wish to dismantle the family structure. These forces soon concluded, however, that if they could not beat them they would join them, and instead of destroying the family unit they would just call everything a family: two mothers, two fathers, etc. They are trying to replace the ‘biological family’ with the ‘contractual family,’ so that it can be dismantled at will…”

Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Zini, former rabbi of the Technion and now the dean of Yeshivat Ohr V’Yeshuah, related a story of a Muslim preacher who “told his flock of worshipers one Friday how dangerous and terrible the Jews are, but then said that in reality, the Jews are really only the agents of our real enemies, the Americans – who want to destroy our family structure.”

“Traditional Jews are therefore in a precarious position,” Rabbi Zini continued, “because we are fighting simultaneously against Western culture and against extremist Islam – and both of them are distorted versions of what we Jews gave the world.”

After the audience digested this point, Rabbi Zini added, “The Western world…believes in only one thing: the individual. But this is poison to our belief system, which believes in the community and family structures…”

One of the conference’s two panel discussions dealt with the matter of work environments vis-à-vis the family unit. Rabbi Ariel agreed with some of the other speakers that the danger of extramarital relationships is enhanced in mixed-gender workplaces:

“Great caution is required. It must be remembered that while work is an important value, it is not an obligation – whereas adultery is a capital crime. One goes to work to support his family, and he must be careful that he does not do the opposite – causing the collapse of his family by what he does at work.”

The rabbi enumerated some guidelines, drawing nods of agreement in the audience but not necessarily on the panel. Police Brig.-Gen. Yael Idelman, who has served for three years as the Israel Police Department’s first adviser on women’s affairs, said she could not accept this approach:

“When I agreed to sit on this panel, I had no idea we would be talking about things like separation between men and women and the like. I view my role as creating the conditions to bring about equal opportunities for women serving on the police force, and to thus bring out their abilities – and I believe that we have done this successfully. Regarding marital infidelity and the like, this can happen anywhere, not just in the police force, and it is up to each individual.”

Asked why male and female police officers serve together on night shifts, she said, “This is how it must be, because they sometimes have to deal with women who will only open up to a policewoman.” The questioner was not satisfied with the response, saying afterward, “The police department just recently experienced a rash of sexual harassment cases on the part of senior police officers, and yet they continue on as if nothing ever happened.”

MK Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) presented a general approach of “thinking positively” and doing what we can now to avoid problems later: “If we see that the divorce rates are very high, let us provide government-subsidized pre-marital counseling. If we want to encourage large families, how about subsidizing larger cars for those with four or five children or more?”

Rabbi Menachem Burstein, head of the Puah Institute, which works with couples who have fertility problems, urged that every teen register with a genetic testing service to prevent genetic diseases and strongly recommended that unmarried women over the age of 30 undergo a relatively new process to freeze egg cells, which can later be fertilized by their husbands and transferred to the uterus as embryos.

Demographer Yaakov Feitelson, who served as the first mayor of the Shomron city of Ariel over 30 years ago, presented encouraging statistics and charts showing that Israel’s Jewish population growth is positive in comparison not only with the rest of the world but also with its Arab population.

In terms of average first-marriage age, Israel is in second place in the 41-member OECD; first-marriages in Sweden, Iceland and Chile, for example, typically take place when the bride and groom are in their mid-30s – eight years older than in Israel. Similarly, Jewish fertility rates are climbing while the Arab numbers are slumping, and equality has nearly been reached.

Feitelson, who is not outwardly religiously observant, says he is in favor of ending the compulsory military draft of women, for three reasons: “It will help the country economically if they can go out to work earlier, religious men will have no reason not to serve, and it will lower marriage age and increase Jewish population growth.”

Highlighting the optimism of those fighting the battle on behalf of the nuclear family in Israel, conference organizers awarded plaques of recognition to two Israeli organizations for their success in imbuing and preserving family values: Internet Rimon, which filters out unacceptable Internet sites and content, thus enabling families to use the Internet without fear, and Binyan Shalem, whose annual three-day seminar is attended by thousands of men and women, with many dozens of classes on topics related to the Jewish family and its values.

“It all started in a living room one day several years ago,” said the Binyan Shalem representative accepting the award, “which shows us how much can be done simply with patience, perseverance, and the desire to do good.”

Hillel Fendel

The FBI Director’s Press Conference

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

FBI Director James Comey’s explanation of why his agency didn’t recommend the prosecution of Hillary Clinton in the scandal over her use of a private e-mail system for official business during her tenure as secretary of state raised more questions than it resolved.

Thus, after going through the nature of the FBI’s investigation, he concluded that “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

Yet this sorting of evidence, we are told by criminal lawyers, is usually the purview of a grand jury, which decides whether there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed. One of the unanswered questions in this entire episode is why U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara – who is known for his high profile prosecutions and who has jurisdiction over the Clinton e-mail issue since the possible offenses occurred at the Clinton home in Chappaqua, New York, which is within his federal area of responsibility – didn’t convene a grand jury.

And there would surely have been grist for his grand jury mill, since, as Mr. Comey noted, “There were thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State…” That in itself sounds like she was withholding evidence.

Mr. Comey also said that “Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”

“Know or should know” is classic legal language suggesting criminal responsibility.

Recklessness with government secrets? Consider what Mr. Comey said:

With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email account extensively while outside the United States…. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal account.

Mr. Comey also said his investigators had found 110 e-mails that were classified information at the time they were sent or received. They also found, he said, an unspecified number of instances of top secret or secret information contained in 52 so-called e-mail chains

There was also destruction of e-mails by Clinton attorneys “in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.” But we have “reasonable confidence there was no intentional misconduct.”

But again, sorting out these kinds of issues is typically the job of a grand jury.

Complicating this even further is the private meeting just days before Mr. Comey spoke between Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Mr. Comey’s boss, and Bill Clinton, supposedly to talk about their grandchildren.

This is not to say that Mrs. Clinton is clearly guilty of violating the law. It is to say, though, that it’s hard to think of anyone else who would have received the pass she just did.

Editorial Board

PM Netanyahu Explains His Turkey Deal While Visiting in Rome

Monday, June 27th, 2016

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Monday, 27 June 2016), issued the following statement at his press conference in Rome:

“Israel has reached an agreement of strategic importance for the State of Israel, for security, for regional stability and for the Israeli economy. As Prime Minister of Israel, it is my responsibility to be concerned with its strategic interests, to take a broad and long-term view, based on an understanding of the international arena as well as of our security and economic needs, at present and in the future.

Last night and this morning, I spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Last night I spoke with US Vice President Joe Biden and have spoken just now with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Of course, they all welcomed the agreement. They think that it will greatly strengthen the State of Israel and its position in the region. Of course, the US says this based on that same strong and fundamental alliance that is a cornerstone of our international relations. But we know that we need to add centers of stability. The world and the Middle East are in turmoil and my policy is to create centers of stability in this unstable and stormy region.

We are doing so with our close neighbors, Arab countries. We are doing so with Greece and Cyprus. We are doing so with Russia. We are also doing so with Turkey. Of course, we are doing all of this in full coordination with our greatest ally, the United States. This is part of a clear strategy, to create centers of stability in the stormy Middle East. Now, Israel and Turkey are two major powers in the region and the break between us is not good for our vital interests and prevents us from cooperating in those instances, and there are more than a few, in which cooperation is warranted.

The first thing in this agreement is protection for IDF commanders and soldiers from criminal and civil claims, both those being prosecuted now and those that might be prosecuted in the future. As of now there are very many such claims and their scope is increasing; they could reach many millions of dollars and prevent the free movement of our soldiers, their freedom of activity – all of this is cancelled. The agreement will ensure that our soldiers and commanders will not be exposed to claims by Turkey. Moreover, the agreement also stipulates that the Turkish parliament will pass a law cancelling all of these processes in Turkey.

The second thing that this agreement gives is maintaining the maritime security blockade of the Gaza Strip. This is our supreme security interest; I was not prepared to compromise on it. This interest is vital to prevent the strengthening of Hamas and it remains as it has been. Of course, we are allowing ships to dock at Ashdod port and unload civilian and humanitarian cargoes there for the Gaza Strip. We have never prevented this, of course, and we are making it possible now.

The third thing that this agreement does, along with maintaining the security arrangement, is to allow for dealing with humanitarian issues in the Gaza Strip, subject to Israel’s security procedures and considerations. I would like to explain that beyond the humanitarian consideration, this is also an outstanding interest of Israel’s, especially in two areas – water and electricity. Water: When there is not enough water in Gaza, and Gaza is in the process of gradually drying up, the aquifers become polluted and when the aquifers become polluted, this is not limited to the Gaza side of the aquifer but also passes over to the aquifer on our side. Therefore, it is in Israel’s clear interest to deal with the water problem in the Gaza Strip. Electricity: When there is not enough electricity, various problems arise, including those having to do with sanitation, and when there are outbreaks, the outbreaks do not stop at the fences. This is both a humanitarian interest and an outstanding Israeli interest. Therefore, we are allowing these infrastructures to be dealt with. Just like other countries, from Norway to Arab states, so too will Turkey be able to help on this matter. Of course, we will hold discussions with Turkey on these issues.

An additional thing that the agreement gives is a commitment to prevent all terrorist or military activity against Israel from Turkish soil, including collecting funds for these purposes. This is an important – even primary – commitment that we have not had up until now.

In addition, we received a letter according to which the President of Turkey has instructed the relevant Turkish agencies to assist in every way in returning the prisoners and MIAs on a humanitarian basis. I understand the suffering of the families. I speak with them and I know what they are going through, and I would like to assure them: I promise you, members of the families, I promise you that we will not stop and we will not rest until we bring the boys back home. This is a personal, national and moral commitment. I think that the letter which accompanies the agreement gives us another tool to use in this holy work.

Also, this agreement requires Turkey to assist Israel in entering into all international organizations that Turkey is a member of. Now, we have already had one case before the signing which is very important from our point-of-view and it is based on goodwill, and this is Turkey dropping its opposition to Israel establishing a NATO office. Israel is now working to open an office with NATO; this has been a goal of ours for many years and it is being realized.

I would like to touch on an additional point, which I think is critical, and this is in the economic sphere. This agreement opens the way to cooperation on economic and energy matters, including the gas issue. Gas is so important and contains the possibility of strengthening the Israeli economy and state coffers with vast capital. But the gas issue is composed of several things: One, extracting it from the sea and we have dealt with this; I will not go into detail on this issue here. But the second thing is creating markets for the gas that we are extracting from the sea. I remind you that 60% of every shekel that comes out of the sea goes to the state treasury. These are vast sums but we need markets. Leviathan could supply both the Egyptian market that we intend to work with and also the Turkish market as well as the supply of gas through Turkey to Europe, and this is a strategic issue for the State of Israel. This could not have come sooner without this agreement and now we will work to advance it.

I updated the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Russia and, of course, our American friends, on this development. We updated them on every aspect that we focused on in this agreement. This took a lot of time, including recently. But I would like to update you on something: There are two people here who worked very hard on this matter. I would like to thank Yaakov Nagal from the National Security Council, who did very loyal – and I must say quiet – work. I would also like to thank someone who, not for the first time, has aided the State of Israel, and he has done exceptional work, Yossi Ciechanover. Yossi did marvelous work dealing with the Palmer report in wake of the Marmara incident. He dealt with it, the results are known, one of the few cases in which Israel came out on top in a UN report, and this was greatly due to Yossi. Yossi worked diligently on this agreement and I want to offer him the heartfelt gratitude of the citizens of the State of Israel. Thank you to you both.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Vive La France-But their Conference?

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Since I was a kid I loved things that are French. I loved French fries, French toast, and I even took a year of French in high school. However, looking at it more carefully, I realized that the French fries I loved, but only with an ample amount of salt and ketchup, and I really enjoyed French toast only because of the maple syrup I’d put on it. Once I realized that I could finish high school in three years instead of four if I dropped French and took another English class instead – that’s what I did.

Now the French are hosting a so-called international conference on peace in the Middle East. It won’t deal with Syria or Iraq, nor will it address the chaos in Libya. Instead, it will deal with the least destructive and harmful conflict in the Middle East: the Arab-Israeli conflict. And the icing to that cake is that the sides aren’t invited, and that reminds me of some black holes in the history of France and the Jewish nation.

Of course I’m not referring to the three expulsions of the Jews from France, nor to the Dreyfus Affair that revealed a deep anti-Semitic streak in modern France, nor the 26% of French Jews killed during the Holocaust with French collusion. I’m not referring to the lesson taught to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion by French president Charles de Gaulle that there are no friends in international relations, only interests, a lesson de Gaulle practiced on Israel when he imposed an arms embargo on the area that affected mostly Israel, including not supplying arms that Israel had already payed for. All that may be in the background – but this proposed international conference reminds me by association of another peace conference the French attended: the Munich Conference of 1938.

In that conference France and Great Britain, in a selfish and less then intelligent attempt to appease Hitler, forced Czechoslovakia to surrender the mountainous area of Czechoslovakia that bordered Germany. Many ethnic Germans lived in that area, and for the conference a new territorial designation “Sudetenland” was invented, as if it were a distinct separate German area that had mistakenly been attached to Czechoslovakia. Once that area was stripped from Czechoslovakia, the country was left defenseless. All this – despite signed defense pacts that Czechoslovakia had with France and Britain. Once the Czechs were pushed back from their fortified defensible borders – Germany overran the rump Czech state within a matter of months, without French or British intervention, emphasizing that they had sold the Czechs for their own selfish purpose, a purpose not gained at all. When the German army later invaded France about 25% of all the weapons Germany had in its army came from former Czechoslovakia. The Czechs referred to this Munich betrayal as “About us, without us!”

So now the French government is possibly taking another turn at conference playing, about Israel without Israel. They also use an invented term – the Palestinian people – possibly in order to justify tearing part of the Jewish homeland from the Jewish nation.

What can possibly motivate France? Is it deeply-rooted anti-Semitism in French culture? Is it to appease the Muslim world, so that perhaps France will cease to be a target for Islamic terrorism? Is it to appease the Muslims who live in France? Is it part of a secret agreement with Iran: we the Iranians will do business with you, but only if you weaken Israel? Is it at the secret calling of some other country or countries who are hostile to Israel? Is it all of the above?

It’s hard to know. But one thing isn’t hard to know: any such conference will not bring the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict any closer. Israel has already done more than enough for the cause of peace: a temporary freeze of building Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria (a.k.a. “settlement freeze”), has given the Arabs in the Land of Israel a measure of self-government that they never ever had and never even received from the Arab states, and Israel uprooted over 8,000 Jews from their homes in the Katif area (homes that were built were beforehand there was wasteland and sand) near Gaza, so that not one Israeli civilian or Israeli soldier is in the Gaza Strip anymore. In spite of all this the Arabs haven’t moved closer to peace: they haven’t turned all their resources to bettering the lives of their people, they haven’t resettled people stuck in refugee camps and they haven’t recognized the Jewish national right to self-determination nor educated their youth to live in peace with the Jewish state of Israel.

So what can the French conference achieve, besides adding on the participants all those calories of French toast and French fries?

Dovid Ben-Meir

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/guest-blog/vive-la-france-but-their-conference/2016/06/06/

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