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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘diplomatic’

Resisting War, Terrorism, And Genocide (Second of Three Parts)

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Israel, with an understandable desperation, still seeks to discover some discernible correctness and reassuring clarity in the theatre of world politics. However, the polite diplomatic meanings with which it is pressed to “make peace” remain squalid and elusive. Ominously, these meanings continue to seethe menacingly.

A sometimes alien mythology can help Israel to better understand its remaining options. In ancient Greek myth, as recounted by Albert Camus, the pagan gods had condemned Sisyphus to roll a great rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. Unceasingly. By rendering this dreadful judgment, the Greek deities had imposed a mysterious punishment of interminable labor. But, at the very same time, they had also revealed something more difficult to understand.

Even useless labor need not be meaningless. Such labor could also be heroic.

Israel now faces the prospectively endless task of pushing a massive weight up the mountain. Always. And, with near certainty, the great rock will always roll right back down, to its point of origin.

There is, it would appear, no real chance that the rock will ever remain perched, fixed, securely, reassuringly, at the summit. Why, then, should Israel even bother to push on? It is not a silly question.

For Israel, long-suffering and always in mortal danger, there is no easy solution to its primal security problem. In the fashion of Sisyphus, the Jewish state must now accept the inconceivably heavy burden of a possible suffering without end. There is, of course, always reason to hope, but for now at least the only true choice seems to be to continue pushing upward, with no apparent relief, or to sigh deeply, lie prostrate and surrender (that is, to follow the “peace process” to “Palestine”).

What sort of sorrowful imagery is this? Can anyone really be shocked that, for the beleaguered people of Israel, a Sisyphean fate must lie beyond their ordinary powers of imagination? Expectedly, Israelis still search formally for ordinary diplomatic solutions. They look, commonly, into politics, into personalities, into leaders, into tangible policies. They seek remedies, answers, peace settlements, cartography, disengagements and realignments. They examine, sometimes meticulously, the whole package of ordinary prospects that would allegedly make Israel more “normal” and hence more “safe.”

But safety will never come to Israel through banality or compromise. Israel is not “normal,” nor should it be made normal. For reasons that are bound to be hotly debated and argued for centuries, Israel is unique.

To deny this uniqueness, and to try to figure out ways in which the eternally tormenting stone might finally stay positioned on the top of the mountain, forever, is to seek superficial answers to extraordinary questions. Above all, it is to misunderstand Israel’s special place in the world, and to subject all Israel to what the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard had called (as a generic affliction) the “sickness unto death.”

Significantly, the decidedly worst fate for Israel is not “merely” to have to endure one war after another, or, to continue with our metaphor, even to have to keep rolling the rock up the mountain. Rather, it is to try to buy its way free abjectly, from its own irresistible destiny and torment, by falsifying itself.

For each individual on earth, his or her personal existence is wholly improbable. Consider that the number of possible combinations for the human DNA molecule is ten to the 2,400,000,000th power. This means that the odds of any one of us being “me” are one in ten to the 2,400,000,000th power.

These are not betting odds.

Similarly, one can readily imagine that these not very promising numbers apply as well to nation-states. Still, when we speak of Israel, the singular Jewish state, we must enter into an entirely different and incomparable kind of calculation. In essence, Israel’s existence is both more and less probable than the life of any single human individual.

The apparent paradox lies in Israel’s special origins, and also in its absolute and incontestable uniqueness.

Let us return to the Greek myth. We recall that Sisyphus is a heroic and tragic figure in Greek mythology. This is because he insistently labored valiantly, despite the apparent futility of his efforts.

Today, Israel’s leadership, managing to more or less disregard the nation’s special history, still acts in ways that are neither tragic nor heroic. Unwilling to accept an almost certain future of protracted war, terror, and possibly even genocide, one deluded prime minister after another has sought to deny Israel’s special situation in the world. Hence, he or she has always been ready to embrace, unwittingly, the then-currently-fashionable codifications of collective suicide.

Islamists Target US Embassy in Indonesia

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

The U.S. Embassy and other sites connected with the U.S. were allegedly the target of terrorist attacks that were thwarted by the arrest of 11 suspected terrorists in Indonesia over the weekend.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Jakarta, the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya, the local office of a U.S. mining company, as well as a plaza near the Australian Embassy and the headquarters of a special police force in Central Java were apparently the targets.

Indonesian national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Suhardi Alius told the Associated Press that the suspected terrorists were arrested in raids in four provinces.

“From evidence found at the scene, we believe that this group was well prepared for serious terror attacks,” Alius told the AP.

Bombs, explosive materials, a manual for making bombs, ammunition and a gas cylinder filled with highly explosive material was discovered in the raids.  Also seized were videos and images of attacks on Muslims in different parts of the world.

The suspects belonged to a new group called the Harakah Sunni for Indonesian Society, or HASMI.

According to the group’s website, HASMI was created in 2005, and seeks a strict interpretation of Islam, “since all innovation is misguidance.”

It is unclear whether the targeting of U.S. diplomatic posts is a new trend in Islamic terrorist activity, following the murderous assault by what U.S. officials now admit was a well-planned terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.

Maariv: Iran Said ‘No’ to Obama’s Plea for Reconciliation

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

A few months after he had been elected, President Barack Obama attempted to renew on a gradual basis U.S. diplomatic relations with Iran, a process that was to lead to establishing embassies and full diplomatic relations. But the Islamic Republic rejected the proposal out of fear for the future of the reign of the Ayatollahs, the Israeli daily Maariv reported on Sunday. The paper claims to have received this information from two Western diplomatic sources close to the Administration.

The American offer was part of an inclusive change of approach to U.S. foreign relations instituted by Obama upon his entry into the White House. The plan was focused on emphasizing negotiations and extending a “diplomatic hand.” Shortly after being elected, the new president announced that he intended to extended his hand to Iran. An announcement of the White House declared that Obama supports “an aggressive and direct diplomacy with Iran, without preconditions.” This was a 180 degree change of the Bush Administration’s approach to Iran. The new Administration was hoping that a rapprochement with Iran would help establish a mutual understanding with Iran regarding its nuclear plan.

At the initial stage, the Americans offered the Iranians the opening of government interests offices—the lowest level of diplomatic relations—in Tehran and Washington. Later on, the Administration was hoping to enter a track of detailed agreements.

Relations between the United States and Iran were severed in 1979, at the conclusion of the Islamic revolution and the ascent of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

According to Maariv, at least two direct meetings were conducted between U.S. and Iran officials starting in the summer of 2009.

Under Secretary of State William Burns and the Iranian head of the negotiations team Saeed Jalili participated in at least one of the two meetings. The two met following the six powers’ meeting with Iran in October of 2009, in Geneva. That direct meeting lasted about an hour. According to an Israeli source close to the negotiations, the Islamic Republic was leery of any sign of normalizing relations with the U.S., and refused to give the Americans “an award.” Iran’s main concern was that the Ayatollah’s regime would be weakened as a consequence of American involvement in Iranian society.

The Administration so far has denied a NY Times report on a new attempt to open a channel of communication with Iran. The White House statement on October 20 read:

It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections. We continue to work with the P5+1 on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally. The President has made clear that he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and we will do what we must to achieve that. It has always been our goal for sanctions to pressure Iran to come in line with its obligations. The onus is on the Iranians to do so, otherwise they will continue to face crippling sanctions and increased pressure.

A Friendship Forged from 1,384 Ft. Below Sea Level and 29,029 Above

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Nepal and Israel issued joint commemorative stamps to mark 52 years of friendly relations between the two countries last week. The stamps showcase the highest and lowest points in the world which are found in both countries: Israel’s Dead Sea which is 422 meters below sea level and Nepal’s Mount Everest, at 8,848 meters above sea level.

A stamp signing ceremony was held in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu with officials from the Nepal government, the Postal Services Department and the Embassy of Israel as well as the Israeli Ambassador to Nepal, Hanan Goder.

Israel-Nepal joint stamp - The Highest and Lowest Places on EarthSimultaneously, the stamp was also issued in Israel at the same time in a festive ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Present were the Nepalese Ambassador to Israel, Prahlad Kumar Prasai and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who stated that Israel has “a deep appreciation” for Nepal and its people.  “We are happy that our cooperation with Nepal will grow only stronger in the future,” Ayalon declared.

Although not new to Israel, it was the first time that Nepal issued a joint stamp with another country. The stamp depicts both the Nepalese and Israeli flags and includes writing in English, Hebrew, Nepalese and Arabic.

According to an article on NepalNews.com, a leading English-language news site from Nepal, “Israel and Nepal have enjoyed 52 glorious years of diplomatic ties between the two countries since diplomatic relations were established in the 1960s. Since then, both countries have seen the friendship grow and foster.”

Nepal was the first of the Asian countries to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

The Israeli embassy in Nepal lists a number of programs that Israel has been conducting in the fields of health, culture, education, technology and agriculture in Nepal.

Most recently, Israeli medical students donated their medical books from Soroka University School at Ben Gurion University in the Negev to students at Nepal’s Patan Academy for Health Science through the Israeli embassy in Nepal.

In addition, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (Mashav) and the Agricultural Development Bank Ltd. (ADBL) conducted a 10-day session in Kathmandu on agricultural training programs, dairy production, and livestock management for Nepalese farmers in early September.

Every year, approximately 20,000 Israeli backpackers hike in Nepal and the Annapurna mountain range, many of them having finished their army service.  There are three Chabad Houses in Nepal, which hosts thousands of Israeli guests during Jewish holidays.

Canada Tells Iranian Diplomats to Take a Hike, Israel Cheers on

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Canada suspended diplomatic relations with Iran, closing down its embassy in Iran and giving Iranian diplomats in Canada five days to leave its soil, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird announced Friday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly welcomed the decision, calling on the rest of the world to follow suit while, predictably, Iran denounced it.

Speaking in Vladivostok, Russia, Baird summed up the reasons for the decision saying that the Canadian government views “the Government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.”

Baird went on to list a litany of actions by the Iranian government, from providing military assistance to the regime of Bashir Assad in Syria, “refus[ing] to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program,” threatening Israel’s existence, violating human rights and supporting terrorism.

Baird also said that Iran “has shown blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention and its guarantee of protection for diplomatic personnel” and therefore “Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran” due to safety reasons.

Elaborating to reporters, Baird referred to the attack on the British Embassy in Tehran last November, the New York Times reported.

That same day, Baird and Canadian Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews also announced that Canada has listed both Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. That decision will allow victims of terror to sue both countries under Canada’s Justice for Victims of Terror Act.

Later in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for taking “a bold measure which displays leadership and sends a clear message to Iran and the entire world.”

Netanyahu said the decision was particularly important in light of the “anti-Semitism and hatred” displayed at the conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, which was attended by 120 countries and U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon.

Netanyahu called on the international community to follow Canada’s example and reiterated his call on the world to set “clear red lines for Iran.”

Meanwhile, an Iranian foreign ministry spokeperson, Ramin Mehmanparast, condemned Canada decision, saying it was one of Canada’s “extremist policies in the field of foreign policy” and that it was “in fact, the pursuit of Zionist and British dictated policies,” the Tehran Times reported.

The Canadian government, led by Stephen Harper and Canada’s Conservative Party, has shown support for Israel on a number of instances as of late.

In November 2010, Harper said Canada was “morally obligated to take a stand” for Israel, adding that “as long as I am Prime Minister . . . Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost.”

In May this year, Baird spoke in Washington D.C. about the importance of defending Israel, comparing Iran to the Nazi threat of World War II, and visited Israel only a few weeks ago in August.

Canada also stood with Israel in opposing the Palestinian Authority’s bid for U.N. recognition as an independent state in 2011.

Israel Welcomes 300 Int’l Asian Science Prodigies

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Over 300 young science geniuses from across Asia and the Pacific participated in the sixth Asian Science Camp (ASC) in Jerusalem this past week. Originally initiated by a number of Nobel Prize Laureates in the sciences from Eastern Asia, it was Israel’s first time hosting the science camp, which has been held in a different Asian country each year for the past six years.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has been marking Israel’s diplomatic relations with Asia this past year, in cooperation with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the ORT educational network, organized the week long science camp for the last week of August. High school and university students arrived from 23 different countries– including nations with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations such as Indonesia.

Shannon Canumara, 16, of Jakarta, Indonesia, described the science camp as fascinating. “The lectures have been fantastic. It’s very different from a high school environment, because we get to learn about science not only from textbooks. We actually get to question the professors and their theories,” Canumara told Tazpit News Agency.

Her Indonesian counterpart, Vinsen, 17, added that “even though our country does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, everyone here was so welcoming to us. I hope that someday Indonesia will agree to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in the future.”

Some of the largest student delegations came from China, India, Korea and Japan, while smaller delegations from Turkmenistan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand also participated.

The Israeli delegates, who were chosen according to a strict criterion of academic excellence in science, consisted of 35 Jewish and Arab students from across the country including periphery cities like Karmiel and Yeruham, as well as east Jerusalem and Umm al-Fahm. The science camp featured lectures from five Nobel Prize Laureates in the Sciences from Israel and abroad, including one of the founders of ASC, Taiwan’s Professor Lee Yuan-Ti, Nobel Prize Laureate for Chemistry, as well as Prof Makoto Kobayashi (physics) from Japan, and Israel’s Professor Aharon Chechanover (medical-chemistry) and Professor Israel Uman (game theory) and US Professor Roger Kornberg (biology).

Liangjin Zhao, a second year university student in Beijing, studying electronic engineering, was very impressed with the organization of the science camp. “Although we’ve had little free time, the best part has been to network and make new friends from all over the world. There is such a great combination of people here” Zhao said. Sitting beside her was Noy Moisa, a student at Hebrew University High School of Jerusalem, who agreed wholeheartedly. “We already started connecting with the students via Facebook and e-mail before the camp even began,” Moisa said.

Rawan Mahajna of Um Al Fahm, 19, who plans to study medicine, said the science camp was an opportunity for “connecting minds together and meeting people who share similar science interests.”

“Everyone here speaks the language of science, which goes beyond skin color, religion, background, and politics. I’m really thankful for this experience,” Mahajna said.

“The whole concept of this science camp was to show that science has no boundaries,” said Reut Inon-Berman, one of the organizers of the Asian Summer Camp. “Together, we can get that much further in this field.”

GOP Senators Plan Resolution Promising Support Should Israel Strike Iran

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Republican senators plan to introduce a non-binding resolution pledging military, economic and diplomatic backing for Israel should it strike Iran.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told JTA on Tuesday that he and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) were drafting the resolution for introduction next month in the Senate.

Graham, attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week, said he was seeking Democratic co-sponsors.

The resolution would underscore the Senate’s hopes for peace and for sanctions to force Iran to make its nuclear program more transparent, he said.

“But in the event Israel had to take preventive action, we would have their back,” Graham said, in terms of military, economic and diplomatic support.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/gop-senators-plan-resolution-promising-support-should-israel-strike-iran/2012/08/29/

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