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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Things to come

Monday, June 10th, 2013

It’s 2018. Israel is still beleaguered, but not by its traditional foes.

In a short, bloody war in 2015, Israel crushed Hezbollah. Shortly thereafter, it launched a series of strikes against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure, using new non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NNEMP) technology against above-ground installations, plus ultra-precise multiple-strike penetrating bombs to open the underground bunkers. Without Hizballah and without an answer to NNEMP weapons, Iran was forced to defer its nuclear ambitions indefinitely.

Syria’s civil war still sputters and flares, with Assad’s Russian-supported forces in control of the coastal areas and Damascus, while various rebel groups hold the rest. An independent Kurdistan has been declared (although it hasn’t been recognized by the UN), including parts of Iraq and Syria.

Insurrections also continue with various levels of violence in Iraq, Bahrein, Saudi Arabia, and other states. Jordan, which received a massive amount of military aid from Israel, is still under control of the Hashemite king, although there are insurgents operating there too.

With the destruction of Hizbollah and the partial neutralization of Iran, organized terrorism worldwide has declined. But there are still multiple radical Islamist organizations that are challenging their perceived enemies wherever they can.

After the Egyptian economy disintegrated in 2014-15, the Islamist regime was overthrown by the military. Some food aid was received from the US, but nowhere near enough to prevent food riots, widespread malnutrition and some actual starvation. Israel is providing the military government with large amounts of water (from gas-powered desalinization plants) to irrigate parts of the Sinai. Partly in return (and partly to protect its own existence) Egypt has been cooperating with Israel in keeping weapons away from Hamas and fighting radical Islamists in the Sinai.

Although greatly weakened during the years of AKP dominance, the Turkish military has reasserted itself and with much popular support has reined in the excesses of Erdoğan’s regime. Many officers that were imprisoned (with or without trials) have been rehabilitated, and the army has made it clear that it will not stand for further erosion of secular institutions. Relations with Israel have also improved, as the pragmatic officers overrode the AKP’s ideological rigidity.

Meanwhile, Israel’s economy is continuing to do well. Its huge natural gas reserves have enabled it to produce large amounts of electricity at very low cost, which it uses in part to desalinate sea water. For the first time in history, Israel has enough water! Natural gas is also exported to Turkey and Eastern Europe, in accordance with an agreement with Russia to maintain prices.

The PLO still exists and still rules most of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. It still receives subsidies from Europe and the US, and still tries to engage in ‘popular resistance‘ (murder by means of weapons other than guns and explosives) when possible.

Hamas, cut off from aid from Hizballah and the Muslim Brotherhood, now exists primarily on UN aid, a massive expansion of UNRWA.

So where does the threat that I mentioned above come from?

In two words, Western Europe.

The UK has its first Muslim Prime Minister, elected after the escalating riots of 2014-5. Considered by all a ‘moderate’, he managed to quiet the uprisings by promising to establish shari’a courts with authority over Muslim towns and enclaves throughout the country (very few non-Muslims remain in those areas). British Jews have taken a very low profile since the riots, during which many were targeted by the rampaging mobs. Many of those whose Zionist sympathies were known fled to Australia or Canada, and some went to Israel. Although the PM publicly says that he supports the continued existence of Israel, he favors a right of return for all Arab ‘refugees’ — there are now 10 million claiming refugee status — release of all Arab prisoners, and “an end to apartheid.”

The rest of the EU states are more or less the same, although they do not yet have Muslim heads of state. The French Jewish community has almost entirely left, most going to Israel. Antisemitic acts by Muslims — but also by non-Muslims who blame Israel and Jews for the violence of Muslims and for economic problems — have multiplied. Jews in Holland, the Scandinavian countries, etc. are also fleeing because they feel they cannot depend on their governments to protect them from pervasive Jew-hatred.

Muslim demands have a history of being quickly accommodated, since if they are not the result is often violent. Most such demands relate to local autonomy, shari’a courts in Muslim areas, compliance with Muslim sensibilities about food, animals, alcohol, ‘blasphemy’ and ‘immorality’ in media, school curricula, etc.

But as happened in 2013 with the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby, we see more and more violent acts ‘explained’ in terms of foreign policy. The EU has long since removed any military presence from Afghanistan (as did the US; Afghanistan is today ruled by the Taliban); but now demands center on policy toward Israel.

Antisemitism in Europe is taken for granted, even in countries where there are few Jews (most of them, now). In Germany, for example, politicians can safely say that while the Holocaust was a great evil, it is possible to understand how Jewish behavior, if it did not cause it, at least created the conditions that made it possible. Likewise, there is little sympathy for Israel, which is seen as an instigator of violence, not its victim.

As the threats from Israel’s neighbors recede, we find the danger from nuclear-armed, unstable Europe increasing.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Open Skies Ahead for Israel

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz signed an Open Skies agreement with the EU on Monday in Luxembourg. The agreement which is to be gradually implemented over the next 5 years, until it goes fully into effect in 2018, should lower prices significantly on flights between Israel and Europe.

Open Skies will allow EU and Israeli airlines to operate direct flights to each others airports, and not be restricted to specific routes or airports.

When first introduced, the plan was very controversial in Israel, as El Al needs to expend a large sum of money on security that European airlines don’t need to, and that would have made it impossible for El Al to compete.

The Israeli government decided to shoulder almost the entire cost of El Al’s security expenses, which should allow the Israeli airline to be competitive.

Why Doesn’t the EU Condemn PA Torture?

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

The E.U. has refrained from condemning the Palestinian Authority or Hamas in wake of a report that pointed to an increase in human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This is the same E.U. that regularly condemns Israel for building in the settlements or seizing funds belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

More recently, the E.U. condemned Israel for demolishing 22 Palestinian structures in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

But when it comes to human rights violations committed by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the E.U. is prepared to do its utmost to avoid angering the two Palestinian governments.

In response to the report, which was released by the Palestinian Independent Commission For Human Rights, the E.U. missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, in an apologetic tone, only expressed “concern” over recurrent cases of torture and ill treatment of detainees in Palestinian prisons.

And instead of criticizing or condemning Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for human rights violations perpetrated by his security forces, the E.U. missions chose to “welcome” his instruction to respect the prohibition of torture in his detention centers and prisons.

It is worth noting that the E.U. and some Abbas loyalists, including Fatah propagandists and media outlets, were the only ones to “welcome” his decision to ban torture.

So not only is Abbas not condemned for the death of two detainees in his prisons and the crackdown on freedoms of speech and the media, he is in fact being praised by the E.U. for ordering his security and intelligence officers to stop torturing Palestinians.

One would have expected the E.U. to take a tougher stance toward the Palestinian Authority and Hamas human rights violations, as indicated by the report.

But the E.U. missions to Ramallah and Jerusalem are apparently reluctant to take such a position because of their direct and indirect involvement in funding and supporting the Palestinian Authority and various Palestinian institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The E.U. also seems to be afraid of criticizing the Palestinian Authority and Hamas out of concern for the safety of its representatives, especially those who operate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

As the human rights group’s report shows, there has been a 10% increase in the number of complaints of torture and mistreatment by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority during 2012 compared with the year before.

More than half of the 306 complaints about torture that were received last year came from Palestinians who had been detained or imprisoned by Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank, the report revealed.

Altogether, 11 detainees died in Palestinian Authority and Hamas prisons last year, according to the report.

Still, the E.U. did not see any need to refer to these cases. Nor did the E.U. comment on the report’s accusations that Abbas’s security forces are continuing to crack down on journalists and academics and ignore court rulings.

Expressing “concern” over serious human rights violations will not deter the Palestinian Authority or Hamas from pursuing their anti-democratic practices against their own people.

Praising Abbas for instructing his security forces to stop torturing Palestinian detainees is like welcoming a convicted armed robber’s promise to retire.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Vienna Hosts First European Jewish Choral Festival

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The Vienna Jewish Choir last weekend hosted the first European Jewish Choral Festival with a comprehensive repertoire of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Ladino songs, the European Jewish Press reported,

Hundreds of Jewish and non-Jewish singers from 18 groups in Europe participated n the four-day event that drew approximately 1,500 spectators.

The festival, under the patronage of Austria’s Federal President, Heinz Fischer, is sponsored by the European Jewish Parliament, the European Jewish Union and the Jewish Community of Vienna.

The singers took part in intensive workshops to increase cultural exchange, learn specifically about techniques of Jewish music under the guidance of renowned teachers and exchange views on their interpretations of Jewish music.

Roman Grinberg, who hosted the festival and who heads the Vienna Jewish Choir, founded in 1989, said it “brings together these many initiatives in Vienna to a great musical fireworks.”

The event is to become an annual festival, and Rome and Paris are scheduled to host the event in 2013 and 2014.

The European Revolt Against the EU

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

“This wave of protest certainly is not short-term – it is lasting,” Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) said last Thursday, after his party became the third largest party in the British local elections. UKIP is a party that wants to take Britain out of the European Union.

All over Europe, the popularity of the E.U., the supranational organization of 27 European nations, is plummeting. A recent poll conducted by Eurobarometer, the E.U.’s polling organization, in the six major E.U. countries, found that public confidence in the E.U. has fallen to the lowest level ever. Since May 2007, distrust of the E.U. in Poland rose from 18 to 42 percent, in Italy from 28 to 53 percent, in France from 41 to 56 percent, in Germany from 36 to 59 percent, in Britain from 49 to 69 percent, and in Spain from 23 to 72 percent.

The E.U.’s aim is to transform Europe into a single federal state. One of the ways of achieving this aim is unification of economic and monetary policies. So far, 17 of the 27 E.U.-member states have joined the so-called Eurozone by adopting the Euro as their common currency. The project has backfired. The Euro has exacerbated the economic crisis. The one-size-fits-all currency has become the one-size-fits-none currency.

When the Euro was introduced in 2002, Europe’s leaders said it would bring economic growth and prosperity. They even promised full employment by 2010. Europe’s misery is largely self-inflicted. The Euro prevents countries from overcoming their economic problems by devaluing their currency and adapting their wage and price levels. Countries in financial difficulties have to rely on solidarity payments from countries in better shape. As the Euro is dragging everyone down, however, the countries in the North are becoming ever more reluctant to transfer their tax money to the South.

For the past three years, the E.U.’s rich countries have been bailing out the poorer ones, while in return all the Eurozone member states were forced to adopt austerity policies and transfer national sovereignty over their budgets to the unelected, irremovable E.U. bureaucracy in Brussels. The popular appeal of political parties opposing the austerity policies and/or the transfer of national sovereignty is growing everywhere, from Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement in Italy, to UKIP in Britain, to Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands, to Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France. Britain is not even part of the Eurozone, but UKIP wants to take it out of the E.U. altogether. The PVV wants to take the Netherlands out of the Eurozone and out of the E.U., as well. Like UKIP, it wants to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a small and modest organization, limiting its ambition simply to establishing a free trade zone, to which so far only four non-E.U.-nations – Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland – belong.

In Germany, a new party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), is expected to make it through the 5 percent electoral threshold in the next general elections on September 22nd. AfD, formally launched by a group of economics professors last Month, wants to take Germany out of the Eurozone. The party, which is conservative, may, however, draw voters away from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition and tip the balance in favor of the Social-Democrats and their Green partners. Merkel’s coalition is currently leading at 44 percent in the polls, against 41% for the leftist alliance.

While most of the anti-E.U. parties – AfD, UKIP, PVV – tend to be pro-American, their position towards American interests will be shaped by the position Washington takes on the E.U. centralization policies and the Euro. The current U.S. administration, recognizing a centrally-controlled supranational political project when it sees one, supports the E.U. project. Last January, Philip Gordon, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, told the British government that it should stay in the E.U. The administration also said it wants the E.U. to let Turkey become a member.

The European people are rebelling against the unelected E.U. and its grandiose, self-regarding project of abolishing the national sovereignty of the various European countries and turning the whole of Europe into a super-Belgium – an artificial state encompassing several nations with separate languages and distinct cultures and traditions.

Education by Murder in Boston

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

What will be the long-term impact of the Apr. 15-19 Boston Marathon attack and the ensuing action-movie-style chase, killing a total of four and wounding 265?

Let’s start with what its impact will not be. It will not bring American opinion together; if the “United We Stand” slogan lasted brief months after 9/11, consensus after Boston will be even more elusive. The violence will not lead to Israeli-like security measures in the United States. Nor will it lead to a greater preparedness to handle deadly sudden jihad syndrome violence. It will not end the dispute over the motives behind indiscriminate Muslim violence against non-Muslims. And it certainly will not help resolve current debates over immigration or guns.

What it will do is very important: it will prompt some Westerners to conclude that Islamism is a threat to their way of life. Indeed, every act of Muslim aggression against non-Muslims, be it violent or cultural, recruits more activists to the anti-jihad cause, more voters to insurgent parties, more demonstrators to anti-immigrant street efforts, and more donors to anti-Islamist causes.

Education by murder is the name I gave this process in 2002; we who live in democracies learn best about Islamism when blood flows in the streets. Muslims began with an enormous stock of good will because the Western DNA includes sympathy for foreigners, minorities, the poor, and people of color. Islamists then dissipate this good will by engaging in atrocities or displaying supremacist attitudes. High profile terrorism in the West – 9/11, Bali, Madrid, Beslan, London – moves opinion more than anything else.

I know because I went through this process first hand. Sitting in a restaurant in Switzerland in 1990, Bat Ye’or sketched out for me her fears concerning Islamist ambitions in Europe but I thought she was alarmist. Steven Emerson called me in 1994 to tell me about the Council on American-Islamic Relations but I initially gave CAIR the benefit of the doubt. Like others, I needed time to wake to the full extent of the Islamist threat in the West.

Westerners are indeed waking up to this threat. One can get a vivid sense of trends by looking at developments in Europe, which on the topics of immigration, Islam, Muslims, Islamism and Shari’a (Islamic law) is ahead of North America and Australia by about twenty years. One sign of change is the growth of political parties focused on these issues, including the U.K. Independence Party, the National Front in France, the People’s Party in Switzerland, Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Progress Party in Norway and the Swedish Democrats. In a much-noted recent by-election, UKIP came in second, increasing its share of the vote from 4 percent to 28 percent, thereby creating a crisis in the Conservative party.

Swiss voters endorsed a referendum in 2009 banning minarets by at 58-42 margin, a vote more significant for its ratio than its policy implications, which were roughly nil. Public opinion polling at that time found that other Europeans shared these views roughly in these same proportions. Polling also shows a marked hardening of views over the years on these topics. Here (with thanks to Maxime Lépante) are some recent surveys from France:

* 67 percent say Islamic values are incompatible with those of French society * 70 percent say there are too many foreigners * 73 percent view Islam in negatively * 74 percent consider Islam intolerant * 84 percent are against the hijab in private spaces open to the public * 86 percent are favorable to strengthening the ban on the burqa As Soeren Kern notes, similar views on Islam appear in Germany. A recent report from the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach asked what qualities Germans associate with Islam:

* 56 percent: striving for political influence * 60 percent: revenge and retaliation * 64 percent: violence * 68 percent: intolerance toward other faiths * 70 percent: fanaticism and radicalism * 83 percent: discrimination against women In contrast, only 7 percent of Germans associate Islam with openness, tolerance, or respect for human rights.

These commanding majorities are higher than in earlier years, suggesting that opinion in Europe is hardening and will grow yet more hostile to Islamism over time. In this way, Islamist aggression assures that anti-Islamism in the West is winning its race with Islamism. High-profile Muslim attacks like the ones in Boston exacerbate this trend. That is its strategic significance. That explains my cautious optimism about repulsing the Islamist threat.

Kissing the Crocodile

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

In Vienna, toward the end of the Age of Aquarius, a father bought his little girl a baby crocodile for her birthday. The child had become enchanted with the reptile after seeing a picture of it in a storybook and when all the other presents were opened, her new pet was presented to her.

The little girl was delighted with the present. She began to play with the baby croc and then tried to kiss it. The croc bit her on the nose. The little girl began to cry and had to be taken to the hospital. And the angry father went off to dispose of the nasty little beast.

On the next day, the police responded to reports of a strange creature in the Danube canal, that arm of the great river which flows timidly through the locks and into the city. Vienna being full of animal lovers, the crocodile was rescued from the canal while the father was reprimanded for nearly causing the creature, used to the warmer climes of the east, to perish of a cold in the chilly waters.

The matter was worried over in the newspaper columns dedicated to one of the rare events in a city where not very much was happening.

Scandalized animal lovers complained that the beast had been misunderstood. They urged readers to empathize with the crocodile. Imagine, they said, that a giant creature a hundred times your size brings you close to its parted mouth. Could they not see that the crocodile was convinced that it was about to be eaten and was only defending itself?

Wiser heads suggested that the father should never have introduced a dangerous creature into his home and once he had introduced it, he should have expected that it would bite. Like the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog; biting was in its nature. And throwing it into the canal after it had bitten one of us was in our nature.

The subject was fortunately confined to crocodiles, canals and little girls. There was no talk of the ’75 hostage crisis in which the Austrian government allowed the Arm of the Arab Revolution led by Carlos the Jackal to escape to Algeria with his hostages after murdering a police officer.

Not long after the crocodile controversy, two Muslim terrorists armed with machine guns and grenades attacked a synagogue where a Bar Mitzvah celebration for children was taking place. Hesham Mohammed Rajeh, a mathematics student, had been living in Austria for two years. When he was later put on trial, he tried to kick the judge and shouted, “When I am out of here, I will spit on you.”

Hesham Mohammed Rajeh and Marwan Hasan shouted “PLO, PLO” and began to shoot and throw their grenades.

Ulrike Kohut, 25, rolled in front of a grenade to protect another woman’s child. She died of her injuries on the way to the hospital. Lotan “Nathan” Fried, 68, died of shrapnel wounds on the same route. Many more were wounded including a pregnant woman and a 12-year-old girl.

Two policemen and an Israeli bodyguard shot it out with the terrorists and won. Their arrest was followed by a phone call in broken German threatening bombings if they were not released, but this time, perhaps because no actual bomb was found, the authorities held firm and the crocodiles stayed in the canal.

A month earlier, two terrorists had been stopped at the airport after Kalashnikov rifles and hundreds of grenades were found in their luggage. The terrorists had been deported and the authorities had lodged a formal protest with Ghazi Hussein, the PLO representative in Vienna, who had been there to meet them at the airport, and eventually kicked him out of the country. Four years later, that airport was the scene of a hand grenade attack in which 39 people were wounded.

Austria’s Socialist Chancellor, Bruno Kreisky, despite being of Jewish ancestry, was fond of Muslim terrorists and of Nazis, but not at all of Jews. Despite being on the left, Kreisky had a habit of filling his cabinet with former Nazis while comparing Zionism to Nazism. His political success rested on a welfare state built with Soviet money funneled through commercial orders and turning a blind eye to terrorist attacks carried out with Soviet and Polish machine guns was part of the price.

NPR Takes the Side of Multiculturalism

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

From the NPR website:

NPR this week is introducing a new team that will cover race, ethnicity and culture. Code Switch is the name of the new blog. Code-switching is the practice of shifting between different languages or different ways of expressing yourself in conversations.

Honestly folks, do we need more “race, ethnicity and culture?”

Do we need more ethnic politics, based on the proposition that, for example, only a Hispanic person — whatever that is — can understand the concerns of other Hispanics?

Do we need more emphasis on ethnic and gender studies in our schools? Especially when such courses are often presented from a separatist point of view, one which emphasizes the victimhood of a particular group and its need for reparations of various kinds?

Do we need to encourage particular groups to see themselves as separate from other groups and in competition with them?

Do we need to create even more hypersensitivity to the slightest instances of ethnic stereotyping? Do we need for these issues to be uppermost in our consciousnesses at all times? Do we need more restrictions on speech due to political correctness?

Tribalism is a normal human characteristic, which evolved as a response to pressures created when disparate groups encountered each other. Like many aspects of human nature, tribalism can be constructive or it can be destructive. Tribalism is the root of patriotism and nationalism, which I see as generally good things (many will disagree, but that’s part of my point). But tribalism can also lead to conflict, and when multiple groups within a nation give their primary loyalty to their group rather than to the nation, such conflict is unavoidable.

In much of the world this kind of conflict is the rule rather than the exception. Lebanon has been racked by ethnic and religious conflicts for generations; Iraq and Syria can only be held together by totalitarian regimes. The most stable countries in the world are ethnically homogeneous and when this homogeneity is disturbed by an influx of immigrants the result is internal conflict, such as we are seeing now in Europe. Israel faces a tremendously difficult task of finding a modus vivendi among its Jewish and Arab citizens (one could consider the Haredim a separate culture as well).

The U.S. chose a different, but still practical, path. It was intended to be different from ethnically-based nations, following the now-unpopular path of the “melting pot” in which a new, American, culture would be created from people of different cultures who, while retaining some distinctive characteristics, would primarily see themselves as Americans, loyal to the American nation as a whole.

The melting pot was criticized by those who said that it didn’t exist: in fact, they argued, the majority white Anglo-Saxon culture simply erased the others, sometimes brutally. At the same time, disadvantaged status was inherited and didn’t “melt” away, they said. Individuals lost essential parts of their heritage in the process of “assimilation.” They proposed to replace it with a policy of “multiculturalism“:

Multiculturalism is closely associated with “identity politics,” “the politics of difference,” and “the politics of recognition,” all of which share a commitment to revaluing disrespected identities and changing dominant patterns of representation and communication that marginalize certain groups (Young 1990, Taylor 1992, Gutmann 2003). Multiculturalism is also a matter of economic interests and political power; it demands remedies to economic and political disadvantages that people suffer as a result of their minority status.

Multiculturalists take for granted that it is “culture” and “cultural groups” that are to be recognized and accommodated. Yet multicultural claims include a wide range of claims involving religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, and race. Culture is a notoriously overbroad concept and all of these categories have been subsumed by or equated with the concept of culture (Song 2008). Language and religion are at the heart of many claims for cultural accommodation by immigrants. The key claim made by minority nations is for self-government rights. Race has a more limited role in multicultural discourse. Antiracism and multiculturalism are distinct but related ideas: the former highlights “victimization and resistance” whereas the latter highlights “cultural life, cultural expression, achievements, and the like” (Blum 1992, 14). Claims for recognition in the context of multicultural education are demands not just for recognition of aspects of a group’s actual culture (e.g. African American art and literature) but also for the history of group subordination and its concomitant experience (Gooding-Williams 1998). (“Multiculturalism,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Sep. 24, 2010).

Multiculturalism is associated with the academic Left and post-colonialism. An academic fashion, it is a dangerous one. Europe has taken this path, and we can see the results. Much of the criticism of Israel comes from the standpoint of multiculturalism. But Israel’s success is based on the primacy of one culture, the Jewish, Zionist one. It will continue to exist only if it can maintain this. There is no room there for multiculturalism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fresno-zionism/npr-takes-the-side-of-multiculturalism/2013/04/21/

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