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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Front’

Letter from the Front: The Dean of Lander College for Women Writes to Students from Israel

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
While spending Shabbat with her family in Jerusalem, Marian Stoltz-Loike, Ph.D, dean of the Lander College for Women-The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School (LCW), and the vice president for Online Education at Touro College, heard the piercing sound of an air raid siren, a warning that a rocket attack from Gaza was imminent. The following is a letter she sent to the students of LCW about her harrowing experience:
 
Dear Students,
I am writing from Yerushalayim. By now, I assume that you all know about the events of Friday evening. As you all know, there is always a tremendous busy-ness early on Friday afternoon which progressively quiets down as the time for candle lighting approaches. The pre-Shabbos calm had descended on Yerushalayim; the Yerushalayim Shabbos siren had gone off. I was at my daughter’s home. We had lit candles for Shabbos; my son-in-law had just left for shul and I was sitting on the floor playing with my grandsons, aged 2 and 4. All was calm—it was Shabbos and then a siren sounded. My initial thought was that there was a malfunction in the Shabbos alarm system…and then I heard my daughter yelling from the other room. “Imma, that’s the air raid siren, bring the boys to the shelter.”
Because she lives in a new apartment, she has a safe room. I picked up my younger grandson and told my older grandson to come with us. We had 90 seconds to get there (as compared to 15 seconds in the south), but we had already wasted precious seconds before we realized what was happening. We went to the safe room and for the sake of the children, behaved normally. My daughter sang Shabbos songs with the children and tried to answer my grandson’s repeated questions of “Imma, what do I do if I am at gan and the alarm goes off?”; “How do I go underground?” How do you explain things to a four-year old so he can stay safe without traumatizing him?
What did I think about in that safe room—how do people in Sderot and Beer Sheva do this for four years now?  What will the rest of Shabbos be like?  How many times will this situation repeat itself over Shabbos?  Who has been hurt?
After we left the safe room, we heard many, many emergency vehicle sirens. We were worried that that signified something deadly.  It was not until after Shabbos that we could discount rumors and get accurate news reports (and then understood that the sirens were only part of the normal emergencies that happen in every city).
People here are traumatized. They recognize how lucky they are B”H that no one was hurt, but worry about what will happen tomorrow and where they will be when the next siren goes off.  People’s children go to pre-schools that don’t have proper shelters. They go to work. They leave their homes—they worry about staying safe and keeping their families safe. In Yerushalayim, people understand that one rocket is not the same as the continual barrage in the south and the repeated refrain here, is what can we do for the south?  How could we not have recognized what they are experiencing on a daily basis?
What should you do? First, of course, say tehillim, learn more and daven. Second, send emails to people you know in Israel—friends from high school, students from your school who were a class or two behind you and of course your family. Let them know you are thinking of them. They need that for chizuk and psychological support. Third, write letters to your elected officials on a local, state and national level. Let them know that you stand with Israel, that you support the Gillebrand-Kirk resolution on Israel (if they were among the 62 co-sponsors, thank them) and that the rocket attacks in the south and beyond need to stop. Fourth, use your list serves, social media contacts, etc. to get messages out about your support for Israel and ask your contacts to take action in tefilah, support and chizuk.
Don’t underestimate the impact of your voice.
Dean Stoltz-Loike

Israeli Flag Burned in Front of Budapest Synagogue

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

An Israeli flag was burned in front of a Budapest synagogue on Tuesday by members of an ultrarightist Hungarian party as part of their celebrations of an anti-communist revolution taking part in the country in 1956.

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary Ilan Mor appeared on the opposition’s television program that same day, calling on Hungarians to reject this “unacceptable anti-Israel act”.

Hungary’s foreign ministry condemned the act on Wednesday in a statement, saying “the government of Hungary is committed to fighting all forms of anti-Semitism and racism, and stands firm, employing all means necessary, against the dangerous manifestations of extremism… “

Defense Minister Barak: IDF Ready to Repel Syrian Refugees

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak on Thursday toured the Northern Command and the Golan Heights along with commanders stationed in the region and told reporters that the IDF is preparing for the possibility that waves of refugees will escape from Syria to the Golan Heights. “If required to stop waves of refugees, we will do so,” he stated.

Barak addressed recent occurrences in Syria, mainly the targeting of top security officials of Bashar al-Assad’s regime by oppositions forces. He said, “What happened yesterday in Damascus will greatly expedite the fall of the Assad family.”

Barak added that “those killed are closest to the regime. The blow is severe; it is severe to the radical axis, to the Iranians and to the Hezbollah terrorist organization, who are the only supporters of the Assad family.”

“The regime in Syria under the Assad family is weakening in front of our very eyes, and soon the Assad family will fall and nobody knows what will happen next,” added Barak. “We are concerned the disorder will bring to the downfall of sensitive systems: there are many chemical weapons in Syria, scattered throughout the country, and many weapons are possessed by civilians.”

The defense minister stressed that the IDF is following up on the possibility that once the Assad regime falls, the Hezbollah terrorist organization will try to transfer advanced weapons systems, heavy missiles and chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Israel’s Home Front Command, in conjunction with the various rescue and emergency bodies in Haifa, the largest city in northern Israel, conducted the largest home front drill ever held there. The exercise simulated hundreds of rockets striking the city, including direct hits on strategic buildings, most notably on Haifa’s Technion University, during which gas masks were distributed to residents in nearby areas.

Anti-Islamist Protesters Pelt Hillary’s Motorcade with Tomatoes, Shoes

Monday, July 16th, 2012

As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s armored car motorcade was riding through the Egyptian port city of Alexandria where she had given a speech on democratic rights, a tomato hit an accompanying Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle were thrown at Hillary’s car, Reuters reports.

According to a senior U.S. official, said Clinton herself was not hit, since her vehicle had already turned a corner by the time of the incident. But she may have been able to hear the taunts of “Monica, Monica” which the protesters were chanting, a reference to the extra-marital affair conducted by her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Others had chanted the Arabic equivalent of ” Clinton go home,” according to an Egyptian security official.

According to Al Ahram, several liberal and Christian politicians and public figures condemned Clinton’s visit to Egypt, accusing the United States of favoring Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. There were several large demonstrations by liberal parties and movements, including the Free Egyptians party and the Front for Peaceful Change, against Clinton’s visit outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the presidential palace and the Four Seasons hotel in which Clinton was staying. The demonstrators were joined by supporters of Mubarak-era vice president Omar Suleiman.

A large group of Christian politicians – including Coptic MP Emad Gad, rights activist Michael Mounir, former MP Georgette Qeleini and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, refused to meet with Clinton during her brief visit to Egypt.

In a joint statement on Sunday, they expressed their displeasure with Clinton’s decision to meet with members of Egypt’s Coptic-Christian community following earlier meetings with Muslim Brotherhood members and Salafists. They asserted that Clinton’s move served to “promote sectarian divisions.”

Clinton met with women and Christians, two groups with reasons to fear repression under a Muslim Brotherhood government.

“I will be honest and say some have legitimate fears about their future,” Clinton told reporters. “I said to them … no Egyptian, no person anywhere, should be persecuted for their faith, or their lack of faith, for their choices about working and not working. Democracy is not just about reflecting the will of the majority. It is also about protecting the rights of the minority.”

Clinton said the U.S. had learned that “the hard way,” pointing out that the U.S. constitution originally did not protect the rights of women or slaves.

Al Ahram reported that on Saturday the Front for Peaceful Change, a pro-revolution youth group, issued a statement calling on the Egyptian public to participate in the protests to register its rejection of perceived U.S. interference in Egypt’s affairs and its deal-making with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al Ahram cites accusations of a secret agreement which was hammered out between the U.S. and the Brotherhood, which the paper says is a common refrain among the opponents of Clinton’s visit.

Emad Gad, a Coptic-Christian member of Egypt’s recently dissolved lower house of parliament, saw Clinton’s visit to Cairo in the context of an alleged U.S.-Brotherhood deal that enabled candidate Mohamed Morsi to assume Egypt’s presidency.

“In exchange for Morsi’s being named president, the Brotherhood is expected to protect Israel’s security by pressuring Hamas – the Brotherhood’s branch in Palestine – not to launch military attacks against Israel, and even accept a peace agreement with Tel Aviv,” Gad told Al-Ahram.

Gad, whom Al Ahram introduces as a prominent political analyst, told the paper that the U.S. was also supporting the Brotherhood in return for maintaining Mubarak-era agreements not to restore ties with Iran.

On Saturday night, according to Reuters, protesters outside Clinton’s Cairo hotel chanted anti-Islamist slogans, accusing the United States of engineering the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power.

In her speech at the recently re-opened U.S. consulate in Alexandria, Clinton rejected suggestions that the United States, which had been an avid supporter of the deposed Mubarak, was backing one faction over another in Egypt.

“I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which of course we cannot,” Clinton said.

“We are prepared to work with you as you chart your course, as you establish your democracy,” she added. “We want to stand for principles, for values, not for people or for parties.”

The Historic Roots of Contemporary Anti-Semitism

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

On March 18, the Germans will appoint a new President. It is a ceremonial function, which the German political class will bestow on the 72-year old pastor Joachim Gauck, a former human rights activist from East Germany. Gauck is backed by the major German parties, from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian-Democrats and her Liberal coalition partners, to the Socialist and the Green opposition parties.

The far-left party, Die Linke (The Left), however, has put forward its own candidate for the function, 73-year old Beate Klarsfeld. She is not a party member, but has been chosen by Die Linke as a symbolic figure.

Beate Klarsfeld, née Künzel, was born in a German Christian family. She has lived in France since the 1960s, after marrying the French Romanian-born lawyer Serge Klarsfeld. Serge is a Jew, whose father was murdered in Auschwitz. In the 1970s and 80s, the Klarsfelds were famous human rights activists who brought several Nazi war criminals to justice. Like her husband, Beate has always been a strong supporter of Israel.

When last week Beate Klarsfeld was asked who of the various candidates for the French presidential elections next April she supports, she did not name Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of the far-left Front de Gauche (Left Front), the French sister party of Die Linke, nor François Hollande, the Socialist candidate who is leading in the polls; she named Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s incumbent president who hopes to win a second term. Of all the French presidential candidates, Sarkozy is the one most friendly towards Israel.

Klarsfeld’s pro-Israeli positions are not shared by Die Linke. Three Linke members of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, remained seated when Israeli President Shimon Peres visited the Bundestag in 2010. Several Linke deputies have also taken part in demonstrations where “Death to Israel” was chanted. Some took part in the so-called “Gaza flotilla.” Inge Höger, a Bundestag member, who attended a pro-Hamas conference clad in a keffiyeh [checkered headscarf for men] showing a map labeled “Palestine” across the entire territory of the State of Israel, accused opponents of “misusing the Holocaust” in silencing criticism of Israeli “occupation policies.” The German newspaper Die Welt has called Höger a “flawless anti-Semite” because of her “anti-Jewish statements.” Independent academic observers have warned that positions hostile to both Israel and Jews are increasingly dominant within Die Linke.

With this record, it seems puzzling why Die Linke put Beate Klarsfeld forward as its candidate for the presidency. The answer is probably that the party, knowing that Klarsfeld does not stand a chance, just wants to annoy the ruling German Christian-Democrat establishment — many of whose members still bear a personal grudge against Klarsfeld for her campaign in the 1960s against Kurt Georg Kiesinger, a Christian-Democrat who was West German Chancellor from 1966 to 1969. During the war, Kiesinger, a Nazi Party member, had worked at the propaganda department of the Foreign Ministry. In 1968, Beate Klarsfeld slapped Kiesinger in the face, an action for which she was sentenced to one year in prison – a sentence later reduced to four months probation.

In 2009, Die Linke nominated Beate Klarsfeld for the Federal Cross of Merit in honor of her relentless efforts to bring Nazi criminals to court. The request was turned down by the German government. One year later, in stark contrast to Beate’s treatment by the German political establishment, the French government awarded her husband Serge the title of Commander in the Legion of Honor.

The revelation that, almost seven decades after the defeat of Germany’s Nazi regime, Germany still has more problems with the Klarsfelds than with France, should not come as a surprise. History seems to leave deep cultural impressions which are difficult to eradicate.

Last year, two German economists, Nico Voigtländer of the UCLA in Los Angeles and Hans-Joachim Voth of the university of Barcelona, Spain, published a paper in which they showed a remarkable geographical pattern between the anti-Jewish pogroms in 14th century Germany, 1920s pogroms in Germany, and the electoral strength of the Nazi Party in 1928 (before it became a mass movement attracting all sorts of opportunists).

Their study showed that German towns that blamed the Black Death – the pestilence epidemic – in 1348-1350 on the Jews and subsequently murdered them were much more likely to commit anti-Semitic violence in the 1920s and vote for the Nazis.

Of the 19 pogroms recorded in the 1920s, fully 18 took place in towns and cities with a record of medieval violence against Jews. In the places with a 14th century history of Jew-burning, the Nazi Party received 1.5 times as many votes as in places without it. In cities like Aachen, for example, the Jews were left undisturbed in 1349, while they were massacred in Würzburg. In the 1920s and 30s, Würzburg was again the scene of anti-Jewish violence, while Aachen witnessed no such violence. In the 1928 elections, the Nazi Party got 6.3 percent of the Würzburg vote, twice the national average, while in Aachen it got barely 1 percent.

Let’s Vote For Independence

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

           Much of the world is getting ready to recognize a Palestinian state. The U.S. says it will veto any such measure in the Security Council. Other countries are going ahead with plans to vote for “Palestine” in the General Assembly – to grant “Palestine” embassy space, formal recognition, etc.
 
After years of paying lip service to the need for granting Palestinians a state, Israeli political leaders are scratching their heads about what to do and how to stop this.
 
The best Prime Minister Netanyahu has come up with is giving a speech in that building on the East River near 42nd street. 
 
I have a better idea.
 
The Palestinian statehood movement is essentially a case of local Arabs in and around Israel seeking to gain separatist independence. Arabs already have 22 states, but that’s not enough. Hence the push for yet another one.
 
Since nearly all countries have their own domestic separatist movements, the only reasonable response by Israel to votes by other countries in favor of the Palestinian separatist movement should be to recognize all other separatist movements, granting them embassy space and diplomatic recognition.
 
Here are some examples:
 
If France votes for a Palestinian state, as it is expected to do, Israel must immediately grant diplomatic status and recognition to the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica, to the separatist Savoyard League and the Nissa Rebela, to the separatist Arm?e R?volutionnaire Bretonne and Front de Lib?ration de la Bretagne, and to the French Basque separatists.
 
If Spain votes for a Palestinian state, as it is expected to do, Israel must immediately grant diplomatic status and recognition to the ETA and other Basques separatists, to the Catalan separatists, as well as to the separatist movements in Castille, Leon, Andalusia, Cantabria, Galicia, Aragon, and Asturias.
 
If Belgium votes for a Palestinian state, as it is expected to do, Israel must immediately grant diplomatic status and recognition to both the Flemish and Walloon separatist movements.
 
If Holland votes for a Palestinian state, as it is expected to do, Israel must immediately grant diplomatic status and recognition to the Frisian separatist movement.
 
Turkey, of course, is leading the campaign for Palestine, which is why Israel should recognize the Armenian, Kurdish, Arab, and other ethnic nationalist movements inside Turkey. And let’s hear nothing about Armenians already having their own state outside the Turkish borders. 
 
The UK will probably vote against it, but just in case it votes in favor, Israel should then recognize the separatist movements of Cornwall, Guernsey, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, Northumberland, Wessex, Yorkshire, and of course also the independence of Wales, Scotland and Ulster.
 
Russia plans to vote for Palestinian independence. Israel should respond by recognizing all of the separatist movements within Russia, a full list of which is much too long to reproduce here.
 
Similarly, if Italy votes for Palestine, there are so many regional independence and separatist movements inside Italy that could be recognized by Israel. Space simply does not allow for their complete listing. 
 
The Sami independence movements in Norway, Sweden and Finland should be recognized at once. Ditto for the Faroes Islands independence movement in Denmark.
 
If Switzerland votes in favor, Israel should recognize the Jura regional separatist movement.
 
The above list is just for European countries. Most of South America already recognized “Palestine,” even before any UN vote. If Argentina and/or Chile votes in favor, Israel needs to recognize the Mapuche separatists in those countries. If Bolivia votes in favor, the Santa Cruz separatists there should be recognized.
 
If Brazil votes in favor, Israel should recognize the separatist movements in Rio Grande do Sul. Venezuela will certainly vote in favor, which is why Israel must recognize the independence of Zulia and Maracaibo. Mexico is certain to vote in favor, which is why the Zapatista movement in Chiapas needs a nice embassy in Israel.
 
Muslim states have their own domestic separatist movements, and these are deserving of special support and recognition by Israel.
 
In Iran, aside from the obvious Kurdish separatists, there are Assyrian, Baluchi, Azeri, and Arab regional separatist movements, all in need of an Embassy. (And let’s not have any nonsense about how Iranian Arabs have no right to independence because Arabs already have 22 states. Azeris already have a state, you say? Since when does that matter?) 
 
Syria also has Kurdish and Assyrian separatists. Pakistan has Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan, and Singh separatist movements. Indonesia has oodles of separatists.
 
The number of separatist movements all over the world is so great that Israel would have to build an entire new diplomatic city east of Ariel just to house all the embassies for the separatist movements in countries voting for Palestinian statehood.
 

Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book “the Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/lets-vote-for-independence/2011/09/21/

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