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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Gaza flotilla’

Stop Whining: Arm Yourselves Against Anti-Israel (Campus and Other) Culture

Friday, April 1st, 2016

It’s a problem. With so many anti-Israel events, professors and organizations on campuses, even American students who want to stand up for Israel far too often find themselves unable to do it.

Part of the problem is that the anti-Israel forces are buttressed by the mainstream media. Plus, the few professors who are not on the anti-Israel side are often unwilling or unable to devote the kind of energy spent by the other side.

And sadly, it is perceived as more hip to attack Israel and instead support the Palestinian Arabs who are always portrayed, willingly, as victims. All of this has led to misinformation replacing the truth as the primary narrative about the Middle East conflict. It seems overwhelming.

But the truth is that every single concerned student, parent and grandparent can make a huge difference in the current anti-Israel campus climate. And that difference can and should start by utilizing a special tool when the students are in high school and middle school, or even earlier.

Plus, that tool is absolutely free and completely accessible.

It’s called the Jewish Virtual Library. It’s vast, it’s constantly updating and expanding, and it has just about everything you could possibly want to know about – and know well – waiting right there for your fingertips to guide you.

Before getting into the details and background, here’s a real-life example of the way in which the JVL makes all the difference.


Over the past many months, emails sent and received by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were made public. There was a searchable log of those thousands of emails in which there were many between Clinton and an adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, who discussed the topic of Israel, and a smaller but substantial subset dealt with the flotilla which tried to break the legal embargo of Gaza.

One of the boats in the flotilla refused to heed Israel’s legal demand that the ship dock at the port of Ashdod, just north of Gaza, rather than violate the embargo. Israeli soldiers then boarded that ship — the Mavi Marmara–  they were attacked, the soldiers responded, and several terrorists aboard the ship were killed. Blumenthal was apoplectic: blaming Israel and demanding U.S. punishment.

When writing about the incident on the Mediterranean, this reporter wanted to recheck the facts. A Google search immediately brought up an entry in Wikipedia. A few entries further down was the URL for the Jewish Virtual Library. The entries in the two sources of information were dramatically different. So much so that had one only read the Wikipedia entry, Israel was guilty of murdering freedom-lovers bringing aid to a besieged Gaza. A full account – which would lead to a very different understanding – is on the JVL.

The Jewish Virtual Library had a main entry on the incident – titled, “Gaza Flotilla Incident,” and within that entry are numerous links within the same site that take you to descriptions of the Gaza Blockade, more information about the Israeli Defense Forces, the port of Ashdod and the “elite naval commandos” who boarded the ship by rope from hovering helicopters.

The entry is only five paragraphs long, but beneath it is a cornucopia of linked-to riches: a fact sheet on the Gaza Flotilla (with many more links), interviews with Mavi Marmara crew members, relevant videos, Israeli statements issued about the incident, and international reactions and reports.


It is indeed an information gold mine. And it is available to everyone who wants to educate themselves about just about anything having to do with Judaism, the Jewish State and the Jewish people.

The site is set up, visually, like a large library, with “rooms” to click on such as US-Israel Relations, History, Women (the icon is Golda Meir, who else?), the Holocaust, Israel, Politics, Biography, Vital Statistics and more. Each room contains endless entries with sub-links and fact sheets and videos and anything you could want.

But maybe you, loyal Israel supporter but but objective reader, worry that the JVL is just the other side of the anti-Israel coin? That is, that it is an advocacy tool which reveals only the information that exonerates Israel? That’s a reasonable concern, but it is put to rest by reading the account entries, and by the founder of the JVL.


Mitchell Bard is the founder and director of the JVL. The JewishPress.com spoke with him recently about how it all came about and how it keeps going.

Bard, a foreign policy analyst and author with a Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles, said he began his work on this project back in 1997, when organizations were first discovering the world wide web. “People were rushing to put their organizational information online, and folks were just beginning to go to the web with research questions.”

“But,” Bard said, “There was almost nothing there, at least not about Jewish history.” What Bard could find wasn’t very good, so he decided to create a “one-stop shop, something particularly for students who were looking for answers to questions, especially about Israel.”

At the time Bard was already, as he still is today, the executive director of the American-Iraeli Cooperative Enterprise. Bard was not technically savvy at the time, but he knew he wanted to create a resource for students, one in which all the links were internal – with credited sources – so that students could most easily find the answers they seek all in one place.

Nearly ten years later Bard still is driven by the desire to put students’ needs first. If a student is looking for an answer and can’t find it on the JVL – which is hard to believe – Bard says he and his staff will find the answer and then include that in the library. Now Bard has two other full-time staff helping him with the enormous task.

There are nearly 30,000 entries, and 6,000 graphics, including excellent maps, with links to 15-16,000 websites in the JVL.

From where does the information come that appears in the JVL? “Carefully chosen articles, universities, governments, reputable news sources, we’re very careful about choosing only from reliable sources,” says Bard.

“We have a strong, credible track record,” he adds, sensitive to the concern some may have that the information is tilted towards Israel, “our reputation is good because of what we include and how the information is provided.”

Although Bard says the JVL has more than 950,000 monthly visitors, it is shocking that the numbers aren’t twice that. They should be. And people are still inclined to think of something called the “Jewish Virtual Library” as a place to look for questions about Jewish holidays, or for information about the Holocaust, two areas of the JVL which receive the most traffic.

What is the most common search? The answer Bard gives is absolutely appalling: “Was Adolph Hilter Jewish?” Adolph Hitler, in fact, is one of the most popular search terms.

There are still day school teachers who suggest Wikipedia as a source for research, and too few who even know about the JVL. That’s also appalling.

So here’s your task.

You need to educate yourself first about what is in the Jewish Virtual Library. Next, you need to make sure the history teachers who educate your children or grandchildren know about – and use and recommend – this resource. Third, you need to make sure your children and grandchildren, your spouse and your friends know about the JVL and regularly refer to it. This is a small sample of items about which Israel-supporters should and can know, because of the JVL: What are “the three Nos” at Khartoum? Why was the San Remo Conference so important? Are Israeli Arabs second class citizens? The history of the negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs? And there is so much more.

JVL should be the go-to source whenever you need the real facts about the past or present in Israel or any place in the Middle East related to Israel.  So when an issue about Israel comes up when you’re talking to your granddaughter, or explaining things at the next Faculty or Sisterhood or Men’s Club Meeting, don’t Google it.  JVL it.


Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Feiglin Wants Turkey Apology for Deaths of 766 Holocaust Refugees

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Turkey should apologize for the deaths of 766 Holocaust refugees whose Deputy MV Struma boat was sunk in February 1942 after the country refused to allow their boat to remain in port for repairs, said Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin.

The ship was towed away to the Black Sea, where it was a sitting duck for a mine or a Soviet torpedo.

Feiglin posted the demand on his Facebook page after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s won an apology from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the deaths of nine Turkish terrorists who clubbed and kidnapped IDF commandos trying to stop their boat from reaching Hamas-controlled Gaza in May 2010.

Erdogan also is demanding $ 1 million compensation for each of the nine terrorists killed in the clash.

Feiglin, who heads the Jewish Leadership faction of the Likud, wrote, “The truth is that we don’t need an apology. And also not financial compensation. The Jewish people have a special skill. They know how to remember.”

Jews piled on the ship in Romania in December 1942 but their journey to Israel, which was then under the British Mandate, was scuttled when the boat docked at Istanbul.

Britain refused to give the referees visa and Turkey refused to allow them to enter the country.

After two months of being stuck in the port, Turkey towed to the ship into international waters, where it was sunk either by a mine of by a Soviet torpedo.

In an account of the boat’s hapless voyage written in “The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism,” Bernard Wasserstein wrote, “It was a rough night in the Black Sea on February 24, 1942. Ten kilometers or so from the shore, a 75 year-old, 240-ton converted yacht, carrying 767 Jewish refugees from Romania, exploded, probably after being hit by a torpedo, fired in error by a Soviet submarine.

“The vessel sank with the loss of all except one of the passengers. The Struma had left Constanza [Romania] on December 12, 1941, bound for Palestine. But on arrival at Istanbul three days later, her engine broke down and she was unable to proceed. While engineers tried unsuccessfully to restore the ship to seaworthiness, the Turkish and British governments wrangled about the onward passage of the refugees.

“The Turks refused to allow them to land unless they had guarantees of admission to some other country. The British refused to grant them certificates to enter Palestine. The failure of the two governments to agree culminated in the boat being towed out to sea and abandoned to the waves…

“The only force used in the episode was that applied by between one and two hundred Turkish policemen who overpowered resistance from the debilitated refugees and supervised the towing of the rotten, still engine-less hulk out beyond territorial waters. They then abandoned the passengers to near-certain death.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Erdogan Says Apology Only First Step, Demands Money

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that he expects Israel to compensate Turkey and lift the maritime blockade against Hamas before Ankara normalizes relations with Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey on Friday, almost at the same time President Barack Obama left Israel for Jordan, over the “tragic” results of the class between Turkish terrorists and IDF commandos who were virtually unarmed when boarding a ship that was trying to break the maritime blockade.

“We have said, ‘An apology will be made, compensation will be paid and the blockade on Palestine will be lifted. There will be no normalization without these,’” the Turkish leader said.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Bibi Kissed the Ring, Erdoğan: Apology ‘Exactly the Way We Wanted’

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday addressed the agreement on the renewal of his country’s diplomatic relations with Israel, complete with reinstating each country’s ambassadors. Erdogan said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology was “the way we wanted it.”

The rapprochement between the two leaders had been organized by visiting U.S. President Barack Obama, minutes before he departed to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah.

Obama insisted that Netanyahu end the feud with Erdoğan, particularly in light of the deteriorating situation in Syria. Both countries stand to benefit from cooperation in the political, military and intelligence aspects of the Syrian civil war, a cooperation that had been severed following the Gaza flotilla affair.

The wording of Netanyahu’s apology was a tad elusive, and different from the original Turkish demand for an apology for the killing of its citizens. Instead, the wording the two sides finally agreed to include “an apology to the Turkish people for a mistake that could lead to loss of human life.”

The alteration was based on the Israeli investigation of the incident, which indicated a number of operational errors during the takeover of the Turkish boat Mavi Marmara.

During the conversation, Netanyahu clarified that the tragic consequences of the flotilla were not intentional. He expressed regret in the name of the State of Israel over the loss of human life. The two leaders also agreed that Israel will transfer reparations to a humanitarian fund established specifically for the families of the victims, instead of paying reparations directly to the families, as the Turks originally demanded.

Erdogan, who took back some of the things said against Zionism, agreed to stop the existing legal proceedings against IDF soldiers, including any proceedings which were to be opened in the future.

The Turkish prime minister rescinded his unequivocal demand to remove Israel’s blockade on Gaza. At the same time, Netanyahu noted during the conversation the easing of the closure which has already taken place. The two leaders agreed to continue working together to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Former (and future) Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who currently heads the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, criticized the apology, calling it “a serious error that affects the motivation of IDF soldiers.”

Except, that, considering the fact that IDF soldiers were lowered from a chopper onto the Mavi Marmara’s deck to be beaten mercilessly like Jewish pinatas, just knowing that stupid, callused decisions like that won’t be made again could go a long way to improve IDF morale.

Knowing that Ehud Barack, the architect of that victory, is no longer at the helm at the Defense Ministry, is also a big relief.

Indeed, the new Minister of Defense Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon was very much in favor of restoring relations with the Turks, even at the cost of his boss eating a few slices of humble pie.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bibi-kissed-the-ring-erdogan-apology-exactly-the-way-we-wanted/2013/03/23/

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