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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘israelis’

What EU Wants Israelis Not to Know

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

{Originally posted to the the Commentary Magazine website}

In the three days since Israel passed a law mandating new reporting requirements for NGOs that are primarily funded by foreign governments, there’s one question I have yet to hear any of its critics answer. If, as they stridently claim, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with NGOs getting most of their funding from a foreign government, then why would simply being required to state this fact in all their publications exercise a “chilling effect” (the U.S. State Department) or “stigmatize” them (the New Israel Fund) or result in “constraining their activities” (the European Union)?

The obvious answer is that the critics know perfectly well it isn’t alright: An organization that gets most of its funding from a foreign government isn’t a “nongovernmental” organization at all, but an instrument of that government’s foreign policy. In fact, with regard to the EU, that’s explicit in its funding guidelines: For an Israeli organization that conducts activities in the territories to be eligible for EU funding, it must comply with EU foreign policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This, incidentally, also explains why 25 of the 27 organizations affected by the law are left-wing: The far-left is the only part of Israel’s political spectrum that shares Europe’s opinions on the conflict, and hence, that Europe is willing to fund.

Yet if an organization is an instrument of a foreign country’s foreign policy, it’s very hard to argue that it’s an objective “human rights organization,” as the organizations in question bill themselves. Rather, it’s an overtly political organization that seeks to pressure Israel into adopting the foreign government’s preferred policies. And making this known definitely could be “stigmatizing,” in the sense that Israelis might be less willing to trust an organization’s assertions once they realize it has a not-so-hidden policy agenda that could be influencing its reports.

That, however, is precisely why Israelis have a need and a right to know where these organizations’ funding is coming from–especially given this funding’s sheer scale. And it’s also why there’s nothing remotely undemocratic about the law, as explained in depth by legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich here.

Nevertheless, if this is really what the law’s critics fear, then they’re behind the times. In the years since the idea of legislating this law first arose, most of the organizations in question have made themselves so toxic that it’s hard to see how information about their foreign funding could make Israelis view them any more negatively. Thus the more likely impact of publicizing their funding sources won’t be to delegitimize the organizations, but to delegitimize their donors–which is precisely why Europe, which provides most of this funding, is so worried.

Currently, a nontrivial portion of Europe’s influence in Israel comes from the fact that Israelis still admire it and, therefore, want it to like their country, not merely to trade with it. The fact that Europe is Israel’s biggest trading partner obviously also matters greatly, but the emotional angle, which stems mainly from Europe’s role as part of the democratic West, shouldn’t be underrated.

Now consider how that admiration might be affected by the discovery of how much money Europe gives, say, Breaking the Silence. This organization, which compiles “testimony” by Israeli soldiers about alleged abuses, is unpopular in Israel for many reasons–because Israelis don’t think its reports accurately reflect their army’s actions (see here for one egregious example); because its “testimony” is strictly anonymous, making it impossible to investigate its allegations; and because it spends most of its time and effort marketing its reports abroad, convincing many Israelis that it’s more interested in tarnishing Israel’s image than in getting the army to improve its behavior. But last month, two incidents brought its reputation to a new low.

The first was Mahmoud Abbas’ infamous address to the European Parliament, in which he repeated a medieval blood libel by claiming rabbis were ordering their followers to poison Palestinian wells. This accusation originated in a report by a Turkish news agency that cited Breaking the Silence as its source, which sounded highly unlikely. Except then the Israeli website NRG published a video showing one of the organization’s founders claiming that settlers had engineered the evacuation of a Palestinian village by poisoning its well. And a respected left-wing journalist, Ben-Dror Yemini, published a column with further documentation of both the organization’s claim and its falsity. So it turned out BtS actually was spreading a medieval blood libel.

Then, the following week, a group of reservists went public with their experiences of how BtS collects its testimony – which turns out to entail both harassment and deception. After their discharge from the army, the organization called them repeatedly to urge them to talk about their experiences in the 2014 Gaza war; one man said he was called eight or nine times. But when they finally acquiesced, they discovered that the organization had cherry-picked from their accounts to present the army in the worst possible light.

To grasp just how toxic BtS has become, consider the fact that the president of Ben-Gurion University–who has scrupulously defended its right to speak at university seminars–nevertheless overturned a departmental decision to grant it a monetary prize last month. What Professor Rivka Carmi essentially said is that while she will defend its right to speak, she isn’t willing to have her university finance the organization. And when you’ve lost the universities, which are among the most left-wing organizations in Israel, you’ve really lost the whole country.

Originally published in Commentary on July 14, 2016

Evelyn Gordon

Turkey Under Martial Law; Coup Attempt by Turkish Military

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Gunfire was heard in the Turkish capital of Ankara late Friday as the Turkish military announced it was seizing control of the country, Reuters reported.

The military released a statement saying its armed forces have ‘fully seized control’ Turkish state television was seized by an entity calling itself the “Turkish Peace Council,” and the military chief of staff was taken into custody.

It was not possible to reach Israeli or U.S. contacts via social media; international journalists said social media access has been blocked.

Some 2200 U.S. troops and 1500 foreign U.S. citizens were warned to “shelter in place and stay indoors” late Thursday night.

Military tanks were seen rolling through the streets and low-flying jets were flying sorties overhead, eyewitnesses told Reuters.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that a group within the military has indeed engaged in an attempted coup.

Eyewitnesses told international media they saw the jets and helicopters flying above Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and an ancient metropolis straddling both the continents of Europe and Asia, once known to historians as Constantinople.

According to the Turkish Daily Sabah website, both bridges in Istanbul that span the mightly Bosphorus strait that separates the two continents have been closed to traffic.

As of five pm Friday afternoon New York time, it was not yet clear what the outcome will be, but it is clear that whatever the outcome, the ramifications for the State of Israel will be serious either way.

Israel and Turkey had just reached a reconciliation agreement barely two weeks ago after a six year freeze in diplomatic ties. There are numerous Israeli business owners, artists and musicians who live in Turkey and/or travel to and from the country.

It remains to be seen how the current state of affairs will affect Israelis, Jews and Americans who are currently in Turkey, as well as those who regularly do business with their Turkish counterparts and travel in and out of the country.

Hana Levi Julian

Israelis Raise More than $120 Thousand Overnight for Hebron Shooter’s Legal Defense

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Former MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beiteinu) has proven that everything people have been saying about the burgeoning Israeli rightwing majority whose power has only begun to be unleashed is absolutely true. Gal, who hosts a show on economics on rightwing TV Channel 20, found out that the attorneys for IDF medic Sergeant Elor Azaria had not been paid and that as a result the defense for the 19-year-old soldier was facing obvious difficulties, took to the crowdsourcing Headstart website where in about 12 hours he raised more than the needed amount — and the money is still pouring in.

Gal told the Headstart visitors — as of 10 AM Monday there were 3,297 donors who left the equivalent of $120,098.67 — that he will continue the collection to create a fund for future cases in which IDF soldiers who carry out righteous shoots against Arab terrorists are taken to court by their own army.

On March 24, which was also the holiday of Purim, Sergeant Azaria arrived on the scene of a terror stabbing outside the Jewish community of Hebron, where one stabber was dead and the other lay next to him on the ground. Azaria shot the second terrorist dead, an act that would have at most resulted in a disciplinary hearing within his military unit, but, an Arab B’Tselem employee was on hand to document the event and the video went viral. This resulted in the entire military apparatus becoming prosecutor, judge and executioner of the exemplary soldier, who received official recognition as Outstanding Fighter. From the defense minister down, they all condemned the yet to be investigated act. And so, rather than receiving a slap on the wrist, Azaria faced a murder charge, which was later reduced—under pressure from an outraged public—to manslaughter.

The trial is in full swing these days in a military court in Jaffa, and the Azaria family was running out of funds fast. At which point their countrymen took out their credit cards and gave and gave.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office responded that “Azaria is an IDF soldier who is entitled to a fair trial. Despite the fact that he had the option of taking a military defender for free, he opted to take a civilian attorney.”

Of course, the military prosecution did exactly the same thing: preferring not to rely on their home-grown talent, the prosecution conscripted one of Israel’s top litigators, Nadav Weisman, to lead its team, so, to play fair, the IDF should have paid for the defendant’s outside legal help, too. But the IDF spokesperson had nothing to say about that.

JNi.Media

Israeli Leftists Ejected From Ramallah, Attacked En Route to Iftar

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

A trip to attend an Iftar meal on Wednesday night to break the Islamic Ramadan fast in the Palestinian Authority capital of Ramallah turned out to be much more exciting than activists from the leftist “Two States, One Homeland” organization expected.

The group of nine activists drove in their vehicles into the city, which is located in an area designated as Area A under the Oslo Accords, meaning it is under the complete administrative, legal and security control of the Palestinian Authority.

Israelis are forbidden to enter this area without the specific authorization of the PA government.

Apparently the members of the group were invited by unidentified Arab “friends” who are citizens of the Palestinian Authority to attend an Iftar meal in Ramallah, although it is not clear who issued the invitation.

However, the group was “welcomed” in the manner reserved for most other Jews as they headed towards the PA capital.

“Late Wednesday night nine Israelis entered Ramallah of their own volition. One of their vehicles was damaged by firebombs and rocks that were hurled at the travelers,” the IDF later told reporters. “No injuries were reported.

“Eight of the Israelis exited voluntarily; the ninth Israeli left with the assistance of an escort by Palestinian Authority police,” military officials continued, explaining that the activists were not allowed to remain in Ramallah. One of the group was not pleased with this turn of events.

“The Israelis were transferred to Israeli security personnel for follow-up,” the IDF added, noting “An investigation has been launched into the reasons behind the entry of the Israelis into Ramallah.”

It is standard protocol for Palestinian Authority security personnel to transfer any Israeli found or caught in Area A or B directly into the custody of Israeli security personnel.

Despite all the conflict and difficulties that have taken place between the two populations over the past eight months, it is clear that when it comes to some matters, at least, cooperation still exists between the two security forces.

The activists themselves saw things quite differently — and some of the things that occurred apparently they did not see at all. Following is the account of the night’s events, as related by the “Two States, One Homeland” group.

“This evening activists from “Two States, One Homeland” set out to participate in a joint Iftar meal.

“One of the vehicles apparently torched and sustained minor damage while it was empty. The Palestinian Authority security apparatus quickly took control over the incident and assisted us in filing a complaint.

“At no time did we feel threatened and our Palestinian friends were outraged by the incident.

“The most frightening thing to anyone who wants to maintain the existing situation is to see Israelis and Palestinians who continue to work and speak together.

“We agreed that we would not flinch and will continue with all our strength to bring our two peoples into line.”

Hana Levi Julian

Survey: Israelis Don’t Read Good, Don’t Count So Good Either

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Israeli grownups are less skilled than most citizens of the industrialized countries in math, reading and problem-solving in a digital environment, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced on Tuesday. The findings were collected by the Israeli Survey of Adult Skills, which is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies for 2014-2015.

In reading literacy, the average score in Israel is 255 compared with 268, the OECD average, placing Israel in 28th place out of 34 countries in this category.

In math literacy, the Israeli average is 251, compared with 263, placing it in the 29th spot out of 34 countries.

In solving problems in an online environment, the Israeli average is 274, compared with 279, placing it in 24th place out of 29 countries surveyed.

However, in all three areas, Israeli Jews scored far better than their Arab neighbors, with an average gap of 40 to 50 points in every area. Israeli Jews consistently scored at the OECD average, while Israeli Arabs fell far below.

The surveys were conducted in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.

The survey found that only 9% of Jews lacked basic digital skills: using a computer mouse, scrolling down a website, compared with 34% of the Arabs surveyed.

The average score of younger participants was higher than the score of older participants in all three areas. The older the participant, the lower the score. However, Jewish scores strated dropping significantly at age 40, while Arab scores did at 30.

Men lead women in Israel in math literacy, but the two sexes are equal in reading literacy and in problem solving.

The survey found a correlation between participants’ scores and their income level. Participants with total inexperience in using computers reported annual incomes as low as $20,890.

Haredi Jews performed particularly badly compared with non-Haredi Jews in problem solving: 19% to 37% correspondingly.

JNi.Media

Foreign Ministry Requesting Russians to Rescue Israelis Stuck in Mongolia Blizzard

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Two Israeli and two Russian trekkers are stuck in a blizzard at the Shumakskie Istochniki trek on the border of Mongolia and Russia. The four travelers are located in a rocky area some 6,600 feet above sea level and cannot get out of there on their own..

A spokesperson for rescue company Magnus told Israeli media that the Israeli trekkers are well and healthy, but said that plans to send a long distance rescue team after them were scrapped in favor of reaching out to local rescuers.

Magnus teams are on call to carry out policies issued by five leading Israeli insurance companies that offer its services. Founded to provide Israeli travelers and their families with solutions in case of loss of contact and emergency while abroad, Magnus’ skilled teams plan and launch rescue operations at short notice.

Magnus expert in vertical rescue and climbing Eyal Naor told Israeli media that “from the moment we received the signal we’ve been working to effect a quick and safe rescue of the group. The group members are exposed to extreme cold, which is why we must get them out of there quickly.”

The four trekkers started broadcasting a distress signal via satellite phone early Tuesday morning, reporting that they are stuck in the snow, unable to advance, that their equipment is drenched and that the gas in their single burner is about to run out.

The Israeli consul in Russia Jacob Rosh has been in phone contact with Russian authorities in order to receive their assistance in the rescue effort. A spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “we are working in tight cooperation and mutual notification with the Magnus company.”

JNi.Media

What Would You Do if Israelis/Arabs Put Down Their Weapons?

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Corey Gil-Shuster goes around the Land of Israel asking local people interesting questions from viewers around the world.

Q: PA Arabs: What would you do if Israelis put down their weapons?

and the reverse:

Q: Israelis: What would you do if Arabs put down their weapons?

Video of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/video-picks/what-would-you-do-if-israelisarabs-put-down-their-weapons/2016/06/19/

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