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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish State’

Romanian President: Palestinians Should Recognize Israel as Jewish

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Romania supports in principle Israel’s demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish state but encourages compromises on this and other issues, Romanian President Traian Basescu said.

Speaking to JTA at his presidential palace two days before an Israel visit that  began Sunday, Basescu said that “if they [the Palestinians] want peace, they must follow the request of the Israeli people.”

Yet when asked whether Israel should condition progress in peace talks on Palestinian compliance, he said, “Well, all of us must be wise. Of course, compromises are needed because otherwise we won’t find the solution and here maybe [late Israeli prime minister Ariel] Sharon is an example.”

Basescu, whose second and final term in office will end this year, landed in Israel on Sunday for his second presidential visit there. He said his objectives for the visit were to consolidate progress in bilateral relations with Israel and relations with Romanian-speaking Israelis, who number approximately 500,000, according to the president.

Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as the Jewish state as a means of guaranteeing that an agreement on the partition of land would end all territorial claims.

Basescu compared the situation to Romania’s recognition of the Republic of Moldova as the homeland of the Moldavian people, despite the presence of a large contingent of Moldovans who consider themselves Romanians.

“Even in Europe, we fully support the idea that each person must assume his national belonging,” he said. “For example, in order to be more clear, we have the Republic of Moldova, which was part of Romania before World War II. But in Moldova, there are people who [consider] themselves as being Romanians as well as people who [consider] themselves as being Moldavian. We recognize the right of both to be what they want to be.

“The same situation [applies to] our relations with Israel and we’ll always support the idea that if the Israelis want to be declared as a Jewish state, they must be recognized [as such].”

He noted that Romania has “excellent relations with the Arab world, credible relations. Especially with the Palestinians.” He added that “a lot of Palestinians were educated here. We have a relation of trust with the Palestinians. And on my visit I will also visit the Palestinian Authority.”

According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Romania is the only former Soviet country to have maintained diplomatic relations with Israel after 1967. Romania also recognized the 1988 first unilateral declaration of independence by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

But Basescu said Romania “took a step back” from this position in 2011, when it abstained in a vote at the United Nations General Assembly on upgrading the Palestinian Authority’s status.

Palestinian Authority Incites Bedouin Anti-Israel Protests

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The Palestinian Authority has embarked on a daily campaign to solidify ties with Bedouin protesters in the Negev, where the Jews are an increasingly smaller minority outside of Be’er Sheva.

“Hundreds of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship demonstrated in Beersheba outside of the office for the Authority for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev on Thursday to protest ongoing house demolitions,” the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency reported.

“The demonstrators chanted the Palestinian national anthem and waved Palestinian flags,” it added.

It quoted the mayor of the Bedouin city of Rahat, approximately 15 miles north of Be’er Sheva, as calling the authority a “second government which endeavors to displace the Bedouins and steal their lands.”

Sound familiar?

If all of the land in Judea and Samaria and more than half of Jerusalem belongs to the “Palestinians” and almost all of the Negev belongs to Bedouin, the Palestinian Authority can call Israel a “Jewish state” just to mock the idea because the government of Tel Aviv has malignly neglected the Galilee, east of Haifa, and all of the Negev, where Arabs and Bedouin are the majority.

It is not a coincidence and it is not just rhetoric when protesting Bedouin call their land “Palestine.”

Nothing Legitimate about Antisemitic Slur

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Former British foreign secretary Jack Straw is pleading innocent. Called out for comments made during a Round Table Global Diplomatic Forum held at the House of Commons last week, Straw insists that there’s nothing anti-Semitic about raising points that he says are merely matters of genuine concern.

As the Times of Israel reported, former Labor Party Knesset member Einat Wilf, who took part in the debate, described Straw’s presentation in the following manner:

Wilf participated in the debate and posted some of what she said were Straw’s comments on her Facebook page, saying she nearly fell off her chair when she heard them: “Listing the greatest obstacles to peace, he said ‘unlimited’ funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the US are used to control and divert American policy in the region and that Germany’s ‘obsession’ with defending Israel were the problem. I guess he neglected to mention Jewish control of the media….”

The British politician is right when he says criticizing Israel’s policies is not anti-Semitic. But, like many others who want to bash Israel without being branded as Jew-haters, he crossed a very important line when he injected traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish money and insidious attempts to control the policy discussion into the question of how best to advance the cause of peace.

That’s why someone like Wilf, who opposes the Netanyahu government, was so outraged. In doing so, he not only demonstrated ignorance of how American politics works as well as insensitivity to Israel’s position, but also showed the way disagreements with the Jewish state quickly morph into conspiracy theories that are thinly veiled new versions of traditional myths about Jews.

While Straw is neither the first nor the last member of Parliament or prominent Briton to play this game, the fact that someone who was a former foreign minister would not only feel free to vent this nasty stuff, but also think there’s nothing wrong with it, tells you all you need to know about the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe.

As for Straw’s charges, they are easily dismissed. Contrary to the Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” conspiracy theory thesis, the vast, wall-to-wall bipartisan coalition that supports the Jewish state is a function of American public opinion, not Jewish money.

As frustrating as it may be for Israel’s critics, support for Zionism is baked into the DNA of American politics and is primarily the function of religious attitudes as well as the shared values of democracy that unite the U.S. and Israel.

Other lobbies (oil interests, pharmaceuticals, et al) have far more money. Hard as it is for some people to accept, the reason why American politicians back Israel’s democratically elected government is because opposing them is bad politics as well as bad policy.

Making such accusations is offensive rather than just wrong because, as Straw knows very well, talking about Jewish money buying government policy is straight out of the anti-Semitic playbook of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The purpose of such claims is not to argue that Israel’s supporters are misguided so much as that they are illegitimate.

That Straw is similarly frustrated with German refusals to try and hammer the Israelis is equally appalling. Germany’s government has, contrary to Straw’s comment, often been highly critical of Israel, but if officials in Berlin have some sensitivity to Israel’s position as a small, besieged nation it is because they understand that the underlying factor that drives hostility to Zionism is the same anti-Semitism that drove the Holocaust.

But the main point to be gleaned from this story is the way Straw has illustrated just how mainstream anti-Semitic attitudes have become in contemporary Britain. It is entirely possible that Straw thinks himself free from prejudice. But that is only possible because in the intellectual and political circles in which he and other members of the European elite move, these ideas have gone mainstream rather than being kept on the margins as they are in the United States.

The ease with which Western European politicians invoke these tired clichés about Jewish power and money is a reflection of the way attitudes have changed in the last generation as the memory of the Holocaust fades and people feel empowered to revive old hate. Chalk it up to the prejudices of intellectuals, especially on the left, as well as to the growing influence of Muslim immigrants who have brought the Jew-hatred of their home countries with them.

Straw may not be alone in not liking the Netanyahu government, but he can’t get out off the hook for the anti-Semitic rationale for his views that he put forward. The pity is, he’s speaking for all too many Europeans when he speaks in this manner.

2013 Democracy Study in Israel

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The Israeli Democracy Institute (not the most rightwing of institutions, in case you were wondering) completed their annual survey of democracy in Israel.

“The project aims at assessing trends in Israeli public opinion regarding realization of democratic values and the performance of government systems and elected officials.”

Some of the major findings are:

- The younger generation are espousing stronger Zionistic views than their elders.

- Younger people believe “Jewish” in more important than “democratic” for the State of Israel. They want a more “Jewish” state.

- Most Israelis want Israel to be more Jewish or “Jewish and Democratic”. Only a 21.8% believe that Israel can not be Jewish and Democratic.

- The survey found that most Israelis were satisfied with the level of freedom of religion and expression they have.

- Many want “Mishpat Ivri” Jewish Law to be the cornerstone of the Israeli Legal System (not the mishmash we currently inherited). Though in a conflict between the democracy and halacha, 42.7% prefer democracy over Jewish law (28.2%).

- Most Israelis (66.7%) believe that only Jews should have final say in critical issues affecting the future of Israel, such as in a referendum about giving away land from Israel in a peace treaty, or critical social and economic issues. Though this percent is in decline from its high of 82.9% in 2010.

- The majority of Israeli consider Jews to be the “chosen people”. Baruch Hashem.

- 73% do not feel there is great tension anymore between Sephardim and Ashkenazim.

- 57% of Jews do not want a foreign worker as a neighbor, and 48% would not want an Arab.

- Among Arabs, 46% would not want gay neighbors, and 42% would not want Jewish neighbors.

- 38% of secular (Hiloni) Jews would not want a religious neighbor.

- The majority of Jews, 62.8%, believe that there is no right to refuse to serve in Israel’s territories. While only 50.9% believe that there is no right to refuse regarding evacuating settlements. That’s a number we clearly still need to work on.

- Arabs on the other hand had a healthier attitude, and the majority believed that it is OK to refuse orders you believe are morally wrong – and that includes regarding evacuating settlements.

The entire study, and the IDI’s interpretation of the results can be read here.

A short version with selective infographics can be read here.

Netanyahu Speech a Gamble that Abbas Won’t Call Israel ‘Jewish’

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hammered away at Palestinian Authority  chairman Mahmoud Abbas refusal to recognize Israel as Jewish state Sunday night in an address at Bar-Ilan University.

The Prime Minister’s speech, four years after his address to the university when he recognized for the first the idea  of “two states,” was devoted to two subjects – Israel as a Jewish state and the Iranian threat.

He was careful to stay on the good side of President Barack Obama, and he underlined how Israel and the United States “see eye-to-eye” on the need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

He delivered the same message as in the United Nations last week, but with a  different punch. Prime Minister Netanyahu challenged anyone who believes that Iran is not trying to obtain nuclear weapons to ask it, “Why do you need centrifuges and plutonium?…Seventeen countries have nuclear energy without centrifuges and plutonium. Only someone interested in nuclear weapons wants them.”

In his remarks on the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu showed the other side of the coin from his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan. On Sunday, Netanyahu did not offer Abbas any plums. He ripped apart the claim that the “settlements” are the heart of the conflict by noting Arab attacks and pogroms on Israel since 1921.

He methodically opened up the past on the Muslim Mufti in Israel who encouraged the Nazi regime to annihilate   Jews, throughout World War II. Prime Minister Netanyahu noted evidence that the Muft once was hosted by Adolf Eichmann during a visit to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

That was his starting point for verbally attacking the Palestinian Authority for a long history of denying that Jews have  a right to their own country in Israel.

He constantly challenged Abbas to compromise and recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has turned the demand into a manta and has repeated it so many times that, given the culture of self-pride in the Middle East, Abbas would appear to be bowing down to the “Zionists” if he were to do so.

But Abbas is getting lots of advice from outside the Palestinian Authority.

Israel’s leftwing coaches him. The New Israel Fund, Yossi Beilin and J Street officials have taught him to say the right things at the right time.

Netanyahu is gambling that Abbas will continue “not to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” as Israel’s late Ambassador  to the United Nations Abba Eban once said of the Arabs.

If Abbas ever does get up the courage to say what Netanyahu has been goading him to do for three years, the Prime Minister will have a big problem.

The United States and the European Union will put him at the head of the parade to the Nobel Peace Prize and declare, “See! Abbas has made a concession. He proves he wants peace. Don’t ask for anything else. Don’t you know how hard it was for him to say the magic word ‘Jewish’? Now shut up and hand over everything he wants.”

Netanyahu has history with him. The Arabs, and particularly the Palestinian Authority, always respond to winning by concessions with the thinking they can have it all. If Abbas were to blink and concede, his life would be in even more danger than today. He would need to the IDF to protect him.

So long as Abbas does not blink, Israel is safe.

Netanyahu also has one other factor in his favor. Abbas does not read The Jewish Press.

Jewish Agency Hands Gondar School to Ethiopia

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky handed Getnet Amare, the mayor of Gondar, Ethiopia, the keys to the school that had prepared thousands of Jewish Ethiopian children for their subsequent immigration to Israel through education in math, physics, computers and English.

In a ceremony on Monday, the Jewish Agency donated all the school buildings and equipment to the city. “Jews lived in Gondar for 2,500 years. However, their longing to return home never weakened,” Sharansky said at the ceremony marking the conclusion of the Jewish Agency-led Operation Wings of a Dove. Through the operation, launched in 2010, Israel absorbed more about 7,000 people in Ethiopia, the Falash Mura, whose ancestors were Jewish but were forced to convert to Christianity.

“For us it is very symbolic that the Jewish community here is leaving behind a place of study. It’s a promise we make all the countries from which Jews emigrate: that we will leave behind a school for their local community’s children,” Sharansky said.

The final flight of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel will arrive in the Jewish state on Aug. 28 with 400 immigrants.

Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

It’s very difficult to ignore what is going on in Egypt. Daily news coverage of the army slaughtering fellow Egyptians easily engenders sympathy for the victims. One can easily conclude that we are witnessing the actions of a vicious military crushing its unarmed protesting population. Indeed the world community including the United States has been condemning the army for that.

Those daily images of the bloody carnage will generate the same attitude in most people. It is difficult to see dead bodies lined up in makeshift morgues, severely wounded bloody victims, and wives and mothers who cry out in pain at the loss of a husband or child.

It is easy to sympathize with them. The reportage is extremely sympathetic to the underdog victims. But as always the case with media reports – rarely do they see context. It’s always about the underdog. In this case the underdog is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Let us take a moment and look at some historical and religious context.

Egypt’s former dictator, President Hosni Mubarak, was ousted from office after a popular uprising by Egyptian citizens . Democracy was their cry. They had apparently had enough of Mubarak. But he fought back. People were killed. Mubarak was eventually overthrown by his own military and arrested. After a brief military rule elections were held and Musilm Brotherhood candidate Muhamed Morsi was (somewhat surprisingly to me) elected by a majority of Egyptian voters.

Mosri pushed through a new constitution that was largely based on Islamic law. In the meantime Egypt’s economy collapsed and is in shambles. People started protesting again. The Egyptian military once again stepped in and quickly removed Morsi from office.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members were outraged seeing themselves robbed of their freely elected leader. They started protesting in huge numbers. The army fought back with live ammunition. The result is what we are now witnessing in the daily news coverage.

The US has wisely not reduced it financial support of Egypt. But it has not been shy about criticizing the Egyptian military’s lethal tactics in trying to suppress Brotherhood protests.

How are we to see what is going on there? How does what is going on in Egypt affect us, the Jewish people? Whose side should we be on… if any?

I think the first thing we have to do is look at what the Egyptian army is really fighting. They are fighting a movement that is extremely anti Semitic as a part of its religious theology. They believe that Israel is a gang, not a country and they will fight it until they destroy it.

The Muslim Brotherhood honors Osama Bin Ladin and condemned his assassination by the United States. Ayman Al Zawahiri the current head of Al Qaida is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood denies the Holocaust while praising Islamic Jihad and martyrdom. They condemn the peace treaty with Israel and they consistently call for the destruction of Israel. In addition, their Arabic website alleges that Jews have created evil in the world throughout history.

It is therefore my view that it does not serve Israel or US interests to support the Muslim Brotherhood – even though the Egyptian military tactic is brutal.

No one supports man’s inhumanity to man which is what it seems like the Egyptian military is doing. But as Chazal tell us – when one is kind to the cruel, they will end up being cruel to the kind. To peace loving democracies like the United States and Israel and to most other Western countries, the Brotherhood should be seen in the same light as Hamas, Hezbollah, and any other Islamist Jihadist group. They should be seen as determined to prevail at all cost. Including at the cost of innocent lives as anyone who lost a loved one on 9/11 can tell you.

What about the Egyptian military? They reflect the will of secular Egypt and have their support. But there is no love lost between Egypt’s secular population and Israel. As Muslims – they are in theory just as opposed to the Jewish State as the Muslim Brotherhood. But they are not in favor of hostilities with the Jewish State and are probably more willing to stand by the peace treaty with Israel as a means of achieving stability in the region. Secular Egyptians are more interested in improving their lives materially and having a government that responds to their needs. Israel’s legitimacy is in their minds a back burner issue for now.

What about the current carnage of Brotherhood members? I’m sorry. I don’t have too much sympathy for religious fanatics whose ultimate goal is to destroy the Jewish State and kill Jews… a movement that has spawned the likes Ayman Zawahiri.

They look like innocent victims in the eye of the camera. They portray themselves as devout Muslims whose only goal is to restore their Islamist leader and live religious lives. And they seem to be systematically slaughtered for simply expressing their protest in large numbers. But that is far from the complete picture – to say the least.

In my view the United States should take a ‘hands off’ approach. Let the Egyptian people fight it out. Let nature take its course. The Egyptian military should not be hampered. Financial aid should not be withheld since it helps ensure the continuance of the peace treaty. The Muslim Brotherhood must be defeated. If we allow them to succeed, we allow religious extremism to succeed and increase. And that is the last thing the world needs right now.

I wonder how many secular Egyptians miss Mubarak right about now? He may have been corrupt. But Egypt was a lot better off when he was around. And the Middle East was a lot more stable. The democracy that was hoped for by the west after he was deposed – never happened. Democracy is not only about having a free election. It is about including free and democratic principles that do not force religious law upon all its citizens. That’s what happened with Morsi. And that is why I’m glad he’s gone.

A word about fighting terrorism as perpetrated by the above-mentioned movements .The world should once and for all realize that what they are really fighting is not terrorism but an ideology. I don’t think they do. This is not about supporting a poor underdog… or a brutal military bent on destroying innocent people. This is a holy war initiated by a militant and fanatic religion that loves death more than we love life. How do you fight an idea? I don’t know. But the more the world realizes this fact, the better prepared they will be to deal with it.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

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