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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Senegal’

Netanyahu Hits Back: Diplomatic Fallout After Anti-Israel UN Resolution 2334

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Within hours after the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to condemn Israel and demand an end to settlement activity in any area restored to the Jewish State as of 1967, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was taking diplomatic action to address the UNSC members who had sponsored the resolution.

Two of the four nations who brought the measure to the floor – Venezuela and Malaysia – have no diplomatic ties with Israel. But their partners in proposing the resolution, Senegal and New Zealand, both have relations with the Jewish State.

By the end of the day, Netanyahu had recalled Israel’s ambassadors to both New Zealand and Senegal home for “consultations.” In his dual role as Israel’s Foreign Minister, Netanyahu also ordered a stop to all aid programs to Senegal and canceled the upcoming visit of the Senegalese foreign minister.

In addition, he canceled the visits in Israel of both non-resident ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal.

Those who work with Israel will gain, he said, “because Israel has a lot to offer the nations of the world. “But those who stand against us will lose, because there will be a diplomatic and economic price to their actions against Israel.”

In addition, within 24 hours after the vote, the prime minister had cut NIS 30 million in funding to five UN institutions “that are particularly hostile towards Israel,” he said.

Moreover, he canceled next week’s scheduled official state visit to Israel by Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, to protest Kiev’s vote in favor of the resolution as well.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Saturday allegedly explaining its reason for withdrawing Resolution 2334 from consideration on Thursday at the United Nations Security Council.

“Egypt is the key partner in ensuring negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian side,” Cairo said. “Therefore, it is necessary to take a balanced stance to keep an opportunity for maneuver and influence on the both sides of the upcoming negotiations focused on finding a comprehensive and fair settlement, which would guarantee the implementation of the rights of all Palestinians based on the UN decisions,” Egypt’s foreign ministry said, according to Sputnik News.

Egypt’s statement of explanation was held back, however, and issued only after the UNSC unanimously passed the resolution, which was instead advanced to a vote the very next day by New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia.

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Slams Obama’s Betrayal at Security Council

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an irate message following the US’ betrayal of its most loyal Middle East ally. On Friday, the US chose to abstain at a critical anti-Israel vote at the UN Security Council, for the first time since the Carter Administration in 1980. The Council passed a resolution condemning Israel’s settlements enterprise in the liberated areas of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. The vote passed with the vote of 14 of the council’s 15 members, to the sound of great applause. A veto by the US – or any of the five permanent members of the council – would have killed the resolution.

Netanyahu’s message was unabashed: “Israel rejects the anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms. At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half a million people in Syria, it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel, and calls the Western Wall ‘occupied territory.

“The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it collaborated with the UN behind the scenes.

“Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.”

Indeed, the president-elect tweeted Friday evening: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Netanyahu had only himself to blame for being knifed in the back as he had been, for failing to heed repeated US warnings against his increased settlement activity. “Prime Minister Netanyahu had the opportunity to pursue policies that would have led to a different outcome today,” Rhodes said.

But The Hill’s Jordan Fabian noted that Rhodes couldn’t really explain how the betrayal at the UNSC would improve the situation in the Middle East. Instead, it appears Obama just used his last chance to smack Netanyahu right where it hurt, in a final show of force, once he was free of the need to restrain himself on account of the elections.

As Rhodes put it, quite shamelessly, “There is one president at a time, [and] President Obama is the president of the United States until Jan. 20 and we are taking this action, of course, as US policy.”

In other words, we’re doing it because we can.

Netanyahu has begun to retaliate for the vote, ordering the Israeli ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal for consultation. Israel does not have diplomatic ties with the two other states that called for a vote on the resolution – Venezuela and Malaysia. The PM also canceled a scheduled visit of the Senegal’s foreign minister to Israel in retribution for its vote as a temporary UNSC member, and voided Israel’s entire aid package to that country. He also canceled the visits of the non-resident ambassadors from Senegal and New Zealand.

Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon said the US betrayed Israel, saying in a statement: “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share – and would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) attacked President Obama, stating: “President Obama is personally responsible for this anti-Israel resolution. His diplomats secretly coordinated the vote, yet he doesn’t even have the courage of his own convictions to vote for it. This cowardly, disgraceful action cements President Obama’s richly deserved legacy as the most anti-Israel president in American history.”

Actually, Obama will probably have to fight Jimmy Carter for the title, but it’s close.

The Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement saying that “by allowing the United Nations’ anti-Israel resolution to be adopted by the Security Council, in the face of fierce bi-partisan opposition, the actions of the Obama Administration will forever be remembered as a dark, shameful moment for our country. The resolution passed today will only serve as a greater barrier to peace, which can only truly be achieved through negotiations. Instead of pressuring the Palestinians to be a partner for peace, President Obama chose to break with long-standing diplomatic practices and allowed the one-sided, anti-Israel United Nations to be used as a tool to bludgeon Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East.

“We applaud the efforts of Republican Senators, led by Senator Graham, to strip funding to the United Nations, which has time and again showed their anti-Israel bias. What happened today will forever be on the heads of the President, his Party, and groups like J Street that remained silent.”

This last part might not be such a smart move – some in Israel have pointed out that the last time the US cut its UNESCO funding it lost its influence on that vehemently anti-Semitic body, and remained unable to assist Israel when it is being attacked there. If anything, the Trump White House should enhance its involvement to be able to sway the support of the members in a desired direction.

Knesset opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp) condemned the UNSC vote and Netanyahu with the same breath, stating: “This is a difficult night for Israel. I strongly oppose this harsh resolution of the UN Security Council, which is a strategic defeat for Israel.”

The far-left was giddy. Meretz Chair MK Zehava Galon said she was happy the US did not veto the resolution “against the policy of annexation and settlement and not against Israel.” She pointed out the vote was “the direct result of the law to legalize settlements, with Israel having lost all its shame and the world having lost its patience.”

The party to the right of Netanyahu’s Likud was also pleased with the vote, recognizing a rare opportunity to use the unifying anger of the vast majority of Israelis to get some positive action going. Habayit Hayehudi Chairman MK Naftali Bennett said on Saturday night that now is the time to “switch from retreat to sovereignty.” Bennett added that “thousands of terrorists the world over are watching the UN resolution, seeing it as a call to arms. This resolution is the direct outcome of the policies of Oslo, of concessions, withdrawals and splitting – and the result of our public agreement to establish a Palestinian State at the heart of our country. [This resolution] must be discarded to the trash heap of history like all its predecessors.”

“This is the time for a U-turn,” Bennett said, “It’s time to switch from retreat to sovereignty. The conclusion is that we must stop marching on the suicidal track of a Palestinian State and to impose Israeli law on Ma’aleh Adumim, the Jordan Valley, Ofra and the entire Area C, as soon as possible.”

JNi.Media

Israeli Embassy in Dakar Gave Sheep to Needy for Eid al-Adha

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Israel’s Ambassador to Senegal Paul Hirschson extended the best wishes of the Jewish State last week for an “Eid Mubarak” on the occasion of the Islamic Festival of the Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, in a unique fashion.

“Khalif Ba helped us give 70 sheep to needy families for Tabaski, (Eid al Adha), Senegal’s most revered holiday,” Hirschson said in a post on the Embassy’s Facebook page. “We also gave three sheep each to six orphanages in Dakar.

Senegalese intellectual Penda Mbow.

“Penda Mbow, one of the most significant intellectuals in Senegal, joined the group as a representative of the First Lady,” he added.

Israel saves and enhances lives daily in what may be one of the least developed parts of the world, he told JewishPress.com in a separate email exchange.

Trade, investment and joint ventures are up, with Israeli companies prospering while generating employment and skills locally.

Hana Levi Julian

Senegalese Tribe Sounds Jewish, Acts Jewish but Says It’s Muslim

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

He will welcome you into his earthen-floor home, introduce you to his three wives, and let you sample their cooking. But Dougoutigo Fadiga does not want foreigners to come near the sacred tree of his village deep in the Senegalese bush.

“The tree is holy grounds,” says Fadiga, president of this remote settlement of 4,000 souls. “Our Jewish ancestor, Jacob, planted it when his people first settled here 1,000 years ago.”

The lush kapok tree towers over the parched shrubbery at the edge of Bani Israel, a dusty community in eastern Senegal near the border with Mali. The residents, all Muslims, are members of a tribe whose name means “sons of Israel,” and they trace their lineage to two clans – Sylla and Drame – they say are descended from Egyptian Jews.

“We are all practicing Muslims and we don’t want to become Jewish,” Fadiga says. “In fact, we don’t like to talk too much about our Jewish background, but we don’t hide it either. We know our people came from Egypt to Somalia, and from there to Nigeria, where they split about 1,000 years ago. One branch of the two families went to Mali, another to Guinea, and we settled here.”

The truth of such claims is difficult to establish, but West Africa has had a documented Jewish presence since at least the 14th century, when several Jewish merchants set up shop in Timbuktu, in western Mali. Jews kept trickling in from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition of the 15th and 16th centuries, and later from Morocco.

Gideon Behar, Israel’s former ambassador to Senegal, says Jews maintained a constant presence in the area until 1943, when the last Jewish settlement was uprooted from Guinea-Bissau, Senegal’s southern neighbor, then a Portuguese colony under the rule of pro-fascist dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.

“Bani Israel is a striking example because of its name, but there are many, many other ways in which this area’s little-known but rich Jewish presence has influenced it,” says Behar, one of the few Westerners to have visited Bani Israel.

Behar believes the historic presence is responsible for some of the faint Jewish traces still visible in the region. West African musicians often decorate the traditional, 21-string bridge-harp known as kora with Jewish symbols, including the Star of David. And some words in Wolof, a widely spoken language in Senegal, bear more resemblance to Hebrew pronunciation than Arabic, which is spoken in neighboring countries.

The Wolof word for cheek is pronounced “lekhi,” as in Hebrew. One of Wolof’s words for wise is pronounced the same as the Hebrew word “chacham.” A weaver or fabric merchant is called “rab,” similar to rabbi.

The Bani Israel also have a cultural trait in common with Jews: an aversion to intermarriage. According to Fadiga, the community tries not to assimilate, preferring to wed with members of the tribe who live in neighboring villages.

“I believe there is an element of truth to the tradition of the Bani Israel, especially since they have nothing to gain from pretending,” says Behar, who returned from Senegal in 2011. “They’re not seeking Israeli citizenship, nor are they claiming to be Jewish. In fact, their Jewish ancestry and name can only give them problems.”

The story of Bani Israel’s origin is not universally accepted in Senegal. Abdoul Kader Taslimanka, a Senegalese writer who published a book last year about the community, “Bani Israel of Senegal,” says the name has nothing to do with Jews and in fact is taken from the title of a chapter of the Koran.

Some accounts do, however, support the last leg of the journey that Fadiga describes.

In his village, Fadiga is known as the marabou, the local equivalent of a shaman or bush doctor.

Unlike most villages in the area, the Bani Israel live in houses made of brick instead of mud and thatch huts. It also was the first village in the area to have a clinic and electrical generators, according to Fadiga.

Such relative luxuries are financed by about 1,000 Bani Israel who live in the Senegalese capital of Dakar or in France, sending monthly donations back to the village. Unusual for the region, the money is not sent directly to relatives but is placed in a communal trust that pays for health services and schools, which in turn service not only the village but the entire remote region.

JTA

Jewish Filmmaker Running for Parliament in Senegal

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Laurence Gavron was born in France to a Jewish family. She’s lived in Dakar, Senegal, for the past ten years, where she is a film director and a writer. Fascinated by African cultures, Laurence Gavron has produced documentaries on local musicians, and on the work of film director Djibril Diop Mambéty. She also writes regularly for the local papers, took part in several photo exhibitions, and wrote two novels: “Marabouts d’ficelle” (2000) and “Boy Dakar” (2008).

And she’s running for parliament, a white, Jewish woman in a black, African country.

“I’m a Senegalese of French origin, ‘a product of diversity,’ as they say in France,” the 57-year-old redhead told AFP in the garden of her Dakar home.

“If all the people who have said they will vote for me really do vote for me, then I shall certainly be elected” on Sunday, she said.

According to AFP, if Gavron wins, she’ll be only the second white person to have taken Senegalese nationality and win a seat in parliament. The first was Jean-Baptiste Collin, a Frenchman who was did all of the above in 1961.

“Laurence is entirely Senegalese, even if she has white skin. She has a place on our electoral list,” El Hadji Sarr, one of the leaders of the left-wing Party for the Emergence of Citizens – Tekki told AFP.

The group, which currently has only one member, a woman, in the outgoing National Assembly of 150 seats, is led by economist Mamadou Lamine Diallo. His principles appear to be: competence, morality, fairness, good governance, transparency and participation by citizens. Gavron says she identifies with all of them.

“I’ve always had a left-wing bent. I am incapable of voting for the right, it’s something that I’ve never done,” she said.

Gavron will benefit from a new law passed under former president Abdoulaye Wade, demanding complete parity between men and women on voting lists. The law will be applied for the first time in Sunday’s election.

“This is something very good, particularly in Senegal, where much injustice is done to women,” Gavron said.

Gavron was married to German cameraman who died when she was 32 and pregnant with her second child.

“The first time I set foot on Senegalese soil was 25 years ago. I’m in love with this country,” said Gavron. According to AFP, she is now married to a Senegalese man, speaks fluent Wolof and reasonable Peul, two of the country’s 20 or so official languages.

Gavron’s agenda is “to work against all kinds of injustice, the terrible things sometimes done in the name of religion or tradition … excisions, forced marriages with young girls, the exploitation of children.”

She is in 28th place on the electoral list presented by Tekki which, judging by the last election, will probably get only one or two seats.

Tibbi Singer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-filmmaker-running-for-parliament-in-senegal/2012/06/29/

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