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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘state’

For First Time, State Department Accuses Palestinian Authority Of Promoting Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

For the first time, the State Department has explicitly accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of promoting anti-Semitism, a signal Jewish groups are hoping will lead to a change in U.S. policy.

According to a newly released State Department annual report on international religious freedom, official PA media “carried religiously intolerant material.” The report cited Palestinian television programs that called Jews “evil” or “denied a historical Jewish presence in Jerusalem.”

Previously, U.S. officials had labeled the PA denial of Jewish ties to Jerusalem as “material criticizing the Israeli occupation,” but stopped short of calling it anti-Semitism. Arab media channels that carried the anti-Semitic content were “nonofficial PA and nonmainstream,” according to last year’s report.

The Obama administration no longer says the PA is working “to control and eliminate” expressions of anti-Semitism in its media outlets. Officials dropped an assertion made in previous years that the PA acted to “prevent preaching” of “sermons with intolerant or anti-Semitic messages.”

For years, Israeli leaders have accused the PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, of inciting violence and anti-Semitism. Last year amid increasing terror attacks on Israelis, Abbas called for Jerusalem’s holy sites to be cleansed of Jews.

“Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God…. The Al-Aqsa mosque is ours. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours as well. They [Jews] have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet, we won’t allow them to do that,” Abbas said in a Sept. 2015 address on Palestinian TV.

With the U.S. on the record calling the PA activity anti-Semitism, it could be a step closer to a change in U.S. policy toward the PA, which is overdue, Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C., told JNS.

In 2015, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the Palestinian Authority for “promoting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric in its official statements, media, and textbooks.” The measure was authored by U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).

Deutch told JNS he believes that many of the Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis during the past year “stemmed directly” from the kinds of anti-Semitic statements cited in the State Department report.

Several Jewish organizations are hoping the report will spur action on Capitol Hill.

“The question is whether Congress will finally move beyond condemnations and seek to make U.S. aid to the PA conditional on ending anti-Semitism in the PA media,” said Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel group based in Washington.

“It will be harder for the Obama administration to oppose such a step now that the State Department is on record acknowledging the PA’s anti-Semitism.”

Some Jewish groups, however, argue that Israel’s policies are to blame for Palestinian anti-Semitism. Paul Scham, co-president of Partners for Progressive Israel, told JNS that “while there have certainly been expressions of anti-Semitism on the part of Palestinians, and perhaps on the part of PA officials…such anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly based on the daily experiences of Palestinians with Israeli Jews in conditions of occupation by Israel and powerlessness for Palestinians.”

Though Scham said “we neither excuse nor justify any expressions of anti-Semitism and condemn them,” he believes Palestinian anti-Semitism “will die down” only with a two-state solution.

Meanwhile, others would like to see the U.S. hold the Palestinian Authority accountable, not reward it. Future U.S. and international aid to the PA “should be linked to zero tolerance for anti-Semitism,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “If not, the PA will continue [its anti-Semitism] with impunity. If there are no consequences for such actions, they will only continue and mushroom.”

Dr. Rafael Medoff

Complying with Ottoman Law, IDF Panel Revokes Jewish Community’s Land Ownership

Monday, August 8th, 2016

The IDF Appeals Committee in Judea and Samaria has ruled recently that the 2013 declaration of an area of some 55 acres in the vicinity of Kokhav Ya’akov, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as state land is null and void, because the process of making the acquisition was improper, Ha’aretz reported Monday. The military panel was also critical of the lack of transparency in making the declaration public — meaning that it was being kept out of PA Arabs’ earshot.

The panel’s ruling on an appeal by NGO Yesh Din on behalf of alleged Arab land owners, is more a judicial recommendation to the IDF in the area than a compelling decision, but should the declaration of state land be appealed in the Israeli Supreme court — as it surely will be — the panel’s decision would influence the justices’ ruling.

The grounds for dismissing the government acquisition of the land has to do with its failure to adequately comply with Ottoman Law — a remnant of the Turkish government’s rule over these lands before 1918, which continues to be the law of the land; and will continue to be so as long as Israel fails to impose Israeli law on Area C, where Jews live.

Ottoman law says that a man can establish claim to his land if he can show that he has been tilling it for the previous ten years. The state tried to comply with the law by providing aerial photographs of the area from 1969, showing clearly that the land was not being cultivated.

However, the dissemination of lands to local Arabs by King Hussein, who ruled the area from 1949 to 1967, took place in 1961. So the panel ruled that the aerial photos proving the land was not being cultivated had to be from before 1961, and, according to the state, such photographs could not be found.

There are photographs from 1944 showing that some of the land was being tilled then.

The judges wrote that they were not convinced the state had made the full effort to discover those 1956 aerial photographs, and that without them the panel must rule that the situation back in 1944 continued uninterrupted through 1961. Of course, the decision to require a photograph from before 1961 assumes that when King Hussein handed over lands to the heads of local Arab clans (whom he viewed as a source of potential rebellion) — he had the right to give those lands away. But Hussein was never recognized universally as the sovereign of the “West Bank,” which was considered an occupied territory, along the 1949 armistice border with Israel.

Local residents of Kokhav Ya’akov say they have also purchased the land, but regardless of the ownership papers they would present to the high court, organizations like Yesh Din will rustle up a group of Arab claimants to the land, with papers freshly minted by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah showing the land belongs to them.

According to NGO Monitor, Yesh Din operates on an annual budget of $1.58 million, provided by the EU, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands).

David Israel

Netanyahu ‘Not Prepared to Tolerate Racism in our State’

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night received the conclusions and recommendations of a team that studied eradicating racism against Israelis of Ethiopian origin. Netanyahu received the report from Justice Ministry Director General Amy Palmor, who headed the inter-ministerial team on eradicating racism against Israelis of Ethiopian origin.

The team was established by the Prime Minister following a decision by the special ministerial committee on advancing the integration into Israeli society of Israelis of Ethiopian origin, which he chairs. The ministerial team is convening Monday to discuss the report and, most likely, approve its recommendations.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said after receiving the report, “I am not prepared to tolerate racism in our state. I am not prepared for people to be tripped up by the color of their skin. This is terrible. We, on the ministerial committee, have heard heart-rending and hair-raising stories and we started to take action against racism even beforehand. But now, in the wake of this report, which is part of our decisions, we will take further steps and I am pleased that there are people, men and women, who are determined to uproot this phenomenon from our lives. This befits neither our country, our citizens nor our people.”

The report is 170 pages long and includes 52 recommendations intended to help correct institutionalized and societal racism. It says: “For years, those of Ethiopian descent have experienced discriminatory treatment from Israeli institutions and citizens, exclusion from the public sphere, discrimination in education and employment, stigmatization and negative stereotypes, and have even been exposed to physical and verbal abuse.

“Claims by those of Ethiopian descent of institutional and police racism, and alternatively, of the forgiveness of the heads of institutions for such displays, have been heard throughout the team’s work. At this point, we have the obligation not to miss the opportunity to heal the rifts. Wide implementation of the recommended steps in this report is intended to provide the conditions required for zero tolerance for expressions of discrimination and racism.”

The report details the scandals related to the mistreatment of the Ethiopian-Israeli community in recent years, including the healthcare system’s practice of destroying blood donated by Ethiopians, injecting Ethiopian women with contraceptives without their consent, segregated maternity wards, segregating students in educational institutions, a lack of recognition of Ethiopians’ Jewish roots by the religious establishment, the use of Tasers against Ethiopian-Israeli Yosef Salamsa who later killed himself, the police assault on the soldier Damas Pakada, and Israel’s failure to retrieve Avra Mengistu, who crossed the border into Gaza.

JNi.Media

Knesset Passes Law Assigning Running State Mikvahs to Chief Rabbinate

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Following a lengthy debate and numerous objections, on Monday night the Knesset plenum passed the amended Jewish Religious Services Bill by a 41 to 35 majority. The amended law, proposed by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) and endorsed by several MKs, will require that state-run mikvahs-ritual baths be subject solely to the directives of the Chief Rabbinate. The law will take effect within nine months of its passage in order to allow preparation for the new amendment.

The explanation attached to the bill reads, “Since the inception of the State of Israel, the mikvahs have been used for halakhic traditions and customs, and for this purpose they were allotted public funding for construction and maintenance. In the wake of petitions by entities wishing to destroy the accepted foundations of Judaism that have been in existence for thousands of years, the High Court has ruled that various sects should be permitted to use the mikvahs to their various ends.”

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) said that “this is the first time that a mikvah, which is a place of purity, has become a place of exclusion. We view this as discrimination under primary legislation.”

“Others who are hurt by this are, of course, our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Diaspora,” Lavie continued. “Once again they receive the ‘heartwarming’ message that the State of Israel doesn’t count them in. Not at the Western Wall, or in marriages, or in conversions, and now at the mikvahs, too — you have no place in the State of Israel.”

“This law is neither Jewish, nor legal, nor democratic,” Lavie added.

Meretz Chair MK Zehava Galon said the law is part of a “battle over the face and character of Israeli society.” Turning to the ultra-Orthodox MKs, Galon said, “You feel threatened? Why? Because someone is trying to undermine your monopoly over the Rabbinate, over Orthodoxy, over a pluralistic and equal life here?”

MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Camp) said, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated so many times that every Jew, wherever he may be, should consider Israel his national home. So what do they do in order that a Jew feel at home in Israel? They do not allow him to wed in a civil marriage; they do not allow him to be buried next to his loved ones if he is defined as someone who is not worthy of burial in a Jewish cemetery; they do not allow him to convert in an appropriate and respectful manner; and then they pass the Mikvah Law which deals a devastating blow to all those who underwent a Reform or Conservative conversion, which is about 20 percent of all converts.”

MK Yehuda Glick (Likud), who is an Orthodox rabbi, also expressed his objection to the legislation. “MK Gafni, why does it bother you that a Reform woman immerses in a mikvah?” Glick asked the bill’s author. “She does not stop you from immersing. Why do we need this divisiveness? You said the Jewish Agency will build mikvahs (for the non-Orthodox), but a representative of the Agency told me they do not plan to build any,” he said. Glick held a 30-second moment of silence in the plenum in protest of the legislation.

MK Gafni argued back, saying his law is not discriminatory. “All the claims made here that this constitutes a ‘selection’ are baseless,” he said, adding, “There was a violation of the status quo by the High Court of Justice; we asked that the status quo not be violated. Reform Jews in the US don’t have a single mikvah. All of a sudden they need a mikvah over here? This law aims to prevent the Reform from getting this legitimization through the back door.”

Jewish Agency of Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky has released a statement in response to the passage of the bill, saying, “This bill, which offers no solution to the non-Orthodox denominations, circumvents the rulings of the High Court of Justice. It is unfortunate that the bill passed before such a solution was ensured.”

JNi.Media

Erdogan Declares Three-Month State of Emergency Across Turkey

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday announced a nationwide three-month state of emergency after Friday’s failed coup. Speaking at the presidential complex in Ankara after back-to-back National Security Council and Cabinet meetings, Erdogan said the three-month state of emergency was being declared under Article 120 of the Turkish Constitution, which states that in the event of serious, widespread acts of violence aimed at the destruction of the free democratic order, a state of emergency may be declared in one or more regions or throughout the country for a period not exceeding six months, the Anadolu state news agency reported.

“The purpose of the state of emergency is to most effectively and swiftly take steps necessary to eliminate the threat to democracy in our country, the rule of law, and the rights and freedom of our citizens,” Erdogan said.

The president said the move was aimed at “eliminating coup-plotter terrorist group,” which he insists is led by followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen. Gulen has denounced the coup, saying he believed only in change through democratic means, but Turkey has demanded his extradition from the US nonetheless, citing incriminating documents associating him with the plot to unseat Erdogan.

At least 246 people, including members of the security forces and civilians, were killed during the failed coup, and more than 1,500 were wounded.

“Never be worried,” Erdogan told Turks Wednesday night. “There is nothing to worry about.” He said that “it is out of the question” for the armed forces to seize power. “Quite the reverse, the authority and will of the [civilian] leaders will grow more in this process,” he said, adding, “We never compromise on democracy, and we will not compromise.”

Erdogan blasted Standard & Poor’s downgrading of Turkey’s rating in the wake of the failed coup. “Why are you even interested in Turkey? We’re not part of you… Don’t ever try to mess with us,” he said.

Turkey’s lira fell to an all-time low after the S&P downgraded its debt, slumping to 3.0973 against the dollar, then falling another 1.5 percent to 3.0898 on Wednesday.

International rating agencies Fitch and Moody’s have so far kept Turkey’s investment-grade rating where it had been before the coup attempt, but both agencies are also considering a downgrade. Turkey’s current rating with Fitch is already a troubling BBB.

But Erdogan insisted that S&P’s assessment does not adequately reflect the Turkish economy, which grew 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period last year. He vowed that Turkey will maintain fiscal discipline. “Turkey will continue its economic reforms without any interruption… There is no liquidity problem,” he said.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim tweeted: “This [state of emergency] decision is not for the daily life of our people, but rather is for the proper and swift functioning of state mechanisms.”

What those state mechanisms may be was left up to the Twitter followers’ imagination.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters in Ankara: “The conditions of the state of emergency will only be used for fighting the parallel structure.” The term is part of Erdogan’s accusations of his arch-rival Gulen, whom he says is running a “parallel state” inside Turkey’s state institutions and media that poses a threat to his rule.

A National Security Council and Cabinet statement said, “Our body has once again confirmed its commitment to democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms, and the rule of law. The steps to be taken afterward were also discussed.” The statement added that the state of emergency was declared in order to implement measures to protect “citizens’ rights and freedoms, our democracy, and the rule of law.”

JNi.Media

The Grassroots and Interfaith Effort Behind the GOP’s Pro-Israel, anti-2 State Platform

Monday, July 18th, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

Amid the intrigue and speculation over the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, one item that the party has settled is its firm support for Israel and opposition to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Tuesday, the Republican Platform Committee unanimously approved a number of significant changes to its platform in an attempt to further set the party’s pro-Israel credentials apart from the Democrats, who are facing concerns over their party’s future support for the Jewish state. The GOP’s platform changes included removing language encouraging a two-state solution as well as reinstating a reference to an “undivided” Israel that was previously included in the party’s 2008 platform, but was removed in 2012.

“The U.S. seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region,” the approved amendment said. “We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms, and call for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so.”

Alan Clemmons, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and a Republican convention delegate, conveyed his disappointment over the 2012 GOP convention, when the platform committee chose not to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.

“I was a delegate at the last RNC, but was not on the platform committee. I observed the platform committee process and proposed language similar to the language that was passed today (July 12). Unfortunately, that language gained no traction and it went nowhere on the platform, and as a matter of fact the platform regressed in terms of support for Israel,” Clemmons told JNS.org.

The push to bolster the Republican Party’s language on Israel follows a four-year effort by Clemmons and Joseph Sabag, the former executive director of the Israel Allies Foundation. Both leaders sought to reach out to the party’s base—evangelical Christians—as well as to Jewish and other ethnic groups to reach a consensus on the GOP’s pro-Israel stance.

“Between Joseph and myself, we talked to pastors that represent literally millions of evangelical Americans,” said Clemmons.

Although evangelical support was a significant factor in crafting the 2016 RNC platform, Clemmons said the party “didn’t leave the Jewish population out of that mix.”

“We met with many of prominent movers and shakers in the Jewish community throughout the United States, and Israel as well,” he said.

According to Clemmons, two more recent alliances that made a significant impact on drafting and approving the platform’s Israel language were with David Friedman and Jason Dov Greenblatt, senior Israel advisers for presumptive nominee Donald Trump’s campaign.

“Those gentleman appreciated what we were doing. They appreciated the language that was being offered and presented it to Mr. Trump, who likewise was very interested in being of assistance in this process,” Clemmons said.

Clemmons, in his platform committee speech prior to this week’s vote, said that along with Trump’s advisers and leading policy experts, he “was able to present platform language that captures the true sentiment of pro-Israel supporters everywhere.”

The Trump campaign’s Friedman told JNS.org that getting the pro-Israel language on Jerusalem reinstated “was a collaborative effort with a lot of people whose hearts were in the right place with respect to Israel. I think the outcome speaks for itself.”

“It’s the most pro-Israel platform that either party has ever issued, so we’re obviously very proud of the accomplishment,” he said.

The Trump campaign’s involvement in reinstating the platform language may also signal a move by the candidate to bolster his pro-Israel credentials, amid questions over his past statements on remaining “neutral” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and accusations of anti-Semitism stemming from his recent Twitter post featuring what critics called a Jewish Star of David.

Friedman said that Trump has been working very hard to “lay that issue to rest over the last couple of months.”

“Mr. Trump himself has said, over and over again, that he is a highly pro-Israel candidate—not just in comparison to Hillary Clinton, where the differences are stark—but even in absolute terms, he’s a very pro-Israel candidate,” he said.

The GOP platform “should lay that issue to rest,” said Friedman, who argued that the Trump campaign’s work on the Israel language highlight the candidate’s ability to work with leaders across different faiths and ethnicities to achieve a common goal.

“When people criticize [Trump] for being polarizing, I think just the opposite is true. This was an effort which unified people of different faiths, all united behind a desire to support Israel,” Friedman said.

One of the groups that the Trump campaign worked with closely on the platform was the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC), a group that seeks to engage Latino Christians in support of Israel. HILC is a subsidiary of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

Pastor Mario Bramnick, president of HILC, told JNS.org that Trump and his advisers “were very strong on the importance of this language [on Israel]. And through discussions, the language was finalized…[and] ultimately approved by a unanimous vote.”

“We are very encouraged by the resolve and support of Mr. Trump and his advisers on the issue,” said Bramnick, who is also a regional vice president for the NHCLC. “We had worked with the platform committee leadership regard the reinserting of the language as a united Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the nation of Israel, and the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem should the Republican candidate win the presidency.”

Clemmons, the South Carolina state lawmaker, affirmed the roles of Bramnick and HILC, calling them a “very big part” of the process to reinstate the platform language.

“[Bramnick] certainly has a large congregation and a prominent following, and a good feel for the respect that evangelical Christians have for Israel. He was certainly a partner in all of this. That’s not unlike the other pastors around the country who were a part of it as well,” Clemmons said.

The push for the revised platform language was also backed by Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) non-profit through its separate 501(c)(4) lobbying affiliate, the CUFI Action Fund.

In a letter (first reported by JNS.org) that was sent to Republican convention delegates on July 6, former Ronald Reagan administration official Gary Bauer, director of the CUFI Action Fund, called for the Republican platform to “strengthen its language in support for Israel with Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘undivided, enteral’ capital.”

Bramnick praised CUFI’s role in the process, saying the group “worked very hard behind the scenes to make sure that a very strong supportive platform language came forth from the Republican Party, especially as it pertains to a united Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.”

For evangelical Christians, support for Israel is not only a political stance, but a theological one. As such, working to strengthen the Republican Party’s ties with the Jewish state is a highly prioritized process for that faith community moving forward.

“There was a Pew [Research Center] report back in 2013 that said that 82 percent of the evangelical community believes that God has given the land of Israel to the Jewish people, and we read that literally,” Bramnick said. “We believe that is a biblical covenant and mandate that really no person has the right to revoke….For the evangelical community, this is very important.”

{By Shalle’ McDonald/JNS.org}

JNS News Service

State Dept. Funded Netanyahu Overthrow, Destroyed Evidence

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Rob Portman (R-OH), reported on Tuesday that the Obama administration had funded the OneVoice Movement, a leftwing group that waged a smear campaign to oust Netanyahu during the 2015 elections.

Meanwhile, according to the Washington Free Beacon, a State Department senior official admitted to the committee that he deleted several emails with information about the campaign, or as the report put it, “The State Department was unable to produce all documents responsive to the Subcommittee’s requests due to its failure to retain complete email records of Michael Ratney, who served as US Consul General in Jerusalem during the award and oversight of the OneVoice grants.”

As to the campaign itself, the report said: “On December 2, 2014, at the urging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Knesset voted to schedule new national parliamentary elections for March 2015. Within weeks, an international organization known as the OneVoice Movement absorbed and funded an Israeli group named Victory15 or ‘V15’ and launched a multimillion-dollar grassroots campaign in Israel. The campaign’s goal was to elect ‘anybody but Bibi [Netanyahu]’ by mobilizing center-left voters. The Israeli and Palestinian arms of OneVoice, OneVoice Israel (OVI), and OneVoice Palestine (OVP), received more than $300,000 in grants from the U.S. State Department to support peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine over a 14- month grant period ending in November 2014.

“OneVoice used the campaign infrastructure and resources built, in part, with State Department grants funds to support V15. In service of V15, OneVoice deployed its social media platform, which more than doubled during the State Department grant period; used its database of voter contact information, including email addresses, which OVI expanded during the grant period; and enlisted its network of trained activists, many of whom were recruited or trained under the grant, to support and recruit for V15. This pivot to electoral politics was consistent with a strategic plan developed by OneVoice leadership and emailed to State Department officials during the grant period. The State Department diplomat who received the plan told the Subcommittee that he never reviewed it.

“OneVoice’s use of government-funded resources for political purposes was not prohibited by the grant agreement because the State Department placed no limitations on the post-grant use of those resources. Despite OneVoice’s previous political activism in the 2013 Israeli election, the Department failed to take any steps to guard against the risk that OneVoice could engage in political activities using State-funded grassroots campaign infrastructure after the grant period.”

Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said in a statement that the State Dept. funding of the V15 campaign constitutes a blunt intervention on the part of the US in Israel’s internal affairs, which proves once again how timely and vital the new NGO transparency legislation has been. “The people of Israel have elected a government to take care of the national and security interests of Israeli citizens and not to execute the dangerous plans foreign countries are trying to arrange for us.”

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/state-dept-funded-netanyahu-overthrow-destroyed-evidence/2016/07/13/

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