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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘support’

What the Syria Crisis Tells Us about the Israel Lobby

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Barely minutes after the news broke earlier this month that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was planning a major effort on Capitol Hill to garner support for the Obama administration’s plan for a limited military operation against the Syrian regime, the conspiracy theorists were having a field day.

As always, it’s instructive to note how the notion that American foreign policy is a prisoner of organizations like AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying group in America, is an idée fixe on both the far left and the extreme right. Juan Cole, a left-wing academic with a strong online following, grabbed the opportunity to argue that AIPAC, in advocating for what he described as “attacking Syria,” is out of touch with the opinions of most American Jews, who are not evil neoconservatives but solid progressives. The anti-Zionist Jewish blogger M.J. Rosenberg ranted about how “AIPAC and its cutouts are the only lobbying forces supporting the administration’s plans for war.”

Not to be outdone, Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, a magazine founded by Pat Buchanan, wrote that in supporting military action, AIPAC was endangering the lives of Syrian Christians, whom he believes are better off under the Assad regime.

Such concern for the plight of Christian minorities in the Middle East is touching, but also a tad disingenuous, as The American Conservative has never shown much sympathy for the fate of those Christian communities, from Nigeria to Pakistan, who suffer from Islamist atrocities. When you bring Israel into the equation, however, the magazine suddenly finds its voice.

The combined message here is clear: Syria is Iraq Redux, another “endless war” America is being pushed into by a shadowy Jewish cabal.

Critics of these conspiracy theories have rightly pointed out the anti-Semitic pedigree on display here. The idea that Jews are powerful enough to manipulate their governments from behind the scenes is a staple of modern anti-Semitism. Still, let’s for a moment take the Israel Lobby thesis on its own merits. Is the charge that the “Lobby” is the real authority when it comes to U.S. foreign policy empirically verifiable?

The answer to that question is a resounding no. In fact, what the latest developments on Syria demonstrate is that rather than the “Lobby” running the administration, it is the administration that runs the “Lobby.”

AIPAC, along with mainstream Jewish advocacy organizations, had been largely silent on the atrocities taking place in Syria. In that sense, they were no different from the other influential groups and individuals who were either undecided on the issue of a limited military operation or firmly opposed to it. It’s no secret that Obama always faced a rough ride in Congress, especially as some of his traditional supporters, like the MoveOn.org PAC, actively opposed any intervention in Syria.

Similarly, the Jewish left is uncomfortable with the prospect of taking on the Assad regime; J Street, a group that once ludicrously claimed to be Obama’s “blocking back” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issue, has deserted the president over Syria.

Rather than pushing for war, then, AIPAC and similar groups were drafted in at the last minute to boost support for a president who was looking dangerously isolated. The irony of an administration that includes Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary who famously bemoaned AIPAC’s influence, running to groups like AIPAC to secure backing shouldn’t be lost on anyone. Even so, away from the political point scoring, what this shows is that the influence of pro-Israel groups is something this administration values. Equally – and this is key – these groups will wield that influence when the administration requests that they do so.

Importantly, this is not the first time the administration has turned to the “Lobby” for support on Middle East-related matters. Part of the reason Secretary of State John Kerry was able to galvanize support and publicity for his efforts to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was that he turned to American Jews, whose principal organizations dutifully trumpeted his message. The fact that Kerry’s diplomacy has yielded few results isn’t really his fault, nor is it the fault of American Jews. The stasis on the Israeli-Palestinian front is the consequence, as it always has been, of rejectionism among the Palestinians, whose leaders remain distinctly queasy about doing anything that might smack of accepting Israel’s legitimacy.

Any worry about all of this on the part of American Jewish organizations should relate not to accusations of outsize influence but to association with failure. So far Israel has little to show for its decision, under pressure from the Americans, to release Palestinian terrorists ahead of the talks; meanwhile, the Syrian intervention proposal is mired in confusion because of widespread concern that an American-led operation will be too little, too late.

If the Obama administration can be confident of anything, it is that its American Jewish partners will never go so far as to openly criticize the president. Far from being the war-crazed cabal depicted in the imaginations of conspiracy theorists, the “Israel Lobby” is in reality an oasis of calm reliability for a president who may just be on the cusp of his biggest foreign policy failure.

Turning Point: Obama and Israel, the Next Three Years

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reortps.

It is not every day that one can announce a shift in world history, but this day is today. And we are now in a new era in the Middle East and the world.  This is not a joke–definitely not a joke–and as you will see, it is not an exaggeration.

Let me explain. For the last seven weeks I have been in the United States, mostly in Washington D.C.  I have spoken and listened to many people. As a result, I am in a position to describe for you with a high degree of accuracy what the policy will be for the next 3.5 years, and perhaps for many more.

The administration has crossed a line to, in simple terms, backing the “‘bad guys.”

This is literally true in Egypt, Syria, Sudan, the Palestinian Authority, Bahrain (with its support for the opposition), Qatar, and Turkey.
And in some ways, as we will see, the war on terrorism has been turned into the war for terrorism.

Too extreme? On the contrary, this is not a conservative or liberal analysis but merely a true one. Come along over the next few weeks, and let’s take a serious analysis 0f Obama’s Middle East policy in the second term, from 2013 to January 20, 2017.

The real diplomatic line is: Bad boy, Bibi (and Israel), why can he/they not be moderate and flexible (unlike releasing 100 terrorist murderers in exchange for nothing), like Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas (and the Palestinians, who [Abbas] in fact is inflexible, constantly; escalates demands; and rejects U.S. strategy on the peace process); or like Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan (throwing intellectuals and journalists in prison, betraying U.S. strategy 0n Iran, backing anti-American Islamists, and sending former army officers for long jail terms on phony charges)?

During the coming months, and even years, if they are given to me, I will pursue these themes. You may not believe what you read here today or tomorrow, but you will, oh you will see it.

But before we begin, let me repeat that this is going to happen. It will not change, and as shocking as it is, this is already happening. It is unavoidable, because with a president who will not learn, a bought-off elite, a sold-out second-term Congress, and a remarkably cowardly or partisan media, nothing will change. The situation will only get worse and more obvious.

In this series of articles, I will describe eight very likely things that will almost certainly happen during the rest of Obama’s term, extending far beyond Israel, and how to minimize the harm to the interests of the United States and of its would-be Middle Eastern allied people and governments.

Here are the inevitable themes, any one of which would be horrid enough.

ISRAEL CANNOT DEPEND ON THE UNITED STATES.

That doesn’t mean that Obama and others will not provide military aid or say nice words at every event. But there is no commitment that one can assume would be fulfilled nor any Israeli initiative that will really be implemented.

This is a complex issue, but here are some brief points:

The idea that Obama and his team are the greatest friend of Israel is a deadly insult, and I can prove it two minutes.

Minute one: The United States has undermined Israel on many issues. Do I have to provide a list?

Okay, here is a partial list: Egypt (support for a hostile Muslim Brotherhood government); Tunisia (ditto); Sinai  (enablement of insurgency); Hamas (the desire to keep the Brotherhood–an ally of Hamas–government in power in Cairo); Turkey (supporting the Islamist, anti-Israel government); Syria (support of radical Syrian Islamists); Europe (lack of support for Israeli position on peace process); America itself (encouragement of anti-Israel forces among Jewish community and in Obama constituency); Palestinians (lack of criticism or pressure on Palestinian Authority, PA).

I’ll save more for later, but I think this is an impressive list.

Minute two: But, there’s something more here. The most dangerous, insulting argument is this: Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly said–and this is the theme of the administration supporters, including Jewish supporters:

The greatest danger to Israel is if Israel does not get peace soon.

This is an absurd lie. The greatest danger to Israel would be for Israel to accept a dangerous and unworkable peace agreement that the other side would not implement.

In other words, the greatest danger for Israel would be to listen to the bad advice of Obama, Kerry, and their supporters.

Consider this; who should be more knowledgeable about their situation and more aware of their real interests, Israel or America? Do people think that Obama knows better than Israelis? Does he care more? That’s absurd and insulting.

Of course, people assume that states and political leaderships put their own interests first, whether or not they understand this. And that lays the basis for overruling Israel’s democracy.

For example, a survey by the very dovish Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI) showed 65.6 percent of Israelis questioned did not expect to see a deal in talks between Israel and the Palestinians within a year. And if you take into the account the don’t-knows and no opinions, that increases the percentage.

Incidentally, spot the gimmick in Reuters’ story:

“The talks resumed last month after a three-year hiatus.” Actually, except for one week there have not been real talks for 13 years.

Second gimmick:

“But even if the Israeli government managed to defy skeptics and secure an accord, the poll…suggested it would struggle to sell it to its people.”

Wrong, the government and  the vast majority of the people agree with each other. But there is a revealing hint here. The U.S. government and its supporters believe that the Israeli government in partnership with Obama should betray the beliefs, aspirations, and security of the Israeli people. And we are not only talking about Jewish settlements, even for those willing to give every one up for real, lasting peace.

In fact, 55.5 percent of the Israeli people–and 63 percent of Israeli Jews–said they were against Israel agreeing to return to the 1967 lines, even if there were land swaps which would enable some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to remain part of Israel.It is not the terms ostensibly offered, but the credibility of the United States and the Palestinians.

Mind you, the figure is higher, because most people feel that this simply won’t work in terms of providing more security and stability.

You cannot understand what has just happened without the analogy of the monster movie. Israel is not naïve, but it was walking down a dark alley and thought that kindly old Uncle Sam–perhaps a bit grumpier lately–had his back; then it peered over its shoulder and froze in horror at seeing a scary monster. Yet you will never ever hear an Israeli politician admit that.

Read Netanyahu’s unprecedented memo on the talks and the prisoner release. It reads as if he saw a ghost; he is trying to signal something very grim and serious, and there is no implication that he believes in any possibility of compensation for this concession.

Faced with a wasted effort of an extremely unilateral Palestinian prisoner release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government went along because they realized something in the middle: This was not a routine exercise. During the process, they realized that the indifference of the United States to Israel’s interests was extremely high; that Congress was hypnotized; that the Jewish community in its Obama worship was largely neutralized; and that rather than fighting European hostility, the White House was conducting it.

Looking over their shoulder in the misty night, they realized that a very large monster was following them. If you read Netanyahu’s unprecedented memo to the Israeli people as to why the terrorist prisoners were released, you get that clear signal. They realized that the Obama administration was extremely dangerous and that it was necessary to buy time.
Of course, the talks will not go anywhere, because the Palestinians know that they have a strong hand and they will overplay it. But the administration’s willingness to punish Israel to win public relations points and shore up the doomed U.S. alignment with Islamists has to be reckoned with.

Opinion: Jordan Should Welcome Palestinian Refugees

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Speaking at the Two States for Two Peoples on Two Sides of the Jordan Conference, Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian-Palestinian pro-democracy activist, proclaimed, “When we talk about the situation, we must go back to the Ottoman occupation.” He explained that the Faisal-Wiesel Agreement of 1919 designated 77 percent of historic Palestine  to the Arabs, and that the remainder  was to become a Jewish state. He explained that by depriving Palestinians of their basic citizenship rights in Jordan, the current Hashemite Kingdom is denying the nation’s very raison d’être, which is to be a state that respects the democratic rights of all its citizens, including the country’s Palestinian majority.

“There was an agreement with the Hashemite to make Jordan the homeland of the Arabs. The Hashemites didn’t keep the promise,” Zahran proclaimed. “After 46 years, we are refugees.” Zahran said that most of the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria have Jordanian passports, yet are prevented from exercising citizenship rights in Jordan. He noted that it is very difficult for Palestinians living in Jordan to do basic things, such as register the births of their children and get a driver’s license, explaining, “Hamas members have more rights in Israel than I have in my country.”

Zahran stated that if Jordan respects the human rights of its Palestinian citizens and offers Palestinians living across the world Jordanian citizenship, the Palestinian refugee crisis could be solved and a two-state solution that doesn’t jeopardize Israeli security could come into fruition. Israel could hold onto all of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as well as Jerusalem, while stateless Palestinians across the globe could make their home in Jordan. He views the Arab Spring as a catalyst for genuine peace between Israel and the Arab world.

Zahran stated that the Palestinian community in Jordan isn’t extreme and should they succeed in their revolution, they want to focus their emphasis not on building a strong army to destroy Israel, but on eradicating poverty. “We realize that we tried to destroy Israel twice and failed both times,” he said.

Zahran doesn’t believe the prospects for peace will be good if Israel continues to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, which will “only bring about more violence.”  Zahran asserted that the Palestinian Authority is unstable and that once the elderly PA leader Mahmoud Abbas steps down he will have no replacement. Zahran expressed that Israel should be looking for alternative solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and claimed that Jordan’s Hashemite dynasty is rapidly declining, with the Jordanian king himself predicting his own fall from power within the year. Without the Hashemite dynasty as a “buffer zone” between Israel and the pro-Iranian axis, Israel will clearly need a plan b.

Zahran stated that the Muslim Brotherhood is not popular in Jordan but has excellent media access and financial support. Zahran emphasized that it will be very difficult for the popular secular community in Jordan to win democratic elections without support from “all of those who care about peace in the Middle East.” If secular factions are succesful, Zahran envisions a Jordanian state for all its citizens that will solve the Palestinian refugee crisis and seek peace with Israel.

Currently, Zahran is more concerned that without the West’s support for secular freedom and democracy, Jordan will become “Hamas-stine” rather than Palestine. Furthermore, Zahran added that he could not help but admire the freedom and technological advancement in Israel, stating that someday he hoped his country would become like Israel.

To learn more, please watch!



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Egyptian FM Visiting PA Capital Ramallah

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy is visiting Ramallah on Monday to discuss bilateral relations between Egypt and the Palestinian Authority with Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Egyptian ambassador to the PA told Ma’an.

Yasser Othman said that the visit comes in support of the Palestinian return to negotiations and in gratitude for the Palestinian Authority’s position in support of the Egyptian government.

Othman added that the Egyptian people and media are aware of who supports them and who incites against them.

Diplomatic and media delegations will accompany the minister on his day long visit, the ambassador added.

Egyptian Christians Rally to Protest US Policy and Media

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

A group of hundreds of Egyptian Christians from around the U.S. held a series of rallies in Washington, DC, on Thursday to protest U.S. policy in Egypt and Western media coverage.

The rallies were organized by an online campaign. One of the group’s organizers, Amro A. Gadd, wrote that the rallies are “intended also to expose the clear bias for the Obama administration and the American media in support of MB (Muslim Brotherhood) and its terrorism ideology,” according to a post on his Facebook page.

The rally began at the White House before marching to the office of the Washington Post, CNN and Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an American Muslim group which the protesters accuse of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We are against the Muslim Brotherhood,” protester Ramez Mossed told the Washington Free Beacon. “He [Obama] supports the Muslim Brotherhood. He has a big hand in Egypt and the mess in Egypt. We’re trying to tell him, ‘Don’t support the terrorists. Please be fair.’”

Meanwhile, a petition started by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Washington, DC-based public interest Christian law firm, calls on Obama to condition American aid to Egypt on the protection of Christians.

“It’s time to take sides—for religious freedom and against the Muslim Brotherhood. Comply with human rights requirements. American aid must be conditioned on the protection of Christians, and it must be used to oppose our jihadist enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood,” the petition reads.

As of Aug. 22, the petition had garnered roughly 41,000 signatures.

Garin Tzabar: Helping Lone Soldiers Feel At Home In Israel

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

These lone soldiers, hailing from countries including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Turkey and Azerbaijan arrived in Israel without their families to join the Israel Defense Force and help build the Jewish nation.  ’Garin’ means seed in Hebrew but can also refer to a group of people who collectively immigrated to Israel and ‘tzabar’ refers to the ‘sabra’ cactus fruit which is prickly on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside, a euphemism to describe Israelis.

The Garin Tzabar program is in charge of bringing these lone soldiers to a kibbutz or Israeli city, providing them with an adopted family, a Garin community that supports them throughout their army service and Hebrew classes to assist their immersion into the IDF.  Several months from now the new recruits will begin to serve in the Israeli Army.  The Garin Tzabar  ensures lone soldiers receive support and attention on their birthdays, during holidays, Shabbat, and their days off .

The State of Israel officially welcomed this year’s Garin Tzabar participants during a special ceremony held at Tel Aviv University. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  gave a video greeting praising these young Jewish men and women and  numerous other government officials attended the event.

MK Sofa Landver, who addressed the group, stated, “We are here to receive the immigrants and the soldiers in our country, the most wonderful country in the world. It’s you who have come to serve and defend Israel. You will change the world.” A representative of Nefesh B’Nefesh added, “It’s not just a plane ride, it’s the destination and that’s Israel. Enjoy your new life.”

Netta Gelb, a new Garin Tzabar participant, was born in the Israeli city of Netanya and has spent the past 15 years growing up in Canada. Although she has Israeli relatives,  she is leaving behind her parents and siblings.  Gelb expressed the excitement many Garin members felt when she said, “I have been really looking forward to this for a long time.”

Michael Kosky, another Garin Tzabar participant, added, “We have come here to play our chapter in Jewish history. I am part of this program. Good luck to every one here.”  A lone soldier already serving in the IDF named Ariella, who hails from an Argentine family and grew up in both America and Israel told the audience that she holds dear the “values of loyalty to the state, its people, and the Tzabar members” and said to the new recruits “If you live together, you will learn a lot.”

Eitan Press contributed to this report.

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Rabbis Denied My Daughter a Jewish Education

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Tomorrow I will be registering my 14-year-old daughter in public school. I never in my wildest dreams believed I would be doing something like this, but we have been left with no other option.

My oldest child, a son, graduated from the local all-boys yeshiva and my 17-year-old daughter recently graduated from the all-girls yeshiva high school. While both of them were never more than adequate students, and my daughter had her share of academic difficulties, they were able to complete their Jewish educations.

My 14-year-old daughter’s school career was much more difficult, especially when she transitioned from elementary school to middle school. She suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder, and though we tried almost every medication available, none of them seemed to work.

She received some support the first year of middle school, and more support the next, but after the first year her self-esteem suffered a severe blow and she ended the year anxious and depressed.

I tried to give her as much outside support as I could. I hoped the school would be supportive, and though the teachers were wonderful, the administrators made it clear they did not feel their school was the right place for her.

I hoped things would change, that the school would decide it would continue to support her and help her through, but that was not to be. I had sent my children to the same school for 17 years, but the school decided it was not worth the effort to educate my third child.

I turned to the local yeshiva day school for help. Though I had not opted to send my children there from the beginning, I thought the high school might be a better fit for my daughter. I worked at the school as an outside consultant and was intimately aware of the services the school offered and the level of student they were able to accommodate.

I took my daughter to visit the school, and after spending a day there she asked if she could go back. She felt comfortable in the classes, was treated kindly by the other students, and felt this was a place where she fit in.

Much to my dismay, however, the principal informed me that his school did not accept students who had been rejected by other schools. I had not heard of this policy and told him that if she could not go there she would most likely end up going to public high school. He agreed to consider her application, but after a few weeks I received yet another rejection.

My local rabbi, when informed of the situation, was very disturbed. He agreed to speak with the school’s principal, who in turn agreed to reconsider my daughter’s application. I gave them the numbers of the various individuals who work with my daughter, and allowed them full access to all her information. (These professionals later informed me they told school personnel they felt my daughter could be successful in a mainstream curriculum with support.)

After several weeks I received a phone call from the principal, who once again told me my daughter would not be able to attend his school as he felt the school could not accommodate her needs. I respectfully disagreed with him, telling him I was fully aware of my daughter’s cognitive and emotional issues but I also knew very well the services the school provided. I told him I felt the school could, in fact, accommodate her needs. And I told him once again that if he would not accept her, she would have to attend public school. His answer was still no.

I tried other schools farther outside my local area but still within busing distance. One school was not dismissive and truly appeared to care about the welfare of my daughter; their program, however, was full and there was a waiting list. I tried two other schools outside my area but neither one seemed interested in trying to help us, citing the by now familiar reasoning that my daughter would not be successful there.

Our only other option would have been to send her out of town, but she did not want to leave her home and her parents to go to school, and I did not feel that forcing her to do so would be in her best interests.

When I was a child, I lived with my grandparents and attended the local public school. I don’t remember every detail or how it all took place, but I know that a group of local rabbis contacted my grandparents and had them enroll me in a Talmud Torah, an after-school Jewish learning program.

After a few months in the program, the rabbis again contacted my grandparents. They told them that a Jewish girl belonged in yeshiva, not public school. When my grandparents, who lived on a fixed income, told them the cost made it prohibitive, the rabbis told them it would all be taken care of.

From third grade on, I attended yeshiva and graduated from a yeshiva high school, all because a few rabbis cared enough to make sure a Jewish child was able to receive a Jewish education.

I wish I knew where those kindly rabbis are today, so I could thank them. I am sure I would not be the person I am now, with the Jewish values I have, if it was not for the fact that they cared. I am also sure they would be astonished at the behavior of the rabbis who are denying my daughter a Jewish education.

Now that we’re in the month of Elul, perhaps the rabbis who have caused us so much distress should take notice, think about their actions and the consequences of those actions, and pray for forgiveness.

I hope God will be watching over my daughter as she begins her high school career in an environment that is foreign to everything she has been taught and exposed to thus far, with no Jewish atmosphere, no Jewish learning, no Yiddishkeit.

I will be praying that her Jewish identity and her Jewish soul remain intact.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/rabbis-denied-my-daughter-a-jewish-education/2013/08/14/

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