In Israel’s New Election Campaign, Right Battles Right Isabel Kershner New York Times, May 30, 2019
After the spectacular collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to build a coalition threw Israel into an unprecedented do-over election, Israeli public attention on Thursday was glued to two politicians.
One was Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister for the last 10 years, but the other was not Benny Gantz, his main challenger in the election last month. Instead, the first day of the new election campaign was dominated by Mr. Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of a small ultranationalist party and former coalition partner who has become anathema to Mr. Netanyahu.
It was Mr. Lieberman’s refusal to compromise on a new military draft law with Mr. Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox coalition partners that thwarted Mr. Netanyahu’s efforts to form a new government. Mr. Netanyahu needed both Mr. Lieberman’s party and the ultra-Orthodox faction to build his right-wing majority.
That divide, between the ultrareligious right and the secular right, has for the moment eclipsed the old left-right divide in Israel. It proved to be Mr. Netanyahu’s undoing on Wednesday, his deadline to form a governing coalition, and could be critical in the next election, scheduled for Sept. 17. Having failed to meet the deadline, Mr. Netanyahu pushed the Parliament to dissolve itself early Thursday, and a politically fatigued Israel awoke to find itself in another bitter election cycle.
Positioning himself as the champion of the secular right, Mr. Lieberman had seized on an issue of festering resentment in Israeli society: the broad exemptions to military service currently granted to ultra-Orthodox seminary students. Mr. Lieberman supports a new law requiring minimal quotas for them to serve, which Mr. Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox partners vehemently oppose.
Mr. Lieberman, whose party scraped through the last election with just five seats, strode into a news conference on Thursday with the air of a winner, appearing relaxed and self-confident, having dented Mr. Netanyahu’s aura of invincibility. A blunt and inscrutable politician who was Mr. Netanyahu’s former defense minister, Mr. Lieberman railed against what he called a “campaign of discreditation” after Mr. Netanyahu branded him a “leftist.”
After calling for more a measured and professional political discourse, Mr. Lieberman then accused the prime minister’s supporters of nurturing a “personality cult” and said that some of Mr. Netanyahu’s close associates required a “reputable and experienced psychiatrist.”
Mr. Netanyahu tried to make light of his setback at a meeting in Jerusalem on Thursday with Jared Kushner and Jason D. Greenblatt, architects of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan. “You know, we had a little event last night,” he said. “That’s not going to stop us. We’re going to continue working together.”
Later Thursday, in a televised address, Mr. Netanyahu sought to present himself as an indispensable world statesman, speaking of his special relations with the Trump administration and Russia, and he also attacked Mr. Lieberman, blaming him for toppling a right-wing government on “a personal whim.”
Despite the political instincts that have kept him in office for the last decade, Mr. Netanyahu appeared to have been taken by surprise, outfoxed by an old nemesis and finding himself in a changing political landscape. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.] __________________________________________________
Vivian Bercovici: Why Canada’s Embassy to Israel Belongs in Jerusalem Vivian Bercovici National Post, May 13, 2019
“I will recognize the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.” Of all the bold comments made by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in a Montreal foreign policy speech last week, this is the one — coupled with the pledge to relocate the Canadian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — that attracted the most blowback, much of it egregiously uninformed.
The primary objections to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel are spurious, at best: that to do so is contrary to international law, and that in addition to predetermining negotiation outcomes, will also incite violent retaliation and unrest. These straw men, or women, are just that. In fact, it is the perpetuation of such baseless canards that presents the real threat to regional and global order.
Why? Well, the answer to that lies in the response to so many who are asking: why should Canada even care about the capital of Israel?
Because Canada should aspire to be a principled, disciplined global actor. Foreign policy, thoughtfully conceived and implemented, reflects pragmatic and idealistic aspects of political and national identity and places those aspirations in an international context. If Canada is, as we are reminded daily and want to believe, an arbiter of decency, fairness and international rules-based law and order, well, then, we should honour those lofty commitments.
Israel is the only country in the world — including all the nations that have emerged and formed in the post-colonial and Soviet eras — that has been denied the threshold respect from the international community of designating its own capital. Canada should aspire to be a principled, disciplined global actor.
As Eugene Kontorovich (professor of Law at George Mason University and international legal expert on the Jerusalem issue) testified before a U.S. House of Representatives Committee hearing in November 2017: “The insistence on maintaining (this) policy legacy when it comes to Israel … locks in a deeply anti-Israel bias in America’s regional diplomacy. The refusal to locate the embassy in Jerusalem is both anachronistic and incoherent.”
It also flies in the face of international law. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.] ________________________________________
Israel’s Tourism Triumph Edwin Black BESA, May 29, 2019
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) is designed to delegitimize the State of Israel. Its object is to target the country’s very identity and legacy. A people’s future cannot be stolen unless its history has been erased. With that in mind, the BDS movement seeks to undermine not only Israeli tourism in general but its greatest and most meaningful attraction – its multi-faith religious roots.
It is true that Israel features excitement and awesome beauty in its museums and architectonic urban spaces, stem-to-stern coastline, deserts, caves, hill treks, river trips, zip lines, and jeep excursions, not to mention its nightlife. But many nations offer outstanding museums, mountains, wilderness, and cities. Israel possesses one tourist attraction that no other nation can offer, and that is craved by people around the world: its unrivaled religious heritage. That heritage is inextricably woven into the country’s national identity.
All three major Abrahamic religions are anchored in Israel. Christians constitute the majority of tourists visiting Israel, many on religious quests. Generally speaking, Christian pilgrims are completely detached from Palestinian and Israeli political dynamics. Christian tourists can be seen in Israel every day of the year. On April 27, 2019, Holy Saturday before Orthodox Easter Sunday, some 10,000 Christian pilgrims from across the world tried to squeeze into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City for the 1,200-year old “Holy Fire” rite.
On Ramadan, Muslims crowd into Jerusalem. In 2019, on the first Friday of Ramadan, 180,000 peacefully attended prayers – a 50% increase over 2018. In 2018, on the last day of Ramadan, some 200,000 Muslims gathered at the Al Aqsa Mosque for their prayers. The faithful generally include hundreds from Arab and Islamic countries lacking diplomatic relations with Israel. For example, until a recent bilateral spat, Indonesians were regularly issued visas to tour Jerusalem.
During Passover 2019, some 750,000 Jews visited the Kotel, or Western Wall, many wedging a tiny note to God in the spaces between the massive stones.
In the face of these intense spiritual connections to Israel, BDS has tried to boycott the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ireland has tried to criminalize the purchase of relics and religious mementos from the Via Dolorosa, and there has even emerged an almost-comical but persistent misinformation campaign, corollary to BDS, that asserts that the Second Temple never existed as a Jewish edifice.
Amidst all the veneration of Israel as the Holy Land and against the international BDS campaign, two Jerusalem tunnels have emerged as among Israel’s greatest attractions, luring tourists from many countries. Testifying from below ground, these tunnels manifest Israel’s incontrovertible connection to the land and its history. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.] __________________________________________________
War Crime: Placing a Note in the Western Wall Alan M. Dershowitz Gatestone, May 14, 2019
Last week, in Israel, I committed a flagrant violation of international law. This “war crime” consisted of placing a note asking for “peace, salaam, shalom” in the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. The reason the note requesting peace constituted “a flagrant violation of international law” and a “war crime” is that the United Nations Security Council, in a Resolution adopted in December 2016, declared that all areas captured by Israel during the 1967 War are illegally occupied territories. That includes the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and the access roads on Mount Scopus to the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital.
Former US President Barack Obama demanded that his permanent representative to the United Nations not veto this one-sided, wrong-headed, ahistorical, bigoted, and anti-peace Resolution. Obama changed American policy by allowing such a resolution to be enacted by the Security Council as revenge on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, quite correctly, opposed the very bad deal Obama made with Iran enabling it to develop nuclear weapons.
Although Obama himself had once stood in front of the Western Wall and placed a note in it, he now apparently regards Judaism’s holiest place as territory illegally occupied by Israel. He is dead wrong, but that does not change the Security Council Resolution.
So now I, and doubtless many others, have not only willfully and deliberately committed a violation of international law, we are also guilty of a war crime, because building or using civilian structures on illegally occupied territory is a war crime; and Israel built, and I used, the promenade in front of the Western Wall after Israel recaptured it during a defensive war.
Let me be clear: I intend to commit this crime during every visit to Israel. Call it an act of civil disobedience or call it an act which simply recognizes the absurdity and illegality of the Security Council Resolution, despite its passage and lack of veto by the United States, which abstained. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
On Topic Links
With Failure To Form Political Coalition, Has Israel’s Netanyahu Lost His ‘Magic’?:PBS, May 30, 2019, Video and transcript – John Yang talks to The Washington Institute’s David Makovsky. 50Years Later, 3 Soldiers Reenact, Remember Their Iconic Six-Day War Photo: Times of Israel, Apr. 29, 2019 — The David Rubinger photograph of three paratroopers standing in silent awe in front of the recaptured Western Wall after the battle for Jerusalem in 1967 has become the defining image of one of the most significant moments in Israel’s history. A Simple Act That Endeared Trump to Israelis: Naomi Zeveloff, TheAtlantic, May 22, 2017 — President Trump’s trip to Israel has already been marred by awkward moments—from the minor (Melania appearing to bat his hand away on the Israeli airport tarmac) to the major (Trump telling reporters that he “never mentioned the word or name Israel” to Russian officials when he disclosed intelligence about ISIS, thereby all but confirming that the intel was Israeli). It is Not Surprising to See an Increase in Jew-hatred in Western Europe: Alan M. Dershowitz, Jewish Press, May 29, 2019 — Why are so many of the grandchildren of Nazis and Nazi collaborators who brought us the Holocaust once again declaring war on the Jews? A Nazi Controversy Deep in the Solar System: Marina Koren, TheAtlantic,May 17, 2019 — Go beyond Earth and deeper into the solar system, past the craggy terrain of Mars and the shape-shifting storm of Jupiter, through the delicate rings of Saturn, beyond the silky clouds of Uranus and Neptune, and you will find a mysterious zone of small, icy objects.
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