Tag: Greece


Fighting a Worthy Intellectual Battle: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Oct. 27, 2017 — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's now-famous (or infamous) "sour pickles" speech at the opening of the Knesset winter session this week was more than a curiosity and much more than good political theater.

Why Is Israel's Image Improving in Greece?: George N. Tzogopoulos, BESA, Oct. 24, 2017— For most observers, the South Caucasus region might not appear high on Israel’s foreign policy agenda.

Israel and the South Caucasus: Building a New Approach: Emil Avdaliani, Algemeiner, Nov. 5, 2017 — Canadian governmental spokespeople have been active lately in apologizing for historical wrongs.

Remembering Rabin: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2017— Many on the Left want the annual memorial of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to focus on the late prime minister’s political convictions and emphasize the dangers of incitement, particular of the right-wing variety.


On Topic Links


Growing Confidence in Israel's High Tech Sector: Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 30, 2017

Netanyahu: 100 Years After Balfour, Palestinians Should Accept Jewish State: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2017

Netanyahu’s Center-Right Partners Won’t Join Labor-Led Government Despite Alarming Polls: David Israel, Jewish Press, Nov. 5, 2017

85,000 Attend Rally Marking 22nd Anniversary of Rabin’s Murder: Jacob Magid, Times of Israel, Nov. 4, 2017




FIGHTING A WORTHY INTELLECTUAL BATTLE                                                                  

David M. Weinberg

Israel Hayom, Oct. 27, 2017


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's now-famous (or infamous) "sour pickles" speech at the opening of the Knesset winter session this week was more than a curiosity and much more than good political theater. It was a substantial address that touched upon some of the central intellectual battles underway these days, in and about Israel.


Essentially, Netanyahu was pushing back against what he called the "industry of despondency" about Israel – the negativism about Israel's direction in all matters: social, economic, democratic and diplomatic. Netanyahu rejected doom-and-gloom depictions of Israel as isolated, divided, oppressive, frozen, and fascist. Instead, he argued, Israel is on the upswing in almost all fields, with strong showings in defense, diplomacy, business, art, science, and yes, in democratic discourse and in identity politics too.


I am particularly interested in intellectual currents in defense and diplomatic matters, which are undergoing an important revolution. For years, the left-liberal side of Israel's political spectrum has advanced an alarmist and defeatist narrative: that Israel is losing its global stature and support because of the continuing stalemate in relations with the Palestinians.


First, the Left argued that Israel needed a peace accord with the Palestinians; otherwise it would not be secure. Then, the Left argued that without at least a peace process, Israel would be demonized and deprived of international standing. Now, the Left argues that without unilateral Israeli withdrawals and a division of our capital city, Israel will be crushed demographically and go dark democratically. Netanyahu is saying no to this. He is saying that Israel can stand up for its historic rights and security interests, and still improve its global standing, while maintaining its robust universalist and nationalist identity.


Of course, a process of reconciliation and compromise with the Palestinians would be preferable. But Israel's importance, salience and relevance for the Jewish people and for the world are functions of much more than our difficult situation with recalcitrant Palestinians. Israel has a strategic standing, regionally and globally, that is consequential and resolute. The strength of Israel and the religious-national values embedded in its society are affectionately respected in many, many quarters.


This is partially the context that explains the establishment in Jerusalem this month of a new conservative security think tank, the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, of which I am the founding vice president. The institute seeks to counter debilitating currents in Israeli defense and diplomatic discourse, and recapture the mainstream in Zionist security thinking.


Among the principles underlying the institute's activity are the Jewish people's historic connection to the land of Israel as a central component of strategic worldview; the salience of security in diplomatic agreements; rejection of unilateral Israeli moves that strengthen adversaries; the importance of strategic cooperation with like-minded Western allies; the imperative of Israel being able to defend itself by itself in all eventualities; and, critically, the importance of united Jerusalem to Israel’s security and destiny…


The fact is that over the past three decades, the Israeli Left has astutely financed a multitude of public policy centers to buttress an agenda of far-reaching concessions meant to rapidly pave the way toward Palestinian statehood with a divided Jerusalem as its capital. Alas, the Israeli center-right has not created a serious intellectual infrastructure that might lead security thinking in an alternative direction. The Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies seeks to redress this situation, to push back against downcast and despairing narratives, and to reinforce the healthy, steadfast instincts of the Israeli majority.


Here is an example of healthy instincts. According to a new JISS public opinion poll to be released next week, a solid majority of Israelis (64%) believes that Israel must rule the entire Jerusalem envelope for security and ideological reasons. Even larger majorities believe that Israel must maintain sovereignty over the Temple Mount whatever diplomatic accords emerge (72%), and that Jews should be able to pray on the Temple Mount (68%).


The new institute will also seek to energize Israeli strategic discourse with a reconsideration of defense concepts that have fallen by the wayside over the past two decades, such as pre-emptive war and secure borders. Another central focus for the new institute is training the next generation of national security specialists – a younger cohort from the Israeli academic, intelligence, military and foreign policy communities – in the best traditions of both Zionist and Western grand strategic thinking.


The choice of Jerusalem for this new think tank is no accident. The July events surrounding the Temple Mount, as well as the decision by the Trump Administration to walk back an explicit election promise on the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem – where the embassy belongs! – are but two aspects of what is bound to be an almost existential issue for Israel and the Jewish People…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






George N. Tzogopoulos

BESA, Oct. 24, 2017


Generally speaking, there has long been a consensus among Greek journalists on who is to be blamed for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for the failure to achieve peace: Israel. The Jewish state has been consistently portrayed as the aggressor and the Palestinians as innocent victims. The Greek coverage of the Mavi Marmara incident in June 2010 illustrates this phenomenon. “Mourning and ire for the Israeli Ressalto” was the headline used by Eleftherotypia, a leftist publication (now closed down for economic reasons). The center-left paper TA NEA was equally critical, opting for the headline: “World outcry: Goliath crushed David”. The “World outcry” phrase was also used by the conservative newspaper Hi Kathimerini.


Greek sympathy for the Palestinian cause is rooted in the proximity of the Arab world and the support of most Arabs on the Cyprus Question. Anti-Semitism has also played a role. But there is another reason why Israel was constantly blamed by the Greek media, at least before 2010. It served as a useful scapegoat for all the problems in the Middle East, if not all the problems in the world. This made it easy for journalists to avoid time-consuming, in-depth research on international affairs. Jerusalem’s close cooperation with Ankara only fueled the negative perception of Israel among the Greek media.


The turning point came in the late summer of 2010. The media tend to follow the prevailing political agenda, and the rehabilitation of Israel’s image was no exception. When Jerusalem decided to look for new allies in the Eastern Mediterranean following the setback in its relations with Ankara, it turned to Athens. In August 2010, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Greece, opening a new chapter in a relationship that had been marked for decades by misunderstandings and suspicion.


George Papandreou, the Greek premier at the time, saw Israel as a critical ally in an era of economic austerity and uncertainty over Greece’s potential default and exit from the Eurozone. The Greek media followed Papandreou’s lead. The headline of TA NEA was characteristic: “From flirting to marriage: Greece and Israel are opening perspectives for golden cooperation.” Eleftherotypia talked about “Changing balances creating a ‘new axis’ in the region,” and Hi Kathimerini wrote about a “closer collaboration” between the two countries. From late 2010 onwards, covering Israel has been a job not only for foreign editors but also for diplomatic correspondents.


In the aftermath of the Netanyahu-Papandreou Athens meeting, most Greek journalists began to grasp that Israel is no longer an unknown, distant neighbor. Above all, it is a partner. This strategic partnership yields positives for Greece in terms of security and energy affairs, and also has a tangibly positive effect on the Greek economy. While 207,711 Israeli tourists came to Greece in 2012, expected arrivals from Israel are expected to be 530,712 in 2017. Thessaloniki (among others) is a city Israeli citizens are keen to visit due to its historic Jewish past and its mayor Yannis Boutaris, who is very friendly towards Israel.


Also, economic opportunities quickly became apparent. As a “start-up” nation, Israel attracted the attention of Greek entrepreneurs. The Embassy of Israel in Athens organizes events and competitions, the winners of which have the opportunity to participate in the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival. Israel’s communications strategy on Facebook and Twitter also helps Greek journalists and ordinary citizens gain easy access to information about the country.


Moreover, the racist behavior of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, and its position that Israel is Greece’s “eternal enemy,” have (to an extent) associated anti-Israel voices in Greece with political extremists. The attack of a far-left terror group against the Israeli embassy in Athens in December 2014 reinforced this perception and drove some new sympathy for Israel. At the time, most Greek journalists expressed serious concern about safety and security in Greece as well as about the international implications of the event. To Ethnos, a center-left newspaper, said the attack was an international stigma for Greece as it was “the first against an Israeli Embassy for twelve years at the world level.” (For its part, Proto Thema, a weekly tabloid, reported on the involvement of Mossad in the investigation, indirectly implying that Greek authorities would not necessarily be able to locate the suspects.)…


After 2015, an additional barrier tarnishing Israel’s image in Greece was removed. A leftist government, Syriza, came to power, bringing with it a new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. Though he had participated in pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the past, his tune changed when he assumed his new position. In contrast to his pre-election stance, Tsipras treats Israel as an ally, and his foreign policy is reflected in media coverage on both left and right. The Journalists’ Newspaper, for example, which replaced Eleftherotypia, praised the Trilateral Thessaloniki Meeting of June 2017 for accelerating the construction of an East Med pipeline.


Broadly speaking, Greek journalists are now more mature about Israel. In the aftermath of the “Arab Spring,” even the most pro-Palestinian journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict acknowledge Jerusalem’s contribution to regional stability. Also, official visits to Israeli cities have left participants impressed by the country, and this is penetrating into their work. Other Greek media representatives have turned their attention entirely to blaming Germany for the Greek drama, and see no need to construct other “enemies.” Still others are affected by rising Islamophobia, rather than anti-Semitism, as terror attacks plotted by ISIS continue to strike Europe.


The improving image of Israel in Greece could theoretically go hand in hand with a reduction in anti-Semitism. In 2014, the Greek parliament voted in favor of a new anti-racism law that made Holocaust denial, inter alia, a criminal act. Numbers cannot confirm this, though, as some stereotypes grounded in the thinking of older generations have deep roots. Greece has not experienced endemic violence against members of Jewish institutions, but the authorities are nevertheless in search of measures to eradicate anti-Semitism. When Speaker of the Greek Parliament Nikos Voutsis visited Israel last January, he signed a declaration to combat anti-Semitism. Politicians such as the vice president of the conservative New Democracy party, Adonis Georgiadis, have decided to publicly apologize for their anti-Semitic pasts. Those who sympathize with racist points of view find themselves politically isolated. This process will take time, of course, because it is principally related to school education. But the change in coverage of Israel by Greek journalists is a good omen. 






Emil Avdaliani

Algemeiner, Nov. 5, 2017


For most observers, the South Caucasus region might not appear high on Israel’s foreign policy agenda. This is a reasonable assumption, as none of the three states — Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia — borders Israel. Moreover, the region is a hotbed of ethnic fighting, with three ongoing separatist conflicts in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh further complicating political stability.


However, the South Caucasus’ strategic location — which lies on the one hand between Central Asia and eastern Europe, and on the other between Russia and the Middle East – has drawn regional players to seek greater influence in the territory. Those players are usually Turkey, Russia and the EU, and their interest might logically appear to overwhelm any potential influence that Israel might have in the region.


Yet over the past year, Israel has intensified its foreign policy moves toward each of the South Caucasian states. Each country interests Israel for its own particular reasons. For example, prior to 2008, the Georgian army was largely supplied with Israeli military technologies. However, the Russo-Georgian war that broke out in August 2008 caused Israeli exports to cease, as Russia was angry that its small neighbor was able to boast such advanced military capabilities. Beyond military ties, Georgia interests Israel from an economic standpoint: Israeli investments play an important role in Georgia’s economy. Moreover, Georgia is geopolitically important, insofar as it has several large ports on its Black Sea shoreline that can easily be used for commercial and military purposes.


In the case of Armenia, Israel’s relations have been somewhat distant for more than a decade. This was due primarily to Israel’s rather strong ties with Yerevan’s two biggest geopolitical rivals: Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, a shift in bilateral relations was made apparent recently when a senior Israeli official visited Yerevan. Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s minister for regional cooperation, visited Armenia on July 25-26, 2017 for talks with senior Armenian officials. Hanegbi is a key figure in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party and has held ministerial positions for two decades. He said his visit was intended as a step forward in relations to make the Armenia-Israeli “friendship mutually beneficial in many fields.” His was the first visit by a senior Israeli official to Armenia since 2012.


One of the major bones of contention between Armenia and Israel is Israeli arms shipments to Azerbaijan. Those supplies played an important role in last year’s “April war” between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After Azerbaijan took several frontline posts in a surprise attack on April 2, 2016, Armenian forces undertook a counteroffensive — but Israeli-supplied Harop suicide drones and Spike anti-tank missiles helped Azerbaijani forces thwart that counterattack. This brings us to Israel-Azerbaijan relations. In late 2016, reports circulated that Baku was planning to buy Israeli “Iron Dome” capabilities to better counter Armenian attacks. Beyond those military ties, Azerbaijan is important to Israel for its large oil resources. In the event of need, the country could potentially become Israel’s major oil supplier.


Thus Israel’s relations with each of the three South Caucasian states depends on specific economic and military interests — interests that are contained within a complex wider context. Each state has its own relations with its larger neighbors, Russia and Turkey. Israeli diplomacy must navigate difficult political terrain where a misstep could cause Israel’s ties with Turkey or Russia to deteriorate…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                





Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2017


Many on the Left want the annual memorial of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to focus on the late prime minister’s political convictions and emphasize the dangers of incitement, particular of the right-wing variety. Others, interested in appealing to a broader audience, want the event to be based on more common denominators such as Zionism and patriotism. Clearly Darkenu and Commanders for Israel’s Security, the two groups organizing the main event at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, adhere to the second, more inclusive approach. And this has raised the rancor of the Left.


We believe both positions are wrongheaded. Clearly, focusing solely on Rabin’s politics will prevent the annual memorial from becoming a national event celebrated by all walks of Israeli society. Over the past 22 years since his assassination, many of the assumptions underpinning the Oslo Accords have been discredited, particularly the belief that a moderate Palestinian political leadership would emerge in response to Israeli overtures. The 2005 evacuation of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip, which led to the rise of Hamas, has taught Israelis to be more skeptical of making territorial concessions.


Nor should Rabin’s assassination be used as a means of delegitimizing the entire Right or limiting free speech. A clear distinction must be made between violent actions and speech, even of the most despicable kinds. The former must be forbidden while the latter must be protected as essential to the functioning of any democracy. While it is true that incitement on the Right preceded Rabin’s murder, ultimately it was Yigal Amir who pulled the trigger. Nevertheless, people need to learn from memorials like the one planned for Saturday night that speech can incite violence. Freedom of speech is a right that should be protected but we also need to ensure that it is not abused.


That is why the lessons of Rabin’s assassination must not be watered down. Figures on the Left such as former Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz are right when they point out that Rabin did not die of natural causes. He was the victim of a political assassination committed by a man who sought to change national policy not at the ballot box, but with shots from a pistol. That is why it is good that Darkenu and Commanders for Israel’s Security responded to the criticism that was rightly leveled against them from the Left for failing to mention in advertisements and notices publicizing Saturday night’s event that Rabin was assassinated. Now under the title “We are One People,” advertisements announce “a mass rally commemorating 22 years since the murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.”


In their attempt not to hurt anyone’s feelings and to appeal to everybody, Darkenu and Commanders for Israel’s Security watered down their message too much. On a day commemorating Israel’s most shocking political assassination, it is not enough to talk about “unity” and “moderation.” A clear position needs to be taken that any form of violence used to achieve a political end is illegitimate. Political decisions must be made through consensus not through bullying or intimidation. It would also help to understand that fear is often what motivates extreme rhetoric on both the Right and the Left. During the Oslo era, many on the Right were fearful that territorial concessions and providing arms to Palestinians would lead to violence. And this fear was largely vindicated. Meanwhile, the Left fears the demographic dangers to democracy resulting from maintaining control over Judea and Samaria, which could undermine Israel as we know it.


What makes Rabin’s memorial day unique and worthy of commemoration is not the Labor Party’s political agenda or Rabin’s own political convictions. Nor is it enough to talk vaguely of “unity” and “moderation.” Rather we must reaffirm our democratic values, which protect even the most abhorrent forms of speech while at the same time condemn any use of violence to further political ends. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, that is something we should all be able to agree on as we remember what happened on the night of November 4, 22 years ago.




On Topic Links


Growing Confidence in Israel's High Tech Sector: Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 30, 2017—The Israeli company Argos, which deals with information security for vehicles, is in advanced negotiations for its acquisition by Continental of Germany in the amount of a half-billion dollars, according to recent media reports.

Netanyahu: 100 Years After Balfour, Palestinians Should Accept Jewish State: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2017—The Palestinians have yet to take the same basic step that Great Britain did 100 years ago, when it issued the Balfour Declaration recognizing the right of the Jewish people to a state in their homeland, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his British counterpart, Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday.

Netanyahu’s Center-Right Partners Won’t Join Labor-Led Government Despite Alarming Polls: David Israel, Jewish Press, Nov. 5, 2017—It’s definitely pre-elections season in Israel, as yet another new poll has come out over the weekend with devastating predictions for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

85,000 Attend Rally Marking 22nd Anniversary of Rabin’s Murder: Jacob Magid, Times of Israel, Nov. 4, 2017—Some 85,000 people turned out at the annual rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday marking the 22nd anniversary of the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, which this year tried to emphasize national unity rather than its traditional focus on peace.



We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.


Worse Than We Could Have Imagined: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, July 16, 2015 — When you write a column, as did I two weeks ago, headlined “The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history,” you don’t expect to revisit the issue.

The Four Horsemen of a Looming Apocalypse: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, July 14, 2015  — The U.S. and its allies are faced with four major threats, and they are as diverse and yet as akin as the proverbial apocalyptic horsemen.

What Israel Should Learn From the Greek Crisis: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, July 15, 2015— The current Greek financial and social crisis is not only the result of poor management of many successive Greek governments.

The Right Outcome for an Auschwitz Guard: Gene Klein, Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2015 — Oskar Gröning, a former SS soldier known as “the bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” was convicted on Wednesday in a German court on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.


On Topic Links


Iran Got a Far Better Deal Than It Had Any Right to Expect: Elliott Abrams, National Review, July 15, 2015

Greece, Deep in Crisis, is Keen on Axis of ‘Security’ with Israel and Cyprus: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2015

The Life of an Auschwitz Guard: Laurence Rees, Politico, July 13, 2015

Two Mass Graves: Ukrainians and Jews: Alexander J. Motyl, World Affairs, July 15, 2015




WORSE THAN WE COULD HAVE IMAGINED                                                                                         

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                                          

Washington Post, July 16, 2015


When you write a column, as did I two weeks ago, headlined “The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history,” you don’t expect to revisit the issue. We had hit bottom. Or so I thought. Then on Tuesday the final terms of the Iranian nuclear deal were published. I was wrong. Who would have imagined we would be giving up the conventional arms and ballistic missile embargoes on Iran? In nuclear negotiations?


When asked Wednesday at his news conference why there is nothing in the deal about the American hostages being held by Iran, President Obama explained that this is a separate issue, not part of nuclear talks. Are conventional weapons not a separate issue? After all, conventional, by definition, means non-nuclear. Why are we giving up the embargoes?


Because Iran, joined by Russia — our “reset” partner — sprung the demand at the last minute, calculating that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were so desperate for a deal that they would cave. They did. And have convinced themselves that they scored a victory by delaying the lifting by five to eight years. (Ostensibly. The language is murky. The interval could be considerably shorter.) Obama claimed in his news conference that it really doesn’t matter, because we can always intercept Iranian arms shipments to, say, Hezbollah.


But wait. Obama has insisted throughout that we are pursuing this Iranian diplomacy to avoid the use of force, yet now blithely discards a previous diplomatic achievement — the arms embargo — by suggesting, no matter, we can just shoot our way to interdiction. Moreover, the most serious issue is not Iranian exports but Iranian imports — of sophisticated Russian and Chinese weapons. These are untouchable. We are not going to attack Russian and Chinese transports.


The net effect of this capitulation will be not only to endanger our Middle East allies now under threat from Iran and its proxies, but also to endanger our own naval forces in the Persian Gulf. Imagine how Iran’s acquisition of the most advanced anti-ship missiles would threaten our control over the gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, waterways we have kept open for international commerce for a half-century.


The other major shock in the final deal is what happened to our insistence on “anytime, anywhere” inspections. Under the final agreement, Iran has the right to deny international inspectors access to any undeclared nuclear site. The denial is then adjudicated by a committee — on which Iran sits. It then goes through several other bodies, on all of which Iran sits. Even if the inspectors’ request prevails, the approval process can take 24 days. And what do you think will be left to be found, left unscrubbed, after 24 days? The whole process is farcical.


The action now shifts to Congress. The debate is being hailed as momentous. It is not. It’s irrelevant. Congress won’t get to vote on the deal until September. But Obama is taking the agreement to the U.N. Security Council for approval within days . Approval there will cancel all previous U.N. resolutions outlawing and sanctioning Iran’s nuclear activities. Meaning: Whatever Congress ultimately does, it won’t matter because the legal underpinning for the entire international sanctions regime against Iran will have been dismantled at the Security Council. Ten years of painstakingly constructed international sanctions will vanish overnight, irretrievably. Even if Congress rejects the agreement, do you think the Europeans, the Chinese or the Russians will reinstate sanctions? The result: The United States is left isolated while the rest of the world does thriving business with Iran.


Should Congress then give up? No. Congress needs to act in order to rob this deal of, at least, its domestic legitimacy. Rejection will make little difference on the ground. But it will make it easier for a successor president to legitimately reconsider an executive agreement (Obama dare not call it a treaty — it would be instantly rejected by the Senate) that garnered such pathetically little backing in either house of Congress. It’s a future hope, but amid dire circumstances. By then, Iran will be flush with cash, legitimized as a normal international actor in good standing, recognized (as Obama once said) as “a very successful regional power.” Stopping Iran from going nuclear at that point will be infinitely more difficult and risky. Which is Obama’s triumph. He has locked in his folly. He has laid down his legacy, and we will have to live with the consequences for decades.                              




THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF A LOOMING APOCALYPSE                                                                

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, July 14, 2015


The U.S. and its allies are faced with four major threats, and they are as diverse and yet as akin as the proverbial apocalyptic horsemen. Vladimir Putin has a tsarist idea that he can reclaim insidiously the periphery of the old Soviet Union — Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, the Baltic states — on the principle of protecting Russian-speaking minorities in these breakaway republics. More practically, he feels that any security guarantees extended by the West to these entities are about as valid as an Obama red line or a Greek assurance of financial reform.


By Western criteria, Putin’s Russia is broke. It is shrinking and dysfunctional. But by Putin’s own metrics, his people are energized by Russia’s new defiance of the West. And if Russia is increasingly autocratic, and bifurcated into a small elite and an impoverished mass, that is nothing new, but simply the way things have always been in Russia, whether tsarist or Communist. Putin seems to assume that, if he can succeed in reestablishing the 19th-century Russian empire and bullying Eastern Europe into becoming once again a neutral buffer between Russia and the West, then he will go down in history as another Peter the Great or Joseph Stalin.


In one of the great diplomatic blunders of our time, the Obama administration thought it could win over a supposedly misunderstood Putin by rhetorically distancing itself from the Bush administration. But blaming Bush for Putin’s own agenda, which transcends the Middle East, only empowered Russia. The Obama administration’s bombing Libya and, in empty fashion, threatening Syria alienated Putin even more. Obama’s false step-over, red, and deadlines confirmed Putin’s impressions of the continued weak leadership of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry. He probably believes that he can do to Estonia what he has done to Crimea or Ukraine — and without too many more consequences…


If Putin’s Russia is a 19th-century power that does not see economic robustness as necessary for the reacquisition of empire, China feels that it is far more globalized, rich, and integral to the world economy and thus even less likely to be on the receiving end of U.S. sanctions or even censure. China, unlike Putin’s Russia, wants to acquire new dependencies, not just reclaim former ones. Picking a fight with the U.S. over the Pacific, or hacking U.S bureaucracies and corporations, is much safer than haggling with India or Russia over contested borders.


China assumes that its growing military capabilities, its new sand-castle bases in the critical sea-lanes of the South China Sea, and its intrusions into the territorial waters and airspace of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines are slowly redrawing the Pacific map. The countries being bullied really have only three choices: to reach agreements with China that acknowledge its preeminence, to seek new assurances from the U.S. that they still remain under our nuclear umbrella, or to become nuclear powers themselves…


When China and Russia look at U.S. efforts to negotiate with Iran, or to deal with the Middle East, or to confront radical Islam, they see a confused administration whose one constant is either embarrassment over or ambiguity about America’s long post-war role of global preeminence. China, then, believes there is little chance that the United States will line up its Pacific allies, reassure them of our support in extremis, and configure a joint Pacific military front, much less that the U.S. will triangulate with Russia and India to assure a balance of power that would remind China that it is already surrounded by nuclear Russia, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and soon-to-be-nuclear Iran, and that a nuclear Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan could be added to that lineup in the not too distant future.


Iran is the third horseman, and one both similar to, and also altogether different from, China and Russia in a number of ways. Like China and Russia, Iran sees its present ambitions as consistent with a restoration of its glorious past. The Achaemenids are seen as every bit as illustrious as were the tsars or the Chinese dynasts. Iran is also an autocracy that does what it pleases at home. And, finally, Iran is obsessed with energy, as are Russia and China, as both a political weapon and a means to fuel military rearmament. But Iran in the short term, even though the weakest of these three anti-American autocracies, is also the most dangerous.


It will be a nuclear power quite soon, but it has no experience, as China and Russia both do, in the accustomed behavior of nuclear states. And also unlike both, it is a self-proclaimed revolutionary theocracy, with periodic fits of end-of-days rhetoric. Whether these are genuine expressions of a looming twelfth-imam apocalypse or simply feigned bouts of lunacy that are useful strategies in nuclear poker, no one quite can be sure. If China has evolved somewhat in its obsession over Taiwan, Iran has not matured in its fixation on Israel, which, unlike Taiwan, is itself already nuclear.


Iran also is actively subverting nearby states such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, in the hopes of crafting some sort of Shiite regional hegemony. Petrodollars, the bomb, and terrorists are scary assets, and Iran believes that it will soon complete that triad, and be free at last to recreate its Middle East empire without much interference from the United States.


ISIS, the fourth horseman, is the weakest of our current threats, but ironically the one with the greatest likelihood of conducting a major attack, albeit terrorist and asymmetric, against Europe or the United States or both. In creepy fashion, its barbarity — from immolations and beheadings to crucifixions and drownings — gains it world attention, and appeals to listless, video-game-playing Middle Eastern expatriate youth bored in the West. Its diplomacy is paradoxical as well. ISIS fights against enemies of the West like Bashar Assad’s Syria, Hezbollah, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and against erstwhile Western allies like the Kurds, Jordan, Egypt, and the Gulf States. Hitting ISIS would empower Syria and Iran; not hitting ISIS weakens our moderate Sunni former friends.


ISIS is not, as Osama bin Laden was, headquartered in caves in the outback of Afghanistan. It already has burrowed into many cities of the old Syrian–Iraqi Middle East and has a fighting chance of taking Baghdad or Damascus or both. After the Obama red line to Syria and the abrupt pullout of all U.S. peacekeepers from Iraq in 2011, ISIS has had little, if any, fear of the U.S. and none at all of our allies — to the extent that we have any allies left in the Middle East. A different administration might have destroyed any and all ISIS vehicles and hardware with round-the-clock bombing, supplied the Kurds with plentiful arms, and sent in U.S. ground forces to organize a regional resistance force…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Manfred Gerstenfeld                                           

CIJR, July 15, 2015


The current Greek financial and social crisis is not only the result of poor management of many successive Greek governments. A huge contribution to this calamity has also been made by various decisions of the European Union. Like many major political upheavals around the world, this one as well has important lessons for Israel. The importance of the Greek crisis does not lie in whether or not it has an immediate impact on the Israeli reality, but rather what Israel can learn from it.


In Europe, most of the attention on the Greek crisis is placed on its financial aspects. Questions frequently heard are, “Will Greece have to leave the Euro?”, “What will be the financial impacts on the Euro”, and “How will it affect possible other aspects of the European Union?” The most recent agreement doesn’t change much of Greece’s structural problems. This strong focus on financial issues is one-sided and short sighted. There are political aspects to this crisis which, in the long run, may become far more important.  One only has to remember that at the Yalta conference of 1945, Stalin and Churchill discussed their spheres of interest in post-war Europe. Stalin agreed to British demands that while the Balkan countries would be in the Soviet Union’s control, Greece would almost entirely be in that of Great Britain.


Chaos in Greece may have a tremendous political fallout. Increased Russian influence within the country could have a substantial nuisance value for the West. Chinese influence, admittedly less probable, might be even worse. For NATO, Greece is very important, and for many reasons.  There is a major NATO naval base in Crete at Souda Bay, for example. Greece has not always been a friendly partner. In the 1980s then Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou stated that his foreign policy goal was his refusal to be a “client state of the West.”


A foreign observer recently asked me whether it was conceivable that Greek terrorists would carry out attacks against the EU, whether in Brussels or elsewhere. I was initially taken aback by the question, but after giving it some thought, I answered that although highly unlikely, it was not totally inconceivable. The particularly dangerous Marxist-Leninist November 17 terrorist group for instance made 23 victims including Greeks as well as  American, British, and Turkish diplomats during its activities from 1975-2002.


I recalled the years when I worked in Greece at the end of the 1990s. I was then a strategic advisor to the president of one of the country’s largest corporations which were not under state control. As he frequently had time constraints, I accompanied him from time to time to the airport. We could thus have a quiet conversation in the car, a prestigious model of one of the luxury Italian car makers. I doubted whether there was any similar car in Athens. An armed bodyguard on a motorcycle rode ahead of us. After we reached the airport, I would return to the company’s office in the same car. The bodyguard had no intention of accompanying me back to the office–he had been hired to guard the president and nobody else. During those rides, I would often muse that potential terrorists could not know that the person in the highly visible vehicle was not the company’s president but just me. It was an uncomfortable feeling, but part of my Greek reality at the time.


There are more practical considerations regarding the current Greek crisis. Israeli exports to the EU will be affected by a further decline in the Euro. There would be significant consequences, as the EU is Israel’s largest market abroad. There are also other far reaching considerations which have less to do with Greece’s internal problems and more with how the EU deals with such issues. From my frequent visits to Greece, fifteen or more years ago, it was clear to me that there were huge economic problems, including an overgrown and often incompetent bureaucracy. Its ranks were filled with supporters of the two parties which alternated in having political power:  the socialist Pasok and the liberal New Democrats. As a foreigner I could not understand the details of the substantial corruption, but I could sense its impact.


Greece joined the EU in 1981. Over the years, the Brussels Eurocrats must have understood the country’s problems in far greater detail than an outsider like myself. They should have known that Greece was not a suitable candidate to join the Eurozone under any circumstances, and yet it happened in 2001. Had Greece kept the drachme as its currency, its structural problems would have gradually come to the surface over the years, but they would not have led to such a major calamity as is currently the case.


Letting Greece join was a sign of EU incompetence and of its irresponsibility. When the Greek crisis broke out, the EU focused mainly on the financial side of the problem, as if it was not accompanied by a social one. If the EU would have correctly analyzed the situation, they would have gradually eased Greece out of the Euro. The Eurozone members who lent money to keep Greece afloat were aware that the chances of being fully paid back were close to nothing. They knowingly fooled their own citizens, however, by claiming that there would be a return on their investment.


The Greek problem will not disappear easily. It is but one of a variety of huge strategic mistakes the EU has made. The creation of the Euro in a non-uniform economic system took away the major safety valve of devaluation from the weaker countries. Such a setup was only fine for countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, who had maintained a de facto fixed exchange rate between their pre-Euro currencies…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




THE RIGHT OUTCOME FOR AN AUSCHWITZ GUARD                                                                                    

Gene Klein                                                                                                           

Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2015 


Oskar Gröning, a former SS soldier known as “the bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” was convicted on Wednesday in a German court on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder. Mr. Gröning’s wartime duties included seizing money and other valuables from prisoners arriving at the death camp, then keeping track of what had been taken. Now 94, he was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison.


I had a personal stake in this trial. Together with my parents and my two sisters, I arrived in Auschwitz in May 1944. Mr. Gröning worked at the camp from September 1942 to October 1944. We had been on a train from Hungary for three days and three nights, packed 80 human beings to a cattle car. The water had run out within a day. By the time we arrived we were burning with thirst, weak with hunger, and overwhelmed with fear. The doors of the train slid open to reveal SS guards—with ferocious dogs barking at their sides—screaming at us to get out. The women were immediately separated from the men, leaving my father and me hardly time to say a hasty goodbye to my mother and sisters. We had no idea when, or if, we would see them again.


When my father and I reached the SS officers at the front of the arrival ramp, he was sent to the left and I was sent to the right. I had no idea why, or what this meant. I had no idea that I had just been selected for slave labor while my father had been selected for death. He was not an old man, but during the train ride his beard had grown in white. This was apparently signal enough for the guards to discard him as useless. That was the last time I saw my father. The next day I asked a veteran prisoner where they had taken him. He led me outside, pointed at a huge chimney that was spewing smoke into the air. Your father is going up the chimney, he said. I don’t know if Mr. Gröning was on the arrival ramp when I got off the train. I do know he was part of the machinery that inflicted death, deprivation and terror on the 300,000 Hungarian Jews who arrived during the time he was working at the Auschwitz arrival area, or the many more Jews and non-Jews who were killed at Auschwitz during the time he worked there as an accountant. No single person killed my father. He was killed by a system of genocide in which Mr. Gröning knowingly played his part.


The decision to send Oskar Gröning to prison is a service to humanity. I say this not out of vengeance; I take no pleasure in seeing a 94-year-old man sent to jail. I say it because it is just, it is right, and it is necessary. It is just and right because of the harms he inflicted on so many. These harms are not diminished by time, nor negated by the fact that he was part of a vast, murderous complex. They are not even mitigated by his willingness now to take moral responsibility for his acts, as seen in his public revelations that led to his arrest. Admitting moral responsibility is the least we should expect. The fact that so many in his situation in the past have failed to do so doesn’t exonerate him or erase his deeds.


We are defined in large measure by the difficult choices we make. When I was imprisoned in a slave-labor camp at Gross-Rosen in western Poland, my life was saved by a German brave enough to do what was right when it was dangerous, rather than popular. I was a starving 16-year-old carrying steel rails all day long, losing both strength and hope. Because I spoke German, I was selected one morning to carry surveying equipment for a civilian engineer. He took pity on me, and for the two weeks I worked with him, he—at great personal risk—stole food for me daily from the SS kitchen.


People like this courageous engineer remind us that there were alternatives to believing the Nazi propaganda that influenced Mr. Gröning. Acts of resistance and humanity were possible. But Mr. Gröning volunteered for the SS and became an active and enthusiastic member of their ranks. Had more people been like the engineer and fewer like Mr. Gröning, perhaps my sisters and I—they and my mother also survived the war—would not have lost my wonderful father. Perhaps I would again have seen my aunts, cousins and other relatives who died at the hands of the Nazis…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!







On Topic                                                                                        


Iran Got a Far Better Deal Than It Had Any Right to Expect: Elliott Abrams, National Review, July 15, 2015—Reading the 150-page agreement with Iran takes less time than one might have anticipated, because it isn’t really a 150-page agreement.
Greece, Deep in Crisis, is Keen on Axis of ‘Security’ with Israel and Cyprus: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2015—With Greece’s future shrouded in great uncertainty, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias spoke in Jerusalem on Monday of developing an axis of security and stability among Israel, Greece, and Cyprus inside what he called a regional “triangle of destabilization.”

The Life of an Auschwitz Guard: Laurence Rees, Politico, July 13, 2015—In 1942, when he was twenty-one years old, Oskar Groening was posted to Auschwitz. He almost immediately witnessed a transport arriving at “the ramp”—the platform where the Jews disembarked.

Two Mass Graves: Ukrainians and Jews: Alexander J. Motyl, World Affairs, July 15, 2015—I discovered two mass graves in the forest near my mother’s home town in western Ukraine, Peremyshlyany, located 47 kilometers east-southeast of Lviv. The former Przemyślany is also a former shtetl.






Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 




(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)



Anti-Semitism in Europe: Guy Millière, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 31, 2013—Jews who can do so, leave Europe. Those who do not have the means to leave know they must be extremely careful: it is dangerous again to be a Jew in Europe. It is even more dangerous to be a Jew who supports Israel.


The European Left and Its Trouble With Jews: Colin Shindler, New York Times, Oct. 27, 2012— Today, a sizable section of the European left has been reluctant to take a clear stand when anti-Zionism spills over into anti-Semitism. Beginning in the 1990s, many on the European left began to view the growing Muslim minorities in their countries as a new proletariat and the Palestinian cause as a recruiting mechanism.

Israel Winning in Europe: Arsen Ostrovsky, Ynet News, Dec.14, 2012—Before the ink was even dry on the Palestinian vote at the UN last [November], headlines already started flooding in on how Israel 'lost Europe.' The reality however, could not be further from the truth, as Israel continues to make stunning headway in its trade and bilateral relations with the EU.


On Topic Links



'Darker Sides': The Vast Islamist Sanctuary of 'Sahelistan': Paul Hyacinthe Mben, Jan Puhl, Thilo Thielke, Der Spiegel, Jan 28, 2013

Connecting the Dots in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya: Abukar Arman, The Commentator, Jan. 7 2013

The Mali Blowback: Patrick J. Buchanan, American Conservative, Jan. 18, 2013
Mali and the al-Qaeda Trap: Paul Rogers, Real Clear World, Jan. 25, 2013





Guy Millière

Gatestone Institute, Jan. 31, 2013


In 2012, the number of anti-Semitic crimes in France sharply increased. The six-month period that followed the March killings in a Jewish school in Toulouse were particularly harsh. The killer, Mohammed Merah, became a hero in many suburbs, his name on many graffiti. For some people, apparently, shooting children in the head just because they are Jewish is inspiring.


Although acts such as the killing in Toulouse had no equivalent elsewhere, France is not an exception: statistics show that insults, assaults, and cries of hatred against Jews multiply throughout Europe. Jewish schools, synagogues and Jewish cultural centers are everywhere threatened and urgently require more stringent security measures.


Political leaders say they are aware of the problem and are determined to act. In November, French President François Hollande said that "the struggle against anti-Semitism is a top priority." Angela Merkel used the same words a few weeks later in Germany. In the beginning of December, after a spike in verbal and physical anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, David Cameron said that he wanted to "tackle Antisemitism head on."


Words such as those were uttered many times in recent decades, but clearly had no effect. They did not reverse the trend. When European political leaders and commentators speak of anti-Semitism, they are vague and almost never give more detailed explanations. They never say why anti-Semitism is despicable and dangerous. They perform a sort of abstract ritual that seems more and more detached from reality.


On the other hand, when European political leaders and commentators are more precise, they generally refer only to a certain type of anti-Semitism: fascist anti-Semitism. Even if fascist anti-Semitism has not disappeared, it is not the most virulent anti-Semitism in Europe now, and no longer involved in much anti-Semitic crime. It is as if they are fighting a sickness by designating only one aspect of the sickness and sparing its most important dimensions.


European political leaders and commentators almost never speak of the most virulent strain of anti-Semitism in Europe today: Islamic anti-Semitism. They are afraid to combine the two words "Islamic" and "anti-Semitism." They know that if they do, they will be immediately accused of being "racist" and "Islamophobic." They know that Muslim organizations will start to say in the mainstream media that Muslims are being unfairly "stigmatized." They also know that the Muslim population in Europe is increasing quickly, and that some of its members may react with violence.


There is no fight against Islamic anti-Semitism in Europe today. If a non-Muslim bookseller wanted to sell The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Paris, Berlin or Brussels, the police would intervene immediately, and he would be arrested and prosecuted. If a Muslim bookseller wants to do the same thing, he can, without risking anything. If a French or a German television station decided to broadcast anti-Semitic programs, it would be shut down, and it would cause a scandal. Islamic TV channels broadcast anti-Semitic programs that attract a wide audience in Europe, and nobody dares talk about it.


A further cause of anti-Semitism never evoked in Europe is the spread of "anti-Zionism." The "Palestinian cause" and the "suffering of the Palestinian People" have become the main concern of a growing number of Europeans who, strangely, are not interested in the suffering of any other people — Syrians for example. Israel has become the country that it is fashionable to hate. Widespread hatred of successive Israeli governments in Israel has led to hatred toward the Israeli population, and hatred toward the Jews in general, especially if they support Israel.


European political leaders and commentators do not fight "anti-Zionism" except when it becomes extreme and when its anti-Semitic dimension becomes impossible to hide. Many seem to have anti-Israel prejudices and consciously or unconsciously contribute to the spread of this hatred. Anti-Semitism in Europe today is like a complex dark nebula. It includes remnants of fascist anti-Semitism and increasing levels of Islamic anti-Semitism, with "Anti-Zionism" added to the mix. Fascist anti-Semites, to hide their anti-Semitism, often join "anti-Zionist" movements, where they work hand in hand with Islamic anti-Semites to organize protests against Israel. Islamic anti-Semites use elements of fascist propaganda and disseminate them without any barrier….


Jews who can do so, leave Europe. Those who do not have the means to leave know they must be extremely careful: it is dangerous again to be a Jew in Europe. It is even more dangerous to be a Jew who supports Israel.


Jews who publicly despise Israel, or who say that the Jewish people does not exist, are widely praised. What Theodor Lessing called "Jüdische Selbsthass" (Jewish self-hatred), in a book published in Germany in 1930, impregnates the atmosphere again.  Calling to mind the darkest period of the history of Europe may seem pessimistic. And those who say that history does not repeat itself are probably right, but certain forms of malevolence seem particularly able to find new clothing to survive and thrive again. In an interview in a French magazine a few years ago, a man who survived the death camp in Auschwitz said: "In the 1930s, the pessimists found ways to survive; it was the optimists who died."


Top of Page






Colin Shindler

New York Times, Oct. 27, 2012


Last week, Twitter shut down a popular account for posting anti-Semitic messages in France. This came soon after the firing of blanks at a synagogue near Paris, the discovery of a network of radical Islamists who had thrown a hand grenade into a kosher restaurant, and the killing of a teacher and young pupils at a Jewish school in Toulouse earlier this year. The attacks were part of an escalating campaign of violence against Jews in France.


Today, a sizable section of the European left has been reluctant to take a clear stand when anti-Zionism spills over into anti-Semitism. Beginning in the 1990s, many on the European left began to view the growing Muslim minorities in their countries as a new proletariat and the Palestinian cause as a recruiting mechanism. The issue of Palestine was particularly seductive for the children of immigrants, marooned between identities.


Capitalism was depicted as undermining a perfect Islamic society while cultural imperialism corrupted Islam. The tactic has a distinguished revolutionary pedigree. Indeed, the cry, “Long live Soviet power, long live the Shariah,” was heard in Central Asia during the 1920s after Lenin tried to cultivate Muslim nationalists in the Soviet East once his attempt to spread revolution to Europe had failed. But the question remains: why do today’s European socialists identify with Islamists whose worldview is light-years removed from their own?


In recent years, there has been an increased blurring of the distinction between Jew, Zionist and Israeli. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the militant group Hezbollah, famously commented: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice I do not say the Israeli.”


Whereas historically Islam has often been benevolent toward Jews, compared to Christianity, many contemporary Islamists have evoked the idea of “the eternal Jew.” For example, the Battle of Khaybar in 629, fought by the Prophet Muhammad against the Jewish tribes, is recalled in victory chants at Hezbollah rallies: “Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the army of Muhammad will return,” and the name Khaybar sometimes graces Hezbollah rockets aimed at Israel….


The old left in Europe was forged in the struggle against local fascists in the 1930s. Most of Europe experienced a brutal Nazi occupation and bore witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust. The European left strongly identified with Jewish suffering and therefore welcomed the birth of the state of Israel in 1948. Some viewed the struggle for Israel in the same light as the fight for freedom in the Spanish Civil War.


But the succeeding generation of the European left did not see things this way. Its frame of reference was the anticolonial struggle — in Vietnam, South Africa, Rhodesia and a host of other places. Its hallowed icon was not the soldier of the International Brigades who fought against Franco in Spain, but Che Guevara — whose image adorned countless student bedrooms. Anticolonialism further influenced myriad causes, from America’s Black Panthers in the 1960s to Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela today.


It began with Israel’s exclusion from the ranks of the nonaligned nations more than 50 years ago, when Arab states refused to attend a 1955 nonaligned conference in Indonesia if an Israeli delegate was present. The Jewish state was snubbed in favour of such feudal kingdoms as Saudi Arabia, Libya and Yemen. And Israel’s collusion with imperial powers like Britain and France during the Suez crisis the following year cemented its ostracism….


Amid this rising hostility toward Israel, the French philosopher and political activist Jean-Paul Sartre advocated a different way forward. He was scarred by the memory of what had happened to France’s Jews during World War II — the discrimination, betrayals, deportations and exterminations. He understood the legitimacy of Israel’s war for independence and later commented that the establishment of the state of Israel was one of the few events “that allows us to preserve hope.” Yet Sartre also strongly supported Algeria’s fight for independence from France.


This double legacy of supporting Israel and the Algerian struggle symbolized the predicament of the entire postwar European left. Sartre argued that the left shouldn’t choose between two moral causes and that it was up to the Jews and the Arabs to resolve their conflict through discussion and negotiation. Sartre tried to create a space for a dialogue, lending his name and prestige to private and public meetings between the two sides such as the Comité Israël-Palestine in the 1970s. His approach reached its apogee with the many quiet meetings between Israelis and Palestinians in Europe that eventually led to the Oslo accords.


But Sartre’s vision was stymied as Israeli settlements proliferated after 1977, strengthening the left’s caricature of Israel as an imperialist power and a settler-colonial enterprise. Some prominent voices on the European left have mouthed time-honoured anti-Semitic tropes in their desire to appear supportive of the Palestinian cause. Ken Livingstone, a former newspaper editor and mayor of London, has a long history of insensitive remarks about Jews — from publishing a cartoon in 1982 of Menachem Begin, then Israel’s prime minister, in Gestapo uniform atop a pile of Palestinian skulls to likening a known Jewish reporter to “a concentration camp guard” 20 years later. Today, he contributes to Press TV, the English-language outlet for the Iranian government.


Sometimes the left distinguishes between vulnerable European Jews who have been persecuted and latter-day “Prussians” in Israel. Yet it is often forgotten that a majority of Israelis just happen to be Jews, who fear therefore that what begins with the delegitimization of the state will end with the delegitimization of the people.


Such Israelophobia, enunciated by sections of the European left, dovetailed neatly with the rise of Islamism among Palestinians and throughout the Arab world. The Islamist obfuscation of “the Jew” mirrored the blindness of many a European Marxist. Despite the well-intentioned efforts of many Jews and Muslims to put aside their differing perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the offensive imagery of “the Jew” has persisted in many immigrant communities in Western Europe. Islamists were willing to share platforms with socialists and atheists, but not with Zionists.


The New Left’s profound opposition to American power, and the convergence of reactionary Islamists and unquestioning leftists was reflected in the million-strong London protest against the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It was organized by the Muslim Association of Britain, the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and the Stalinist Communist Party of Britain. When some Muslims voiced apprehension about participating in the protest with non-Muslims, the M.A.B. leadership decreed that it was religiously permissible if halal food was provided and men and women were given separate areas. Such displays of “reactionary clericalism,” as the early Bolsheviks would have called it, were happily glossed over.


Sartre understood that the conflict was not simply between Israelis and Palestinians, but between those advocating peace on both sides and their rejectionists. This conflict within the conflict is something that many on Europe’s left, as they ally themselves with unsavoury forces, still fail to comprehend.

Instead, the swallowing up of both the Israeli and Palestinian peace camps by political polarization has accelerated the closing of the progressive mind. And static fatalism has allowed the assailant of synagogue congregants and the killer of young children to fill the vacuum.


Colin Shindler is an emeritus professor at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.


Top of Page





Arsen Ostrovsky

Ynet News, Dec.14, 2012

Before the ink was even dry on the Palestinian vote at the UN last [November], headlines already started flooding in on how Israel 'lost Europe.' The reality however, could not be further from the truth, as Israel continues to make stunning headway in its trade and bilateral relations with the EU….


Regrettably, when commentators lament how Israel has 'lost' Europe, they overlook the impressive list of achievements by this [Israeli] government in the past four years. For example, in May 2010 the OECD unanimously voted to invite Israel to join the organization. This was no small achievement, and came despite intensive lobbying by the Palestinians. Even countries like Norway, Spain and Ireland, traditionally the most hostile to Israel in Europe, voted in favor.


In September 2011 Israel became the first non-European member of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, while in July this year the EU and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding to deepen their scientific cooperation in the fields of energy and water desalination, where Israel is a world leader.


Moreover, in October the European Parliament ratified the ACAA agreement (Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products) with Israel. The agreement is unprecedented in that it recognizes Israel’s industrial standards as equivalent to those in Europe, especially in healthcare, and is a prime example of a 'win-win' situation for both Europe and Israel.


According to David Saranga, the head of European Parliament Liaison Department for the Israeli Mission to the EU:  "The ACAA protocol will eliminate technical barriers to trade by facilitating the mutual recognition of assessment procedures. This will in turn help lead to facilitating imports of high-quality, low-cost Israeli medicines into the EU, while at the same time increasing medicinal choice for European patients and healthcare professionals."


In the last few years, Israel has also held an increasing number of government-to-government meetings at the highest level of Cabinet with various European allies, including the Czechs, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and Germany (with whom Israel is meeting in Berlin this week). As a result of these meetings, Israel has signed a number of significant bilateral agreements in areas of high-tech, green energy, culture and the sciences.

This year alone, Israel has signed multi-billion dollar gas deals with Cyprus and Greece; Israel’s Aerospace Industries has secured two contracts worth nearly $1 billion to provide Italy with air force military equipment; whilst the past year has also been Israel’s “best tourism year ever”, with more than 3.5 million visitors to the Holy Land – most of whom have come from European countries.


Importantly, in 2011 the EU was Israel's largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to approximately €29.4 billion for the year – an increase of 45% from 2009; and this came during the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis in Europe. Achievements like this do not come easily, nor do they occur overnight. Whilst the United States will always remain Israel's most important ally, the Foreign Ministry, under the present political leadership, has made a concerted effort to reach out to allies in Europe (and elsewhere) that had been neglected in the past.

Perhaps the key factor though behind Israel’s success in Europe has been its ability to successfully extricate 'the conflict' from their bilateral relations.  Previously, there had been a direct correlation between how the conflict was progressing and Israel's trade relations. Today, Israel has created an environment in which its bilateral agreements are increasingly judged on trade merits alone, while membership in international organizations is based on the same criteria as for every other nation – that is, what can Israel contribute by way of skills, experience and expertise. No, Israel has not 'lost' Europe. Rather, Israel is 'winning' in Europe.


 Arsen Ostrovsky is an International Human Rights Lawyer and freelance journalist.

Top of Page





Neo-Fascism's Stunning Rise in Europe: Barry Strauss, Real Clear World, October 5, 2012—The past weighs heavily on us. That’s the message that I got during the first week of a sabbatical in southern Europe. Two incidents, one in Rome and the other outside Athens, showed this roving historian firsthand the real presence of neo-Fascism. 


Europe: The World’s New Superpower: Anne Applebaum, National Post, Jan 28, 2013—“A decade of war is now ending,” U.S. President Barack Obama declared Monday. Maybe that’s true in America, but it isn’t true anywhere else. Extremists are still plotting acts of terror. Authoritarian and autocratic regimes are still using violence to preserve their power. The United States can step back from international conflicts, but that won’t make them disappear.


Mali War Exposes Europe's Security Shortcomings: By Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer & Martin Michelot, Real Clear World, Jan. 18, 2013—Since the intervention in Libya in 2011, which highlighted strong dissensions between France and Germany in the conduct of military engagement, Europeans have been waiting for a new opportunity to prove they could unite around a common objective, away from Brussels and the near-constant series of crisis meetings.


The Weimar Union: Walter Laqueur, The New Republic, July 13, 2012—The public discussion of Europe’s economic crisis has carried a curious air of repression: When commentators have worried about worst-case scenarios—the scenarios that harken back to the dark moments in the Continent’s history—they have generally been dismissed as alarmist.


The Blood Libel That Won’t Quit: Nathalie Rothschild, Tablet Magazine, Dec. 3, 2012—In 2009, the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet ran a story alleging that members of the Israel Defense Forces had stolen the organs of up to 69 Palestinians who died in their custody. Titled “Our sons are plundered of their organs” it accused the IDF of having conducted “macabre operations” in the Occupied Territories during the early 1990s.



Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.



Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org