Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Tag: labour Party

BALFOUR DECLARATION RECOGNIZED THE BOND OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE TO THEIR HISTORIC HOMELAND

Balfour’s Greatest of Gifts: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2017— This week Israel’s judo team was harassed and discriminated against by UAE officials when they tried to board a flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, en route to Abu Dhabi to participate in the Judo Grand Slam competition.

The 100-Year-Old Promise: Clifford D. May, Washington Times, Oct. 31, 2017— In theory, who doesn’t believe in self-determination, the idea, developed in the 19th century, that all nations have a right to sovereignty?

British Élites Regret Israel's Very Existence: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 24, 2017— The refusal of Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the English Labor Party, to attend the dinner in London for the centenary of the Balfour Declaration is the confirmation of what many have always suspected…

When Britain Renewed the Promise to the Jews ‘His Majesty’s Government View with Favour the Establishment in Palestine of a National Home: Ruth R. Wisse, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 2, 2017 — In the living room of our daughter’s home hangs a 4-by-6-foot Jewish flag designed by her paternal great-grandfather…

 

On Topic Links

 

The Forgotten Truth about the Balfour Declaration: Martin Kramer, Mosaic, June 5, 2017

Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi’s Cynical Use of Antisemitism: Mara Schiffren, Algemeiner, Oct. 27, 2017

From Balfour to Nikki Haley: A Century of Christian Zionist Support for Israel: Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 1, 2017

The Historical Significance of the Balfour Declaration: Amb. Dore Gold, JCPA, October 31, 2017

                                                           

                                   

 

BALFOUR’S GREATEST OF GIFTS                                                                                     

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2017

 

This week Israel’s judo team was harassed and discriminated against by UAE officials when they tried to board a flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, en route to Abu Dhabi to participate in the Judo Grand Slam competition. Apropos of nothing, UAE told the Israelis they would only be permitted to enter the UAE from Amman. And once they finally arrived at the competition, they were prohibited from competing under their national flag. Lowlights of the UAE’s shameful bigotry included forcing Tal Flicker to receive his gold medal under the International Judo Association’s flag with the association’s theme song, rather than Israel’s national anthem playing in the background and the sight of a Moroccan female judoka literally running away from her Israeli opponent rather than shake hands with her.

 

The discrimination that Israel’s judokas suffered is newsworthy because it’s appalling, not because it is rare. It isn’t rare. Israeli athletes and performers, professors, students and tourists in countries throughout the world are regularly discriminated against for being Israeli Jews. Concerts are picketed or canceled. Israelis are denied educational opportunities and teaching positions. Israeli brands are boycotted and Israeli shops are picketed from Montreal to Brooklyn to Johannesburg. The simple act of purchasing Israeli cucumbers has become a political statement in countries around the world.

 

And of course, there is the world of diplomacy, where the nations of the world seem to have flushed the news of Israel’s establishment 70 years ago down the memory hole. The near-consensus view of UN institutions and to a growing degree, of EU institutions, not to mention the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, is that the Jewish exile should never have ended. The Jews should have remained scattered and at the mercy of the nations of the world, forever.

 

In the face of the growing discrimination Israelis suffer and rejection Israel endures, how are we to look at the centennial of the Balfour Declaration…? One hundred years ago, on November 2, 1917, Arthur Balfour, foreign secretary of Great Britain, detonated a bomb whose aftershocks are still being felt in Britain and worldwide. That day, Balfour issued a letter to Lord Walter Rothschild, the leader of the British Jewish community. The letter, which quickly became known as the Balfour Declaration, effectively announced the British Empire supported an end of the Jewish people’s 1,800-year exile and its return to history, as a free nation in its homeland – the Land of Israel.

 

In Balfour’s immortal words, “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.” The Palestinian Arab leadership at the time rejected his statement. Shortly thereafter the Arabs initiated a terrorist onslaught against the Jewish community in the Land of Israel that has continued, more or less without interruption, ever since.

 

Indeed, for the Palestinians, nothing has changed. They have not moved an inch in a hundred years. PLO chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas now demands that Britain officially renounce the Balfour Declaration and apologize for having issued it as if Lord Balfour was still foreign secretary and David Lloyd George was still prime minster. Their growing chorus of supporters at the UN, throughout the Islamic world, and in Europe is similarly stuck in 1917.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t believe that the enduring Arab and international rejection of Israel’s right to exist mitigates the significance of the Balfour Declaration. Next week he will travel to London to participate in the centennial commemorations of the Balfour Declaration at the side of British Prime Minister Theresa May. May said on Wednesday that she is “proud” to commemorate the declaration. In her words, “We are proud of the role that we played in the creation of the State of Israel and we certainly mark the centenary with pride.” This was certainly nice of her. But May also felt it necessary to tip her hat to the Balfour haters. So she added, “We must also be conscious of the sensitivities that some people do have about the Balfour Declaration and we recognize that there is more work to be done. We remain committed to the two-state solution in relation to Israel and the Palestinians.”

 

This bring us back to the Palestinians, and the UAE, and the protesters who will be screaming out against Balfour and David Lloyd George from one end of Britain to the other next week demanding their declaration be withdrawn and history rolled back. These people are not fringe elements. They have lots of people in positions of power in Britain who agree with them. Britain’s main opposition party is being led by an ardent Israel-basher. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced Monday that he will not be participating the Balfour centennial ceremonies. And that makes sense. It would be awkward for a man who was elected and reelected after calling Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists his “friends,” to be celebrating Britain’s role in establishing the state his friends are working to destroy.

 

Corbyn’s boycott, and his very rise to power, are clear signs that Balfour’s legacy is a mixed bag. Except that it isn’t a mixed bag. At a very deep level, Israel owes its existence to the Balfour Declaration. This is true not because the Balfour Declaration changed the way the world viewed the Jews. It manifestly did not – not in its own time, and not today. In fact it is richly ironic that the Palestinians and their supporters blame the British for the establishment of Israel. Shortly after the Balfour Declaration was issued, British authorities, particularly on the ground in the Middle East, did everything they possibly could to cancel it.

 

In 1920, British military officers asked the local Arab strongman Haj Amin al-Husseini to incite a pogrom in Jerusalem over Passover. Husseini’s thugs murdered four Jews and wounded many more. The purpose of the pogrom was to convince the British Parliament to cancel the Balfour Declaration. The plan didn’t work. Lloyd George and Balfour and their colleagues weren’t interested in abandoning their three year old declaration. Two years later the League of Nations established the British Mandate for Palestine on the basis of the Balfour Declaration. But the seeds of doubt were duly sown. Almost immediately after the League of Nations issued the Mandate, the British carved off three-quarters of the territory earmarked for the Jewish national home to create Trans-Jordan. It was largely downhill from there…

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

 

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THE 100-YEAR-OLD PROMISE

Clifford D. May

Washington Times, Oct. 31, 2017

 

In theory, who doesn’t believe in self-determination, the idea, developed in the 19th century, that all nations have a right to sovereignty? By the early 20th century, President Woodrow Wilson was insisting that “National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent.” In theory, self-determination is today a fundamental principle of international law. In practice, not so much. The Middle East’s 35 million Kurds have long wanted their own nation-state. They’re not about to get one anytime soon. The government of Spain is determined to quash the movement for Catalonian independence. China prohibits even discussions of Tibet’s right to break free.

 

What brings these issues to mind now? On Nov. 2 it will be exactly 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, the British Empire’s statement in support of the establishment of “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then a backwater of the soon-to-be-defeated Ottoman Empire. Britain’s promise enjoyed what historian Martin Kramer calls “buy-in” from the Allied Powers, including the U.S. and France, who fought the Central Powers, including Germany and the Ottomans, in what we retrospectively call World War I.

 

“In Palestine shall be laid the foundation of a Jewish Commonwealth,” President Wilson announced. French diplomat Jules Cambon wrote that it would be “a deed of justice and of reparation to assist, by the protection of the Allied Powers, in the renaissance of the Jewish nationality in that Land from which the people of Israel were exiled so many centuries ago.” The Zionist cause was soon endorsed by the broader international community as well. It was incorporated into the mandate for Palestine given to Britain by the League of Nations in the 1920s. Mr. Kramer notes: “Those who now cast the Balfour Declaration as an egregious case of imperial self-dealing simply don’t know its history (or prefer not to know it).”

 

Also too often forgotten or ignored is the fact that it was thanks to Britain and the other Allied Powers that Arab nation-states rose from the Ottoman ashes. Among them: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen. A related anniversary: On Nov. 29, it will be 70 years since the United Nations recommended partitioning western Palestine (the east became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan) into two independent states, one Arab and one Jewish. Note: In that era, both Arabs and Jews were equally “Palestinian.”

 

Jewish leaders accepted partition. Arab leaders rejected it. In May 1948, upon termination of the British mandate, those Jewish leaders declared independence and won recognition from the U.S., the Soviet Union and other U.N. members. Five Arab nations launched what became known as the First Arab-Israeli War. The Arab League’s secretary-general, Azzam Pasha, promised it would be “a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”

 

But the Jews, who had nowhere else to go and the memory of the Holocaust fresh in their minds, managed to hold their ground. In February 1949 an armistice was declared. After that, Arab and Muslim nations might have granted their own Jewish communities basic rights and freedoms. They could then have made the case that the Jewish state was superfluous. Instead and vindictively, those Arab and Muslim governments more harshly persecuted their Jewish subjects, confiscating their properties and, before long, driving them out.

 

More than 800,000 Jews ended up fleeing Arab and Muslim countries. A majority were resettled in Israel where, over time, they strengthened the nation. Today, roughly half of all Israelis are descendants of Jews from the broader Middle East — Morocco to Iraq (Baghdad was close to a third Jewish as recently as 1945) to Afghanistan. Slightly fewer Palestinians, an estimated 700,000, fled Israel, many going to Arab countries that chose not to assimilate or even integrate them.

 

A third anniversary: In 1967, Egypt, Syria and Jordan waged another war intended to drive the Jews into the sea. The Israelis not only survived, they seized Gaza from Egypt, and the West Bank (earlier known as Judea and Samaria) from Jordan. Over the years since, the possibility of transforming these territories into an independent Palestinian state — the “two-state solution” — has been the basis for one peace plan after another. None has succeeded. I’d argue that the primary reason is that Palestinian leaders are still fighting wars of the past. They refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel under international law, the necessity for Israel given the durability of Jew-hatred, and the reality of Israel established and defended by “blood and iron.”

 

Throughout 2017, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders have been denouncing the Balfour Declaration as a “crime,” demanding that the British renounce it and apologize for it. But British Prime Theresa May said last week that Britons are “proud of the role that we played in the creation of the State of Israel and we certainly mark the centenary with pride.” A separate British government statement asserted that the “important thing now is to look forward and establish security and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians through a lasting peace.”

 

Who doesn’t want self-determination for the Palestinians? Who doesn’t want to see Palestinians living in freedom and prosperity? That could have begun 70 years ago. It could begin tomorrow. In theory, it would require only willingness on the part of Palestinians to accept and peacefully coexist alongside the “national home for the Jewish people” envisaged by the Balfour Declaration. In practice, such a change of heart might be another hundred years away.                    

 

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BRITISH ÉLITES REGRET ISRAEL'S VERY EXISTENCE

Giulio Meotti

Arutz Sheva, Oct. 24, 2017

 

The refusal of Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the English Labor Party, to attend the dinner in London for the centenary of the Balfour Declaration is the confirmation of what many have always suspected (for the occasion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in the British capital to thank the UK for that gift made in 1917 to the Jewish people). The antipathy towards Israel by Corbyn and other important Western segments of the Left goes far beyond hostility towards Israeli “settlements”, as the leaders of the Left repeat. Corbyn and his comrades would like Israel to never have been born.

 

The leader of “Momentum” is often referred as a hooligan on the Israeli issue. But Corbyn's refusal to publicly support Israel's right to exist is in fact embraced by a substantial part of the British élite. They are government officials, MPs, filmmakers, journalists, intellectuals, academics, heads of non-governmental organizations, church leaders. England has first place in Europe for the academic boycott of Israel. English universities are often no-go-zones for Israeli students. English actors, such as Emma Thompson, are often in the front row signing petitions against “Zionism”. English newpapers, such as the Times and the Independent, host the most violent cartoons against Israeli leaders. And the English queen has never visited Israel.

 

It would make us comfortable if Corbyn's rejection of the centennial of Balfour, a rejection praised by Hamas, was the decision of the crazy guevarist mind out of step with time.  But that is not the case. Indeed, intellectual corbynism is within the British mainstream, it is the expression of the “chattering classes”, those who make the public opinion in the UK. That is why Mr. Corbyn is so dangerous. Because he is not a lunatic, but an aggregator and agitator of deep anti-Israeli feelings.

 

 

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WHEN BRITAIN RENEWED THE PROMISE TO THE JEWS

Ruth R. Wisse

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 2, 2017

 

In the living room of our daughter’s home hangs a 4-by-6-foot Jewish flag designed by her paternal great-grandfather, hastily sewn from blue and white material in his Montreal dry-goods store. In November 1917, on receiving news that the British government had just given its support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, Nathan Black strung the flag across his storefront and closed for the day. “Haynt iz a yontev,” he told his workers: “Today is a holiday.”

 

One hundred years ago on Nov. 2, Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary, sent a letter to Lord Walter Rothschild : “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

 

Known as the Balfour Declaration, it represented a diplomatic high point in the history of the Zionist movement founded by Theodor Herzl in 1897. Herzl realized that Zionism would have trouble achieving its political objective of establishing “a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law” without support from one or more of the empires laying claim to the Jewish homeland. His attempt to win that support, cut short by his death in 1904, was taken over by others, such as Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow. The latter’s role in securing the Balfour Declaration was recently brought to light by historian Martin Kramer. Other countries, including France and the U.S., were involved in the discussions over the disposition of Palestine, but the credit for this document was Britain’s. At least on that score credit is deserved.

 

The Balfour Declaration was a landmark in the political life of Britain no less than in the self-determination of the Jews. Brutally expelled from England in 1290 and formally readmitted in 1656, Jews remained the barometer of toleration in the country’s political and private life. English literature served up sinister characters like Shylock and Fagin that testify to powerful anti-Jewish prejudice. Then, in 1876, the British novelist George Eliot created the title character Daniel Deronda, an Englishman and Jew who determines to make the Jews a landed nation again, “giving them a national center, such as the English have, though they too are scattered over the face of the globe.” The threat to the Jews in Eliot’s novel comes not from violent aggressors but from Englishmen who cannot understand why Jews should remain a nation. Anticipating Zionism and the Balfour Declaration, Eliot interprets the ability of the English to accept Jewish national rights as the touchstone of their political maturity.

 

Yet Britain went back on its word. Attempting to appease Arab rulers, it rewarded Arab violence in Palestine in the 1930s by preventing Jews from entering land promised to them by the Bible and the British. While the British betrayal did not directly abet Hitler’s war against the Jews of Europe, it signaled a readiness to abandon the Jews to their fate. It certainly spurred the Arab war against Israel, which began where Germany’s war against the Jews left off. Churchill reminded Parliament in 1939 that the pledge of a Jewish homeland in Palestine had been made not only to the Jews but to the world and that its repudiation was a confession of British weakness.

 

The Jews would have returned to Zion with or without the consent of Europe. This is the people that, despite the murder of millions of potential Jewish citizens, and within Herzl’s predicted timeline of 50 years, recovered and defended its national sovereignty in the Land of Israel that had been under foreign domination for almost two millennia. But most of the Arab world rejected the very principle of coexistence and consequently spiraled into ever-escalating intramural conflicts. For Arab nations, too, acceptance of an autonomous Jewish presence, if and when it occurs, will be the gauge of their political maturity.

 

Meantime, in Britain’s Daily Mail, a “proud Jewish woman and patriotic Briton” wrote last month that “many of this country’s 270,000-strong Jewish community no longer feel we have a home here.” The immediate cause of her anguish is the emboldened anti-Semitism of the Labour Party, which traditionally included many Jews. This coalition of grievance endangers the democratic future of the country. Our family’s flag celebrated a landmark in the restoration of Zion but also another great nation’s readiness to coexist with the Jews on an equal footing. That in itself will not bring peace to the world—but world peace cannot come without it.

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The Forgotten Truth about the Balfour Declaration: Martin Kramer, Mosaic, June 5, 2017— On November 2, 1917, a century ago, Arthur James Balfour, the British foreign secretary, conveyed the following pledge in a public letter to a prominent British Zionist, Lord Walter Rothschild…

Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi’s Cynical Use of Antisemitism: Mara Schiffren, Algemeiner, Oct. 27, 2017—We’re nearing an age of peak cynicism, when a former PLO spokesman and decades-long anti-Israel activist claims to be more concerned about antisemitism than does Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

From Balfour to Nikki Haley: A Century of Christian Zionist Support for Israel: Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 1, 2017—There were many driving factors behind Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour’s decision on November 2, 1917, to write a letter to Britain’s most illustrious Jewish citizen, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, expressing the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

The Historical Significance of the Balfour Declaration: Amb. Dore Gold, JCPA, October 31, 2017—The stated purpose of the Balfour Declaration from November 2, 1917 and the circumstances under which it was published are generally known.

 

 

 

“BALANCED” ANTI-ZIONISM OF THE PA, LEFTISTS, CANADIAN GREEN PARTY & UK LABOUR PARTY IS THE “NEW ANTISEMITISM”

Why Should we be ‘Balanced’ in Our Opinion of the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority?: Robert Fulford, National Post, July 22, 2016— When Ottawa announced that Vivian Bercovici will no longer be ambassador to Israel, The Globe and Mail elicited a few happy remarks from Ferry de Kerckhove, a former diplomat who has served as Canadian ambassador to Egypt and Pakistan.

Is Antisemitism the New ‘Normal’ in Europe?: Judith Bergman, Algemeiner, June 21, 2016 — In Michel Houellebecq’s dystopian novel, Submission (2015), which takes place in an imaginary France ‎in 2022, when the Muslim Brotherhood has won elections and rules the country in alliance with the Socialists…

The Holocaust, the Left, and the Return of Hate: Jamie Palmer, The Tower, April 2016— Alex Chalmers, the co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, resigned on February 17, citing widespread anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews among its members.

The Green Party’s Anti-Israel Agitators: Josh Cooper, National Post, July26, 2016— Among the various reasons I won’t be addressing the Green Party of Canada’s upcoming convention is the fact that I was invited by the party to do so on a Saturday — a surprising (and some would say insensitive) invitation for a Jewish organization.

 

On Topic Links

 

Middle East Studies Implicated in AMCHA's Campus Anti-Semitism Report: Cinnamon Stillwell, Campus Watch, July 28, 2016

On Modern Antisemitism, Christian Silence Is Complicity: Carla Brewington, Algemeiner, July 20, 2016

Can a Hobbled EU Live up to its Vow to Combat Anti-Semitism and Racism?: JTA, July 21, 2016

In History's Court: Michael M. Rosen, Weekly Standard, July 25, 2016

 

 

 

WHY SHOULD WE BE ‘BALANCED’ IN OUR OPINION OF THE ISRAELI

GOVERNMENT AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY?

Robert Fulford             

    National Post, July 22, 2016

 

When Ottawa announced that Vivian Bercovici will no longer be ambassador to Israel, The Globe and Mail elicited a few happy remarks from Ferry de Kerckhove, a former diplomat who has served as Canadian ambassador to Egypt and Pakistan. De Kerckhove said the gang at Global Affairs would be feeling “total, total elation” over the news of Bercovici’s dismissal. Since her appointment in 2014, he said, she had become the mouthpiece for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “She showed no balance at all,” he said.

 

“Balance” is what a veteran diplomat like de Kerckhove sees as the key to a successful career in his business. No one will argue that Bercovici was a model of balance. But it was de Kerckhove’s implicit endorsement of this principle that jumped out of the news story.  “Balance” implies that the opinions of two antagonists should be regarded as morally equivalent. It would mean that our ambassador would consider that Israel and the Palestinian Authority are similar entities, with similar goals and similar methods, to be taken seriously in a similar way. But how could an ambassador manage that? How could Canada do that? Would we want to?

 

In many ways Israel lives by the same principles as Canada. It is a democracy, with rival political parties. Its government lives under constant scrutiny, as governments should. It has independent judges, a free marketplace, freedom of speech and media. It has academic freedom. In all these ways, Israel is unique in the Middle East. These are the bones of Israel’s public life, as they are of Canada’s. They form the basis of our national identities. But the Palestinian Authority has none of those attributes.

 

It has no articulate political parties, no sign of an independent judiciary, nothing in the way of self-criticism in its education system. Instead, it holds itself together through a pervasive sense of resentment — and through violence. It cherishes its wounds and soothes itself by wounding Israel. Since the 1940s, the Palestinians have been effectively at war with Israel. PA President Mahmoud Abbas talks peace when he talks at all with Israel, but his quasi-nation is still conducting a particularly vicious kind of warfare, which Abbas approves of or ignores.

 

It is an unpredictable, as well as underhanded conflict, a violent attack on the nervous system of Israel. It breaks out, undeclared, when a bus suddenly blows up or a bomb consumes a restaurant and its patrons — or when one individual Palestinian suddenly draws out a knife and kills a stranger who is identified as a Jewish citizen of Israel. And it is almost always a war against civilians, children and women as well as men.

 

I was in Israel during the Second Intifada in 2002, and I was astonished by the fact that the Israelis were so calm. They had more than the usual amount of security, but otherwise they went about their business. They weren’t particularly interested in discussing the terror. They were excited, in normal ways, about sports, politics, TV and (a special interest of many Israelis) archeology. They were not letting fanatics from the West Bank interfere with real life. They were acting as citizens of a democracy should act. “Intifada” means “shaking,” but the Israelis chose not to be shaken.

 

The random murders committed by Palestinian terrorists are not treated, back home, as a necessary evil. The terrorists are greeted with exuberant gratitude and their families accept congratulations even if their son or brother died while killing others. And if an anti-Israel atrocity occurred three or four decades earlier, the murderer can still be treated as a hero. Last Sunday, for example, the Palestinian Authority installed a monument to Ahmed Jabara, who killed 15 people and injured 60 in 1976 by leaving a refrigerator packed with explosives in Zion Square in West Jerusalem. An Arab-American, Jabara was sentenced to life in prison for murder. After 27 years, he was released by the Israeli government as a peace gesture to the Palestine Liberation Organization. He died of a heart attack at age 78 in 2013.

 

Now he’s treated as an example for all time. A bust of him in white marble sits in a square in Ramallah, in the West Bank, looking suitably noble. It’s labelled  “Monument for the heroic martyr prisoner Ahmad Jabarah.” At the unveiling, a Palestinian official declared that the purpose of the monument is “to implant in the minds of our sons and daughters that we are continuing to be loyal to the path of the martyrs.” Should a Canadian treat with balance a community that teaches young people to revere terrorist martyrs?  Sympathy, perhaps, or some level of understanding. But balance? No.        

 

 

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IS ANTISEMITISM THE NEW ‘NORMAL’ IN EUROPE?                                                                                     

Judith Bergman                                                                                                   

Algemeiner, June 21, 2016

 

In Michel Houellebecq’s dystopian novel, Submission (2015), which takes place in an imaginary France ‎in 2022, when the Muslim Brotherhood has won elections and rules the country in alliance with the Socialists, the non-Jewish protagonist, a professor at the Sorbonne, tells his Jewish student, who is escaping to Israel with her family, that there ‎can be “no Israel for me.” This is one of the most poignant observations in the book.‎

 

Another is the protagonist’s reflection that the increasing violence, even the gunshots in the streets of Paris as a ‎civil war threatens to explode during the run-up to the elections, has become the ‎new normal: something that everyone is resigned to as an inevitable fact, barely reported in the ‎media and treated as unremarkable by his fellow lecturers. Even after the Muslim Brotherhood wins the ‎elections, and the Sorbonne is turned into an Islamic university, with all that this entails, his colleagues treat ‎this development as nothing out of the ordinary. Houllebecq’s indictment against the silence and ‎complicity of his fellow intellectuals in the face of the Islamist encroachments on French society is ‎scathing. As a matter of course, in the new France, where freedom of speech comes at a prohibitive ‎price, Houllebecq now has to live under 24-hour police protection. Submission, by the way, was published on the day of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks.‎

 

The resignation and the precarious pretense that everything is normal in the face of rapidly deteriorating ‎circumstances, is a predictable human reaction, testimony to the sometimes practical but lamentable human capacity for adaptation to most circumstances, whatever they may be. ‎Historically, Jews have excelled in this discipline, simply because they had no choice. Just like Houllebecq’s ‎protagonist, they had nowhere else to go. However, whereas there “can be no Israel” for the lost ‎professor, today, unlike the last time Jews were threatened on a large scale in Europe, there is an Israel ‎for the Jews. Uniquely among all the peoples of Europe, the Jews have a welcoming place to go. ‎Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Western European Jews choose to stay put in Europe.‎

 

In 2015, 30,000 Jews made aliyah from all over the world. Almost 22,000 of these arrivals were from ‎France, Russia and Ukraine, and approximately 3,700 new immigrants made aliyah from the United States and ‎Canada. Other countries included Argentina and Venezuela, but Western Europe, outside of France, only ‎accounted for the tiniest contribution to these figures.‎ From the Netherlands, home to an estimated 50,000 Jews, only 96 Jews made aliyah in ‎‎2015, still the highest figure recorded in a decade. In Belgium, which saw an Islamic terrorist attack on the ‎Jewish museum in 2014, only 287 Jews made aliyah last year out of an estimated Jewish population of ‎‎40,000. Aliyah from the Scandinavian countries was equally negligible in 2015, despite a terrorist attack on ‎the synagogue in Copenhagen in 2015 and a growing anti-circumcision lobby in all the Scandinavian ‎countries, threatening to literally make a continued Jewish presence in those countries untenable. In ‎‎2014, kosher slaughter was made illegal in Denmark. In Sweden and Norway it was already outlawed. ‎

 

In the Netherlands, the beginning of 2016 saw an extraordinarily savage antisemitic attack on a Jewish ‎octogenarian couple in Amsterdam, who were robbed and beaten nearly to death while the Muslims ‎who perpetrated the attack called them “dirty Jews.” The couple had to be confined to an old-age home, ‎having sustained permanent injuries. Incredibly, the Dutch media, aided by the prosecution, upon reporting ‎the crime, chose not to mention the strong antisemitic element of the hate crime. Antisemitism was ‎also reported to be on the rise in Dutch schools, a dire foreboding for the future. ‎

 

The situation all over the European continent is depressingly similar with the occasional fluctuations in the ‎rise and fall of antisemitic incidents, but with a clear and persistent anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli ‎sentiment that makes itself felt in everyday life. Recently, the president of the Jewish society at the ‎London School of Oriental and African Studies explained that “we are too scared to go anywhere ‎so we walk in a group to the station. People come up to me and say, ‘I heard you hate Palestinians.'”‎

 

Jews are particularly at risk from the rise of jihad on the continent, but they are also existentially ‎threatened by the antisemitic campaigns against circumcision and kosher slaughter, which often have a broad ‎popular base that defies any categorization of left and right. The Social Democratic government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt brought about the prohibition against kosher slaughter in Denmark in 2014.‎..

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

                                                                       

 

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THE HOLOCAUST, THE LEFT, AND THE RETURN OF HATE                                                                        

Jamie Palmer                                                                                                         

The Tower, April 2016

 

Alex Chalmers, the co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, resigned on February 17, citing widespread anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews among its members. His statement and a subsequent press release by the Oxford University Jewish Society make for sobering reading, not least because this is not an isolated case.

 

In early March, the British Labour Party was forced to explain why it allowed Gerry Downing, who had written about the need to “address the Jewish Question,” and Vicki Kirby, who once tweeted that Adolf Hitler might be the “Zionist God,” to be readmitted to the party following their suspension for anti-Semitism. Kirby had been nothing less than a parliamentary candidate, and upon her return was appointed vice-chair of her local party executive committee. Over the past few years, a palpable sense of alarm has been quietly growing amongst Jews on the European Left. At the heart of an often-fraught relationship lies the following dilemma: The vast majority of Jews are Zionist, and the vast majority of Left-wing opinion is not.

 

But the problem goes beyond the question of Israel itself. It also involves a general sense that the Left is unconcerned with Jewish interests and unwilling to take the matter of rising anti-Semitism seriously, preferring instead to dismiss it as a consequence of Israeli policies or a censorious attempt to close down discussion of the same. The horror with which many Jews greeted the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party was outstripped only by the realization that his supporters felt that his fondness for the company of anti-Semites was unworthy of their concern.

 

This is a complex subject, with roots that stretch back to the beginning of the last century. I have attempted to outline in necessarily broad fashion some of the trends of thought that have informed the relationship between Jews and the Left, as well as the shifting attitudes towards Israel in particular. In doing so, I hope to shed some light on their implications. The key question facing the European Left is whether or not it can change in such a way that Jews can once again feel part of the Left’s political family. Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future the answer to that question appears to be no.

 

Jews and Europeans drew different lessons about nationalism from the experience of World War II. On a continent disfigured by the mayhem of conquest, occupation, collaboration, and genocide, Nazism and fascism were perceived to have been nationalism’s logical endgame. As chauvinism and self-glorification gave way to introspection and self-doubt, a new universalism and internationalism emerged from the rubble—the establishment of the United Nations, the adoption by its General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a rise in anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist feeling that eventually led Western democracies to dismantle their empires.

 

But for European Jews, nationalism, in this case Zionism, was now a matter of liberation and a guarantor of survival. So they moved in the opposite direction. Before the war, the Zionist question had been controversial. Disproportionately radical, many Jews preferred to commit themselves to the international struggle for world socialism. Many more preferred to assimilate as loyal members of their societies. The war changed all that. Jewish communists had already been betrayed by the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which created the temporary alliance between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The pact required bewildered communists to defend an agreement with genocidal anti-Semites. Neutral countries blocked Jewish immigration and turned away refugees. Neither the capitalist West nor the Soviet Union took steps to target the infrastructure of the Final Solution once word of it reached them. And when the war ended, the proletariat failed to rise up and Sovietize Western Europe as Stalin had foretold. Instead, a wave of pogroms swept the occupied East. Concluding that neither Western assimilation nor Soviet utopianism offered much in the way of security or salvation, Europe’s forsaken threw in their lot with Zionism.

 

In spite of the horrors of the Shoah, the Zionist question divided the post-war British Left. Unlike the Nazi-occupied countries on the European continent, Britain did not have a legacy of collaboration to contend with. As the ruler of Mandatory Palestine, however, Britain was responsible for the 1939 White Paper that restricted Jewish immigration at the behest of the Arab nationalist leadership, thus consigning countless Jews to deaths they might otherwise have escaped. The leadership of the post-war Labour government—prime minister Clement Attlee and foreign secretary Ernest Bevin, in particular—were unenthused by the prospect of a Jewish state in Palestine. Bevin went so far as to deport Jewish immigrants from Palestine, many of them survivors of the Holocaust, and sought to sabotage the creation of a Jewish state at the UN. But in response to public and party pressure and the escalating violence in Palestine, the government finally opted to turn the mess over to the UN.

 

While the Labour Party sought to separate anti-Semitism from the question of Palestine for reasons of politics, European communist parties did the same for reasons of ideology, despite anguished protests from their Jewish members. In April 1947, the Communist Party of Great Britain’s theorist Rajani Palme Dutt published a statement entitled Declaration on Palestine in which he wrote, “We warn all Jewish people that Zionism, which seeks to make Palestine or part of Palestine a Jewish state as an ally of the imperialist powers and their base in the Middle East, diverts Jewish people from the real solution of the problem of anti-Semitism, which is along the lines of democratic development and full equality of rights within the countries where they live”…      

                                         

In response to sentiments such as these, Moshe Sneh, a member of the Knesset from the Israeli Communist Party, later reflected, “Every Jew who remained alive knows and feels that he is alive only by chance – either because he was outside the Third Reich or because there wasn’t enough time to put him into a gas chamber and furnace.…To come to this people now and advise them: “Assimilate please, forget that you are Jews, free yourself from your Jewishness so that you will be free”—can anything more cynical and cruel be imagined?…                                                                                                                                                           

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

 

Contents                                                                                                                       

                                                               

THE GREEN PARTY’S ANTI-ISRAEL AGITATOR                                                                                     

Josh Cooper                                                                                                          

National Post, July 26, 2016

 

Among the various reasons I won’t be addressing the Green Party of Canada’s upcoming convention is the fact that I was invited by the party to do so on a Saturday — a surprising (and some would say insensitive) invitation for a Jewish organization. As the chief executive officer of Jewish National Fund (JNF) Canada, a charity that has worked on environmental preservation for more than a century, I am deeply disturbed by what is transpiring within the Green party. Among the various resolutions set to be debated at the convention, only two pertain to foreign policy and both target Israel.

 

The first calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israelis, a modern-day blacklist that is discriminatory and counterproductive to peace. The second calls for revoking the charitable status of JNF Canada, an organization that has been supported by Canadians for generations. JNF has been a symbol of the global Jewish community, highlighting the importance of Israel and the environment to our people for over a century. JNF was green long before the modern environmental movement existed. Today, we are at the forefront of protecting the natural environment in Israel for the benefit of all residents. The JNF builds and manages water reservoirs, parks and green spaces; we pioneer research in green technology; and we plant millions of trees and combat desertification in a region plagued by ecological and political challenges.

 

It is for these reasons that I am so disappointed that the Green party, which I would hope would be our ally in the environmental movement, would even consider these resolutions. Worse, this entire process is based on falsehoods, contained in the text and backgrounder of the resolution, about our practices. Despite having sponsored it herself, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has openly admitted that this resolution contains false allegations. This is why she is now committed to opposing it at the convention and, if it passes, holding an emergency debate to annul it.

 

She is right to do so. Contrary to the resolution, every JNF project is open and accessible to people of all backgrounds — whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian. Many of our initiatives are designed to benefit Arab and Bedouin communities. Sadly, these are the very people who would be harmed by efforts to eliminate our charitable status, in addition to the hundreds of workers our projects employ from economically challenged communities. It is not uncommon for the JNF, and other organizations affiliated with Israel and the Jewish community, to be the target of malicious and false accusations. What is shocking, is the fact that the Green party would give credence to these voices. Delegates must be aware that those pushing for these resolutions include individuals and organizations dedicated to boycotting all Israelis (including athletes, academics and artists) and demonizing the broader Jewish community.

 

One can only conclude that the Green party’s democratic processes and openness to a diversity of viewpoints are being manipulated by a small fringe that is intent on advancing an extreme, anti-Israel agenda, at the expense of the party’s future success. Passing these resolutions would hand over the keys to those intent on driving the party to the far margins of Canadian discourse. The party’s drift on this issue has already pushed Jewish Greens out of the tent and alienated the broader Jewish community. Two years ago, party president Paul Estrin, a member of the Jewish community, was forced to resign his position and faced an onslaught of hateful accusations, simply for expressing sympathy for Israelis during the Israel-Hamas war. In the past few weeks, the party was forced to distance itself from former candidate Monika Schaefer, who recently declared that the Holocaust is “the biggest and most pernicious and persistent lie in all of history … there were no gas chambers.”

 

It is impossible to view the resolutions targeting Israel and JNF in a vacuum. If passed, these resolutions will confirm that the Green party is not a serious, inclusive political party, but is instead a marginal activist group. Worse, they risk turning the party into a home for anyone with a toxic cause, no matter how detrimental it is to the Greens’ worthy environmental agenda. While the impact is immediately felt by the Jewish community, what’s ultimately at stake is the Green party’s future in Canadian politics. Will the Greens reclaim their party from fringe anti-Israel ideologues and conspiracy theorists? Or will they placate an extreme agenda at the cost of their own ability to connect with mainstream Canadians?

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents                         

                                                                                                                                              

On Topic Links

 

Middle East Studies Implicated in AMCHA's Campus Anti-Semitism Report: Cinnamon Stillwell, Campus Watch, July 28, 2016—The AMCHA Initiative's recently released "Report on Antisemitic Activity During the First Half of 2016 At U.S. Colleges and Universities With the Largest Jewish Undergraduate Populations" exposes the bias and politicization afflicting the field of Middle East studies.

On Modern Antisemitism, Christian Silence Is Complicity: Carla Brewington, Algemeiner, July 27, 2016 — In the 1930s in Germany, many caved to the dangerous political agenda of the time. They wanted power, peace, and prosperity, to reclaim their country from the ravages of World War I.

Can a Hobbled EU Live up to its Vow to Combat Anti-Semitism and Racism?: JTA, July 21, 2016 —When the late Austro-Hungarian aristocrat Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi attended church on Good Friday, his father would famously cause a scene, storming out when the liturgy came to the anti-Semitic exhortation “Let us also pray for the faithless Jews.”

In History's Court: Michael M. Rosen, Weekly Standard, July 25, 2016 —The death this month of Elie Wiesel left a gaping moral and historical void that widens daily as the ranks of the generation of Holocaust survivors continues to thin. But in The Nazi Hunters, Andrew Nagorski fills that void, blending key documentary evidence with over 50 interviews of central figures in a comprehensive treatment of the dogged men and women whose heroic efforts restored a measure of justice to millions of murdered souls.

 

LIVINGSTONE COMMENTS ARE THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG OF UK ANTISEMITISM

Zakhor! Remember! Yom HaShoah 5776: Baruch Cohen, CIJR, May 5, 2016— The world must be reminded: Never Again!

Ken Livingstone Gets the History Wrong on Anti-Semitism and Hitler: Andrew Roberts, CapX, Apr 28, 2016— Ken Livingstone’s characteristically outrageous intervention in the debate over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party – denying it existed while simultaneously proving that it does – was wrong on all sorts of levels, but one of them was in his grotesque mangling of the historical record.

Ken Livingstone Takes British Politics to New Lows.: Rex Murphy, National Post, May 1, 2016— Complaints about the tone of debate in the House of Commons are almost seasonal in their regularity.

An Israeli Black Book on the EU: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 10, 2016— It would have made sense for the European Union to be in Israel’s good books, rather than in a potential “black book.”

Remembering the World’s First Jewish Ghetto: Jack Gottlieb, Times of Israel, Apr. 29, 2016— Not a year goes by without a tourist walking into the Venice Ghetto asking where the concentration camps are or were.

 

On Topic Links

 

British Policy, Jews and Israel: Adam Shay & Judy Lash Balint, JCPA, May 4, 2016

UK Shows Where Anti-Zionism Leads: Jonathan S. Tobin, Jewish Press, May 4, 2016

Col. Richard Kemp: Israel an ‘Outpost of Strength,’ Europe on ‘Spiral Downward to Obliteration’: Ruthie Blum, Algemeiner, Apr. 13, 2016

Venice Haggadah Gets Facelift for 500th Anniversary: Times of Israel, Apr. 19, 2016

 

 

ZAKHOR! REMEMBER! YOM HASHOAH 5776 

Baruch Cohen                                                              

CIJR, May 5, 2016

In memory of beloved Malca z”l

 

The world must be reminded: Never Again! Today, the indescribable Islamist murders in France and Belgium remind us that genocidal hatred continues unabated.

 

During the Shoah, Herman Kruk, a historian who lived in the Vilna Ghetto, documented the life of the people until his deportation and death in Estonia in 1944. He wrote that just as “the Vilna Jewish community was for years known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania,” so now the Vilna Ghetto, in respect to its cultural life, would during those terrible years be called the Jerusalem of the Ghetto, because it was a symbol of Jewish spiritual resistance under the criminal Nazi regime.

 

Arnold Dagani, a Romanian-Jewish artist deported to the Transnistria killing-fields, was interred in a labor camp in 1942 along with his wife. In 1943, he and his wife escaped, and Dagani recorded the harsh treatment, beatings and executions. The records left by Dagani and his wife described the misery, hunger and forced labor, under conditions of unimaginable misery and hardship, during years of terrifying crimes.

 

Pianist Adela Bay, an artist in the ghetto and slave labor camps, used her talent, despite horror and death, to maintain hope and meaning.

 

These courageous Jewish writers and artists should remind the world: Never Again! We Jews and the entire world must be on continued alert. A Holocaust, directed today not only against Israel, but against the entire Middle East and beyond, must be opposed, and defeated. 

 

Masada will never fall again.

 

Never Forget! Am Yisrael Chai!

 

(Baruch Cohen is Research Chairman at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research,               

and a member of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center)

           

Contents

KEN LIVINGSTONE GETS THE HISTORY WRONG

ON ANTI-SEMITISM AND HITLER

Andrew Roberts

Cap X, Apr. 28, 2016
 

Ken Livingstone’s characteristically outrageous intervention in the debate over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party – denying it existed while simultaneously proving that it does – was wrong on all sorts of levels, but one of them was in his grotesque mangling of the historical record. “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932,” he told BBC Radio London, “his policy was then that Jews should be moved to Israel.”

 

First, Adolf Hitler absolutely did not “win” either the July or the November 1932 elections in Germany; in the latter he only gained 33% of the vote, giving the Nazi Party 196 seats in a Reichstag of 584. More centrally, however, insofar as Hitler had a stated rather than inferred policy towards Germany’s Jews at all, it was to force them to leave Germany, but not specifically to Palestine, which was then governed by the British under League of Nations Mandate and was not accepting European Jews in significant numbers.

 

The Nazis couldn’t frankly care less where the Jews went, so long as they left Germany, preferably with as few possessions as possible. Later on they conceived ideas such as the Madagascar Plan of July 1940 which would they hoped involve mass migration to places where the Jews would suffer and eventually die of disease and malnutrition, all long before the full-scale genocidal programme conceived at the Wannsee Conference in 1942. Jews were being killed in large numbers as soon as the war began, but especially after Hitler’s invasion of Russia in June 1941. The idea that Hitler ever wanted a fully-functioning successful Jewish state in Palestine – the dream of Zionists – is ludicrous, as Mr Livingstone undoubtedly knows.

 

The sole reason Ken Livingstone brought up the Fuhrer in his interview was to be as vicious and loathsome as he possibly could to any Jews listening, rather than genuinely intending to make some valid historical point about the migration policies of the putative Third Reich in the 1930s. He must know perfectly well that the very insertion of the word “Hitler” in the context of a debate over anti-Semitism would create precisely the effect that it has. It was therefore a totally cold-blooded attempt to offend the maximum amount of Jews to the maximum extent, and was said to a Jewish interviewer Vanessa Feltz.

 

Filthy politics, of course, but Mr Livingstone has such a long record of this kind of thing that we shouldn’t be surprised, even if we must still be outraged. Likening a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard was a similar attempt at dragging the Holocaust into the discourse. Accusing Jews and what he openly refers to as “the Jewish lobby” – of “obsessing” about his links with hate preachers such as Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is all part of the same playbook. Whether Labour finally acts remains to be seen, and this might be clever politics in terms of the mayoral election, but when it comes to history, Mr Livingstone gets an “F”

 

Contents

             KEN LIVINGSTONE TAKES BRITISH POLITICS TO NEW LOWS

         Rex Murphy                                                                 

Boston Globe, May 1, 2016

 

Complaints about the tone of debate in the House of Commons are almost seasonal in their regularity. And they are justified. Some MPs imagine that since they lack eloquence, or the ability to articulate a rational argument, they can compensate with exhibitions of vulgarity or insult.

 

When tensions are high, or elections are close, the backbenches of all three parties can supply multiple examples of MPs forgetting where they are, and heedless of what is longingly referred to as “the dignity of the House of Commons.” At such times, there is almost a ritual reference to the British House of Commons and the superiority of debate in that ancient forum; the filigrees of wit and fine phrasing that mark the speeches of its members and the altogether too classy performances of its speakers.

 

 

We’re not alone in this dutiful reverence to the Mother of Parliaments. British MPs, perhaps a little slow in recognizing that self-praise is the cheapest commodity in politics, are wont to advertise their own practices and manners. Just recently, for example, there was the utterly smug and silly debate on a petition to ban Donald Trump from the U.K. The debate was spurred by Trump’s explosive campaign call for a “temporary ban on Muslims to the U.S., till we figure this all out.” But the Commons debate was more a recoil against his vulgarity — his “commonness” — especially as seen by British MPs, in contrast to their own, far-more genteel style and precious manners.

 

When British parliamentarians and public voices go off the rails, however, they plunge into chasms of ugliness and vilification that even Trump can’t match. Indeed, when they go low, they go really low. They go for anti-Semitism. Take Vicki Kirby, a Labour activist whose parliamentary candidacy failed when a few of her Twitter musings fell under scrutiny. It turned out that the fresh-faced, left-wing activist had curiously ardent views on Israel and the Jewish people. Some of her more vile tweets included: “We invented Israel when saving them from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher;” “I will never forget and I will make sure my kids teach their children how evil Israel is!;” “Hitler was the Zionist God;” and the ancient favourite of Jew-baiters everywhere, “What do you know about Jews? They’ve got big noses … lol.”

 

Kirby is but small fry, however, compared to Labour MP Naz Shah, the woman who ironically defeated Israel-hater George Galloway for the Bradford East constituency. Kirby’s Facebook page included the interesting suggestion that Israelis should be “transported” from Israel and relocated in the United States. All would then be peace and roses in the Middle East or, as Shah put it, “Problem solved and save you bank charges for the £3bn you (the US) transfer yearly” (no attack against the Jews is really complete without a reference to money and banks). And, in regards to a poll on “Israeli war-crimes,” she urged her Facebook myrmidons to get on it because “the Jews are rallying.” When it comes to nasty words about Jews and Israel, even Galloway doesn’t hold a candle to Shah.

 

But the real brick in this inverted arch of slander and slurs is former Labour MP and ex-London mayor, Ken Livingstone. During the Shah controversy, Livingstone went to bat for her by saying that Hitler was actually — dear Lord — a pioneer Zionist. According to Livingstone, when Hitler was elected in 1932, he wanted to move the Jews to Israel, and that was before “he went mad and ended up killing six million of them.” Please note the passive use of the term “ended up.” It is appalling that 70 years after the concentration camps of the Second World War, there is a British celebrity politician hailing Hitler, one of the country’s most despised enemies, as a “Zionist.” But such are the public pronouncements of one of British politics most famous figures, a member of the Labour party’s executive committee and a former mayor of cosmopolitan London.

 

I think you can stack Trump up against Livingstone any day. Trump is careless, crass and heedless, but he doesn’t waltz with anti-Semitism, the most perdurable racism our world has ever known. There are lessons that politicians around the world can take from the British Parliament and British politics. It has dignified leaders and backbenchers, speakers of grace and intellect. But when British politics slides, it finds a pit in a cavern of darkness that our side of the Atlantic, thankfully, leaves unexplored.                                                                                                                     

 

 

Contents           

                                                                            

AN ISRAELI BLACK BOOK ON THE EU                                                                                                     

Manfred Gerstenfeld                                                                                             

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 10, 2016

 

It would have made sense for the European Union to be in Israel’s good books, rather than in a potential “black book.” Israel’s imports from the EU exceed its exports to the region, by several billion euros. Research collaboration with Israel is of value to the EU in view of Israel’s scientific creativity. Yet during several decades the EU has maligned and defamed Israel. In line with the fragmented nature of contemporary ‘post-modern’ society, EU attitudes are not homogeneous, and the totality of all the negative attitudes toward Israel is not self-evident.

 

The maligning of Israel has also contributed to the great increase in European anti-Semitism over the past decades. Comparable statistics on anti-Semitic incidents in the various member countries of Europe do not even exist. In addition, after abandoning a prior working definition of anti-Semitism, the EU has not developed another. This despite it being the most basic precondition for fighting anti-Semitism. While the EU has made some feeble attempts to deal with the hatred, its actions have been primarily verbal and barely effective.

 

The EU’s defamation of Israel and the undermining of its sovereignty are of major dimensions. If Israel’s “black book” were transformed from an idea into an actual black book it would greatly help in exposing the EU’s incitement against it. A single volume could reveal the many ways in which Europe discriminates against Israel and defames it. It could also list examples comparing this behavior to the way in which the EU has averted its gaze from much of the extreme racism and criminal attitudes in Arab and Muslim countries.

 

The current time is particularly propitious for the creation of such a black book. The EU is in major disarray due its incompetent handling of the current refugee crisis, after ignoring the building up of refugee-related problems for several years. The current crisis has heightened friction between individual EU member countries, as well as exposed the regional body’s tensions with several of its members.

 

Discussions in the United Kingdom in favor of and against a British exit from the EU (Brexit) provide yet another source of information about the weaknesses of the EU. Some of the arguments brought forward there against the EU could form part of a document exposing its misdemeanors toward Israel. The same is true regarding some disclosures concerning the refugee crisis. One such example is Hungary’s claim that there are 900 no-go areas in Europe which are overrun by migrants and where the authorities cannot establish the rule of law.

 

Such a proposed black book would include the high percentages of EU citizens – in the region of 40 percent – who consider that Israel behaves like the Nazis, or that Israel conducts a war of extermination against the Palestinians. That these absurd opinions are so widespread is a damning condemnation of contemporary Europe. Frequent incitement against Israel has achieved its defamatory goals. This comes from the EU itself and from European political echelons. It also emerges from civil society entities such as media, NGOs, some liberal churches, academia, trade unions and more. If indeed Israel were conducting a war of extermination, Palestinians would have become extinct long ago. In reality the Palestinians are now much more numerous than several decades ago.

 

False moral equivalence comparing Israel’s actions to those of the Nazis was even used decades ago by now deceased prominent social-democratic politicians, including French president François Mitterrand, Swedish prime minister Olof Palme and Greek prime minister Andreas Papandreou. Without devoting more study to the subject, it is not possible to draw up a full table of contents for this proposed black book, though some chapter headings are already evident. The EU not only insists on referring to the disputed West Bank as “occupied territories,” it even refuses to enter into debate on the subject. Over a thousand lawyers and jurists have written to the EU on this issue, receiving confirmation only from a junior EU staffer. If the EU were so convinced of the occupied status of the West Bank, it would not have avoided the debate.

 

Another chapter could be devoted to the EU requirement that products from the West Bank and the Golan Heights be labeled separately. As the EU has not applied the same measures in other similar or more obvious cases this represents double standards, one of the key characteristics of anti-Semitism. The labeling issue brought the EU into the 2015 list of major anti-Semitic slurs published by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The EU’s voting patterns in the UN General Assembly and other UN bodies would also be worthy of a chapter. Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold has shown how the European voting record at the UN demonstrates a longstanding anti-Israel bias. He explained how the EU participated in the demonization of Israel at the UN.

 

A further chapter should be devoted to the undermining of Israel’s sovereignty. One aspect of this would be to scrutinize EU financing of Israeli NGOs which ignore extreme Palestinian crimes. Another could deal with the EU funding of illegal building in Area C. The EU has allowed massive non-selective immigration from Muslim countries for decades, giving rise to part of the significant increase in anti-Semitism in European countries. This subject should also be included in the proposed black book. Muslims have been the originators of most extreme anti-Semitic incidents in Europe since the end of the past century. Muslims have committed all anti-Semitic murders of Jews in the EU. Yet Muslims are not the only factor in the increasingly problematic state of Jews in many European countries…

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

 

 

Contents           

REMEMBERING THE WORLD’S FIRST JEWISH GHETTO

Jack Gottlieb

Times of Israel, May 4, 2016

 

Not a year goes by without a tourist walking into the Venice Ghetto asking where the concentration camps are or were. This question, unfortunately, reflects a lack of understanding as to why the Venice Ghetto was founded on March  29, 1516 and maintained for centuries–all of which had nothing to do with the Holocaust. That is not to say that the Venice Ghetto was not involved in the Holocaust. It was decimated by the Nazis in 1943 when most of its inhabitants perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. It never recovered until this very day when only 20 Jews now live in the Ghetto itself. Two memorials, The Last Train and The Holocaust Memorial Wall, situated in the Ghetto Square bear witness to this tragedy.

 

The distinction between the two types of ghettos is important. The Nazi Ghetto was set up as an interim solution to the ‘final solution’, the other as a means of segregating a group whose values were deemed harmful or dangerous to the common good. Members of my family who managed to survive the first kind of Ghetto reported a litany of horror stories about their experiences. My mother watched from the woods as the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania was liquidated. My uncle was lucky enough to escape the Lida Ghetto in Belarus before it too suffered the same fate. Obviously, no redeeming features will ever be reported from this type of ghetto. The Venice type of ghetto, for all it’s negatives, those of density, segregation and restrictions, did have a positive side to it. It provided protection, business opportunities and amazingly enough, a sense of community.

 

In an effort to close the gap between the misconception and reality of what the Venice Ghetto is and what it represents, the city of Venice has embarked on a year-long program of events to mark the quincentennial of its founding.  It was kicked off nearly a month ago by an opening ceremony at the Fenice Opera House attended by local, national, and international dignitaries.

 

I was fortunate enough to wrangle an invitation to this event as well as the launch earlier that day of an important book called The Venice Synagogues. It was written by Umberto Fortis, professor of Italian literature, coordinated by Toto Bergamo Rossi, Head of the Venetian Heritage Council, and published by Assouline Books, a prestigious book publisher. The book describes in rich and glorious detail five important synagogues of the Venetian Ghetto and stands as a symbol of the rich Jewish culture which blossomed regardless of, or despite the hardships imposed on the Ghetto Jews.

 

When I leafed through this book I definitely had the sense that Jews in the Venice Ghetto were thriving, and that Jewish culture was flourishing, unlike the Nazi Ghetto where Jews were being killed and their cultural heritage was being erased. Rossi was quite right in describing this hand-bound book ‘as not just another high end collectible but as a work of art’. Kudos to Assoulin Publishing who is contributing half of the proceeds to the Venice’s synagogue restoration project which, unfortunately, is still short of the 8 million dollars it needs to begin.

 

In stark contrast to the joyous air at the book launch was the air of solemnity later that evening of the opening ceremony at the Fenice Opera House. The former was a celebration of life, the latter a commemoration of evil. Before giving way to Mahler Symphony No.1 (by the way, banned by the Nazis as degenerate), the keynote speaker of the event, Simon Schama, the noted author of the Story of the Jews and subsequent TV series, delivered a riveting commentary on the evolution of the ghetto. He explained that “history is not always a trip down memory lane”. And events like the Venice Ghetto, the Holocaust and the recent bombings in Brussels are a stark reminder against complacency-that just when we think that things could not get worse, they unfortunately do! Specifically, he commented, “an event we think that we had left behind in a particular period or in a particular moment crashes into our present lives and leaves us at great risk!”…

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

 

CIJR Wishes all our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

On Topic Links

 

British Policy, Jews and Israel: Adam Shay & Judy Lash Balint, JCPA, May 4, 2016—The Beit Venezia Jewish culture center unveiled a series of 24 etchings created by eight international artists that will form part of a new, illustrated Venice Haggadah.

UK Shows Where Anti-Zionism Leads: Jonathan S. Tobin, Jewish Press, May 4, 2016—We didn’t have to wait for the results of the independent inquiry into charges of anti-Semitism promised by the head of Britain’s Labour Party to see the scale of the problem. On Monday, the Telegraph reported that what it describes as the party’s “compliance unit” had already been overwhelmed by the problem of dealing with charges of anti-Semitism because it lacked the resources to look into so many cases.

Col. Richard Kemp: Israel an ‘Outpost of Strength,’ Europe on ‘Spiral Downward to Obliteration’: Ruthie Blum, Algemeiner, Apr. 13, 2016—Discussing the challenges democracies face in confronting unconventional warfare, a retired British Army officer on Tuesday touted the Jewish state as exemplary.

Venice Haggadah Gets Facelift for 500th Anniversary: Times of Israel, Apr. 19, 2016 —This week Cambridge University Press is publishing my new book, Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967-1989. I examine a spectrum of antagonism by the East German government and West German radical leftist organizations – ranging from hostile propaganda and diplomacy to military support for Israel’s Arab armed adversaries — from 1967 to the end of the Cold War in 1989.

 

                    

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

Manfred Gerstenfeld: NETANYAHU WINS ELECTIONS DESPITE HATE CAMPAIGN AGAINST HIM

 

 

 

The election results for the 20th Knesset determined both major winners and major losers. Yet just a few days earlier, while looking at the polls, one could have still justifiably argued that there was not much need for the elections – the expected results of the various political blocs seemed broadly similar to those in the outgoing Knesset. 

 

The main winner of these elections, even more so than his Likud party was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He had become a general target, and the attacks were not limited to those of the opposition parties. A variety of people outside the political realm, such as a group of about 200 former senior defense and intelligence officials, published advertisements and campaigned against Netanyahu.

 

The Likud had taken a huge beating back in the 2013 elections when it ran together with Avigdor Liberman’s party, Israel Beitenu. In the outgoing Knesset it only held 18 seats. It will now have 30 seats. The Zionist Union’s distorted central message was that Netanyahu had totally failed in leading the country. Its party leaders, Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, claimed that the only logical consequence was that Netanyahu had to go. The Zionist Union’s claim was false.  At a time of major economic problems around the world, Israel has done quite well. In the military field, Israel is far from a failure. Netanyahu has also resisted considerable foreign pressure to cede more territories to the Palestinians, most of which would probably have turned into additional areas controlled by the Islamo-Nazis of Hamas. 

 

Another big winner of these elections was Moshe Kahlon’s new Koolanu party. Kahlon is a former Likud MK whose main merit as Minister of Communications was the radical reduction of telephone and internet costs.  Although his party list did not have many nationally known candidates, it managed to get 10 seats. It will be impossible for Netanyahu to form a government without Koolanu. Kahlon will most likely become the Minister of Finance, a position for which he campaigned and which Netanyahu already promised him before Election Day. Strategically, Kahlon might be better off obtaining the Minister of Housing portfolio, as he could then reorganize the Israel Land Authority and manage to lower housing prices.  Housing costs are a strong concern for a large number of Israelis. The Housing ministry may still be held by one of Kahlon’s party members. 

 

A third clear winner was the Joint (Arab) List.  During the 19th Knesset, Israel Beitenu had managed to get majority support in favor of raising the elections threshold from 2% to 3.25% of the total vote. Liberman thought that a higher election threshold would result in the elimination of some of the smaller Arab parties. However, the various Arab parties represented in the Knesset managed to overcome their differences for the purposes of establishing a joint list, consisting of communists, Islamists and Arab Palestinian nationalists. The Joint List also succeeded in raising the Arab voter participation. The Joint List obtained 13 seats, as against 11 of the various Arab parties in the 19th Knesset combined. They might have been helped by a very ugly comment by Netanyahu on Election Day where he declared that Jewish citizens should get out and vote because the Arabs were voting in massive numbers.[1]

 

The losses were quite pronounced as well. The Yesh Atid party, officially centrist but in practice leaning toward the Zionist Union, got 11 seats as against 19 in the previous Knesset. Its charismatic leader, Yair Lapid, seemed to have managed to shake off most criticisms of his responsibilities as Minister of Finance, yet it didn’t help him in the elections. 

 

The religious parties all lost some of their electorate. The modern-Orthodox Habayit Hayehudi, led by Naftali Bennett, returns with 8 seats as against 12 in the present Knesset. In the last few days, many of its voters apparently deserted to the Likud. Shas, in the first election after the death of its religious patron Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, came down from 11 to 7 seats. United Torah Judaism lost one of its 7 seats, partly due to the call of extremist Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach to boycott the elections. Finally, the Yachad party, led by former Shas leader Eli Yishai, did not pass the election threshold. All in all, the religious parties obtained a combined 21 seats as against the 30 seats they held in the 19th Knesset. Two of the religious Yesh Atid MKs, Gen. (res.) Elazar Stern – formerly of Hatenuah — and Rabbi Dov Lipman, lost their seats as well. 

 

Another major loser was Israel Beitenu. It ended up with 6 seats as against 13 in the outgoing Knesset. This outcome has most likely been influenced by a major corruption scandal that came to light at the beginning of the election campaign, in which a key party member MK Faina Kirschenbaum, stands accused. 

 

Another loser was the extreme left-wing party Meretz. It lost one of its 6 seats. When it looked that it stood to lose a second seat, its leader Zahava Galon announced that she would take responsibility and leave both the Knesset and party leadership so that number 5 on their list, Tamar Zandberg, could remain a Knesset member.[2] Galon has in the meantime rescinded her resignation.

 

The Zionist Union is incorrectly perceived as another major loser of the elections. Yet Herzog, by running a joint list of his Labor Party together with Livni’s Hatnuah, managed to create the second largest political faction in the country, well ahead of all the others. The Zionist Union won 24 seats as against a combined 21 seats the two parties got in the previous elections.

 

As no polls are allowed two days before Election Day, the general public sentiment, according to the last of the published polls, was that the Zionist Union was ahead of the Likud by several seats. In the last few days before the elections, the Likud made a furious effort to regain ground.  One major element of its campaign was its participation in the massive right-wing rally held in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv on the night of Sunday, March 15th.[3] Netanyahu also contacted many voters with a pre-recorded telephone message, right through and including on Election Day. 

 

The three exit polls held by Channel One, Channel Two and Channel Ten were massively erroneous.[4] They gave the Likud 27 or 28 seats, as against 27 seats for the Zionist Union. These numbers were already considered a huge success for the Likud, in view of the last polls published before the elections. There is less of an excuse for those responsible for the highly inaccurate exit polls, as compared to those who published the many dozens of polls throughout the campaign. It may well have been that many voters, right up to getting to the ballot box, changed their voting intentions. 

 

The most logical option for a coalition seems to be one backed by 67 MKs. It would include besides the Likud, Habayit Hayehudi, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Koolanu, and Israel Beitenu.

 

The challenges before the new government are great. The socioeconomic concerns of the electorate are substantial. The delegitimization campaigns against Israel will only get stronger. This the more so as Netanyahu has come out against the establishment of a Palestinian state.[5]

 

The relationship with the US needs major improvement. It is not only an issue of personal tensions between the leaders of the two countries. Such an improvement can only be possible to a limited extent while the White House is occupied by President Barack Obama. During his presidency, the worldwide status of the US has declined greatly. Obama has also frequently ignored or even whitewashed extreme crimes emerging from many parts of the Muslim world.

 



[1] Lahav Harkov, “Netanyahu warns: The Left is busing Arabs to vote, the Right is in danger,” The Jerusalem Post, 17 March 2015.

 

[2] Gil Ronen, “Galon Resigns, Won't Run for Meretz Chair Again,” Israel National News, 18 March 2015.

[3] Lahav Harkov, “Netanyahu tells TA rally: We can close gap with Herzog, The Jerusalem Post, 15 March 2015.

[4] Niv Elis, “Exit poll gaps leave pollsters in Israel scratching their heads,” The Jerusalem Post, 18 March 2015.

 

[5] Barak Ravid, “Netanyahu: If I'm elected, there will be no Palestinian state,” Haaretz, 16 March 2015.

 

 

ISRAEL’S ELECTION: DEMOCRACY STRONG AS NETANYAHU WIN IN OFFING — IRAN REMAINS KEY, AS OBAMA, EUROPEAN PRESSURES LOOM

 

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 
 

Contents:                          

 

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

 

 

Making Conservative Choices: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 20, 2013—Israelis will elect a conservative government this week because they think it prudent to do so, not because they are “turning inwards” or backwards or developing antidemocratic tendencies. They want Binyamin Netanyahu, not Tzipi Livni (or Shimon Peres, or any other candidate of the Left), to lead the country, because caution – not hollow and unsubstantiated hope – is the prevailing watchword.

 

Weak Netanyahu Finish Suggests Unwieldy Coalition: Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal, Jan 18, 2013—There is little question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party will emerge at the head of a ruling coalition when Israelis vote in nationwide elections on Tuesday. But polls also show his campaign is limping to the finish line amid falling support, which is likely to leave him weakened and heading a coalition more fragile than the current one.

 

Unseating Netanyahu a Tricky Game: Matthew Fisher, Postmedia News, Jan. 20, 2013—Having led every poll taken from the beginning to the end of a national election campaign that has lasted for months, Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised to be re-elected as Israel’s prime minister on Tuesday. But in Israel, where any of the 34 parties that are contesting the election get more than two per cent of the vote gets seats in the Knesset, election day is the first part of what is a long, tortuous electoral dance.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

 

 

Israeli Electoral Politics – A Guide for the Perplexed: Gil Hoffman, Jeruslaem Post, Jan. 10, 2013

Zionism’s New Boss: Liel Leibovitz, Tablet Magazine, Jan. 14, 2013

A Far-Right Israeli Electorate?: Lee Smith, Tablet Magazine, Jan. 16, 2013

Netanyahu Coalition Forming Dilemmas: Joseph Puder, Front Page Magazine, Jan. 21, 2013

PA Hopes Syrian 'Red Herring' Discredits Netanyahu at Polls: Chana Ya'ar, Israel National News, Jan. 21, 2013

The Bennett Threat – and Why the Pols are Scared: Moshe Dann, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 31, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

MAKING CONSERVATIVE CHOICES

David M. Weinberg

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 20, 2013

 

Israelis will elect a conservative government this week because they think it prudent to do so, not because they are “turning inwards” or backwards or developing anti-democratic tendencies. They want Binyamin Netanyahu, not Tzipi Livni (or Shimon Peres, or any other candidate of the Left), to lead the country, because caution – not hollow and unsubstantiated hope – is the prevailing watchword. It’s important to say these things, because in the global punditocracy there is an inaccurate narrative taking root, to wit Netanyahu’s reelection means that Israel being overrun by Right-wing and religious fanatics, and that it is choosing isolationism over opportunities for peace.

 

In fact, clever pundits like David Remnick of The New Yorker and Ari Shavit of Haaretz have tried to portray the current Israeli election campaign as a historic choice between two competing narratives: that of the isolationist-nationalist Israeli Right, and the liberal-democratic-peace-seeking Israeli Left. But these brainy journalists are all-too-slick and only superficially sophisticated. The dichotomous moment they have summoned-forth is false, and their reading of Israeli society and polity is terribly off-base. Very few Israelis see things the way Remnick and Shavit do.

 

Israelis don’t see themselves as standing at a historic juncture. They don’t believe that Middle East circumstances are ripe for peace. Given Oslo’s sorry 20-year record, they are indeed wary of Palestinian statehood. They know that withdrawal from the West Bank at present would be suicide, given the Islamic blitzkrieg across the Mideast, along with Abbas’ weakness and Hamas’ ascendency in the Palestinian arena. They still pine for peace, but given the situation in Sinai, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iran (and Ramallah), sadly they expect conflict.

 

And so, the Israeli public overwhelmingly does not buy the well worn argument, advanced obstinately by the Left and the international community, that the peace process is stuck because of settlements or lack of Israeli diplomatic flexibility. They simply feel that caution militates against dramatic diplomatic moves at this time. They are waiting-out the Arab Spring and other storms, taking no irresponsible risks, and voting for steady hands at the helm of state.

 

That is why Tzipi Livni’s “I can bring the peace” messaging never took hold during the current campaign. It is important to reiterate that Israelis are not becoming callously defiant of the world and the Palestinians, nor wildly “annexationist.” They are not making a grand choice this week between good and evil, between peace and war, between liberalism and fascism. They are simply choosing responsible government. And what they assume will emerge from the election is a go-slow Netanyahu government with parties of both the Zionist Right and Left; another complicated coalition government, with built-in checks and balances.

 

One thing is for sure: Israelis don’t buy the doomsday scenarios drawn by Remnick and Shavit, or by some Diaspora Jewish leaders like Eric Yoffie of the Reform movement or Daniel Sokatch of the New Israel Fund, about Israel forfeiting its democracy, becoming a Spartacus state, or losing its global friends.

 

So why the apocalyptic analyses? Unfortunately, I sense that the Israeli and American-Jewish ideological Left has gone stir-crazy with Netanyahu hatred. They can’t accept the fact that the political Left’s 20-year-long crusade for Palestinian statehood has been proven bankrupt; they can’t stand the fact Netanyahu is going to be reelected; and they are setting a trap in which to bring him crashing down.

 

By positing that Israel is at an apocalyptic crossroads, and that Israel is pig-headedly making wrong and dangerous choices, the stage is set for “wiser” actors to intervene “to save Israel in spite of itself.” This is the upshot of Jeffrey Goldberg’s celebrated Bloomberg News column, in which he describes the lack of trust and frustration in the White House concerning Netanyahu. Netanyahu just “doesn’t understand what Israel’s best interests are,” Goldberg has Obama saying, and “his conduct will drive Israel into grave international isolation.”

 

With such isolation, even from the United States, Israel won’t survive, Goldberg (or Obama) opines. “Israel’s own behaviour poses a long-term threat to its existence.” Therefore, real friends have to step in to save Israel from itself, by imposing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – which is the swift establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state. For Israel’s own good, of course.

 

Like Peter Beinart before him, Goldberg says that Obama is not going to directly pressure Israel on this matter, and this seems correct. Instead, Obama has outsourced the Palestinian issue to the Europeans. Europe is going to take the lead in wedging Israel into a corner against its own self-perceived interests (but in reality “for its own good”) – with Obama “leading from behind.” This explains the overwhelming European vote at UN in November in favor of upgrading the status of “Palestine,” even though Washington was opposed (at least in public) to the move and voted against it.

 

Nevertheless, Obama didn’t seem too upset with the Europeans for voting against Israel and the US. Like I said, it’s called outsourcing the pressure on Israel to Europe. The next European move (with Obama “leading from behind”) will be an attempt to impose an internationalized framework for Israeli-Palestinian talks with terms of reference that basically settle everything in advance in favour of the Palestinians (1967 lines, etc.) The Palestinians will be forgiven for their unwillingness to enter direct and unconditional negotiations with Israel. Europe will dispense with insistence on that venerable principle of the peace process. After all, they no longer trust Israel to do what is in its own best interests (to withdraw), even if there were direct talks.

 

So best just get on with it and impose the outlines of a “settlement” in indirect consultations or an international forum. And besides, the main point of the process will not be real negotiations or true peace, but the dethroning of Netanyahu.

 

The author is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, 

 

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WEAK NETANYAHU FINISH SUGGESTS UNWIELDY COALITION

Joshua Mitnick

Wall Street Journal, Jan 18, 2013

 

There is little question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party will emerge at the head of a ruling coalition when Israelis vote in nationwide elections on Tuesday. But polls also show his campaign is limping to the finish line amid falling support, which is likely to leave him weakened and heading a coalition more fragile than the current one….

 

One coalition possibility is an alliance with centrist parties that could push for domestic economic reforms and also support diplomacy with the Palestinians. That would be a salve to Mr. Netanyahu, who is grappling with a looming fiscal austerity plan and increased international isolation, including strained ties with President Barack Obama.

 

But the most apparent option—easier to form, but more challenging to govern—would be a far-right coalition that opposes a Palestinian state. Such a coalition would likely be more fractious and unstable than the current multiparty coalition led by Mr. Netanyahu's center-right Likud Party and the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, which with smaller religious and far-right parties currently controls 66 of the Knesset's 120 seats.

 

Following Tuesday's vote, should Mr. Netanyahu's bloc add the projected seats of four smaller right-wing and religious parties, it would maintain its 66-seat majority, according to a Smith Institute poll for the Israeli financial daily Globes. Some five center-left parties would control 44 seats, according to the poll, and Arab-Israeli parties would control 10 seats. Other polls have shown a religious-right bloc could hold from 63 to 69 seats.

 

Mr. Netanyahu's re-election bid has been bolstered by the lack of any formidable rival and a fragmented center-left opposition. His campaign ads tout him as a strong leader keeping the Jewish state stable amid regional turmoil. For the most part, the opposition has shied away from challenging his assertions that the Palestinians are to blame for the peace-process impasse, and that Arab Spring tumult demands that Israel approach new concessions with skepticism. "The major macro issues aren't being debated here to the point that it might have been, if you had two popular leaders from major parties," said Amir Mizroch, the editor of the English edition of Israel Hayom.

 

The closest challenger is Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yachimovitch, whose party would capture about half as many seats as Mr. Netanyahu's Likud, according to the polls. A former television and radio host, Ms. Yachimovich has struggled to persuade the Israeli electorate that she is qualified to be prime minister. She has vowed not to join a government led by Mr. Netanyahu. Her support has been eroded by two center-left parties. One is led by Tzipi Livni, the former foreign minister who has made restarting peace talks the center of her campaign. A second, headed by former news anchor Yair Lapid, has also skirted foreign policy. The three camps have sparred over whether to form a collective front to face Mr. Netanyahu.

 

Center-left parties are largely to blame for the absence of a foreign-policy debate, said Ari Shavit, a columnist at the liberal Ha’aretz paper. These parties, he said, have focused on domestic issues rather than formulating a fresh pitch on peace. "The old peace ideology collapsed, and it was never replaced," he said….

 

Polls show Mr. Netanyahu is losing support to politicians on the right. His merged party slate with Avigdor Lieberman—who stepped down from his post as foreign minister just last month after a fraud indictment—is running at about 15% below the parties' current 42 seats in the outgoing parliament, polls show. The beneficiaries have included the pro-settler Jewish Home party and its charismatic leader, Naftali Bennett, who opposes a Palestinian state and supports annexation of most of the West Bank.

 

Although a coalition of Likud-Beiteinu, Jewish Home, Shas and United Torah Judaism would be the easiest option for Mr. Netanyahu, "few in the political establishment are willing to bet on this outcome, mainly because with this composition, it will be impossible to pass a dramatic budget cut, to pass new laws on equally sharing the burden [created for subsidies and draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox] and to respond to the international pressure on holding negotiations with the Palestinians,'' wrote Zeev Kam, in the Maariv newspaper.

 

Such a coalition could also make it difficult for Mr. Netanyahu to find common ground among a large number of parties, especially among foreign-policy moderates queasy about joining a hard-line coalition. "Netanyahu called elections, but he might end up with a worse situation that he ended walking out of, with less power than he had in the last government," said Reuven Hazan, a political-science professor at Hebrew University.

 

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UNSEATING NETANYAHU A TRICKY GAME

Matthew Fisher,

Postmedia News, Jan. 20, 2013

 

Having led every poll taken from the beginning to the end of a national election campaign that has lasted for months, Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised to be re-elected as Israel’s prime minister on Tuesday. But in Israel, where any of the 34 parties that are contesting the election get more than two per cent of the vote gets seats in the Knesset, election day is the first part of what is a long, tortuous electoral dance. What follows will be days and perhaps weeks of horse trading as Netanyahu scrambles to find the numbers to form a stable right-wing or centre-right coalition government from among the eight or nine parties expected to win more than a few of the parliament’s 120 seats.

 

“Even if he is re-elected, what kind of a coalition will Netanyahu have? What kind of coalition can he build?” asked Eytan Gilboa, director of Bar-Ilan University. “I think he will have a rough time of it because his position will probably not be as strong as it was in the last election. At the end of the negotiations Netanyahu may find himself in a weak, problematic position.”

 

Polls taken last week indicated that the 63-year-old Netanyahu, his right-wing Likud Party and its strongly nationalist partners, Yisrael Beiteinu, led by [former] Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman and strongly backed by Israel’s one million Russians, have been losing support. Nevertheless, the partners were still expected to end up on top. A poll by the Ha’aretz daily gave them as many as 32 seats. Labour, whose leader Shelly Yacimovich has already declared her party will not be part of a Netanyahu-led coalition, was a distant second with about 17 seats….

 

What really matters on election night is how the right-wing religious bloc stacks up against the centre-left-Arab bloc. Polling has suggested that the right-left split may be closer than seemed likely a few months ago. If the pollsters are right, Netanyahu and his likely coalition members appear set to control 63 seats to about 57 seats for the opposition.

 

The biggest election-day drama may turn out to be the size of the bite taken out of Likud’s vote by the hard right, Jewish Home Party (Bayit Yehudi). It is a new party led by Naftali Bennett, a charismatic 40-year-old newcomer to electoral politics who lived for several years as a young boy in Montreal where, according to Ha’aretz, he and his family became religiously observant. Some years after returning to Israel he became a special forces officer and war hero in Lebanon. After that he became a high-tech millionaire. Between 2006 and 2008 he served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff before the two men had a falling out that was never fully explained by either but has been the subject of considerable media speculation.

 

“I think Bennett is real. The question is how many seats is he going to get and how many votes will he take away from Netanyahu,” said Gilboa. “Bennett has adopted a clever election strategy. He says Netanyahu will be prime minister. I will support him and join his coalition. But he is also suggesting that he will constrain Netanyahu. “It has been effective so far. Likud has attacked Bennett lately because it has become concerned by him. It may harm Netanyahu, but that will not effect the right-wing bloc that much because the right-wing vote stays in the bloc.”

 

Bennett has outflanked Netanyahu, who also had a distinguished military record in the special forces, by being even stronger than his former boss on what many Israelis regard as the core issue of retaining West Bank settlements. Sensing the political danger posed by Bennett, who had said he wants to be “a third hand on the wheel” on the wheel of Netanyahu’s coalition government, the prime minister told the Jerusalem Post that “you know that you have to have two steady hands of one driver on the wheel, and if you have other people grab the wheel, pretty soon the car overturns.”

 

The future of the settlements, the lack of peace talks with Palestinians and the issue of whether Israel should attack Iran’s nuclear programme may have vexed U.S. President Barack Obama and the Jewish Diaspora in the United States. Opponents and some columnists in Israel have severely criticized Netanyahu for baldly appearing to back Obama’s Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in last fall’s American elections. Furthermore, the Israeli media have made much of private remarks allegedly made by Obama to the effect that Netanyahu was “moving his country down a path towards near-total isolation,” by approving the further expansion of a major settlement near Jerusalem….

 

Sensing an opportunity at the other end of the political spectrum, Bennett has run front-page ads saying, “as Israel faces unparalleled international pressure, Prime Minister Netanyahu will need a large Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) by his side.” But none of this appears to have made much of a difference to many voters. Their leading concerns have been with the growing deficit, education, health, social justice, the cost of housing, high taxes and the economy generally.

 

Labour has, with some success, stayed clear of such issues as national security and foreign affairs, which usually figure prominently in Israeli elections. They have stressed economic issues. But this can be a tricky game. Whatever Netanyahu’s weaknesses because he is too strong or too soft on issues involving the Palestinians and the Iranians, he has presided over one of the world’s more successful economies at a time when many countries have dire economic problems.

 

As politicians elsewhere have learned again and again, it is difficult to unseat an incumbent when the economy is doing well.

 

 

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Israeli Electoral Politics – A Guide for the Perplexed: Gil Hoffman, Jeruslaem Post, Jan. 10, 2013—There was good news and bad news this week for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. On the one hand, a failed effort by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni to begin a process intended to unite the three parties on the Center-Left after the January 22 election helped Netanyahu’s Likud Beytenu stop its tailspin in the polls and win back two seats it had lost to its satellite parties.

 

Zionism’s New Boss: Liel Leibovitz, Tablet Magazine, Jan. 14, 2013—Under rookie politician Naftali Bennett, religious Zionism is finally becoming Israel’s political mainstream. Naftali Bennett’s press conference late last month was to the Israeli election cycle what a high-speed car chase is to a middling Hollywood action movie. With the chronicle of Bibi Netanyahu’s re-election more or less foretold, Israelis were vying for a shot of adrenaline that would rescue what had otherwise become a bloodless procedural, and Bennett was on hand to deliver.

 

A Far-Right Israeli Electorate?: Lee Smith, Tablet Magazine, Jan. 16, 2013—Perhaps Bibi’s infamous bluster has had its purpose. While his belligerent rhetoric unnerves his many critics, including world leaders, it’s helped keep Israel out of armed conflict. He has presided over more economic success and less war than almost any other Israeli leader in history.

 

Netanyahu Coalition Forming Dilemmas: Joseph Puder, Front Page Magazine, Jan. 21, 2013—The question Israeli political pundits ask regarding the upcoming January 22, 2013 Knesset (parliamentary) elections is not what party will be asked by President Shimon Peres to form the next government,  nor are they asking who will be the next Prime Minister of Israel. The operative question is which parties will join Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu to form the next coalition government.  The answer to that will determine the direction and the likely policies of the next Netanyahu government.

 

PA Hopes Syrian 'Red Herring' Discredits Netanyahu at Polls: Chana Ya'ar, Israel National News, Jan. 21, 2013—On the eve of Israel’s national elections, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is doing his best to discredit Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, claiming the Netanyahu government approved entry of 150,000 Syrian refugees into Judea and Samaria.

 

The Bennett Threat – and Why The Pols Are Scared: Moshe Dann, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 31, 2012—Naftali Bennett is a product of Israeli society; articulate and smart, a Sayeret Matkal veteran, he’s an insider that understands what’s going on. He is also a financial success. But that is not what makes him dangerous to the establishment. The threat he poses stems not so much from his ideology, but rather from the fact that that he actually has one, that he articulates what he believes and stands for.

 

 

 

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