Friday, April 20, 2018

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Time to cut JVP down to size
Jewish Voice for Peace is a marginal group, by all accounts. The Jewish-run, anti-Zionist organization has perhaps a couple of dozen employees and anywhere between a few dozen and a couple of hundred committed activists in the US. Its positions – that Israel is evil and must be destroyed and that Jews should be disenfranchised and ostracized because they support Israel – is anathema to the overwhelming majority of American Jews.

Yet despite the fact that its bigoted positions are rejected by just about everyone, this group, which the Anti-Defamation League has listed as “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the United States,” is becoming increasingly influential in the US.

As the ADL report on JVP notes, in recent years, the little group has received millions of dollars in donations and has vastly expanded its operations. It has 35 chapters across the US including at several campuses. It has nearly a half million followers on Facebook and 75,000 followers on Twitter.

JVP doesn’t only attack Jewish supporters of Israel. It also attacks Judaism. JVP’s “rabbinical council” issues resolutions and publications in the name of the Jewish religion that are inherently antisemitic.

In 2012 for instance, JVP’s “rabbinical council” published an “alternative Haggada,” which included anti-Israel themes inside the Passover story of the liberation of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. One of the four cups of wine for the Passover Seder was dedicated to the BDS movement. Readers were instructed to add an olive to the traditional Seder plate to symbolize Palestinian suffering under Israeli rule.

JVP is open about its determination to serve as a Jewish fig leaf for antisemitic groups and operations. Its website states this mission explicitly, arguing that the group’s Jewish veneer gives it a “particular legitimacy in voicing an alternative view of American and Israeli actions and policies” and the ability to distinguish “between real antisemitism and the cynical manipulation of that issue.”

Melanie Phillips: In Britain and Poland, Anti-Semitism’s Ugly History Repeats Itself
In Britain, liberals are in a similar state of denial over their anti-Semitism. This is because they view themselves as anti-fascist and anti-racist and so think it is simply impossible they could be anti-Jew.

In fact, anti-Semitism on the left has a long lineage. Marx himself, after all, was virulently anti-Jewish. There’s more to it, though, than just being anti-capitalist or even anti-Zionist. The modern left has junked Biblical morality for libertarian lifestyle choice. And the Jews represent the conscience they are at such pains to deny.

I came up against this years ago without realizing the full implications until much later. As I recount in my memoir Guardian Angel, also published recently, when in the 1990s I started writing about the undermining of the traditional family I was called an “Old Testament fundamentalist.” And when in 1982 I first questioned the double standard over Israel at the anti-racist Guardian newspaper where I then worked, I was told that since the Jews claimed moral superiority over everyone else they should be judged by higher moral standards.

Despite such attitudes, the left believes that because it stands for the betterment of the world it embodies unimpeachable virtue. Anyone not on the left is therefore not just wrong but evil. Only the right can be anti-Semitic. It is therefore impossible for the left to be so. If they were to admit it, their entire moral and political personality would fall apart.

Anti-Semitism, however, is not created by one viewpoint or another. It is a form of derangement which observes no political or cultural boundaries. Whether in London or Warsaw, if it is not recognized as such it will not merely remain a permanent stain on those societies. It will eventually destroy them.
Delusions of Justice
American Jews should wake up to which side their most dangerous enemies are on.

Since the election of Donald Trump, prominent American Jews, notably in the Reform movement and among the intelligentsia, have lamented the resurgence of right-wing anti-Semitism, seeing it as the greatest threat to their community in the United States. The rise of xenophobic and often marginally anti-Jewish parties in Eastern Europe—even with fewer Jews left there to persecute—has deepened the alarm. Yet by far the greatest threat to Jews, not only here but also abroad, comes not from zombie fascist retreads, but from the Left, which is increasingly making its peace with anti-Semitism.

This shift was first made clear to me about 15 years ago when, along with my wife Mandy, whose mother is a Holocaust survivor from France, I visited the legendary Nazi-hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld. They predicted that the primary threat to Jews in Europe increasingly would come not from the centuries-old French Right, some of whom had supported the Nazis, but from the Left, in alliance with a growing Muslim population. Time has proved their assertion to be, for the most part, on target. In Sweden, for instance, never known for its persecution of Jews, only 5 percent of all anti-Semitic incidents, notes the New York Times, involved the far Right, while Muslims and leftists accounted for the rest. Germany’s recent rash of anti-Semitic incidents has coincided with the mass migration of people from regions where hostility to both Jews and Israel is commonplace. At European universities, where pro-Nazi sentiments were once widely shared, anti-Israel sentiments are increasingly de rigueur. The growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, aimed at cutting all ties with Israel, often allies itself with anti-Jewish Islamist groups, some with eliminationist agendas for Palestine’s Jews.

Of course, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are not identical. One can criticize some Israeli policies—as many American Jews do, for example, on the expansion of settlements—without being an anti-Semite. But, as the liberal French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy argues, targeting the Jewish state while ignoring far more brutal, homophobic, and profoundly misogynist Muslim states represents a double standard characteristic of anti-Semitic prejudice. European progressives increasingly embrace this double standard. Generally speaking, the further left the European politician, the closer his ties to Islamist groups who seek the destruction of Jews in Palestine. Many left-wing parties—the French socialists, for example—depend more and more on Arab and Muslim voters, who come from countries where more than 80 percent of the public holds strongly anti-Jewish views. The Left’s animus toward Jewish causes has spread to Great Britain, where Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn counts the leaders of openly anti-Semitic groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as allies. If Corbyn becomes Britain’s next prime minister—no longer inconceivable, given his strong showing in the last election—the consequences for Israel, and for Britain’s dwindling Jewish community, could be troubling.

Some, like Barcelona’s chief rabbi, think that it’s time for Europe’s Jews to move away, and many, particularly in France, are already doing so. Europe’s Jewish population (roughly 1.4 million) is less than half what it was in 1960, and a mere fraction of its pre-Holocaust size (9.5 million). (h/t MtTB)

From Roger Cohen in the New York Times, referring to the weekly Gaza riots:
You know pornography when you see it. You know a disproportionate military response when you see it. It’s stomach turning.

Would Roger Cohen consider the killing of 16 civilians in order to silence an enemy TV station for a short time period to be "disproportionate?"

Because NATO doesn't.

In the  Final Report to the Prosecutor by the Committee Established to Review the NATO Bombing Campaign Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the case is reviewed. In short:

On 23 April 1999, at 0220, NATO intentionally bombed the central studio of the RTS (state-owned) broadcasting corporation at 1 Aberdareva Street in the centre of Belgrade. The missiles hit the entrance area, which caved in at the place where the Aberdareva Street building was connected to the Takovska Street building. While there is some doubt over exact casualty figures, between 10 and 17 people are estimated to have been killed.

 NATO intentionally bombed the Radio and TV station and the persons killed or injured were civilians. The questions are: was the station a legitimate military objective and; if it was, were the civilian casualties disproportionate to the military advantage gained by the attack? .... Insofar as the attack actually was aimed at disrupting the communications network, it was legally acceptable.

Assuming the station was a legitimate objective, the civilian casualties were unfortunately high but do not appear to be clearly disproportionate....

Assuming the RTS building to be a legitimate military target, it appeared that NATO realised that attacking the RTS building would only interrupt broadcasting for a brief period....

 On the basis of the above analysis and on the information currently available to it, the committee recommends that the OTP not commence an investigation related to the bombing of the Serbian TV and Radio Station.
The prosecutor said that there was no reason to prosecute this as a war crime, as the attack on a broadcasting station that killed 16 (according to later reports) was not disproportionate

So, Roger, do you really know a disproportionate military response when you see it? Or only when Israel somehow manages to kill people, a vast majority who are linked to terror groups hiding among tens of thousands of civlians - is that the case that you consider disproportionate?

I can't comment on how well Cohen knows pornography, but his knowledge of international law is sorely lacking.

Actually, there is a phrase to describe what it feels like to read an NYT column that assumes that Cohen's gut instincts against Israel are more accurate than international law. 

The phrase is "stomach-turning."

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From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: An open letter to the Muslim world
Dear Muslim world,

The State of Israel is 70 years old today and I am writing from its capital city, Jerusalem.

I realize that for most of you, the words I have just written will cause your gorge to rise. In Israel, they are a source of jubilation.

Israel’s rebirth as the Jewish national homeland out of the ashes of the Holocaust was in itself an astonishing achievement, unique in the annals of the world.

For it to have survived the unparalleled attempts to destroy it ever since is regarded by many as nothing short of miraculous.

Yesterday was Israel’s annual remembrance day. When the sirens sounded, the country paused and bowed its head. It’s the day when Israel mourns the price in blood it has had to pay for existing at all: 23,646 fallen Israeli soldiers and 3,134 Israeli civilians murdered through terrorism.

More than 26,000 dead—with most of the military casualties consisting of Israel’s precious young who must be conscripted to defend their country—purely because there are people determined to prevent the Jews from living in their own ancestral homeland.

But you know all about that because you are the people killing them.

You are the people who have been trying to destroy the Jewish homeland for the better part of a century. Look how hard you’ve tried. You’ve used war. You’ve used terrorism. You’ve used the Palestinian Arabs as pawns. You’ve used the diplomatic game. You’ve used economic boycotts.

Despite all this, you have been forced to watch as Israel has not only survived but become the strongest state in the region, stronger even than many countries in the developed world.

Einat Wilf with Shany Mor: Celebrating the argument
Zionism and the State of Israel are unique examples of a movement of national liberation, and a state, established as ongoing debates, claim Einat Wilf with Shany Mor. Democratic debate about the character and future of the state has been at once a necessity, a virtue, a strength and a saving grace; in fact it has defined who we are. Here’s to the next 70 years of the argument.

What is the Jewish state? This is the title of a talk I thoroughly enjoy giving, particularly to delegations – mostly of non-Jews – who come to Israel for the first time. At the outset, I promise that, if successful, at the end of my talk, my listeners will be more confused about the issue than they are at present.

In the talk, I walk through the span of Jewish history, emphasising the manner in which modernity gave birth to a wide variety of Jews, including devout atheists and committed Zionists such as myself, all the way to Haredi Jews, whose raising of the walls is in itself a modern phenomenon, conceived in response to the challenge of modernity. Once their heads spins with Zionist atheists, Haredi Jews, Religious Zionists, Reform and Conservative, and just plain Yom-Kippur-synagogue-attending-Shabbat-driving-shrimp-eating Jews, I explain that in the absence of a Pope and a Church hierarchy, and given that Jewish texts and traditions created over thousands of years offer sufficient material to support every possible world view, we have no way to determine what is the ‘right’ way to be Jewish and the ‘wrong’ way to be Jewish. We are then left with no choice but to do what Jews are known for doing: arguing.

From here emerges my definition of the Jewish state – the definition to end all definitions, if I may: The Jewish state is the one state in the world where we get to argue about what it means to be the Jewish state. Herein lies the essence of the Jewish state: the ongoing debate about its very nature. And this has been the case ever since the days of the First Zionist Congress. Zionism and the State of Israel have always been sites of an ongoing and fierce debate about the very fundamental question of what it means to be the Jewish state.

This has been the key insight of Zionism. Contrary to the common view that great undertakings require unity, Zionism progressed through unity-in-diversity. Yes, there was a broad agreement to move forward to some form of Jewish self-government – there was no agreement even that it should be a state – but beyond that, everything has been up for debate.
JPost Editorial: From Truman to Trump
Truman’s conflicting policies seem to reflect conflicting influences. Truman was a Christian Zionist who was a fierce believer in Jewish statehood in the Holy Land for religious reasons. From a moral perspective, he was haunted by the Holocaust and saw in a Jewish state rectification of a historic injustice. Pragmatically speaking, he realized that Americans would oppose large-scale immigration to the US and that the creation of a Jewish state would provide an option.

At the same time, Truman was up against the US State Department and the British government, which were pro-Arab and which, therefore, strongly opposed US involvement in the creation of Israel for fear it would hurt relations with Arab nations. Also, Truman, who sought, and won, the US presidency in the 1948 election, factored in the Jewish vote in electoral considerations. Perhaps he realized that his de facto support for Jewish statehood was enough and that it was politically unnecessary to be more outspokenly pro-Zionist in a way that would hurt his relations with the State Department, the British and the Arab world.

Undoubtedly, Truman’s support was instrumental in helping bring about the creation of the state. The tradition continues with President Donald Trump, who has proven to be a real friend of Israel and who in a tweet for Independence Day, reiterated his promise that next month the US Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Still, the real work of building a viable Jewish state was not, and still is not, in the White House or in the UN’s corridors, but on the ground in the Land of Israel. It is no less than amazing that a group of ragtag emigrants from Europe and Arab countries and refugees from the Holocaust, who did not even speak the same language, managed to come together and fight to overcome a vastly larger Arab military force. To this day we have never asked a single US soldier to fight our fight.

As we celebrate the state’s 70th year of existence, its creation remains an odds-defying story of how improbable developments came together leading to a wildly successful endeavor.

And US support for Israel, which began with Truman and continues to this day with President Donald Trump, has been critical to this success.

  • Friday, April 20, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

From CBS News:
U.S. actress Natalie Portman, this year's recipient of a prize dubbed the "Jewish Nobel," has pulled out of the June awards ceremony in Israel because of extreme distress over recent events in the country, the Genesis Prize Foundation said. The foundation said it was informed by Portman's representative that the Jerusalem-born Oscar winner "does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel."

In Thursday's statement, the Genesis foundation quoted a representative for Portman as saying that "recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her" and that "she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony."

Thursday's statement did not refer to specific events that would have prompted Portman's decision.
 Reading between the lines of Portman's previous statements on Israel, one gets the impression that she has always been uncomfortable with Israel, but she preferred to be quiet about it.

In 2015, she called Netanyahu a racist, but she added, "What I want to make sure is, I don't want to use my platform [the wrong way]. I feel like there's some people who become prominent, and then it's out in the foreign press. You know, shit on Israel. I do not. I don't want to do that."

Also in 2015, she said, "You look at your country and it’s not what you want it to be. It’s not what you wish it could be. But of course we have to strive for what could be, but also live with what exists, and what is, and be pragmatic.”

In 2014, she was quoted as saying, "I have a very close friend who lately has this European, anti-Israel way of thinking, and it’s very hard for me to have conversations with him. He says, ‘Can’t you be self-critical?’ But it’s hard to be publicly critical. It has to be done in a very delicate, well-thought-out manner. These issues come up at parties and dinners with people who don’t know a lot, and as someone who was born in Israel, you’re put in a position of defending Israel because you know how much is at stake. It’s become a much bigger part of my identity in recent years because it’s become an issue of survival."

She used to say that while she had problems with Israel, she would keep her mouth shut about them because she knew that any criticism she would offer was likely to be seized upon by antisemites and Israel-haters in ways she did not intend.

When the award was announced in November, Portman said, “I am deeply touched and humbled by this honor. I am proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage; they are crucial parts of who I am. It is such a privilege to be counted among the outstanding Laureates whom I admire so much. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Genesis Prize Foundation, and look forward to using the global platform it provides to make a difference in the lives of women in Israel and beyond.”

Publicly renouncing an award, only months after saying how proud she was to be chosen for it, is going to give far more fuel to antisemites and haters than anything else she could have said or done.

Moreover, even though the prize is for significant accomplishments by Jews, her new refusal to take the award shows that she never deserved it.

 The only thing that has happened between November and now was the Gaza riots. If this is the reason that Portman is now publicly anti-Israel, then we can learn that she never had good Jewish values to begin with.

It is wonderful that she won't eat pizza with her Israeli family on Passover when she visits them and she fasts on Yom Kippur, but Jewish values go way beyond the ritual.

The Gaza riots are being heavily misreported. A Jewish value would be to research the issue and not blindly believe the anti-Israel narrative.

A Jewish value would be to be "dan l'chaf zechut," to give her family's nation the benefit of the doubt. She is not doing that.

A Jewish value would be to put whatever criticisms you have in perspective, and not use them as fuel for the haters. She used to have that value and now she has thrown it in the garbage. And to do it on Israel's 70th birthday, on a day when it is so obvious that the Jewish state is miraculous no matter what your political perspective - it shows that Portman is insensitive as well.

It is a very good thing that Natalie Portman has revealed her true colors. She does not deserve this prize.

A source at the Genesis Prize Foundation told Haaretz that Portman did not intend to return the $1 million dollar cash prize that comes with the award. Nor did she intend to return the additional $1 million matching grant promised to her by Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn. “We have not received any information of the sort,” he said.
Ah, a Jew who refuses to publicly accept an award but insists on taking the money won't foster antisemitism, right, Natalie?

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  • Friday, April 20, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat is once again threatening the world with Arab violence.

Speaking about the planned opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem next month, he said that "the insistence of the administration of American President Donald Trump to continue to violate international law and international legitimacy in such a blatant form is a threat to the security, peace and stability of the Middle East and the world."

The PLO claims that opening an Israeli embassy anywhere in Jerusalem is a violation of international law, based on UNSC resolution 478, that calls upon "Those States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City."

This would include, of course, any diplomatic missions meant for Palestinians, and several nations maintain such missions including Belgium, France, Turkey the UK and the US itself.  All without a peep of protest from Erekat.

Erekat's claim that the US Embassy move threatens world peace is, as always, a threat itself. The US has the right to place its embassies wherever it wants, and it reasserted that right at the time of UNSC 478. There is obviously nothing violent about moving an embassy.

Erekat is saying that Arabs will respond to the US move with violence - and that it what threatens world peace.

Erekat is telling the world that  Arabs have no self control and cannot help themselves but to respond to a diplomatic move by starting World War III.

What a racist Erekat is to make the assumption that Arabs are inherently violent people!

And, he is wrong. The Arab nations don't care in the least about a US embassy in Jerusalem (nor about the other embassies that are following the US.)

Palestinian Arabs don't care either, until they are incited to violence by their leaders like Erekat. Interviews with Palestinians back when Trump was elected showed that without incitement by their leadership, no one cared at all about the embassy.

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  • Friday, April 20, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Middle East Monitor reported exactly one week ago:

The Palestinian Energy Authority yesterday stopped operations at the only power station in the Gaza Strip due to a lack of fuel to operate it.

“The Energy Authority informed us this afternoon that it had stopped work at the power station because there was no fuel to operate it,” said Mohammad Thabit, director of public relations and information at the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company.

“We currently have 120 megawatts per day coming from Israel after the Egyptian lines stopped working nearly three months ago. We will try with the available energy to maintain the four hour schedule, but the hours of power outage will exceed 12 hours,” he added in an interview with Quds Press.

The company said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “very difficult to collect the necessary revenues to meet the various financial obligations towards energy suppliers as well as the operating costs.”

Ma'an Arabic reported today that since the Palestinian Authority stopped paying salaries to many Gazans, their tax revenue that had come from those employees has been reduced by 4.3 million shekels a month, a significant chunk o fthe 10 million shekels it takes to run the power plant every month.

Gaza has been buying its fuel from Egypt instead of from Israel, even though Israel has built a large fuel pipeline through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Presumably, the Egyptian fuel is cheaper.

I had not read anywhere before that the Egyptian power lines to Gaza have been down for three months. No one seems to be worrying too much about that.

As usual, when Gaza misery cannot be blamed on Israel, the media is essentially silent. However, there is a slight twist to the media silence this time.

AFP, to its credit, did report on this on Monday. It added that "Three hospitals and 16 medical centers had stopped offering key services in recent weeks because of the crippling fuel shortages."

Based on Google News, however, I can only find a single newspaper or news site worldwide that published the AFP story: The Times of Israel.

Meaning that while one of the world's major wire services did report on the story, practically none of the individual news site editors, out of thousands of sites, were interested enough in a Gaza misery story that couldn't be blamed on Israel.

Last year, I noted that while the Gaza power plant usually only about 20 MW per day (compared to the 120 MW that come from Israel), it has the capacity to generate 140 MW per day - if only the fuel was available. The lack of fuel is in no way related to Israel.

If the power plant was running at full capacity, and if Egyptian lines were repaired, there would still be a power deficit in Gaza, but it would be far more manageable - people would have power for 9-10 hours a day instead of 4, which would be enough to keep refrigerators cold, to charge batteries, and to keep hospitals going without relying as much on generators and fuel donations from third parties.

Once again, when Israel cannot be blamed, the media doesn't care.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

  • Thursday, April 19, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Ma'an reports that the tents set up for Gaza demonstrators tomorrow are only 50 meters away from the fence, much closer than the hundreds of meters that they had been up until now.

Tellingly, the person who explains this decision is from the Islamic Jihad terror group.

Leader of the Islamic Jihad movement and a member of the refugee committee in the return march, Ahmed Almdalal, told reporters that the tents will get closer to the fence every week culminating in the attempt to cut the fence on "Nakba Day."

Meanwhile, the "non-violent" rioters are preparing and testing more kites that will have Molotov cocktails attached, in order to set Israeli fields on fire:

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From Ian:

Noted Historian on Israel’s 70th Birthday: Justice Is on Jewish State’s Side
At 70 years old, the State of Israel has grown up, and might be unrecognizable to those who founded it. From a relatively barren imperial backwater, it has become a flourishing, vibrant and innovative regional leader. From a population of 500,000, it is now home to over 8 million people. From a tiny nation fighting for its life, it has become a military power. And from a socialist-dominated one-party state, it has become a thriving capitalist democracy.

Yet, a leading Israeli historian told The Algemeiner this week, in many ways Israel has not changed at all. Its core national identity as a Jewish state remains as strong as it ever was.

“Obviously Israel has changed,” said Efraim Karsh, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and a professor emeritus of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London. “First of all it has increased in a way no other Western or developed nation has grown over this period. I mean, more than tenfold. Then of course, the different kinds of populations that arrived. Essentially from predominantly European-based Jews to those who arrived from other nations — many were expelled in the Independence War and then immediately afterwards — some expelled in the ’50s, and then in the mid-’60s from North Africa, then later on you have the large Russian immigration, and then of course the Ethiopians.”

“Israel is a melting pot,” Karsh stated, “and on the whole I think it has been a success story. And I think in a way it’s remarkable, because you don’t have many societies, Western or otherwise, absorbing huge populations several times their size and doing it in such a successful way that eventually, with all the difficulties and the grievances of certain communities at certain times, it is relatively a highly equal society.
April 19, 2018 9:21 am
Netanyahu, Rivlin Reflect on Israel’s 70th Anniversary in Video Messages - In video greetings recorded in English, both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin reflected on Israel’s...

“So I think in this respect, yes, Israel has changed,” he continued. “But, on the whole, not for the worse. On the contrary, you have an Israeli identity developing over the time that crystallizes all of the different sections.”

Gerald Steinberg: The Israel Basher
The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights, by Michael Sfard
AIn September 2001, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights held a major conference in Durban, South Africa, ostensibly to mark the end of the apartheid regime. But the event, and particularly an “NGO Forum” attended by 5,000 delegates, was hijacked and turned into what some participants termed an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic carnival. In the final session, the leaders of the NGO Forum announced a plan to transfer the tools used in the anti-apartheid campaign to the dismantling of Israel, declaring the nation-state of the Jewish people guilty of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes.
Since Durban, a small but generously funded army of ideologues has sought to implement this strategy, seeking to persuade governments (particularly European) and international institutions, such as the International Criminal Court, to isolate and demonize Israel.

Michael Sfard is among the most energetic, passionate, and articulate warriors on this battlefield. As an Israeli fiercely opposing the policies of his own nation, he automatically gains credibility among some audiences. Over many years, he has waged war in the Israeli courts and, more important, in arenas around the world that specialize in anti-Israel campaigns.

Sfard’s weapon is international law—a nebulous, plastic, and readily manipulated commodity that has the feel and texture of real law (as practiced by lawyers and judges in individual nation-states), without the constitutional backbone.

His book The Wall and the Gate is a polemic, and there are no shades of gray or self-doubt. At no point does Sfard ponder complexities and contradictions, such as the absence of universality or reciprocity—two essential dimensions of any legitimate legal system. Thus, he glosses over the daily human-rights violations and war crimes committed by his “clients,” as he paternalistically refers to Palestinians, repeating the standard victimization myths. His references to the horrors of terror that have taken so many Israeli lives are minor and parenthetical. For example, in condemning the Israeli separation barrier that has prevented many terrorist attacks, he says, “there will come a day, maybe when the conflict is over, when Palestinians will be unable to escape the duty to reckon with some of their organizations tactics.”
Palestinian mayor sparks BDS storm by admitting he works for Israeli company
The mayor of the West Bank Christian town of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, on Wednesday dropped a bombshell by admitting that he also works as a sales representative for Tnuva, the Israeli food processing cooperative specializing in milk and dairy products.

Nicola Khamis made the admission during an interview with the Palestinian Wattan TV.

The mayor’s revelation drew strong condemnations, and many satirical remarks, from a large number of Palestinians on social media.

Several Palestinians pointed out that the mayor’s revelation was a severe blow to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which has long been spearheading a worldwide campaign to promote various forms of boycott against Israel.

“Some say that the reason behind the recent decline in your popularity is attributed to the fact that in addition to your job as mayor, you are also the representative of the Israeli company Tnuva in the [Bethlehem] area. What is your response to this claim?” Khamis was asked.

  • Thursday, April 19, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

Hamas is instructing the media in Gaza on how ensure that coverage of the riots at the border aligns with the terror group's propaganda aims. This article was published on Sunday at  an Palestinian media outlet:

The Governmental Information Office of the Palestinian Ministry of Information has set specific restrictions on media coverage of the Great Return Movement, which comes in the context of ensuring the objective  national coverage of the events and exposing the crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people.

The Information Office stressed the need to describe the terms of events in the eastern Gaza Strip accurately, and not to use the terms confrontations or clashes, but an attack by the occupation army and its snipers on peaceful and peaceful civil movement.

It called on journalists and the local media to focus on the scene as a whole in accordance with the principles and objectives of the march announced by the National Committee for the March, and to try not to highlight the individual actions that are incompatible with the objectives of the marches.
No photos of Molotov cocktails and placing IEDs.
It pointed to the need to focus on "humanizing" stories of martyrs and highlighting the different aspects of the character of the martyr, social and family, and also [highlight]  the injuries of children, girls and journalists.

It  stressed the importance of not publishing any information related to injuries or martyrs without relying on the official source of the Ministry of Health or its spokesman.
What more evidence do you need that the "official" casualty reports are lies?

While this memo is aimed at Palestinian Arab reporters, it also shows that Hamas is prepared to act against any Western reporters who violate these "guidelines" as well. Just as they did in previous conflicts.

And from the coverage we've seen so far, too many Western reporters have already internalized Hamas' propaganda goals before Hamas found the need to publicize them.

Hamas doesn't want you to see videos like this of Gazans cutting the fence:

See also Bassam Tawil at Gatestone, who discovered this story.

Here's the memo:

(h/t Daled Amos)

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 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

Independence Day in Israel is a lot like Independence day in America. There are barbecues, fireworks, weekend camping trips, street fairs, concerts of patriotic music and boring speeches by government officials. Both nations gained independence from the British Empire, and neither felt warm enough toward their former imperial rulers to join the Commonwealth. 

But there are significant differences. Possibly because the nation is young enough that there are still people around who remember when the state did not exist and who remember the price that was paid to create it, there is still a feeling – at least, in some quarters – that independence is not a normal condition. For thousands of years there was no sovereign Jewish state, and the Jewish people were the paradigm case of the outsiders living, with various degrees of toleration, in other people’s countries. That changed suddenly on May 14, 1948, the 5th of Iyar on the Jewish calendar. 

America had her Tories who would have preferred to remain colonies of Great Britain (including the son of Benjamin Franklin, who had been the Royal Governor of New Jersey), but I suspect that after some 242 years, very few Americans continue to believe that the US should return to colonial status. Israel had (and still has) her anti-Zionists: those who oppose a Jewish state for religious reasons, and those who oppose it for various political reasons. I doubt this will change even when the state reaches (with God’s help) its 242nd birthday.

Some Americans complain that many of their countrymen (and women) don’t appreciate the sacrifices required to create and maintain an independent nation. This is less of a problem in Israel, whose people are under constant threat, both individually and collectively, by the enemies of the state and the Jewish people. Israel’s memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism (yom hazikaron) takes place the day before Independence Day. When the siren sounds to mark the beginning of yom hazikaron, almost all Israelis stop what they are doing and stand at attention for the duration of the siren. Autos stop in the middle of the highways , and their drivers get out and stand beside them. I admit that no matter how many times I’ve experienced this, it’s always emotionally powerful. Except for the siren (and perhaps a few barking dogs) there is absolute silence; and it happens at the same precise moment all over the country.

I said “almost all Israelis” because there are some Arab citizens, some Haredim, and even a few extreme leftists who oppose the Jewish state and make a point of showing their contempt for it and for the soldiers who died for it. If I could afford to, I would happily buy them all one-way tickets to the Arab or Diaspora countries that they appear to yearn for.

When America gained independence, its population was composed of Europeans mostly of British descent, African slaves and Native Americans. It was some time before the “non-white” inhabitants achieved equal rights. Israel also had a minority population made up of Arabs who, while citizens from the start, were under military rule until 1966. Since independence, both countries absorbed immigrants from numerous cultures, although almost all of those absorbed by Israel were Jewish.

Some Arab citizens of Israel see themselves as Israelis, while others embrace their “Palestinian” identity and reject “Israeli-ness.” Most Jews feel that they are part of a Jewish people that encompasses Jews of different national origins. The divisions between Jews of European and Middle Eastern or North African origin are becoming less important as time and intermarriage blur them. Russians, Ethiopians and others are also blending into the Jewish population.

In America until recently the concept of the “melting pot” which would turn immigrants (but never African Americans!) into members of a homogeneous American People was popular, and immigrants aspired to assimilate into “American” culture. More recently, many immigrant groups strongly reject the melting pot, and insist on maintaining their original cultures. I don’t believe this tendency is strong among non-Haredi Israeli immigrants, who do appear to be assimilating to “Israeli” culture. There are various reasons for this: army service, shared stresses (terrorism, bureaucracy, etc.) and the comparative openness of Israeli society. In Israel, at least among the Jewish population, it seems that identity politics is declining; while in America, it is gaining importance.

American society seems – from my admittedly distant vantage point – to be more divided than ever in my memory. The delivery of health care and other social services appears to be worse than I can remember, the primary, secondary, and higher educational systems are failing in their purposes, and the long-term decrease in violent crime seems to be ending. There are many other troubling social indicators. Time will tell if the decline that I perceive is real, and if so, if it will be overcome.

70 years after independence, Israeli society has overall never been better off economically, although the high price of housing is a problem. There are still pockets of deep poverty. The benefits of the success of the high-tech sector and the natural gas discoveries have not filtered down to the lower rungs of the ladder. Politically there is the ongoing struggle between the right-of-center majority and the left-of-center establishment that includes the Supreme Court, the media, academic class, the arts, and so forth. There is growing conflict between Haredi extremists and everyone else. But on balance it is a happy, optimistic society. One indication is the high birthrate, over three children per woman for the Jewish and Arab sectors.

Despite this, there is a cloud over our optimism, which is the almost certainty of war with Iran and its proxies in the near future. Israel is not expansionist and does not desire war. We have absolutely nothing against the Iranian people, but unfortunately their radical regime has an obsession with destroying our state and ourselves.

We’ll prevail. It will be terrible for us, but more terrible for our enemies. Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel was not reconstituted after thousands of years to be lost after only 70.

There are flags everywhere, hanging from windowsills, on cars, on both of the antennas on our roof. Our bank is giving out free flags, made in Israel by handicapped people.

Happy Independence Day!

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From Ian:

The Miracle at 70
Seventy years ago, on the 14th of May, David Ben-Gurion and his Zionist compatriots were poised to declare the first Jewish commonwealth in almost two millennia. Israel’s founders, however, were delayed, bogged down in a matter of textual minutiae. Rabbi Yehuda Leib Maimon, rabbinic representative of the Religious Zionist movement, proclaimed himself unwilling to sign any Declaration of Independence that made no reference to the God of Israel. Aharon Zisling, the secular head of the socialist party Mapam, asserted that he could not affirm the existence of a God in Whom he did not believe. The British were departing, the Arab armies were descending, and the Jews were debating whether God existed.

It was Ben-Gurion himself who proposed a compromise: Israel’s Declaration of Independence would conclude by asserting that each signer placed his trust in the “Rock of Israel,” the Tzur Yisrael, a phrase from the Jewish liturgy inspired by the biblical reference to God as tzuri ve-go’ali, my Rock and my Redeemer.

By referring to the “Rock of Israel,” but refraining from any explicit mention of divine redemption, Israel’s declaration was one that both devout and atheistic Zionists could affirm. For believers in the Bible, the phrase could refer to the divine defender of the Jewish people; for the secular socialist signers of the document, the words could instead make reference to the flint-like resolution of the Israeli army. The compromise was accepted, and the modern Jewish state was born by eliding the issue of the existence of God.

For myself, a religious Zionist and American-history aficionado, the story is doubly painful. Thomas Jefferson, the deistic drafter of the Declaration in Philadelphia, produced a first version without any reference to the divine designs of history. The continental Congress, however, representing an America obsessed with the Bible, edited the dramatic closing of the original draft so that it made clear that the revolution was being launched with “a firm reliance on divine providence.”

John Podhoretz: The Septuagenarian
Israel is the 26th-richest country on Earth, according to the World Bank. Now, Israelis will tell you, not without reason, that the wealth numbers provide an improper view of everyday life in their country. The inequality gap is a Grand Canyon–like chasm there. It’s hard for the young to find good jobs and decent housing, in part because an overly intrusive government sector has made workplace mobility nearly impossible and an overregulated economy makes home construction prohibitively expensive. These difficulties are especially enraging to Israelis because they are self-inflicted wounds that result from what might be called “democratic-socialist entropy.”

But still, Israel is the 26th-richest country on Earth—and the fact that you’ve probably taken this in stride is the reason it’s so extraordinary. Israel’s emergence as a wealthy country is among the countless facts of 2018 that would have seemed unimaginable to the Jews of 1948. Seventy years ago, even poor American Jews like my grandparents would scrape together precious dollars to send to relatives in Palestine, so hardscrabble was their existence. And it remained an economic basket case for decades. In the 1960s, consumer goods of any kind were so scarce in part due to startlingly stupid tariffs imposed by the economically illiterate Labour government that any American traveling there would put out an APB and collect all manner of stuff to bring to family members who were studying in the Holy Land or had made Aliyah. In 1984, while Western nations saw renewed economic growth, Israel had an inflation rate of—get this—450 percent.

The nation broke the back of its inflationary spiral, and then in the early 1990s, something amazing happened: An entirely new economic sector kind of snuck into existence because the hidebound labor apparatchiks in control of communications had no idea what cellular telephony was or what it could do. They were still focused on controlling the landline monopoly called Bezek.

Gil Troy: The Continuing Promise of American Zionism
Sixty-nine years ago, a 28-year-old rabbi published an essay in Commentary entitled “American Zionism at an Impasse: A Movement in Search of a Program.” What, the young Arthur Hertzberg wondered in that October 1949 essay, will American Jews do now, after the great fight to establish Israel had ended so triumphantly a year earlier, in May 1948?
Hertzberg understood how helping the Jews over there in the Middle East had helped Jews over here in North America. After decades of American Jewish ambivalence about Jewish nationalism, the Holocaust had created an instant consensus for a Jewish state. The fight to create that state galvanized the community, rousing it from depression—and shielding it from guilt. By doing the right thing in the late 1940s, American Jews atoned for their failure to save more of their doomed brothers and sisters.

Hertzberg’s fear that Zionism was “a movement in search of a program” in 1949 proved wildly premature, because Israel would continue to call on and depend on the support of American Jews for its survival. The nation’s creation was followed by a host of new problems and opportunities that kept the global Jewish community engaged with Israel and kept alive the American Jewish connection to “peoplehood”—even as many American Jews abandoned religious practice entirely.

In 1959, Hertzberg published a seminal anthology, The Zionist Idea, for the purpose of establishing the movement’s intellectual and ideological roots. At the time, Israel was fragile and the Zionist conversation was robust. Today, Israel is robust and the Zionist conversation has turned fragile. Israel’s 70th anniversary offers an opportunity to reframe the Zionist conversation—asking not what American Jews can do for Israel, but what Zionism can do for American Jews. Hertzberg understood that Zionism wasn’t only about saving Jewish bodies but saving Jewish souls. As the celebrations of Israel’s 70th birthday begin, Zionism’s capacity to save our souls remains vital.

Many American Jews in the 1950s helped their fellow Jews settle in the new land. The fundraising short from 1954, “The Big Moment,” featuring Hollywood stars including Donna Reed and Robert Young, celebrated the secular miracle. “When you support the United Jewish Appeal, you make it possible for the United Israel Appeal to help the people of Israel,” the short told its viewers. They could help “rush completion of new settlements, new housing for the homeless, the irrigation of wasteland acres…. Israel’s people who stand for freedom must not stand alone.”

  • Thursday, April 19, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

A few years ago, there was another "march" on Israel. At the time, legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich wrote a relevant article on the legality of Israel defending itself in such a situation - using a startlingly similar event that happened in the Western Sahara:

In 1975, Spain appeared ready to pull out of much or all of Western Sahara, a large desert region between Mauritania and Morocco. Rabat hoped to annex the mineral-rich territory, but its claims of sovereignty were successively denied by a report of a U.N. fact-finding mission and an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, both of which favored self-determination for the region.

Morocco was not deterred. Right after being rebuffed by those international organs, it mounted the Green March — sending 350,000 unarmed Moroccans on a well-choreographed hike into Western Sahara. Spain was not willing to fight against such numbers, and evacuated the territory. The Moroccan military moved in, and the territory remains under Moroccan control to this day.

The press has taken to calling the Arabs marching across the Israeli frontier “protesters.” In fact, “protests” are contained within a country; the organized crossing of a frontier is an invasion. In 1975, when Western Sahara was the victim, the world community was clear on this point (even though the Moroccans were unarmed.). Other Arab leaders called the Green March “a violation of the sovereignty of” Western Sahara and “an act contrary to international law.” Prominent international scholars described it as an illegal use of force, a “stealing of the Sahara,” in the words of one of the leading international lawyers of the time. The U.N. Security Council passed a measure that “deplored” Morocco’s invasion.

Moreover, despite the nominally civilian character of the marchers, several U.N. General Assembly resolutions recognized that the enterprise constituted a military occupation by Morocco. Observers noted that the march could not have gone off without the permission, and indeed encouragement, of King Hassan of Morocco, and thus he must take responsibility as if he had ordered army units across the border. It was a conquest despite the lack of arms: A large organized mob can be as forceful as an armed military unit. Indeed, as the Spanish capitulation proved, a march could be a more effective tool of conquest than a military strike against Western armies reluctant to fire on civilians.
Also, the Lawfare Blog has an interesting article on Israel's rights under international law to act against Gaza marchers:
 To be clear, the use of indiscriminate fire against civilians, even if they cross a border or sabotage a military installation, is absolutely prohibited. Still, the view that military forces defending the border should remain idle because the risk to lives is not imminent—even after the exhaustion of less-lethal means and amid the destruction of the border fence by a mob—is too strict and narrow an interpretation of international humanitarian law.

The purpose of IHL is to strike a balance between military necessity and humanitarian concerns during an armed conflict. Rules that ignore legitimate military needs are not likely to be sustainable. Moreover, a significant breach of the border fence could be exploited for planting IEDs or for entrance into Israel of terror squads or a violent mob aiming to attack Israeli civilians. Such developments present a grave and concrete danger to life, even if not imminent in nature.

In an extreme scenario, rioting civilians—even unarmed—can be considered as directly participating in hostilities provided that they perform acts of violence which are specifically designed to support their side of the conflict and harm the enemy state. Such acts of violence may include destruction of military equipment or diverting attention of the armed forces to support an attack occurring in another place. In fact, this opinion was expressed in an expert meeting convened by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2012 on the use of force in armed conflict and the interplay between the conduct of hostilities and law enforcement paradigm. (See page 26 of the report.)

Note, however, that this was not the mainstream opinion of the experts present in the meeting. For that reason, as well as for practical and policy considerations, the defending military in extreme situations involving violent civilians should focus its use of force on people who appear to lead and instigate the rioters. Even then, the military should use the minimum amount of force needed to stop the harmful act.
Once again, the media is dropping the ball by not even pretending to look at the rights that Israel has under international law to defend itself. 

(h/t Daled Amos, Irene)

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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