The Israel Brief-16-19 September 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 16 September 2019 – All your pre-election updates! Israel in Dubai? Watergen in Monaco!

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 17 September 2019 – Election Day! Women’s March terrible trio are out! Did IDF stop Bibi going to war?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 18 September 2019 – All your election results….so far!

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 19 September 2019 – Election results update. What does Trump say about Israeli elections? World Muslim League President to visit Auschwitz.

The Arab Voice

Theatrical Conflict between Hezbollah and Israel

 Muhammad Al-Sheikh 

Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, September 7

Lebanon is a small country whose economy depends almost entirely on two factors. The first is tourism, the second is the investment of foreign capital. Unfortunately, Lebanon is suffering from a $90-billion debt squeeze in addition to underdeveloped services in various sectors. The question that must be asked in this context is the following: Is Hizbollah general-secretary Hassan Nasrallah aware of this?

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The Puppeteer Himself A Puppet. Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayeed Hassan Nasrallah who has become the true ruler of Lebanon while taking orders from Tehran is seen here Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV.

When Nasrallah openly threatened Israel with war, was he aware of the implications for the Lebanese economy? Did he consider the implications of turning Lebanon, at the expense of the Lebanese people and their livelihoods, into a protective shield for the Iranian mullahs? In my opinion, Lebanon’s current situation is unprecedented. Never in the course of history has it reached such a level of humiliation in which its citizens and politicians are subjected to the whims and dictates of a foreign power. Nasrallah has become the true ruler of Lebanon, taking orders from Tehran while the rest of Lebanon’s politicians are mere puppets. In any case, the real conflict is not between Lebanon and Israel but between Iran and Israel. Iran has made the wiping of Israel off the map its ultimate goal. Iran now knows that it will not be able to remain besieged forever and that it will be forced to come to the negotiating table with the United States. Thus, what Tehran is doing with the help of Nasrallah is being done in order to improve its negotiating power vis-a-vis the United States, especially if Trump wins a second term in the next US presidential election. In other words, Hizbollah’s decisions are actually made by Qasem Soleimani, not Hassan Nasrallah. It is simply unfathomable that in an effort to improve its ability to negotiate, Iran is sending the entire region into war. If the American plan to tame Iran succeeds, Hezbollah will follow Tehran’s footsteps and become nothing more than a lame duck floating in a pool of bilge water. This will be the ultimate vindication for the people of Lebanon.

Muhammad Al-Sheikh 

 

 

The Fall of the Tehran-Beirut Corridor

Muhammad Qawas

Al-Arab, London, August 30

The glamorous photos coming out of Biarritz, in France, where the G7 nations convened last week, should not deflect our attention from the most interesting thing happening behind the scenes: the language used by the international community in response to the Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. US Vice President Mike Pence reached out to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, expressing his country’s full support for Israel’s right to security. This was also done by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who conveyed a warning message to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri against any Lebanese response to the Israeli action. While the American stance represents an antiquated classical behavior in support of Israel, the silence of the major nations, especially those whose leaders met in France, about the Israeli strikes that spanned from Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea, demonstrates the complete complicity of the international community in Israel’s actions. Under the auspices of the international community, Israel is shaking the strategic corridor that Iran has sought to build in recent years from Tehran to Beirut. The impetus of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to maximize the French efforts led by President Emmanuel Macron to launch a diplomatic backchannel during the G7 meeting is the Israeli message, which was heard loud and clear in Tehran. Any military response against Israel would bring broader and fiercer fire, with the backing of every nation in the world.

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Shaking Things Up. France’s President Emmanuel Macron shakes the hand of US President Donald Trump at the G7 conference in Biarritz, France on August 26, 2019. In the wake of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif surprise attendance – what’s brewing?

In the last few days, Tehran seems to have realized that the key to the survival of its regime is tied to Washington’s position alone, and that the stance of European leaders on the nuclear deal, as well as those of Beijing and Moscow, are nothing but irrelevant promises that hide complete alignment with the US position against Iran. It is clear that Iran is groaning under painful and devastating economic sanctions that it is trying to hide. It also seems to be losing the battle of the Strait of Hormuz. It is clear that the reluctance to resolve the Washington crisis with Tehran allows Israel to buy time and expand its military operations aimed at destroying what Iran has been building for decades. Meanwhile, Trump does not seem to be in a rush. To agree to attend a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, or to postpone it until “the right conditions” are ripe, is a luxury Tehran does not have. Israel’s military campaign may be driven by Israeli national interests, but it also seems to be serving the interests of other international players.

Muhammad Qawas

 

 

Israel After the Election: What Might Change?

09/10/2019

Waheed Abd al-Majid 

Al-Etihad, UAE, September 5

The upcoming Knesset election, which will be held on September 17, raises many questions about Israel’s future, chief among them the likelihood of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu being reelected. It is expected that these elections will be the most complex in the history of Israel after Netanyahu won a plurality of votes with his Likud party in April but failed to form a government. Things will certainly not be easier this time around. This prediction is based on indications that there is little difference in the balance of power from the last campaign…. Opinion polls show that the Zionist right-wing camp, which has been in power for nearly two decades, continues to outperform the liberal camp. Interestingly, one of the most intriguing figures in these elections is Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Although Liberman supported Netanyahu following the latter’s victory in April, the dispute between the two intensified during coalition negotiations, culminating in Liberman’s refusal to join a Netanyahu government.

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Here We Go Again. (left-right): Avigdor Liberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ayelet Shaked, Ayman Odeh and Benny Gantz are all major players in the upcoming Israeli election. (Getty Images/JTA Photo Montage)

This discord has grown even stronger during the new election campaign, which focuses on Liberman’s preference for excluding the two main religious parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas, from the next government – against Netanyahu’s will. If the results of the polls are true, it is not unlikely that there will be a change in the Israeli political map. According to the prevailing trend in polls, it is expected that Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc as a whole will get the same number of seats it won in the April elections (65) or even slightly more. This number is enough to form a government and secure the confidence of the Knesset. But things might change at the last minute. Surveys show that Yisrael Beiteinu will increase its power and could reach nine or 10 seats, most likely at the expense of other right-wing parties. In this case, three possibilities can be envisaged, two of which involve a significant change in the political map. The first is the Likud’s transition to the opposition for the first time since 2001, with the formation of a government through an understanding between the new center-right Blue and White list, Yisrael Beiteinu and other parties. A coalition led by Benny Gantz, the head of Blue and White, could then be opened to rotation with Liberman. The second possibility is the formation of a unity government, which Lieberman has spoken about more than once. The viability of this option is unclear given the difficulty of even imagining the participation of the Zionist left-wing parties. It’s also hard to imagine the Likud joining the coalition if Liberman sticks to his refusal to accept Netanyahu as prime minister. The complexity of the situation leads us to a third possibility that will maintain the current balance of power: Likud leaders turn against Netanyahu and agree with Liberman to name one of them to form the next government. Although Netanyahu is aware of this possibility, a coup against him is not totally unlikely since Likud figureheads are quietly beginning to admit that their party’s role is more important than Netanyahu’s political survival. In any case, Israel appears to be at a pivotal moment that might lead to a major change in its political map and the composition of its next government. As always, the Palestinian people as well as the Arab world will have to deal with whatever happens as observers from the sidelines.

Waheed Abd al-Majid

 

Reframing Our Religious Rhetoric

09/02/2019

Muhammad al-Sheikh 

Al Jazeera, Qatar, August 29

Marxism, one of the strongest doctrines of the European Left, revolved around a deep enmity and hatred of religion as an obstacle to human emancipation. European and non-European leftists often evoked Marx’s famous paraphrased statement, “Religion is the opium of the people.” But more recently, things have almost become the extreme opposite. Leftists have grown to become the biggest supporters of fundamentalist Islamic movements, accusing opponents of hatred of religion or, more specifically, Islamophobia. The alliance between the Islamists and leftists is not limited to Europe but shared by leftists all around the world. They insist that the spread of terrorism is the result of savage capitalism, which led to the disintegration of the great leftist camp (the Soviet Union). What is the secret of this alliance, and what are the motives for this phenomenon? In the beginning, it should be noted that there are two phenomena sweeping the West in the last decade: the phenomenon of Islamophobia and the phenomenon of right-wing extremism.

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Does It Have To Be An Either Or? Grappling with the future.

These phenomena feed each other. Like the leftists, political Islamists were bitter about their ideological defeat and the failure of their political experiments. They sought to compensate for their ideological loss through non-democratic means. We must remember that this utilitarian alliance is a temporary one, which will soon come to an end. It is also true that it is unjust to judge Islam by the standards of a very few extremists. But we must admit that this phenomenon cannot be ignored, especially given the events of September 11 and the spread in global terrorism. The violent events that swept most of the world, carried out by Muslim fundamentalists, shook the minds of people and caused a deep fear of Islam. I am a frequent advocate of religious tolerance and respectful discourse. But I fear that the term “Islamophobia” will be used as an excuse to silence us and prevent us from reforming our religious discourse in a way that makes it more peaceful and welcoming of all peoples. This is what the revolutionary Islamic movements refuse to do, because a non-violent Islam inherently means the elimination of all movements of political Islam. Reforming religious discourse means stripping them of their most important weapons, through which they seek to fulfill the ambitions of their leaders and masters.

Muhammad al-Sheikh

 

Understanding Zionism

By Rolene Marks

Maligned, misunderstood, and derided, provocative, emotive and polarizing. Often condemned, just the mention of the word Zionism is enough to raise the blood pressure of many. This often results in both pro and anti-Israel activists engaging in a battle of words. Frighteningly, this battlefield has expanded way beyond the Social Network to university campuses and other congregating venues where Jews identifying as Zionist are at physical risk.

So, what is Zionism exactly and why is it such a hot-button issue?

Simply put, Zionism is the National Liberation Movement of the Jewish people. It is a guarantee of the rights of the Jewish people to organize themselves politically and assign it a name that hearkens back to ancient roots and love for Zion.

Zion is synonymous with city of God; the place that God loves – Jerusalem. ‘Mount Zion’ – on the southeast side of the Old City – is the high hill on which King David built a citadel. The word Zion occurs over 150 times in the Bible and essentially means “fortification” and has the idea of being “raised” as a “monument”.

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The Written word. The word Zion from which Zionism takes its name appears 150 times in the Bible.

Zion is described both as the City of David and the City of God.

The word Zion is embedded into Jewish religion and culture as it is embedded into the rock and masonry of Israel’s capital – Jerusalem.

Complex Relationships

The great American civil rights leader, Rev Dr Martin Luther King is rumoured to have described Zionism as “nothing more that the yearning of the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland”.

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After thousands of years of being made aware that we are unwelcome in many countries, Jews have returned en masse to our ancient and ancestral homeland.  The word Zion refers to those biblical ties since time immemorial. It is proof that Jews have “indigenous people’s rights to the land” and in case anybody has doubt, there is antiquity being discovered every day that supports this.

Israel’s detractors are quick to point out that Nelson Mandela, the father of democratic South Africa and the icon of the anti-Apartheid struggle’s support of Palestinians. What they neglect to conveniently mention is Madiba’s support for the Jewish people’s right to self-determination – Zionism.

Mandela has been quoted as saying

“As a movement, we recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism just as we recognize the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish nationalism,” he said in 1993. “We insist on the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders, but with equal vigor support the Palestinian right to national self-determination.”

There has been much debate, discussion and social media brouhaha over who is or what defines a Zionist. Zionism is not restricted to Jews, but many Christians, Druze and yes, even Muslims consider themselves Zionists. Supporting Jewish rights to self-determination in no way makes one anti-Palestinian. Sadly, so much misunderstanding about what constitutes Zionism has resulted in alienating people who have an emotional attachment to Israel.  Too many would prefer that Zionism be relegated onto the pile of other unwanted “isms”.

Open-Ended Hatred

Many thought that with the realisation of the modern state of Israel, anti-Semitism would disappear but instead it has reared its head in a new form – anti-Zionism.

The world has emerged a hostile place for Zionists.

Ask the students on campus who are bullied and sometimes physically threatened for their political beliefs. Or the store owners in Europe who find their shops ransacked for carrying Israeli products. Or the travelers turned away from accommodation for being Israeli. The rise of the alt-right in the USA with their Nazi salutes and propensity for spray painting swastikas or the neo Nazis, the UK Labor party with its ongoing accusations of institutionalized antisemitism and BDS supporters in Europe, South America and South Africa has many Jews feeling afraid and isolated.

The argument “I am not an anti-Semite, I just don’t like Zionists” is spurious.

Even the French President, Emmanuel Macron says anti-Zionism is “a new type of antiSemitism.” He told the Israeli Prime Minister when speaking in Paris at an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Vel D’Hiv round-up, in which 13,152 French Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps that France will “not surrender” to anti-Israel rhetoric.

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French President’s Promise to Crack Down on Anti-Semitism Could Threaten Critics of Israel (https://twitter.com/i/status/1098321796737236993)

There are an estimated 50 Muslim countries in the world, and an estimated 30 countries that define themselves as Christian. There is only one Jewish state and yet, so many have an issue with its very existence?

Saying that the Jews have no right to organize themselves politically and call it Zionism is in fact, racism.

Is it politically correct to criticize Israel?

For sure!

Criticising the government and its policies is the national sport of Israel.

Is Israel perfect? No. And it is perfectly okay and healthy to say so. However, saying that Jews have no right to national self-determination or that Israel has no right to exist is racist and anti-Semitic.

I believe part of being a Zionist is being able to criticize and improve. I believe that Zionism means that you want to see an exemplary Israel – a light unto the nations. An Israel that is tolerant and welcoming and grateful for all who support her. This is dignified, this is keeping with the tenets of our founders who envisioned this. There is room in the Zionist tent for everyone – Jew, Christian, Muslim, as well as from left to right across the political spectrum.

These values are enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence:

“The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

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Return To Zion. Returning after nearly 3000 years, Ethiopian Jews aboard an Israeli air force plane flying from Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv in 1991.

I invite anyone who is somewhat skeptical or perhaps undecided about their views on Zionism to ask themselves how different it is to their national aspirations. Perhaps this will lead to a lot more understanding, a lot less maligning and hopefully an end to the rising violence that so many supporters of Israel are currently enduring.

 

 

(*Title picture: courtesy)

Surfs Up

While for this writer, the Israeli coastline may not conjure the majestic swells found off his native South Africa, an increasing sight  in Tel-Aviv’s ever-increasing traffic are surf-boards on the side of a moped as its rider nips through the city traffic to the beach.

By David E. Kaplan

January 2019 kicked off with a swell time off the coast of Netanya in Israel when surfers from 26 countries came to compete in the 2019 Seat Pro Netanya, a QS 3000 event on Kontiki Beach. Following five exciting days of action, Eithan Osborne of California claimed victory in the final bout against Tristan Guilbaud of France.

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Spectacular In The Swell. American surfer Eithan Osborne winning the 2019 SEAT Pro Netanya surfing competition in Israel in January 2019. (Photo by Flash90)

Should he get the call up to the 2020 Olympics, the Californian from Ventura may well be competing for Israel.

Why the switch, Osborne told the Huntington Beach online magazine, Surfline, “Well, the Olympics was one motivation, but I wouldn’t say it was the primary motivation. I have family who live in Israel and being Jewish, I have a special connection. Under the Law of Return, which gives every Jewish person the right to make what we call ‘Aliyah’, I am moving to Israel and becoming a citizen. I am super happy about making that decision. It connects me to my roots and my heritage even more.”

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Coasting Along. One of Tel Aviv’s 13 beaches.

Besides he says “Surfers in Israel are just the same as anywhere. They’re enthusiastic and so stoked on surfing. It’s crazy, and the surf scene is on the rise for sure. They have festivals, movie showings, and bunch of surfs schools.”

So, while the beaches might not have the high waves of South Africa’s famous Cape St. Francis of Jeffries Bay beaches, when the wind is right and the swell up, the allure of the crested curve off Tel Aviv and Herzliya’s beaches invites surfers of all ages. I am one of them.

How did it all begin?

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We Have A Liftoff! A tense moment in the 2019 SEAT Pro Netanya surfing competition, January 18, 2019, where surfers from 26 countries competed. (Photo by Flash90)

What’s Up, Doc?

It all started in 1954 when a young Jewish doctor from California named Dorian Paskowitz, nicknamed ‘Doc’ arrived in Israel bringing with him six balsa-wood longboards, all adorned with the Magen David (Star of David). His mission was to introduce surfing to young Israelis. At Frishman Beach in Tel Aviv, he ran into a local lifeguard, Shamai ‘Topsy’ Kanzapolski, who would eventually establish Israel’s first surf club. “Before bumping into my dad, Doc cruised up and down the coast hoping to find someone who would take responsibility for the project,” Nir Almog, Topsy’s eldest son, told me.

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All In The Family. Shamai ‘Topsy’ Kanzapolski with family on Tel Aviv beach.

“In my dad, he found that person, who, like himself, was passionate about the beach. Abba (dad) was interested at one time in law and even studied it, but for him, the beach and surfing was his life.” It was the same with ‘Doc’, who gave up the practice of medicine to focus on surfing.

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Swell Time. Topsy (right) with Arie a beach lifeguard in the 1960s.

Topsy, who passed away some twenty years ago, passed his passion onto his sons. Nir, who has his own business in Jaffa manufacturing surfboards, continues: “At the time Dorian met my dad, lifeguards only caught waves with the ‘Hasake’ – a flat, wide board that had been designed for close-to-shore fishing by Arabs and later adopted as swift lifesaving equipment for lifeguards. Then Dorian came along with these narrow boards and interest perked. He started giving surfing lessons on his boards and soon the locals who hung out by the lifeguard station started to surf.”

 

Nir, who was a youngster at the time, recalls the waves were different in the early days. “They were high by today’s standards and used to break right on the beach. The reason for this,” explains Nir “was that the beaches were open shores with no piers and the golden sand that came drifting from the Nile helped shape the sea floor. The waves broke in sections, the first being right on the beach, the second some 500m away. To surf in those days, you were considered crazy.”

A Chip off the old board

“My father decided that I, his first born, should learn to surf,” continues Nir, “and so he put me on the board’s nose with him, while the surf was up. He told me to stand up…I did, and that was the moment I caught the bug.”

Wanting to spend most of his time at the beach, the younger Kanzapolski, who would later change his surname to Almog, began to partner Shaul, the lifeguard who worked with his father at the same beach tower. “Shaul emerged as the best surfer at the time and used to take me out to the second break. The huge waves looked so huge, maybe,” concedes Nir, “because I was so tiny. We used to rip the waves all the way to the beach.”

The techniques in vogue on the longboard were “to Hang 5 or Hang 10, depending on whether you had five or ten toes hanging over the front of the board.”

After a few years “the local gang gained experience but no team yet had been established to represent Israel overseas. Excited for the sport to grow, ‘Doc” Paskowitz returned to Israel bringing more boards that were distributed to local surfers.”

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Special Breed. Topsy’s son Ariel (left) with the legendry Dorian ‘Doc’ Paskowitz

Making boards and history

During the 1960s, says Nir, “A giant storm brought terrible flooding and all the surfboards in Dad’s storehouse on Frishman Beach were badly damaged. In trying to fix one, he cut it down to 1.80m and so the first short board in Israel was born. I was the first to use it.”

With the surfing scene throughout the sixties confined to a small devoted group, “It was not until 1970,” says Nir “that we were joined by surfers from all over the country, many of them with colourful surfboards bought overseas.” The surf scene was about to change, and it was not only the arrival of new, innovated boards that upped the pace of popularity of the sport but also the influence of music from such bands as The Beach Boys who brought out albums under titles like ‘Surfin USA’.

Lyrics like:

“Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world

Don’t be afraid to try the greatest sport around…..”

began to resonate with the new generation of Israelis in the seventies. The new era was all too evident when local surfers Eilam Bale and Ofer Zaramaty were the first Israelis mentioned in ‘Surfer Magazine’.

Shaping Up

In the early 70’s, a young IDF paratrooper and officer called Yair, told Topsy that the army was using a plastic foam called polioritan, produced in Haifa, that was like the material used for making surfboards. Topsy contacted the company and ordered the material “and I went into business with my dad manufacturing boards. It was difficult at first with a lot going to waste. Eventually,” says Nir, “we succeeded in shaping designs that looked like surfboards.”

And so, began a small industry of surfboard production. Most of the boards were used for hire and a new generation of surfers entered the local Israeli surfing scene. Topsy ran the small factory at his new storehouse at the Hilton Beach and between renting ‘Hasakes’, he shaped surfboards for the local youngsters.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, Dorian ‘Doc’ Paskowitz, who had brought the first boards to Israel in 1954, was trailblazing the sport in his home country. The Paskowitz Surf Camp, founded in 1972, became a major feature in southern California. One of the most famous names in surfing history, 86-year-old Paskowitz surfed six to eight-foot waves in Waimea Bay, Hawaii – “albeit on my knees because of an injury – virtually until he died five years ago. Most of ‘Docs’ nine children are steeped in Judaism and spent time in Israel, especially Jonathan, David, Joshua and Abraham, who helped form the Israeli Surfing Association.

“David Paskowitz,” says Offer Zaramati “gave us a few valuable tips. Up until then our style was simple – catching the wave in a straight line – from the peak to the shore, like we did with the ‘Hasake’. David taught us some new tricks which today are the basics of every surfer – “off the lip” and “cutback”.

‘Doc’s son Issy went on to become one of the best longboard surfers in the 1980s, winning his first contest in 1983. Today he runs the Paskowitz Surf Camp as well as Surfers Healing, a non-profit camp that teaches autistic children how to surf. “Israel is such a magic place to me,” expressed Issy in a recent interview. “My father took us there many times and I lived there for a year before I married Danielle,” who is the executive administrator of the Surf Camp. “We have many Israeli surfers that visit us here in San Diego,” says Issy, who also plans to conduct surf camps for autistic children in Israel.

Swell Place

Topsy’s younger son, Orian Kancepolsky runs a surfing camp and surfing center at Atarim Square opposite the Tel Aviv marina. Not surprisingly he calls it ‘Topsea’ – a play on words, named after his father ‘Topsy’.

“My father was such an influence on my life. I started surfing the same time I started walking and while it’s always been my sport, today it’s also my business,” he says.

While the Tel Aviv coast boasts several choice spots, Orian says he surfs mainly at Hilton Beach, “Undoubtedly the best surf in Israel, ask any of the pros.”

Why is that?

“Because it has a natural reef. It’s probably the only beach in Israel where the waves break on the reef and not the sand. This creates a wave that’s hollow, allowing the surfer to ride what we call ‘the tube’.”

Are the waves bigger?

“No, the size is average but it’s the quality of the wave. Also, it caters for all types of surfers. It’s a long wave where the center is excellent for the professionals while either ends, because of the jetties, impedes the pace of the wave and so is ideal for beginners.”

A regular at Hilton Beach is former lifesaver Amir, the son of the late legendary Israeli songwriter and singer Arik Einstein. “I grew up in the area and have been surfing here since the age of twelve”.

In his opinion “it’s the finest surfing beach along the entire coastline of Israel.” He offers the same explanation as Orian that “the reef creates the best swell and hence the best rides.”

“Did your father surf?”

Nope, but then I don’t sing and play guitar.”

Same Wave’length In Gaza

“At Basle,” Theodore Herzl wrote in 1897, “I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in 5 years, certainly in 50, everyone will know it.” Well, some 50 years later there would not only be a Jewish state, but young Israelis would start surfing off Tel Aviv beach with the Star of David on Dorian ‘Doc’ Paskowitz’s surfboards. Zionism was quite literally riding the crest of a wave.

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Surfing in Gaza. Palestinian colours adorn this surfboard off the coast of Gaza.

A little over another half century later, Doc would again find the need to bring surfboards to this neck of the coast. Except this time not for Israelis but for Palestinians!

In August 2007, he delivered twelve surfboards to Gaza after watching a television program in the United States which showed Gazans using broken surf boards because they were unable to buy new ones.

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Common Ground On The Water. At the Gaza Surf Club, a group of young Palestinians together with older Israelis are defying stereotypes and finding common ground through surfing. Many of the boards used were originally donated by Israelis who believe that surfing transcends national and religious barriers. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Paskowitz launched the “Surfing for Peace” project together with the “One Voice” organization which aimed to help Israelis and Palestinians promote peace. “Surfers are ambassadors of health and well-being and they are also men of peace,” Paskowitz said.

Palestinian surfer Ahmad Abu Hussaili and others managed to meet Paskowitz, his son David, and other delegation members inside the Erez Crossing terminal building, where they had a chance to thank them for the boards. The Paskowitzes emerged from the meeting at the main civilian crossing point between the two territories bare-chested, after also presenting their T-shirts to the Gazan surfers. One Voice’s Gaza representative, Moffak Alami, said surfing was “a way to build bridges between people who speak the same language.”

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New Wave. Swell off Gaza’s coast augers well for the growth of surfing.

After all, however dire the situation, in the words of The Beach Boys,

“Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world”

 

 

 

*Title picture: Roni Eshel (Courtesy)

The Israel Brief- 09-12 September 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 09 September 2019 – Weekend updates and tension in South. Finance Ministry bails out Foreign Ministry. AntiSemitic attack in Poland. Happy Birthday President Rivlin.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 10 September 2019 – Netanyahu exposes another nuke factory in Iran. Israeli raped in South Africa. Sudan talks Israel and Jews.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 11 September 2019 – Netanyahu’s contraversial announcement. John Bolton fired. Remembering 9/11.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 12 September 2019 – Is Israel spying on Trump? Bibi in Facebook jail? Avera Mengistu’s father meets with Abbas.

South Africa Israel Academic Outreach

The SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship

By Benji Shulman and Terri Levin

South African campuses face an organised campaign of boycotts. It is time to push back by showing the beneficial aspects of education and knowledge sharing between two world-renowned universities. It is about building bridges through engagement and academic collaboration.

Two UCT science students have been offered by the Weizmann Institute of Science, the phenomenal opportunity to attend an invaluable 3-month research scholarship at their esteemed institution in Israel. This once in a lifetime scholarship will enrich the research capacity of the next generation of UCT scientists.

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Enriching Next Generation. University Of Cape Town, South Africa where two students have been offered a 3-month research scholarship at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multi-disciplinary basic research institutions in the natural and exact sciences and over the years, its researchers have been the recipients 6 Nobel Prizes, as well as 3 Turing Awards.

The Weizmann Institute also enjoys an enriching history with South Africa and UCT starting with Israel’s first state President Chaim Weizmann, of whom the Weizmann Institute is named after. Weizmann made an important visit to South Africa in the 1932, where he met with the leadership of the various Jewish communities across the country.

Israel’s finest diplomat, Abba Eban – the esteemed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Ambassador to the UN and Vice President of the UN General Assembly  and who was President of the Weizmann Institute of Science  from 1959 to1966, was born in Cape Town on the 2 February 1915 to Lithuanian parents.

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Creative Campus. Searching for answers on a campus parading exquisite beauty.

More recently and exemplifying an enriching academic nexus between UCT and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Johannesburg born Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz but who obtained his BSc. in Electrical Engineering from UCT, was awarded in 2016 the Israel Prize for ‘Chemistry and Physics’ with Prof. Meir Lahav.  Israel’s most prestigious award was awarded to Prof. Leiserowitz for his work in the field of ‘Crystallization” that tries to answer questions like:

How and why do artery-blocking chunks of cholesterol form?”

What happens at the very first stage of the transition from water to ice?”

What can be done to prevent the formation of gallstones or the crystals in the joints that cause pain in gout?”

Finding solutions to problems is what science is about, and these are the challenges of our universities and future generations of students.

There is much that can be gained by strengthening the academic relationship with South Africa’s premier university UCT and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science which is constantly in the vanguard of scientific breakthroughs that have resulted in a wide range of patented technologies that make the world a better, safer, and healthier place.

More specifically with South Africa that needs to confront the challenges in both water management, entrepreneurship, health and improved methods of agriculture for a large rural population, the Weizmann Institute is well positioned to serve South Africa’s specific needs.

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Confronting The Future. The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world’s top-ranking multi-disciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute’s research efforts include searching for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.

Established in 1934, 14 years before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Weizmann Institute has been in the forefront of research to optimise its land mass, most of which is dry and much of it desert. The role it has played in increasing crop yields with the latest in scientific methods and of contributing to the greening of its desert is exemplary.

South Africa can benefit from its experience and expertise.

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Walk In The Park. Away from the lecture halls and laboratories, the Weizmann Institute’s parkland offers areas to appreciate as well as contemplate the challenges of nature.

Education, dialogue and the strengthening of ties between Israel and South Africa are at the epicentre of the South Africa Friends of Israel (SAFI) mandate, which gels perfectly in facilitating the partnership between these two outstanding universities. A flagship initiative of the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), SAFI engages with other faiths, cultural and ethnic groups in the interests of building a broader grass roots support base for Israel in South Africa.

So important is this initiative being valued that the Weizmann Institute has pledged to match our contribution, if we raise the required amount of funds. So, we are appealing to YOU, for support, which will enable and empower these two deserving students, thereby helping UCT and South Africa in the field of science research.

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Under The Dome. Brilliant sunlight combined with brilliant ideas prevail in this EcoSphere in the Clore Garden of Science at the Weizmann Institute which is designed to raise the ecological consciousness of the public. The dome contains land and water plants, fish and algae and the energy for all the natural processes comes from the sunlight streaming through the panes of the dome.

By pledging R50 or more, you are supporting the SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship. DONATE HERE and you can save Academic Freedom

Please include as a reference: “your name” and “SAVEUCT” 

The SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship is an independent initiative that aims to support academic collaboration in Israel and South Africa. The convening committee has academics from both countries and members of the community. All monies collected are to be spent directly on the beneficiaries.

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Man With A Mission. Visionary Dr. Chaim Weizmann, an organic chemist, founder and president of the Weizmann Institute, later became the first President of the State of Israel.

As Dr. Chaim Weizmann so astutely noted:

Miracles sometimes occur, but one has to work terribly hard for them.”

Let us all work “harder” to bring this exciting collaborative project to fruition for Israel and South Africa.

 

 

 

 

headshot1 (1).jpgBenji Shulman, Executive Director  South Africa Israel Forum, is from Johannesburg, South Africa. He has a master’s degree in Geography and has worked in a range of fields in the Jewish community including education, advocacy, environment and outreach. He loves radio and has a hosted numerous shows on 101.9 ChaiFm in the last decade.

 

Terri Levin

Terri Levin, Media Liaison Officer of the South African Zionist Federation

 

 

Double Outrage

Defying logic, Palestinian woman murdered by her family in “Honour Killing” and US Congresswoman Tlaib blames Israel

By David E. Kaplan

If the tried and tested explanation for global calamities was to blame the Jews than today it is to blame Israel.

Where once Jews were blamed for the plague that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages – the Black Death – now this week, the ‘disease’ of “Honour Killings” prevalent in Palestinian society is blamed on Israel by none other than Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

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Tweeting Tlaib. US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib falsely accuses Israel in antisemitic tweets. (Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

Yes, there is outrage!

There was anger on the Arab street  as well as on social media, as reported in Egyptian Streets of “massive outrage among activists and social media users across the Middle East and North Africa.”

There should also be OUTRAGE as why Congresswoman Tlaib should blame the Jewish state for a malady prevalent in some regions of the Muslim world.

The accusation against Jews for the Black Plague resulted in persecution and massacres; words have consequences, so where will Rashida Tlaib’s false accusations lead?

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‘Cry Freedom’ From Men. Palestinian ‘honour killing’ sparks outrage, calling for women’s protection.

What are the facts?

Twenty-one-year-old, Israa Ghrayeb, “a makeup artist from Bethlehem,” reported the Egyptian Streets website, “died in a coma due to head trauma, in what activists and sources close to the victim are saying was a brutal honour killing. The culprits are believed to be her father and brothers.”

It all began when Ghrayeb went to meet a potential suitor in a public place and posted a video of the outing on her Instagram page.

She was in love and  was happy to show the world.

Her family did not share her happiness.

According to a friend of the victim’s, Ghrayeb’s mother was fully aware of the meeting and the suitor’s sister was also in attendance. The report added that Ghrayeb’s cousin then showed the video to the victim’s father and brothers, who allegedly urged them “to act to prevent scandal and accusing Israa of dishonouring herself and bringing shame to the family by being seen in the company of a man outside the bonds of marriage.”

Attempting to escape the violence from her family, Israa apparently fell from the second-floor balcony of her parents’ home and  according to media reports, broke her spine. The family says she jumped after being “possessed by demons.”

In the hospital, Israa posted on social media a photograph of herself showing her injuries and bravely writing:

 “I’m strong, and I have the will to live — if I didn’t have this willpower, I would have died yesterday. Don’t send me messages telling me to be strong, I am strong. May God be the judge of those who oppressed me and hurt me.”

Those ‘oppressing” and “hurting” her were her family, not Israelis, Congresswoman Tlaib!

Sadly, those were the last brave words to the outside world  of a young woman, whose family had murder on its mind!

Incensed by this latest posting from the hospital, Israa’s brother, along with other male relatives, entered her ward and brutally beat to death.

According to reports, Ghrayeb’s family claimed that they are not responsible for her death, and that their daughter “died of a heart attack.”

The only thing accurate in this statement was that she did die of an “attack” but not of the heart but the male hands of her family.

Message On Instagram

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Nawal Al Ramahi@nawal_ramahi – Indeed, it is a tragedy! Israa experienced the most heinous forms of abuse. Honour killing will never be justifiable. May she Rest In Peace and justice be served. #WeAreIsraa

Enter The Dragon

Then comes along Congresswoman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) who has called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel and expressed support for BDS – the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel  by  first delegitimizing and dehumanizing the Jewish state.

One of two Muslim women to be elected to Congress,  Tlaib released a statement that while decrying the phenomenon of “honour” killings, she attached a link to her tweet for an article that blames “Israeli occupation” for such killings.

The article was posted on a Palestinian site called BabyFist designed to start a conversation about gender oppression.

Yet again, the contriving congresswoman found a reason to condemn Israel; this time linking the Jewish state to a serious problem within Palestinian society that has nothing to do with Israel.

Before tweeting her false accusations, the Congresswoman could have engaged with  Palestinian documentary filmmaker, Imtiaz al-Maghrabi, who told Germany’s public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle that “Any Palestinian woman could be a victim of such a crime.”

In March, Al-Maghrabi – who is currently making a film about honour killings – was recognized for her work by the Arab Women’s Media Center in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

While the Palestinian territories have modernised laws dealing with honour killings, al-Maghrabi says that, in reality, the effect of these laws is limited:

Palestinian society is influenced by custom, tradition, and religion. These all bear more weight than the law, and crimes relating to a violation of honour are often only lightly punished.”

Sociologist Iyad Barghouthi from the Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies also expressed to  Deutsche Welle  that the practice of honour killings is so imbedded in tradition that it is likely to continue. He believes that’s because “from a male perspective — the concept of honour has no relation to values such as morality, integrity or success,” it is solely defined “by the reputation of the female family members. A man is willing to take violent action against a woman if she does not meet his expectations.”

According to Palestinian NGO, the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC):

– 23 Palestinian women and girls were killed in 2016

– 28 in 2017

– 23 cases  in 2018

The General Director of WCLAC, Randa Siniora explained the difficulty in categorizing “femicides” or death as gender-based violence, as many of the killings were constantly “under investigation” or were classified as a “suicide”.

“This year there are 18 cases of unknown reasons for death, suicidal cases and femicide, with 14 in the West Bank and eight in Gaza. Six are confirmed femicide in the West Bank, the others are under investigation,” Siniora told Mondoweiss, a news website covering American foreign policy in the Middle East.

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Appeal for Family Protection From The Family. Palestinian women protesting against gender-based violence after the killing of Israa Ghrayeb by her family in Bethlehem. (Photo: Miriam Deprez)

 

Acceptable Murder

Contributing to the problem, several Palestinian laws tend to grant leniency to men convicted of killing female relatives, in what is widely referred to as “honour killings”. Many are inherited Jordanian regulations that pre-date the Six Day War of 1967 when Israel took over the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s.

In the past, perpetrators of “honour killings” received reduced sentences under Article 98 and 99 of the Palestinian Penal code, which “grants judges the ability to dramatically reduce sentences,” if “extenuating circumstances” could be proven.

In 2014, a UN human rights report written by Palestinian judge Ahmad al-Ashqar, revealed that the present “legislation in place, contributes, to a large extent, to building a social awareness that killing under the pretext of honour is acceptable.”

Outrageous

There is a problem when young women like 21-year-old Israa  Ghrayeb are murdered by family members, because they have fallen in love.

That there was OUTRAGE is a good sign.

That a US Congresswoman should blame Israel is a bad sign.

Rashida Tlaib’s conduct on this issue is naked antisemitism.

Where’s the outrage?

 

* Title picture: Future Crushed. Israa Ghrayeb relaxed at a café. (Photo: Twitter)

The Israel Brief- 02-05 September 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 02 September 2019 – Update on Israel’s exchange of fire with Hizbollah. Netanyahu vows to annex Jewish settlements in West Bank. Honduras opens trade office in Jerusalem.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 03 September 2019 – Gantz says referendum before and withdrawal from territory. Was Israa Gharebs death an honour killing? Iran refuses to co-operate with UN inspectors.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 04 September 2019 – IDF reveals Hizbollah factory. Israel dispatched humanitarian aid. Greenblatt asks UN to pressure Hamas on Israeli captives.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 05 September 2019 – Bibi meets BoJo. Israeli diplomats cast their vote. Remembering the Munich massacre. 

The Curious Case of Israel’s Invisible Election

By Gidon Ben-Zvi

With the great election redo of 2019 less than two weeks away, Israelis across the political spectrum are meeting up in living rooms, pubs and coffee shops around the country to discuss the great issues of the day…not.

The political fatigue is palpable right about now: Picture an old basset hound passed out on the front porch, trying to escape the summer heat. Sure, the major media outlets continue to breathlessly report on corruption allegations and the latest attempted mergers and acquisitions of splinter parties, whose potential votes could prove to be the difference between a center-left or right-wing government. But Israelis by and large have tuned out of the incessant focus on labyrinthine negotiations, political jockeying and mudslinging.

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Walk On By. Who’s who at the political zoo.

Their concerns are more immediate. Parents are busy getting their kids back into the school year swing, young men and women are gearing up for their university studies and those who’ve recently returned from vacation are just now trying to figure out how on earth to pay off that 7-day luxury trip to Greece. Israelis, once the most politically engaged citizens of any democracy on the planet, have settled into a low-grade stupor just days before a national election.

What’s this epidemic of ennui all about? Some of it can be traced to that point in Israel’s history when personalities began to trump platforms. Local journalists have only fueled this Gossip Girl approach to covering politics. As a result, there are no great issues, only rumors, allegations, spin and endless innuendo. It’s not surprising that people would rather spend their well-earned Saturday afternoons at the beautiful Beit Yanai Beach not discussing politics with their family and friends.

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Swing Voters. Israeli beaches are expected to be packed this coming election.

The problem is that such apathy is anathema to the long-term wellbeing of any democracy. What truly legitimizes any form of representative government isn’t its regulations, laws, Constitution or Declaration of Independence. These are but procedural mechanisms that will blow away like dust in the wind if people stop cherishing and fighting for the values that undergird free nations everywhere.

Democracies can’t long function on auto pilot. The very legitimacy of a representative government depends on a proactive public holding its leaders’ feet close to the fire. To paraphrase Robert Kennedy, a passionate and engaged citizenry, “…dreams of things that never were, and asks why not.” But detached, disinterested citizens accept the smallness of its countries’ leaders and settle for small victories: holding on to a job, making the monthly rent, getting through an entire summer without a call from the bank.

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Ballot Box To Beach. Having cast their votes, Israelis enjoy themselves at the beach during Israel’s parliamentary election day, in Tel Aviv, Israel April 9, 2019. (REUTERS/Corinna Kern, TEL AVIV)

 

When the national discussion isn’t about Israel’s security, economy or place among the family of nations, playing matkot or backgammon is surely a more productive way to spend one’s time. But viable democracies demand much of their citizens. Escaping these responsibilities will only prolong and deepen Israelis’ crisis of confidence in the country they so love.

 

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image007 (33).jpgGidon Ben-Zvi is an accomplished writer whose  work has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, the Algemeiner, American Thinker, the Jewish Journal, Israel Hayom, and United with Israel. Ben-Zvi blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind (jsmstateofmind.com).

A former Californian, the writer lives with his wife and four children in Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

A Woman’s Right

By Rolene marks

Israa Ghrayeb was 21 years old.  Like most millennials, Israa was social media “obsessed” (to use the vernacular) but little did she know that the platforms so many of us take for granted every day to share the titbits of our lives that are envy inducing to our online communities, would lead to her death.

Israa’s only crime was that she dared meet a young Arab man in a restaurant and document it by sharing it to social media platform, Instagram.  Millions of people do this every day and while this meeting was innocent enough, it inspired the rage of the male members of her family to severely beat her. Israa did not meet a stranger that she did not know, she met the man she was intending to marry.

When the family found out, Ghrayeb’s brother, Ihab, allegedly beat and tortured her in their family home.

Trying to escape the violent blows inflicted on her, Israa then fell from the second-floor balcony of her parents’ home and was reported to have broken her spine.

Her brother, who is a Canadian resident, was apparently incensed by the video – saying it “dishonoured” the family by presenting herself with her husband-to-be ahead of the actual wedding, according to local media.  Her father had allegedly ordered her brother to beat her after family members witnessed the footage online.

After being admitted to hospital following the initial attack, Ghrayeb said she would not be able to work for the next two months as she waited for a spinal cord operation in a post on her Instagram account.

“I’m strong and I have the will to live – if I didn’t have this willpower, I would have died yesterday,” she said. “Don’t send me messages telling me to be strong, I am strong. May God be the judge of those who oppressed me and hurt me.”

After posting this message, her brother, along with other male relatives, reportedly brutally beat her in the hospital. Footage surfaced on social media of her screaming and begging for her life during the attack.

Israa succumbed to her wounds and passed away. Israa Ghrayeb became the latest horrific statistic in an “honour killing”.

Palestinians took to the street to protest Israa’s death and an end to honour killings.

Israa’s death is not isolated.

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#WeAreIsraa. Outrage follows 21-year-old Palestinian woman Israa Ghrayeb murdered by family members in suspected ‘Honour Killing’.

Honour killings are not a new phenomenon.  In fact, this heinous occurrence has been practiced from as early as Roman times and is prevalent today in North Africa and the Middle East but don’t think that western countries are exempt – incidents of honour killings have been reported in the UK, USA, Canada and others.

The term “honour killing” sounds like a really ridiculous paradox, after all there is absolutely no honour in killing anyone – how could there be? But the issue here isn’t really about honour but more about control over reproductive power. This being said it is not always sexual in nature or about controlling sexual behaviour but rather about fertility.

Say what?

Now I am scratching my head in confusion as much as you are but these horrendous events occur because in some communities that are patrilineal in nature, a woman’s right to govern her own reproductive freedom. In these societies, women are seen as reproductive factories not seductive sirens.

This makes this barbaric act a lot more complex than originally thought, but in most cases, honour killings occur because women in communities that adhere to strict religious doctrine are expected to toe the line and behave in accordance. In Pakistan for example, women’s right to life are conditional on their “obeying certain norms and traditions.”

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No More Violence. More women in Pakistan are demanding an end to gender-related violence.

Nighat Taufeeq of the Women’s Resource Center Shirkatgah in Lahore, Pakistan says: “It is an unholy alliance that works against women: the killers take pride in what they have done, the tribal leaders condone the act and protect the killers and the police connive the cover-up.”

Honour killings are seen as less serious than murder. Sounds like a contradiction but women are being killed for “infractions” ranging from dressing more western to adulterous affairs. This is becoming more and more common, especially in societies that adopt Islamic sharia law even though in centuries past, they have occurred in ancient Rome or medieval times. In some communities, where women are gaining economic power and adopting more customs, there are men that feel that they have to act out in some way, usually violent, to regain some control.

Women who have been raped are also seen as bringing “disgrace” to their families and it is shattering that they become victimized twice over. Should pregnancy result from this, the consequences are catastrophic.

Homosexuality is also seen as legitimate grounds for killing. The United Nations and other NGO’s are alarmed by this phenomenon and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees state that “claims made by LGBT persons often reveal exposure to physical and sexual violence, extended periods of detention, medical abuse, threat of execution and honour killing.”

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Horror Not Honour. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that perhaps as many as 5,000 women and girls a year are killed by members of their own families. Many women’s groups in the Middle East and Southwest Asia suspect the victims are at least four times more.

So surely divorce or a court injunction against possible perpetrators would be the solution?

Sadly, this is usually a trigger for violence against women and for many; the feeling is that hope is lost.

What can be done, if anything, to stop honour killings or as they are called in some countries “crime of passion”?

The first step would be to be to really understand the “honour code” and learn from the lessons in history. For some cultures this practice is repugnant but in others it is acceptable “code”. One solution that has been discussed is “naming and shaming”. Another possibility is in communities where honour killings are seen as part of religious doctrine, to prove that this is not the correct interpretation of the Quran.

The battle to end honour killings is a long and arduous one but necessary. Perhaps the starting point is learning to respect life – not end it. That is the true shame and dishonor. The right to live in dignity and safety is a woman’s right.