The Arab Voice

A selection of opinions and analysis from the Arab media

This week, Lay Of The Land notes how Arab journalists are increasingly  revealing that Iran appears to be imploding from within and is on a direct trajectory to becoming “a failed state”. Whether the mullahs see the writing on the wall or not – Iran’s collapse – perceived by Arab writers in the region –  is not a question of “if” but “when”.

 

Four Decades of Iranian Terrorism

05/21/2019

By Mohammed al-Baladi 

Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia, May 18

Four decades have passed since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Forty years in which many waters passed under the bridge of the Arab Gulf, leading to widespread changes in our region. Despite these changes, however, one thing has remained unchanged: the expansionist ideology of the Iranian regime.

Since February 1, 1979, the people of Iran have been robbed of their freedom. Their money has been nationalized and appropriated for wasteful propaganda campaigns, under the Wilayat al-Faqih, throughout the entire world. Thankfully, this indoctrination campaign, despite all the resources being poured into it, will not succeed because it contradicts the most basic principles of Islam: peace and good brotherhood. A long-term strategic goal of the Iranian regime is to become the dominant force and the most influential country in the Middle East, from Iraq to Morocco. The mullahs have not relinquished this aspiration. Despite being boycotted by nearly every country in the world, the belligerent Iranian regime is still promoting itself as the official guardian of Shi’ism. It states that it is the ultimate protector of the interests of the most vulnerable Shi’ites around the world. To play this card effectively, the mullahs frequently use terms and slogans of emotional resonance, such as “Islamic unity” and “Islamic solidarity.” Worst of all, the Iranian regime tries to deceive Arab Shi’ites by portraying the supreme leader as their ultimate religious leader, who must be followed and obeyed even at the expense of betraying one’s own country. This is the most effective means by which the Iranian regime has succeeded in sparking sectarian strife between different groups in the same country. This creates a state of fear and confusion that helps give rise to extremist ideology. This is the strategy on which the Iranian philosophy is based. Iran supports, without limits, well-known terrorist groups such as Hizbullah, the Quds Force, the Houthi militias and Al-Qaida, all of which fuel conflict and spew hatred in countries like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan, Somalia, Eritrea and Nigeria. In all of these places, Iran’s influence is a source of concern and tension for the government and a major impediment to development. In the four decades that have passed since the rise of the mullah regime, and despite facing harsh sanctions, Iran has continuously harmed its neighbors. In doing so, the regime has proved that terrorism and aggression are an integral part of its ideology. To defeat this ideology, we therefore have to fight the Iranian regime.

– Mohammed al-Baladi (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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Brave protesters overcoming fears and standing up to regime’s security forces.

HE MULLAHS’ REGIME IS BOUND TO FALL

By Muhammad al-Sheikh

Al-Jazeera, Saudi Arabia , May 17, 2019

The survival of the mullah regime in Tehran will be impossible in the long run, so long as its formal objective remains to use all of its resources to fulfill the will of its founder, Khomeini, and reinstate the ancient Persian Empire.

I am not trying to suggest that the era of empires is completely over. This is a reality that one can hardly argue with, especially given the rise of the caliphate established by Islamic State.

I do, however, believe that [former] US president Barack Obama, for a mysterious reason that goes beyond me, saved the mullah regime from total collapse when he signed the catastrophic nuclear deal with Tehran. In doing so, Obama lifted the siege on Iran and provided its regime, which was very close to falling, with a $100 billion lifeline.

Whatever ideology is guiding the mullahs, their regime simply cannot keep up with the contemporary world. It stands against everything humanity stands up for today.

Even domestically, the people of Iran have realized that they have been led astray by their leaders for several decades. Internal grudges and anger are growing with each passing day.

This enormous Iranian public will eventually reach a boiling point that the regime will be unable to control. No matter how oppressive, cruel or coercive the mullah regime will be, it will eventually be forced to capitulate and collapse.

Needless to say, modern countries derive their political and military power from their economic power. The stronger their economies are, the more they can grow and develop, the more legitimate they are on the international stage, and the more they can withstand crises.

A look at the Soviet Union, which neglected its economic might and relied on socialism for its survival, will suffice to understand how failed economies can lead to political disintegration and collapse.

This is certainly the case in Iran as well. The mullahs can spend money spreading their ideology, ignore economic growth and impose their doctrine on others, without any hesitation to crush dissidents. Ultimately, however, their regime will be a failure.

Therefore, whether the mullahs admit this or not, Iran is on a direct trajectory to becoming a failed state. This tendency will only increase with time. Then, as many experiments in history have already taught us, the mullahs’ regime will collapse. It is simply a matter of time.

– Muhammad al-Sheikh

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Iran protests broaden as U.S. sanctions takes toll on the economy. The unrest signaled widespread unease after the U.S. decision to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal and restore sanctions on the country.

The Inevitability of a Clash with Iran

By Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, May 18

All possibilities with Tehran are currently on the table. It is possible that we will witness a massive military campaign against Iran, a limited and targeted attack, or no strike whatsoever. However, regardless of how the current stand-off between Washington and Tehran devolves, there is no doubt that the mullah regime will eventually fall. Just like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi disappeared from the world arena, the Iranian leadership, consisting of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, will eventually be crushed. There is no way to circumvent this reality. Every extremist regime we’ve witnessed in history ended up collapsing after it exercised enormous aggression. The ability of such regimes to survive and maintain their stability rests on their willingness to deploy force and violence on others. Once they engage in this kind of behavior, it only gets worse. Rarely, if ever, can the wheel be turned backwards. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that the mullah regime in Tehran will act any differently. Just like the Hitler regime fought until its bitter end of self-destruction, so, too, the Iranian regime will fight to its death. For too many years, the countries of the Middle East have swallowed the bitter Iranian pill for fear of facing war with Tehran. But now this scenario seems inevitable. If we look at the mullahs’ previous modus operandi, we can see that whenever they faced external pressure, they only toughened their positions. Some have suggested that this is due to the ill-advised American policy devised by President Donald Trump or National Security Adviser John Bolton. Others point fingers at Israel as the culprit. But the reality is very different: The Iranian regime, ever since the days of former US president Jimmy Carter, has sought to deploy violence in order to promote its political goals. This has been the case regardless of which president was sitting in the Oval Office. Instead of inventing conspiracy theories, we would be better off looking reality in the eye and understanding that the Iranian threat against stability in the Middle East is likely the most serious threat to our region today. The mullah regime in Iran has proven its evilness time and again. Its actions in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen are a clear case in point. Those who defend Iran live in deep denial. It’s time to muster the courage and stand up to the regime in Tehran. Otherwise, we will pay a heavy price for our complacency down the road.

Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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Massive protests in January 2019 across Iran with significant participation of women.

The Israel Brief- 20-22 May 2019

* Watch this weeks’ special addition of two interviews with our co-founder Rolene Marks on “The Shtick” TV/Melbourne (see below).

 

The Israel Brief – 20 May 2019 – Eurovision controversy. Anti-Semitism in politics in Poland and Trump peace plan.

 

 

The Israel Brief – 21 May 2019 – Ceasefire? Palestinians to boycott Bahrain conference. Knesset to award equal status on benefits to same sex partners.

 

 

The Israel Brief – 22 May 2019 – Palestinians accuse Israel of blackmail of Germany. UAE and Saudi to attend Bahrain economic summit. US accuse Syria of chemical gas attack.

 

THE SHTICK TV

The only Jewish Television from Australia, featuring community events, information and entertainment for the Jewish and broader communities.

 

Rolene Marks’ Israel Advocacy on The SHTICK S57-05 Seg.1

Rolene Marks works for WIZO International’s Israel Advocacy Media Team.

 

 

Rolene Marks’ WIZO Impact on The SHTICK S57-05 Seg.2

Rolene Marks focuses on Projects and Programs such as “Lay of the Land” (LotL) and others, in Israel, where she now lives, after originating from South Africa.

 

 

Out Of This World

The week that was Eurovision in Israel

By David E. Kaplan

Shifting from the salon sofa and watching the buildup to the 2019 Eurovision Song Competition on TV to actually immersing oneself in the swelling  crowds at the Eurovillage in  Tel Aviv’s beach front was an eye-popping opener or as one says in Hebrew:

Ein milim” – “no words”.

For a press that usually obsesses with covering Israel in a negative light, what a refreshing change:

Britain’s The Independent ran with a headline reading:

This year’s Eurovision was one of the best in recent memory,” praising the broadcasts “general splendor” and calling it “an incredible show.”

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Stunning & Spectacular. An extravaganza of sound, sights and light at the Eurovision final in Tel Aviv.

CNN called the grand final “a showpiece that would have disappointed few Eurovision fans.

The New York Times, which only recently published a vile antisemitic cartoon anchored on Israeli politics, said the show had “enough glitz, plumes of fire and special effects to invigorate even the blandest Europop.”

Even the BBC was captivated by the special atmosphere. Its newsreader Graham Norton during his live commentary  said of the 2019 rendition of Israel’s 40th anniversary of “Hallelujah”  by Gali Atari accompanied by previous top Eurovision contestants – Conchita Wurst, Måns Zelmerlöw, Eleni Foureira and Verka Serduchka:

What a real treat for Eurovision fans… a really special moment. A gorgeous moment.”

The BBC was spot on – it was a “gorgeous moment”. However, the entire week was a compilation of “gorgeous moments.”

Off course, there were still those who could not resist ‘aiming’ their pens in describing Eurovision in Israel as  “Tel Aviv caught between partying and politics” but so be it:

The event lived up to its expectations; the theme of Israel’s Eurovision was “Dare To Dream”,  a theme espoused by Israel’s founding father Theodore Hertzel, who defied the naysayers over 120 years earlier with “If you will it, it is no dream.”

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Alive & Electrifying. The writer was amongst the 100,000 plus in this aerial view of the Eurovision Village in Tel Aviv during the second semifinals of the Eurovision song contest on May 16, 2019 with Jaffa in the background. (Courtesy Tel Aviv Municipality)

The results were there for all to celebrate as the eyes of the world – some 200 million viewers – were on Israel and seeing:

How you can build a country in 71 years and that despite the immense challenges, despite being surrounded by enemies desiring our extinction, despite a biased  global media in perpetual assault mode against the Jewish state, saw the curtain rise on a modern, fun-loving, exciting, enterprising, entrepreneurial and hi-tech behemoth that can also show the world:

How to party

And party Israel did.

Tel Aviv lived up to its reputation of the “City That never Sleeps” or as I like to describe it, “as the city that wakes up every morning  and decides what’s its going to be”.

Yes, the people of the “Start-Up Nation” know how to “work hard” but they also know how to “play hard” and  the multitude of visitors from abroad were swept away by the euphoric atmosphere.

Three Swiss visitors I spoke to, agreed, “The atmosphere here is special; you will never see anything like this in SwitzerlandEurovision or no Eurovision

A twentysomething from Germany remarked, “It’s funny; I’ve been here a week and even with the time change, Europe is fast asleep when you guys are still partying.”

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Sea’ing Is Believing. Adjacent to the sea, ecstatic fans in the fans zone by the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 18, 2019.REUTERS/ Corinna Kern

Euphoria in Eurovillage

The lingua franca of the people standing around me  near the main stage at the Eurovillage was a cross of European languages and many of them were holding aloft their country’s flags.  Facing me were the flags of Romania, Italy, Sweden and Denmark. Looking back, all I could see was a sea of people, gyrating to the music of an Abba Revival band from Sweden. The four singers down to their dress looked like Abba and if you closed your eyes, you could be back in the seventies – they sounded exactly like Abba.

Most the people around me were probably not even born when Abba won with Waterloo in 1974, but tonight was Tel Aviv’s “Waterloo” as it won in victoriously emblazoning to the world, if you want to know us, come and see Israel for yourself.

Clearly, the thousands of overseas visitors were happy they did.

Party Poopers

BDS failed abysmally in sabotaging the event. Despite their appeals for countries to boycott – notably by their flagbearer, Roger Waters – not one European country pulled out. Noted for flying a balloon of a giant pig with a Star of David at his concerts and then denying “I’m NOT an anti-Semite”, Ranting Roger made a last ditch-11th hour incoherent rant on social media following an appeal “from my friend Omar Barghouti”  for contestants to boycott Tel Aviv. A co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, Barghouti does not believe in a two-state solution as he believes that the “creation of a Jewish state was a crime” and calls to restore the name of “Palestine” for the entire area from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

Waters’ appeal met on deaf ears.

Where once people listed to his music, today, few were interested in hearing what he had to say.

Even the pro-Palestinian Icelandic ‘Hatari’ participated albeit displaying Palestinian flags. They received no thanks for doing so!

The Iceland band’s gesture cut no ice with BDS who wrote on its Twitter account:

Palestinian civil society overwhelmingly rejects fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists crossing our peaceful picket line.”

At a press conference, Hatari offered a purely positive message saying, “We need to unite and remember to love – hate  on the rise in Europe.”

Yes, that hate is manifesting itself in the worst outbreak of antisemitism in Europe since WWII.

And happy to join that hate fest  are Fatah and the  Palestinian Authority (PA).

During the week leading up to the final of the Eurovision, Fatah and the PA campaigned vigorously and visually for countries to boycott  Tel Aviv as reflected in its cartoons published daily linking Israeli music to violence – including the visual depiction of the common PA libel that “Israel intentionally kills civilians”.

Fatah posted the cartoon below on Facebook, showing an Israeli soldier shooting at Palestinians in Gaza. Musical notes are flowing from the “Eurovision” but turn into an ammunition belt for the soldier’s machine gun.

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In a second cartoon posted by Fatah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dressed up as Israeli singer Netta Barzilai who won last year’s Eurovision and brought the competition to Israel. Netanyahu is holding a missile in each hand:

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Missiles? What the PA and Fatah neglects to advise its gullible readership is that it was the Palestinians in Gaza that only two weeks earlier had launched nearly 700 missiles at southern Israel, killing four  Israeli civilians, injuring many and causing severe structural damage to property, including moving motor vehicles.

Never Stop Dreaming

Israel’s message to the world was so poignantly encapsulated by the Shalva Band. Shalva (The Israel Association for Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities) is a registered non-profit organization that supports and empowers individuals with disabilities and their families in Israel. The eight-piece band, which includes Israelis with blindness, Down syndrome and other physical and developmental disabilities, called on spectators “to never stop dreaming.” The band performed a rendition of A Million Dreams from the film The Greatest Showman.

The band made it to the finals  of The Rising Star, the local Israeli contest that determines who represents the country at the Eurovision. Predicted to win by judges and audience members, they dropped out because performing at Eurovision would have necessitated violating the Sabbath in order to participate in the Saturday night final broadcast.

At a press conference they revealed that they were living out their dream.

“When we first started playing together people wouldn’t listen to us, they would just leave the room,” said Band director Shai Ben-Shushan. “We worked hard, and we became better and better, and we believed in ourselves. After a lot of hard work, we got to Hakochav Haba (The Rising Star) – and in the beginning we didn’t believe that we were good enough to make it to the end.”

The Israeli public thought they did.

“We’ve made a huge change in Israeli society,” he said. “Today, when we walk in the street, the Israeli people want to embrace us – not because we’re a gimmick, but because we’re good at what we do.”

If only the PAHamas and BDS  would understand this message

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“I’m Not Your Toy”. Championing diversity, Eurovision 2018 winner Netta Barzilai performs at the Eurovision semifinal in Tel Aviv.

Wonder Woman On Wonder City

A quick lesson in “three minutes” about life in Tel Aviv was revealed in the back of a taxi by Gal Gadot, Israel’s famed star from Wonder Woman with taxi driver, famed Israeli comedian Yuval Semo.

“Three minutes,” says the Hollywood superstar it took for  Netta Barzilai in 2018 to bring the Eurovision to Israel with her winning entry “Toy”; “three minutes,’ she joked, “is the average an Israeli waits before getting personal – a little too personal,” and “Three minutes to understand the essence of Tel Aviv – Inspiration, innovation, big ideas and open arms. Come as you are, bring who you like, love what you do, day or night, daring and caring, outgoing and including everyone under one hot sun.”

At the end of the week – All Said And Sung – the real winner of Eurovision 2019 was – ISRAEL!

As Israel’s message in its 1979 Eurovision win: “Hallelujah

 

Corbyn’s Anti-Israel Obsession In Numbers

*This article currently appears in Jewish News/Britain

With the Human Rights Commission set to launch a probe into Labour antisemitism, we take a forensic look at the party leader’s relentless 30-year animosity towards Israel

By JODIE COHEN

On the UK Parliament website users can look up every Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled by MPs since the 1989/90 Parliament.

EDMs are motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons for which no day has been fixed. They are often used to put on record the views of individual MPs and can attract a great deal of public interest and media coverage.

Jodie Cohen3
courtesy Jewish News

MPs can sponsor their own EDM or sign other people’s. This investigation looks only at the EDMs Jeremy Corbyn has sponsored, as they are a clearer indication of his most strongly held views.

Since Parliament.uk’s records began, Corbyn has sponsored 834 EDMs covering 200 subjects, including 67 countries.

Yet one subject and one country stands out…

Israel, Israel, Israel…

Of the 834 EDMs sponsored by Jeremy Corbyn, 64 motions are critical of Israel or demonstrate one-sided support for the Palestinians.

He appears to have sponsored such an EDM virtually every year over a 22-year period, no matter what party leads the Israeli government.

The Labour leader’s EDMs on Israel appear to have started in 1993 – the year Israel signed the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. They continued until he became Leader  of  the Opposition in September 2015. His record shows he has been more critical of Israel than any other country or single issue.

Corbyn’s Overall EDMs

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True Colours. Three major Jewish newspapers The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and the Jewish Telegraph say Corbyn government would pose an ‘existential threat to Jewish life’

To put the 64 EDMs on Israel and the Palestinians into perspective, Corbyn has tabled 55 EDMs calling for nuclear non-proliferation, one of the subjects for which he is best known. Some 18 of these specifically refer to Trident, Britain’s nuclear programme.

He has referenced his constituency of Islington 43 times during the same period – that’s almost 49% more EDMs on Israel than on his own constituency.  He is more interested in criticising the Middle East’s only democracy than representing the people he was elected to speak for.

The Labour leader has tabled 23 EDMs related to trade unions, labour relations and workers’ rights. He sponsored 18 regarding the transport sector and workers within that sector.  He proposed a further 17 on education, covering teachers’ pay, education funding and schools and colleges in his constituency. Corbyn’s EDMs on Israel are more than his EDMs on these three subjects – all of which he is passionate about – combined.

Appetite For Foreign Policy

MPs are allowed, of course, to take an interest in non-constituency and non-UK matters, and Jeremy Corbyn is clearly interested in foreign affairs. For example, he has tabled 26 EDMs on Morocco (often citing support for Western Saharan independence).

He has sponsored 25 motions on Chile (criticising Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and supporting human rights and democracy). And he has proposed 23 EDMs related to the troubles in Ireland in the second half of the 20th century.

However, his EDMs on Israel and the Palestinians clearly surpass the number of EDMs he has tabled on Morocco and Chile put together, and are not far behind his EDMs on Morocco, Chile and Ireland combined.

Take a deeper dive…

There have been times when Corbyn is so concerned about a subject that he tables more than one EDM in a row on the same topic. What’s his record? You’ve guessed it…In 2004, he tabled four EDMs consecutively on Israel and the Palestinians.

Some might argue that the other 649 MPs in the House of Commons might be just as concerned about Israel. So, I examined all EDMs on Israel since Parliament.uk’s records began. There are 442 EDMs on Israel in total, including motions that are both positive and negative. The Labour leader has sponsored almost 1/7 of these, only one of which could be deemed to be positive (it praises an Israeli peace coalition ‘Gush Shalom’).

He sponsored only two EDMs referencing Syria, both in 2013. One welcomed the UK ruling out military action, and one called for the Middle East to be a weapons of mass destruction free zone. There have been zero on Yazidi persecution, and zero referring at all to Islamic State by any of its names.

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Face The Facts. Corbyn has answered but people are afraid to accept the truth.

What about the troubles in Venezuela in recent years? He has sponsored no EDMs on the country since 2013, when he offered condolences to its people after the passing of President Hugo Chavez.

And what about those bastions of human rights, Russia and China?  He has sponsored two (on Chechnya) and five (on Taiwan, Tibet and human rights) respectively. On Iran, two EDMs express concern at the prospect of war.

The others either express support for the rights of Iranian workers or for the Kurdish people in Iran. None condemn Iran’s repeated calls to wipe Israel off the map.

Any condemnation of Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah?  NONE.

So, it looks as though Corbyn is more concerned with Israel – which has been seeking peace with the Palestinians for decades – than with questionable regimes and key conflicts, in which well over one million people have perished.

One might assume that the reason Corbyn hasn’t tabled any EDMs on some of the above subjects recently is because he hasn’t tabled any EDMs since becoming leader – as is the custom for ministers upon their appointment.

However, a search of EDMs since September 2015 shows he has sponsored 54 motions during this time.

It’s also interesting to consider why Corbyn hasn’t posted any EDMs on Israel since becoming leader. One could presume it’s because, shortly afterwards, Labour became embroiled in questions over its attitude towards antisemitism and Zionism

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Hardly ‘A Labour Of Love’. Antisemitism on the rise, including Britain’s Labour Party, Jewish community groups and their supporters stage a protest in Parliament Square, London, England on July 19, 2018. ( Getty )

A clasis case was of Jeremy Corbyn claiming “British ‘Zionists’ don’t understand English irony despite having lived in Britain all their lives”.

The remarks were made in 2013, when Corbyn was giving a speech alongside prominent British extremists at a London  conference publicised by Hamas’ military wing.

What Would A Corbyn Premiership Mean For Israel?

Analysing his EDMs provides insights on what we might expect to see with regards to Israel, should Corbyn become prime minister.

In 2002, he was the primary sponsor of an EDM calling to end arms exports to Israel. That became Labour policy at last year’s party conference (remember the sea of Palestinian flags?)

In 2011, his EDM on the status of Jerusalem called on Israel to respect freedom of worship for all faiths in the city, which many would argue shows a lack of understanding of facts on the ground.

Corbyn denies supporting a blanket boycott of Israel, saying he believes in boycotting settlement produce only. However, our investigation has revealed that in 2002, he sponsored an EDM entitled ‘National Petition for Palestine’.

The motion says the British government should call on Israel to withdraw its army from the Occupied Territories, dismantle the settlements there, and accept that the Palestinians have an equal right to Jerusalem, whether it be the capital of their separate state (East Jerusalem) or that of a single democratic secular state.

It states Britain should make a public commitment to supporting UN resolution 194 calling on Israel to “grant the refugees, the Palestinians displaced by them, the right to return to Israel or a right to compensation if they choose not to return”.

Finally, it states that Britain should impose trade sanctions on Israel, including an arms embargo, until the above demands are met. A core demand of today’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is the Palestinian refugees’ ‘right of return’ to Israel. In the words of former US President Barack Obama, this “would extinguish Israel as a Jewish state”.

Corbyn’s supporters take pride in the fact that he is a man of principle. He sticks to his guns and is proud of his unwavering positions on policy. This is part of his appeal. So, it could be argued that his EDM calling for a full boycott of Israel is an indication of the direction a Corbyn-led government would take.

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Faces Of Despair. Revealing in their demeanor, members of the Board of Deputies Jonathan Arkush, Jonathan Goldstein following disappointing meeting with Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Bookies’ Favourite

Recent polls have indicated that a Prime Minister Corbyn is becoming increasingly likely.

Despite the local government elections held last week delivering a rebuke to both the main political parties, a YouGov poll for The Times on 23/24 April suggested a Labour lead over the Conservatives of 3%, with Labour achieving 30% of the vote. In fact, thirteen polls all taken in April 2019 suggest a Labour win at the next General Election.

With Theresa May under fire for her handling of Brexit, European elections will give us the next indication of which way voters are headed.

Whether or not Jeremy Corbyn becomes the next prime minister of the United Kingdom, one thing is clear. Corbyn’s record of sponsoring EDMs over the past two decades and more indicates that for him, as recently suggested by former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, it really is “all about Israel”.

A dictionary definition of ‘obsession’ is ‘an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.’ This analysis suggests that Corbyn is obsessed with Israel on an absolute basis as well as on a comparative basis – comparative over time, with other MPs, and with other issues. It’s a negative obsession, with only one EDM out of 64 highlighting positive dialogue.

 The Key Question: Why?

So, why has the Labour leader been so utterly obsessed with Israel when other arguably far more pressing issues and topics get a free pass? That’s a question only he can answer. Until he does, people will remain deeply troubled about his true motivation.

 

About the writer:

Jodie Cohen4.jpgJodie Cohen is a public affairs consultant who has advised numerous multinational companies, as well as Jewish and Israel related organisations over the past 20 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Feature picture: Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn at a pro-Palestinian rally in London, 2014. | Photo: Palestinian Solidarity Campaign

Anti-Semitism – Why?

When Jews are persecuted the silent majority remain silent

 

By Philip Weyers a great-grandson of Field Marshall Jan Smuts, a twice Prime Minister of South Africa and supporter of the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

The fine article by Peter Bailey in Lay Of The Land recently, “Why is there Anti-Semitism”, and the Yom HaShoah Commemoration yesterday of the six million Jews who were murdered at the hands of the Nazi’s between 1933 and 1945 has again brought to the forefront of my mind the phenomena that confronts me daily in the media and which I find inexplicable and appalling – Anti-Semitism.

I have only ever received kindness from Jewish people; family, friends and strangers, and for my own edification I felt the need to put to paper my thoughts or possible rationales as to why the world is so; why do so many dislike or even hate Jews, people they’ve never met and who have only ever served humanity, based purely on their religious and spiritual beliefs.

My upbringing was Christian, my Mother a devout Presbyterian and my Father a rather less devout Presbyterian, but a practising Christian, nonetheless.

My Mother would often refer to Jews as “God’s chosen people”, and this she said without malice or envy, purely as a matter of fact. Mom had many Jewish friends and she certainly did not differentiate between them and her Christian friends, all were her friends and there was no distinction.

My Father too had many Jewish friends, from his days at the Bar, on the Bench and socially. He, not being as devout a Christian as my Mother, did not refer to them any differently, they were his friends, period.

Ancestrally, my great-grandfather was a prominent South African who was influential in the discussions and drafting of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and fought with vigour to ensure the tenets of the Balfour Declaration were ratified into International Law at the San Remo Conference in 1920. He was also one of the few voices that reminded England that they had obligations to meet when they were doing all they could to prevent Jewish emigration to Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish State. He was a personal friend of Dr Chaim Weitzmann and an avowed Christian Zionist, as am I. His belief was that Palestine, or the Holy Land as he referred to it, was the Biblical home of the Jews and that historical precedent existed justifying his belief. Doubtless, his beliefs and convictions carried down three generations to influence me from a relatively young age.

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Christian Zionists. The writer beside the statue of his great-grandfather, Jan Christiaan Smuts.

Perspective

Persecution of the Jews is not a new development, 3300 years ago, the Jews were enslaved by the Egyptians and were led out of Egypt to the Promised Land – Israel as we know it today, by Moses. This predates the time of Muhammad and establishment of Islam (632CE) by more than 2500 years, so no arguments from the fundamentalists on that point. Since that time, persecution and enslavement or a combination of the two has been a constant throughout the millennia.

The Holocaust carried out between 1933 and 1945 was not the first such systematic action and killing of Jews. In contemporary history, the Holocaust was preceded by the Pogroms carried out in present day Ukraine and Poland, Romania and Iraq from the late 1800’s through to the late 1940’s. Historical estimations dating back to 135 BCE indicate that nearly 3 million Jews were killed for being Jewish in countries as diverse as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden and even England. These Pogrom related 3 million deaths are in addition to the 6 million who died at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust, realising a total of 9 million murdered, astonishing and appalling.

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Plotting To Rid World Of Jews. Adolf Hitler talking with Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini.

 

Why?

Jews are a passive, peaceful people.

Jews have in my experience and in all recorded history been a passive, non-aggressive people in stark contrast to most other of the world’s peoples. In all the records of conflicts, the Jews have never been the aggressors. This holds true today, where Israel is not and never has been the aggressor and has on all occasions only defended itself or its security. It is a tendency of humanity to cast blame and attach liability to parties or peoples who are not able or inclined to defend themselves, easy targets, and so it is with the Jews who have been blamed for every worldly misfortune, often historically due to the preaching of the Clergy and in the present day, due to radical Islamists. The liberal press we have today which has such influence on what is deemed ‘Politically Correct’ and which is so eagerly digested by the world’s misguided liberals has much to answer for. Responsibility for the random massacres that continue to this day is most often to be laid still at the feet of the liberal, bigoted press, devious politicians and the vitriol and actions of fundamentalist Islamic Imams.

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Black Plague, Black Time for Jews. In Europe during the Middle Ages, Christians blamed Jews for the Black Plague resulting in their arrest, confiscation of their property, and being burned at the stake.

When Jews are persecuted the silent majority remain silent and are delict in not voicing any form of defence for the Jews, save for a few lone voices who generally are insufficient in number to have any impact. This situation is exacerbated by politicians and commentators who seek paths of least resistance and the desire for popular acceptance. The need to conform and not be at odds with the majority is a human tendency and sadly this characteristic has resulted in all too many people failing dismally in their human obligations.

Inquisition. Captives to the auto de fe for sentencing. Colored engraving.
Expunging Spain Of Jews. An auto-da-fé in 15th century Spain for condemned heretics, mostly Jews, during the Spanish Inquisition. PSUMPIX / CORBIS / GETTY IMAGES

Political Correctness

The new and to my mind destructive, naive and mindless concept of “Political Correctness” serves also as a reason for what Jews endure daily worldwide. A recent example of this is the massacre of the Muslims in Christchurch which quite rightly drew international condemnation. At much the same time a synagogue killing of Jews was carried out in the USA and over 200 Christians massacred in Nigeria, both events drawing very little from the Press and even less from politicians and the people. Such is “Political Correctness” at its worst; far more palatable and acceptable that Jews and Christians are killed than Muslims.

It is also so that the press report in such a manner as to conform with what is currently acceptable, regardless of whether their articles will stand up to scrutiny, and no one will scrutinise in any event. The current Gaza situation bears this out; when Hamas terrorists launched 450 rockets against Israel, the newspaper headline reads that an IDF attack on Gaza killed a mother and child. The Israeli civilian losses, which there were, are not of sufficient importance to warrant any indignation. It transpired also that the mother and child were killed by Hamas, not the IDF, and not that the press retracted their false accusations.

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Burning Hate. Hamas supporters burn an Israeli flag during a demonstration in Gaza.

 Envy and Jealousy

The emotions of envy and jealousy can be immensely destructive and have resulted in countless negative and damaging consequences, sometimes on a vast scale. It is both a common perception and in my mind a reality that the Jews are a people whose small numbers bely completely their massive contributions to humanity at large. However, far from acknowledging their contributions to humanity, too many in the world react with aggression resulting from what must include malicious jealousy.

The success of Jewish enterprises and corporations across the globe are legendary to those who care to know. The dominant Hollywood movie industry was started and continues to be directed by Jews, the Rothschild family whose name has always been synonymous with success and wealth; Jewish. And the list goes on and on. Doubtless these internationally known corporations and enterprises are the cause of envy and resultant resentment to many.

Medical, science and technological advances made by Jews and Israelis also provide a long list of innovations that benefit mankind. More than one revolutionary cancer treatment is currently undergoing clinical trials. Twelve Israeli’s have won the Nobel Prize in the last 50 years, per capita the most on the planet, During the 20th Century, Jews won 138 or 21% of all Nobel Prizes, quite an accomplishment for a people that accounts for only 0,20% of the world’s population.

Rather than acknowledge these achievements which in most cases are to the benefit of mankind, a substantial proportion of the world’s population respond by being resentful. It should be borne in mind that much of the malice derives from feelings of inferiority which – real or imagined – are enormously powerful motivators and result often in acts of aggression.

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Supporters of Israel. Winston Churchill and Jan Christiaan Smuts in 1942. Before emerging friends and allies, Smuts, as State Attorney during the Anglo Boer War, interrogated Winston Churchill who had been captured. At one of their meetings during World War II, Smuts revealed to Churchill that at first he opposed his release but later reconsidered, but by that time, the prisoner released had himself i.e. escaped!

My perception, borne out by personal experience, is that Jews are also intellectual people, given so often to deep and analytical thinking which would go some way to explaining the success of Jews worldwide and Israelis probably in particular. This trait would explain much, including possibly the Anti-Semitic sentiments so many seem to harbour.

The State of Israel

Israel is the target of so many weapons from those wielded by seemingly most of the world’s media to the extensive arsenals of all of Israel’s neighbours and most in the Middle East region.

I understand and subscribe to the precedent created by Biblical history; that Israel was the home of the Jews thousands of years before Christianity began and longer still before Islam came into being. One of Israel’s names in those historical times was Judea, the connection therefore to me being obvious, even though it would seem to escape completely those today who choose not to acknowledge this.

Israel as we know it had its beginnings with the Zionist movement initiated by Theodore Herzl with the publication of his work “Der Judenstaat” in early 1896. Subsequently and after the death of Herzl, the movement for a home for the Jews was taken up by the brilliant physicist Dr Chaim Weizmann and largely through his efforts the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which was a declaration of intent to provide the Jews with a home, determined after much investigation, deliberation and negotiation to be Palestine.

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Solid Support. Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan in northern Israel is named after the Jan Smuts who was a prominent supporter of Zionism and played a significant role in the wording of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In 1941, Yitzchak Rabin joined the Palmach section of the Haganah during his stay at kibbutz Ramat Yohanan.

With the cessation of WWI hostilities, and by virtue of the Smuts Resolution at the Sen Remo Conference in 1920, Britain was granted a Class A Mandate over Palestine which enabled the settlement of Jews in Israel in accordance with the intent contained in the Balfour Declaration. Due to attempts to appease the surrounding Arabs, Britain tried on many occasions to thwart by any means possible the emigration of Jews to Palestine. Despite this, and showing tremendous fortitude, the emigration continued and on 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel, Eretz Israel.

Immediately following the declaration, the Arab states surrounding Israel on three sides went to war with the sole objective of destroying Israel – the War of Independence. This was followed in 1956 by an Israeli invasion of Sinai to effect the lifting of Egypt’s closure to Israel of the Straits of Tiran, essential to Israel’s oil imports. A lull in hostilities followed despite continuing tensionsת and when Egypt started massing troops along the Israeli border in June 1967, the Six Day War started when Israel undertook pre-emptive air strikes. The Yom Kippur War followed in 1973 when the surrounding Arab neighbours made another attempt to destroy Israel. Many isolated conflicts have followed since. All, without exception, the direct result of neighbouring Arab aggression or to safeguard Israel’s national security. There has never been a conflict due to Israeli territorial ambitions or ideological differences.

Despite Israel having come into being through legitimate internationally validated legal process, the Arab neighbours continue to perpetrate hostile acts against it.

The “Spoils of War” has resulted in territories changing hands for as long as history has been recorded, and were it a principle by which victors gained possession of conquered territory only for the duration of the conflict before returning it, the world would be very different to the one we know. The most obvious reversal would be the return of the United States of America to England which quite obviously is pure folly of thought. Despite the smaller scale, the same principle applies to Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. For Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad to continue to agitate for return of territorial losses in conflicts the victors, Israel, did not initiate, is devoid of any precedent. This does not, however, influence the distorted logic of the terror organisations who continue to do all possible to harm Israel and Israelis. These terror organisations are so blinded by anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish fervour that this is unlikely to change anytime soon, if ever. Anti-Semitism runs rife and at a deeper level here than likely anywhere else on earth, certainly since the end of World War II. The international press and of late misguided liberal U S Democrats have been vocal in their Anti-Semitic condemnation of Israel, even when Israel acts against terror attacks perpetrated against her.

Mahmoud Abbas: "We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem..."
Facing Reality. The PLO charter calls for the destruction of Israel as does Hamas; Nasser of Egypt called for the total annihilation of the Jewish State as did Syria, Iraq, Jordan and other Arab countries. While Israel looks towards peace, the leadership in Hamas as well as in the Palestinian Authority are constantly encouraging and honouring violence against Jews.

Family/Elder and Peer Pressure

Two of the most powerful conduits for sentiment, opinions and actions is that of hereditary influence and peer pressure. In the absence of free-thinkers, parental and ancestral opinions and prejudices along with peer pressure often determine attitudes and actions. This is more likely to occur in less sophisticated societies where exposure to alternative opinions and international realities is not a given. Doubtless much of the Middle East falls within this general category and as such, many of the various populations provide fertile grounds for indoctrinations and recruitment of adherents. Often the worst perpetrators know no better and have their Anti-Semitic hatred developed over generations and deeply entrenched, beyond I believe the possibility of any redemption or conversion. It is this inhuman mentality, developed over generations, that makes it possible to celebrate the deaths of Israeli citizens resulting from terrorist actions. Most of humanity would not, I contend, find themselves able to celebrate such tragedies.

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Massacre at Clifford’s Tower. On 16 March 1190 one of the worst cases of Anti-Semitic violence in Britain took place in York. It was not until 1978 that a plaque commemorating the massacre was installed at the foot of the tower.

This document is not intended as an exhaustive nor extensively detailed history, certainly not an answer, but rather as a basic exercise to put my considered thoughts down on paper in an attempt to rationalise for myself that which cannot be rationalised; the Anti-Semitic phenomenon which for me is beyond any comprehension and which is the cause, today, and for millennia past, of the death of millions of Jews and ongoing daily terrorist attacks against Jews the world over.

 

About the author

PHILIP WEYERS1.jpgPhilip Weyers was born in Doornkloof in 1958, eight years after the passing of his great-grandfather, Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts who served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948.

Weyers has served as Managing and Executive Director of the General Smuts Foundation as well as National President of the South African Air Force Association and Vice Chairman of the Council of Military Veterans Organisation of South Africa.

Invitations to speaking tours outside South Africa have included in 2016 to the UK for the 75th Battle of Britain reunion and in 2017 to Israel on the occasion of the Balfour Declaration Centenary.

Weyers’ interests include history, current affairs, ornithology, golf, gym, jogging and being a passionate friend and defender of Israel.

Israel The Good And The Moral

By Rodney Mazinter

In their obviously ill-judged comments about Israel, critics choose to waste their time at checkpoints on the borders gazing at the brave boys and girls making up the Israeli Defence Force, whose sole job is to protect Jews living in Samaria and Judea who just go about getting on with their jobs, and to provide a strong deterrent that ensures that murderous individuals do not infiltrate into Israel.

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People’s Army. Out of necessity, Israel is one of only a few countries in the world with a mandatory military service requirement for women. According to the IDF, 535 female Israeli soldiers were killed in combat operations between the period 1962-2016.

When I visit Israel, I look in another direction:

–  I see schools and youth villages where at-risk children are given the care that will give them hope and a future in life

– I see Ethiopian children given the means to make that leap across centuries and cultures and find their own excellence.

– I see the Rambam Hospital in Haifa where, when Israel’s enemies decide to destroy lives, they continue saving them

– I see The Bar-Ilan Medical Centre in Safed set up to bring the finest possible medical treatment to Muslims, Christians, and Druze villages throughout the country.

– I see the Laniado Hospital in the Netanya whose founder, a holocaust survivor who lost his wife and 11 children in the Nazi camps of death and there made an oath that if he should ever survive, he would dedicate the rest of his life to saving life

– I see the Wolfson Medical Centre where free, quality, paediatric cardiac care is provided for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease, and whose dedicated doctors and surgeons have created a programme to create centres of competence in those countries so that they can carry out life-saving surgeries on the spot

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Heartwarming. An Echo Technician from Wolfson Medical Center in Israel, examines the heart of a child at the Save a Child’s Heart clinic in Zanzibar, March 5, 2018. The Israeli organization that provides life-saving heart treatment to children in developing countries won the prestigious 2018 UN Population Award for outstanding contributions to the world’s population. (Nati Shohat/FLASH9)

– I see caring for every life and notice that every life is sacred, where mind-blowing Israeli technology, and eye-opening developments in medical science are applied to the common good.

That and much more is what I see in Israel, the will to life with its hospitals, schools, freedoms, and rights.

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Saving Syrians. An injured civilian from the civil war in Syria being transferred to Ziv Medical Center in Safad, Israel. Photo by Simon Haddad/Ziv Medical Center

– I see, Christians, Hindus, Sheiks, Muslims, and from my experience, Israel is a source of inspiration to everyone because it tells every single person on the face of the earth that a nation doesn’t have to be large to be great. A nation doesn’t have to be rich in natural resources to prosper.

Israel has been surrounded by enemies and yet it has shown that even so, you can still be a democracy, still have a free press, still have an independent judiciary. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where a Palestinian can stand up on national television and criticise the government and the next day still be a free human being.

Israel’s demonisers would have us believe that they have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart. Quite the contrary – their decisions and actions are far more likely to bring war, poverty and hunger to the West Bank and Gaza.

The only conclusion any reasonable person can come to is that only prosperity, with robust industrial, commercial and even cultural relationships between the Palestinians and Israelis can lead to mutual acceptance and a durable peace. This can be achieved if only the BDS activists would acknowledge the true interests of the Palestinians above their own narrow, political ambitions and shallow priorities, and the Palestinians would recognise Israel’s right to exist.

Some twenty years ago, Palestinian businessmen and workers from the West Bank and Gaza entered Israel without much interference. Security over the years increased commensurate with the increase in attacks against civilians. Approximately 146,000 Palestinians working in Israel at the time accounted for about 20% of Palestinian GDP.

A very successful industrial zone was created at Erez, employing about 5,000 workers in some 200 businesses half of which were Palestinian-owned. This was part of a larger Gaza Industrial Estate, scheduled to provide up to 50,000 jobs. In addition, a joint industrial zone was planned south of Tulkarm intended to provide jobs for more than 5,000 Palestinians. Additional areas were planned for Jenin and the Kerem Shalom area near Rafah in Gaza.

And then came the politicians and BDS for whom such developments meant nothing. They are the true destroyers of peace, jobs, families, development and prosperity.

Israel has much to offer the world. The chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Cape, Rowan Polovin recently returned from the 2019 “Our Crowd” Global Investment Summit in Israel where the technological advances were on display to 18,000 delegates from 182 counties who reveled in what 500 vendors had on show and business to the tune of one billion dollars was transacted.

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Cherishing The Past, Israel Has Its Eyes On The Future. The Summit is an annual gathering of innovation and startup ecosystem players offering a broad range of opportunities across tech sectors, startup showcases, VC perspectives, strategic networking, and more.

This makes the destructive tactics of BDS seem irrelevant” said Polovin.

Rather than follow the “destructive” path of boycotts and diplomatic downgrades, why not in the interests of South Africa benefit from Israel’s advances in medicine and the sciences and capitalize on lucrative business opportunities.

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Wonder Women. Women in the Forbes 2018 Under 30 Global Summit, including Dr. Ruth Westheimer, ringing the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Bell. In choosing Israel to host 1st Global Women’s Summit, the Magazine’s chief content officer said ‘Israel is a great place to show how we can accelerate the cause of women in leadership.’

Surely this is the better way where all will benefit!

 

Why an Israeli Hospital is Treating Wounded Syrians

 

 

About the author

image003 (48).jpgRodney Mazinter, a Cape Town-based businessman, writer, poet and author, has held many leadership positions within a wide range of Jewish/South African, sporting, educational, service and communal bodies, and currently serves as vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Western Cape

 

From Battle To Bliss

Israel celebrates 71 years of Independence

By David E. Kaplan

On the Sunday, preceding Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence day) on Thursday,  Israelis could not escape the question:

 “Will we be celebrating Independence Day, or will we be at war?”

It was a fair question in light of some 700 missiles fired at Israel from Gaza over a period of 48 hours.

Come Wednesday evening however, bands were playing on open-air stages in cities and towns all across Israel and people were joyously dancing in the streets under a night sky ablaze not from missiles but fireworks!

Israel celebrates 71 years of Independence3
71st Independence day celebration – Jerusalem 2019

The quick transition from ‘dodging rockets to dancing in streets’ reminded me of a 2014 interview with the late Yehuda Avner who served as speech writer and English secretary to Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, and personal advisor to Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres as well as Israel’s Ambassador to Britain, Ireland and Australia.

Closeted in the very nerve center where life and death decisions were taken, Yehuda was in prime position to record intimately those monumental events and the cerebral machinations that determined the destiny of a nation.

Yet it was Avner’s experience on Israel’s first day – 14th May 1948 – that encapsulated the transition from battle to bliss.

The 14th of May 1948 was a Friday, and unbearably hot. “For three consecutive sun-grilled days and restless nights,” 18-year-old Yehuda Avner from Manchester and his 25 comrades, armed with pickaxes, shovels and a dozen WWI Lee Enfield rifles, had been fortifying a narrow sector of Jerusalem’s Western front, overlooking the Arab village of Ein Karem. They had heard rumors that an Arab offensive would be launched that night from Ein Karem, joined by Iraqi irregulars and a Jordanian brigade but with no communication with the outside world – “no field phone, not even a radio” – they were totally cut off. Needing to find out what was happening – “particularly whether the British had evacuated and whether Ben Gurion had or was going to declare independence or not” – our commander, Elisha Linder, instructed Holocaust survivor, Leopard Mahler to go into town and return “with hard news.”

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Prime Mover With Prime Minister. Yehuda Avner with Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

A grandnephew of the famous composer Gustav Mahler, “Leopard never went anywhere without his grey knapsack from which the neck of his violin protruded.” He had been a violinist with the Berlin Philharmonic until the Nuremberg Race Laws dispensed with his services. Surviving Auschwitz, he tried unsuccessfully to obtain visas to join the Chicago Philharmonic and later the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and reluctantly settled for an opening in the Palestine Philharmonic in Tel Aviv. “When he finally got his Australian visa, Jerusalem was already under siege and the poor fellow tried to get out to Tel Aviv on a convoy, but it was ambushed, and he had to return to embattled Jerusalem.”

Being a violinist and the obvious concern about protecting his hands, “we were happy that instead of joining us digging trenches in the rock-hard earth, he should be the one to go into town and fish for information.”

He came back close to midnight shortly after there had been a lengthy exchange of fire, crying “I have news; I have news!” He related that “the British had evacuated the country and that our forces were in control of the centre of the city.”

Substantiating his claim, he opened his coat to display a Union Jack tied to his waste. “He then began pulling from his bulging pockets forgotten luxuries – Kraft cheese, Mars Bars,  Cadbury chocolate, and a bottle of wine, all compliments from an abandoned British officer’s mess. And then, from his knapsack, came out cans of peaches, jars of Ovaltine and a bottle of Carmel wine.”

But most important was the news that: “David Ben-Gurion had declared independence that afternoon, and that the Jewish state would come into being at midnight.”

There was dead silence, midnight was only minutes away!

“Hey, Mahler!” shouted Elisha Linder, cutting through the excitement, “Our new state – what’s its name?”

The violinist didn’t have a clue. “I didn’t think to ask,” he said.

“How about Yehuda? suggested someone. “After all, King David’s kingdom was called Yehuda – Judea.”

Zion,” cried another. “It’s an obvious choice.”

Israel!” called a third, “What’s wrong with Israel?”

Filling a mug to the brim with the wine, Elisha settled it with, “A l’’chaim to our new State, whatever its name.” But before the wine touched the lips, a Hassid whom we all knew as ‘Reb Nusesen de chazzan’ (he was a cantor by calling), shouted “Wait,” It’s Shabbos. Let’s make Kiddush first.”

“That was a Kiddush I shall never forget,” says Yehuda whimsically, and added, “Next day we were relieved to rest up and we went into town where masses of Jews were dancing the horah in the courtyard of the Jewish Agency building. Someone was playing a banjo and another a harmonica and before not too long Mahler took out his violin and joined in, playing Hava Nagila (Jewish traditional folk song).” Picking up the beat, he began reworking it into a widely spiraling variations, his notes fluttering this way and that, improvisation upon improvisation, as if a man and instrument were rediscovering each other in shared pleasure after a long separation.”

This was the uplifting feeling of independence after 2000 years; “we were discovering ourselves as a People after 2000 years of separation from our Land.”

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Much To celebrate. Israel is repeatedly ranked in the top eleven of happiest countries on earth by the annual World Happiness Report.

Homecoming

Now 71 years later, we were again experiencing days of war and music, and while we braced ourselves early in the week against missiles, we now pleasurably ‘brace’ ourselves for the upcoming 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv  from the 14th to the 18th May.

Israel’s song in the competition to be performed by Kobi Marimi is “HOME”.  Having re-established our national homeland 71 years earlier after 2000 years of exile, the last three words of the song resonate:

I’m coming home

It’s a mesmerizing melodious message three weeks after Pesach (Passover)  where we celebrate delivery from slavery; two weeks after Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day) where we pledge “Never Again”, and a week after Yom Haatzmaut, where we rejoice of our return to national sovereignty in our ancestral homeland.

The final verse speaks of  “standing tall”, “not giving in” and “I’m coming home”.

“I am standing tall not giving in
‘Cause I am someone, I am someone

And now I’m done, I’m coming
Now I’m done, I’m coming
Now I’m done, I’m coming home

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Fireworks. Only four days earlier, it was missiles from Gaza intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome that was lighting the night sky.

23 741

By Rolene Marks

There are 23 741 reasons to bow our heads this Yom Hazikaron. There are 23 741 reasons to express our profound eternal gratitude. There are 23 741 reasons for our hearts to ache. There are 23 741 reasons to be proud. 23 741 reason for the tears to fall from our eyes. There are 23 741 to remember. There are 23 741 names ingrained in our hearts forever. There are 23 741 reasons for the siren to wail its mournful cry.

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War & Remembrance. Young Israeli soldier lays national flags at a military cemetery before a ceremony on Yom Hazikaron. Ceremonies are held throughout the country at the exact same time commencing with a siren sounding at 11.00am throughout the country.

23 741 soldiers, security forces and police have fallen in defense of Israel since its birth as a modern state in 1948.

We will never forget them.

The stories of unparalleled bravery and selfless sacrifice like Roi Klein, who saved the life of his unit by absorbing the blast of grenade. Risking it all to leave the comforts of home in the US, to serve as a paratrooper like Michael Levine. The iconic warrior like Yoni Netanyahu who fell in Israel’s daring Entebbe operation in 1976 that rescued 102 Jewish hostages from a hijacked Air France passenger aircraft in Uganda’s capital.

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Jonathan (“Yoni”) Netanyahu, brother of Israel’s Prime Minister, commanded the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal during Operation Entebbe to rescue hostages held at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976. The mission was successful, with 102 of the 106 hostages rescued, but Netanyahu was killed in action — the only IDF fatality during the operation.

The names of the wars and operations are etched in memory – the War of Independence, the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the wars with Lebanon, Operation Cast Lead and so on.

Their names are seared in our hearts.

And there are those whose names we will never know but whose valiant acts of bravery are the reasons that we enjoy the freedoms that we do.

At 20h00 a mournful siren will announce the start of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen warriors and victims of terror.

Yom Hazikaron inspires in us a sense of awe and creates an incredible sense of solidarity amongst Jews around the world, but it is here in Israel where the emotions are seriously heightened. Our soldiers are not uniformed strangers who serve but our children, spouses, colleagues, parents, friends and lovers.

They are the people we love.

Yom Hazikaron is not only a day of remembrance, but also one of gratitude. Few words can express how grateful we are for all who protect us on land, sea and air. Our brave warriors, these lions of Zion are our guardians and protectors. We are proud of them; we embrace them, and we love them.

Israelis respect life. We revere life and we revel in it. And it is on this solemn and heartbreaking day that we are reminded of its fragility.

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Mesmerising Message. Staff Sgt. Michael Levin soon after he was drafted in 2005. He was killed a year later in the Second Lebanon War. ‘If anything happens to me, I just want to say that I love you and miss you and wish you all the best,’ Levin said in a voicemail, shortly before he was killed. (Tami Gross)

This year is particularly poignant. I write this just days after 700 rockets were fired by terror groups in the Gaza strip into Israel, killing 4 civilians (may their memories be for a blessing) and injuring and traumatizing countless others. We were reminded again that the guardians of Israel neither slumber nor sleep as they worked 24/7 to protect us.  We thankfully lost no soldiers but days like this are bitter reminders of the threats we face as a nation and how achingly close we come to situations where  this is a possibility.

In recent years, Yom Hazikaron has also included honouring victims of terror attacks.

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Druze Hero. Over 3,000 people from all over Israel attended a memorial rally for Druze policeman Zidan Saif in his home town of Yanuh-Jat in the Galilee in 2014, killed while trying to stop a terrorist attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem.

Victims targeted simply for being Israeli. We remember brave men like Ari Fuld who gave chase to his murderer before succumbing to his wounds. Zidan Saif, a Druze policeman who had come off his shift when he heard of an attack on a synagogue and rushed to assist and paid with his life. We remember teenagers Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naphtali Frenkel  – whose names live on in heartbreaking infamy. We remember the mothers and father, brothers and sisters, grandparents and babies – gone soon, far too soon. This year the number of victims of terror is 3 146.

There are 3 146 reason to remember, to wipe the tears from our eyes, to light a candle.

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Israel Stunned. Mourning candles in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, following the June 12, 2014 the brutal murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

In an emotional paradox, the sun will set on mourning and Israel will don her best blue and white to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut.

This year we have 23 741 more reasons to. We celebrate in their names.

They will forever be the watchers on our walls, the guardians of our gates. Their memories will be forever blessed.

“…And so they stand, the light on their faces, and the Lord,

alone passes among them, with tears in His eyes He kisses

their wounds, and He says in a trembling voice to the white

angels: “These are my sons, these are my sons.”

 The Parade of the Fallen / Hayim Hefer

 

 

Roi Klein

Case Against The Cape Times

By Rodney Mazinter

In South Africa there are a number of statuary bodies independent of government, officialdom and other outside influences, which determine that the fabric of democracy is kept intact in the daily business of a democratic country. The Press Ombudsman is one, whose role in the print media is to determine whether the actions of a newspaper are in line with good journalistic practice. Complaints regarding the practices of print media can be reported by the general public to the Press Ombudsman, who determines whether a complaint should be brought before the South African Press Council.

The Press Council of South Africa of which all newspapers are members accepts a Press Code that will guide the South African Press Ombudsman and the South African Press Appeals Panel to reach decisions on complaints from the public after publication of the relevant material.

Furthermore, the Press Council of South Africa is constituted as a self-regulatory body with a mechanism to provide impartial, expeditious and cost-effective arbitration to settle complaints arising from this Code.

The powers of the Ombudsman include an ability to censure and fine newspapers found to be in breach of this ethical code.

On 25 October 2012 I believed I had found cause to complain about a story that appeared in the Cape Times headlined Apartheid policies: Israeli poll reveals a ‘sick society’.

My complaint centred around the fact that despite having pointed out to the Cape Times that the newspaper of origin, Ha’aretz, and its journalist, Gideon Levy, had retracted and apologised for an incorrect report, the Cape Times not only refused to do the same, but that it also refused to publish my and other rebuttal letters on its letters page leading the Press Ombudsman to later describe its action as “perpetuating a lie.”

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Fake It Till You Make It. What is SA doing about its fake news problem?

The story, originally written by Catrina Swart of The Independent (in Britain), claimed that a new poll had “revealed that a majority of Israeli Jews believed that the Jewish state practices ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians…” It continued to quote some other statistics, emanating from the poll.

Swart was reporting on an article by Gideon Levy published in the Israeli publication Ha’aretz.

The story read: “A new poll has revealed that a majority of Israeli Jews believe that the Jewish state practices ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians… That many Jews believe that Israel has adopted ‘apartheid’ policies… Nearly 70 percent of those questioned would object to the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank obtaining the vote if Israel was to annex the Palestinian territory, suggesting that they effectively endorse an apartheid regime.”

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Following the publication of Levy’s story, Ha’aretz published a correction the day after stating: “CLARIFICATION: The original headline for this piece, ‘Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel,’ did not accurately reflect the findings of the Dialog poll. The question to which most respondents answered in the negative did not relate to the current situation, but to a hypothetical situation in the future.”

Levy wrote in an added apology: “My sin was to write: ‘The majority doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, having Arab neighbours at home or Arab students at school. The truth is different…This article is meant to fix a few mistakes. They shouldn’t have happened; we must acknowledge them, apologise for them and fix them. They were not made intentionally…Now is the time to make things right.”

My complaint was that the Cape Times should have published these corrections.

The Press Ombudsman found inter alia “…its [the Cape Times] intro was materially the same as that of the headline in Ha’aretz (which the latter publication has corrected). The newspaper should therefore do the same; it should also have reported Levy’s own correction. I believe that the Cape Times should have:

  • known about the corrections; and
  • echoed them.

“The Cape Times is in breach of Art. 1.6 of the Press Code that states: ‘A publication should make amends for publishing information or comment that is found to be inaccurate by printing, promptly and with appropriate prominence, a retraction, correction or explanation.’ This goes for the corrections by Ha’aretz as well as Levy.

“The Cape Times is:

  • cautioned for not making the same corrections as that of Ha’aretz and Levy; and
  • directed to publish these corrections…”

The Cape Times carried out this instruction and published the Ombudsman’s findings in full on page 7 of its April 19, 2013 edition.

We should be grateful that the position of the SA Press Ombudsman operates effectively as a diligent watchdog over the interests of the general public.

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Unfortunately, this did not stop the Cape Times and other newspapers of the Independent group from persevering with their “fake” news and provocative propaganda. Over the intervening years I have had cause to cross swords with its journalists and editors. The consequences have been instructive. One has been that the group no longer subjects itself to the discipline of the Press Ombudsman and thereby frees itself from any responsibility to the truth.

 

About the author

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Rodney Mazinter

Rodney Mazinter, a Cape Town-based businessman, writer, poet and author, has held many leadership positions within a wide range of Jewish/South African, sporting, educational, service and communal bodies, and currently serves as vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Western Cape.

The Arab Voice – May 2019

Turkey and the EU: A Doomed Engagement

by Burak Bekdil
BESA Center Perspectives
April 28, 2019

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This cartoon captures Turkey’s appalling treatment of journalists.

Two decades ago, the big question in Brussels and Ankara was, “Will Turkey one day become a full member of the EU?” A decade ago, it was, “How soon can Turkey become a full member?” Today, the question is simpler: “Will it be Turkey or the EU that puts an official end to this opera buffa?”

In March, the European Parliament forcefully reminded the West’s Turkey hopefuls that they are wrong. In a non-binding vote, the assembly recommended to suspend accession negotiations with Turkey (370 votes in favor, 109 against with 143 abstentions.) An EU press release after high-level talks with Turkey in Brussels confirmed that accession talks were at a standstill and said that the “Turkish government’s stated commitment to EU accession needs to be matched by corresponding reforms.”

There are plenty of reasons – all open secrets – why Turkey does not qualify to become a member, according to the assembly: ongoing human, civil, and due process rights violations; concern –  over Ankara’s lack of respect for minority religious and cultural rights;

-the state’s “shrinking space for civil society,”

-its arrests and suppression of journalists;

-its dismissal of dissident academics,

-its treatment of Middle Eastern migrants within its borders;

-the government’s abuse of due process rights of its own citizens under the guise of terrorism suspicions;

-its intimidation of its own citizens;

-and Turkey’s fractious relationships with neighboring states such as Cyprus and Greece, as well as (the lack of) normalization of diplomatic relations with neighboring Armenia.

The European Parliament said:

Respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights, including the separation of powers, democracy, freedom of expression and the media, human rights, the rights of minorities and religious freedom, freedom of association and the right to peaceful protest, the fight against corruption and the fight against racism and discrimination against vulnerable groups are at the core of the negotiation process.

Alparslan Kavaklıoğlu a member of Erdoğan‘s AKP and head of the parliament’s Security and Intelligence Commission, said in 2018: “Europe will be Muslim. We will be effective there, Allah willing. I am sure of that.”

The EU and Turkey each have their own interest in endlessly prolonging this opera buffa. But the audience is growing increasingly bored.

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist. He regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Defense News and is a fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is also a founder of, and associate editor at, the Ankara-based think tank Sigma.

 

 

 MAY 1, 2019 19:21

SRI LANKA AND THE 100-YEAR BATTLE
Asharq al-Awsat, London, April 23

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On Tuesday, April 23, Harshani Sriyani weeps over the body of her daughter who was killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo. Eranga Jayawardena/AP

Here we are again, coming to terms with yet another ghastly terrorist attack waged against innocent civilians. This time, terrorism struck Christian worshipers in Sri Lanka. Prior to that, it struck worshipers in New Zealand. And beforehand, it struck Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Europe, America and a wide host of other countries.
I am convinced that this battle – the battle to eradicate terrorism – is going to be a long one, spanning maybe even an entire century. The world has been combating terrorism for over three decades, yet the problem persists. Every time we defeat one organization, another one rears its head.
The wars of terrorism are more dangerous than tribal and state wars, because they are rooted in deep-seated ideology. They are the products of antiquated doctrines that have been reinvigorated in distorted ways and have made their way into modern society. The weapons of this war are quotations from holy books, propagated using modern technology that enables these ideas to be published at nearly no cost.
Sadly, without an international coalition fighting terrorism in its ideological roots – nipping it in the bud – radical ideas will continue to spread around the world, threatening the entire future of mankind.
The way we have been confronting terrorist organizations is by trying to defeat them militarily or financially. We destroy their secret hideouts or restrict their ability to pay for their operations. But the strongest fuel that feeds the terrorist engine is the scores of people who promote their radical agendas. Terrorism, therefore, lives in the minds of people. The problem is that we live in denial.
In the aftermath of the attacks last week, Islamist organizations were quick to deny their involvement. They attempted to sow confusion about the perpetrators. Then they sought to justify the attack. Then they claimed responsibility. Throughout the process, they used the same old explanations and excuses: “Islamic State never had a physical foothold in Sri Lanka”; “the attacks must have been foreign nationals”; etc. However, Islamic State does not require a physical infrastructure in Sri Lanka in order to carry out an attack. It simply needs to live in the minds of people.
The battle on the ground may continue, but the ideological battle is just beginning. Unless we change our mind-set, new organizations will come to life as soon as their predecessors are destroyed.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla.

 

 

FIGHTING FOR OUR PAST TO PRESERVE OUR FUTURE
Al-Ittihad, UAE, April 22

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One of the main attractions at Palmyra, the Temple of Baal was mostly flattened by explosions detonated by ISIS.

The fire that consumed Notre-Dame de Paris was a tragic event and a great humanitarian shock for everyone who understands the value of human history. It is therefore not surprising that the fire received widespread media attention across the world.
One thing shared by all mankind is our collective care for our history and archaeology, the construction of museums and the preservation of physical and intangible signs of our heritage. No nation that respects itself can ignore its cultural and civilizational symbols.
This has been especially true in the UAE, where history-preservation efforts have been under way for several decades. This national project has been led by Sheikh Zayed, who sought to document and preserve the history of our region.
But preserving cultural and religious artifacts in the Middle East is no easy feat. The political situation in the region has not been serene, to say the least. Fundamentalist religious organizations such as the Taliban movement in Afghanistan have systematically destroyed all artifacts associated with ancient civilizations. For example, the Buddhas of Bamyan, carved into a sandstone cliff in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, were dynamited and destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Similarly, Islamic State detonated and destroyed the Temple of Bel, a Mesopotamian temple dating back to 32 CE. It also destroyed the Roman theater at Palmyra, which dates back to the second century CE. These sites represented thousands of years of civilization. Losing these monuments is a true loss for humanity.
The important question that arises from the Notre-Dame fire is, therefore, why does the Western world care so much about a cathedral in France but not about monuments located in the Middle East? What about the history that is being erased before our eyes by radical organizations located in our midst? These are no less important than Notre-Dame.
But the responsibility is also ours. We must build a tolerant Muslim society and reshape the cultural discourse surrounding the cultural artifacts found in our countries. The companions of the holy prophet entered many countries in the Arab and Muslim world during the period of the so-called conquests in the era of the caliphs. They did not destroy any statues or monuments. The holy prophet himself passed through many cities that housed non-Muslim monuments. He did not destroy any of their ancient relics. Such barbarity must never be tolerated.
The events in Paris are a stark reminder to all of us. They are a reminder that we must take care of our historical monuments and protect them at any cost – not only as tourist destinations, but also as a fundamental part of our cultural legacy. This is a battle we have no choice but to win, not only for the sake of our past, but also for the sake of our future.

Ali Hussein Bakir

Ali Hussein Bakir is a Jordanian researcher specialized in international relations. He currently works for the International Strategic Research Organization “ISRO-USAK” (Turkey). He worked as an economic editor and researcher at Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group AIWA (Lebanon) and was a research associate at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies (Qatar) and the Geo-Strategic Group for Studies. Bakir has many publications in a number of other prominent Arab think tanks such as the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, the Gulf Research Centre, the Middle East Studies Centre, the Shebaa Centre for Strategic Studies, Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre, and The Arab Centre for the Humanities. Since 2007, Bakir has authored and co-authored various number of publications and books on Turkey, Iran, Arabian Gulf, and China.