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)

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Supreme Irony Of Omar And Tlaib Crying Foul At Israel Ban

Currently features at the  Herald Sun (Australia)

By  Alex Ryvchin 

It is difficult not to savour the irony of two United States congresswomen who advocate boycotts of Israel crying foul at being denied entry into the very country they seek to erase.

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, two members of the Democratic Party’s “Squad” of neophyte congresswomen from the Party’s radical left faction, have made their names by seeking to collapse decades of bipartisan support for Israel in US politics and using America’s democratic ally in the Middle-East as a wedge issue to divide their Party.

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Divide & Conquer. Sowing seeds of discord, US Democratic Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar at a news conference at the Capitol, July 15, 2019.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Omar, who courted Jewish support during her election campaign by declaring her opposition to organised boycotts of Israel, before promptly embracing them upon her election, has brandished virtually every antisemitic slur imaginable in her brief political career. She accused Israel of “hypnotizing the world” and called on “Allah to awaken the people” to Israel’s evil.

She accused American Jews who support the Israel alliance of dual loyalties.

She accused American Jews of buying political influence.

And she has declared her support for boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israel artists, academics, and businesses, a campaign which in the words of its framers seeks the “complete and total isolation of Israel”, and the end of a Jewish state within any borders whatsoever.

Her congressional colleague Rashida Tlaib, openly supports a “one-state solution” to the conflict by which the solitary Jewish state is replaced by what would be the 22nd majority Arab state, and has recently taken to falsifying history, claiming that good-hearted, kindly Arab Palestinians opened their homes to Jewish interlopers fleeing the Holocaust. In fact, the majority of Israelis are from the Middle East and have no historical connection to Europe. More so, the Palestinian leadership sought at every turn, through violence and political maneuvering, to block entry into the land by fleeing European Jews. Their leader, Haj Amin-Al Husseini was a key Nazi collaborator and recruited Muslims to the Nazi killing squads and called on them to “kill Jews wherever you find them; this pleases God, history and religion.”

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Shared Vision. Devising the demise of Jews globally, Muslim leader in Mandatory Palestine Haj Amin al-Husseini meets with Adolf Hitler, 1941. Photo: Bundesarchiv / Wikimedia

To be sure, the decision to bar entry into Israel to Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib is a fraught one which will have immense political implications for Israel. For decades, the imperative of American Jewish leaders has been to ensure that support for Israel transcends party politics. While some US Presidents and Congresses have been more sympathetic to Israel than others, baseline support for the peace and security of Israel has been remarkably resilient, even as politics has become more bitter and divided. But the decision of the Israeli Government, which (although now said to be unconnected) followed a Twitter statement from Donald Trump that “it would show great weakness if Israel allowed” the congresswomen entry, will only serve to rally the Democratic Party around the anti-Israel congresswomen and position them as the popular symbols of opposition to Donald Trump.

Just last month, despite intense lobbying by Omar and Tlaib, the US Congress adopted a resolution by a whopping 398-17 that rejected the anti-Israel boycott campaign, affirmed the two-state solution and calling for increased military aid to Israel.

But seeking to travel to Israel was a clever gambit by the congresswomen, who have carved out a unique ability to at once advance their agenda by using their power as influential public figures, while decrying the “privilege” of opposing political forces that supposedly keeps them in subservience.

A leaked itinerary for the congresswomen confirmed that they weren’t scheduled to meet with any mainstream Jewish groups or political figures and were being chaperoned by the NGO Miftah, which has accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children for Passover rituals and regularly praises Palestinians who kill Israeli civilians as “martyrs”.

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True Colours. The Palestinian organization, Miftah, that had organized Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s planned delegation to Jerusalem and the West Bank once claimed that Jews put Christian blood in matzah, echoing a centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

If Israel allowed them entry, the congresswomen would have without question used the opportunity to advance their aim of turning public and political opinion against Israel by embarking on a carefully choreographed and live tweeted escapade showcasing the noble Palestinian struggle against the insatiable blood-lust of Jewish Israelis.

But by refusing entry, Israel inevitably opens itself up to criticism of being, at best, glass-jawed, and at worst, non-democratic. The former is a judgement call, but the latter is a spurious claim, given that countries routinely bar entry on character grounds, even to elected politicians of friendly countries (Dutch MP Geert Wilders was initially denied entry to Britain in 2009). Only in the case of Israel does this lead to the country’s democratic character being called into question.

The claim appears more dubious still when it is advanced by those who support the Palestinian national movement, the leadership of which is split between the wholly corrupt Fatah, whose President Mahmoud Abbas is currently luxuriating in the fourteenth year of a four-year term, and the Islamist Hamas, which regularly takes to tethering political opponents, suspected homosexuals and trade unionists to the backs of motorcycles and dragging them through the streets of Gaza.

The long-term implications of the Israeli Government’s decision on public opinion in the United States and Democratic Party support remains to be seen, though the alliance has spanned seven decades and has withstood far greater challenges than this. But with both a pro-Israel US President and the anti-Israel congresswomen cynically using the Jewish State in their campaigns to divide and conquer, it is difficult to envisage a scenario in which this latest skirmish ends well for Israel and those who support it.

 

 

 

 

Alex-Ryvchin.jpgAlexander (Alex) Ryvchin is an Australian writer, advocate, commentator, and lawyer. A former spokesman for the Zionist Federation UK, Ryvchin’s writings on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Jewish history have been published in numerous international newspapers including The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, The National Post and The Jerusalem Post. Ryvchin is a regular columnist for The Spectator.

“A Labour Of Hate”

The thin veil for Antisemitism in British Labour Party exposed

By Paul Charney, Chairman of the Zionist Federation UK and Ireland

The Labour Party have just announced another new initiative to deal with antisemitism of their members. The UK Jewish community is seething with anger and even Jewish Labour members will be wary and sceptical. Labour cannot spend years allowing an antisemitic culture to flourish under Jeremy Corbyn and expect another plan like this to be accepted with open arms.

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True Colours. Jeremy Corbyn at the launch in Bradford of the Labour Party manifesto for the general election in May 2017. The line “FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW” has morphed since then into “FOR THE MANY, NOT THE JEW”. See below. Between January and June 2019, Labour received 625 complaints about members relating to anti-Semitism.

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The demands by the community for a proper independent process have not been met – just a promise to speed things up.

Recently the UK watched a BBC1 Panorama (broadcasted on the 10th July) exposé about antisemitism within the Labour Party, and what was clear was even the non-Jewish whistleblowers showed little room for optimism as to how this party can comeback from being labelled as the most antisemitic party since the Nazis, and worse yet, as to how they would behave in Government. Furthermore, they are the second party other than the far-right nationalist British Nationalist Party (BNP) to be subjected to a full enquiry by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission since its establishment.

The BBC Panorama documentary on antisemitism within the British Labour party broadcasted on July 10 2019 exposed Jew-hatred within the party as well as exposing “smokescreening”, i.e. camouflaging its antisemitism.  It also revealed that some members of the Labour party are “actual Holocaust promoters” with one former staffer revealing that she was regularly told that “Hitler was right” and “Hitler did not go far enough.”

Regarding Israel, while Labour talks of “two states”, it fails to ever add “an Israel within secure borders”. It talks about Palestinian refugees and their descendants, meaning a Palestinian “right of return” for Palestinian refugees to Israel but always under UNRWA’s endless generation rules. This would translate to the world’s only Jewish State  ceasing to exist.

Is this Labour’s aim?

Labour behavior shows it has little time for Israel supporters and certainly only accepts Israel’s legitimacy as conditional.

Jeremey Corbyn has provided a legitimate open space for people to feel safe in expressing not just unmitigated anti-Zionist rhetoric, but also allows for that thin veil of masked antisemitsm to be removed.  Once you allow the disease of antisemitism to flourish it becomes very difficult to eradicate it and most Jews will remain sceptical whilst the present leadership remains in place. The rest of us will remain uneasy about the future leaders of a party that we know has been hijacked by anti-Western, anti-establishment extremists.

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Brought To Account. London, UK. 8th April, 2018. An antisemitism protest against Jeremy Corbyn, outside Labour Party offices in Victoria Street. Credit: Guy Bell/Alamy Live News

Whilst Zionism has finally found a safe legitimate and justifiable place within UK politics, education and society –  including leaders outwardly expressing their Zionists credentials – there remain the critics who will gladly provide endless condemnation against Israel. “No matter what Israel does its simply not good enough because of the occupation”.  We at the Zionist Federation continue to strive to rebrand Israel as it truly is.  However, if you start off by hating Israel then you will not be able to see anything else. We must subsequently focus on those that have not been brainwashed and allow them to form a genuine opinion of a complicated issue that is simply not black or white.

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Enough Is Enough. Never since the end of the World War II and Britain’s painful renunciation of the Mandate in Palestine have so many Jews talked openly about antisemitism mostly fomented by the Labour party and its controversial leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Seen here are protesters holding placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)

Israel and particularly Zionism is now an important issue for the next generation of Jews in the UK.  For good or bad, Jewish youth are forced into a position by their peers to either support or condemn Israel. They feel that no matter how far they remove themselves from any discussion, since they are Jewish, then they are seen as representatives of the Jewish homeland.

This compels future generations to identify one way or another.

Whilst the rest of the country remain focused on dealing with Brexit.

 

 

image006 (39).jpgPaul Charney was first elected Chairman of the Zionist Federation UK and Ireland in 2012 and has been re-elected three times. He writes and speaks frequently on Israel and represents Zionist supporters across the country. Born in South Africa, Paul lived for many years in Israel, where he served for 4.5 years as a Tank Platoon Officer in the IDF. Having initially studied Law and worked as a lawyer in the UK, he now runs his own Land and Planning Company across the UK.

The Israel Brief- 01-04 July 2019

The Israel Brief – 01 July 2019 – We are on the move – Iran violates clause in enriching uranium, PA arrest attendees to Bahrain confab and off duty policeman investigated for murder of young Ethiopian.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 02 July 2019 – Solomon Tekah z”l laid to rest. Iranian nuclear standoff intensifies. Is this the return of Ehud Barak?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 03 July 2019 – Riots in Israel. Netanyahu open to peace plan. Disturbed dedicates Hatikvah to IDF.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 03 July 2019 – Tekah family appeals for calm. More Trump peace plan soon and Netanyahu reassures South.

The Israel Brief- 24-27 June 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 24 June 2019 – Economic plan for Palestinians revealed. 18 Brits kicked off BA flight for bomb threat. Likud and Blue and White deny coalition talks.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 25 June 2019 – Update on rape case. 13 fires in South and we check out the Bahrain confab.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 27 June 2019 – Did Russia spoof navigation system? Wrapping up Bahrain. Ehud Barak reenters politics. Space IL nixes second trip to the moon?

Tseva Adom (code red)

By Bev Goldman

head of Israel Section, SAICC / SA Israel Chamber of Commerce Johannesburg, South Africa.

Time passes, memories fade, events are forgotten.  I needed to remind myself of past traumas in Israel, and I did.

In 2001, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Brigades and other terrorist groups began launching Qassam rockets at Sderot (the small town that lies about a mile outside of the Gaza Strip in the western Negev Desert) as part of the Second Intifada (2000-2005), and have continued intermittently since then.

Not only continued but intensified!

In a single day in November 2018, more than 460 rockets were launched into the south of Israel, cruelly outmatched a few months later when over a 24-hour period in May 2019, 500 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza.

Back in 2002, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) installed a radar warning system known as Shakhar Adom, or ‘red dawn’.  It operated as follows: an alarm was sounded across the town when the IDF realised that a rocket was inbound. It worked extremely well, and citizens mostly had time – about 15 seconds – to find shelter from the inevitable destruction which followed.

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One Israeli schoolteacher finds a unique way to help her class cope with the fear and panic in the face of Hamas rocket fire.

In 2007, a young 7-year old Israeli girl by the name of Shakhar complained about her name being associated with the warning system.  In true Israeli style, ensuring that as little discomfort as possible would affect the citizens, authorities changed the name to Tseva Adom – meaning ‘red colour’ or ‘code red’ – and Tseva Adom became known across the Jewish world as ‘15 seconds’ – the difference between life and death.

Seventeen years: 17 years during which the citizens of Sderot, and later those of other cities and towns near Gaza, have lived with the terror of imminent attack, imminent destruction, imminent death. 17 years of treading softly, holding one’s breath, praying that children and spouses have reached safety in time, wondering when the next warning would come.  17 years of angst, of apprehension, of foreboding – how do people live like that?

Three years after the first radar warning was installed in Sderot, it was installed in Ashkelon, a city lying north of the Gaza Strip near the Mediterranean coast, further away from Gaza than Sderot, then also under siege from rockets and imminent death.  But aha!  Ashkelon did better than Sderot.  Why?  Because its citizens had 30 seconds’ warning instead of 15 – much more time to find shelter.  And did the citizens of Ashkelon cope with that trauma? 30 seconds – the difference between life and death. Not quite shades of Sophie’s Choice, but near enough.

While everyone involved suffered unimaginable horrors, it was the children who really bore the brunt of the attacks. Post-traumatic stress disorders, hyperactivity, problems with sleeping, detachment from friends, from activities, from integration into any social world – that was then, but those children who are now adults are still traumatised, still terrified, still emotionally fragile. Yet because the actual number of deaths caused by the rockets was very low, what happened there has taken a back seat as people continued to live every day and to marginalise their horrific experiences. And as for the media?  Of course, there were no stories – there seldom are, when they concern Israeli tragedies.

The New ‘Normal’

Let’s fast-forward 17 years and look at Sderot today, and at Ashkelon, and at the other parts of Israel where breathing is less often taken for granted and instead has become a symptom of apprehension. Sderot is now home to three converted bomb shelters that were adapted to meet the needs of teenagers for space and their own activities. Each can accommodate about 50 teens, and each can expand to make room for at least another 20. The best part of this is that those children are already gathered in bomb shelters: should there be a Tseva Adom warning, it will have no effect either on them or their pursuits, except psychologically and emotionally – does that matter?

According to NGO officials who visited Sderot to show support specifically to the teenagers, ‘We came into this large two-floor bomb shelter and it was like coming into someone’s living room. There are comfortable sofas, a well-stocked kitchen, a giant TV on the wall and downstairs there is a games room and a homework room. Everything is well maintained by the kids.”  In this safe environment, the children are given leadership training courses, they are encouraged to interact socially with one another and establish healthy relationships, and they are assisted with their schoolwork.

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No Kidding! Tzeva Adom (Code Red): Helping Children Deal with Terror at school.

Almost normal – almost, but not quite.  These are tomorrow’s leaders of Israel: passive victims of the worst kind of hatred and enmity.  Can their future be predicted? I wonder.

In the latest incident in March this year, Ashkelon was once again targeted from Gaza and Israeli families were woken up once again by the sound of air-raid sirens from Hamas rocket fire. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad determined yet again to create as much devastation as possible in the city, firing rockets and launching several airborne incendiary devices (including kites); and there was a cross-border arson attack in which Palestinians breached the Gaza security fence and burned whatever they could find in the area.

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Destination Israel. A missile fired from Gaza aimed at Israel’s civilian population.

More of the same trauma, the same anguish, the same shattering blows to the lives of those living there. Unceasing, and now focusing on central Israel, Tel Aviv, other vulnerable cities.

What is life like for those who live under this constant barrage of attack, combined with the hatred that initiates it?  How do the people of south Israel, wanting nothing more than peaceful lives and opportunities to enjoy life, cope with these perpetual offensives?  And what about those Palestinians who want much the same as the Israelis, but who are held hostage by their corrupt and devious leadership, forced to endure terror and torture for ideologies with which they may well disagree, as seen in the many on-the-ground normal everyday relationships that have developed between them and Israelis in their neighbourhoods?

The sound of the siren – the Tseva Adom – remains terrifying for Israelis in the south of the country, even though the attacks are less frequent than they used to be. When the siren goes off, they must drop everything, run to bomb shelters and ensure that their families are with them.  They are often too afraid to leave their homes and venture out to do the tasks any normal family does, because the sirens might go again, at any moment.  They fear the slamming of doors, the backfiring of cars and trucks, unusual music being played: to many of them, these strange noises sound like that dreadful sign. They cannot even stop and freeze in panic in case they don’t make it to the shelter in time. These are offensives of wartime, yet the world refuses to believe Israel is in a constant war with her enemies because the numbers of casualties are so low.

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Sderot has been described by some of its citizens, with gallows humour, as “the biggest bull’s-eye on the map of Israel”.  When the bombing began at the turn of the century, and because of its “proximity to the border and the concentration of Hamas-led amateur bomb-makers on the other side, Sderot has (and has) a unique civic claim: on a rocket-per-head-of-population basis, it is the most targeted town in Israel, indeed the world.” That’s quite a reputation for Sderot: Hamas is making sure that other Israeli towns gain the same reputation.

I remember years back, during the infamous Vietnam war, that one of the most iconic photos to come out of that tragedy was the one entitled “Vietnam Napalm 1972”.  The caption read: South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places on June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing.” 
That photo, and others from that time, and the explanatory texts, made history. They were distributed widely; the world was shocked and stunned; the anger was palpable.

Israel has had more than its fair share of tragedies, of bombings, of fires, of in-bed murders, of terror attacks, yet whenever these have happened, world opinion has been quiet.  Jewish lives – Israeli lives – are far less important than those of many others.  We number so few in the world’s population that the thinking probably is that we have no standing.  Like putting one’s finger into a glass of water, pulling it out and seeing no difference whatsoever in the level of water, so too with murdering a few Israelis here and there, some children, teenagers and the aged, the end effect is negligible.  Not worthy of media attention.  Not worthy of comment.

It is what it is….

 

 

Bev Goldman.jpgBev Goldman worked for many years in education and journalism, and she holds a master’s degree in Feminist Literature. Prior to joining the SA Zionist Federation where she dealt with media and education for 12 years, she was the editor of the ‘Who’s Who’ of Southern Africa; a member of WordWize which taught English language skills to Russian and Polish immigrants in South Africa; an occasional lecturer in English at RAU (now the University of Johannesburg); and Director of Educational Programmes at Allenby In-Home Studies.  Currently she runs the Media Team Israel for the SA Zionist Federation; she sits on the Board of Governors of the Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre (RCHCC); she is the National Vice-President of the Union of Jewish Women South Africa; she is an executive member of the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW); and she edits and proofs Masters and PhD dissertations.

 

The Israel Brief- 17-20 June 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 17 June 2019 – Israel sends water to Gaza. US envoy supports Ambassador Friedman’s statement on West Bank. Rivlin hosts Muslim leaders and Trump Heights on Golan.

 

 

The Israel Brief – 18 June 2019 – Police indict 46 year old Palestinian man for rape of 7 year old girl. PM of Malaysia antisemitic comments. Hamas say new level of understanding with Israel.

 

 

The Israel Brief – 19 June 2019 – Update on rape case. John Cusack tweet and AOC concentration camp comparison.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 20 June 2019 – Don’t test us says Netanyahu. IAEA recognise Palestinian state and Bahrain says yes to 6 Israeli journalists.

 

 

 

 

 

Call to Action

In its efforts to undermine the State of Israel, South Africa’s premier university may well be undermining itself.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is South Africa’s oldest university. Established in 1829, it maintained a proud tradition of academic excellence, but these days it is making international news branding stupidity, rather than excellence.

On March 30, 2019, the Council of the University of Cape Town (UCT) declined to adopt a resolution by its Senate on an Israeli boycott and sent it back requesting clarification before the resolution could go to a vote, notably:

  • “a full assessment of the sustainability impact” and
  • “more consultative process was necessary before the matter could be considered any further”.

This issue has now gone global as alumni across the world from Australia and Hong Kong to the UK, Israel , Canada and the USA – many of them donors and potential donors – have submitted their thoughts of some of the ramifications and repercussions that UCT would face if it decided to implement an Israeli academic boycott in any form.

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UCT At A Crossroads. An uncertain future: should it boycott Israel, donors may boycott UCT.

They have responded to the call by UCT Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng  for UCT stakeholders (including staff, students, alumni, and donors) to submit their views online on the proposed academic boycott of Israel by no later than Friday 21 June.

 (see https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UCTcommunityviews_201906)

Many of the submissions have drawn attention  that a boycott would cause:

  • “A major decrease in donor support, including contributions towards funding bursaries.”
  • “Irreparable harm to the principle of academic freedom”
  • “A loss in reputation and credibility for UCT as the leading university in Africa.”
  • “A sense that Jewish students and academics may feel uncomfortable at a university that has severed ties with their Jewish, spiritual and religious homeland.”
  • “A concern that past degrees and certifications of the university will fail to enjoy international recognition.”
  • “A restriction in UCT’s ability to work with other international institutions and the subsequent degradation in its academic work.”
  • “A loss of potential outstanding students who will chose to study elsewhere.”

One of the many alumni submitting their views is a contributor to LOTL,  Adv. Charles Abelsohn, and who has a BA from UCT, a  LLB  from the Univ of Stellenbosch and a B.Com Hons  from UNISA.

18 June 2019

Totally opposed to resolution proposed by the Palestinian Solidarity Forum (PSF).

No expertise or evidence supporting the Resolution

There are no details on the expertise or knowledge of PSF on the Israel – Arab conflict. Declarations of support for one party are not proof of expertise on the conflict.

The resolution contains no definition of the alleged “gross human rights violations“. Instituting a boycott based on generalizations and/or declarations is not academic and not worthy of an academic institution such as UCT.

PSF has not provided any facts or evidence to the Senate supporting allegations of  “gross human rights violations” by Israel generally or specifically by Israeli academic institutions.

Healthcare

Let`s all agree that the most important human right is the right to healthcare and life. According to the CIA factbook:

Life Expectancy: The West Bank is in 92nd place with 76 years. South Africa, in 191th place with 63 years.

Infant mortality rate: The West Bank is in 120th place with a rate of 14.6. South Africa, in 162nd place with an infant mortality rate of 32.

South Africa`s gross human rights violations regarding healthcare  are worse than the West Bank and are amongst the worst in the world.

Israel`s ‘Save a Child’s Heart’ organization has performed heart surgery on nearly 5,000 Third World children since it was started over 20 years ago, including more than 2,000 from the West Bank and Gaza and 300 from Iraq and Syria. Does this constitute a gross human violation? There is no South African equivalent.

More  “gross human rights violations” by Israel  are treating Palestinian leaders, and their families as well as, in 2018, 20,000 Palestinians in Israeli hospitals. Approximately 1,975 Palestinian physicians participated in medical trainings in Israel in a variety of fields, such as: AIDS, women’s health care and cancer.

Healthcare: PSF has not shown any Israeli “gross human rights violations”.

 Academic

Under Jordan`s illegal occupancy of the West Bank (1948-1967), no universities were allowed in the West Bank. Israel established the first university in the West Bank in 1971 – another “gross human rights violation”.

The PSF has not shown any Israeli academic “gross human rights violations”; On the contrary – the leader of BDS studied at an Israeli university. Omar Barghouti, a founder of BDS, a citizen of Qatar, with a Master`s degree from Columbia (USA) studied for his PH D at Tel Aviv University!

American Universities

 Martha Pollack, Cornell University president’s reply to  a proposal for boycott: “Cornell is an educational institution, and its primary purpose is to further the education of students through our teaching, research and engagement mission. Cornell is not primarily an agent to direct social or political action. BDS unfairly singles out one country in the world for sanction when there are many countries around the world whose governments’ policies may be viewed as controversial.”

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Fistful of Rands. Hardly, if the resolution is passed. The Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), an anti-Israel lobby group is at the forefront of the campaign to isolate the Jewish state at UCT.

Professor Cary Nelson, past  president of the American Association of University Professors has written a book: Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State (Indiana University Press).

Nelson takes a skeptical view of BDS. Many BDS people say their goal is to rebuke Israel and persuade it to improve the treatment of Palestinians. Nelson, having examined the words of BDS leaders in depth, believes they are in fact working toward the collapse of Israel. UCT, please take note:

All ten chancellors in the University of California system have reaffirmed their opposition to the academic boycott of Israel. In a statement, the chancellors said their “commitment to continued engagement and partnership with Israeli, as well as Palestinian colleagues, colleges, and universities is unwavering.” The boycott of Israeli universities and scholars “poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty”.

President Melvin Oliver of Pitzer College in Claremont, California, vetoed a faculty vote to end an exchange programme with Haifa University, saying it is plain wrong, discriminatory and inconsistent to boycott Israel so long as Pitzer, along with many other American colleges, “promotes exchanges and study abroad in countries with significant human rights abuses.” “China, for example, has killed, tortured and imprisoned up to 1 million people in Tibet and utterly obliterated the Tibetan nation. China currently has 1 million Muslims imprisoned in ‘re-education’ camps. Why would we not suspend our program with China?”

One definition of anti-Semitism is singling out Jews or Israel to be punished for supposed but unproven actions that have been documented on a much larger or much more brutal scale in many other countries. UCT, for example, has not considered voting to boycott Saudi Arabia for its state-sanctioned assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi or Iran for the execution of homosexuals or the Palestinians for preventing free speech and assembly, never mind China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria`s 500,000 deaths  or Brunei`s death by stoning for homosexuals.

PSF has not shown why, worldwide, only Israeli academic institutions need to be boycotted for “gross human rights violations”.

European Union Cooperation with Israeli Universities

The European Union and Israel enjoy scientific cooperation under the Horizon 2020 programme. Grants have been awarded to 1062 Israeli projects from the beginning of the programme until the end of 2018. Israeli universities and research institutes can be found among the top 10 countries, worldwide, hosting projects. There is no EU boycott of Israel`s universities. There are no South African academic institutions participating in the EU programme.

Europe: PSF has not shown why Europe is wrong to cooperate intensively with Israeli academia despite Israel`s alleged “gross human rights violations”.

Proposed Resolution for UCT: UCT hereby resolves to deepen, not boycott or limit, its association with Israeli universities, for its own benefit and that of its students.

Big Ben might be silent, but warning bells are chiming in London – for Jews!

The article JEWXIT: COULD 300,000 JEWS FLEE THE UK? by Hannah Gal published in The Jerusalem Post on the June 12 is creating a stir.

It suggests that one in three British Jews have considered leaving the UK due to rising antisemitism and refers to a 2018 poll by The Jewish Chronicle, that “British Jews between 35 and 54 years old are most concerned about the prospect of a Corbyn-led Labour government, with over half of those surveyed giving emigration serious consideration.”

Revealing prevailing fear among families was a quote from an enraged Jewish mother  that “It is almost unreal to me that my daughter’s university choice is determined by her fear of antisemitism.”

She laments that “antisemitism is becoming a part of everyday life.”

This “everyday life” antisemitism, says another mother, is being exacerbated by an atmosphere created by the Leader of the Opposition and possible future Prime Minister:

I used to wear a Magen David (Star of David) but now I am hesitant. Corbyn’s passive aggressive support of anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiments has created a climate where it is now okay to lash out at things Jewish. His actions speak louder than his words – his regular attendances at events and rallies that lobby for Palestine, coupled with pronounced silences whenever there is a tragedy involving Jewish or Israelis, tells me the allegations are not only well founded, but they are telling of a new kind of neoliberal socialist blood which Corbyn has created in the UK.”

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Walking Alone. Quarter of Jewish students in UK “fear antisemitic attacks on campus”.

The increasing anxiety level within the Jewish community recently led former chairman of the Conservative Party, Andrew Feldman, to pen a letter to Jeremy Corbyn saying:

I want you to know that many Jewish people in the United Kingdom are seriously contemplating their future here in the event of you becoming prime minister. This is because they can see that Labour, a party with a proud tradition of tolerance and inclusiveness, is now a hotbed of feelings against Israel and therefore the Jewish people. Quietly, discreetly and extremely reluctantly, they are making their contingency plans, and this would be a tragedy.”

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Future UK Prime Minster? Jeremy Corbyn leading a demonstration in London July 2014 against Israeli during Operation Protective Edge that began following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas.

In response to the article, former South African and today a resident in London, UK, Chris Manson writes:

The nature and level of the anxieties raised in the article is entirely commensurate with the evidence that is all  around.

Indeed, the only surprise to me is how long it seems to have taken to sink in!

There are many factors that inform that this situation has evolved over at least the past twenty years. As such, it is unlikely also to be just something transient.

 These are some of them but by no means all:

  1. The education profession is entirely dominated by a sort of post-modernist neo-Marxist orthodoxy.

The view disseminated by this establishment is rigidly anti-Israeli and unconditionally supportive of all her enemies.

Hence, this is the view held by educated young people, and to differ from it invites ridicule at best, but more likely ostracism or outright attack.

Nowhere is this culture more entrenched  than in the universities. That is why one reference in the article is to the selection of university being dominated by consideration of which campus, relatively speaking, may be less hostile.

  1. The “celebration” and elevation of multi-culturalism to totemic status. As part of the process of expiation of perceived Imperialist guilt, it has become a requirement of modernity, anti-racist purity and “progressive” political views to ascribe an almost sacred degree of absolute moral value to the views of the historic and contemporary immigrant communities.

Out of such communities were drawn the majority by far of British recruits for I.S.I.L.

For years, these groupings and many more mainstream organisations have campaigned also on behalf of the Palestinian cause.

Thus, over time the prevailing view has distilled into the perception that Israel is a sort of psychopathic “entity”, brutal, racist and simply vile in every way.

Anyone daring to even timidly question this this is simply tarred with the same brush.

These are crimes perpetrated by the Jews. Inevitably by implication, British Jewry provide a legitimate target. Payback for the defenceless victims of global “Zionism”.

  1. British thought and direction of travel is skewed by the dominance and power of London; this is where the zeitgeist of the nation is defined. Factors (1) & (2) above are dominant in this location which also largely explains the Brexit division.
  2. Jeremy Corbyn has always been an unrepentant advocate of the overthrow of Israel by any means.

The new recruits to Labour who form his praetorian guard, are social media people informed by factors (1) to (3) above. How surprising can it be that the amalgam of this is now reflected in a casual antisemitism for it is indeed an aspect of contemporary cool: along with anti-sexism, multiculturalism, climate change activism, Trump hatred and so on.

  1. If Corbyn wins the next election which he may well, and this could be sooner rather than later, we can expect an exacerbation of antisemitism as it will then enjoy a thinly disguised State sanction. Rather like South Africa as is clear from a recent article published on Lay Of  The LandI think therefore that for the Anglo Jewish community in the United Kingdom, the options are what they more or less have eternally been everywhere.

Remain, keep a low profile, disguise yourself, hope that things will get better and discretely work to that end.

Or, accept that sadly, the tide has turned here for the foreseeable future and get out while hanging on to the passport!

 

 

*Feature picture – Getty