It takes its cue from an indifferent world – A shameful Silence
By David E. Kaplan
Last year, writes Raymond Ibrahim, “Christians were persecuted more than ever before in the modern era — and 2019 is expected to be worse.”
Raised in the USA to Egyptian parents, Ibrahim today is a widely published author and Middle East and Islam specialist.
He was the first to expose in 2012, an Arabic-language Saudi fatwa that called for the destruction of any Christian church found on the Arabian Peninsula. Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”
Raymond Ibrahim is sounding ALARM BELLS about the plight of Christians in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
Too few hear them ringing!
Writing this March in the Gatestone Institute, Ibrahim reveals that in 2018, 4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons, according to Open Doors USA in its recently published World Watch List 2019 (WWL) of the top 50 nations where Christians are persecuted.
This translates on average, to 11 Christians killed every day for their faith.
Why the deafening silence?
Additionally, in 2018, “2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned”, and “1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.”
In 2018, 215 million Christians faced persecution and the prognosis according to Open Doors, is that this year – 2019 – over 245 million will suffer – a 14% increase, that represents 30 million more people abused for their faith.
This means that “One in nine Christians experience high levels of persecution worldwide.”
Worse for Woman
Another frightening trend is the “shocking persecution against women.”
“In many places,” reveals the report, “they experience a ‘double persecution’ — one for being a Christian and one for being a woman! Even in the most restricted circumstances, gender-specific persecution is a key means of destroying the minority Christian community.”
“At least six women every day are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage to a Muslim man under the threat of death for their Christian faith…”
Among the worst persecutors are those that rule according to Sharia.
In Afghanistan (ranked #2), “Christianity is not permitted to exist” because it “is an Islamic state by constitution, which means government officials, ethnic group leaders, religious officials and citizens are hostile toward adherents of any other religion.”
Similarly, in Somalia, (ranked #3),
Al-Shabaab’s primary aim is to rid Somalia of all Christianity. In 2014 when their leader Ahmed Godane died, they appointed a new leader.
Despite Pope Francis’ statement that Africa is a continent of hope and his call to engage in dialogue against the attacks that have recently occurred, there is not enough being done currently to protect Somali’s Christians. When they are not allowed to express their beliefs to the government without being killed or to celebrate holidays and customs publicly that are Christian, they are being stripped from their basic human rights from society.
Being forced to hide their beliefs from the country and having to live in fear is not an acceptable way to live. Pope Francis is correct in saying that meaningful dialogue is important to solving this problem, but in the meantime, these Christians are being killed regularly, and a change needs to be come soon.
In Iran (ranked #9), “society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.” While worship is permitted under the Islamic Republic’s constitution, conversion to Christianity can be a crime meriting a sentence of more than 10 years imprisonment.
“There are many reports,” said Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, “that this has contributed to the government’s ever-increasing dependence on hardline Islamic ayatollahs, who naturally see Christianity as a threat to their power. For this reason, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing an increase in Christian persecution.”
It has become increasingly common for authorities to arrest worshippers, raid house churches, and confiscate Bibles.
Under Pakistan‘s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy — which can carry a penalty of death.
Only recently, Pakistan’s supreme court struck down the death sentence for blasphemy handed down to a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, in a long-delayed, landmark decision that freed her after nine years on death row and ignited countrywide protests from Islamist groups.
Christian farm labourer Bibi, a 47-year-old mother offive, was sentenced to hang for blasphemy in 2010. She had angered fellow Muslim farm workers by taking a sip of water from a cup she had fetched for them on a hot day. When they demanded she convert to Islam, she refused, prompting a mob to later allege that she had insulted the prophet Mohammed.
In Libya (#4), Yemen (#8), Syria (#11), and Iraq (#13) war has given rise to Islamic militancy and general lawlessness, both of which prey on Christian minorities.
While in Egypt, President el-Sisi has publicly expressed his commitment to protecting Christians, his government’s actions and extremist groups’ continued Christian persecution attacks on individuals and churches, have left Christians feeling insecure and extremely cautious.
Some recent examples:
In December 2017, a gunman opened fire in Cairo at a church and a nearby shop owned by Christians. Eleven people died as a result of the attack.
In July 2018, a mob attacked Christians in a village in Minya, when Muslim residents were angered by a Facebook post they believed to be blasphemous.
Many Christian girls and women have become the victims of sexual harassment, abduction and rape. In just one month (April 2018), at least seven cases of abduction were documented.
In early November 2018, Islamic State militants attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians from a monastery in Minya, killing eight and injuring more than 13 people.
According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. It attributed the rise in persecution to “the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria”.
Home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnapping of girls by Islamist extremists, intent on forcing them to marry Muslims.
“Michael Jones” – not his real name – a Cairo-based businessman and evangelical Christian, told The Guardian there was a gulf between statements from the national leadership regarding the Christian community and actions at a local level.
“You hear President el-Sisi speaking about Christians with a lot of respect and sympathy. Just a few days ago, he made a beautiful, emotional speech when inaugurating our new cathedral. It looked like an amazing affirmation that the state is supporting the church and the Christian community, and doing everything it can to guarantee our welfare,” said ‘Jones’.
“Then you have the local authorities in villages and towns – police, judges, business owners – and it’s evident that many of them are infected with a rejection of Christianity. You see this in daily practices.”
BDS – are you hearing the cries and calls for salvation or are you callously ignoring?
The Yazidis – “We harmed nobody”
This ancient faith that has survived for centuries by living apart in a tight-knit community is facing extinction. There are less than a million Yazidis worldwide, and most are in the Iraqi heartland.
Facing extinction – they see their fate inextricably linked to the wider world.
The Yazidi narrative reveals surviving 74 genocides throughout their tormented history, but the worst, Yazidis today will say, is ISIS “that is trying to eradicate our faith and culture.” Acknowledged by the United Nations as genocide, the ISIS campaign may have dealt “the most brutal blow.”
On 3 August 2014, ISIS attacked the Yazidi community in Sinjar, northern Iraq. Thousands were imprisoned or killed, and close to 100,000 people fled to Mount Sinjar. The UN referred to the attack as “a genocide”.
Women have paid the highest price when ISIS attacked. Close to 7,000 women have been sold as sex slaves. They have been brutalised by ISIS fighters, many of them repeatedly victims of sexual assaults. They were forced to convert to Islam, and many were forcibly married off to ISIS fighters. Women who tried to escape were often punished with gang rape.
Thousands of women and children, down to the age of nine, were repeatedly sold in slave markets in Syrian cities where ISIS had a strong presence. Boys from the age of seven years and upwards were separated from their mothers and put in camps where they were brainwashed and trained to become child soldiers.
In an appeal to the world, a priest, Sheikh Ismael Bahri, catches sight of a rare group of foreign journalists and wails:
“All humane countries of the world must see our situation. We’ve not harmed anyone. All we want is help and protection.”
While the Yazidis’ plight has moved some countries such as Australia, Canada and Germany that offered refuge to a limited number of victims, notably the women brutally enslaved by ISIS, most the world remains silent.
“We feel threatened here, we don’t have a future here,” cried out Tuli Bahri Evo, whose family crossed the border from Syria where the Yazidis’ presence is also dwindling.
Alarmed by a potential exodus which could endanger the very survival of this tiny community, Yazidi leaders are begging the world to help them stay in Iraq.
“We need our own Yazidi force so we can protect ourselves,” the Yazidis’ religious leader, Baba Sheikh says. “The world is only talking about Yazidis but doing nothing.”
Wake up world – the Yazidis are an “Endangered Species”!
Asia Bibi: protests erupt in Pakistan after blasphemy conviction overturned – video
Feature picture: Yazidi Kurdish women chant slogans during a protest against the Islamic State group’s invasion of Sinjar city, in Dohuk, Iraq, August 3, 2015. (AP/Seivan M. Salem)
With movements like Times Up which advocates for gender parity and #MeToo which has sent a resounding message to the masses that women will no longer be silent about sexual abuse and harassment and that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, it would appear that the time for women is now!
This International Women’s Day, as we focus on the importance of these issues, we have to consider whether or not ALL women are included in the conversation about these decisions that affect them.
With the rise of global phenomenon’s like the Women’s March and #MeToo that continue to gain momentum, so it seems that there are significant groups of women who are excluded.
In the case of the Women’s March, it was made abundantly clear to Jewish women who are proudly Zionist, that they were not welcome.
In fact, one of the founders, Linda Sarsour, had this to say:
“It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”
It begs the question – are Zionism and feminism on a collision course?
Comments like this are fast alienating Jewish, Zionist women from participating in tthe growing feminist movement in the USA.
During the Dyke March in Chicago in 2017, Jewish marchers who displayed the Star of David of their rainbow flag were asked to leave. Organizers defended their decisions saying that they did not want anything “that can inadvertently or advertently express Zionism” and that it made other marchers feel “unsafe”. This was not a display of the flag of Israel in all its blue and white glory but a rainbow flag with a Magen David (Star of David). So it was LGBTQ women’s rights for everyone – save for Jewish lesbians?
The Women’s March has fast become a growing cesspit of anti-Semitism, disguised in its new, trendy form anti-Zionism.
Three of the leaders of the Women’s March, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez are rising media sensations. They are articulate, camera-friendly and are very busy appearing to do good. They are “woke” and a draw card for young women who care about the growing importance of gender equality.
They organise rallies, clean up cemeteries, and protests at every conceivable opportunity. They are veritable pin-ups for girl power. They are also sadly, the new faces of ‘intersectionality’.
Intersectionality can be described as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups” (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Fraternisers Of Farrakhan
All suffering and discrimination are equal – except for that of Jews.
Unfortunately, these feminist poster girls have chosen to align themselves with some of the most vociferous anti-Semites.
While rallying against the “patriarchy” – they feel no compunction in cozying up to misogynist and arch anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan, who features at number 2 on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s list of top Jew haters. Number one was the Pittsburgh Massacre. Farrakhan is known for his trafficking in gross anti-Semitic tropes like these:
“I’m not mad at you because you’re so stupid. So, when they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, you do what they do, call me an anti-Semite. Stop it, I’m anti-Termite.”
“It is now becoming apparent that there were many Israelis and Zionist Jews in key roles in the 9/11 attacks. Israelis had foreknowledge of the attacks… We know that many Jews received a text message not to come to work on September 11”
Tamika Mallory referred to him as GOAT – Greatest Of All Time. Greatest hater perhaps, but certainly not someone to whom women fighting for equal rights should embrace like these leaders have.
As a result of this, many chapters of the Women’s March are divesting themselves from the greater movement and have joined well know celebrities like Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano in condemning the anti-Semitism that is spreading.
Feminism is very much a part of the fabric of Zionism and the story of the modern state of Israel and as a Zionist feminist woman, I am free to pretty much say what I want – unlike my Palestinian sisters!
Feminism predates the modern state of Israel and weaves through Jewish history with feminist heroines like Yael and Devorah and they have continued the tradition of strong, outspoken women in modern times. Zionists wrote the book on feminism. Literally! Have you read the bible? Some pretty strong women in there!
Zionist women are the ultimate feminist rebels, pioneers and trailblazers. Before the formal establishment of Israel, women were establishing the systems and institutions that would improve life for her citizens. Organisations like WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) were at the forefront of the suffragette movement that took place in Europe at the time. The struggle for political suffrage for women is regarded as first wave of feminism.
Women’s rights in Israel are amongst the most progressive in the world and it would be remiss of me to not mention the iconic Golda Meir, one of the first female Prime Ministers in the world.
A powerful leader and orator, Meir was one of the first to recognise how Israel can help impoverished countries in Africa, and this was very much in line with the father of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl’s, vision that he wrote in his manifesto.
Zionist women are free to criticise any policy that we may disagree with because an Israel that stands up to the tenets of Zionism is what we strive for.
Israel is a vibrant and flawed democracy just like any other country and women are very much a part of the fabric that has and continues to build the country every day.
We are pioneers in many fields. We are trailblazers in business, politics, volunteer organisations, the arts and sciences and so much more.
We are religious and secular and everything in between. We are warriors and defenders of our country on land, sea, air and airwaves and we are homemakers, entrepreneurs and creative genii. We are changing the political landscape and we represent over 80 different ethnicities. We can vote, drive, and own property and business. We can make decisions that govern our bodies and our communities and if we want to, raise a little hell.
The hypocrisy of the Women’s March that while castigating and excluding Zionist feminists, they are not advocating properly for their Palestinian sisters. If they were concerned about the rights of Palestinian women, they would be holding the leadership accountable at every possible turn. They would be demonstrating outrage about domestic violence and honour killings, gender Apartheid which prohibits women from owning property or businesses, driving, voting and pursuing careers of their choice. They would march against underage brides forced to marry men before they reach puberty. They would be outraged about genital mutilation; genocide of Christian women and the unspeakable torture women are enduring in the Middle East under ISIS.
It is important that when it comes to discussing women’s issues, that the table is inclusive and that Jewish, Zionist women are included. Exclusion is not just discriminatory, it is hypocrisy.
Zionist women are happy to meet these organisations and movements at any intersection. Standing up for the rights of women regardless of religion or political leanings is what feminism is all about.
Senior Researcher at NGO Monitor – the globally recognized research institute promoting democratic values and good governance.
On February 28, 2019, the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the riots along the Israel-Gaza border, which began in March 2018, alleged that “Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law… and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.” The COI created a “confidential file” of “which is recommended be given to the International Criminal Court (ICC)” and to be used by governments to “consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze.”
In contrast to professional fact-finding standards, the COI clearly established pre-determined legal and factual conclusions and merely gathered “evidence” to fit its desired outcome.
In preparing its report, the COI relied heavily on Palestinian sources, including Hamas and terror-linked non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Notably, the COI uncritically adopts the NGOs’ application of a domestic law enforcement paradigm – erasing the context of the armed conflict with Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups – to analyze cross-border violence.
The COI used anonymous and unverifiable “testimonies.” When asked during a press conference to provide details about how many of the 325 the interviews it conducted itself or how it selected the 325 individuals reportedly interviewed, the Chairperson of the COI was unable to answer the question and stated he would have to provide that information “at a later date”.
The information provided in the published summary is a near copy-paste from NGO submissions to the COI. For example, all names of Palestinian children killed were provided by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), an NGO with ties to the Popular of Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, i.e. one of the parties to the conflict in Gaza. (DCI-P’s submission was prepared in partnership with the CUNY School of Law Human Rights and Gender Justice Law Clinic.)
Reflecting the COI’s lack of expertise and muddled analysis, throughout the report, the COI mixes up the concepts of “international human rights” and “humanitarian law” and applicable rules and standards. For example, according to the Commission, the violence along the Israel-Gaza border was not a “military” or “combat” situation and therefore human rights law was the appropriate standard. Therefore, its conclusion that “human rights violations” may also constitute “war crimes” is baseless, since war crimes can only occur where the laws of war are applicable.
The UN’s shoddy researching and reporting led them to write identical paragraphs about the same fatality, Mo’min Hams, on different pages of the “protected groups” section of the report.
Minimizing Palestinian Violence, Erasing Palestinian Terror
The COI largely erases the dimension of Palestinian violence along the Gaza border, as well as Hamas’ leading role in orchestrating the attacks. NGO Monitor’s two submissions to the COI provided significant detail regarding the presence of violence – including use of guns, Molotov cocktails, stones, burning tires, incendiary kites, etc. as well as the exploitation of children to perpetrate these acts – along the Gaza border. These and other evidence of violence are freely available from open sources. The COIignored and minimized these armed attacks and reconstituted the riots as “peaceful protests.”
According to a statement made at a press conference, the COI deliberately focused on five main riot locations during the specific times of protests. This means that the COIignored essential context including that the riots were used as diversions to attacks occurring elsewhere at the same time as well as military attacks, shootings and other violence that occurred at other times, particularly at night.
Although the COI acknowledges the involvement of terrorist organizations in planning the events along the border, it absurdly insists that “the armed wings of these parties were not represented on the [planning] committee.” In Gaza in particular, the distinction between “armed wings” of terror groups and other branches of these groups is meaningless.
The COI whitewashes statements made by Hamas officials that demonstrate Hamas’ role in organizing and directing the violence along the Gaza. On May 17, 2018, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar stated that “when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public. This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies and enjoying tremendous popular support.”
On May 16, Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil claimed “I am giving you an official figure. Fifty of the martyrs in the recent battle were from Hamas,” referring to clashes that took place on May 14.
The COI claims that Israel “intentionally shot” children, health workers, journalists, and those with disabilities, “knowing” that these people were “recognizable as such when they were shot.”
It is unclear how the COI could determine intent of or the information known to IDF soldiers at the time of a given incident.
One such disabled individual is identified as deaf. Obviously, an Israeli soldier, at a distance of 150m away, could not possibly know of this person’s condition.
In its press conference, COI members admitted that “maybe some of them weren’t visibly children.”
Illegitimacy of the COI
None of the COI members has any expertise in international humanitarian law or military operations. Not surprising then, the report ignores the applicable legal framework and instead lazily refers solely to human rights law, making the absurd claim that “the demonstrations were civilian in nature… and despite some acts of significant violence, did not constitute combat or a military campaign.”
The COI was marred by a lack of transparency and accountability. It was allocated the massive sum of $1.5million to complete this report yet kept secret how this money was spent. The identities of the staffers and any consultants employed are not disclosed, making it impossible to independently verify their professional qualifications.
The COI was established by the notorious UN Human Rights Council – a body controlled by dictatorships and authoritarian regimes and known for extreme anti-Israel bias. Therefore, it is not a true “inquiry,” but rather a rigged effort to recycle the claims of partisan NGOs and to grant them the legitimacy of the UN. This is another round to target Israel via such pseudo-investigations, including the notorious and subsequently discredited 2009 Goldstone report.
About the writer:
Shaun Sacks immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 1998. He received his BA from Bar Ilan University. Before joining NGO Monitor as a Senior Researcher, Shaun was the Senior Project Manager for NETSOURCE, an Israeli firm that specializes in providing technology employment opportunities to Ultra-Orthodox communities, and emerging market manager for McAfee Inc.
Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international annual series of events held all over the world around February, March and April with the stated purpose of spreading information regarding the plight of the Palestinian people and rallying support for their cause. The 2019 series of events takes place from 16th March until 14th April. On April 1st 2019, the South African IAW shall commence.
There will be rallies, speeches, protests, presentations, workshops, even concerts, poetry readings and films, a huge festival of sorts, all designed, according to their website, to ‘raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies’ and ‘gain support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign’.
This movement has much support especially in South Africa where it is known what the racist apartheid regime was and so it is easy to attract local support to an ‘anti-apartheid’ cause. People in South Africa and throughout the world jump onto the BDS bandwagon genuinely wanting to support the apparent underdog. Who wouldn’t want to support the underdog?
If you are reading this and happen to be one of the very passionate people fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people, I implore you, as free-thinking and passionate individuals who care for the well-being of others, to consider the below responses to the arguments generally put forward:
“Israel is practicing ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian people”
How is it possible for the Palestinian population to have grown from around 650,000 in 1948 to over 4.6 million now if Israel is engaged in constant ethnic cleansing? And if there is this ethnic cleansing going on, how is it that Israeli society is made up of millions of Muslim Arab and Christian citizens? It does not make sense.
“The Palestinian people are denied having a Palestinian State”
“Jews build / expand settlements in disputed areas”
Why is there a push to support the Palestinian people to be such ethno-fascists that it is somehow deemed ‘understandable’ if someone ‘loses all sense’ and murders people (including stabbing children to death) because of not wanting Jews to live among them or even build a shed on their own properties, for example? Should we not be more concerned that non-Muslims are, to put it euphemistically, not welcome in Palestinian areas? If those areas become a Palestinian State, then those Jews who live there should have the option of deciding whether to move in order to remain citizens of Israel, or become citizens of Palestine. Much like what should happen in the formation of any state.
“Israel can end the conflict by giving land over to the Palestinian Authority
Israel has given land in the past, but nothing has changed with regards to the Jihad waged against Israel and the stream of rockets being fired into Israel. Why is this not questioned by those wholeheartedly standing against Israel by default of standing for the Palestinian people?
(Courtesy of MEMRI)
Be a courageous game-changer and question this. Supporting any boycott of Israel without investigating for oneself whether or not these allegations against Israel are true, not only puts supporters of Israel (or Jewish people in general as has been seen in many incidences around the world) in danger, but also prevents growth, learning, understanding and dialogue. It prevents the ingredients needed in the first place for peaceful resolutions.
Comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa does a gross disservice to those who suffered through apartheid.
Don’t simply jump on the IAW and BDS band-wagons. Be for the Palestinian people by questioning their leadership, not by being against countries which help them, including Israel. Supporting BDS ironically hurts the Palestinian people by putting the blame on others for their leaders’ crimes.
Courtesy of Israel Collective
“Sharon Salomon is a South African, Israeli living in Johannesburg. She is the granddaughter of Auschwitz survivors, and of those who were smuggled from Iraq to Israel in the 1950’s. She remembers little bits of Apartheid as a young child and her parents being fiercely against. She is passionate about being a voice for truth and dialogue believing it to literally save lives. She is the director and founding member of Race Against Extinction supporting tiger conservation. She holds a BSc in Mathematical Sciences and consults as a Business Analyst.”
Business Manager South Africa Israel Chamber of Commerce.
Although a tiny country geographically, Israel’s challenges are enormous, hence it is hardly surprising that the number of think tanks in the country increases steadily. Today, there are dozens of such institutions providing decision makers with high-quality and objective policy research on a range of critical issues.
We have seen how events can confound “even the experts” – most notably 2016. How did the plethora of experts, analysts and predictors get the Brexit vote or the Trump election to the USA Presidency so wrong?
Clearly, predictions on human behaviour are difficult to call, hence the importance of ‘think tanks’ to research and advise.“Policymakers need understandable, reliable, accessible, and useful information about the societies they govern,”according to a 2016 Go To Think Tank Index Report. “They also need to know how current policies are working, as well as to set out possible alternatives and their likely costs and consequences.”
Think tanks may vary by ideological perspectives, sources of funding, topical emphasis and prospective consumers.
In October 2017, a new think was launched in Jerusalem, billing itself as Israel’s “new conservative security think tank” that “seeks to counter debilitating currents in Israeli defence and diplomatic discourse and recapture the mainstream in Zionist security thinking.”
The Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS) has already made a name for itself as a result of its activities in a number of areas, including “the Jewish people’s historic connection to the land of Israel as a central component of strategic worldview; the salience of security in diplomatic agreements; rejection of unilateral Israeli moves that strengthen adversaries; the importance of strategic cooperation with like-minded allies; the imperative of Israel being able to defend itself by itself; and, critically, the importance of a united Jerusalem to Israel’s security and destiny.”
All these policies and stratagems fall under the main umbrella of reclaiming Zionism. Its worldview is conservative and strategic and, according to its vice-president Eran Lerman, a former deputy head at the National Security Council, it will deal with the basic issues of national security, with an emphasis “on the struggle for the future of Jerusalem.”
Hereunder are a few of the major think-tanks playing a vital role in the Israeli government’s policy-making decisions.
– the Taub Centre for Social Policy Studies does impartial research on socioeconomic conditions in Israel, and develops innovative, equitable and practical options for macro public policies that advance the well-being of Israelis. The Center strives to influence public policy through direct communications with policy-makers and by enriching the public debate that accompanies the decision-making process.
– the BESA Centre (the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies) is named in memory of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, whose ground-breaking Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty laid the cornerstone for conflict resolution in the Middle East. On June 14, 2009, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu chose the BESA Centre podium as the venue for announcing his historic acceptance of the “Two-State Solution”.
-the Israeli Democracy Institute, based in Jerusalem, is an independent centre of research and action dedicated to strengthening the foundations of Israeli democracy and bolstering the values and institutions of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. In the University of Pennsylvania‘s 2014 Global Go To Think Tanks Report, IDI was ranked the twenty-third best think tank in the Middle East and North Africa.
-the Aaron Institute for Economic Policy seeks to sustain economic growth and social strength in the country by developing modern and innovative strategies and policy tools for the Israeli economy. Based at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) which today has over 60 students from South Africa, the institute’s main aim is to develop policy strategies that eliminate weaknesses and empower the strengths of the Israeli economy. Its research focuses on multiple industries while examining the various reform tools and cross-referencing data with modern technologically developed countries while seeking ways of increasing cross sectorial growth by changes to industrial sectors.
–the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs (JCPA) specialises in public diplomacy and foreign policy. Founded in 1976, it primarily researches defensible borders; Jerusalem in International diplomacy; Iran and the new threats to the West; and combating delegitimization.
This think-tank focuses on Iran, radical Islam, the Middle East, Israel, the peace process, Jerusalem, antisemitism and world Jewry. Its Director of the Political Warfare Project, Dan Diker, in January co-penned an article with David Kaplan and Rolene Marks in South Africa’s Daily Maverick “Why Oscar van Heerden insults South Africa’s intelligence’. It exposed the lack of academic research and prejudice against Israel of the South African “academic”, Dr. Oscar van Heerden.
– Established in 2000, the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) – also based at the IDC Herzliya – is the convener of Israel’s most prestigious annual conference, the ‘Herzliya Conference’, which aspires to contribute to Israel’s national security and resilience. The Institute conducts integrative and comprehensive policy analysis on the challenges facing Israel, identifying opportunities and threats, producing strategic insights and policy recommendations for decision-makers, and informs the public and policy discourse. Often referred to as “Israel’s Davos”, the Conference is annually attended by participants from South Africa.
-the nonpartisan policy think tank ReutInstitute in Tel Aviv provides real-time, long-term strategic decision-support to Israeli policymakers, aiming to “identify the gaps in current policy and strategy in Israel and the Jewish world, and work to build and implement new visions.” Reut is not akin to the traditional ‘think-tank’ model in that its methodology is very different: it focuses on unique cutting-edge theory, software tools, and impact strategy. It aims to provide early warning of strategic surprises and opportunities and to design strategies to avoid or seize them respectively.
“We don’t provide the answers, we frame the questions: we help people in positions of leadership, authority and influence identify and abandon old paradigms and refocus their thinking.”
These, and other think tanks that proliferate across the land, are suppliers of vital information to Knesset members and the public. They are peopled by some of the finest Israeli minds, often drawn from the ranks of academia. They focus on ensuring that policies and strategies adopted for the security, development and future growth of the Israeli state and its citizens are aligned with the needs of the latter – their continued prosperity, the resilience and cohesion of the Jewish people both inside and outside of the country, and the country’s standing in the international community.
Reading through some of the documents that come from these various think tanks is fascinating but simultaneously puzzling.
Are they official government policy? And if not, why not?
In many cases, their proposals and tactics seem to make more sense than the myriad of bureaucratic decisions which are often made reactively rather than proactively, and which appear to fly in the face of public consensus. They are reflective and profound and have clearly been analysed at length.
The Good, The Bad and The Great
It all makes fascinating reading.
One research paper that particularly resonated for me was JISS’s Professor Ephraim Inbar’s recently published “The Future of Israel Looks Good”.
“Time,” wrote the professor, “is on Israel’s side.” His review of the balance of power between Israel and its foes; of the domestic features moulding Israel’s national power; and of Israel’s standing in the international community, “validates the assessment that Israel has the dominant hand for the foreseeable future.”
Inbar argues that Israel’s powerful military machine in overcoming numerous military challenges has enhanced its deterrence; and the decline in the intensity of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a direct result of its military superiority. The welcome beginnings of a peace process with several Arab states translates into a diminished likelihood of another large-scale conventional Arab-Israeli conflict.
Countering the endless threat of missiles on its civilian population, Israel deploys impressive anti-missile systems, which include the Iron Dome that in its encounters with Gazan terrorists, intercepted 88% of incoming projectiles. Inbar however warns that “these systems cannot provide a full defence in view of the numbers of missiles arrayed against Israel.”
The bad news – and there is always bad news – is a nuclear Iran which presents a grave national security challenge not only to Israel but to the region and beyond. This threat could start a nuclear arms race transforming a regional balance of power. While the emergence of a nuclear Iran is potentially catastrophic, Israel is believed capable of neutralising this existential threat.
But hey – what about the good, the better news? In 2010, recognition of Israel’s economic achievements opened the door to its becoming a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a brotherhood of the world’s 33 most developed countries that are committed to democracy and a market economy. Sound economic policies, an emphasis on market values, and a seamless adaptation to globalisation have resulted in Israel emerging as one of the most developed market economies, driven in large part by its science and technology sectors as well as its sophisticated manufacturing and agriculture areas.
While Israel has achieved so much in seven decades, I have taken a more sombre posture noting Israel’s position within the orbit of its international placing on the world stage.
What of Israel’s other stumbling blocks? What of the country’s social rifts? The Ashkenazi-Sephardic cleavage? The Palestinian citizens in the West Bank territories? Their accusations of apartheid and ethnic cleansing? The grim lives and the overcrowding in Gaza? And what future plans are there for that populace, many of whom want only an ordinary life, transport, freedom, movement, safety, education, health care?
Worth Thinking About
Think tanks work so long as those who people them, and those to whom their findings are conveyed, work simultaneously to secure their verification and their implementation. This demands leadership of the highest calibre with a commitment to pursue improved living standards rather than only planning for military crises.
And so, despite the odds and obstacles, Israel at almost 71 is a great success story. Its future will remain bright as long as it continues implementing prudent domestic and foreign policies and remains successful in transmitting a Zionist ethos to future generations. While peace with all its neighbours “is desirable,” says Prof. Inbar, “that eventuality is not a necessary condition for Israel’s survival or prosperity in the medium-to-long-term.”
Words of wisdom, words of comfort, words of reassurance.
Amnesty International, used to enjoy a pristine reputation as one of the foremost non-governmental organisations that was at the vanguard of ensuring the rights of the truly oppressed. They raised a proud voice to free icons like Mandela, release prisoners of war and brought human rights to the global consciousness in a noble and erudite manner. They were feted by celebrities who brought social justice to rock concerts, admired by many and set the benchmark for activism.
Lately it would appear that this once venerated organization has become a poor excuse of what it once was and has decidedly lost the plot by disproportionately focusing on the Jewish State.
The latest attempt at trying to de-legitimise the Jewish state is the launching of a campaign that targets major travel websites to boycott listing Jewish-owned homes and businesses in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The NGO has released a report called “Destination Occupation” where they claim that Israel has built a significant “settlement tourism industry” which has helped “sustain and expand” communities beyond the 1967 lines.
Amnesty International have online giants Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor firmly in their sites and accuse them of “fueling human rights violations against Palestinians” in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by promoting Jewish-owned properties and activities there.
It does not stop there.
The report greatly diminishes both Jewish and Christian spiritual connections to historical sites in both areas. Amnesty International accuse Israel of using archaeology “to make the link between the modern State of Israel and its Jewish history explicit,” while “rewriting of history [which] has the effect of minimizing the Palestinian people’s own historic links to the region.” These claims come despite antiquity that supports ancient ties to the land.
Amnesty International would rather have you believe that instead of finding antiquity that is thousands of years old and supports Jewish claims and presence to the land of Israel, it is a ploy to build neighbourhoods in the West Bank. The report goes on to say, “Israel has constructed many of its settlements close to archeological sites…[as] part of an active campaign to normalize and legitimize Israel’s increasing control of [occupied] Palestinian territory.”
With all the other conflicts in the world, including the civil war in Syria that has resulted in genocide, it does beg the question, why is Amnesty International so fixated on Israel?
It could be said that there may be more nefarious intentions. Is Amnesty International giving a tailwind to the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement who by their own admission, advocate for a “Palestine that is free from the river to the sea,” in other words – no Israel? For a “movement” that purports to be human rights driven, this is more like hate-mongering drivel.
This latest Amnesty International report calls for travel websites to boycott only Israeli homes and businesses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This is unacceptable and plays into the hands of BDS whose goals are anti-Semitic.
The ban applies a double standard exclusively to Jewish-owned properties there – twice:
First, it calls for travel companies to remove the properties from their services, while it has never promoted similar bans for every other disputed territory in the world – from Northern Cyprus, Western Sahara and Tibet to Kashmir, Crimea and Gibraltar.
Second, it treats listings offered by Jews differently than those from Palestinians – despite being in the same area. This violates Israeli law which states that there can be no discrimination based on location of homes of business according to where you live.
Human Rights Watch, another NGO who spearheaded the campaign to coerce Airbnb to delist properties, found out the hard way that when it comes to discriminating against Israel that there are those who are willing to play hardball. No sooner had the Airbnb ban been announced, four attorneys filed a class action suit against the company in the Jerusalem District Court to protest the US-based company’s decision to drop listings in West Bank settlements from its vacation rental website that hosts adverts from 191 countries. The case is based on a 2000 law against discrimination in products and services, which was amended in 2017 to include places of residence.
“The law in Israel forbids discrimination based on the place where you live, and what Airbnb has done is by all means discrimination based on the place where you live,” said attorney Aviel Flint, a partner in the law firm Yossi Levy & Co.
This could also likely apply to the other targeted companies who may not want to test the boycott waters. NGO Monitor, who monitors the activities of these types of organisations, exposed the flaws and anti-Semitic intentions of Human Rights Watch in this report.
Amnesty International may be on the same trajectory to being exposed for its anti-Semitic intentions by expanding to include other travel juggernauts, TripAdvisor, Bookings.com and Expedia.
Despite its earned reputation as a respected human rights organization, Amnesty International has a documented history of discrimination regarding Israel. Examples include its 2015 rejection of a “Campaign against anti-Semitism in the UK” – the only proposed resolution at its Annual General Meeting that was not adopted; comments by its current Secretary General that Israel is a “government that is rogue” and the head of its Finland branch that Israel is a “scum state”; and the fact that no other country in a conflict zone is the focus of similar Amnesty-led boycotts.
Boycott Over Bridges
Amnesty International’s call for a boycott against Jewish-owned homes and businesses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is the antithesis of what the objectives of a human rights organisation should be. The report endorses boycott over bridges, conflict over discourse and instead of promoting peace and economic partnerships between Palestinians and Israelis, Amnesty chooses to scupper any attempts at normalisation.
But Amnesty International may be in for a rude shock. This plan also violates US based anti-boycott laws and this once venerable organization could find itself sanctioned and its funding cut. It would appear that when it comes to human rights and being a voice for the oppressed and persecuted, Amnesty International has chosen to take the path of conflict and discrimination.
Clearly Amnesty International has lost the plot. A sad trajectory for this once noble organization.