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.

image001 (55)
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.”

image001 (55)
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.”

image001 (54)
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.”

image002 (51)
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

Times Are A’changing

In Europe, now South Africa – Jews are feeling uneasy

By David E. Kaplan

The recent spat between the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ vice president, Zev Krengel and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, illustrates not only the widening chasm  between South Africa’s ruling party and its Jewish community but something far more alarming.

It exposes an increasing unease Jews are feeling with their position in South Africa today.

The “issue” is not over anything pertaining to Jewish wellbeing in their country – the primary concern of Krengel’s organisation the SAJBOD – but over South Africa’s relationship with the Jewish State – Israel.

image004 (52)
Satisfying Selfie. SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn, SAJBOD’s vice president Zev Krengel and SA President Cyril Ramaphosa are all smiles following post-election celebrations held at the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission’s) Results Gala.

Once a  ‘sign’ of inclusivity, the much touted “Rainbow Nation” image of the Mandela era has lost its sparkle. That inclusivity  comes today  for South Africa’s Jews  with a price tag:

Stop Supporting Israel.”

Can this really be expected as an option for a People who have repeated for over 3500 years from the Psalm of King David:

 “If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem! let my right hand forget its skill!”

Zionism –  the nationalist movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel – is in the DNA of South African Jewry. Well over a half century before the Holocaust in Europe, Zionism arrived in South Africa  “in the knapsacks of the Litvak Jews.”

Many of the young new arrivals from the late nineteenth century  had been members of Hovevei Zion societies in Eastern Europe – the forerunners and foundation-builders of modern Zionism. These societies aimed to promote Jewish immigration to their ancestral homeland in Ottoman ruled Palestine, and advance Jewish settlement there, particularly in agriculture.

image003 (51)
Fundraising For Palestine. A 1922 pledge of 175 by a Cape Town Jew. South African Jewry’s contribution in absolute figures was second only to Jewry in the USA in the first two decades of Keren Hayesod (Foundation Fund) that was established in 1922. By 1939, with a Jewish population of 90,700 South Africa’s per capita record was extraordinary when compared to a Jewish population of nearly 5,000,000 in the United States.

It was therefore no surprise the South African Zionist Federation was established as early as 1898 – over a decade before there was even a Union of South Africa –  followed by the Board of Deputies in 1903. Nine years later the ANC was founded in 1912, with the aim of fighting for the rights of black South Africans.

Now the organisations tasked with fighting for the rights of Jews and Blacks are facing off over an issue a continent away!

What has startled the Jewish community even more, was the rebuke Krengel and the SAJBOD received as if they had no right to criticize the ANC member.

The criticism in question was Krengel referring  to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as “the single biggest enemy” in government to South African Jewry. This was in response for her crusade for South Africa to sever diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

Krengel had every right to articulate his concerns particularly following the Minister’s ignorance, bias and antisemitism all evident in her accusing “the Israeli government of funding WITS” (University of the Witwatersrand) and adding to her accusation “This was a fact that must be taken into account when implementing the proposed downgrade of the South African embassy in Israel.”

image009 (23)
Down With Israel. Diplomatic downgrade crusader, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: GCIS.

If the British Labour Party, once the political home for much of Britain’s Jewish community is being investigated for institutional antisemitism – why should senior members of the ANC be free of similar rebuke?

The Jewish leadership would have been remiss in not taking the minister to task.

As national vice chairman of the South Africa Zionist Federation Ben Levitas in Politicalweb expressed:

the SAJBOD did what they were elected to do by opposing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s decision to act on the ANC’s 54th National Conference resolution “to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel”. The Boards mandate is to guard and protect the interests of the Jewish community and the downgrade of relations with Israel most certainly impacts on the well-being of the community.”

While the cracks have been paved over following the recent national election, some members within the community are seeing through the façade of rainbow-nation-like unity and camaraderie. A May 23 letter by Brian Josselowitz to the editor the SA Jewish Report is revealing:

You can schmooze with the political elite, and even take selfies with ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, but he serves at the pleasure of the national executive committee, and he will not vote against ANC policy, especially on the question of Israel.

The SA Jewish Report (SAJR) gave him its unqualified backing when he won the ANC presidency at the party’s last elective conference, and if he has, as the SAJR would have us believe, an open mind about the conflict, why didn’t he take cabinet colleagues Naledi Pandor and Sisulu to task, in public, for their anti-Semitic remarks? Why has he allowed Sisulu to say that all relations with Israel are being severed, and the embassy will be downgraded to a visa office, without repudiating her in public?”

image001 (53)
Soothing In Synagogue. President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the Jewish New Year’s prayer session at the Gardens Synagogue in Cape Town, September 12, 2018. Picture: GCIS

A Deep Sense Of Foreboding

What is happening to freedom of speech in South Africa  when the Board’s director, Wendy Kahn, feels the need to defend  her organisation’s right to criticise government.

 “…I think the Jewish community, as with all citizens of South Africa have got a right to criticise and condemn statements and actions of government.”

All this follows:

  • in 2018 the ANC put out the red carpet in Parliament for the terror organisation Hamas that had only weeks before   fired close to 500 rockets from Gaza into southern Israel with the intention of endangering the lives of Israelis. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was co-signed by the ANC and Hamas that supported – inter alia – “the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel” and ensured that “ANC leaders and government officials do not visit Israel
  • The ongoing crusade of South Africa’s premier university – the University of Cape Town (UCT) – to boycott academic institutions in Israel
  • The passing of a motion brought to the Johannesburg council by the ANC, Al-Jamaah and EFF to rename one of the city’s prominent roads, Sandton Drive, after Leila Khaled. While glorified as the “poster girl of the Palestinian struggle”, this is the same Leila Khaled who, holding two hand-grenades in her hands in 1970, terrified a planeload of passengers on an EL AL Flight from Amsterdam to New York City and who the previous year, in 1969, had hijacked a TWA Flight from Rome to Tel Aviv diverting it to Damascus International Airport, where together with her partner, blew up the nose section of the Boeing 707. These are South Africa’s role models today – dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel. Khaled was not hijacking civilian aircraft in support for a Two-State Solution:

        In 1970, there were only 1,514 Jews living in the West Bank!

image011 (21)
Explosive Personality. TWA Flight 840 being blown up on August 29th 1969 by Leila Khaled and her fellow hijackers. Source: adst.org

Is it any wonder that Jews in South Africa are questioning the direction of their country, the policies of its political leaders and the nagging thorn pricking daily, whether it is a suitable place for their children and grandchildren?

image006 (33)
Sign Of The Times. PFPL plane hijacker Leila Khaled (centre) warmly received in South Africa in 2015, might soon have a street in Johannesburg named after her. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

An old acquaintance in Cape Town who recently put his property on the market remarked:

 “It’s now just a house; it’s no more a home!”

 

 

* Feature Picture:  Cyril Ramaphosa chating to Lindiwe Sisulu on the last day of the ANC National Conference on December 20, 2012 in Mangaung, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

The Arab Voice

A selection of opinions and analysis from the Arab media

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

 

Four Decades of Iranian Terrorism

05/21/2019

By Mohammed al-Baladi 

Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia, May 18

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

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

– Mohammed al-Baladi (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

image001 (48)
Brave protesters overcoming fears and standing up to regime’s security forces.

HE MULLAHS’ REGIME IS BOUND TO FALL

By Muhammad al-Sheikh

Al-Jazeera, Saudi Arabia , May 17, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Muhammad al-Sheikh

image006 (30)
Iran protests broaden as U.S. sanctions takes toll on the economy. The unrest signaled widespread unease after the U.S. decision to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal and restore sanctions on the country.

The Inevitability of a Clash with Iran

By Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, May 18

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

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

image005 (46)
Massive protests in January 2019 across Iran with significant participation of women.

The Arab Voice – May 2019

Turkey and the EU: A Doomed Engagement

by Burak Bekdil
BESA Center Perspectives
April 28, 2019

image001 (45)
This cartoon captures Turkey’s appalling treatment of journalists.

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

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

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

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

-its arrests and suppression of journalists;

-its dismissal of dissident academics,

-its treatment of Middle Eastern migrants within its borders;

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

-its intimidation of its own citizens;

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

The European Parliament said:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 MAY 1, 2019 19:21

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

image002 (45)
On Tuesday, April 23, Harshani Sriyani weeps over the body of her daughter who was killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo. Eranga Jayawardena/AP

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

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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

 

 

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

image005 (42)
One of the main attractions at Palmyra, the Temple of Baal was mostly flattened by explosions detonated by ISIS.

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

Ali Hussein Bakir

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

Massacres in Sri Lanka

Four Hotels Full of Foreigners; Three Churches Full of Christians – a setup for mass murder

 

By David E. Kaplan

From fallen masonry in Paris to fallen lives in Sri Lanka it has been a devastating week.

While an electric fault may explain the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris blaze, few were quick to speculate who exactly was behind the mass murder in Sri Lanka that so far has taken 260 lives and inflicted 500 seriously injured.

While predictably some of the initial ‘Security Sherlocks’ were expressing “these attacks cannot be predicted”, “the facts don’t reveal why it happened” or “by whom,’ there was a palpable reluctance – notably from world leaders – to publicly identity the category of the victims!

Yes, they would say “foreigners” – a safe and nebulous depiction and unlikely to solicit a rebuke – but hesitant to go beyond a whisper that they were mostly Christians.

There was no such verbal hesitancy from Israel’s state President, Reuven Rivlin, who got it spot-on expressing on Twitter:

 “We are all children of God; an attack on one religion is an attack on us all.”

In other words, whether the victims are Jews in Pittsburg or Muslims in Christchurch, Rivlin was identifying and publicly proclaiming that the victims in Sri Lanka were Christians.

The targeting of crowded churches on Easter Sunday hardly necessitated the detective talents of a Hercule Poirot to draw the necessary conclusions.

Sari Lanka1
Sunday Bloody Sunday. An icon of Jesus looks down upon the remains of the seating in St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, north of Colombo, where earlier sat parishioners celebrating Easter Sunday.

Christians In The Crosshairs

Given that three of the blasts occurred at churches and were timed for Easter services, at least a major part of the attack was aimed at the country’s 1.5 million Christians. The almost simultaneous blasts left no time to warn other churchgoers.

Reuters cited the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka – representing more than 200 churches – as having recorded 86 incidents of discrimination, threats, and violence against Christians last year.

The signs were evident – and were either ignored or hardly taken seriously.

Staying in the Far East, nearly 1000 churches in Indonesia, have been closed since 2006 when the nation passed a “Religious Harmony” law which requires churches to obtain several signatures from Muslims before they can obtain a permit. Nearly 85 percent of Indonesia’s 255 million population are Muslims. Only seven percent are Christians. Not surprising, many churches failed to garner the requisite signatures and were promptly shut down. Even the few that obtained the necessary endorsement have since been torched by radical Islamist groups.

image007 (17)
Blood, Sweat and Tears. People run for safety near St Anthony’s Church. (Reuters)

Does anyone even remember or was even aware when these Christian churches were deliberately set ablaze?

And why?

Because to talk of Christians being persecuted, logically leads one to address who is persecuting them – and we are staring at the three proverbial monkeys: “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.

Reticence is not a remedy!

image002 (40)
Under Attack. Christians are increasingly persecuted in Indonesia as seen here by these burnt motorcycles on Sunday, May 13, 2018 following a number of attacks on churches in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia. AP

Facing The Facts

The Middle East is even more threatening to Christians, which led the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to write last year in The Sunday Telegraph that millions of Middle East Christians are on the verge of “imminent extinction.”

He lamented that “In the birthplace of our faith, the community faces extinction,” calling it, “the worst situation since the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.”

In the early 20th century, Christians made up to 20% of the population in the Middle East; that figure has now dwindled to around 5%. It’s easy to understand why and see that Israel – despite lies to the contrary – has nothing to do with this exodus.

Before the ‘Arab Spring’, Christians in Syria were businessmen, engineers, lawyers and pharmacists, now there are leaving the country in their droves. In Iraq, 300,000 Christians have fled persecution since the downfall of Saddam Hussein and in Egypt, Christians face harassment leading them to emigrate in record numbers.

Egypt’s Christians or  Copts as they are known, are facing “unprecedented levels of persecution and suppression,” according to The Open Doors 2018 World Watch List Report.

In 2017, more than 200 Copts were driven out of their homes and 128 were killed because of their faith.

image006 (24)
Nasty Along The Nile. 2018 was a bad year for Egyptian Copts, many of whom were driven out of their homes and killed because of their faith.

Should we be surprised if what happened in Sri Lanka this week, will happen next week in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia or even Turkey, where President Tayyip Erdogan is stirring up Christian fear of Muslims by announcing his plan to change the status of  Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia -a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and once the foremost cathedral in Christendom for 900 years –  from a museum to a mosque!

image003 (45)
Facing Extinction. Iraq’s Christians are suffering ‘systematic violence’ intended to uproot and eradicate them leading the international Catholic news weekly, “The Tablet”, to headline on the 18th October, 2018, “Christianity in Iraq is ‘one wave of persecution’ from extinction.”

Exploiting Murder

Looking at this tragedy from Israel, one could not escape the hypocrisy of the Palestinian leadership with President Mahmoud Abbas condemning from Ramallah the terror in Sri Lanka while rewarding monthly Palestinian terror against Jews.

Calling the tragedy in Sri Lanka “criminal and gruesome”, Abbas falsely called on the world to combat terror together:

“Terrorism is spreading as an epidemic across the world. I call on the countries of the world to cooperate to eradicate terrorism and not to tolerate with racist groups that incite violence and hatred.”

[WAFA, official PA news agency (English edition), April 21, 2019]

image005 (39)
Appeals Ignored. There is huge disappointment of the near ZERO support of Western Christians for their coreligionists in Pakistan.

Abbas’ call to combat terror abroad, stands in stark contrast to his repeated vows at home to continue his financial support for imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists.

Abbas reiterates endlessly that the PA will support these terrorists even if the PA has only “one penny left”, and has demonstrated his will to do so by cutting salaries of public employees rather than salaries to the terrorists.

It should horrify the civilized world that the killings in Sri Lanka that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas describes as “criminal and gruesome”, when it comes to killing Jews, he rewards.

A world that tolerates this hypocrisy today invites further terror tomorrow.

 

While Easter celebrates the ressurection from the dead, this Easter in Sri Lanka will be remembered for mourning the dead.

The intersection of Zionism and Feminism

 By Rolene Marks

It is often said that the “future is women”.

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.”

image003 (34)
BDS Supporter. Muslim activist, Linda Sarsour at SiriusXM event ‘Muslim in America’ in New York City, October 26, 2015. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images for SiriusXM/via

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.

image007 (14)
Power Pin-Ups. The new faces of intersectionality, (l-r)Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez at the Women’s March at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, January 21, 2018. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images via JTA)

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.

image010 (1)
America’s No. 1 Anti-Semite. Louis Farrakhan calls Jews “Satanic” and compares Jews to “termites”.

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.

Mallory-congrats-Farrakhan.jpg

 

images (1).jpg

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.

image011 (17)
Feminist Without Fear. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano said she won’t speak at the next Women’s March if it is organized by two current leaders who will not condemn anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

Exposing Hypocrisy

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.

44284861_551055565338666_865911760427128549_n

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.

 

 

Israel Apartheid Week A Disservice to Palestinians and South Africans

By Sharon Salomon

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’.

image004 (30)
The Writing Is On The Wall. This graffiti was spray-painted on wall of South Africa’s Wits University two weeks after kippah-wearing student was verbally assaulted on campus in October 2016. [Photos: SAUJS Countrywide.]

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?

image001 (36)
Ugly UCT. In an attempt to intimidate Jewish students, a bloodied Israeli flag with anti-Semitic graffiti hangs on the main building at the University of Cape Town at the start of Israel-Apartheid Week in March 2018. (photo credit: SAUJS/FACEBOOK)

The problem with this mission statement and movement as a whole is that, simply, there is no apartheid in Israel. Jews, Muslims, Christians, Baha’i and other religious groups of all races and creeds, live and work together, vote, serve in government, have gay pride parades and do whatever they please in whichever way they please. I too support the Palestinian people to have freedom, real education, clean water, healthcare and full human rights. In other words I support the Palestinian people to be free from their corrupt, abusive, violence-inciting, terror-rewarding leadership.

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:

  • “Palestinian people live in terrible conditions”

How is it possible for so many Palestinians to live in squalor while millions of dollars in aid are funnelled to the Palestinian Authority? Consider with this how it is possible for so many Palestinians to live in luxury at the same time. Who is supposed to be managing these funds and take care of the people? Why is so much money going into the destruction of the Jewish State instead of civil engineering and education?

  • “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”

Why does the Palestinian Authority not say ‘yes’ to having a Palestinian State when offered? They can have a State at any time they like.

  • “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?

IAW20191.JPG(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.

Learn some facts from South Africans about what it means to compare Israel to apartheid South Africa. Listen to the honourable Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party and a South African who lived in apartheid South Africa. Consider other points of view. Note that ironically the BDS movement harms the Palestinian people as we saw in the BDS “victory” when the Soda Stream factory was forced to shut down and move out of the West Bank and so hundreds of Palestinian people lost their jobs.

IAW20192.JPG

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

 

 

Bio Pic 2.JPG“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.”

 

The Israel Brief – 18-21 February 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 18 February 2019 – Israel-Poland diplomatic spat. PA accuse Israel of Piracy. Has the world lost patience with Palestinians?

 

 

The Israel Brief – 19 February 2019 – Qatar cuts Hamas electricity bill, France protests anti-Semitism, ISIS brides and Yisrael Beyteinu

 

 

The Israel Brief – 20 February 2019 – UK Labour Party Exodus. PA refuse tax money. Elections a Game of Thrones style?

 

 

The Israel Brief – 21 February 2019 – Israel to the Moon! France adopts IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Iran threatens war. Major election news.

 

 

 

Look Who’s Talking in Cape Town

Israeli Debating Teams score big in South Africa

While in November 2018, a Hamas delegation from Gaza visited Cape Town and called for Jihad against Israel, in January 2019,  it was visiting Israelis doing the talking – but with a different message.

Debating teams from Israeli universities won top honours at UCT (University of Cape Town) against the best universities in the world.

 

By David E. Kaplan

Israel is full of surprises. Situated in one of the most dry regions on the planet, Israel has far less of a water problem than Cape Town, which for Israel has an enviable supply. The answer to this anomaly might explain how a Hebrew-speaking country bested in debate, teams from the best universities in the world – notably Oxford and Cambridge.

The World University Debating Championships – the largest student-run event globally – was hosted by the University of Cape Town from the 27 December 2018 to the 4 January 2019 and included students from Malaysia, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria and the United States who descended on the city in hopes of becoming world champions.

That honour went to Israel.

It was Israel’s prestigious Hebrew University of Jerusalem debate team that won the World Universities Debate Championship in South Africa’s ‘Mother City’, in the English Second-Language category, in other words, not in their ‘mother’ tongue.

Roy Shulmann and Elaye Karstadt competed against thousands of students from 20 countries winning the judges over “on stances on a multitude of current events.”

image005 (20)
Cheers! Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ) debaters Roy Shulmann (left) and Elaye Karstadt celebrating their win in Cape Town. (Photo via Facebook)

In addition to Shulmann and Karstadt’s defeat of the Russian, Malaysian and Japanese teams in the final round of the championships, the Tel Aviv University (TAU) team, made up of Israeli Debating League chairman Amichai Even-Chen and Ido Kotler, made it to the final rounds of the general Open competition, which included native English speakers from around the globe. They competed against some of the top universities in the world, including Oxford and Harvard.

image001 (32)
Beyond Words. Roy Shulmann makes a speech at the World Universities Debate Championship, 2019 at UCT, Cape Town. Today, Israel is a force to be reckoned with in the world of competitive debating. (photo credit: DANA GREEN)

“Debate is not only a sport, but rather a unique tool for the development of logical and rhetorical capabilities,” said Shulmann. “It exposes students to a wide range of opinions, challenges their positions, and gets them to truly listen to the other side and answer the heart of the issue instead of the heart of the person.”

Shulmann said he hoped to “encourage a different ‘discussion culture’, one that allows us as a society to hold a real dialogue regarding disputes.”

This was a far cry from the Hamas spokespeople who in November proudly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at Cape Town’s parliament that stated South Africa “will work towards the full boycott of ALL Israeli products and the support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel; and will ensure that ANC leaders and government officials do not visit Israel.” And this MOU was signed only weeks after 500 missiles were fired in under 24 hours into Israel from Hamas-ruled Gaza  – one of which struck a bus.

While Hamas in Cape Town championed support for murder, Israelis in Cape Town spoke about holding  “a real dialogue regarding disputes.”

And who won?

Hebrew University debate team chairman, Naama Weiss, said that the Israeli teams are “used to meeting students at the competitions from countries hostile towards Israel.”

They have to be.

Competing against the team from Malaysia in the finals, the Israeli debaters could not have put entirely out of their minds that the antisemitic Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, has banned entry to Israeli paraplegic swimmers to compete in his country that will be hosting the World Para Swimming Championships in July.

Mahathir has faced accusations of antisemitism for decades, frequently describing Jews as “hook nosed” and said that “Jews rule the world by proxy.”

Despite this, there were only “good vibes” between the participants of the competing countries at UCT.

“We never felt different,” said Weiss. “We actually become friends with them. It is important that we hold discussions with those that disagree with us, as well.”

Pity the Hamas delegation didn’t visit Cape Town a month later and hear these messages!

Mark My Word

Israeli debate teams achieved multiple successes throughout 2018. The same team of Even-Chen and Kotler, won last August the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia in the English Second Language category. In that same competition, Noam Dahan and Tom Manor, also of Tel Aviv University, won the Open competition.

image003 (23)
We Are The Champions. Tel Aviv University’s victorious debate team at the 2018 European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia. (Photo via Facebook)

However, the international competition in Novi Sad, Serbia was not all fun and ‘debates’. The Qatar representatives repeatedly refused to participate in debates in which they were competing against Israel, stating on multiple occasions that they refuse to debate alongside an “apartheid state.” This is the same Qatar that is spending billions to build hotels, subways, shopping centers and stadiums ahead of the World Cup in 2022 but those working on the projects are mostly foreigners who are poorly paid and poorly housed, hidden from the rest of Qatari society, like outcasts. These wretched and abused workers live on the edge of the dream that they help build but are precluded from experiencing.

If ever there is apartheid, it is in Qatar!

Nevertheless, despite Qatari hypocrisy and attempts to politicise a major debate tournament by refusing to engage with students from Israel, the two Israeli teams topped the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia.

image005 (18)
Qatar Boycott of Israel Backfires. Despite Qatar’s attempts to politicize a major debate tournament and its refusal to engage with students from Israel, two Israeli teams topped the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia

If there were a prize for epic boycott failure, Qatar won it!

Its efforts to boycott debating Israel, ended up by getting BDS banned from European debates.

School Of Thought

Israeli university debating teams doing so well internationally may partly be explained because Israeli schools too are doing so well.

Afterall, one feeds the other.

Debaters are given topics – sometimes with just an hour or two to prepare – and told which side they represent. They often find themselves arguing the opposite of their personal beliefs. “That’s the idea,” said Maya Levi, 18, of Ohel Shem school in Ramat Gan. “In debate, beyond learning rhetoric, you learn how to think and see an issue from both sides. The challenge is stepping into someone else’s shoes when it’s not your point of view.”

The Israeli national high school debate team won the EurOpen debate competition in Stuttgart, Germany in November 2018, raising eyebrows for going undefeated for all 12 rounds of the competition.

The team beat 37 of the best debate teams in the world, including those of Germany, China and the USA.

image004 (26)
The Last Word. The Israeli high school debate team that came first the 2018 European championships. (photo credit: Nicole Chan/Learning Leaders)

Unbeaten throughout all twelve rounds was a rare achievement in debate, particularly for a team comprised of non-native English speakers.

Two of the members on the team, Maya Carmon and Omer Zilberberg, are students at the Atid High School for Arts and Sciences in Lod. The other students on the team, Tamir West and Tomer Zucker, study at the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem and at Oleh Shem High School in Ramat Hasharon, respectively.
It was a privilege to witness the team making history,” said Elijah Kochin, the team’s coach who accompanied them to Stuttgart.

“This generation of debaters is very talented,” said Miriam Kalman, a coach assisting the team leading up to the world championships in Sri Lanka. “We are looking forward to more success at the World Schools Debating Championships in 2019.”

image002 (23)
Far Out In Far East. Team Israel and friends find a quiet spot to display the national flag at the 2017 World Schools Debating Championships in Bali, Indonesia

Retired senior examiner for the English matriculation in Israel and who co-authored two English school textbooks, Stephen Schulman, expressed “hats off to our debaters” on hearing the results of the debating teams from Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University at his alma mater – UCT. Shulmann felt a particular pride that Israel debaters made their mark in Cape Town where he grew up and was a member of his school’s debating society. “A true debater needs to be imbued with powers of eloquence, be a good listener, be sensitive to his or her audience and have a quick and ready wit to win over others. Our university teams showed that they possessed all these qualities to an outstanding degree and I feel a great pride by their showing South Africa and the world the fine intellectual standards of our students.”

This all augurs well for Israel spokespeople for the future.

 

image008 (13)
Israeli Debaters In Action. Debaters from Tel Aviv University competing in the 2018 European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia. (Photo via Facebook)