Letter to my Palestinian Israeli neighbors
We appeal – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship.
–Israel’s Declaration of Independence, May 14, 1948
We live in the same building at the edge of French Hill in Jerusalem, an almost equal number of Jewish Israeli and Arab Israeli families. We exchange pleasantries in the parking lot, smile at each other’s children, but never talk “politics” — a euphemism for nothing less than our future in this land.
Since the passing of the Nation-State Law, which invokes only the Jewishness of Israel and ignores its aspirations for an inclusive democratic society, and which downgrades Arabic from an official language to a vague “special” status, I have wanted to tell you: That law doesn’t represent my vision of Israel. I have wanted to reassure you that I am committed to an inclusive Israel that honors its two non-negotiable identities, Jewish and democratic, and that any attempt to upset the delicate balance between them threatens our very being. I have wanted to tell you that sharing a home – symbolically and, in our case, literally – is not only a challenge but an opportunity for us to embrace our shared indigenousness in this land.
But as neighbors who cling to gestures of civility and whose only shared language is in the safety of small talk, we lack the means to discuss urgent issues. And so, I am writing this letter to you.
My starting point in navigating the relationship between us is Israel’s Declaration of Independence. To be true to its essence, Israel must continue to see itself as a continuity of Jewish history, repository of four thousand years of Jewish civilization, and concerned for the well-being of Jews around the world. So much of Israel’s vitality and achievements comes from the country’s Jewish identity, from the motivation to turn a two-thousand-year dream into an ongoing miracle of fulfillment. Remove the Jewishness of Israel – and its heart, its passion are excised.
Max Fisher of the New York Times has taken to Twitter to defend his claim that David Ben-Gurion “emerged from retirement in July 1967 to warn Israelis they had sown the seeds of self-destruction” if Israel did not give up the territories it had conquered in the Six-Day War.
Fisher sourced this story to a recollection by the late Arthur Hertzberg, writing in the New York Review of Books in 1987, who claimed to have heard the grim prophecy during an encounter between Ben-Gurion and American Conservative rabbis at Beit Berl in July 1967.
I’d grown suspicious of this story, so I tracked down the transcript of Ben-Gurion’s remarks in his archives. I found no evidence of his having said anything of the sort. I published my findings back in April 2018, so imagine my surprise when Fisher repeated the fable on the front page of the Times on July 23.
I’ve uploaded the transcript of Ben-Gurion’s meeting here, dated July 12, 1967. The transcript doesn’t include even a hint that Ben-Gurion made the dramatic renunciation of territorial acquisition. Moreover, in Ben-Gurion’s diary of July 12, his own summary of his remarks includes nothing whatsoever on territorial concessions. I’ve uploaded it here.
Nor is there any corroboration in the Mapai party newspaper Davar of July 14. It summarized Ben-Gurion’s remarks and made no attribution to Ben-Gurion of any territorial position, except this quote about Jerusalem: “We will not return Jerusalem – and no force in the world can take it from us.”
In fact, Ben-Gurion issued a press release immediately after the war that appeared in almost all the Hebrew newspapers on June 19, in which he said: “We will propose to the inhabitants of the West Bank to choose representatives with whom we will conduct negotiations on a West Bank autonomy (excluding Jerusalem and its environs), which will be tied to Israel in an economic alliance….A Jewish army will be stationed on the western bank of the Jordan river to protect the independence of the autonomous West Bank.”
Shmuley Boteach: What Happened to Cory Booker?
Last week, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), one of the most radical organizations promoting the antisemitic BDS movement, posted a widely-shared photo of aspiring presidential candidate Cory Booker beside the group’s government affairs associate. Booker is smiling while holding a sign that says, “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go.”
In an apparent attempt to win over the left wing of the Democratic Party — and perhaps prove that he can criticize Israel on a par with Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren — Cory is increasingly alienating himself from the American Jewish community, which once loved him.
That same Jewish community played an outsized role in Cory’s political success. Based on his public promises to defend Israel, Cory became one of the largest recipients of pro-Israel campaign contributions.
But then came his choice to put political expedience over principle by supporting the Iran nuclear deal. He chose supporting his party leader rather than opposing a genocidal regime that hates both the US and Israel. Despite all evidence to the contrary, which has been compounded since the agreement was signed, Cory bought the snake oil that the deal was good for the US and the world.
Then this past April the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — of which Cory is a member — held a vote to halt US taxpayer funding to the Palestinian Authority because of its despicable “pay-to-slay” policy, which pays salaries to terrorist murderers and their families.
Unbelievably, Cory voted “No” in committee.
Then came the photo this past Friday.
Footage has emerged of Corbyn giving an interview to the Iranian state television channel Press TV in which he says the BBC is biased on Israel’s right to exist.
“There seems to be a great deal pressure on the BBC from the Israeli government and the Israeli embassy and they are very assertive towards all journalists and to the BBC itself… I think there is a bias towards saying that Israel is a democracy in the Middle East, that Israel has a right to exist, that Israel has its security concerns.”
Now about that IHRA definition, Jez…
UPDATE: A Labour spokesman says:
“Jeremy was arguing that despite the occupation of Palestinian territory and the lack of a Palestinian state, Israeli concerns and perspectives are more likely to appear prominently in news reporting than Palestinian ones. Jeremy is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.”
Not quite what he said though is it…
This week Jeremy Corbyn released a video acknowledging that the Labour Party had “a real problem” with anti-Semitism, adding that “anyone who denies that this has surfaced within our Party is clearly actually wrong and contributing to the problem.”
He should tell that to his local CLP in Islington North, who gathered outside Broadcasting House today to protest the “BBC’s biased reporting of Jeremy Corbyn”. Protesters made speeches calling Israel a “racist state” while chanting “shame on you, BBC”. The notorious Labour Against the Witch Hunt group were present alongside Jewish Voice For Labour, which has supported Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth over their anti-Semitic comments in the past.
Labour Against the Witch Hunt were also handing out recruiting leaflets hitting out at “purgists” and claiming that the expulsion and suspension of anti-Semites from the Labour Party was “a clear, determined attack on the left by a powerful section of the Party”:
Corbyn ended his video this week by saying: “It’s my responsibility to root out anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.” Will he start by having a word with his own local branch secretary?
The Labour Party has been forced into a humiliating capitulation by Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who the Party had attempted to discipline for calling Jeremy Corbyn “an antisemitic racist”.
The Party shocked many when it launched disciplinary action against Dame Margaret for remonstrating with Mr Corbyn after his National Executive Committee refused to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism.
In response to the disciplinary action against Dame Margaret and a similar action against her colleague Ian Austin, Campaign Against Antisemitism asked both to become honorary patrons of the charity in a gesture of solidarity and appreciation for the manner in which they had bravely confronted antisemitism in their Party. They both accepted.
Campaign Against Antisemitism also included the handling of the matter in its letter referring the Labour Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The Labour Party initially offered to drop the action against Dame Margaret in return for an apology, but she has confirmed to Campaign Against Antisemitism that she did not apologise in any way and that the Labour Party capitulated nonetheless.
Almost three weeks after being placed under investigation by the Labour Party for rowing with Ian Lavery about anti-Semitism, Ian Austin has still not been given any further details of the allegations against him. Last week Austin’s lawyers wrote to Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby:
“This process has been a farce and a disgrace. It has plainly been designed to silence our client for his legitimate, honestly-held criticisms of Mr Corbyn’s failure to address the scourge of antisemitism in the Labour Party.”
His lawyers add that “the Labour Party has failed to observe the most rudimentary principles of natural justice, due process and transparency” and accuse the party of “prejudging the complaints”. Austin is yet to receive a response from Formby. After the climbdown over Margaret Hodge last night, looks like another one could be on the way…
The Green Party has said it will “reach out” to an antisemitism watchdog to better understand Jew-hate, after footage emerged of one of its leadership candidates giving an vehemently anti-Israel speech.
In 2009, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, Shahrar Ali delivered a speech in which he compared the Holocaust and Israel’s offensive on Gaza.
Video of the speech resurfaced as Mr Ali is now one of three candidates for the leadership of the Green Party of England and Wales, alongside Leslie Rowe and a joint candidacy of Jonathan Bartley and Sian Berry.
In the speech, Mr Ali says: “Just because you observe the niceties of Holocaust Memorial Day, does not mean that you have learned the lessons of history.
“Listen up warmongers…just because you switch off your TV set to avoid upsetting your children, does not mean that you have not killed our children.”
Following the political efforts of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the European Union (EU) announced that it would immediately cease funding and contracting with an association operating in Israel called the “Freedom Protection Council.”
The Prime Minister’s Office explained that this is an organization that undermines Israel’s right to exist and acts to blacken the country’s face in the world.
Netanyahu welcomed the EU’s decision, saying that “this is only the beginning.”
“We will continue to act resolutely against organizations that are working to delegitimize the State of Israel and seek to blacken the name of the State and the IDF around the world,” added Netanyahu.
If Israel cannot get Brussels to realize the absurdity of holding its ties with Jerusalem hostage to the peace process, “then I’m not sure there is any added value in our relationship,” the official added.
The benefits of EU-Israel cooperation can also be reaped through bilateral agreements with individual member states, according to this argument. EU officials contest that assertion, but many Israeli politicians back the prime minister’s line.
“By supporting NGOs that oppose Israel’s government and in some cases opposes Israel’s right to exist, the EU undermines our sovereignty and disrespects our democracy. The EU has taken a virtually uninterrupted position critical of Israel and supportive of the Palestinians,” Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren said.
“How many anti-Semitic and even anti-European speeches from Abu Mazen [Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas] did it take for them to come out and condemn him? The EU is still championing the Iran nuclear deal, which we see as an existential threat. How are we supposed to treat to them?”
This week, Oren joined Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in calling the EU “morally bankrupt” over its opposition to the reimposition of US sanctions on Iran.
IsraellyCool: Mocking the FlotillA-holes: Summer of 2018 Edition
As they have done in the past, the FlotillA-holes trying to infiltrate Gaza (or, more accurately, trying to demonize Israel since they know full well they will not make it into Gaza) have released “martyr” videos on YouTube.
I knew what I needed to do (resistance was futile – kind of like in their case when we boarded their boat).
A self-identified “third-generation Palestinian refugee” and student at Stanford University who, last month, threatened to “physically fight” against “Zionist students” after Israel passed a law recognize Israel as a Jewish nation-stae, has announced that he will resign from his post as a residential assistant and issued an apology where he blamed “trans-generational trauma” for his initial statement.
Hamzeh Daoud, 20, who is a member of Students for Justice for Palestine, reportedly wrote, “I’m gonna physically fight Zionists on campus next year if someone comes at me with their ‘Israel is a democracy’ bullshit,” in a Facebook post last month. “And after I abolish your ass I’ll go ahead and work every day for the rest of my life to abolish your petty ass ethno-supremacist, settler-colonial state.”
According to Arutz Sheva, the graduate of Jordan’s Amman Academy in the Hashemite kingdom’s capital later amended his post to read “intellectually fight” and reportedly added, “I edited this post because I realize intellectually beating zionists is the only way to go. Physical fighting is never an answer to when trying to prove people wrong.”
Daoud also issued a statement to the Stanford Daily on Friday, in which he said, “I bear with me trans-generational trauma that is beyond the confines of this statement.” He added that saying his grandparents took refuge in Jordan following Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.
“I acknowledge the language in my first post had a strong negative effect on many in our Stanford community,” Daoud wrote. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart to everyone who was triggered by it. I recognize that I was projecting my own trauma onto others in a way that is never acceptable.”
Los Angeles city prosecutor Spencer Hart, who is reviewing the belligerent shutdown of a Students Supporting Israel panel at the University of California-Los Angeles on May 17, 2018, has requested additional investigative materials from the UCLA Police, according to a prosecution source. The request on Case 18-1206 was transmitted to UCLA campus Detective Selby Arsena, who assembled the original investigative package submitted to Los Angeles Pacific Branch prosecutors in mid-July.
The request was seen as an indication that LA prosecutors are taking the case seriously and undertaking a thorough review. No timeline for a decision could be identified, prosecution sources say, because prosecutor Hart, who is second in command at the Pacific Branch, not only handles his own substantial case load, but as assistant supervising attorney, he also oversees the case loads of other prosecutors.
However, since a one-year statute of limitations applies, investigative sources envision a decision on prosecution by year’s end.
In the now well-known case, Students Supporting Israel gathered in a UCLA function room on May 17, 2018 for a panel discussion titled Indigenous Peoples Unite. Disrupters—suddenly and loudly—stormed into the room mid-session. One person tore down the students’ flag, demonstratively pulled away a desk placard, and cursed threateningly close to the face of a panelist.
From the land that brought us women can now finally drive:
These shuttlecocks are clearly way better and more important than their own Crown Prince.
But you have to wonder whether those two would accept our help when Iran comes after their country.
Israel’s ambassador to Norway called on a Norwegian daily to apologize and remove a cartoon it published Tuesday, which he criticized as anti-Semitic.
The cartoon, which appeared in the Dagbladet newspaper, portrays Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose body is in the form of a swastika, punching a member of Israel’s Druze minority off a bench reading “whites only.”
The image was apparently commenting on recently passed legislation defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The law has drawn the ire of the Druze and other minority groups, who say it favors the country’s Jewish character over its democracy and effectively renders them second class citizens.
Supporters of the law counter that it merely enshrines the country’s existing character, and that Israel’s democratic nature and provisions for equality are already anchored in existing legislation.
In a Twitter post, Ambassador Raphael Schutz called the cartoon “an example of the most repulsive imaginable anti-Semitic imagery.”
Today in @dagbladet, an example of the most repulsive imaginable #antisemitic imagery, with Israeli PM portrayed as a Nazi swastika punching off a Druze Israeli from a ‘whites only’ bench.
We demand dagbladet to remove this sickening image and apologize! pic.twitter.com/zy3OSuLJcu
— Raphael Schutz 🇮🇱 (@RafiSchutz) August 7, 2018
In June of this year the BBC’s Diplomatic correspondent reported that the OPCW (the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons):
“…found sufficient evidence to determine that the Syrian Arab Armed Forces (President Bashar al-Assad’s troops) were responsible for three chemical weapons attacks in 2014 and 2015, and that the Syrian regime was responsible for the Sarin nerve agent attack in April 2017 in Khan Shaykhun.”
Nevertheless, towards the end of this latest report BBC audiences were once again told that:
“Syria has denied owning or using chemical weapons, but the US and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of carrying out a chemical attack on former opposition stronghold Douma near Damascus that reportedly killed 40 people in April this year.”
It is clearly evident that the Assad regime did not destroy its “entire chemical arsenal” as mandated by UN Security Council resolution 2118 in 2013 and hence does in fact ‘own’ chemical weapons. It is also a fact that the OPCW has determined that the Syrian government’s forces have used chemical weapons on at least four occasions other than the one in Douma in April 2018.
Nevertheless, BBC audiences continue to see false balance in the form of the repeated promotion of inadequately challenged Syrian propaganda that is presumably intended to tick the BBC’s ‘impartiality’ box. In addition to being downright ridiculous, that editorial policy clearly undermines the BBC’s purpose of providing the public with accurate and impartial reporting that enhances its understanding of this issue.
The August 5th evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item (from 00:45:00 here) that was introduced by presenter Jon Donnison as follows:
Donnison: “The tension on Gaza’s boundary with Israel continues to simmer, as it has done now for months. Doctors in the Palestinian territory say a 15 year-old boy shot by Israeli soldiers is the latest to die. Muadh al-Suri was among thousands of Palestinian demonstrators who gathered at the border on Friday to protest Israel’s occupation.”
Unsurprisingly, Donnison did not bother to inform listeners that what he described as protests by “demonstrators” were actually violent riots with some 8,000 participants that included a breach of the border fence as well as arson attacks and attacks with IEDs and petrol bombs. Neither did he bother to clarify that Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip 13 years ago and in this context “Israel’s occupation” means Israel’s existence. Listeners were not told that Muadh al-Suri was photographed wrapped in a Hamas flag and headband at his funeral.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has upgraded charges against a Miami Beach man accused of planning to burn down his condominium building and “kill all the Jews” who live there.
Walter Stopler, 72, who had previously been served eviction papers from The Pavilion residences on Collins Avenue, was formally charged Thursday with attempted first-degree murder, arson and possession of a destructive device. Prosecutors also added a hate crime enhancement to the charges.
When police arrested Stopler on July 12, they said he had already started pouring gasoline down the garbage chute.
Police said they found more than two dozen additional containers of gas in a storage room belonging to him, along with sulfuric powder and sodium nitrate — a chemical used in fireworks and gunpowder.
“That was just a bomb that would have devastated everybody,” Diane Cubenas-Serra, who lives in the building, said.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has criticized Sky News Australia’s news director for the station’s green-lighting an interview with a far-right racist who once advocated for the display of images of Hitler in schools.
Blair Cottrell, the former leader of anti-immigration group United Patriots Front, was interviewed by former chief minister of the Northern territory, Adam Giles.
Cottrell was convicted last year of inciting contempt against Muslims after staging a mock beheading to protest against the building of a mosque.
Many members of the Australian media criticized the station, including members of its own news team, resulting in a tweet being posted by news director Greg Byrnes that said Cottrell ‘s appearance was “wrong.” He announced the interview was removed from repeat time slots and online platforms.
A tourism official from the Davos area in Switzerland penned a letter complaining about the behavior of Jewish visitors, which was then translated to Hebrew and posted publicly at hotels.
Reto Branschi, who heads the tourism office of the Davos skiing village and that of nearby Klosters, on July 16 sent to the Jewish community of Davos a letter titled: “Subject: Jewish guests visiting Davos in summer,” the Südostschweiz news website reported on Saturday.
In the letter to local Jewish community leader Rafi Mosbacher, Branschi wrote, “there have been complaints that diapers and other waste simply gets left behind in the woods,” that “playgrounds have been taken up by large groups, leaving no room for small families,” and during two tours at a local cheese factory in 2017 and 2018, “Jewish guests held their noses, disturbing some of the other participants.”
Mosbacher had the letter translated to Hebrew and Yiddish, news website Kikar HaShabbat reported. The report did not say how copies of the letter in those languages came to appear on local hotel message boards.
In recent years, Davos hoteliers have depended on a haredi clientele who flock there during the summer months, during the skiing region’s off-season. This trend has allowed haredi families with large children to enjoy reduced costs for vacations in Alpine resorts with excellent infrastructure, and the local tourism industry to increase the potential of amenities there.
Mauritanian Cleric Ould Al-Dadou Al-Shanqiti: On Judgment Day, the Muslims Will Kill the Jews, the “Brothers of Apes and Pigs.” pic.twitter.com/PRUlteD2Ca
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) August 7, 2018
The Israeli technology firm Flytrex, which is using drones to deliver sushi, hamburgers and beer to hungry Icelanders, said it is expanding its supply routes in the capital Reykjavik to a total of 13, from one. This will allow the Tel Aviv-based startup to service almost half of the Icelandic city with its autonomous on-demand urban drone delivery service, the firm said on Tuesday.
The delivery will continue to be in partnership with Aha.is, Iceland’s largest on-demand supplier of restaurant food, with which the Israeli startup launched its first delivery route.
The upgraded service will also include an advanced “InAir” wire-drop system that will safely lower packages directly to consumers’ backyards, beginning with a limited number of addresses and expanding pending approval by property owners, the company said in a statement.
“We’re reaching new heights in Iceland,” said the CEO and co-founder of Flytrex, Yariv Bash, who is also behind a project to launch Israel’s first spacecraft to the moon.
“The people of Reykjavik can now order sushi or countless other consumer goods straight to their homes via drone,” he said in the statement. “The city’s citizens have come to expect instantaneous, on-demand food delivery, and now, with our direct-to-consumer wire drops, we’re bringing the drone revolution to their doorsteps. Drone-based disruption is flying high, with Iceland as its runway.”
Israeli actress Gal Gadot is close to inking a deal with US television network Showtime to produce and play the lead role in a series about the life and career of Jewish movie star and inventor Hedy Lamarr.
“Wonder Woman” star Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano would be executive producers of the limited series, Variety reported Monday, citing sources familiar with the developments.
Showtime has not formally signed up for the series and declined to comment on the report, the entertainment website said.
Lamarr was one of the most famous Jews of her age. Born Hedwig Kiesler in 1941, she fled Europe for Hollywood in 1938, and later helped her mother escape from Nazi-ruled Austria.
In the 1933 film “Ecstasy,” she was shown running naked through the countryside. Lamarr later played some of Hollywood’s most iconic female roles from 1938 to the 1950s. She stared in classics like “Samson and Delilah,” “Boom Town,” and “Come Live With Me,” and was promoted in the 1940s as the “most beautiful woman in the world.”
But Lamarr was not overly impressed with her on-screen accomplishments or her looks, commenting that “any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”
Hillel Neuer: Sweden’s prophet
“What you each have in common,” said Per Ahlmark to a hall filled with several dozen of his friends from the Swedish Liberal Party, intelligentsia and media, invited to a January 2009 Stockholm conference celebrating his 70th birthday, “is that you are all defenders of democracy and freedom, enemies of totalitarianism and tyranny, and supporters of Israel. Of course, you also happen to be the only public figures in Sweden who think like this.”
When my friend Per passed away in June, at the age of 79, the free world lost an eminent writer, poet and pro-democracy activist, who served Sweden in the 1970s as deputy prime minister and head of its Liberal Party. The organization that I direct, United Nations Watch, lost its European co-chair; and Israel and the Jewish people lost one of their most devoted defenders.
“The best lack all conviction,” wrote Yeats, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” With Per Ahlmark, however, it was the exact opposite. Per stood out brilliantly for the passion of his convictions, and for his extraordinary courage. In a country that, in his words, “did next to nothing to contribute to the defeat of Nazism and Communism,” Per swam against the tide. In his charismatic presence, one immediately felt his sense of purpose and the force of his moral commitments; he was part Churchill, part prophet Jeremiah.
Over five decades, Per Ahlmark was a singular voice of moral clarity against not only tyrants and totalitarians who threatened life, liberty, and democracy, but also against their fellow travelers in Sweden and throughout the Wes
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