JPost Editorial: The good side of 2018
Newspapers tend to be in the business of bad news far more than good news. “If it bleeds, it leads” is a well-known adage. The downside is we often forget how good things are. Between rockets from Gaza, terrorist attacks, corruption, murder and whatever else makes headlines most days, there are plenty of great events happening in Israel and the world each day. Here is some news from 2018 to remind us all to see the glass as half-full, as the secular year comes to a close.
Netta Barzilai became an international name and a national hero, after she and her chicken sounds brought Israel to its fourth Eurovision victory, the first in 20 years, bringing Israelis to the streets to celebrate and sing “I’m Not Your Toy.”
Netta was part of another major good news story in 2018: the first-ever official visit to Israel by a member of the British royal family, Prince William. This year, a prince and Superman – OK, actor Dean Cain, who played Superman on TV – visited Israel.
Beyond visiting royalty, this was a banner year for Israel’s foreign relations. Our ties expanded throughout the Middle East, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting Oman and other ministers jetsetting around the Persian Gulf. By Netanyahu’s count, 300 senior foreign dignitaries – presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, senators and leading parliamentarians – visited Israel this year.
Israeli disaster-relief experts helped people around the world. Israelis provided aid in California, Puerto Rico and Guatemala, where Sara Netanyahu was personally invited by the president’s wife to dedicate the efforts. In Thailand, emergency mobile communication technology developed by Israeli company Maxtech Networks played a key role in rescuing the youth soccer team trapped in a flooded cave, whose survival and rescue captured the world’s attention.
The US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy. We didn’t need them to tell us. It’s our eternal capital and has been that way for millennia, but it’s nice to get recognition. And US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley championed Israel repeatedly in that den of wolves.
David Collier: 2018 and Antisemitism, a year in review
To look back on antisemitism in 2018, I have split the year into calendar months, with each example representing a different element of the global battlefield.
I remember the end of 2017 as being part of a lonely battle. In November I recorded that there were 176 anti-Israel events taking place in the UK in a single month. By year-end we were just a handful shouting about the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, but few seemed to be listening. I didn’t realise back then, how much things were about to change.
January 2018 – Alison Chabloz
2018 Alison Chabloz2018 began just as 2017 ended, with me sitting amongst neo-Nazis and far-left antisemites. On January 10 2018 I was in court, for the early stages of the Alison Chabloz trial. Chabloz is a far-right Jew-baiter, a woman who composes songs that ridicule and deny the Holocaust. To add that extra dose of ‘spiteful’, Chabloz sets the lyrics to classic Jewish folk tunes.
Her journey to the court-room was a long one and this case highlights the difficulty of actually bringing even the most odious haters to justice.
Sitting amongst neo-Nazis in the gallery, people who cheered to songs about the Holocaust, was a very lonely place to be. Yet by the end of 2018, I was almost never alone. One of the greatest changes that occurred in 2018, was the ‘waking up’ of the Jewish community (along with their friends).
In May, Chabloz was found guilty. She was sentenced in June.
The playbook exploited by Marc Lamont Hill and countless other anti-Israel activists ranging from Linda Sarsour to Jimmy Carter, to former Pink Floyd front man, Roger Waters, is the following:
Step 1: Fabricate a non-existent Israeli law or policy, that, if real, would constitute a colossal human rights violation. Don’t be afraid to be dramatic. Ethnic cleansing has a real ring to it. And always remember to be as vague as possible. Use broad terms and generalizations, making your claims harder to challenge on specific grounds.
Step 2: Next, feign outrage about the existence of this newly concocted law, and justify any acts of terrorism against Israel under the guise of “resistance” against this law you just invented.
Step 3: If anyone points out that what you’re saying lacks any smidgeon of truth, simply reply, “I am just criticizing the Israeli government! Are you a fascist? Am I not allowed to criticize Israeli government policies?”
It goes without saying that criticism of Israel’s government is as kosher as criticism of any country’s government. The only catch is the criticism hinges on the issue under scrutiny being real. It requires specific criticism, aimed at an existing law or practice. Conversely, what borders on bigotry is blithely fabricating non-existent laws or practices — like, Israel’s perpetration of ethnic cleansing — and using them to undermine Israel’s existence. Self-avowed “critics” of Israel who are derided as addled anti-Semites exclusively focus their ire on laws they themselves imagine into existence. Not for the betterment of the Palestinian Arabs, but for the belittling of Israel.
With 2018 drawing to a close, the Daily Freier reviewed its web traffic numbers and discovered that it has been consistently losing market share to a hot new competitor in the “Goofy Jewish Satire” niche market that calls itself “The Forward”. This wacky blog has popped up out of nowhere it appears, and is consistently putting out material that is funnier and more nuts than anything the Daily Freier has managed to produce. So did the Daily Freier just give up? Heck No! We put together a focus group! Yes, the Daily Freier gathered a focus group of Jews: Young and Old. Gay, Straight, and the Israeli guy who you think is Gay but ends up trying to hook up with your girlfriend. Reform, Conservative, Conservadox, Dati, Haredi, and Masorti. Americans, Canuckians, and…. Well you get the point. And if you think this comes cheap, then you haven’t purchased bagels and coffee recently, thank you very much. So anyhoo, we put a bunch of Jews in a room with copies of the Forward downloaded onto Kindles and stealthily recorded their reactions. Like that movie with Sigourney Weaver and the Gorillas. Except the Daily Freier was Sigourney Weaver. Let’s call it “Hebrews in the Mist“. So where were we? Oh yeah, the Focus Group. They LOVED the Forward! But don’t take our word for it, check out some of their reactions below!
“Hey, check this one out!” exclaimed “Married North Jersey Dentist” to the other people sitting at his table. “No, You Can’t Be A Feminist And A Zionist“, by Mariam Barghouti! You know, this might be the funniest thing produced by a Barghouti since Marwan invented the “Hunger Strike with Designated Snack Breaks” last year!“
“OK OK you need to see this!” giggled “Canadian-Israeli Woman” as she took a break from showing everyone pictures of her dogs. “It’s called ‘Lay Off Linda Sarsour’. I know! Linda! The woman who said that there is nothing creepier than Zionism! And accused Jews of secretly controlling America. Yes! her! So anyways, the article says that Jews only criticize Linda because they’re racists! Amazing! ……What’s that you say? It would be funnier if they also threw in some random stuff about Trump? Well say no more. They did that too!”
I am fascinated with the Middle East – particularly the security of the State of Israel in relation to its neighboring countries. There is always something happening of interest, whether it’s the militant groups in Gaza and West Bank, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iranian proxy militias in Syria or the Islamic State in northern Egypt. Israel is surrounded by enemies putting it in a unique situation where security-related events are constant.
This is where I provide material and analysis that you don’t see covered by international news organizations and most news related sources.
My name is Joe Truzman and I run a Twitter account and a weekly newsletter called GroundBrief. I focus on obtaining videos, pictures and other information regarding security related events.
I grew up in Canada and moved to the United States when I was 13 years old. When I was a child and into my teens, I remember flipping through the TV channels and if any news regarding Israel would pop-up, my father would immediately tell me to return to the program airing news about Israel. I would get stuck watching news about the first Intifada and everything else regarding the Middle East for hours. As the years went by, what was going on in Israel and the Middle East was always a topic at my parents house. It stuck with me as I became an adult and I began to moderately follow the news regarding Israel and the Middle East. In 2014, the Gaza war changed everything for me and I became very interested in the way Israel was fighting the militant groups in Gaza. For several years I followed anything regarding Gaza and Israel closely but never shared my thoughts and findings. I always kept it to myself and figured I was going to be informed about the news and that was it. It wasn’t until the assassination of Qassam Brigades engineer, Fadi Al-Batsh in early 2018, did I begin to share my findings on social media. The rest is pretty much history.
My goal is to bring into focus events happening on the ground backed up by analysis and interpretation to western audiences who normally don’t have access to this type of content.
Let’s be honest – when is the last time you saw a video on CNN of a grenade meant for IDF soldiers bouncing off the security fence at the Gaza border and detonating against the militants who threw it? Exactly my point. This is why I’m here – to provide content you don’t get to see with other news sources.
For all of her damning assertions, Walker has never witnessed an Israeli soldier wantonly and maliciously shoot any Palestinian, yet alone a Palestinian child. Walker has never witnessed the IDF employ phosphorous in response to Hamas missiles. Nor has Walker ever witnessed Palestinians suffering “diabolical torture” at the hands of Israelis.
Likewise, Walker has never witnessed Palestinian doctors treating Jewish patients and Jewish doctors treating Palestinian patients in Israeli hospitals. Walker has never witnessed Israeli agronomists transferring the technology for growing crops under arid conditions to Palestinian farmers. Nor has Walker ever witnessed Palestinian students in class at one of Israel’s many institutions of higher education.
Noted author and poet Alice Walker, former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Noam Chomsky, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, award-winning American playwright Tony Kushner, and former US President Jimmy Carter are among a coterie of high profile personalities, Jews among them, who capitalize on their celebrity to demonize the state of Israel and Jews.
Contrary to their professional achievements and their contributions to society they, and others like them, suffer from a blind spot on the topic of Israel and Zionism. This allows them to traffic in bias and slander without any regard for facts or truth. And because of who they are many people have high regard for their opinions, even opinions on topics that have nothing to do with their field of expertise.
If something is to be learned from the case of Alice Walker it is that even a self-proclaimed icon of peace, justice, and universal brotherhood may draw the line when it comes to the Jews.
Farrakhan is still welcome on the public stage even though he now describes Jews as “termites” and argues they are the embodiment of Satan.
How does someone who spouts that venom get hugs and handshakes from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Maxine Waters of California, who attended one of his rallies?
I know nothing of the rapper 21 Savage. But he also apologized for the lyrics of his song and, like James, expressed amazement they were deemed offensive. Would he be as nonchalant if a white singer threw around such trite stereotypes about blacks?
As for James, it’s hard to fathom the NBA superstar, who earns a $35.5 million salary and has recently likened himself to a slave, could be that clueless, particularly since he is so acutely attuned to any slight against his own people.
Years ago I wrote a column asking when Jews got moved to the back of the bus of victimhood. I questioned then why folks can say hideous things about Jews and not be driven from the spotlight (the Rev. Jesse Jackson). The question persists today.
Anti-Semitism is the most murderous force in history. It’s not OK to engage in it as casually as James did, nor as whole-heartedly as Farrakhan does.
You don’t get a pass because you’re a member of a group that has also endured racism and discrimination. Hate is hate.
In the fall of 2015, a rather curious incident took place in the Knesset. A leader of the Arab party (Balad), Jamal Zahalka furiously attacked the Left. “You won’t even greet me. You are racist! … The far right is amicable at least: they say hello and smile at you. Everyone in the Labor party is a racist. You’ve invented racism!”
The Left has conveniently forgotten the incident, but they knew exactly what Zahalka meant. Genuine ideological racism transformed long ago and concurrently into the left’s worldview and prerogative.
Democratic ideals, social justice and tolerance don’t rule the world anymore. The new ideology – a successor of failed totalitarian ideologies of the past century – governs the soul of the West, and it’s called Identity Politics.
The product of a vicious love of Red and Brown dogmas, it is pseudo-scientific and it divides people into racial-class categories with a rigid hierarchy.
- The white Christians and Jews – exploiters a priori, the embodiment of financial manipulation and conspiracy – are at the lower level of the social pyramid.
- Above them, the second level of this hierarchy is occupied by people with various pathologies (homosexuals, transgenders, disabled) and women, who by default belong to the oppressed class. They resemble gigantic peasant masses in the writings of Marxists: deprived, but hardly aware of their own unhappiness due to the absence of “Class Consciousness”.
- “Proletarian masses” represented by the Third World (from Venezuela to Bangladesh) and suppressed by White imperialism, are positioned above them in the third level.
- The top of the social pyramid is occupied by the vanguard of the “global progressive forces” (like the Communist party or National Socialist German Workers’ party) – embodied by Black American organizations, Palestinians and various Islamist groups.
A human being, as a thinker who is responsible for his own destiny and the fate of others, has no place in this scheme. Instead, there are faceless groups of “beneficial insects” and “harmful insects” (a precise copy of Marxist theory). The former deserve all the support, the latter should be expelled and persecuted in every possible way.
Toby Moses: Why I’ll never again insist: I’m not Jewish
It’s never a good sign when someone sitting across from you over dinner starts crying. Less so when you’re in a friend’s flat, the person with tears rolling down their cheeks is a stranger and you’re the one to blame. Of course, I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong. She, a Jewish American, had been taken aback when I’d been clarifying for some friends (yet again) that, no, I’m not Jewish, yes, my name is Moses, no my parents aren’t Jewish, I do have curly hair, that doesn’t make me … I was adamant.
The effect it had on the one Jewish person around the table took me aback. “How can you deny it? It’s so sad that you’re ashamed of your Jewish identity, your heritage.” And then the tears. I quietly slipped out of the room.
The thing is, as hard as it is to believe for anyone who knows my name or even just sees me (I’ve been mistaken for a rabbi), I’m not Jewish, not in any way I consider meaningful – and I haven’t changed my mind about that. My mother isn’t Jewish, her family isn’t, my dad’s parents were Jewish, but they never practised the religion. There wasn’t any of the cultural aspect in my childhood, no Friday night dinners or happy Hanukahs to remember. Sure, I have Jewish heritage. Two of my grandparents were Jews, many Jews would consider me to be half-Jewish and, of course, the Nazis would have considered me to be Jewish. But I have none of the familial, cultural or religious trappings of Judaism; it simply isn’t part of my identity.
And yet, the past couple of years have made me question why I felt the need to push back so hard whenever someone told me I was Jewish. Because people don’t ask me, they tell me, and that made me bristle. But there are more important things than people defining who I am for me.
In a rare call for restraint from the terrorist group, ISIS’ leadership has criticized the UK’s Labour party for its anti-Semitic rhetoric, calling recent comments and online posts from the party’s leaders “a bit much.”
“Listen, we hate the Jews as much as anyone, but you can’t just go around calling for Israel to be relocated to America, or saying Hitler was a Zionist,” ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told The Mideast Beast. “You have to show some sensitivity. Hell, one guy even compared Israel to ISIS. I take that personally – we go out of our way to be the biggest shitheads on the planet, and I’m not letting some British bigot take that away from us.”
The Labour party in the UK has been in turmoil amid revelations that at least 50 members were suspended for anti-Semitic or racist comments. While the controversy has earned the group the backing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, other terrorist groups have sought to distance themselves.
We don’t know for certain who killed poor Aisha Rabi, but for both OCHA and the Guardian to ignore Police misgivings about the case is heavily biased reporting. Yet that event takes up about half of the Guardian story, which questions how come the case of the murder of two Israelis in the Barkan industrial zone was solved so quickly, while this one is still pending – but mentions nothing about police doubts regarding the husband’s involvement. In fact, the husband stars in much of the Guardian report.
Finally, here’s where both the Guardian and the UN reports reveal their ugly, anti-Semitic core: they ignore the numbers posted by the IDF regarding Arab violence in Judea and Samaria in 2018:
Stone throwing at Israeli soldiers and civilians – 2,057
Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli soldiers and civilians – 893
Shootings – 33
Stabbing – 17
Smuggled cash to finance terrorism – 2,156,089 shekel ($571,721.88)
Illegal weapons (not including BB guns) – 406
The UN report does mention that three Arabs were killed by Israelis while seven Israelis were killed by Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Two of the killed Arabs had just killed or attempted to kill Israelis when they were shot dead.
The feature “2018 in pictures: Striking photojournalism from around the world” was sub-headed “The BBC News picture team has selected some of the most arresting images by photojournalists from around the world in 2018” and among the twenty-eight chosen images was one taken by a Reuters photographer that was presented as follows:
“A Palestinian man argues with an Israeli soldier in October during clashes over an Israeli order to shut down a Palestinian school in the town of as-Sawiyah, south of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank.”
The part of that story that the BBC chose not to tell was reported by AFP in October thus:
“Clashes broke out in the occupied West Bank on Monday after Israeli forces ordered the closure of a Palestinian school, AFP correspondents said.
The Israeli army said the school had been the source of months of violence, with stones thrown at a nearby major road used by its forces and Israeli settlers.
The school serves the Palestinian villages of As-Sawiya and Al-Lubban south of Nablus and is located on a main road through the West Bank. […]
The Israeli army said the school “been the site of popular terror acts and riots” in recent months.
“In response to the large number of popular terror acts endangering Israeli and Palestinian civilians driving on the road… the area of the school was declared a closed military zone.””
It would of course not have been at all difficult for the BBC’s ‘In Pictures’ team to add that relevant context to the photo caption.
The Philippines and Israel are set to sign a deal worth millions for the purchase of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems SPYDER medium-range air defense missile system, as well as additional Hermes long-range drones.
The purchase of the SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) will be purchased by Manila under the Revised AFP Modernization Program Horizon 2 phase by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) for its Ground-Based Air Defense System (GBADS) acquisition project.
According to the MaxDefense blog, the selection of the system has already been passed to the Department of National Defense (DND) for negotiation with Israel’s Ministry of Defense International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
The decision to acquire the SPYDER was supported and approved by the outgoing PAF commander Lt.-Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar who was quoted by local press as saying during his outgoing remarks at the change of command ceremony at the Villamor Air Base that Manila was “looking forward to the conclusion of three big contracts by early next year” including 16 BlackHawk helicopters from the US, six T-129 attack helicopters from Turkey and three ground based air defense systems from Israel.
During the remarks, Kintanar also said the PAF will also be acquiring two new radars from IAI and some 13 Hermes UAVs from Elbit Systems.
According to foreign media reports, Israel is considered a leading exporter of drones, with Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit selling UAVs to countries including Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Mexico and Singapore.
The disaster-relief non-governmental organization IsraAID will launch a new, international initiative to train doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers and mental-health professionals to respond to disasters. The IsraAID Humanitarian Professionals Network (IPHN) will launch on Jan. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.
“IsraAID draws on Israeli social innovation and expertise to benefit people in need around the world,” said Seth Davis, executive director of organization’s branch in the United States. “We are now leveraging our organization’s unique capabilities to train professionals in the United States interested in developing life-saving skills and joining humanitarian relief missions globally, hand in hand with professionals from Israel.”
“The network will equip skilled individuals in hands-on disaster relief experience and provide enhanced capacity if local disaster were to strike,” added Davis.
Current IsraAID missions have provided assistance in multiple disasters including the November 2018 wildfires in California; violence in Uganda; cyclones in Vanuatu; and refugee crises in Greece, Kenya and Bangladesh.
The Pittsburgh Steelers handed a check for $70,000 to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Fund for Victims of Terror on Sunday.
The money was raised by the team and its partners from the sale of merchandise branded with the “Stronger Than Hate” logo. The logo, which was created by Tim Hindes after the antisemitic massacre of 11 Jews in a synagogue in Pittsburgh in late October, modified the Steelers’ emblem to include a Star of David and the message “Stronger Than Hate.”
In early November, the team partnered with the Underground Printing company to sell shirts with the logo, with all the proceeds benefiting the Jewish Federation.
“On behalf of Tim Hindes, the folks at Underground Printing and the Steelers, we are pleased to present the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh a check to help support the families involved in the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue,” said Art Rooney, president of the Steelers, upon presenting the check. “Our community unified to help the victims of the attack on our neighbors, friends and worshippers in Squirrel Hill. Our hearts remain heavy, but we are thankful to everyone who was able to contribute to the efforts to provide emotional and financial support during an unthinkable time in our city.”
Meryl Ainsman, the chairman of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, was present to accept the funds from the team.
On a cold, wet evening in the last week of December, members of New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue filled a gigantic Jerusalem banquet hall festooned with blue and white balloons. As the music pumped and the food and alcohol flowed freely, they celebrated 70 years of Israeli independence and 136 years since their congregation’s founding.
With the Park Avenue Synagogue’s 450-strong contingent, the eight-day mission was possibly the largest Jewish congregational trip ever to visit Israel. This was the latest in a succession of annual visits organized by the synagogue over the last decade and a half. None of the previous shul trips, however, reached the size of this latest one in 2018, the year in which Israel saw a record 4 million visitors.
At a time when many American Jews question their commitment to Israel over matters such as religious pluralism and Israel’s 50-year occupation of the West Bank, the Park Avenue Synagogue’s latest trip to the Jewish state stands out.
But even as many boogied on the dance floor along with costumed early Zionist and Israeli leaders Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, the congregants weren’t stuck in the past. For many, the trip offered a means to explore the future of their relationships with Israel, given that Conservative Judaism continues to be marginalized — if not disparaged — by Israel’s rabbinic authorities.
Through their arrival in Israel in such numbers, Park Avenue Synagogue’s leaders and members are voting with their feet. As in the past, their support for Israel is steadfast. But now it comes with caveats and demands for acceptance.
“If you have concerns, you have the choice of sitting on the sidelines or taking a seat at the table. We are expressing both our support and our concern by showing up,” said Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, the spiritual leader of the synagogue for the past 10 years.
Israel’s population stands at 8,972,000 as it readies to enter 2019, 174,000 more people than a year before, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday.
Of that number, 6,668,000 (74.3%) are Jews, 1,878,000 are Arabs (20.9%) and 426,000 (4.8%) are other.
In 2018 the population grew by 174,000, or 2%, the average rate of growth of Israeli society over the past decade.
Natural population growth accounted for 81% of the increase with over 100,000 added to the Jewish population, 37,000 to the Arab community and another 3,500 to other communities.
The number of babies born was 185,000 and there were 28,000 new immigrants, the CBS said. A further 12,000 other people came to the country, including returning citizens and non-citizens.
About a third of new immigrants came from Russia, 19.6% from Ukraine, 8% from France, a similar number from the US, 4.9% from Asia, and 1.6% from Africa.
2018 was year of records for @Israel. Here’s quick summary:
✅ Record M&A’s (⬆️ 77% to $21.6 bn)
✅ Record exports (⬆️ 8%)
✅ Record tourists (⬆️ 13% to 4 million)
✅ Jerusalem named fastest growing tourism destination!
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) December 31, 2018
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