Sunday, April 22, 2018

  • Sunday, April 22, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

Hamas' Al Qassam Brigades announced the death of  Thaer Nayef Al-Zuraie, 30, from Deir Al-Balah in the center of the Gaza Strip.

He died Sunday "while working in a tunnel for resistance."

The usual flowery language asking Allah to recognized him as a "martyr" (so he can rape lots of young virgins in Paradise) follows.

He was apparently a father as well.

Hamas is still spending millions on digging tunnels - but the people who pretend to be "pro-Palestinian" never mention that when they blame Israel for Gaza's economic woes.

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From Ian:

All the Fake News That’s Fit to Print
On Saturday, Nellie Bowles, a technology reporter for The New York Times, wrote a piece about Campbell Brown, the former news anchor recently hired by Facebook to help the social media giant improve its relationship with the news media. One obvious problem is Facebook’s contribution to the dissemination of fake news, which Brown is now fighting. How? Let the Paper of Record tell you all about it.

“Ms. Brown,” wrote Bowles, “wants to use Facebook’s existing Watch product — a service introduced in 2017 as a premium product with more curation that has nonetheless been flooded with far-right conspiracy programming like ‘Palestinians Pay $400 million Pensions For Terrorist Families.’”

As those of us who are in the reality based community know, the Palestinian Authority’s financial support of terrorists and their families is very, very far from a conspiracy, far-right or otherwise. Reading Bowles’s report, for example, Lahav Harkov, the Knesset reporter for The Jerusalem Post, took to Twitter to share some of her meticulous reporting on the Palestinian pay-for-slay program with Bowles: Read the real news, and you’ll learn that, in 2017, the PA doled out more than $347 million to families of terrorists who had murdered Jews, increasing the amount to $403 million this year. Between 2013 and 2017, the PA spent $1.12 billion on supporting terrorists and their families, as Yosef Kuperwasser, the former head of the IDF intelligence’s research branch, reported in Tablet last May.
New York Times' Nellie Bowles: PA Payments For Terrorists, a 'Far-Right Conspiracy'
Moreover, does The Times' Bowles consider her own paper part of the vast "far-right conspiracy"? The Times has repeatedly reported the fact that the Palestinian Authority pays the families of terrorists. See for example, the May 2, 2017 Times article ("G.O.P. Pressures Trump to Take Tough Stance With Mahmoud Abbas") which confirms that not even the Palestinian officials try to deny that their government is providing the families of suicide bombers with funding:

The issue of payments to families of suicide bombers and others who commit violence has become a frequent complaint by Israel and its supporters. The Palestinian Authority spends about $315 million a year to distribute cash and benefits to 36,000 families, according to Sander Gerber, a New York hedge fund executive and fellow at the Jerusalem Center Public Affairs, who has studied the issue and brought his research to American lawmakers. . . .

Palestinian leaders defend the payments, saying they are meant to help widows and orphans of "martyrs," as they call suicide bombers and others killed in attacks, as well as destitute families of prisoners, not to promote terrorism. . . .

But Mr. Rajoub also signaled that Palestinian leaders would be willing to reconsider the payments as part of a "broader negotiation." . . . (Emphasis added.)

In 2015, The New York Times reported ("Palestine Groups Are Found Liable at Terror Trial," Feb. 24):

But citing testimony, payroll records and other documents, the plaintiffs showed that many of those involved in the planning and carrying out of the attacks had been employees of the Palestinian Authority, and that the authority had paid salaries to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and had made martyr payments to the families of suicide bombers.

As far back as 2006, Steven Erlanger wrote in The Times ("Hamas: Rivalry Breeds Extremes") July 2, 2006:

Syria and Iran, which support the Hamas leaders in exile, have no interest in a calm Israeli-Palestinian relationship, and they are masters at manipulating the third rail of Palestinian politics -- the need to payrespect and honor to those who fight Israel and ''the occupation,'' including prisoners and suicide bombers.

CAMERA has contacted Times editors to request a correction. Stay tuned for an update.
Bret Stephens: Jewish Power at 70 Years
The armchair corporals of Western punditry think this is excessive. It would be helpful if they could suggest alternative military tactics to an Israeli government dealing with an urgent crisis against an adversary sworn to its destruction. They don’t.

It would also be helpful if they could explain how they can insist on Israel’s retreat to the 1967 borders and then scold Israel when it defends those borders. They can’t. If the armchair corporals want to persist in demands for withdrawals that for 25 years have led to more Palestinian violence, not less, the least they can do is be ferocious in defense of Israel’s inarguable sovereignty. Somehow they almost never are.

Israel’s 70th anniversary has occasioned a fresh round of anxious, if not exactly new, commentary about the rifts between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry. Some Diaspora complaints, especially with respect to religion and refugees, are valid and should be heeded by Jerusalem.

But to the extent that the Diaspora’s objections are prompted by the nonchalance of the supposedly nonvulnerable when it comes to Israel’s security choices, then the complaints are worse than feckless. They provide moral sustenance for Hamas in its efforts to win sympathy for its strategy of wanton aggression and reckless endangerment. And they foster the illusion that there’s some easy and morally stainless way by which Jews can exercise the responsibilities of political power.

  • Sunday, April 22, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

From Reuters:

Israel’s defence minister said on Sunday a Palestinian scientist shot dead in Malaysia was a rocket expert and “no saint”, but dismissed suggestions by Hamas that Israel’s Mossad spy agency assassinated him.

Two men on a motorcycle fired 10 shots at Fadi al-Batsh, an engineering lecturer, in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, killing him on the spot, the city’s police chief, Mazlan Lazim said.

Hamas, an Islamist militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, said one of its members had been assassinated in Malaysia. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Mossad had been behind past attempts to kill Palestinian scientists, and the attack on Batsh “follows this sequence.”

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said it was likely that Batsh was killed as part of an internal Palestinian dispute.

“We heard about it in the news. The terrorist organisations blame every assassination on Israel - we’re used to that,” Lieberman told Israel Radio.

“The man was no saint and he didn’t deal with improving infrastructure in Gaza - he was involved in improving rockets’ accuracy ... We constantly see a settling of accounts between various factions in the terrorist organisations and I suppose that is what happened in this case.”

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Saturday the suspects in the killing, who fled the scene, were believed to be Europeans with links to a foreign intelligence agency, state news agency Bernama reported.

He added that Batsh was active in pro-Palestinian non-governmental organisations, describing him as an expert in electrical engineering and rocket-building.

He could have been seen as “a liability for a country that is an enemy of Palestine,” Zahid was quoted as saying by Bernama.

I would have thought that this was Mossad, and Israel doesn't usually issue blanket denials. Then again, Lieberman is not the most diplomatic speaker.

Here's gruesome video of al-Batsh after he was shot:

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  • Sunday, April 22, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

After fierce criticism, Natalie Portman now claims that her problem with accepting the Genesis Prize has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with Israel's prime minister.

"I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony," she said.

Somehow when she accepted the prize in December she didn't notice that Netanyahu is always the main speaker at the Genesis Prize ceremony.

While her attempt at damage control might mollify her liberal Zionist friends who were fearful at how BDS was now openly welcoming her as one of them, Portman's antipathy towards Netanyahu is misplaced. Because, while he definitely has faults and has made some major mistakes, Netanyahu has been one of Israel's best prime ministers by any measure.

Bibi has managed to balance his short term political interests in remaining in power with a long-term strategy for Israel that has been astonishingly successful. His economic policies are in no small part responsible for Israel's status as the "Start-Up Nation." He has pivoted Israel from political dependence on the US to creating and strengthening Israel's ties with Russia, China, many African countries and especially India, which has turned from an enemy into a friend.

From a peace perspective, his emphasis of strategy over tactics has completely changed the politics of the Middle East, as Israel is now a de facto ally of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, in addition to never-better security and economic cooperation with Jordan and Egypt. This is not just amazing; it is miraculous. That's the stuff that, in a sane world, would win a Nobel Peace Prize.

As far as I can tell, Portman has only specifically condemned Netanyahu once, calling him a "racist" when he said "Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses.”

But that quote was taken out of context and misunderstood, and Bibi clarified his statements quickly. His record in serving Arab communities in Israel is almost certainly better than any other prime minister, both before and after the comments (which apologized for, twice.) Also under his tenure Israel has shown itself to be more liberal in its stance towards Muslims than most European countries are. The number of Arabs working in Israel's civil service and volunteering for the army has increased dramatically under Netanyahu.

Portman seems to have missed all of this.

And if Portman is oh-so-offended by Bibi's comments in 2015, then I am anxiously awaiting her severe condemnation of Haaretz editor Amos Schocken's tweet last week to a Sephardic Jewish woman saying "My family led the Zionist movement when you were still swinging from trees."

Portman and her liberal Zionist friends were quite silent about that episode.

It doesn't end there. Even on the Palestinian peace front, Bibi has shown himself to be far more willing to compromise for peace than the other side. 

To be sure, Bibi's flip-flop on African immigrants this year was bad for many reasons. He has made other mistakes and gaffes. However, a clear-eyed view of Netanyahu's policies show that he has helped make Israel into a more secure nation while tremendously helping its economy, its international standing and its minority citizens. All while keeping his right-wing coalition intact.

The anti-Bibi media ignores most of these accomplishments, but Portman has no excuse. If she is going to wade into political statements and gestures, it is her responsibility to actually do the research and not to mindlessly parrot the lies.

Bibi has done more for Israel than any other politician could have done.

Portman has done more to damage Israel's reputation than any other celebrity has done, and even her clarification accused Israel of unspecified "atrocities."

If she has any morals whatsoever, she should apologize abjectly for her ignorant statements.

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  • Sunday, April 22, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

Israel's critics never tire of pointing out that Israel supposedly violates UN resolutions, resolutions that were drafted and passed by Israel's sworn enemies.

But somehow, when Hezbollah's leader literally brags in public about the extent of how much he is flouting a UN Security Council resolution, those defenders of the UN seem to disappear mighty quickly.

From Palestine Today:

The Secretary-General of the Lebanese Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said that the Islamic resistance today has the ability and strength and missiles that can hit any target in Israel.
But UNSC 1701 does not allow Hezbollah to even exist in southern Lebanon. It says that no one can bring in any weapons besides the Lebanese Army.
"The resistance in Lebanon proved the deterrence with the Israeli enemy, which is the result of accumulations of sacrifices and we can not give them up, They are our existence and our dignity," Nasrallah said on Saturday evening.
He stressed that "Hezbollah will not leave the resistance and will not give up it is not for sale or exchange, it means our existence and our pride."
Oh, there must be a UN loophole that says that any resolution can be overridden by Arab or Muslim assertion of dignity and pride.  If dismantling Hezbollah hurts Hezbollah's feelings, then of course we must respect that.

As far as I can tell, Muslim and Arab pride are the top priority at the UN and soon in all of Europe as well. Pointing out 1701's existence is not polite.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

From Ian:

Trump’s State Department no longer calls West Bank ‘occupied’ in annual report
The US State Department released its annual report on human rights violations around the world on Friday, and there was at least one discernible difference from past reports: It no longer refers to the West Bank as “occupied.”

Whereas previous iterations of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices had a section on “Israel and the Occupied Territories,” this year’s document refers instead to “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza.”

Last December, it was reported that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman asked the State Department to stop calling the West Bank occupied, which would make a noted departure in US policy.

No indication of any change in that regard had materialized — until now.

In the past, Friedman had made remarks that were rebuffed by Washington as not reflecting official policy. Last September, for instance, he told Israel’s Walla news site he thought “the settlements are part of Israel.” State Dept. Spokesperson Heather Nauert later told reporters his comments marked no shift in the US position. Before his confirmation to the diplomatic role, Friedman was a staunch settlements supporter and columnist for right-wing Israeli publications.

The report released Friday also noted that the final status of Jerusalem, which US President Donald Trump has formally recognized as Israel’s capital while making plans to relocate the US embassy there, was still a matter of talks between both sides.

“On December 6, 2017, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the report said. “It is the position of the United States that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.”

Most of the rest of the report is similar to prior years, cataloging human rights abuses by by the Israeli Defense Forces, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Liberman hails US decision to drop ‘occupied’ from West Bank terminology
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday hailed a decision by the US State Department to drop the term “occupied” in a report referring to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights, saying that the truth was finally being made plain.

“The lie of the occupied Palestinian territories is being exposed. They say that if you repeat a lie enough, it eventually becomes the truth, but the truth will always be stronger,” Liberman tweeted. “The announcement by the US state department is proof of that.”

Liberman, who as defense minister is responsible for administering the West Bank, was commenting after the US State Department released its annual report on human rights violations around the world on Friday, and no longer refered to the West Bank as “occupied.”

Whereas previous iterations of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices had a section on “Israel and the Occupied Territories,” this year’s document refers instead to “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza.”
Abbas: We will continue to fight Trump’s Jerusalem decision
The Palestinians will not allow US President Donald Trump or anyone else to say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday.

The Palestinians, Abbas said, will continue to fight Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as they have been doing for the past few months.

“The Palestinians will not allow any country to move its embassy to Jerusalem before there’s a solution [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict],” Abbas said, during a meeting with Arab delegates attending a conference in Ramallah on laboratory medicine.

On May 14, the US will hold an official dedication ceremony for the US embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood.

Trump, who formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced the embassy relocation on December 6, had mulled attending the inauguration but reportedly decided against it.

So far, the US and Guatemala are the only two countries that have formally announced such a move, but Israel says other countries are also mulling moving their missions.

Abbas told the delegates that he hopes that their next conference will be held in Jerusalem, “our eternal capital.”

Friday, April 20, 2018

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Time to cut JVP down to size
Jewish Voice for Peace is a marginal group, by all accounts. The Jewish-run, anti-Zionist organization has perhaps a couple of dozen employees and anywhere between a few dozen and a couple of hundred committed activists in the US. Its positions – that Israel is evil and must be destroyed and that Jews should be disenfranchised and ostracized because they support Israel – is anathema to the overwhelming majority of American Jews.

Yet despite the fact that its bigoted positions are rejected by just about everyone, this group, which the Anti-Defamation League has listed as “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the United States,” is becoming increasingly influential in the US.

As the ADL report on JVP notes, in recent years, the little group has received millions of dollars in donations and has vastly expanded its operations. It has 35 chapters across the US including at several campuses. It has nearly a half million followers on Facebook and 75,000 followers on Twitter.

JVP doesn’t only attack Jewish supporters of Israel. It also attacks Judaism. JVP’s “rabbinical council” issues resolutions and publications in the name of the Jewish religion that are inherently antisemitic.

In 2012 for instance, JVP’s “rabbinical council” published an “alternative Haggada,” which included anti-Israel themes inside the Passover story of the liberation of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. One of the four cups of wine for the Passover Seder was dedicated to the BDS movement. Readers were instructed to add an olive to the traditional Seder plate to symbolize Palestinian suffering under Israeli rule.

JVP is open about its determination to serve as a Jewish fig leaf for antisemitic groups and operations. Its website states this mission explicitly, arguing that the group’s Jewish veneer gives it a “particular legitimacy in voicing an alternative view of American and Israeli actions and policies” and the ability to distinguish “between real antisemitism and the cynical manipulation of that issue.”

Melanie Phillips: In Britain and Poland, Anti-Semitism’s Ugly History Repeats Itself
In Britain, liberals are in a similar state of denial over their anti-Semitism. This is because they view themselves as anti-fascist and anti-racist and so think it is simply impossible they could be anti-Jew.

In fact, anti-Semitism on the left has a long lineage. Marx himself, after all, was virulently anti-Jewish. There’s more to it, though, than just being anti-capitalist or even anti-Zionist. The modern left has junked Biblical morality for libertarian lifestyle choice. And the Jews represent the conscience they are at such pains to deny.

I came up against this years ago without realizing the full implications until much later. As I recount in my memoir Guardian Angel, also published recently, when in the 1990s I started writing about the undermining of the traditional family I was called an “Old Testament fundamentalist.” And when in 1982 I first questioned the double standard over Israel at the anti-racist Guardian newspaper where I then worked, I was told that since the Jews claimed moral superiority over everyone else they should be judged by higher moral standards.

Despite such attitudes, the left believes that because it stands for the betterment of the world it embodies unimpeachable virtue. Anyone not on the left is therefore not just wrong but evil. Only the right can be anti-Semitic. It is therefore impossible for the left to be so. If they were to admit it, their entire moral and political personality would fall apart.

Anti-Semitism, however, is not created by one viewpoint or another. It is a form of derangement which observes no political or cultural boundaries. Whether in London or Warsaw, if it is not recognized as such it will not merely remain a permanent stain on those societies. It will eventually destroy them.
Delusions of Justice
American Jews should wake up to which side their most dangerous enemies are on.

Since the election of Donald Trump, prominent American Jews, notably in the Reform movement and among the intelligentsia, have lamented the resurgence of right-wing anti-Semitism, seeing it as the greatest threat to their community in the United States. The rise of xenophobic and often marginally anti-Jewish parties in Eastern Europe—even with fewer Jews left there to persecute—has deepened the alarm. Yet by far the greatest threat to Jews, not only here but also abroad, comes not from zombie fascist retreads, but from the Left, which is increasingly making its peace with anti-Semitism.

This shift was first made clear to me about 15 years ago when, along with my wife Mandy, whose mother is a Holocaust survivor from France, I visited the legendary Nazi-hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld. They predicted that the primary threat to Jews in Europe increasingly would come not from the centuries-old French Right, some of whom had supported the Nazis, but from the Left, in alliance with a growing Muslim population. Time has proved their assertion to be, for the most part, on target. In Sweden, for instance, never known for its persecution of Jews, only 5 percent of all anti-Semitic incidents, notes the New York Times, involved the far Right, while Muslims and leftists accounted for the rest. Germany’s recent rash of anti-Semitic incidents has coincided with the mass migration of people from regions where hostility to both Jews and Israel is commonplace. At European universities, where pro-Nazi sentiments were once widely shared, anti-Israel sentiments are increasingly de rigueur. The growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, aimed at cutting all ties with Israel, often allies itself with anti-Jewish Islamist groups, some with eliminationist agendas for Palestine’s Jews.

Of course, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are not identical. One can criticize some Israeli policies—as many American Jews do, for example, on the expansion of settlements—without being an anti-Semite. But, as the liberal French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy argues, targeting the Jewish state while ignoring far more brutal, homophobic, and profoundly misogynist Muslim states represents a double standard characteristic of anti-Semitic prejudice. European progressives increasingly embrace this double standard. Generally speaking, the further left the European politician, the closer his ties to Islamist groups who seek the destruction of Jews in Palestine. Many left-wing parties—the French socialists, for example—depend more and more on Arab and Muslim voters, who come from countries where more than 80 percent of the public holds strongly anti-Jewish views. The Left’s animus toward Jewish causes has spread to Great Britain, where Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn counts the leaders of openly anti-Semitic groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as allies. If Corbyn becomes Britain’s next prime minister—no longer inconceivable, given his strong showing in the last election—the consequences for Israel, and for Britain’s dwindling Jewish community, could be troubling.

Some, like Barcelona’s chief rabbi, think that it’s time for Europe’s Jews to move away, and many, particularly in France, are already doing so. Europe’s Jewish population (roughly 1.4 million) is less than half what it was in 1960, and a mere fraction of its pre-Holocaust size (9.5 million). (h/t MtTB)

From Roger Cohen in the New York Times, referring to the weekly Gaza riots:
You know pornography when you see it. You know a disproportionate military response when you see it. It’s stomach turning.

Would Roger Cohen consider the killing of 16 civilians in order to silence an enemy TV station for a short time period to be "disproportionate?"

Because NATO doesn't.

In the  Final Report to the Prosecutor by the Committee Established to Review the NATO Bombing Campaign Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the case is reviewed. In short:

On 23 April 1999, at 0220, NATO intentionally bombed the central studio of the RTS (state-owned) broadcasting corporation at 1 Aberdareva Street in the centre of Belgrade. The missiles hit the entrance area, which caved in at the place where the Aberdareva Street building was connected to the Takovska Street building. While there is some doubt over exact casualty figures, between 10 and 17 people are estimated to have been killed.

 NATO intentionally bombed the Radio and TV station and the persons killed or injured were civilians. The questions are: was the station a legitimate military objective and; if it was, were the civilian casualties disproportionate to the military advantage gained by the attack? .... Insofar as the attack actually was aimed at disrupting the communications network, it was legally acceptable.

Assuming the station was a legitimate objective, the civilian casualties were unfortunately high but do not appear to be clearly disproportionate....

Assuming the RTS building to be a legitimate military target, it appeared that NATO realised that attacking the RTS building would only interrupt broadcasting for a brief period....

 On the basis of the above analysis and on the information currently available to it, the committee recommends that the OTP not commence an investigation related to the bombing of the Serbian TV and Radio Station.
The prosecutor said that there was no reason to prosecute this as a war crime, as the attack on a broadcasting station that killed 16 (according to later reports) was not disproportionate

So, Roger, do you really know a disproportionate military response when you see it? Or only when Israel somehow manages to kill people, a vast majority who are linked to terror groups hiding among tens of thousands of civlians - is that the case that you consider disproportionate?

I can't comment on how well Cohen knows pornography, but his knowledge of international law is sorely lacking.

Actually, there is a phrase to describe what it feels like to read an NYT column that assumes that Cohen's gut instincts against Israel are more accurate than international law. 

The phrase is "stomach-turning."

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From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: An open letter to the Muslim world
Dear Muslim world,

The State of Israel is 70 years old today and I am writing from its capital city, Jerusalem.

I realize that for most of you, the words I have just written will cause your gorge to rise. In Israel, they are a source of jubilation.

Israel’s rebirth as the Jewish national homeland out of the ashes of the Holocaust was in itself an astonishing achievement, unique in the annals of the world.

For it to have survived the unparalleled attempts to destroy it ever since is regarded by many as nothing short of miraculous.

Yesterday was Israel’s annual remembrance day. When the sirens sounded, the country paused and bowed its head. It’s the day when Israel mourns the price in blood it has had to pay for existing at all: 23,646 fallen Israeli soldiers and 3,134 Israeli civilians murdered through terrorism.

More than 26,000 dead—with most of the military casualties consisting of Israel’s precious young who must be conscripted to defend their country—purely because there are people determined to prevent the Jews from living in their own ancestral homeland.

But you know all about that because you are the people killing them.

You are the people who have been trying to destroy the Jewish homeland for the better part of a century. Look how hard you’ve tried. You’ve used war. You’ve used terrorism. You’ve used the Palestinian Arabs as pawns. You’ve used the diplomatic game. You’ve used economic boycotts.

Despite all this, you have been forced to watch as Israel has not only survived but become the strongest state in the region, stronger even than many countries in the developed world.

Einat Wilf with Shany Mor: Celebrating the argument
Zionism and the State of Israel are unique examples of a movement of national liberation, and a state, established as ongoing debates, claim Einat Wilf with Shany Mor. Democratic debate about the character and future of the state has been at once a necessity, a virtue, a strength and a saving grace; in fact it has defined who we are. Here’s to the next 70 years of the argument.

What is the Jewish state? This is the title of a talk I thoroughly enjoy giving, particularly to delegations – mostly of non-Jews – who come to Israel for the first time. At the outset, I promise that, if successful, at the end of my talk, my listeners will be more confused about the issue than they are at present.

In the talk, I walk through the span of Jewish history, emphasising the manner in which modernity gave birth to a wide variety of Jews, including devout atheists and committed Zionists such as myself, all the way to Haredi Jews, whose raising of the walls is in itself a modern phenomenon, conceived in response to the challenge of modernity. Once their heads spins with Zionist atheists, Haredi Jews, Religious Zionists, Reform and Conservative, and just plain Yom-Kippur-synagogue-attending-Shabbat-driving-shrimp-eating Jews, I explain that in the absence of a Pope and a Church hierarchy, and given that Jewish texts and traditions created over thousands of years offer sufficient material to support every possible world view, we have no way to determine what is the ‘right’ way to be Jewish and the ‘wrong’ way to be Jewish. We are then left with no choice but to do what Jews are known for doing: arguing.

From here emerges my definition of the Jewish state – the definition to end all definitions, if I may: The Jewish state is the one state in the world where we get to argue about what it means to be the Jewish state. Herein lies the essence of the Jewish state: the ongoing debate about its very nature. And this has been the case ever since the days of the First Zionist Congress. Zionism and the State of Israel have always been sites of an ongoing and fierce debate about the very fundamental question of what it means to be the Jewish state.

This has been the key insight of Zionism. Contrary to the common view that great undertakings require unity, Zionism progressed through unity-in-diversity. Yes, there was a broad agreement to move forward to some form of Jewish self-government – there was no agreement even that it should be a state – but beyond that, everything has been up for debate.
JPost Editorial: From Truman to Trump
Truman’s conflicting policies seem to reflect conflicting influences. Truman was a Christian Zionist who was a fierce believer in Jewish statehood in the Holy Land for religious reasons. From a moral perspective, he was haunted by the Holocaust and saw in a Jewish state rectification of a historic injustice. Pragmatically speaking, he realized that Americans would oppose large-scale immigration to the US and that the creation of a Jewish state would provide an option.

At the same time, Truman was up against the US State Department and the British government, which were pro-Arab and which, therefore, strongly opposed US involvement in the creation of Israel for fear it would hurt relations with Arab nations. Also, Truman, who sought, and won, the US presidency in the 1948 election, factored in the Jewish vote in electoral considerations. Perhaps he realized that his de facto support for Jewish statehood was enough and that it was politically unnecessary to be more outspokenly pro-Zionist in a way that would hurt his relations with the State Department, the British and the Arab world.

Undoubtedly, Truman’s support was instrumental in helping bring about the creation of the state. The tradition continues with President Donald Trump, who has proven to be a real friend of Israel and who in a tweet for Independence Day, reiterated his promise that next month the US Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Still, the real work of building a viable Jewish state was not, and still is not, in the White House or in the UN’s corridors, but on the ground in the Land of Israel. It is no less than amazing that a group of ragtag emigrants from Europe and Arab countries and refugees from the Holocaust, who did not even speak the same language, managed to come together and fight to overcome a vastly larger Arab military force. To this day we have never asked a single US soldier to fight our fight.

As we celebrate the state’s 70th year of existence, its creation remains an odds-defying story of how improbable developments came together leading to a wildly successful endeavor.

And US support for Israel, which began with Truman and continues to this day with President Donald Trump, has been critical to this success.

  • Friday, April 20, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

From CBS News:
U.S. actress Natalie Portman, this year's recipient of a prize dubbed the "Jewish Nobel," has pulled out of the June awards ceremony in Israel because of extreme distress over recent events in the country, the Genesis Prize Foundation said. The foundation said it was informed by Portman's representative that the Jerusalem-born Oscar winner "does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel."

In Thursday's statement, the Genesis foundation quoted a representative for Portman as saying that "recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her" and that "she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony."

Thursday's statement did not refer to specific events that would have prompted Portman's decision.
 Reading between the lines of Portman's previous statements on Israel, one gets the impression that she has always been uncomfortable with Israel, but she preferred to be quiet about it.

In 2015, she called Netanyahu a racist, but she added, "What I want to make sure is, I don't want to use my platform [the wrong way]. I feel like there's some people who become prominent, and then it's out in the foreign press. You know, shit on Israel. I do not. I don't want to do that."

Also in 2015, she said, "You look at your country and it’s not what you want it to be. It’s not what you wish it could be. But of course we have to strive for what could be, but also live with what exists, and what is, and be pragmatic.”

In 2014, she was quoted as saying, "I have a very close friend who lately has this European, anti-Israel way of thinking, and it’s very hard for me to have conversations with him. He says, ‘Can’t you be self-critical?’ But it’s hard to be publicly critical. It has to be done in a very delicate, well-thought-out manner. These issues come up at parties and dinners with people who don’t know a lot, and as someone who was born in Israel, you’re put in a position of defending Israel because you know how much is at stake. It’s become a much bigger part of my identity in recent years because it’s become an issue of survival."

She used to say that while she had problems with Israel, she would keep her mouth shut about them because she knew that any criticism she would offer was likely to be seized upon by antisemites and Israel-haters in ways she did not intend.

When the award was announced in November, Portman said, “I am deeply touched and humbled by this honor. I am proud of my Israeli roots and Jewish heritage; they are crucial parts of who I am. It is such a privilege to be counted among the outstanding Laureates whom I admire so much. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Genesis Prize Foundation, and look forward to using the global platform it provides to make a difference in the lives of women in Israel and beyond.”

Publicly renouncing an award, only months after saying how proud she was to be chosen for it, is going to give far more fuel to antisemites and haters than anything else she could have said or done.

Moreover, even though the prize is for significant accomplishments by Jews, her new refusal to take the award shows that she never deserved it.

 The only thing that has happened between November and now was the Gaza riots. If this is the reason that Portman is now publicly anti-Israel, then we can learn that she never had good Jewish values to begin with.

It is wonderful that she won't eat pizza with her Israeli family on Passover when she visits them and she fasts on Yom Kippur, but Jewish values go way beyond the ritual.

The Gaza riots are being heavily misreported. A Jewish value would be to research the issue and not blindly believe the anti-Israel narrative.

A Jewish value would be to be "dan l'chaf zechut," to give her family's nation the benefit of the doubt. She is not doing that.

A Jewish value would be to put whatever criticisms you have in perspective, and not use them as fuel for the haters. She used to have that value and now she has thrown it in the garbage. And to do it on Israel's 70th birthday, on a day when it is so obvious that the Jewish state is miraculous no matter what your political perspective - it shows that Portman is insensitive as well.

It is a very good thing that Natalie Portman has revealed her true colors. She does not deserve this prize.

A source at the Genesis Prize Foundation told Haaretz that Portman did not intend to return the $1 million dollar cash prize that comes with the award. Nor did she intend to return the additional $1 million matching grant promised to her by Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn. “We have not received any information of the sort,” he said.
Ah, a Jew who refuses to publicly accept an award but insists on taking the money won't foster antisemitism, right, Natalie?

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  • Friday, April 20, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat is once again threatening the world with Arab violence.

Speaking about the planned opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem next month, he said that "the insistence of the administration of American President Donald Trump to continue to violate international law and international legitimacy in such a blatant form is a threat to the security, peace and stability of the Middle East and the world."

The PLO claims that opening an Israeli embassy anywhere in Jerusalem is a violation of international law, based on UNSC resolution 478, that calls upon "Those States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City."

This would include, of course, any diplomatic missions meant for Palestinians, and several nations maintain such missions including Belgium, France, Turkey the UK and the US itself.  All without a peep of protest from Erekat.

Erekat's claim that the US Embassy move threatens world peace is, as always, a threat itself. The US has the right to place its embassies wherever it wants, and it reasserted that right at the time of UNSC 478. There is obviously nothing violent about moving an embassy.

Erekat is saying that Arabs will respond to the US move with violence - and that it what threatens world peace.

Erekat is telling the world that  Arabs have no self control and cannot help themselves but to respond to a diplomatic move by starting World War III.

What a racist Erekat is to make the assumption that Arabs are inherently violent people!

And, he is wrong. The Arab nations don't care in the least about a US embassy in Jerusalem (nor about the other embassies that are following the US.)

Palestinian Arabs don't care either, until they are incited to violence by their leaders like Erekat. Interviews with Palestinians back when Trump was elected showed that without incitement by their leadership, no one cared at all about the embassy.

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  • Friday, April 20, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Middle East Monitor reported exactly one week ago:

The Palestinian Energy Authority yesterday stopped operations at the only power station in the Gaza Strip due to a lack of fuel to operate it.

“The Energy Authority informed us this afternoon that it had stopped work at the power station because there was no fuel to operate it,” said Mohammad Thabit, director of public relations and information at the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company.

“We currently have 120 megawatts per day coming from Israel after the Egyptian lines stopped working nearly three months ago. We will try with the available energy to maintain the four hour schedule, but the hours of power outage will exceed 12 hours,” he added in an interview with Quds Press.

The company said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “very difficult to collect the necessary revenues to meet the various financial obligations towards energy suppliers as well as the operating costs.”

Ma'an Arabic reported today that since the Palestinian Authority stopped paying salaries to many Gazans, their tax revenue that had come from those employees has been reduced by 4.3 million shekels a month, a significant chunk o fthe 10 million shekels it takes to run the power plant every month.

Gaza has been buying its fuel from Egypt instead of from Israel, even though Israel has built a large fuel pipeline through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Presumably, the Egyptian fuel is cheaper.

I had not read anywhere before that the Egyptian power lines to Gaza have been down for three months. No one seems to be worrying too much about that.

As usual, when Gaza misery cannot be blamed on Israel, the media is essentially silent. However, there is a slight twist to the media silence this time.

AFP, to its credit, did report on this on Monday. It added that "Three hospitals and 16 medical centers had stopped offering key services in recent weeks because of the crippling fuel shortages."

Based on Google News, however, I can only find a single newspaper or news site worldwide that published the AFP story: The Times of Israel.

Meaning that while one of the world's major wire services did report on the story, practically none of the individual news site editors, out of thousands of sites, were interested enough in a Gaza misery story that couldn't be blamed on Israel.

Last year, I noted that while the Gaza power plant usually only about 20 MW per day (compared to the 120 MW that come from Israel), it has the capacity to generate 140 MW per day - if only the fuel was available. The lack of fuel is in no way related to Israel.

If the power plant was running at full capacity, and if Egyptian lines were repaired, there would still be a power deficit in Gaza, but it would be far more manageable - people would have power for 9-10 hours a day instead of 4, which would be enough to keep refrigerators cold, to charge batteries, and to keep hospitals going without relying as much on generators and fuel donations from third parties.

Once again, when Israel cannot be blamed, the media doesn't care.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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