Friday, July 31, 2009
By Caroline Glick
31 July 09
Israel's leftists are lonely these days. This was the central thrust of an opinion column in Tuesday's New York Times authored by Aluf Benn, editor-at-large of the left-wing Haaretz newspaper.
Benn's article, "Why won't Obama Talk to Israel?" was a plaintive call for US President Barack Obama to woo the Israeli public. As Benn put it, "Next time you're in the neighborhood, Mr. President, speak to us directly."
Benn's article has been touted by Obama supporters and detractors alike as evidence that the president has a credibility problem with Israelis. Jewish Obama supporters sought to soften the impact of Benn's article on their fellow Jewish leftists by claiming that Obama is listening to the likes of Benn. For instance, the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg reported without irony that administration officials defend Obama's silence toward Israel by arguing that his June 4 speech to the Muslim world in Cairo was also geared toward Israelis.
The June 4 address of course was the one where Obama compared Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi Holocaust of European Jewry and to black slavery in the antebellum American South. It was also the speech where he embraced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim that Israel owes its existence to the Holocaust and not to the Jewish people's legitimate right to self-determination in our homeland.
Benn's piece is an interesting read, but not for the reasons that have been widely cited. It is interesting for what it says about the Israeli Left on the one hand, and what it says about Obama and his American Jewish supporters on the other.
Although Benn gives a long bill of particulars on why Israelis mistrust Obama, the general thrust of the article is supportive of the administration. Far from an attack on Obama, it is a cry for help. Benn and his fellow Israeli leftists want the administration to help them by changing the tenor of its policies, not the policies themselves.
WHEREAS THE American Left was triumphant in the 2008 elections, the Israeli Left was decimated in Israel's general elections in February. Its two standard bearers - Meretz and Labor - were effectively wiped out. Its new flagship, Kadima, failed to win the support of any other party in its bid to form a governing coalition. Worse still, consistent polling shows that the general public rejects every one of the Israeli Left's central policies. From the swift establishment of a Palestinian state, to the mass expulsion of Jews from Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, to unilateral land giveaways to the Palestinians, the Israeli Left today speaks for a but a small minority of Israelis.
Benn cited last month's Jerusalem Post poll which showed that a mere 6 percent of Israeli Jews view Obama as pro-Israel while some 50% of Israeli Jews perceive the president as more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel. As he sees it, Obama's failure to win the trust of the Israeli public will make it impossible for him to coerce the Netanyahu government into freezing Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. This is a disaster for Benn and his colleagues. For unless the US can force the government's hand, there is no chance that they will be able to see their radical policies implemented.
It is in his attempt to convince Obama to help the Israeli Left that Benn makes his most consequential critique of the US leader. As he puts it, Obama "seems to have confused American Jews with Israelis."
(For full article)
By Tovah Lazaroff
31 July 09
The United States admitted this week for the first time that it accidentally helped fund the illegal construction of a Palestinian building in a park located on the edge of the former Shadma military base in the West Bank's Gush Etzion region.
In 2007, the nearby Beit Sahour Municipality constructed the park with funding from abroad, in an area which Palestinians call Oush Ghrab (crow's nest).
The park, which is used by Beit Sahour residents, hosts a building with a small kiosk for events, a stone terrace, a soccer field, a playground and the largest wooden rock climbing tower in the area.The spokesperson did not know how much of the money went toward the stone building in the park, which was built illegally. When the funds were given, USAID believed that all the necessary permits had been obtained for the structure.
Some $281,000 was provided for the park by the United States Agency for International Development, an independent federal agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance world-wide.
A large white sign stating that USAID contributed to the "Peace Park" hangs on the gate at the entryway to the complex.
A spokesperson for the US Consulate in east Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that American funding was given to the project in two installments, the first in November 2007 and the second in August 2008.
The spokesperson did not know how much of the money went toward the stone building in the park, which was built illegally. When the funds were given, USAID believed that all the necessary permits had been obtained for the structure.
It realized its error several months ago and has been working with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to see a solution.
The issue was brought to the media's attention by MK Arye Eldad (National Union), who visited Shadma earlier this week in his capacity as a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
(For full article)
Last winter Lake Kinneret only received about 56 percent of the water it receives in an average rainy season, the Water Authority said in a report released this week.
Precipitation was slightly greater than the winter before, but cumulatively speaking it is the fifth year in a row of less-than-average rainfall.
The Kinneret has dropped more than two meters in the past two years. In addition, the water has become increasingly more saline for the fifth year running, because less low-saline water (rainwater) is coming into the lake. Since the water is used for irrigation, this endangers crops sensitive to high salt concentrations.
The Water Authority said the southern part of the lake is below the dam keeping the water from flowing south into the Jordan River and on to the Dead Sea. Even if the dam were opened, no water would flow southward. The level of the Dead Sea has been dropping at the rate of about 90 centimeters a year.
The heavy rains in February increased last winter's overall precipitation, with some areas experiencing rainfall amounts that are seen only once every fifty years. However, in January Jerusalem had its lowest rainfall since 1895, and in the Kinneret region the rainfall was the lowest since the 1920s.
The Water Authority has minimized the amount of water being pumped from the Kinneret, which means it is forced to make up the difference by pumping from the coastal and mountain aquifers.
The mountain aquifer, where the water is considered to be of high quality, dropped sharply toward the red line, below which this source faces the risk of leakage of saline water. In the central aquifer (a well in the Petah Tikva area) the water level is only 10 centimeters above the red line, Water Authority measurements show. North of that point, at the present rate of pumping, the water level in the mountain aquifer will dip below the red line in a few months.
Jerusalem Cloakroom #226
July 31, 2009
1. President Obama's claim – enunciated during his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University – that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history [The Holocaust] that cannot be denied," ignores thoroughly-documented Jewish roots in the Land of Israel in general and in Judea & Samaria in particular.
2. World renowned travelers, historians and archeologists of earlier centuries, such as H. B. Tristram (The Land of Israel, 1865), Mark Twain (Innocents Abroad, 1867), R.A. MacAlister and Masterman ("Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly"), A.P. Stanley (Sinai and Palestine, 1887), E. Robinson and E. Smith (Biblical Researches in Palestine, 1841)), C.W. Van de Velde (Peise durch Syrien und Paletsinea, 1861), Felix Bovet (Voyage en Taire Sainte, 1864) – as well as Encyclopedia Britannica and official British and Ottoman records (until 1950) refer to "Judea and Samaria" and not to the "West Bank." The latter term was coined by the Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria following the 1948/9 War.
3. The term "Palestine" was established by Greek Historian Herodotus, and adopted by the Roman Empire, in an attempt to erase "Judea" from human memory. "Palestine" was a derivative of the biblical Philistines, arch rivals of the Jewish nation, non-Semites who migrated to the area from the Greek islands and from Phoenicia in the 12th century BCE ("Plishtim" – the invaders - is the Hebrew word for "Philistines").
4. Most Arabs (Semites from the Arabian Peninsula), who reside between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, have their origin in a massive 19th-20th century migration from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and other Moslem countries.
5. Almost all Arab towns and villages in Judea and Samaria have retained biblical Jewish names, thus reaffirming Jewish roots there. For example:
*A-Dura is biblical (and contemporary) Adora'yim, site of King Rehoboam's and a Maccabees' fortress.
*A-Ram is biblical Haramah, Prophet Samuel's birth and burial site.
*Anata is biblical (and contemporary) Anatot, the dwelling of the Prophet Jeremiah.
*Batir is biblical (and contemporary) Beitar, the headquarters of Bar Kochba, the leader of the Great Rebellion against the Roman Empire, which was crashed in 135CE.
*Beit-hur is the biblical (and contemporary) Beit Horon, site of Judah the Maccabee's victory over the Assyrians.
*Beitin is biblical (and contemporary) Bethel, a site of the Holy Ark and Prophet Samuel's court.
*Bethlehem is mentioned 44 times in the Bible and is the birth place of King David.
*Beit Jalla is biblical (and contemporary) Gilo, where Sennacherib set his camp, while besieging Jerusalem.
*El-Jib is biblical (and contemporary) Gibeon, Joshua's battleground known for "Sun, stop thou in Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ayalon," Joshua 10:12.
*Hebron - named after Hevron, Moses' uncle and Levy's grandson – was King David's first capital for 7 years, the burial site of the 3 Jewish Patriarchs and 3 Jewish Matriarchs.
*Jaba' is the biblical (and contemporary Geva, site of Jonathan's (son of King Saul) victory over the Philistines.
*Jenin is the biblical (and contemporary) Ein Ganim, a Levite town within the tribe of Issachar.
*Mukhmas is biblical (and contemporary) Mikhmash, residence of Jonathan the Maccabee and site of King Saul's fortress.
*Seilun is biblical (and contemporary) Shilo, a site of Joshua's tabernacle and the Holy Ark and Samuel's youth.
*Tequa' is biblical (and contemporary) Teqoah, hometown of the Prophet Amos and currently known for its home grown Ginger.
Are these sites "occupied" by the Jewish State or are they the epitome of Jewish moral high-ground and Statehood?
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By Herb Keinon
31 July 09
Recent revelations about foreign government funding for local NGOs involved in political activity have triggered discussions by senior Israeli officials about the possibility of making such aid illegal, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The senior officials are looking into whether it might be possible to ban donations from foreign governments to political NGOs, just as it is forbidden for foreign residents, let alone governments, to contribute to Israeli political parties.
One of the questions that will have to be addressed, according to an official involved in the discussions, is what constitutes a political NGO. While it seems that there is an obvious distinction between an organization like Hadassah, which funds hospitals, and one like Breaking the Silence, which has a perceived political agenda, the distinctions would have to be spelled out in legislation.
The discussion follows Post revelations that foreign governments are funding of Breaking the Silence, which last week added its voice to a number of NGOs that have issued scathing reports of the IDF's activities in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.
UK Funding Political Activity in Israel
Holland to rethink funding of rights group that slammed IDF in Gaza
Israel has already contacted the Dutch and British governments about their funding of the organization, and is expected to soon take up the matter with the Spanish government as well.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry's agency for international development cooperation budgeted 80,000 for Breaking the Silence in 2009. It allocated 100,000 for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and another 80,000 for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, a group led by far-left activist Jeff Halper.
(For full article)
After years of failed diplomacy no one will be able to call an attack precipitous.
By John Bolton
Wall Street Journal
30 July 09
Legions of senior American officials have descended on Jerusalem recently, but the most important of them has been Defense Secretary Robert Gates. His central objective was to dissuade Israel from carrying out military strikes against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities. Under the guise of counseling “patience,” Mr. Gates again conveyed President Barack Obama’s emphatic thumbs down on military force.
The public outcome of Mr. Gates’s visit appeared polite but inconclusive. Yet Iran’s progress with nuclear weapons and air defenses means Israel’s military option is declining over time. It will have to make a decision soon, and it will be no surprise if Israel strikes by year’s end. Israel’s choice could determine whether Iran obtains nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future.
Mr. Obama’s approach to Tehran has been his “open hand,” yet his gesture has not only been ignored by Iran but deemed irrelevant as the country looks inward to resolve the aftermath of its fraudulent election. The hardliner “winner” of that election, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was recently forced to fire a deputy who once said something vaguely soothing about Israel. Clearly, negotiations with the White House are not exactly topping the Iranian agenda.
Beyond that, Mr. Obama’s negotiation strategy faces insuperable time pressure. French President Nicolas Sarkozy proclaimed that Iran must re-start negotiations with the West by September’s G-20 summit. But this means little when, with each passing day, Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile laboratories, production facilities and military bases are all churning. Israel is focused on these facts, not the illusion of “tough” diplomacy.
Israel rejects another feature of Mr. Obama’s diplomatic stance. The Israelis do not believe that progress with the Palestinians will facilitate a deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Though Mr. Gates and others have pressed this fanciful analysis, Israel will not be moved.
Worse, Mr. Obama has no new strategic thinking on Iran. He vaguely promises to offer the country the carrot of diplomacy—followed by an empty threat of sanctions down the road if Iran does not comply with the U.S.’s requests. This is precisely the European Union’s approach, which has failed for over six years.
There’s no reason Iran would suddenly now bow to Mr. Obama’s diplomatic efforts, especially after its embarrassing election in June. So with diplomacy out the door, how will Iran be tamed?
Mr. Gates’ mission had extraordinary significance. Israel sees the political and military landscape in a very inauspicious light. It also worries that, once ensnared in negotiations, the Obama administration will find it very hard to extricate itself. The Israelis are probably right. To prove the success of his “open hand,” Mr. Obama will declare victory for “diplomacy” even if it means little to no gains on Iran’s nuclear program.
(For full article)
By Melanie Phillips
30 July 09
An eye-opening story in the Jerusalem Post takes the current anti-Israel stance by Gordon Brown’s government onto a new level still. Herb Keinon reports that the British government is funding political activity in Israel that runs counter to Israeli government policy:
British spokesman Martin Day said in an interview in Dubai with Al-Arabiya television last week that the British government was ‘taking practical steps towards freezing settlement activities.’ ‘For instance,’ Day said, ‘we finance projects aimed at halting settlement activities. One of these projects seeks to build new Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and save Palestinian houses from demolition.’ In addition, Day said in an Arabic interview, ‘we also finance organizations that monitor settlement activities.’
Wow. Just imagine if America, say, during the Troubles in Northern Ireland had been funding projects aimed at halting Loyalist marches or building houses for Catholics in Loyalist areas.
It would seem that the British government is actively suborning the government of Israel. HMG appears to have forgotten that it stopped governing Palestine in 1948.
Israel ranked close to bottom of latest “Global Peace Index” with human rights ranking on a par with North Korea and Iran
By Robin Shepherd
Think Tank Blog
The global NGO community is at it again. According to this year’s Global Peace Index, released by the widely respected Vision of Humanity grouping, Israel ranks 141 out of 144 countries surveyed. Only Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq are ranked lower. In terms of human rights, Israel is ranked at the same level as North Korea and Iran. Indeed, apart from Iran and Yemen, all of the countries in the Middle East are given a higher ranking.
The index draws its inspiration from a United Nations initiative in 1999 when, according to the report’s authors, “the UN General Assembly launched a programme of action to build a “culture of peace” for the world’s children, which envisaged working towards a positive peace of justice, tolerance and plenty.” No real mystery then over what is about to follow.
The rankings are constructed out of 23 indicators of internal and external peace. These include factors such as the number of conflicts fought over the last five years, the potential for terrorism, ease of access to weapons, and human rights. Each category is graded on a scale of one to five, where one is the best score and five the worst.
Ostensibly, the survey is a value-neutral study which highlights objective realities about a nation’s predicament. The top ranked country in the study is New Zealand which makes sense given the nation’s remoteness and the absence of violent neighbours. Israel, a country under the constant threat of terrorism and living under the shadow of countries such as Iran which call for its destruction, would, logically enough, be given a relatively low ranking.
But this survey is anything but value-neutral, as closer inspection of its attitudes to human rights makes abundantly clear.
Israel was given a four point ranking in this category — the second worst possible and on a par with North Korea and Iran. Even more absurdly, Saudi Arabia’s ranking on human rights was actually higher than Israel’s. Saudi got a score of 3.5, as did China.
According to the report’s methodology, in category 4 countries, “murders, disappearances and torture are a common part of life.” If you look even deeper into the survey, it becomes clear precisely who is behind this. The report says that its human rights segment was based on, “A qualitative measure of the level of political terror through an analysis of Amnesty International’s Yearbook.”
(For full article)
Thursday, July 30, 2009
On July 22-24, 2009, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People held an NGO conference “to discuss questions related to Israeli violations of international humanitarian law.” The context of Palestinian attacks was not on the agenda. Timed to coincide with the Goldstone investigation, the event reflects the ongoing legal warfare instigated by NGOs in response to the Gaza conflict.
Highlights of the report include:
Speakers in this entirely one-sided NGO event included Bill Van Esveld (HRW), Ron Yaron from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), Yizhar Be’er (Keshev), Fatmeh El Ajou (Adalah), and Daphna Golan, co-founder of B’Tselem, and researcher at the Minerva Center for Human Rights of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem..
Human Rights Watch’s participation reflects the organization’s bias and the absence of professionalism in its Middle East activities.
Most NGO representatives expressed support for “lawfare” cases in European courts and international forums against Israeli military and government officials.
A Palestinian speaker accused Jews of “buying everything” and controlling a “global machine, money,” and another expressed “extreme disappointment” that Palestinian war crimes were even mentioned in passing.
Other speakers included Raji Sourani of the EU-funded PCHR (and vice-president of FIDH); John Dugard, former UN rapporteur, and leader of the Arab League’s “fact finding” mission that accused Israel of “genocide” and “war crimes”; and Pierre Galand, a Belgian anti-Israel activist.
Click here to read the full report
Dr. Aaron Lerner
30 July 2009
"Israel, with her survival at stake, cannot afford to take chances.... The nature of the Israeli's situation is bound to influence their interpretation of ambiguous events. We, on the other hand, have an incentive to minimize such evidence, since the consequences of finding violations are so unpleasant. Violations force us to choose between doing something about them and thus risk the blowup of our initiative; or doing nothing and thus renege on our promises to Israel, posing the threat of her taking military action. Accordingly, we tend to lean over backwards to avoid the conclusion that the Arabs are violating the cease-fire unless the evidence is unambiguous."
Henry Kissinger to President Richard Nixon in 1970
[Henry Kissinger "White House Years", page 587]
“I wish to clarify that we are not talking about American or NATO soldiers defending us and doing the defense work of the State of Israel. We have never requested this, nor are we requesting it now. We are talking about an international guarantee, headed by the United States, for the demilitarization arrangements that we will establish. We wish them to make it clear that these arrangements will be completely legitimate, and that there will also be total legitimacy for any action deemed necessary to
preserve them. The purpose of this guarantee is that it adds a layer of deterrence against the intentions of those who may, in the future, wish to invalidate, or violate the demilitarization arrangements.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses National Defense College
graduates - July 28, 2009
Is Israel demanding a priori carte blanche from the world to be able to carry out whatever operations the Jewish State “deems necessary” inside Palestinian territory should Israel determine that the Palestinians have violated the demilitarization arrangements?
It would be useful for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his team to suggest what they have in mind.
Is Israel to determine there is a violation or some third party?
Historically, Arab violations are ignored by the world so if there is wording that Israel has the right to act if some third party determines that there is a violation then Israel will find itself in the situation that the third party declines to recognize that in fact a violation has taken place.
Is Israel to determine that the violation has been resolved or some third party?
Even if Israel proved beyond the shadow of doubt that a violation took place, Palestinian claims that the violation was rectified might be accepted at face value by a third party.
What kind of “total legitimacy for any action deemed necessary to preserve them” are we talking about?
When one says “action deemed necessary” – who does the “deeming”?
Is Israel to sit around waiting for some committee to review its operational plans for approval (which they might leak to the Arabs – but let’s not digress)?
These are not idle concerns.
Only someone intentionally ignoring Israel’s experience over the years with various forms of third party observers could dismiss these very serious issues.
Would international guarantees “deter” violations?
That depends on what they are.
Ironically, improperly worded guarantees that ultimately prevent Israel from
independently acting against Palestinian violations that it has independently identified could actually encourage violations.
Almost two thirds of Israelis, including half of seculars would like to see Temple rebuilt, believe it is important to commemorate Tisha B'Av
Ynet/Israel Jewish Scene
9 Av 5769
About two thirds of the public want the Temple rebuilt, including about half of secular Israelis, a new survey conducted for Ynet and the Gesher organization revealed.
The survey was held by the Panels Institute among 516 respondents that are a representative sample of the adult Jewish population. The margin of error was 4.3%.
Initially, the respondents were asked what happened on Tisha B'Av (Ninth of Av), and showed impressive knowledge. Ninety-seven percent responded that the Temple was destroyed, while only 2% said they did not know.
The second question was whether respondents wanted to see the Temple rebuilt. Sixty-four percent responded favorably, while 36% said no. An analysis of the answers showed that not only the ultra-Orthodox and the religious look forward to the rebuilding of the Temple (100% and 97% respectively), but also the traditional public (91%) and many seculars – 47%.
When asked whether it was at all justified to mark something that had happened 2,000 years ago, 80% said that it was, while 13% said only events related to the State of Israel should be commemorated.
Another 7% categorically replied with a "no."
Here too an analysis of the answers revealed that the positions on Tisha B'Av transcended religious divisions – 74% of seculars and 100% of ultra-Orthodox responded that dates like Tisha B'Av should be commemorated.
Gesher Director General Rabbi Danny Tropper told Ynet in response to the survey results: "We are a nation with a remarkable historic affinity. The Temple was destroyed 1,942 years ago, and almost two thirds of the population want to see it rebuilt, including 47% of seculars.
"I don't think this is a practical proposal, but it seems that Tisha B'Av really does constitute a day of meaningful memory to most of the people."
(Dear Rabbi, If you will it, it is no dream. Theodor)
8 Av 5769
While our pre-Tisha B'Av meal is cooking on the stove, the words I heard in the Knesset two day ago, at MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari's seminar about Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount) are "cooking" in my mind.
This morning I read something from Aish.com which raised the flame, or made it more like a "pressure cooker."
The prophet describes all of the suffering that befell the Jewish people at the time of the destruction of the Temple. "Eichah! How is it possible? The proud majestic city of Jerusalem, in ruins! Her inhabitants in exile! Her enemies rejoicing!"
The sages point out the similarity of the word "Eichah" (How!) and the word "Ayecha?" in Genesis when God asks "Where are you, Adam?" The answer to Jeremiah's question - How did it happen? - is that the Jewish people disregarded the Almighty, just as Adam did in the Garden of Eden
For years it has been bothering me that we, as a nation, people, religion, failed to do something crucially important as the 1967 Six Days War ended. G-d performed a miracle for us on the level, size of a Biblical miracle and we have been rejecting it.
The miracle is two-fold, and I'm using the present tense, because it still holds, bli eyin haraa, (keep away the evil eye.)
One is that the State of Israel, the first Jewish State in two thousand years survived the well-planned military onslaught from the north, south and west, which aimed to literally throw us into the sea. When the Jewish People left Egypt, G-d had to make miraculous passages through the water. In 1967, we stayed on dry ground.
The second miracle is the gift of the HolyLand, Judea, Samaria, Gaza, Sinai, Jordan Valley, Golan and the missing parts of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount.
One of the speakers on Monday, (sorry, but I didn't take detailed enough notes,) reminded us that although two hours after we, with the help of G-d, liberated the Temple Mount government ministers decided to give the keys to the Wakf, the Temple Mount is still in our hands. Not all is lost. We can fix it. We can fix it if we want to.
Judea and Samaria, where most of our Biblical History took place are also still in our hands.
"Eichah! How is it possible?" How is it possible that Jewish leaders, rabbis from all over the world haven't returned home and settled our precious land?
"Eichah! How is it possible?" How is it possible that we haven't built our Holy Temple in the forty-two (42) years since Har HaBayit b'yadeinu, The Temple Mount is in our hands?
29 July 09
Israel is up in arms over a declaration by a British government spokesman that the UK is funding political activity in Israel.
British spokesman Martin Day said in an interview in Dubai with Al-Arabiya television last week that the British government was "taking practical steps towards freezing settlement activities." "For instance," Day said, "we finance projects aimed at halting settlement activities. One of these projects seeks to build new Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and save Palestinian houses from demolition."
In addition, Day said in an Arabic interview, "we also finance organizations that monitor settlement activities." He further stated that "products from the settlements do not enjoy preferential custom duties that we offer to products coming from Israel. In light of this, we can say that we are taking effective and practical steps against settlement activities."
The Foreign Ministry's senior deputy director general, Rafi Barak, spoke with British Ambassador Tom Phillips two days ago and asked for an explanation. He met with the British envoy again on Wednesday to again discuss the matter and voice Israel's displeasure. Phillips, according to Barak, said he was looking into the matter.
Karen Kaufman, the British Embassy's spokesman in Tel Aviv, said in response that the British government was "not involved in the actual construction of new Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem."
"The UK is spending £450,000 over 4 years to support projects in east Jerusalem and the West Bank that help Palestinians better understand and effectively use the Israeli planning laws to gain permission both retrospectively for existing homes, and prospectively for new homes on their side of the Green Line," she said.
Yossi Levy, the ministry's spokesman for the Hebrew press, characterized Day's comments as the "height of chutzpah," and said such activity was "unheard of."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "We can't recall any other case of a democratic country funding political activities inside another democratic country."
Additionally, he said, this makes no sense from their point of view because any political activities they are backing will lose credibility in the eyes of the Israeli public when it is revealed that these activities are funded by a foreign government. "How would the British feel if another country funded political activities of groups within the UK?" he asked.
Barak's conversation with Phillips came fast on the heels of revelations that the British, Dutch and Spanish governments were funding Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO that recently published a report in which unnamed soldiers alleged IDF misconduct during Operation Cast Lead.
Following The Jerusalem Post's revelations of the group's funding, Ha'aretz reported earlier this week that Israel's ambassador to Holland met with the director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, complained about the Dutch embassy's funding of Breaking the Silence, and urged the funding be terminated. According to this report, the Dutch Foreign Minister - considered a strong friend of Israel - was unaware of the funding and gave instructions to launch an internal investigation into the matter.
By Abe Selig
29 July 09
A group of activists from the student organization Im Tirtzu held a demonstration outside a Rabbis for Human Rights conference at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The conference is focusing on the conduct of IDF combat soldiers during last January's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.
Holding up signs that decried "Blood libels against IDF soldiers for the sake of European cash," the activists heckled participants arriving at the conference and explained to curious passersby that they were unnerved by the one-sided testimonies being given inside the conference and the apparent lack of factual data backing up the claims.
"What bothers me is that the people in there are making accusations about IDF soldiers without giving names, without giving locations of the alleged events," Amir Levy, an officer in the reserves who served in Operation Defensive Shield, the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, told The Jerusalem Post.
"They are making these accusations, but they're making them without facts," he continued. "And that implicates all of us; it implicates the IDF as a whole. If there were people that committed crimes, then provide their names, take them to court. But to hold a conference with European financial support is only giving fodder to the foreign press, who will undoubtedly write all kinds of stories based on these allegations."
Some funding for the RHR conference and its Internet site, gazawar.co.il, is provided by Trocaire, an Irish Catholic organization opposed to Israel's military operations in Gaza. Protesters on Wednesday also alleged that a Spanish government official had donated a significant amount of funding for the conference.
"I couldn't take it anymore," said an elderly woman who had walked out of the conference and passed by the gathering of protesters. "It's anti-Semitism in there. They showed us a video of Palestinians bashing the IDF and bashing Israel. Is that such a new phenomenon?"
Protesters were additionally caught off guard when a man exiting the building approached them, identifying himself as Rabbi Chaim Cohen - a participant from the conference and a member of RHR.
"I want to tell you that what's going on in there is unfair," Rabbi Cohen told the crowd. "There is bribery going on, and I ask you to come inside, quietly, and respectfully ask them who is funding this conference. Ask them questions about this."
But once inside the conference, an Im Tirtzu member who raised the question was cut off by panelists. "We're not here to discuss these things," he was told at first.
"We receive our funding from a variety of sources and we're not ashamed of it," another panelist told the protester. "We began this project with our own money, but we need funds from the outside to keep it going."
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
No. 572 July-August 2009
Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs
- The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, that the Palestinians demand to transfer to their control, is the most important Jewish cemetery in the world. The area has constituted a religious and national pantheon for the Jewish people and the State of Israel, containing the tombs of the illustrious dead of the nation over the course of 3,000 years and serving as a site for Jewish gathering and prayer at the time of the ancient Temple and even prior to it.
- Under Jordanian rule, Jewish access and the continued burial of Jews on the mount was prohibited, despite Jordan's explicit commitment in the Israeli-Jordanian Armistice Agreement of 1949. During the period of Jordanian rule, the cemetery was destroyed and desecrated, and 38,000 of its tombstones and graves were smashed to smithereens.
- Since Jerusalem's reunification, burial ceremonies were renewed at the site and large sections of the cemetery were rehabilitated. Nevertheless, attempts by Palestinians to damage the cemetery have never totally abated, and there have been periodic attacks on Jewish mourners escorting their dead for burial.
- Previous Israeli governments that consented to discuss arrangements in Jerusalem with the Palestinians rejected their demand to transfer the Mount of Olives to PA sovereignty and control. Nevertheless, those governments were prepared to give their assent to the transfer of neighborhoods that control the access routes to the mount. Should any such agreement be implemented in the future, it could endanger freedom of access to the site and continued Jewish burial there.
- In any future arrangements, in order to allow continued Jewish burial on the mount, Israel must guarantee freedom of access to the site by controlling the arteries leading to it, as well as the areas adjacent to it. On the previous occasions that Israel transferred areas that included Jewish holy sites to Palestinian control, the Palestinians severely encumbered or refused to allow Jewish access to these places. Sometimes these sites were even severely damaged.
The Mount of Olives as a Jewish Site for Assembly and Prayer
The Mount of Olives separates the Judean Desert to the east from the city of Jerusalem. The olive trees that covered the mount in the past are responsible for its name. An alternate name for the mount cited in the Talmud and the Midrash is the Mount of Anointment, named after the anointing oil, prepared from the olives that grew there, to anoint kings and high priests.
Even before it became a Jewish cemetery, the Mount of Olives functioned as a place of prayer, even prior to the building of the Temple.1 King David would customarily prostrate himself there, and he earmarked the site for prayer.2
The Jewish commentaries relate that for three and a half years the Divine Presence dwelled on the Mount of Olives after having left from the site of the Temple Mount in the expectation that the Jewish people would do repentance. The prophets Zachariah and Ezekiel prophesied that from there it would make its return to its proper place at the Temple.3
The Red Heifer ceremony was performed on the Mount of Olives. Ashes from the heifer were used to purify those defiled by contact with the dead during the Temple period and afterwards. A relay of bonfires that began from the Mount of Olives would inform the Jews of the Land of Israel as well as Jews residing in the diaspora that the new moon had been sanctified. After the Temple was destroyed, the Mount of Olives, which overlooked the Temple Mount and the site of the destroyed Temple, became a pilgrimage site and a venue for prayer and assembly, one that continued to function in that manner for many centuries.4 Jewish sources in particular note the pilgrimage to the Mount of Olives on the Festival of Tabernacles and on Hoshanna Raba (the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles), as well as on the Sabbath and weekdays.5 Jewish tradition holds that the dove that brought the olive branch to Noah at the end of the Flood came from the Mount of Anointment.6
The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives
The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives is the largest and most important Jewish cemetery in the world, extending over 250 dunams east of the Temple Mount and constituting in effect a national and religious pantheon for the Jewish people containing the tombs of the illustrious dead of the nation over the course of 3,000 years. The greats of the Jewish people and the state are buried there, creators from all walks of life: rabbis and dynastic leaders, the prophets Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi, David's son Absalom, the commentator on the Mishnah Rabbi Obadiah of Bartanura, Rabbi Haim ben Atar (the Orah Hayyim), and Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (the Rashash). Others include Pinhas Rutenberg, the founder of the Israel Electric Company; fighters such as Yehiam Weitz; the authors Shmuel Yosef Agnon and Haim Hazaz; the renowned poet Uri Zvi Greenberg; Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the reviver of the Hebrew language; the rabbis of the Sadigora, Gur, and Nadborna hassidic dynasties; the founder of Hadassah, Henrietta Szold; intellectual giants such as Professor Ephraim Ohrbach; the revered Chief Rabbi Abraham HaCohen Kook; Menachem Begin, the sixth prime minister of Israel and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; Moshe Yoel Salomon, one of Jerusalem's builders at the close of the nineteenth century and the founder of Petah Tikva; and myriads upon myriads of simple Jewish folk in the Yemenite, Bukharan, Georgian, Ashkenazi, Hassidic, Babylonian, and Jerusalem sections. All of them together constitute the historic backbone of the Jewish people.7
Napoleon was walking at night in the streets of Paris, hearing sad voices emanating from a synagogue. When told that the wailing/lamenting commemorated a 586 BCE catastrophe, he stated: “Any People which solemnizes its ancient history is destined for a glorious future!”
Memory is deliverance; Forgetfulness is oblivion.
(TY to Ettinger Report)
Perspectives Papers on Current Affairs
July 28, 2009
by Mordechai Kedar
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation-state, or as the rightful homeland of the Jewish People, is a necessary condition of any future Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty – according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Arab and Islamic leaders have rejected this demand. The reason for Arab inability and unwillingness to consider Netanyahu's demand is the fact that the Islamic world is ideologically incapable of according legitimacy to the State of Israel, for deep-seated religious, nationalistic and historical reasons.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has set out five conditions for the conclusion of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal involving establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The first, and the hardest for the Arab world to accept, is Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation-state, or as the rightful homeland of the Jewish People. In fact, it is close to impossible, because Islam is intrinsically incapable of according legitimacy to the State of Israel for the embedded ideological reasons detailed below.
The First Component: Religion
According to Islam, the Jewish religion was invalidated by the birth of Christianity, which in turn was invalidated by the arrival of Islam. This concept was set down in the Koran: “Surely the true religion with Allah is Islam” (Chapter 3, Verse 19). Thus Allah does not recognize any other religion besides Islam. Islam – according to its own perception – brought the message of truth to the world, after the Jews and Christians changed and distorted the word of Allah given to them. In light of their conduct, Allah removed their religious role and theological message and passed it to the Muslims, who are the sole “believers.” Thus, Islam’s basic approach is not that it came to the world to exist alongside other religions as equal among equals, but to replace them.
A conclusion from this is that Judaism as a religion has lost its significance and role in the world. If so, how could one establish a Jewish state? And how could one claim that land can be holy to Judaism after this religion has been declared null and void? And since when do Jews – members of a meaningless religion – have the right to a state in any land, after they betrayed Allah and refused to accept Din al-Haqq "the religion of truth," Islam? In practice, Islam recognized the Jews as “people of the Book” and not as infidels, although on condition that they live under Islamic rule as "dhimmis" – protégés of Islam, and “pay the Jizya (per capita tax) with willing submission.” (Koran Chapter 9, Verse 29). However, once they conquered land, and killed and deported Muslims, they lost the privileges granted to them by the “Pact of Omar.”
Therefore, Israel’s demand that Islam recognize it as a state for the Jewish People contradicts the most basic tenets of Islam, which view Judaism as null and void. Israel’s demand actually requires Islam to recognize Judaism as a legitimate religion even though God himself stated in the Koran that “whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, will never be accepted” (Chapter 3, Verse 85).
The Second Component: Nationality
Judaism is perceived in the Islamic world as a communal religion, without either an ethnic or national basis. There are other instances of this. The people living in Iraq consist of many religious groups: Muslims, Christians, Sabaiis, Mandeans, Yazidis, and Jews. They are all members of the Arab nation, all sons of the Iraqi people and they all have a place in Iraqi land. There are Arab Iraqi Muslims, Arab Iraqi Christians and Arab Iraqi Jews, all members of religious communities which are part of the Iraqi people. The same goes for Yemen – which has Arab Yemenite Muslims and Arab Yemenite Jews, and for Morocco and the rest of the Islamic states, which have Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. Furthermore, from an Islamic perspective this is a way to view other countries: the Jew in Poland is Polish from an ethnic perspective and Jewish from a religious perspective. The French Jew is a member of the French nation who practices Judaism. Thus, there are no ethnic Jews in the world, just as there are no ethnic Christians or Muslims.
by Yehuda HaKohen
Throughout most of the year, we are satisfied and grateful as we appreciate the miraculous Redemption taking place before our eyes. The return of Jewish sovereignty after two thousand years of dispersion; the Land of Israel bearing its fruits after being barren for so long; the revival of the Hebrew language as a spoken vernacular in everyday use. It requires a deep vision to recognize the holiness of this process despite all of the problems that currently exist – to see the Kingdom of G-D developing and growing to fruition amidst all of the suffering and confusion in our day.
Once a year, however, we take the time to recognize how much of the goal is still incomplete as we mourn for the destruction of G-D’s Temple and our complete national framework. On the one hand, we see the goal – that amazing revolution in reality and Creation – where the world is coming to what it was always meant to be. We see the Divine ideal from before Creation – beyond the reality that we have grown accustomed to – sprouting forth as Israel rises to national rebirth on our soil. At the same time, however, during these melancholy days, we remember how much of that absolute goal is still missing – how the Temple has still not been rebuilt, how much of our country is under foreign rule and how many of our people still reside in the exile.
This recognition of what is lacking is in itself part of the appreciation we feel throughout the year. The true understanding of Redemption can only be perceived when we are able to view where the process is going, what great goal of history is about to take place and how much we still have to work and pray for its completion. In truth, this understanding of Israel’s incompleteness is what gives us the ability to value what we do have – to appreciate the foundations that have already been built. Three weeks, nine days and then finally one day a year, we remember and feel sorrow for what is still not complete and how much of a national struggle still awaits us in the future. Because of how much the world is suffering today and how great and amazing the complete Redemption will be, we are overcome with grief for what the world is still waiting for – that perfect, ultimate rectification of existence that will bring this world to levels of goodness and harmony beyond what humankind has until now experienced.