The news in recent days has been full of items about antisemitic acts, attitudes and outbursts committed around the world. It is getting to be exceedingly depressing to read a newspaper or simply glance at the headlines online. However, read on because there are a few rays of light to brighten the gloom and doom.
But first the bad news:
Palestinian anti-Israel attitudes:
Marking a notable shift in Palestinian public opinion, 60 percent of the population surveyed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (55% and 68%, respectively) said that the five-year goal “should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea,” according to the poll, a position meaning the elimination of Israel. Meanwhile, less than 30% (31% in the West Bank, 22% in Gaza) would like to “end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to achieve a two-state solution.”
Following the kidnapping over 2 weeks ago of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, the three Israeli teenagers, the Arab media have been full of revolting spiteful cartoons mocking Israel and the kidnap victims themselves. The “3-fingered salute” has become the “quenelle” of the Arabs, the 3 fingers representing the 3 boys. The latest sickening episode is by Arabs taunting Jews with 3 fingered salute on Temple Mount:
Atop the Temple Mount on Wednesday Arabs were taunting 40 Jewish visitors with the three-fingered salute to mock the kidnapping of three Israeli teens abducted by Hamas 12 days ago.
“Hundreds of Muslim men and women and a Hamas organized summer camp for Muslim children greeted the Jews with thunderous jeers and curses, waving their shoes and holding up their newly minted obscenity: a three-finger ‘victory’ sign, signifying their gloating pride in the kidnapping of the three Jewish boys,” said The Temple Institute, which posted video of the incident on YouTube.
The mockery from a mob that “followed and lunged at the Jewish worshipers” for more than an hour, was especially insulting, the Temple Institute said, because the 40 Jews had ascended to the sacred site to utter a silent prayer for the three missing teens, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Frankel, as Jewish prayer is not allowed.
This behaviour is so sickening and so immoral that words fail me. They ought to be condemned by every human rights group and moral arbiter. But of course they won’t.
Even America is not immune:
Antisemitism was given a further boost by the production of the opera “Death of Klinghoffer”, which besides being hostile to Jews seems to be in revoltingly bad taste:
The New York Metropolitan Opera will open their production of ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ on October 20th, an opera based on the 1985 hijacking by Palestinian terrorists of an Italian cruise ship named the Achille Lauro, in which a 69-year-old wheelchair-bound Jewish man named Leon Klinghoffer was shot in the head before being thrown overboard.
Though the opera will be staged as planned, The Met recently cancelled plans for a cinema simulcast of the production, citing fears that it may inadvertently incite antisemitism due to what’s been characterized as its sympathetic view of the terrorists.
On June 18th, the Guardian’s classical music critic expressed his outrage at The Met’s decision in the following article, in which he dismissed “concern in the international Jewish community” about the opera’s propensity to “fan global antisemitism”.
So, we thought it would be helpful to reproduce an open letter written to the New York Metropolitan Opera by Myron Kaplan, a senior research analyst at CAMERA who also happens to be a serious opera fan.
Read it all. The letter mentioned is excellent. The salient point:
This story line can be characterized fairly as “Understandably aggrieved Palestinian Arabs wreak vengeance on disabled Jew standing in for all his perfidious co-religionists.” This is an obscene inversion of the reality that was the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking and subsequent terrorist murder of passenger Leon Klinghoffer. In this regard, it must be noted that the librettist, Alice Goodman, during the writing of the opera rejected her American Jewish heritage by joining the Anglican Church, the leadership of which is known for its hostility toward Israel. Goodman is now a parish priest in England.
In the UK:
A Jewish cemetery was vandalised in “a diabolial attack”:
A “diabolical” anti-Semitic vandalism attack on a Jewish cemetery in England’s northern city of Manchester left gravestones knocked over and defaced with racist graffiti.
In the vandalism attack roughly 40 gravestones were toppled over, and anti-Semitic graffiti and swastikas were scrawled on the graves, reported BBC on Tuesday.
Manchester outpaced London in 2011 as the UK city with the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents. However, Manchester’s Jewish Community Security Trust claimed the anti-Semitism has dropped, adding “we hope this is is an isolated incident.”
In Germany (no surprise):
A rally for the abducted teens held in Hamburg was attacked by antisemites, and an elderly Jewish man was assaulted and hospitalized
In France (even less of a surprise):
There too a rally for the abducted teens held in Paris was attacked by antisemites
A Jewish teen was tasered in Paris, the third antisemitic attack in France this week:
In the third disturbing incident from French capital this week, JTA reports that a Jewish teenager was attacked with an electric Taser by a group of teens at Paris’ Place de la République square yesterday. One of the teens, all of whom fled after a passerby intervened, was reportedly also carrying a club. The victim was wearing a yarmulke and tzitzit when he was targeted—just as the two teens chased by a man with an ax last Wednesday, as well as the two teens sprayed with tear gas this weekend, were wearing yarmulkes.
This week’s attacks add to the already combustible climate facing France’s Jewish community. A report released last month revealed that a whopping 75 percent of French Jews have considered emigrating. It’s not hard to understand why. To wit, the anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred in Paris so far this year:
Read the sad and very disturbing list of attacks.
Even the Washington Post has noticed the rise of A new antisemitism in France
This brings us to the better, if not outright good news. The first item is a result of the bad news in that because of the growing antisemitism, French Jewish aliya spikes:
Increasing numbers of French Jews are leaving for Israel, citing dim economic prospects and a sense of being caught between an increasingly influential far right and militant Islam. More than 5,000 are on track to leave this year, the most since after the Six-Day War in 1967.
Israel, seeing the influx as a success, is doubling down on its efforts to attract Europeans, planning to dedicate $29 million over two years to bring in new immigrants.
From the first article that I mentioned in this post there was some good news too:
… a majority of respondents registered opposition to violent resistance against Israel, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where 70% said Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel and 57% said that Hamas should accede to the PA unity government’s renunciation of violence. In the West Bank 56% said that Hamas should adhere to the ceasefire and 50% said it should renounce violence altogether.
The poll showed that a clear majority of Palestinians — 62% of the West Bank and 73% of Gazans — support nonviolent “popular resistance against the occupation” and see it as a useful tactic.
Perhaps surprisingly, Hamas seems to have gained little political clout for its alleged abduction of the three Israeli teenagers, despite popular support for the kidnapping on the street. […]
The Palestinian public also appeared to exhibit some short-term pragmatism, with over 80% saying they “definitely” or “probably” wanted to see more job opportunities for Palestinians in Israel. A majority said they also wanted Israeli companies to offer more jobs to Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza.
As much as the kidnapping of the boys has united Israeli society as has not been seen for a very long time, it seems to have driven a wedge through Palestinian opinion. Mahmoud Abbas ordered his security forces to cooperate with Israel – much to Hamas’s outrage (h/t Brian Goldfarb). Anything that outrages Hamas has to be good news. Furthermore:
The senior PA source emphasized that if it becomes evident beyond a doubt that Hamas is behind the abduction — the unity government would be immediately disbanded. “We will act to confiscate and seize all Hamas assets in the West Bank,” he said. The source also added that PA officials in Ramallah were considering closing down organizations and associations in the West Bank affiliated with Hamas, which were permitted to return and reopen due to the formation of the unity government.
Officials in Ramallah are concerned over mounting international pressure. “The incident raised the ire of the PA chairman after he received outraged responses from senior figures in the international community. They complained that while the Fatah-Hamas government was receiving international recognition, a kidnapping attack was being conducted against Israeli teenagers, allegedly ordered by Hamas, which is part of the Palestinian government that declared it opposes terror and recognizes Israel,” one official said.
It makes a nice change to see international pressure applied where it rightfully belongs, even though it has taken these terrible circumstances for such to happen.
On a similar note, Mudar Zahran, a very brave Palestinian living in the UK, condemns the kidnapping and the unity deal with Hamas and berates Europe and the West for not confronting the Palestinians about their incitement and terrorism:
Instead of financing the PA leaders’ lavish lifestyles, the world might finally start questioning the PA’s institutionalized incitement of terror and hatred to my people which they relay daily through media, education and the religious institutions. Ever since the PA came into existence, it has been keen to mass-produce and institutionalize the hatred of Jews and also the West. With their government-controlled TV shows that teach children how to kill Jews, and textbooks that preach hatred for Israel, the PA and Hamas are directly and fully responsible for each and every terror act committed by Palestinians, including the kidnapping of the three teenagers.
Is this what the West is so breathless to support?
Ironically, the PA is claiming no responsibility for the kidnappings, however you cannot be running TV, newspapers and social media encouraging terror and the murdering of Jews and then claim that you are innocent when acts of terror happen.
We Palestinians know that Israel welcomed us with open arms before the PA came and brought terror-preaching with it. And yes, there have always been constant acts of Palestinian terrorism. But PA terror has became a major industry — in which terrorists are pampered, protected, financed, employed, and glorified by the PA — with streets, soccer stadiums and summer camps named after them. And Europe breathlessly joins in.
The Palestinian Authority is a terrorist organization, and its leaders are terrorists who deserve international arrest warrants rather than the red-carpet treatment in Western capitals. The PA has been an inciter of terror; it jeopardizes the safety and livelihoods of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
This tragedy should remind the world that the PA — and organizations like it — is a threat to all of us and should not be rewarded with still more funds for terrorist behavior. For the sake of both Israel and the Palestinians, it is not Israel but the PA that should be boycotted, excluded and even dissolved.
More good news (sort of) from the Palestinians: 63 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails called off their hunger strike – due to the lack of attention:
Dozens of Palestinian prisoners struck a deal with Israeli prisons to end their hunger strike because it was clear that it had failed, a senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.
While the prisoners were able to negotiate for some improvement in the conditions of their imprisonment, the official said they were primarily motivated by a realization that the issue had faded from the public agenda — presumably because of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens and ensuing IDF crackdown — and that their efforts would not lead to an end to the practice of administrative detention by Israel.
The third consequence of this dichotomous thinking about the nature of the two peoples is the infantalisation of the Palestinians: they remain perpetually below the age of responsibility; the source of their behaviour always external to themselves, always located in Israel’s actions.
And the second item is a “Jordanian ray of light“, albeit a very faint one:
On September 1, Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein will start his term as the United Nation’s human rights chief, being the first Arab to hold that influential position
The Foreign Ministry has resolutely refused to comment on al-Hussein ’s appointment. Diplomats there are likely worried that praising him publicly would be counterproductive. Accolades from the Israeli government would certainly increase pressure on him from Arab member states to be tough on Israel, a scenario Jerusalem seeks to avoid.
Yet Israel is actually quietly pleased about al-Hussein replacing Navi Pillay, believing he was the best choice of all candidates under consideration for the position. The Amman-born diplomat is thought to be the most reasonable and approachable human rights commissioner Israel could have hoped for. Indeed, in 2006, Israel’s ambassador to the UN hailed al-Hussein as a “ray of light” in the region that he hoped “would shine more frequently in the future.”
However, two years after his ICJ speech, in 2006, al-Hussein drew praise from pro-Israel human rights advocates, and even from a top Israeli diplomat, for a statement he made in a Emergency Special Session at the UN General Assembly about the barrier. At the time Jordan’s ambassador to the UN, he reiterated Amman’s opposition to the barrier and condemned the “occupation,” but also criticized Holocaust denial and called on delegates to reflect on the harm Arabs cause Israeli civilians.
The Jordanian prince concluded his speech by saying that peace would only come “when justice eclipsed political expediency for all the people of the region” — a statement echoing Israel’s core message to the UN for decades, observers said at the time.
Speaking right after al-Hussein, Israel’s ambassador to the UN at the time, Dan Gillerman, praised his Jordanian colleague for his statement. Gillerman said “it was not often that an Israeli was in a position to pay tribute to an Arab but the Prince was a voice of reason that drew forth an acknowledgement,” according to the UN report. “The Prince was a ray of light on matters in the region, one that hopefully would shine more frequently in the future.”
UN Watch, a pro-Israel human rights organization based in Geneva, also applauded the Jordanian diplomat’s words. “The UN desperately needs more courageous voices to join Prince Zeid. Only with such voices will UN calls for Middle East peace cease to ring hollow and begin contributing to a constructive, just resolution to the conflict,” the group stated.
There is obviously still a long way to go for Israel to get a fair hearing at the UN, particularly at the UNHRC (as we saw just this week) but this sounds like a positive beginning.
May this good news signify even better news for the coming week ahead.