Another huge Islamic terror attack in France, this time in Nice

However much I get annoyed at France for taking the side of the Palestinians against Israel, and for not standing up for Israel at the UN, no country deserves terror attacks, let alone the kind that was perpetrated in Nice yesterday, in a car-ramming and shooting attack killing around 80 people.

As many as 80 revelers were killed late Thursday in a terror attack in the French Riviera city of Nice that saw a truck driver plow his vehicle into a crowd as it left a traditional Bastille Day fireworks show on the beachfront.

The truck driver reportedly drove intentionally into a dense crowd that was leaving the celebration on the famed Promenade des Anglais, then stepped out of the vehicle and opened fire on passersby.

The driver’s rampage was stopped in a hail of gunfire from police that left the truck itself riddled with bullets.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said that police found grenades and firearms in the truck.

Reactions from politicians have been precisely as expected, from assertions that “this has nothing to do with Islam”, to calling the attack a “tragedy”. As Jewish Agency spokesman Avi Mayer remarked after the Orlando massacre:

Tragedy.

An earthquake is a tragedy. A flood is a tragedy. A gunman walking into a nightclub in Orlando (or a concert hall in Paris, or a café in Tel Aviv) and calmly, methodically shooting innocent people is not merely a tragedy – it is an act of calculated cruelty.

Labeling something a tragedy enables us to shrug sadly and move on. In a way, it gives us something of a pass. Tragedies happen. They often cannot be avoided.

While the results of the Orlando massacre are certainly tragic for the victims’ loved ones, whose lives have been torn apart by the murderer’s bullets, the attack itself is no mere tragedy – it is a cataclysmic outrage that should shake us out of our complacency and spur us to action.

As we mourn those murdered in Orlando, let us not fall into that all-too-familiar pattern of tortured acceptance. Mass murders are not acts of God. They do not simply happen – they are perpetrated. There are deep hatreds and poisonous ideologies at play, and they threaten us all. Now is the time for a national conversation on how the next Orlando can be prevented.

His words are equally applicable to this latest terrorist outrage. If we won’t call a spade a spade we haven’t a hope in hell of defeating the perverted religion that inspires such mass murder.

Following is a selection of tweets that I found relevant:

The following tweets note the lack of response, let alone sympathy, for car-ramming attacks in Israel. It would do well for the world to remember that what starts with the Jews does not end with the Jews:

And the last word (for the moment) goes to Hillel Neuer of UN Watch who chides the world at their short memory:

My sympathies and condolences to the French people, especially to those who lost loved ones, and prayers for a complete recovery to the wounded.

We should direct our prayers too to the Western governments who seem to be in denial about the reality of the enemy that we face and who find it hard to take on board the stiff measures that are need in order to defeat this implacable enemy – fundamentalist Islam.

Posted in Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

US State Department’s perfidy undermining Israeli sovereignty

I often write about “perfidious Albion”, referring to the hypocrisy and two-faced bias of Britain against Israel. But in the last few years under the Obama Administration, it is America, or more precisely the State Department, that has earned the dubious distinction of being the most perfidious of our friends.

The latest scandal concerns the V15 NGO which worked to undermine Israel’s election process in order to bring about the defeat of Binyamin Netanyahu. Already back then, during the election season, it was revealed that it was the State Department that stood behind V15, hiding behind other proxy organizations. In other words the United States Administration was interfering in Israel’s domestic politics – something which is an absolute no-no for democratic countries, and something for which Netanyahu himself was (wrongly) accused of by the State Department itself (!) when he led the campaign against the Iran nuclear deal.

A State Department-funded V15 anti-Netanyahu campaign poster

After this shocking revelation of State Department involvement, the US Senate, an altogether more balanced and pro-Israel institution, undertook an investigation into the accusations. The Weekly Standard reports that The Senate has now issued a report confirming this State Department interference (via Chaim):

A new report posted today by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), led by chair Rob Portman (R-OH) confirms that the U.S. State Department funded an Israeli political organization that later ran a campaign dedicated to ousting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The group, OneVoice, has drawn media scrutiny that led to this investigation.

Some key findings from the report:

On December 2, 2014, at the urging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Knesset voted to schedule new national parliamentary elections for March 2015. Within weeks, an international organization known as the OneVoice Movement absorbed and funded an Israeli group named Victory15 or “V15” and launched a multimillion-dollar grassroots campaign in Israel. The campaign’s goal was to elect “anybody but Bibi [Netanyahu]” by mobilizing center-left voters.1 The Israeli and Palestinian arms of OneVoice, OneVoice Israel (OVI), and OneVoice Palestine (OVP), received more than $300,000 in grants from the U.S. State Department to support peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine over a 14- month grant period ending in November 2014.

The grants funded expanded “social media presence, built a larger voter database, and hired an American political consulting firm to train its activists and executives in grassroots organizing methods in support of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”

Only, once the infrastructure was built, it was used in an attempt to topple the government of one of America’s closest allies.

[…] This pivot to electoral politics was consistent with a strategic plan developed by OneVoice leadership and emailed to State Department officials during the grant period. The State Department diplomat who received the plan told the Subcommittee that he never reviewed it.

OneVoice’s use of government-funded resources for political purposes was not prohibited by the grant agreement because the State Department placed no limitations on the post-grant use of those resources. Despite OneVoice’s previous political activism in the 2013 Israeli election, the Department failed to take any steps to guard against the risk that OneVoice could engage in political activities using State-funded grassroots campaign infrastructure after the grant period.

You can read the whole report here.

Just one small item from the 28-page report (on p.13) demonstrates the nefarious strategy of this organization:

OneVoice refined this strategic plan over the course of several months. By August 2014, OneVoice leadership circulated a revised, “finalized AND APPROVED” strategy memo framed around a top strategic objective:

SHIFT SUPPORT WITHIN THE KNESSET AWAY FROM
LIKUD/RIGHT WING COALITION BY ADVOCATING TO
‘SWING’ CENTRIST VOTER’S [sic] POLICIES AND SUPPORT  POLITICAL CANDIDATES WHO EMBRACE AN EXPEDITED NEGOTIATION TOWARD A [TWO-STATE SOLUTION] AND THE END OF SETTLEMENT EXPANSION.

Adding insult to injury, the Jewish Press reports that the State Department has been destroying evidence connected to this blatant disregard for democratic norms:

Meanwhile, according to the Washington Free Beacon, a State Department senior official admitted to the committee that he deleted several emails with information about the campaign, or as the report put it, “The State Department was unable to produce all documents responsive to the Subcommittee’s requests due to its failure to retain complete email records of Michael Ratney, who served as US Consul General in Jerusalem during the award and oversight of the OneVoice grants.”

How convenient. Again, the Senate report (p.17) contradicts the State Department’s denials:

The record is clear, however, that OneVoice did inform at least two State Department officials of its political plans, and it did so during the grant period. The Department took no action in response, although it is unclear whether the officials in receipt of the plans reviewed them.

With the exposure of this outrageous interference in a democratic ally’s domestic politics, you would think the US Administration would keep a more low profile for the moment. You would be wrong. The Elder of Ziyon discovered that the State Department is actively working to promote a boycott of Ariel University:

I visited Ariel University last week. It is a very impressive place and, considering that it is considered by most of the world to be an “obstacle to peace”by virtue of its location on the wrong side of an arbitrary line drawn by some Westerners in 1949, it is surprisingly apolitical, with students from all over the world including Israeli Arabs. (I am told that the PA will not let Palestinian Arabs attend.)

Ariel University campus

While there, a senior official told me about something that happened not too long ago.

Ariel University was in negotiations to partner with two US universities on various initiatives as universities partner with each other all the time. (I was told which ones they were but am not permitted to name them.) One was intended to be a general partnership, the other was a specific partnership with the architecture school at Ariel which is well-regarded.

Both those negotiations were abruptly cancelled.

When officials at Ariel asked the schools what happened, they were told (off the record) that the US State Department had put pressure on the American schools to stop any partnerships with Ariel University since it is in the territories.

The State Department is working against Israel and is taking sides against Israel before any final status negotiations. The schools involved are too scared and vulnerable to push back.

This is a new low for the State Department in working clandestinely against its greatest Middle East Ally.

Furthermore, yesterday the US voiced concern for free speech over Israel’s new NGO bill which requires transparency from foreign-funded NGOs:

The law — approved by Knesset late Monday night — mandates that non-government organizations that receive more than half their funds from foreign governments or state agencies disclose that fact in any public reports, advocacy literature and interactions with government officials, or face a NIS 29,000 fine ($7,500).

State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters at a briefing that some of Washington’s concerns regarding the bill were alleviated by amendments made before it was finally passed by Israeli legislators.

Nonetheless, he expressed the White House’s concerns “not just about free expression but association and dissent.”

The law was passed a day before a bipartisan Senate report found that the V15 campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015 was indirectly funded by US State Department dollars.

Likud minister Zeev Elkin said Tuesday that the Senate’s findings were proof “of how correct the laws of transparency in foreign state funding of NGOs is.”

Critics, meanwhile, maintain the law unfairly targets left-wing and human rights organizations, many of which receive funding from European countries.

Responding to those critics, Sheri Oz at Israellycool asks some very pointed questions:

  1. What makes an NGO that receives funds from a government, foreign or otherwise, an NGO? After all, in case people have forgotten – NGO means NON-GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION. It seems that in order to qualify as such, the organization would have to have no government contribution to its functioning.
  2. How many left-wing organizations are NOT affected by the Transparency Law? If the answer is 0, or even 5, then the question of interest becomes: what is it about left-wing issues that makes left-wing NGOs disproportionately subject to foreign government investment? After all, money talks, money is power, follow the money. There have to be vital interests at stake for foreign governments to be willing to put their money down in any particular way.

These are very important questions, and the foreign-funded NGOs – as Sheri points out, foreign-government funded – should answer these points forthwith. But please don’t hold your breath.

And as a last aside on this issue of foreign interference, the ToI notes that the European Union too asserts that the NGO bill undermines Israel’s democratic values. This is indeed rich coming from that most undemocratic of institutions, i.e. the EU itself, which decrees how many refugees every country must take, and issues floods of regulations on the most minor of matters! No wonder that Britain voted to leave!

As David Hazony remarked:

The Israeli government must be much more forceful in rejecting this insidious foreign interference and undermining of our sovereignty and democracy. And they should throw the accusations of “violation of free speech” or “undermining democratic values” back in the faces of these foreign governments who have forgotten that Israel is not a vassal state nor managed by a UN Mandate.

Posted in Boycotts and BDS, International relations, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Guest Post: Seeing the Middle East glass half-full

This is a guest post by frequent contributor Brian Goldfarb, who puts a more optimistic light on the news from our region.


At the time of writing, things aren’t that great here in the UK: Corbyn is still Leader of the labour party (that voodoo doll and all those pins just aren’t working), the Chakrabhati Inquiry has, as Douglas Murray of the Henry Jackson Society put it, shown that the Labour Party investigated itself and found itself…innocent of antisemitism (a quote worthy of the late, great Abba Eban) and Engage Online has some trenchant submissions to the enquiry from the usual, sane, left-wing suspects, and the future, whatever the Brexiters think, looks increasingly bleak.

So, I’ll console myself by writing some good news about the Middle East that Anne might not have had space for.

Firstly, a return to a matter I’ve touched on before: the reduction of threat to Israel from Hezbollah. I’ve been here before. Since the beginning of Hezbollah’s involvement in the defence of the Assad regime, at the behest of its paymaster and ideological patron (Iran, just in case you’ve been away from the media for 5 years), Hezbollah has been unable to spare any of its attention on Israel, despite restocking its rocket weaponry on a massive scale. This is highlighted in the following article from Middle East  Forum,  Hezbollah sinking in the Middle East quagmire, which notes that:

…for as long as the movement remains committed in Syria, aggression against Israel is unlikely.

Hezbollah has rearmed and expanded since the war of 2006, and Israeli planners consider that it now possesses as many as 150,000 rockets and missiles. But with so many fighters committed to essential tasks in Syria, opening a second front against a vastly more powerful enemy than the Syrian rebels is likely to be a luxury neither Hezbollah nor its Iranian patron can afford.

Hezbollah fighters on the Syrian-Lebanese border

This article, by Jonathan Spyer (a noted commentator on the “Arab Spring” and its ramifications whom I have heard speak to great effect), suggests that Hezbollah has as many as 6,000 fighters in place in Syria at any one time. When this is added to the 1,500+ fighters who are supposed to have died for the cause there (plus seriously injured – and thus just as incapable of fighting as the dead, an unknown number), it becomes clear that the terrorist organisation will be in no mood or condition to take on Israel, not least because, unlike the IDF, Hezbollah’s troops will be less well trained, fewer in number and have less in the way of firepower to confront Israel than vice-versa. Would you like the IAF bombing you and your positions hour after hour? Especially when you don’t have an air force of your own to protect you.

This is as good as admitted by Hezbollah, in a recent speech (reported by Spyer), when:

Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem reiterated the movement’s readiness for war with Israel. At the same time, the sheikh made clear that war this summer would not take place unless Israel initiates it.

Why so? Although he attempts to gloss it, in practice, Sheikh Qassem gives the game away, when, as Spyer notes,

the rhetoric was being used to frame a rather pacifist message – the supposedly weakened and doomed enemy would not be attacked unless Hezbollah was provoked.

As Qassem went on to develop his theme, the reason for this contradiction became clear. In a rather strained rhetorical jump, he exposed the current strategic dilemma Hezbollah faces.

This dilemma is the very one briefly noted above, which Spyer explores in depth: Hezbollah is stretched, perhaps over-stretched, because of its efforts to shore up the Assad regime and the last thing it can seriously consider is an attack on an enemy which is immeasurably stronger than it.

Quite rightly, Israel is not prepared to risk its children attacking weakened enemies. But its intelligence will be, almost certainly, far ahead of Spyer’s in its assessment of the threat offered on its northern border at present.

Related to this is the following: the threat by Hamas on Israel’s south-west border. There is an intriguing (in the academic/intellectual sense) argument in the following article Gaza terror groups vow to circumvent underground border wall by Dov Lieber in The Times of Israel. It appears that that the IDF has developed a method of building a wall above and below ground as a defence against Hamas tunnels.

Hamas operative in a terror tunnel

So let’s get this right: Israel claims that it has (or is on the verge of having) a system of protecting itself against Hamas tunnels which would otherwise enter Israel and disgorge Hamas terrorists in or near kibbutzim and Israeli towns and villages. And what is the Hamas response?

Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan told the Hamas-affiliated news site al-Resalah, “The resistance is able to adapt to all circumstances for the sake of continuing its project to liberate [Palestine].”

He also claimed the reported plans were a sign of Israel’s “failure to face the tunnels,” and stressed that the procedures would “not limit the resistance’s ability to defend our people.”

Along with the Hamas official, leaders of other Palestinian factions in Gaza vowed to strike Israel should the underground wall be built.

Khader Habib, leader of the Islamic Jihad terror organization in Gaza, told al-Resalah that his group would not allow Israel to change facts on the ground in the Strip.

“If we are forced to, we will respond forcefully,” Habib warned.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Central Committee member Zulfikar Suergo said the building of the underground wall “would lead to the opening of a new front as it constitutes an aggression against Gaza.”

Talal Abu Zarifa, a senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said Israel must recognize that the cement wall would “not provide Israel with security,” and the tunnels were “only part of the equation.”

I have to admit that I am having difficulty getting my head round this: Israel, a member in good standing of the UN, recognised by them as a sovereign state, is threatened by organisations on its borders which are recognised by many states as terrorist organisations, finds the means to protect itself against certain of those threats, WITHOUT USING FORCE AGAINST MEMBERS OF THOSE TERRORIST ORGANISATIONS (sorry for shouting, but…) and this is a threat of aggression against those terrorists?

This is truly double-speak – and if you haven’t read that George Orwell classic “1984” on this, you need to exercise your mind by running to your local library and getting out a copy.

Still on the topic of terrorist organisations, this Report: Hamas leadership panicked over defections to Israel, from The Algemeiner, popped into my in-box almost as soon as I’d finished writing the above.  As Ruthie Blum notes, the information was first highlighted by the redoubtable pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon:

… and quoted by the Palestine Press Agency — because there is no apparent link among the defectors – all of whom have absconded from Gaza to Israel and are sharing key information with Israeli security forces – it is proving difficult for the terrorist organization’s leadership to decipher a pattern and put a stop to the phenomenon.

It appears that a number of top-level Hamas operatives have been defecting to Israel and telling all (we assume) to Shin Bet, Mossad, the IDF, etc. The only one named is:

Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, from Khan Yunis [who] told his family he was going on an errand, and then turned up at the Gaza-Israel border, with his laptop in tow, and surrendered himself to the IDF. The Red Cross subsequently informed his family that he was in Israel.

Baraka, it was reported, is privy to significant details about how Hamas builds its terror tunnels, whose purpose is to conduct cross-border raids to kidnap and kill Israelis. So, too, are the three or four other high-ranking members of the terrorist organization who escaped to the Jewish state.

As a result, according to Al Asharq al Awsat, the Hamas leadership has instituted new rules to keep critical personnel away from the Israeli border.

I should think so too, dangerous places, borders, especially if you are a Hamas operative trying to escape.

Speaking of dangerous places, we were in Israel in May and during the few days we spent in Tel Aviv, we went to the Sarona complex and even walked through the Market Hall in which the attack took place. The whole area is a marvel of modern urban development, as this Times of Israel article describes, which, of course, is exactly why the terrorists attacked it: they can’t bear  anything which smacks of ordinary, secular, relaxation (no attack on any Israeli’s preference for a more spiritual existence intended, but Tel Aviv is a remarkably secular city).

Sarona Complex at night with the Azrieli Towers in the background

Despite all the violence visited (and threatened to be visited) on it, Israel is an astoundingly safe (and sane) society. If you don’t believe this, consider the following: just a month later, we were in the USA, visiting our family there, and were there when the Orlando massacre took place. As a direct result of that, the following article in The Times of Israel, How Israel stays such a well-regulated militia with so many guns around was published. It contains the following passage:

One of the first things visitors to Israel notice is the ubiquity of young people with automatic weapons. Yet Israel suffers the tiniest fraction of the mass killings the United States does. Daniel Gordis, writing last year in a Bloomberg column, reported that Americans are 33 times more likely to kill each other with guns than Israelis.

Calev Ben-David (an old friend) wrote this week in The Jerusalem Post about the differences between gun use in the U.S. and Israel. He noted that just 4 percent of guns in Israel are not military issue.

This means that the use of 96 percent of guns is governed by army rules of conduct. As a soldier, you’re answerable to a military tribunal if you break army rules and use a gun without orders — or if you fail to use a gun when you’re under standing order to do so. For example, if a terrorist boards the bus you’re being forced to stay awake on.

The careful use of guns in Israel is about being answerable to a hierarchy, beyond being answerable to the law. This is the opposite of the “right to bear arms” in the American ethos. There is no “right” to bear arms in Israel — there is a duty to bear arms, according to strict regulations.

So, despite the presence of real enemies, just next door, wanting to kill you, which is the safer society? While in the US, we saw (and failed to keep) a graphic in the NYT.  It was a square which took up 3/4 of a “broadsheet” newspaper page, and was a graphic stating that if all the other highly industrialised and democratic countries had the same population as the USA, this is what the deaths by gun would look like. The USA was at the top of the box. The next highest was Canada…below the line denoting the bottom 10% of the death rate by guns. There was no country in between.

And everyone else thinks Israel is a dangerous place to be!


Anne adds: Brian, thank you once again for casting your optimistic eye over the situation in our hot and sweaty corner of the Middle East. When we struggle under a daily onslaught of bad news from the UN (more of that in a future post), or antisemitism, and daily terror attacks, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture – or at least the “half-full” part of the picture. Your post helps us to regain some badly needed equilibrium.

Posted in Israel news, Mideast news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Good News Friday

Apologies for the late – and brief – posting. A family simcha took us out of town (mazal tov to our niece and family on the birth of their baby daughter ☺ ), and what with the heat, the Petach Tikva schvitz and a week of repainting our flat, and it’s a bit of a miracle that I’m sitting down to post at all!

My first item is from Israel’s bio-tech and green-tech revolution – watch this video how Israel makes the desert literally bloom:

 

Kol hakavod to all the botanists, agriculturalists and researchers involved in greening the desert. Just imagine how our neighbours, not to mention other arid regions of the world, can benefit from Israel’s developments.

My next item is a fantastic video in support of Israel – by Ashraf Sherjan, a Muslim Israeli Arab. No words are necessary. Just watch the video!

 

Ashraf’s words in support of Israeli victims of terror are as follows:

“Today when the whole Muslim world is celebrating Eid with their loved ones.

But I am not celebrating my Eid.

I want to pass my message to the mother of 13 year old Hallel Yaffa, who was killed last week in Israel. Being a secular Baloch Muslim I stand with you.

Yes, You are not alone. I stand with you and I stand with Israel.”

Kol hakavod Ashraf on your courage in speaking out so openly in support of Israel. I’m sure there are many more like you, but without your bravery. If only they too would stand up and speak out, Israeli society, in all its varied colours and religions, would only benefit.

And on the same subject of loyal Muslim citizens of Israel, here is a video another courageous Arab Israeli. Again, no words of mine are necessary.

Kol hakavod Atta Farhat on holding to the courage of your convictions. Here too, if only your fellow Muslims would stand with you (and us) openly, all sides would benefit hugely. They could also be a bridge to the rest of the Muslim world, with boundless benefits for all of us.

May these words of support bring us peace of mind and a calm(er) spirit as Shabbat begins.

Shabbat Shalom and chodesh tov everyone!

Posted in Israel news, support Israel, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Labour investigates its own antisemitism, finds nothing, insults Israel and Jews

True to his promise earlier this year, following several instances of antisemitism in his party, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn commissioned an inquiry into antisemitism in the party, chaired by Shami Chakrabarti.  Sadly the investigation descended from farce into outrage and thence onward to the otuer realms of surrealism. (All emphases in excerpts below are mine).

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and chairman of the inquiry into antisemitism and racism, Shami Chakrabarti

First, to the inquiry itself. Douglas Murray at Gatestone informs us that the Labour Party investigated itself and – surprise – found itself innocent:

On Thursday of last week Chakrabarti produced her findings. At an event in London organised by the Labour party, she announced that the Labour party was not in fact overrun by anti-Semitism “or other forms of racism,” but conceded that there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere.” She also added that there was “too much clear evidence… of ignorant attitudes.”

The man she was helping to vindicate, Jeremy Corbyn, then took to the stage and called for an end to Hitler and Nazi metaphors, and an end to comparisons between different human rights atrocities. He went on to say, “Racism is racism is racism. There is no hierarchy, no acceptable form of it.”

In the hands of anyone else that might have been an end of it, but this is the modern Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn, and in the modern Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn no opportunity for a public relations catastrophe is ever missed.

And here we come to the zinger:

And so it was that at the launch of an inquiry into anti-Semitism a set of anti-Semitic incidents occurred.

I kid you not. I told you it was surreal!

Murray continues:

First, there were the words of the leader himself. In his remarks attempting to curb anti-Semitism in the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn said,

“Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those various self-styled Islamic states or organisations.”

This none-too subtle linkage between Israel and ISIS was promptly seized upon by commentators and religious leaders. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis condemned the comments as “offensive,” and stated that rather than rebuilding trust with Britain’s Jewish community, Corbyn had in fact caused even “greater concern.”

Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks called Corbyn’s comments “demonisation of the highest order, an outrage and unacceptable.” He went on to say that the comments showed “how deep the sickness is in parts of the left of British politics today.”

And the farce continued:

Meanwhile, in the audience of the event, a Labour MP who is Jewish — Ruth Smeeth — found herself the victim of anti-Semitic slurs from one of Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-left grassroots supporters. This individual insisted that Ms Smeeth was working in collusion with the “right-wing media” — an anti-Semitic trope of precisely the kind at which the Chakrabarti report had been meant to look. Corbyn failed to intervene, so the Jewish MP walked out of the event.

Smeeth subsequently joined the majority of Labour MPs who have already — for a whole multitude of reasons — called on Corbyn to resign. By failing to intervene in an anti-Semitic incident going on right in front of him, Corbyn had, she said in a statement, shown a “catastrophic failure of leadership,” adding:

“It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms Chakrabarti’s report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing.”

You can read Ruth Smeeth’s entire statement here.

Harry’s Place pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn’s obscene comparison of Israel with ISIS fulfills the US Government’s definition of antisemitism:

In 2010 Hannah Rosenthal, the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, explained how the department defines antisemitism.

Our State Department uses Natan Sharansky’s framework for identifying when someone or a government crosses the line – when Israel is demonized, when Israel is held to different standards than the rest of the countries, and when Israel is delegitimized. These cases are not disagreements with a policy of Israel, this is anti-Semitism.

So when Jeremy Corbyn (shown here auditioning for the role of a deer caught in headlights) responded to the release of a report on antisemitism in the Labour party by essentially comparing Israel to the Islamic State, it was hard to see how that did not fit the US government’s definition.

In an extremely hard-hitting article in the Telegraph, Stephen Pollard wrote that after this revolting statement we have to stop pretending that Jeremy Corbyn is an amiable buffoon. The reality is much more nasty:

This morning’s meeting was one of the most extraordinarily appalling events in the history of the Labour Party. It not only shamed Jeremy Corbyn; it shamed anyone who supports his leadership.

Think about what happened for a moment. At an event to launch a report into Labour’s attitude to anti-Semitism, the leader of the Labour Party – in a prepared script – thought the most appropriate thing he could say was: “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu Government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations.”

One might say that the irony that he was launching a report condemning inappropriate comparisons with Israel was lost on him. But, as I will explain, it wasn’t lost at all; it was deliberate. Some have tried to argue that his words do not compare Israel with Isil. You have to wonder if they can read. His point is that both Israel and Isil are extremists, terrorists, call them what you will. And while Muslims are decent because they do not support Isil’s actions, so too Jews are decent when they do not support Israel. And, of course, only when they do not support Israel.

You could describe this as cloth-eared, or even stupid – and since he became Labour leader, the narrative has usually been that Mr Corbyn isn’t up to the job, doesn’t get it, isn’t really to be taken seriously. But that is to give him credit he does not deserve.

The truth is far more unsavoury. It’s clear from his speech that for Jeremy Corbyn, anti-Semitism is something to be weaponised. This was not some off-the-cuff remark, some slip. These were his – or probably Seumas Milne’s – considered words. At a meeting on anti-Semitism, he thought the most appropriate thing that he could say was to compare Israel with Isil. This is hard-Left dog whistle politics. With “anti-Zionism” a defining feature of the hard-Left, this is using anti-Semitism as a tool.

Let’s stop this ludicrous idea that Jeremy Corbyn is some amiable buffoon who’s simply out of his depth. As this morning showed, Jeremy Corbyn is one the nastiest and most cynical politicians ever to operate on the national stage.

Pollard quotes a tweet from Zionist Union MK Tzippi Livni, someone with whom I have almost never agreed. But she nails it with the following:

Ouch!

All this would have been mildly comical (since it places Jeremy Corbyn in an almost untenable position) as well as offensive if it weren’t for continuing displays of antisemitism in Britain. This past weekend the annual “Al Quds” demonstration took place in London, complete with Hezbollah banners and flags. But finally, the British Jewish community have had enough and they organized a successful counter-demonstration.

The leader of a prominent British pro-Israel group spoke out against the flying of terrorist flags on the streets of London during an anti-Israel rally over the weekend, telling The Algemeiner on Monday that such open displays of support for terror groups should not be tolerated.

Hezbollah flag flying at an Al Quds Day demo in London

“Hezbollah flags were once against being flown seemingly without fear of consequence,” said Simon Cobbs, co-chair of Israel advocacy group Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI), whose organization was one of three main sponsors of Sunday’s counter-demonstration against the annual anti-Israel “Al Quds Day” march.

Cobbs told The Algemeiner that  numerous sources who infiltrated the march said rally organizers sent children — some wrapped in Hezbollah flags — and members of the marginal Haredi anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta to the head of the procession, seemingly to provoke pro-Israel counter-demonstrators. “Highly offensive” anti-Israel placards — such as “Dismantling of Zionist State = End Of Bloodshed” — were waved by protesters, he said.

At one point, a “tense standoff, with both groups no more than a few feet apart,” took place, Cobbs said, adding that “police did a fantastic job in ensuring the safety of all involved.”

According to police estimates, “approximately 500-600 people gathered in solidarity with Israel from communities across the UK, including Jews, Christians and Muslims,” Cobbs said. “We took to the road outside the US Embassy to say ‘No to terror – Yes to peace.’”

While the counter-demonstration had “many aims, all of which were not only achieved but mostly surpassed,” two great victories emerged, according to Cobbs.

“It was our intention to highlight the flying of a proscribed terrorist group’s flag in London. Tory MP Matthew Offord, who spoke at the rally, has again pledged to raise the matter in parliament and work on ensuring that the loophole in the law that allows it is closely scrutinized,” Cobbs said.

The second major victory, Cobbs said, is that “the day also proved that a small but growing number of people here in the UK are becoming more willing to show their support for Israel despite troublesome times.”

Here is a video clip of the demo:

One of those brave souls who infiltrated the enemy’s lines was activist and blogger David Collier, who reported on his experience in his article “Walking with the Hezbollah in London”:

Upon arriving I was handed a flag calling for the boycott of Israel, and slowly the crowd swelled. A coach arrived, then another. The antizionist Neturei Karta were placed at the front of the demonstration. They were kept that way. A line of protecting stewards were placed behind them and if anyone else tried to nudge to the front during the march, they were pulled away. Jews had to be on the front line, however unrepresentative they may be.

NK1

Useful idiots, Neturei Karta, front and center at Hezbollah demo in London

Hezbollah T-shirts, Nasrallah T-shirts, Khomeini T-shirts. These people marched proudly through the streets of London. Someone had a placard that read ‘ We are all Hezbollah’. And I marched with them. Support for radical Islamic extremists. Maybe 350 people in total, maybe slightly more. The demographic was clearly one sided. Over 80% of them looked Middle Eastern themselves. Arabic was the language most spoken.

Such extremism. Such hatred. There will be no peace, there will be no progress, until this venom is extracted from the conflict. The irony that on this day in North London, left wing Zionists had gathered at a Haaretz conference to discuss the issue of peace was not lost on me. With all the will in the world, theirs is a bubble that at the moment, simply does not exist.

You cannot negotiate with this. Nor will peace move forward whilst this mob is allowed to spread its poison. This is blind hatred. Self- chosen ignorance, bias, and yes, not a little antisemitism. Those few in the crowd that were not Islamic radicals fell into two distinct groups. Those on the very far left, and those on the very far right. An absurd political marriage enabled only by a mutual hatred of Jews.

Kol hakavod to Sussex Friends of Israel, the Israel Advocacy Movement and the Zionist Federation for sponsoring and organizing the counter-demonstration, and of course to all the locals who participated.

Despite the success of the counter-demo, David Collier’s concluding words are pertinent both to the Hezbollah demonstration and also to the issue of antisemitism altogether:

Allowing this type of march isn’t a strength of our freedoms, it is a weakness. Yesterday, we emboldened radical extremism. We let it stand proud. We created an opportunity for people to meet and bring Hezbollah to the heart of London.

Until such blatant antisemitism is banned altogether by the British Government, and until organizations like the Labour Party excises antisemitism from its midst completely, up to and including the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn and his aides and advisors, all our efforts will be like whistling in the wind.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

40 years since the Entebbe rescue operation

Today is the 4th of July and besides being the 240th birthday of America (Mazal Tov! You’ve already doubled the usual wish of “until 120”   ) it is also the 40th anniversary of an equally auspicious day – the miraculous rescue by IDF special forces of over 100 Jewish hostages held by German and Palestinian terrorists in Entebbe, after their Air France airplane was hijacked on its way from France to Tel Aviv.

Here is one documentary amongst many others which describes the events, including interviews with the actual participants:

The official memorial site of Col. Yoni Netanyahu has published the record of the last few days of the hero’s life, from the lead-up to the hijacking, through the deliberations in the cabinet and the army brass, and up to the rescue itself, and Yoni’s falling in battle. For all the dry facts it is very dramatic reading.

Commandos from Sayeret Matkal with the Mercedes they used to deceive the Ugandans (Photo: IDF Spokesman)

Ynet has a commemorative article about Operation Entebbe as told by the commanders themselves. This paragraph, describing the stunned shock and elated surprise of the hostages – and of the whole Jewish nation – stood out for me:

“I looked at the hostages, and they were all in shock. They were lying on mattresses, parents holding tightly onto their children, protecting them with their own bodies. Amir and I walked around them with a megaphone. ‘We’re soldiers from Israel,’ we told them—Amir in Hebrew and I in English, ‘We’ve come to take you home.’ They looked at us with shock. Only a few moments ago, they were in a different world, in hell, not knowing what was going to happen, whether they are going to live in an hour or be executed. They certainly could not imagine that there was a chance that the IDF would come and rescue them. And now, it was as if a hand from the heavens was sent for them and plucked them from one world into another.

Two of the hostages, Baruch Gross and his son Shai, upon their return home (Photo: Avi Simchoni and Micky Tzarfati)

Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post looks at the operation from another angle. It was the portentous event that set Binyamin Netanyahu on his trajectory into politics:

The prime minister was 26 at the time of his brother’s death, and was employed at the Boston Consulting Group, having recently graduated from MIT with degrees in architecture and business management.

He was then unknown to the Israeli public. Yes, he too was a veteran of the elite Sayeret Matkal unit that carried out the operation, but he was not involved in it. After the raid he returned to Israel to establish an anti-terrorism institute in his brother’s name, the Jonathan Institute, that catapulted him into the media limelight, and then into politics.

“I thought I would be either in the academic world or the business world,” he said in an e-mail exchange with Newsweek‘s Dan Ephron in 2012, on the occasion of a film that came out at the time on his brother, “Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story.”

“My brother’s death changed my life and directed it to its present course.” He said that the events of July 4, 1976 did not shape his worldview, but rather “reaffirmed it.”

In the film the prime minister remembers how he was the one who had to break the news of his brother’s death to his parent’s, driving six hours from Boston to Philadelphia to do so. When his father saw him, he asked,”Bibi, what are you doing here?”

Sayeret Matkal commander Yoni Netanyahu in a photo taken shortly before he was killed (Photo: Netanyahu family)

“And then his expression changed,” Netanyahu remembered in the film, “and he understood immediately. And my mother let out a terrible scream. I’ll never forget that. It was actually worse than hearing about Yoni’s death.”

“It is painful and debilitating. It is as if a limb of your body has been cut off,” he said. The loss is with him all the time, he told The Jerusalem Post‘s Elli Wohlgelernter in a 2001 interview marking 25 years to Entebbe.

“There’s practically not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him, and think of what he would do, and this is a great source of spiritual uplifting, but also a great source of sorrow on occasion, when you think of what the country has missed in his death,” he said.

Netanyahu said candidly that the public work he became engaged in after his brother’s death set his life on its current trajectory.

“From this activity, I ended up in diplomacy, and from diplomacy I got into politics. So you might say that Yoni’s death triggered the process by which I ultimately ended up in politics, although I didn’t have that intention consciously at the time.”

The article’s concluding paragraphs are of huge relevance to last week’s events:

“I think that his death at Entebbe marked a unique turning point in the world’s battle against terrorism,” Netanyahu said, “because after Entebbe, it was very difficult to argue that you had no choice but to surrender to terrorism. His death triggered a great cataclysm in all our lives, the lives of the family, but in the sense of a re-dedication, in my case it was primarily to advance the battle against terrorism.”

Forty years later, that battle still rages.

Yes, the battle against terrorism and Arab rejectionism still rages, but what a difference 4 decades make! In those days the Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin took an enormously brave decision. In 1982, Prime Minister Menachem Begin similarly took a very risky decision to bomb the nuclear reactor in Iraq. Would our current leadership, even Binyamin Netanyahu himself, have the same courage and nerves of steel to carry through a similar rescue?

With the government’s limp response to the latest Palestinian terrorist outrages in Israel, one can’t help but wonder.

From yet another viewpoint Tablet Magazine elucidates 10 things we probably didn’t know about the Entebbe rescue. Here are a couple of those items:

In fact, four hostages did not survive the rescue attempt. Jean-Jacques Mimouni was killed when he jumped up during the rescue and was shot by a rescuing soldier. Pasco Cohen was shot in the pelvis by Israeli fire and died on the operating table in Nairobi. Ida Boruchovich was shot dead during the rescue but it is less clear whose bullet—Israeli or Arab—took her life.

The best known casualty was Dora Bloch, who began to choke on what has been variously described as a piece of meat or a chicken bone on Friday, July 2. She was taken to the hospital in Kampala for treatment. Saul Rubin documents how Idi Amin called Health Minister Henry Kyemba on Saturday to see how Mrs. Bloch was doing, with an eye towards returning her to the others. Kyemba, hoping to spare her what was looking more and more like a bitter fate with her countrymen, lied, saying that she needed another day for her recovery. By the time that day had elapsed, the rescue had taken place without her. In retribution, Idi Amin had her taken from her bed and shot.

Who was Surin Hershko and what unsung part of the rescue does he play to this day?

Hershko was tasked with checking other rooms in the terminal for hijackers and Ugandan soldiers. He suddenly encountered two soldiers on a staircase. One shot him twice and a bullet struck him in the neck, severing his spinal cord and rendering him a quadriplegic. In 2001, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the raid, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon awarded him a special medal.

Meanwhile Binyamin Netanyahu is heading out today to Africa, back to the “scene of the crime” in Entebbe, but also visiting other countries, including Kenya, whose assistance at the time of the raid proved invaluable to Israel.

Jomo Kenyatta was the “architect of the friendship between Israel and Kenya,” Netanyahu said in February during Uhuru’s first visit to Jerusalem. “He demonstrated that friendship most dramatically 40 years ago in helping Israel in the raid in Entebbe to rescue our hostages. This is something that has left a deep imprint on Israel. The people of Israel are grateful for that. And I’m personally grateful for that.”

The Entebbe raid was a turning point for Israel in its fight against Arab terrorism and against the Arab enemy in general. There have been no more open wars, or even attempts at such hijackings against Israeli targets since then. Instead the battle has moved on to “local” terrorism and, most egregious of all, to defamation, delegitimization, and from there it’s just a short step to BDS.

They are all intended to destroy Israel one way or another. We have to stand firm and united. Let us hope that our leaders can produce the same courage and strong nerves in the face of international opposition as the giants of previous generations once did.

Posted in Defence and Military, Israel news, Mideast news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments