Netanyahu’s appointment of Liberman as Defence Minister: Gewald on the Left, cautious welcome on the right

The last few days in have been a roller-coaster in Israeli politics, with coalition talks going on behind the scenes – but constantly leaked to the public – between Likud and, alternately, Zionist Union and Yisrael Beitenu. In the end, Yisrael Beitenu and Avigdor Liberman won the contest, but not without much antagonism and back-biting from all corners of the political spectrum.

Avigdor Liberman, new Defence Minister

Honest Reporting brings us a pretty good synopsis of the whole saga:

Israeli coalition politics is a combination of Game of Thrones and musical chairs. In a bid to expand his one-seat parliamentary majority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lured Avigdor Liberman back into the government by giving him the Defense Ministry. This happened as efforts to form a national unity coalition with Isaac Herzog and the Zionist Union floundered.

According to Israeli media reports, ex-British prime minister Tony Blair, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi were key figures in trying to bring about a unity government, seeing it as a way to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. This might explain Egyptian anger at the Israeli government’s last-minute rightward turn. So how did the reported plan unravel?

“Herzog claims the talks failed because Netanyahu refused to provide written versions of the understandings they had reached over settlement construction and negotiations with the Palestinians, the two elements that were supposed to enable the regional move with the Arab nations. Likud sources say Netanyahu realized that Herzog did not have the backing of a majority of his Knesset faction for joining the coalition, and didn’t want to take the risk of making such far-reaching diplomatic undertakings.”

The far left predictably cried “Gewald!” (Translation: Disaster!) at Liberman’s appointment as Defence Minister as they protested the most dangerous government ever!

Hundreds of far leftists held a protest on Saturday night at Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, demonstrating against MK Avigdor Liberman being appointed Defense Minister as part of his Yisrael Beytenu party joining the coalition government.

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg and supporters at anti-government rally in Tel Aviv

Present at the protest was MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), former Labor MK Yael Dayan, chairperson of Meretz’s management Ori Zachi – and counter-protesting the radical leftists, nationalist rap star Yoav Eliasi, better known by his stage name Hatzel.

The leftist protesters bore signs reading “Liberman is a fascist,” “the disaster government, we don’t want any more victims,” and “Liberman is war minister.”

Elad Wolf and Bar Gisin, two of the far left organizers of the event, told Walla that “the time has come to wake up the state of Israel.”

“The ground is burning, this right-wing government is the most dangerous Israeli government. We must stop this huge snowball before it will be too late. The Israeli public is sick of Netanyahu’s cynical survival games and the threats and incitement of Liberman and (Naftali) Bennett. We have no confidence in them, not in their sincerity and certainly not in their policy.”

Even the centrist David Horovitz at the Times of Israel was very wary about Liberman’s appointment, calling it no ordinary political maneuver: He starts by mentioning Channel 2’s veteran military correspondent Roni Daniel’s cry of mourning and his doubt about wishing his children to continue living in Israel:

Channel 2’s grizzled and gray-haired military correspondent Roni Daniel does not have the reputation of a bleeding-heart liberal.

In the midst of the evening broadcast, during a discussion on that day’s resignation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and his imminent replacement by Avigdor Liberman, Daniel asked if his fellow panelists would keep quiet for a minute because there was something he wanted to say. He then declared, entirely unbidden, that he was “no longer sure” that he wanted his children to continue to live in Israel, because, he said, the “culture of government” was now so distasteful. He also reeled off a list of right-wing Knesset members to whom he took particular exception.

Jaws dropped around the studio. One of Daniel’s colleagues, Amnon Abromowitz, attempted to make light of the declaration, saying flippantly, “Before Roni leaves the studio and his children leave the country…” But Daniel was emphatically not in flippant mood. He banged his fist on the table, and protested that Abromowitz was not taking him seriously.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brutal ousting of the defense minister who has stood loyally at his side for the past three years, in favor of an unpredictable populist with a track record of castigating the government even when he’s in it, has produced predictable reactions across the spectrum. The further right, the warmer the support for the change in personnel; the further left, the direr the warnings of fascism and extremism in the governance of Israel. …

Outgoing Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, Avigdor Liberman and PM Netanyahu

The loyalist and the demagogue

The defenestration of Moshe Ya’alon, and the elevation of defense minister-in-waiting Avigdor Liberman, is no ordinary cabinet reshuffle.

Ya’alon had all the attributes Netanyahu could ever have wanted in this most prominent and sensitive of positions. As a military man, Ya’alon’s record is peerless. He was a veteran of the Yom Kippur War, a commander of the army’s most elite commando unit (Sayeret Matkal, in which Netanyahu also served), and, finally, the chief of staff who led the battle to suppress the onslaught of Palestinian suicide bombings in the Second Intifada. The son of a Haganah veteran father and a Holocaust survivor mother, he grew up working class in Haifa, and later moved to a kibbutz, but he moved gradually to the political right, and chose the Likud when he entered politics in 2008.

Ya’alon is also a man of steely moral principle, who immediately protested the breach of ethical norms that he saw in the alleged cold-blooded execution in Hebron on March 24, by IDF Sergeant Elor Azaria, of a Palestinian assailant who had been disarmed and was lying wounded. He also insisted, after Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan had warned this month of “horrifying processes” in today’s Israel that carried echoes of pre-World War II Germany, that the army’s commanders have the right and obligation to speak their minds.

Now Ya’alon, the military high-flier and the moralist, is to be replaced by former IDF Corporal Liberman, a man whose mediocre military career has never prevented him from prescribing one-sentence solutions to Israel’s various military challenges, and whose moral compass led him, far from condemning Azaria, to make a solidarity visit to the military court at which the soldier is being tried for manslaughter.

Perhaps in most striking contrast to Ya’alon, however, is the degree to which Liberman manifestly cannot be relied upon by Netanyahu. They have worked together on and off for some 30 years, and Liberman, set on becoming prime minister himself, has switched from Netanyahu loyalist to rival, from coalition partner to opposition critic, and back again, as and when he has spotted an opportunity for personal advantage.

Trump-style, he’ll say whatever he thinks it useful to his career to say. On Gaza, for instance, Liberman declared at the height of the 2014 war, when he himself sat in the inner cabinet, that Hamas must be smashed and the government was not going far enough. But later he decided that Gaza must be given over to the UN. And later still that the way forward was via the Strip’s economic development. When he deems the time ripe, he can be relied upon to ditch Netanyahu with the same ease that he ditched his Yisrael Beytenu party’s much-hyped social agenda in negotiating this coalition deal.

The beginning of the end, of what?

Why did Netanyahu trade the loyal, moral, militarily expert Ya’alon for the disloyal, demagogic, and militarily inexpert Liberman? Ultimately because Netanyahu needed to expand his unstable coalition, and Liberman would not have joined if he wasn’t given the defense post. The alternative potential coalition partner, Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog, was driving too hard a bargain, leads a disunited party and is reviled by the governing right.

But self-evidently, too, Netanyahu was unfazed by Liberman’s defense of the Hebron soldier, and unperturbed to be shedding the irritatingly ethical Ya’alon.

There’s much more at the link, and while I find myself somewhat sympathetic to Horovitz’s shocked reaction, I am simultaneously taking the whole saga with a strong dose of cynicism. Nothing is ever as bad as the Left claims nor as good as the Right claims. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, and the sky is not really falling.

First of all, there are voices, yes, on the Right, which remind the very ethical Moshe Yaalon that the IDF is subordinate to the civilian government and is not a military junta. There is speculation in the  article that Yaalon’s support for IDF officers’ freedom of speech outside of the army is what probably tipped Netanyahu’s hand into finding a new coalition partner:

The Israeli political battle lines were clearly delineated once again late Sunday, with right wing-nationalist lawmakers denouncing Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for his support of an army high command that has become more vocal in offering its opinions on the current state of society.

The fallout from the minister’s remarks reverberated into late Sunday, when Ya’alon was summoned for “an urgent meeting” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

“Somebody needs to remind Bogie (Ya’alon’s nickname) that we live in a democracy, not a military regime,” Likud MK Oren Hazan said. “The IDF is not a junta. Its job is to implement the decisions of the civilian leadership and not to disagree with it and chart its own policy.”

Ron Jager in Arutz Sheva sees a positive spin in Liberman’s appointment, as he writes about “perception as deterrence“. He asserts that the Palestinians and the Left have built up Liberman into such a bogeyman, that they might very well do what Israel wants just to avert “the evil decree” of a Liberman backlash:

The recent news that Avigdor Liberman, a former Israeli  Foreign  Minister and head of the smal right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party,will replace Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon as the new Israeli defense minister has been greeted by the Israeli media and their elitist opinion makers with dismay and stupefaction.  In Tel-Aviv, a city known for its progressive and leftist inclination, many muttered that the municipality should start opening up the air raid shelters as Liberman’s appointment hit the airwaves.

Liberman, a politician feared and despised by the Israeli left, is being demonized and delegitimized before his appointment goes into effect. The potential appointment of Avigdor Lieberman  as Defense Minister has thrown the whole Palestinian Arab leadership and Israeli Arab politicians into a frenzy, making the reaction of Israel’s leftist elite seem mild. Claiming that Israel is adopting characteristics of a fascist regime and calling for boycott of Israel; stating that “the Israeli government is sending a message to the world that Israel prefers extremism, dedication to the “occupation” and “settlements over peace” and encouraging blatant racism, are only a fraction of the derogatory and slanderous accusations against a veteran politician who has been democratically elected.

The potential appointment of Avigdor Lieberman to the position of Defense Minister may very well herald a new and more effective deterrence against the Palestinian Arab desire to get up in the morning and murder a Jew. The Palestinian Arab perception of Lieberman is as a person who believes in the sanctification of power, ruthlessness, violence, and who has murderous potential might very well be exactly the change that causes the Palestinians to adopt a more realistic assessment of what a negotiated settlement will look like.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin expressed great satisfaction with the new appointment saying that “now the government can finally do what we were elected to do“.

And Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself reassured the government that Yisrael Beitenu’s joining the coalition and Liberman’s appointment will not impact talks with the Palestinians:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu began the weekly government cabinet meeting by defending efforts to expand the coalition, stating that the inclusion of the Yisrael Beytenu party will not impact on the government’s diplomatic efforts vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority.

“From the beginning, when we established the government, I said that my intention was to expand the government,” Netanyahu said. “61 [the government’s current narrow majority of one – ed.] is better than 59, but a government which is as wide as possible is an important thing for the State of Israel.”

Emphasizing that talks were still “underway”, the PM added that a “wider coalition” would enable the government to better deal with the wider range of challenges facing the country.

He further emphasized that the secular-nationalist party’s inclusion into the coalition would not alter the government’s commitment to engage in direct talks with the Palestinian Authority, despite Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman’s critical views on the matter.

One final critique of the Left’s criticism of Liberman’s appointment, and a blistering attack on their hypocrisy, is produced by Kalman Liebskind at NRG (Ma’ariv, Hebrew only). Here are some highlights and my free translation of some of his comments:

Liebskind accuses the Left not of criticizing Netanyahu – we all do that! – but of always wanting precisely what is bad for Netanyahu, not necessarily what is good for Israel. He also reminds us that the Left were very happy to consider Liberman as Defence Minister back at election time when everyone was jockeying to create a coalition:

On Wednesday evening Fate sat on the couch, watching the news and rolled with laughter. The panic that attacked all those journalists and the social media highly amused him. Why? Because for a long time, these people, who built up in their imagination all kinds of strange coalitions of “Just Not Bibi”, saw Liberman as a senior and legitimate partner for all intents and purposes. Raviv Druker [Haaretz journalist] published an “imaginary scenario” where Yair Lapid would make a government coalition and Liberman would be Defence Minister.

So let’s all calm down and give this new coalition a chance – not that we have any say in the matter, which is a whole different story about Israel’s democratic system.

Final update: It’s not over till the fat lady sings – Netanyahu has just announced that he is still holding out hope that the Zionist Union will join the coalition. Never say never…

Posted in Israel news, Media and journalism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Good News Friday

Shabbat is approaching and with it, some relief from the annoyances of the usual everyday news. Talking of which, I will not be writing about the cabinet reshuffle, with all its associated politicking and analyses, until after Shabbat (bli neder).

So to give us a break from all the aggravation and tension, here is this week’s Good News Friday post.

My first item is a wonderful, heart-warming story of two American boys who came to celebrate their older brother’s barmitzvah in Israel, and, well, just watch the video – see how they turned what could have been a regular family celebration into an act of Hessed, lovingkindess, to show gratitude to our soldiers:

 

Kol hakavod to the Waks boys and a huge Yasher Koach to their parents who have done a brilliant job in giving them a true Jewish education. May we all see such nachat from our own children!

Speaking of education, a hearty mazal tov to the first graduating class of the joint Technion-Cornell University program:

Graduates with Professor Adam Shwartz, director of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute (right) and Professor Mor Naaman, founder of the Connective Media program(left)

Talk about #BDSFail! How about that for a kick in the teeth to BDS? Kol hakavod to the two universities and to the entire graduating class. Long may such cooperation continue!

Say goodbye (maybe) to insulin injections

Since we’re on the subject of education, Israel is at the forefront of the biomedical field. About 6 months ago I wrote about an insulin pill that was undergoing clinical trials. It is not clear if the following story is about the same pill or another one. Either way, the news that a successful clinical trial has been carried out on an insulin pill to replace insulin injections is excellent news for diabetics (and for the Oramed company that developed it):

Israeli drug development company Oramed (Nasdaq: ORMP) announced Wednesday the success of its Phase IIb study for its insulin capsule. The primary goal of the trial to reduce blood insulin levels at nighttime was achieved, without a significant increase in hypoglycemic events (a drop in blood sugar below the healthy amount).

Oral insulin is not a replacement for injections but is meant to treat Type 2 diabetics before they become “insultin-dependent”. Currently some of those patients receive no treatment, some are treated with new medications like GLP1; at later stages, they receive delayed-release insulin (like Lantus) in the nighttime, to prevent any spikes. The oral insulin will replace the delayed-release insulin which is currently injected and works using a different mechanism.

“The current trial compared the product to a placebo, and it showed a significant reduction in sugar levels in the blood at night, without side effects or hypoglycemia.”

The study was conducted at 33 medical centers with 180 patients under protocols concocted by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron said, “These results are very exciting; this is the first time an oral insulin solution managed to achieve a significant drop in sugar levels in the blood during the nighttime. It is also proof of the feasibility of the technological platform developed by Prof. Miriam Kidron which also serves as the basis for the development of another of our products an oral GLP1 treatment which will soon start a large efficacy trial.”

Kol hakavod to Oramed and their team and to Prof. Miriam Kidron for the development of this wonderful new product. I wish them great success for the sake of all diabetics the world over.

And now, we take a journey to the bottom of the sea! An incredible treasure trove was found on Israel’s seabed off Caesarea (via Haya E):

The find, which is the largest assemblage of marine artifacts to be recovered in the last thirty years, was made by divers Ran Feinstein and Ofer Ra’anan of Ra’anana. They will be awarded a certificate of appreciation and a tour of the storerooms of the national treasures for reporting the discovery.

Divers Ran Feinstein (right) and Ofer Ra‘anan who discovered the sunken treasure

Feinstein and Ra’anan went diving in the ancient port of Caesarea before Passover, where they found the ancient marine cargo of a merchant ship that sank during the Late Roman period 1,600 years ago.

The artifacts, which were in an extraordinary state of preservation, included a bronze lamp depicting the image of the Roman sun god Sol, a figurine of the moon goddess Luna, a lamp in the image of the head of an African slave, fragments of three life-size bronze cast statues, objects fashioned in the shape of animals such as a whale, a bronze faucet in the form of a wild boar with a swan on its head, and more.

The archaeologists also found fragments of large jars that were used for carrying drinking water for the crew in the ship and for transportation at sea.

A highly unique find was also discovered among the items – two metallic lumps composed of thousands of coins weighing around 20 kilograms (over 44 pounds). The lumps of coins were in the shape of the pottery vessels they were transported in.

The coins bear the image of emperor Constantine who ruled the Western Roman Empire (312-324 CE), and was later termed Constantine the Great, ruler of the Roman Empire (324-337 CE). Other coins feature the likeness of Licinius, an emperor who ruled the eastern part of the Roman Empire and was Constantine’s rival until he fell in a battle between the two Roman rulers.

Watch this amazing video:

Kol hakavod to the divers on their integrity in reporting the find to the IAA. Isn’t Israel an amazing country! No matter where you go you find treasures and artefacts, if not on the ground or below the ground, then they are under the sea!

Moving back to terra firma, I will conclude this post with a gorgeous video which was part of the Independence Day show (at which my own grandchildren performed). The video simply shows the wonderful community of Karnei Shomron, with a particular focus on the children.  Enjoy!

I wish you all Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Posted in Academia, Israel news, support Israel, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Melanie Phillips puts the Middle East conflict into the right perspective

The British pro-Israel advocacy organization Campaign4Truth  (follow them at their Facebook page at the link) recently held an evening of debate of “The Two State Solution – dead or alive?,” the videos of which Brian of London posted at Israellycool, plus a video at the end of the entire evening.

Brian himself was one of the speakers, and the line-up included an amazing selection of pro-Israel activists, from the right and the left: James Sorene of BICOM, Melanie Phillips who needs no introduction, David Hirsh, UK academic and founder of Engage Online site fighting campus and political antisemitism in Britain;  Mudar Zahran, a Palestinian exile from Jordan; David Collier, who writes about campus antisemitism and campaigns for Israel at his website The Great Divide; and Brian of London himself (or Brian John Thomas as he calls himself here) of Israellycool.

Each video is a must-see in its own right, and I urge you to watch them all, but the keynote speaker, Melanie Phillips, as Brian put it, “hit it out of the ballpark”.

Just watch and listen to Melanie as she places the Middle East conflict into the correct context, and accurately asserts that the core of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not over land but over the very rejection by the Arabs of Israel to exist in any land at all in the Middle East.

Go now and watch all the other videos. And then make a note of all the important points to be used in your own battles with antisemites, BDS bigots and all the other racists we encounter as Jews, Israelis, or simply as moral human beings.

Kol hakavod to both Ambrosine Shitrit and Sharon Klaff of Campaign4Truth for organizing this amazing evening. Please consider organizing such an evening here in Israel too!

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s debunk the Nakba lies

This Sunday, the 15th of May, was “Nakba Day”, or “Disaster Day” if you want to translate from the Arabic. The Arabs instituted it as their answer to Israel’s Independence Day and mark it on the civil calendar date, as opposed to Israel’s Hebrew calendar date of 5th Iyar.

What does Nakba Day consist of, and what do the Arabs, mainly the Palestinians, do to commemorate it, and why?

The answer appears to be: Tell lies and slander Israel and the Jews. The US international lawyer Alan Dershowitz calls the Nakba “Palestine’s self-inflicted wound” and describes the ignorance and bigotry on display at some recent university ceremonies:

I just returned from a visit from several university campuses during which I spoke about the Israeli-Palestine conflict. On these and other campuses anti-Israel students commemorate the Palestinian Nakba. They call this the Day of Catastrophe on which the Palestinians were deprived of their homeland and were made refugees from their birthplace. They compare their catastrophe to the Holocaust. Perhaps out of deference to the suffering of the Palestinian people, Pro-Israel students generally say nothing in response to these Nakba commemorations. The impression is thus created that everyone agrees that this was indeed a catastrophe inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians. The time has come to reply to this canard and to place it in its historical context.

The Nakba was indeed a catastrophe, but it was a self-inflicted wound. The Palestinian Nakba was a direct result of the refusal of the Palestinian and Arab leadership to accept the two state solution offered by the United Nations in 1947-48.

Dershowitz also reminds us in a very timely manner of a different Occupation – that of Jordan, which illegally occupied Judea and Samaria, renaming them “The West Bank” in a devious and sly maneuver which has forever removed any Jewish connection to the region:

In the aftermath of the war, Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. There were no United Nations condemnations of these occupations though they were brutal and denied the Palestinians autonomy and sovereignty. Only when Israel occupied these lands, following a defensive war against Egypt and Jordan, did the occupation become a source of international concern.

This is the reality. This is the historical truth. And the world should understand that this particular catastrophe, as distinguished from others like the Holocaust, could easily have been prevented had the Palestinians wanted their own state more than they wanted to see the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.

Dershowitz also wonders what kind of people celebrate their victimhood, their defeat:

The Germans don’t celebrate the catastrophe resulting from their invasion of Poland. Japanese do not celebrate their catastrophe resulting from the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Why do Palestinians celebrate their catastrophe resulting from the Arab attack against Israel?

A similar point is raised by the Arab commentator Fred Maroun who writes about the macabre commemoration of the Nakba:

While in the Holocaust the Jews were innocent victims of a supremacist regime’s attempt at genocide, the Nakba was the result of an Arab-initiated war. Arabs suffered losses in the Nakba, including the displacement of about 700,000 Arabs and the death of about 7,000, but there was no attempt at extermination of the Arabs who were in any case far more numerous than the Jews. Unlike in the Holocaust where six million Jews were killed while very few Germans died at the hands of their Jewish victims, in the Nakba the losses and displacements were about equal between the two sides.

A much more apt analogy for the commemoration of the Nakba is the commemoration of the Nazis’ loss of WWII.

Unfortunately, denying the Arabs’ role in causing the war of 1947/1948 and reminiscing over the Nakba is widely accepted and even encouraged by Arabs.

Oh, how far we Arabs have to go before we join the civilized world!

Fred Maroun notes in an update to his blog post a shocking report on a commemoration of the Nakba that took place at Brown University, sponsored by… Hillel! That is the same Hillel that is supposed to be a supporter of Jewish students and pro-Israel activity!

A fitting answer to this disgrace, although written beforehand, is a blistering article by Ryan Bellerose, entitled simply “Justice”. This article should be required reading for all Jewish – and even Israeli – students everywhere. In fact this should be required reading for Jewish and Israeli politicians, spokesmen and diplomats. Here are some highlights:

The achievement of a state for the Jews on their ancestral lands is the pinnacle of their peoples story, a story filled with sadness and destruction but also of unfathomable strength and determination. It’s easy to be strong when you are on top, it’s much harder to be strong when you are not ascendant. It’s actually a very simple story, a people displaced, forced to be wanderers, not allowed to own land anywhere, never being allowed to “belong,” being mistreated for 2,000 years, going home and building a thriving nation on land that was not only theirs by right of indigenous status but theirs by right of purchase, and then by force of arms after their former occupiers tried to take it all back. How then is this anything BUT a story about Justice achieved?

Jewish Holocaust survivors celebrate Israel’s independence

But what about the Arabs, you ask? The Arabs were ascendant for a thousand years.  …

… They lie about their own history because they are ashamed of it. They were in charge, they were oppressors, who lost it all and were in turn oppressed by their Muslim brothers. Ashamed, they teach false history and steal the very stories of the Jewish people, and some of the so-called justice warriors try to help them. But at the end of the day , they are going to lose simply because they are on the wrong side of history. They are the former colonizers who stole indigenous peoples land, they are not themselves indigenous.

Something the social justice warriors struggle with is the mental gymnastics required to make the story of the creation of Israel into something it is not.

You have all the elements of the greatest achievement of Justice that has ever been – you had displacement of indigenous people, actual genocide, constant oppression, attempts to destroy and then to steal identity, religious persecution, slavery, forced colonization both of land and culture, rape murder, destruction of holy places – each and every one would been more than enough to destroy almost any people, but after 2,000 years of this, you have a people who didn’t fade…

… Then you had the most important part of this story – the brilliant resurrection of a language that had only been ceremonial for generations, the survival of people who survived the unsurvivable. You had people, damaged and traumatized but TRIUMPHANT!

So again, lets simplify. Massive crimes committed against the Jewish people, horrific crimes, but then Justice of a kind that has never been seen before, Justice that sets things right. They went home to their ancestral lands, they rebuilt their lands and while they continue to struggle, they are home and there is not a damn thing the Jew haters can do about it. That’s Justice. Indigenous people getting their rights to self determination, on their ancestral lands, it doesn’t get any more Just than that, it simply doesn’t.

How is it that a Metis Indian “gets it” about Israel and the Jews when so many Jewish people, even those who claim to support Israel, completely miss the point?

In conclusion, here is the inimitable Abba Eban, Israel’s former Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the UN, speaking on Israel’s “right to exist” – which, for those of us who have forgotten, is not something new but was an issue already decades ago:

Nobody does Israel any service by proclaiming its ‘right to exist.’

Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair awaiting acknowledgement….

There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.” (New York Times, November 18, 1981).

And here is Abba Eban in an interview on the same subject. The only thing that has changed is that the interviewer gives Eban the chance to answer, rather than rudely interrupting. And of course, there is no one nowadays who can come close to Abba Eban in his eloquence and beautiful articulation:

 

We must all listen and learn.

Posted in Academia, History, indigenous rights, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Israel’s democracy is being subverted and undermined

In a stunning, recently aired interview, the former Director of the Mossad Meir Dagan, posthumously took to the airwaves to slam Binyamin Netanyahu for bringing about the Iran deal. Even the interviewer, not known for her affection for Netanyahu or the right-wing in general, was forced to come to Bibi’s defence:

In his final, all-encompassing media interview, aired on Channel 2 Thursday, Dagan tore into Netanyahu for his outspoken resistance to the Iran deal, accusing him of making an enemy of Israel’s closest ally, the United States, and of pursuing personal political interests when he repeatedly and publicly signaled that Israel planned to attack Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Meir Dagan in his posthumously-aired interview

“The person who brought about the [Iranian nuclear] deal was Bibi [Benjamin] Netanyahu,” Dagan told prominent Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan.

When Dayan objected, pointing out that Netanyahu fought against the deal even at the cost of damaging ties with Washington, Dagan seemed agitated, repeatedly saying: “That’s not true, it’s just not true.”

You can read the rest of Dagan’s accusations of Netanyahu at the link.

Since this interview was aired, we have had the benefit of learning from the revelations in the New York Times from Obama’s closest aide, Ben Rhodes, that the Iran Deal was a done deal despite anything that Netanyahu said, and over the objections of anyone in the US or Western security establishments. This then puts the lie to Dagan’s accusations against Netanyahu. All he did in his interview was show himself up as arrogant, as knowing better than Netanyahu what is best for the country, and then having the temerity to act upon his own opinions without permission from the political echelon, which is an absolute imperative in a democracy. This is  a crying shame considering Dagan’s glorious career in the Mossad.

Another scandal, this time caused by a senior soldier still in uniform occurred a couple of weeks ago. The Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan caused a huge scandal when he virtually compared Israeli society to pre-Nazi Germany, as he remarked that:

…he identifies processes in Israel today that are similar to those that took place in Europe prior to the Holocaust.

In a strongly worded speech uncommon for a military commander, Golan warned against trends of growing callousness and indifference towards those outside of mainstream Israeli society.

Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, Deputy Chief of Staff

He called for a “thorough consideration” of how society treats the disadvantaged and “the other” in its midst.

“If there is something that frightens me in the memory of the Holocaust, it is identifying horrifying processes that occurred in Europe…70, 80 and 90 years ago and finding evidence of their existence here in our midst, today, in 2016,” Golan said.

“There is nothing easier than hating the other,” he said. “There is nothing easier than raising fears and sowing terror. There is nothing easier than becoming callous, morally corrupt and hypocritical.”

He called for society to make use of Holocaust remembrance to “nip the buds of intolerance, the buds of violence, the buds of self-destruction on the road to moral degradation.”

The worst of it was that he made this speech at a Yom Hashoah ceremony of all places.

It did not take long for the backlash to occur:

Netanyahu called the comments “outrageous” at Sunday’s cabinet meeting and said they “create contempt for the Holocaust.

Golan’s remarks, Netanyahu said, “are fundamentally baseless. They didn’t need to be said at any time and certainly not at the time they were said. They do injustice to Israeli society and create contempt for the Holocaust. The deputy chief of staff is a highly decorated officers but his statements on this matter were completely erroneous and unacceptable to me.”

There was more on the same theme from other right-wing MKs and ministers.

Of course this being Israel, there was a backlash to the backlash:

Opposition politicians lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, accusing him of hypocrisy for scolding an IDF general for “cheapening” the memory of the Holocaust in a Remembrance Day speech.

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog called Netanyahu’s “attempt to level a threat and silence IDF officers dangerous and unprecedented.”

…  Turning Netanyahu’s words against him, he called the prime minister’s attack on an IDF officer who wasn’t able to defend himself “outrageous and inappropriate.”

Here too, there’s much more on the same theme from left-wing MKs and politicians.

Belatedly, Maj. Gen. Golan realized that he had overstepped the mark, not to mention given precious fodder to Israel’s haters and antisemites everywhere, who now have the ammunition to claim that “even an Israeli General says the Jews are like Nazis”. He walked back his remarks:

Gen. Yair Golan “did not intend to compare the IDF and Israel to what happened in Germany 70 years ago. Such a comparison would be absurd and baseless,” Golan said in a statement released by the IDF spokesman’s office and read on Army Radio. “There was no intention of creating any such parallel or to criticize the political echelons,” the statement said, also calling the IDF “a moral army that respects purity of arms and human dignity.”

If there was no intention to make such a comparison, why did he specifically mention that dark period of history to make his comparison? And of course his recanting is too late. What has been said cannot be unsaid, especially in these days of 24/7 media coverage, and our enemies are rejoicing.

Caroline Glick sees these two examples as “the fruits of subversion” of Israeli democracy (h/t Beyond the Cusp):

For the Obama administration, Israel’s security brass is an alternative government.

That is the lesson from an article published this week in Foreign Affairs by David Makovsky, a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiating team during his failed peace process two years ago.

Makovsky wrote that the security brass’s unbridled vilification of Sgt. Elor Azaria, for killing a wounded terrorist in Hebron in March, “captures the IDF’s growing involvement in the Palestinian issue.”

“Seeing a diplomatic vacuum in Israeli politics,” he wrote supportively, “the IDF has increasingly worked to assert itself as a guardian of democratic values and a stabilizer of the Israeli-Palestinian arena.”

The article tells us two things. First, for the administration, “Israeli democracy” means the Left is in charge.

The “diplomatic vacuum,” Makovsky referred to after all wasn’t an oversight.  The public elected leaders that shared its view that the “peace process” is a fraud. We elected leaders who agree that Israel making unreciprocated concessions to terrorists is not a peace process. It’s a process of destroying Israel.

Likewise, our generals continuously pressure the government to agree to relinquish security control over the Palestinian population centers, and transfer security responsibility to terror-supporting Palestinian militias. This despite the fact that the government has repeatedly rejected their position.

These actions are bad enough on their own. But when seen in the context of recent events, they lend the impression that for our generals, gross insubordination to the Netanyahu government is the rule, rather than the exception.

Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan compared Israeli society to the Nazis on Holocaust Remembrance Day. This was a direct assault on the government’s policy of fighting, rather than joining Israel-bashers who deny the right of the Jewish state to exist. And his comrades in the General Staff and in the Left praised him for his appalling behavior.

Then there is the late Gen. Meir Dagan, the retired director of Mossad. …

… Dagan told the host Ilana Dayan that in 2010, he committed espionage.

Dagan revealed that in 2010, he went behind Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s back and informed then CIA director Leon Panetta that Netanyahu and then defense minister Ehud Barak were about to order the security services to attack Iran’s nuclear installations.

Panetta, who Dayan also interviewed, substantiated Dagan’s remarks.

… Had Netanyahu played along with Obama, Dagan argued, Obama wouldn’t have opened negotiations with Iran.

Panetta then admitted that today he does not believe that he was telling them the truth.

For his part, Rhodes revealed that from the outset of his presidency, it was Obama’s aim to cut a deal with Iran while ending the US’s alliances with Israel and the Sunni Muslim states.

Driven by his personal animus towards Netanyahu and by egomania, he chose to trust Panetta, and through him, Obama more than he trusted the man he was legally bound to serve.

And so, Dagan willfully subverted the premier’s authority. He unlawfully revealed Israel’s most classified operational secret to Obama’s puppet. Through his action, Dagan cleared the final obstacle to Obama’s pursuit of his anti-Israel agenda.

From the perspective of democratic norms, the worst part of Dagan’s subversion is that he was proud of it.

By insisting his final interview be broadcast posthumously, Dagan showed that he wanted his subversion of the government to be his legacy. Dagan’s final act was to tell his countrymen that it is legitimate to place themselves above the law and above the lawful government and take independent actions that will obligate the entire country.

Ironically, there is no substantive difference between Dagan’s actions – or the generals’– and the actions of the so-called Hilltop Youth in Samaria that the generals continuously condemn as the greatest threat to Israel.

And by acting lawlessly and showing bottomless contempt for our elected officials, Dagan, Golan and their comrades tell the Hilltop Youth and the rest of us that the law is what they say it is.

Beyond Caroline Glick’s condemnation of such usurpation of Israel’s democracy, there is a further point to be made – and that is that Israeli society is nowhere near as evil, as bigoted, racist or violent as the Left loves to make out, much to Israel’s enemies delight.

Here is the commentator Yotam Zimri in a Facebook post (via Zvi) which I shall translate below, in which he instructs all of us, particularly the Left, to get a sense of proportion (emphases are mine):

There is a tendency to soften the statement of the Deputy Chief of Staff and say, “Look, he exaggerated a bit with all that stuff about Germany, but there is no doubt that something bad is happening to Israeli society.”

So I just want to say that this is utter nonsense.

A society which lives in a country that is threatened from every direction, in which there lives a not-so-small minority of whom a large portion claim that they hold the nationality of an enemy entity; a society which lives in the only country in the world which it is permissible to claim in the United Nations that it should be destroyed and one can get away with it, no problem; a country that the UN organization UNESCO can determine, just like that, for fun, that the place most sacred to Jews, get this, has no connection to the Jews; a country whose citizens are stabbed, shot and killed as part of the national sport of its neighbor –  if all that such a society can produce is some price-tag organizations which it would take the Shin Bet (GSS) about two days to dismantle the moment really felt like it, if all that this society produces is a group of football fans holding racist signs; if all such a society produces is talkbacks and violent reactions on facebook; if all this society produces are individual acts of violence, however grisly they are, that can be counted on two hands; if that’s all that Israeli society is able to produce, it is the most non-violent society in the world.

Nothing bad has happened to Israeli society. On the contrary, say thank you that this is what it looks like.

There is nothing wrong with Israeli democracy or Israeli society – as long as the Israeli public are allowed to vote for whom they wish, and as long as their elected representatives are permitted to lead the country in the direction that the electorate chose, without interference or subversion from those who don’t agree with the public’s choice or from who wish it ill.

Posted in Incitement, Iran, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Good News Friday

Yom Ha’atzmaut has just finished and here we are, going straight into Shabbat, so it’s time to celebrate with another Good News Friday post.

Since we’re still in the flag-waving patriotic mood, now is a good time to take a step back and absorb the astounding fact that at a mere 68 years old, Israel’s population has grown to 10 times the size it was at its founding in 1948, with 8.5 million inhabitants:

On the eve of Israel’s 68th birthday, the country’s population stands at 8,522,000, according to figures released Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Watching the Israel Air Force fly-past on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day

There are 6,377,000 Jewish Israelis, 74.8% of the total population, and 1,771,000 Arab Israelis, 20.8% of the population, the bureau said. Christians, non-Arabs, and other minority groups account for 374,000 people, or 4.4% of the population.

By comparison, the nascent State of Israel had a population of just 806,000 in 1948.

In the 12 months since last Independence Day, the population increased by 182,000 people, a growth of 2.2%, the CBS said. During that period, 195,000 babies were born, 47,000 people passed away and some 36,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel. There are also some 192,000 foreigners in the country, based on figures from 2014.

Among the Jewish population, 75% are Israeli-born, of whom more than half are at least second-generation Israelis. In 1948, however, just 35% of the Jews living in Israel were born in pre-state Palestine.

In 1948, there was only one city in Israel that had more than 100,000 residents — Tel Aviv. Today, there are 14 cities with more than 100,000 residents and eight cities that have a population of 200,000 or more — Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rishon Lezion, Petah Tikva, Ashdod, Netanya, and Beersheba.

We have so much to be grateful for and so much to be proud of. As one Tweeter put it:

It is also very cheering to read that not only Israelis and not only Jews celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut yesterday. Thousands of non-Jewish supporters of Israel celebrated too:

Jews weren’t the only ones celebrating 68 years since the miraculous rebirth of the Jewish state in Israel on Memorial Day Thursday, as thousands of non-Jewish supporters worldwide showed their love by waving the Israeli flag.

The heartwarming display of support came from thousands of members of Lev Haolam, an organization that sends monthly packages of varied goods produced by small businesses in Judea and Samaria whose site can be viewed here.

A week ago Lev Haolam sent out Israeli flags to its customers worldwide as a gesture for Independence Day, and many of them took the initiative to photograph themselves with the flag in their countries.

Within hours of the packages with the flags having arrived at the doorsteps of the customers, Lev Haolam received dozens of pictures of the Israel supporters proudly waving the flag in Germany, Canada, the US, Holland, Norway and other locations.

Watch this wonderful heart-warming video:

Kol hakavod to Lev Haolam which works tirelessly and successfully to “bridge the gap between the treatise of lies spread daily by anti-Semitic sources who want to harm the Zionist enterprise, and between the truth of people of the land of Israel who live in simplicity and faith.”  And of course a hearty kol hakavod to all of our supporters all over the world.

On the same subject, of non-Jews supporting Israel, here is an incredible video, reminding us of our indigenous rights in this Land, (something so persistently pounded into us by indigenous rights activist Ryan Bellerose – who, if you don’t follow him already, you should!), This is a very surprisingly correct description of Zionism by Malika Mazan, a Moroccan Amazigh (Berber) activist (via Zvi). What I find amazing is not only Mazan’s analysis of Zionism, but her condemnation of the Arabs wanting to usurp Israel:

 

Another Muslim who “gets it” about Israel is Ramy Aziz, who writes about “The Israel that Arabs don’t know“, in his report on his visit to Israel and how all his suspicions and previously held biases fell away (via Haya Eytan):

On the road from the Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem (al-Quds)–Israel’s political capital–I saw wide, clean roads, filled with trees and captivating natural scenery. I took notes on everything, in line with my mission to relay the truth of life inside Israel. Once I had arrived in the political capital, I visited the Ministry of Exterior, the Knesset, and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

I met with both Arabs and Jews of Arab origin, and they recounted their memories of life in Iraq, Egypt, and the other countries from which they had come. I listened to how they had left those countries after bitter experiences of incitement and hatred. Life had brought them to a place where they peacefully coexisted. Unfortunately, the truth of coexistence has been muddled with the help of many media organizations.

In another repudiation of another false claim, my visits to places of worship were not stopped or barred from entry by either the Israeli army or police force, as they have been rumored to do, despite the escalating incitement and violence in the city. Life in the holy city goes on, filled with vitality during all hours of the night and day. It is a city that does not sleep, filled with people from all over the world.

Read his whole article. It is fascinating to learn about his misguided preconceptions of Israel and then to see his surprise on discovering the pleasant reality, and finally his enjoyment of the country and its people. If only more Arabs would have the honesty and open-mindedness to allow themselves to see the reality of Israel and not just believe in propaganda.

Not only Jews are indigenous to Israel. Date palms are too! Watch this great video about “Methuselah, the Judean Date Palm” that was “resurrected” from date pips that were found by renowned Israeli archeologist Yigael Yadin at Massada:

 

What an amazing discovery and what an even more amazing revival of an ancient species. The parallels with the Jewish nation are so relevant to today.

And one final story of a Jewish artefact coming home, a centuries-old copy of the Oreiyt, the Ge’ez-language versian of the Torah, was brought to Israel in March, (although the story was only published on Pesach):

A rare copy of the Oeiryt [Torah] used by Ethiopian Jews was welcomed into the collection of the National Library on Monday, 21.3.2016′ to the sounds of singing, spontaneous dancing, ululations, and the handing out of sweets.

The book, translated from Hebrew to the ancient Ge’ez language, was written hundreds of years ago and was used by, among others, the great spiritual leader of Ethiopian Jews in the Tigray Region Kes Isaac Yaso The original hand-written manuscript of the “Oreiyt” (the word stems from the Aramaic word “oreiyta,” meaning Torah) contains the Five Books of Moses along with the books of Joshua, Judges and the Book of Ruth. The Oreiyt is part of the matsahaf qados (the Holy Scripture) of the Ethiopian community.

The Oreiyt, Ethiopian Ge’ez Torah

The book figured prominently in the life of the community: the celebration of festivals and holidays as well as the daily lives of the Jews of Ethiopia were conducted according to it and the community attributes it great sanctity. With his immigration to Israel the Kes decreed that the book was destined for Jerusalem, and now it has reached its intended ultimate destination.

This is a very rare treasure as there are almost no existing copies of the Oreiyt either in Israel or the world.

“There is no doubt that acquiring this unique manuscript, among the few that exist, constitutes a significant and important contribution to our efforts to document the religious and cultural life of the Jewish communities,” says Curator of Judaica Dr. Yoel Finkelman. “We will preserve the manuscript, scan it, and upload the images to the internet, and make sure that the volume continues to be accessible to the public at large and to members of the community in particular for many generations to come.”

What a fantastic story, and what a happy ending for this holy book and for the wonderful Ethiopian Jewish community.  Kol hakavod to all of those involved in bringing the Bible to Israel and in its preservation for future generations.

And now, with these heart-warming stories, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.

Posted in indigenous rights, Israel news, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment