We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East. (From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

"The Most Thoughtful & Insightful Columnist On The Jewish Scene Today" On Netanyahu, Israeli Politics, Antisemitism & Aliya ...

That's Rabbi Mark Golub's assessment of the incomparable Isi Leibler, who for a quarter of a century bestrode the Australian Jewish communal scene like a Colossus, and who is of course also an international Jewish leader of great renown and prescience, based in Jerusalem.

In this thought-provoking interview Isi Leibler gives his views on Bibi Netanyahu's current visit to Washington (about which the previous post on my blog, by David Singer, is concerned), Obama's "humiliation" of Netanyahu, unparelleled by Obama's treatment of any "rogue state" leader, the attitude of Israeli politicians, the "demonisation" of Netanyahu and his wife in the Israeli press, the Iranian issue, and much more.

 Incidentally, prior to a deep and searching discussion of Israeli politics, parties, political leaders  (including Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman and other electoral candidates), and the rabbinate, he cautiously predicts that Netanyahu will be returned as prime minister when Israelis go to the polls on 17 March.

He also gives his views on the attainment of a Two State solution ...  on Netanyahu's attitude to peace  ... on Obama's "frightening" inability to use the phrase "Islamic fundamentalism" in relation to terrorism and his apparent support for the Muslim Brotherhood...

Isi Leibler is worried that the Obama administration will not stand by Israel over the remaining 22 months of its existence, and he fervently wishes American Jewish leaders would abandon their "silence"and publicly speak up against Obama ... He believes that American Jews have in their DNA a "liberal" unwillingness to be critical of a Democrat president and a black one at that.

He contrasts their attitude with his own as leader of the Australian Jewish community, when he was not afraid to take on prime ministers.

Viewing American support as absolutely critical for Israel, he is afraid the Obama's administration will distance itself from Israel and turn towards European initiatives...

Regarding antisemitism, he believes there will always be Jewish communities in Europe ("a cemetery for the Jewish people"), but contends that Netanyahu would have been remiss had he not reminded European Jewry that Israel exists for them, and that in a situation in which Islamic antisemitism is rising and Jews need to be guarded from violence, aliya (although ideally to be undertaken for positive rather than negative reasons) becomes an obligation, if only for the sake of the next generation.

He pours scorn on the attitude that aliya from Europe would give Hitler a posthumous victory given the fact that Jews are obliged to live fearfully and almost as pariahs.

And he also worries, in view of campus antisemitism and the dodgy attitude of some Hillel groups, that a critical situation for Jews may eventually happen there.

Israel, he points out, is "the greatest miracle of our times", a happy society despite its problems, its "crappy politicians", and its whingeing and it awaits.

David Singer: Netanyahu Flies Into Washington On A Wing And A Prayer

Here is the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.

He writes:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Washington this week is going ahead despite unsuccessful attempts from far and wide to shoot him down in flames before he was even airborne.

President Obama’s unsuccessful attempt to stop Netanyahu’s visit by claiming breach of protocol – represents an ugly attempt to deny Netanyahu his right to freely address the Congress – the very nerve centre of the world’s leading democracy.

Netanyahu has not been deterred by many Democrats threatening to boycott his speech. At least 30 House Democrats and four Democrat Senators will not be on hand to hear what Netanyahu has to say concerning the threat to world security and peace posed by Iran’s implacable march towards producing a nuclear bomb and its threat to use such a bomb to eradicate the State of Israel.

Netanyahu has ignored the entreaties of a panoply of American Jewish groups and Israel’s opposition parties pleading he cancel his visit:
“When there is something that is connected to our very existence, what do they expect the prime minister to do, bow his head and accept something that is dangerous in order to have good relations? I think the relations are strong enough to overcome the disagreements, and that Iran with an atomic bomb is much more dangerous than one disagreement or another [with the US].”
American-Israeli relations were irreversibly intertwined when the Congress – voting 407:9 – and the Senate – voting 95:3 – overwhelmingly endorsed the commitments made by President Bush in his letter to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004.

Among those commitments was an unequivocal declaration that: 
“The United States is strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state.” 
Netanyahu’s address will fortuitously take place on the eve of the Jewish Festival of Purim when Jews remember the foiled plot in Persia (now Iran) in the 4th century AD: “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”

Netanyahu has observed: 
“it is the same Persia with a regime that is waving the banner of destroying the state of the Jews. The means by which they intend on implementing this threat is with many atomic bombs” 
Netanyahu will be flying into Washington accompanied by Israel’s ambassador to the United States – Ron Dermer – and all Netanyahu’s top advisors.

They will – in the words of that famous World War II song – be: 

Comin' in on a wing and a prayer
Comin' in on a wing and a prayer
With our full crew on board
And our trust in the Lord
We're comin' in on a wing and a prayer

As for trusting in the Lord,  Obama and those churlish Senators and Congressmen who don’t have the decency to listen to what Netanyahu has to say might well recall the following words from Psalm 83: 
“O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! 2 For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads. 3 They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones. 4 They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” 5 For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant" 
The Jews have long memories of past attempts over many centuries to exterminate them – as Jew-hatred once again spreads its evil roots around the globe.

The ancient Jewish Book Ecclesiastes proclaims 
“there is no new thing under the sun" 
Pray President Obama heeds Netanyahu’s message.

Monday, 2 March 2015

"The Palestinian Armed Struggle Must Be Seen In Context As A Broader Middle Eastern Effort To Destroy Israel"

The articulate Danny Ayalon tells the truth about the balance of power in the Middle East, and why Israel should be supported:

Meanwhile, a picture that's worth a thousand words:

(Hat tips: David Singer; Barry Shaw)

As Binyamin Netanyahu said on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport prior to flying off to the United States some hours ago:
"A few days before the Fast of Esther, I am leaving for Washington on a fateful, even historic, mission. I feel that I am the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish People. I am deeply and genuinely concerned for the security of all Israelis, for the fate of the nation, and for the fate of our people and I will do my utmost to ensure our future."

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Pro-BDS Israel-Haters Prance & Scream In London's Covent Garden

This is how some London Israel-haters have spent part of this weekend.

I wonder how many, if any, are from the toxic BDS-voting SOAS (see my previous post).

After such a "knees up" let's hope the oldies among them aren't feeling too stiff in the joints today:


Meanwhile, further north in the British Isles, Scottish PSC chief Mick and his retainers have been quick with some tosh re one Josh:

Rum sort of analogy, eh?

What can have caused it?

Something in the whisky, perchance? 

 Of the Kuwaiti-born Londoner claimed to be "Jihadi John" (see this troubling article in the Washington Post, btw) a friend reportedly remembers:
'A former friend of the terrorist, who met him in 1999 when they both attended Quintin Kynaston Community Academy in St John's Wood, North London, said he found out Emwazi was a Nazi sympathiser during a Year 9 lesson.
The 27-year-old told the Daily Mirror: 'The teacher told us the Nazis drew up plans to get rid of all the Jews.
'I heard Mohammed mutter "Good, they deserved it". I thought he was joking but later he told me that he hated all Jews and blamed them for the plight of Muslims.'
The school friend said that if they ever walked past a house in Golders Green that Emwazi knew was owned by a Jew, he would shout obscenities such as 'f***king pigs'.'
(Read more here)

And see Douglas Murray's article (with videos) here

Another Scots Israel-basher heard from: read about Gorgeous George's lawfare threats here

Saturday, 28 February 2015

London's SOAS Votes For Academic BDS

It was predictable really, given the fact that the School of Oriental and Asian Studies at London University has the reputation as the most toxic of all British campuses for Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel.

Yes, it was announced late on Friday that SOAS has voted in favour of the academic boycott of Israel.

The photo at left shows a number of the Israel-haters whooping it up earlier in the week, and as we saw earlier this month, a sophisticated video was part of the propaganda against Israel that formed part of the campaign that ended in "triumph" yesterday.

A recent SOAS stunt for "Israel Apartheid Week"
To quote an anti-Israel source:
"SOAS students and staff have endorsed an academic boycott of Israel, after the results of a week-long referendum were released Friday evening.
The vote, open to students, academics, and all other staff and management, finished with 73% for the 'Yes' campaign and 27% for the 'No' campaign.
The referendum asked members whether they think SOAS should fully join the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and implement academic boycott following the guidelines of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
Earlier this week, PACBI and Palestinian student and academic unions expressed their support for the 'Yes' campaign, and applauded efforts of pro-boycott campaigners.
The SOAS Students' Union has supported the BDS campaign since 2005. In October 2014, the Students' Union passed a motion that called on the Union "to take the BDS campaign to the University", through a school-wide referendum.
Along with Palestinians at SOAS, the boycott campaign received support from "the Justice for Cleaners campaign, the LGBTQIA+ Society, the Kashmir Solidarity Movement, Tamil Society, and the SOAS Student Union itself."
(Hat tip for bottom photograph: Seymour Alexander)

Friday, 27 February 2015

"Moral Condescension By The Self-Righteous & Self-Regarding Over A Foreign State They Have Decided They Have The Right To Pass Judgement On"

'.... On many, too, too obvious levels, it's possible to take issue with the cultural boycott of Israel for its muddled thinking and double standards. After all, if UK artists should refuse invitations to take Israel's cultural funding “blood money," then, I really have to ask myself, what's different between this an accepting state support from, say, the UK Film Council (stand up Mike Leigh and Ken Loach), or the Arts Council? For some reason, these artists are so sophisticated in their political thinking that they can take money from the government that has spent the last two decades bombing Serbs, Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, and Syrians, and make no moral connection between one and the other, while turning their noses up at Israeli cultural funding. How doesn't the actions of one's own government not connect with you when having to make the tricky decision to accept or decline funding for your latest art exhibition/theatre production/film project?'

So writes J.J. Charlesworth, associate editor of ArtsReview magazine, regarding the recent notorious  boycott statement by 100 "Artists for Palestine" (AFP) and 600 spear carriers.

He continues, inter alia:
'To claim to be acting in solidarity with the Palestinians against their oppressors sounds grandly left-wing, but this is where, in my mind, the politics of Artists for Palestine get muddled. AFP declares that Israel has never faced “sanction, or any threat of sanction, from Western governments." What does that statement imply? AFP seems to be saying that Israel should be punished by the West, with economic isolation, with sanctions, maybe even with military intervention (who knows where it would draw the line?) if Israel doesn't conform to the standards of behavior acceptable to liberal and left-leaning Western artists.
What AFP is really saying is that it treats Israel as no more than any other pariah state that needs to be dealt with sternly by the well-meaning, paternalistic Western powers, in just the same way that they deal with all those other misbehaving rogue states out there. AFP writes approvingly of the “many countries around the world that face retribution by some or all of the ‘international community' for breaching international norms." And while that term “international community" is put in weirdly embarrassed scare-quotes, AFP seems happy for the international community (meaning, I guess, the big Western powers) to get stuck in, only disappointed that it has not done so in Israel. “We" bomb and sanction Syria, Iran, Russia, Zimbabwe etc., etc., so the logic goes, why not Israel too?
AFP's position, then, while sounding like an old-fashioned left-wing declaration of solidarity with those oppressed by the puppet states of Western powers, turns out to be something more like a chorus of liberal cheerleading in favour of yet more Western intervention. As if that hadn't already caused enough chaos and bloodshed in the world. AFP would like Israel to bow down to the “international community's" own proper regard for those other convenient constructs of Western power, “human rights" and “international law"─principles which never seem to apply to our governments when they intervene in the affairs of other, less morally pure states (and always for “humanitarian" reasons, of course).
This isn't really solidarity with the Palestinians, it's moral condescension by the self-righteous and self-regarding over a foreign state they have decided they have the right to pass judgement on. But the tragedy is that the relationship of subservience to Western interests that AFP seeks to impose with regards to Israel, is the same one that will eventually be applied to Palestinians. Any settlement based on bringing Israel “to heel" won't mean the liberation and self-determination of the Palestinian people; it'll mean forcing them, and Israelis, to accept whatever arrangement Western governments will decide is best for them. Whatever AFP may think, the cultural boycott of Israel is an instrument, unwitting or otherwise, for the moral vilification of Israel whose consequence can only be greater interference by Western governments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....
[T]o mount grandiose displays of your own moral rectitude, while refusing to think through what power relationship you are actually lending support to, is not something the rest of us should feel obliged to support. Luckily, another group of artists and art world people have mounted their own criticism of the UK boycott, gathering hundreds of signatories to their more critical questioning of the logic of the cultural boycott....'
Read more here

As Charlesworth reminds us, there's an alternative statement from arty types online, roundly condemning the boycott of Israel.  Dating to last October, it's long, and observes in part:
'.... Over the past months topics including the occupation of the West Bank, Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, Palestinian resistance and its struggles, international solidarity and boycott movements, and criticism of Israeli policies, have been taken up in the arts arena with heightened intensity. We are deeply concerned by several aspects of how such issues are approached.
....We see dialogue as a critical part of any conceivable peace resolution between Palestine and Israel, and are troubled by the tendency among international boycott movements—particularly cultural boycott movements supported by individuals in the arts—which make dialogue impossible. Such dialogue inside Palestine and Israel is difficult, and is only made more precarious by unilateral international boycott. Underlying these movements, we fear there is an upswing of anti-Semitic attitudes and attacks, which seem to convey varying degrees of intentionality. Neglecting or simplifying significant historical legacies, Israel is treated as a paradigmatic colonial power, and is boycotted in a way that no other country is. Such discrimination and double standards, whether explicitly stated or implied, demand to be addressed.
....All [recent]calls and open letters were signed by a large number of individuals and groups affiliated with the arts fields; respected friends and colleagues among them. All these events took place in a climate where the Gaza war alongside its many atrocities provoked numerous anti-Semitic incidents, including physical attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions—none of which was reflected or even mentioned by the groups and contexts appealing for boycott. None of these groups condemned Hamas, an organization with an openly anti-Semitic agenda, which seeks the destruction of Israel. We are worried by this silence, which could either imply that the BDS Arts Coalition and similar initiatives are not equipped to discern anti-Semitic discrimination, or that such discrimination is ignored for tactical reasons. So we decided to share some critical reflections, mostly related to the BDS agenda.
.... Boycott is not necessarily an emancipatory act of solidarity with the oppressed and in opposition to the oppressor. The Jewish experience especially in Europe reflects a contrasting effect: anti-Jewish boycotts were once organized against the Jews to exclude them from social, economic, and political life. In these cases, boycott had no anti-colonial implication. Instead, it functioned as a means of oppression by the dominant societies toward Jewish minorities. We are concerned that the language used and political strategies advocated by international boycott movements—among other Left-identified political groups—take the conflict between Israel and Palestine to epitomize neo-colonial evil as such. This view frames the conflict as part of a non-specific eternal battle between good and evil, between “oppressed” and “oppressors.” We ask for a critical approach to dichotomous narratives: Within the tendency to reduce the conflict between Israel and Palestine to that between good and evil, boycott is often romanticized as a political strategy and there is a great danger that the nature of colonial oppression, or of evil, is simplified. Particularly in the case of internationally-staged cultural or academic boycott movements, we fear the tendency to support polarized views.
....If boycott, divestment, and sanctions are considered as appropriate strategies to contest injustice through international solidarity movements, why are they not applied to the other uncountable countries committing injustices? Why didn’t anybody boycott cultural workers from Serbia and Croatia because of the genocidal war crimes committed by their respective countries? Why not boycott Spain for occupying the Basque country, Great Britain for oppressing Northern-Ireland, India for occupying Kashmir or Angola for occupying Cabinda? Shouldn’t we divest from Germany for waging war on Afghanistan, from Russia for invading Chechnya and Crimea or from Turkey for occupying Kurdistan? Why not lobbying for sanctions against China and Myanmar for suppressing freedom of speech, against Brazil and Canada for denying the First Nations’ rights, and against the US for maintaining and deploying the world’s largest military complex? Is it because “someone” decided that Israel ranks as the most unjust country in the world? And if yes: why is that the case?
Could it be that we feel too comfortable in our privileged lives, our civic rights, or our consumerist culture enabled by some of the above-mentioned states and their institutions—but still want to oppose oppression on ideological grounds? We believe that the collective desire for a “signifier of oppression” is exactly what makes Israel the only target of current international boycott movements.
It is important to not ignore the history of anti-Jewish discourse. Anti-Jewish boycott has often accompanied anti-Semitism as one of its dangerous manifestations. Contacts with Jews have been historically avoided; Jews were not accepted in merchants’ guilds, trade associations, and similar organizations. In many European countries toward the end of the nineteenth century, the anti-Jewish boycott became one of the basic weapons used for victimizing the Jewish population. After the Nazi rise to power in Germany the government publicly announced a general anti-Jewish boycott.
....The BDS movement has been criticized by various actors across the political spectrum for applying the double standards we hereby mention. The conflict is emotionally highly charged, especially for most Palestinians and Israelis and for a lot of other Jews, Arabs, and others related to it. It is also understandable that activists are attracted to the subject. But when the emotional and political engagement in this conflict grows out of proportion to the extent that it becomes virtually and publicly a mass phenomenon, it may be time to ask: why Israel?
....In our view, BDS’s simplifying narratives, together with its biased demands, foster an atmosphere that enables and even provokes attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions. We are concerned by the under-representation of positions in support of both the Palestinian cause and Israel’s right to exist—and by the tendency to dismiss any questioning of the international Palestinian solidarity movement as right wing pro-Israeli propaganda....'
Read it all here

Meanwhile, what impact is BDS having?
A deleterious one for the Palestinian economy, according to this recent article.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

"Right Now, The Main Threat Is From The Islamists .... I Think Sweden is Slowly Waking Up"

The quoted words in the header are those of Swedish Jewish community leader Lena Posner-Körösi, against the background of increased fears for the safety of her country's Jews following the recent violence in Paris and Copenhagen.


Meanwhile, writes veteran international Jewish leader and Jerusalem Post columnist Isi Leibler:
'Successive Israeli governments have failed miserably to meet the challenge of global anti-Semitism, not providing the leadership demanded of a Jewish state in these turbulent times and leaving Diaspora Jews to their own devices.
The global anti-Semitic tsunami, an unprecedented surge of feral hostility compounded by the Internet, emanates from a combination of factors: rabid Muslim anti-Semitism and violence, demonical anti-Israelism of the Left, and traditional cultural and radical Jew-hatred of the Right. It has impacted on Jewish communities everywhere but ironically is most acute in Europe, the continent drenched with Jewish blood during the Holocaust....
In the United States, the Goldene Medina, despite the strong public and congressional support for Israel, many Jews are stunned by the anti-Israeli hysteria generated by the Left and some liberal media and shocked by the toxic levels of anti-Semitism displayed on many college campuses.....
.Overall, Diaspora Jews are under enormous stress, confused and frequently divided as how to respond to the upsurge of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic onslaughts.
The global Jewish bodies purporting to combat these vicious trends all have limitations and have proven unable to provide the necessary direction on a global basis....
It is now crucial to create an umbrella organization to serve as an ongoing forum to exchange views, provide direction, and determine and coordinate global strategies against anti-Semitism....
But this project should not merely be perceived as a support for Diaspora Jewry. Israel itself has a major vested interest in creating such a global consultative body. We are currently being overwhelmed in the war of ideas and it is incumbent upon us to identify the anti-Semitic elements in the campaigns that seek to demonize us.
As severe as it is, anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism in Europe and most countries is more rampant at the grass-roots level than is currently reflected in government policies. Should we fail to reverse the tide, governments pressured by their Muslim communities and other constituents increasingly radicalized against Israel will inevitably lead to a further downgrading of relations with Israel...."
Read Isi Leibler's entire article here

(Incidentally, I've moved my "blog archive" from towards the bottom to towards the top of my sidebar. 

I've done this because I occasionally write more than one blogpost per day, and sometimes the earlier post of the day tends to get overlooked in favour of the later one.

 So please take a look at the "menu"!