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Friday, April 24, 2015

04/24 Links Pt2: Israel ranked 11th happiest country in the world; Falk justifies Hamas terror

From Ian:

Israel ranked 11th happiest country in the world
The annual World Happiness Report published on Thursday by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has ranked Israel as the 11th happiest country in the world in 2014 for the second year in a row.
Switzerland was the happiest country on earth in 2014, followed closely by Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Canada. Rounding out the top 10 are Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. The United States trailed behind, coming in at number 15.
The World Happiness Report is a survey of global societal well-being that ranks 158 countries by happiness levels using variables such as GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy. The report also includes extra factors such as social support, generosity, freedom to make life choices, and perceived absence of corruption.
When the publication first launched in 2012, Israel was ranked at number 14 our of 156 countries.
The goal of the report is to guide progress toward social, economic and environmental development.
Why Progressives Should Celebrate Israel’s 67th Birthday
Israel has a lot of problems, but its functioning democracy and liberal heritage means they can be fixed. Those on the Left should help it.
Israel turns 67 today. The “old” Israel of the Kibbutz, the farming commune, and the Histadrut, the almighty labor union, the Israel of plucky pioneers and Holocaust survivor-socialists, used to be the Left’s darling, toasted at the Socialist International. If Israel was once unduly romanticized, with no flaws acknowledged, Israel today is unduly demonized, with few virtues recognized by too many critics. Can progressives transcend the politics of the moment today and toast Israel’s historic, liberal, achievements?
Lately, liberals have mourned that “Bibi Netanyahu’s Israel” is no longer their “grandfather’s Israel.” Overlooking such ridiculous reductionism defining 8.35 million free Jewish and Arab citizens by one leader who only earned 1 in 4 votes, let’s admit: nostalgia is a mind-numbing drug. Israel of the 1950s was a tougher, unhappier place, filled with refugees traumatized by the European Holocaust and the Arab expulsion of 800,000 Jews. Until 1966, Israelis Arabs lived under military rule without the democratic rights they exercise today; demonstrated in March when 63.5 percent of eligible Israeli Arabs voted. Unlike today, there was no Palestinian Authority, and, Israel’s consensus did not acknowledge the Palestinians as a people with legitimate rights.
Nevertheless, Israel then was the model developing democracy, epitomizing the best of the post-World War II Asian and African nations. In an age of national liberation, with each new country on its own peculiar nation-building path, the Jewish people’s resurgence through the State of Israel stood out. The story predated the Holocaust, reaching back millennia to the Bible, then jumpstarted in the 1800s when Zionism, meaning Jewish nationalism, was one of many national movements forming, churning, yearning for statehood.
Richard Falk defends Palestinian resort to violence, praises Hamas for pursuing “peaceful co-existence,” attacks UN Watch for “defamatory campaign”
Former U.N. investigator Richard Falk hails Hamas’ “spirit of resistance,” justifies the Palestinian use of violence, says Hamas aims for “long-term peaceful co-existence,” and attacks UN Watch for ruining his 6-year term as Special Rapporteur on Palestine.
“I was very much attacked in a kind of defamatory way by UN Watch and other very extreme Zionist organizations. Wherever I went, anywhere in the world, they would try to prevent me from speaking, mounted a defamatory campaign, called me an antisemite, a leading antisemite. The Wiesenthal Center in LA listed me as the third most dangerous antisemite in the world, which made feel I must be doing something right, in this role…”
Richard Falk defends Palestinian violence, praises "peaceful" Hamas, attacks UN Watch


Sorry, Saudi pilots, no free Bentleys for you

From AFP:
A billionaire Saudi prince has purportedly deleted a controversial tweet in which he offered 100 luxury Bentley cars to air force pilots who took part in Saudi-led operations over Yemen.

The tweet cannot be found on the official account of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, @Alwaleed_Talal which has more than three million followers.

He chairs Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding Co, which has interests ranging from the Euro Disney theme park to Four Seasons hotels, Citigroup and media giant News Corporation.

A purported image of his message circulated on the Internet after Twitter users said it was removed from his account.

The message congratulated the Saudi government "on the success" of the initial 27-day air campaign against Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen, and on the start of a new phase which began on Wednesday.

"In appreciation of the 100 Saudi pilots taking part, it honours me to present them with 100 Bentley cars," the message said, sparking criticism from other Twitter users.

Some accused him of being a "show off," while one said a gift of 100 warplanes "would have been more patriotic".

Alwaleed's office did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Remembering Dima Levitas

Received via email:

We, as a family want to tell you about our loved one, Dmitri Levitas, who died in Operation Protective Edge.

We came to Israel in 1990 from Tashkent, when Dima was 2 years old. Two weeks after we came, the Gulf War started. Soon after, we moved to a kibbutz in the Golan Heights. Dima did not know Hebrew, so he was silent for three months until he started talking again.

As a boy, he was very friendly and happy, all the kids in the kibbutz loved him like he was their own brother. From childhood, he was very loyal and committed to his friends. He was a good and gentle boy who never got into trouble. His calm, relaxed character matched the nature that he loved so much. When he was 10 years old, we moved to Jerusalem. He studied in Rene Kasen School. This very fine school is known for the highest number of graduates who die in battles. Dima was musically talented and played the saxophone in a jazz band. He also had a drawing skill and loved sports. He was very curious to learn new and interesting things. He loved little children and animals. He had a lot of charisma and grace that people were drawn to. He was respectful and very polite towards others. He always had a smile on his face that lit the room.

As he turned 18 years old, he decided to be a combat soldier and was inducted to the mythological 7 division in the Armored Corps. It is the first division in the Armored Corps that was founded in 1948. He loved the army and his job as a commander. He believed in defending our country that the Jewish people have the right to live here. Her believed in giving back to the country, doing the best he can for it. He had strong moral principles, he believed in the rightness of the IDF's values. The thing he loved the most were his soldiers, he looked after them, giving personal attention to every one of them. As a soldier and commander, you could see how this gentle person also had a silent power, the strength and courage to fight and lead others.

In February 2009, he went into Gaza in Operation Oferet Yezuka and five days before the end, he got injured in his leg. As soon as he got better, he went back to the Army.

While still serving in the army, he finished a first degree in political science. He discovered that besides his great love for the armored forces, he possessed a love for learning.

In a short time, he was promoted to Commander of a tank company, in a rank of Captain. He served a total of 7 years in the IDF. On the 19th of July, he went into the Gaza Strip and on the 22nd at 7:00, he led the company ahead into Sajeiah, where he was killed by armored sniper terrorist shooting.

We want all the Jewish people to remember and perpetuate Dima. So his memory will stay forever.

More here.

04/24 Links Pt1: Obama's Iran Obsession Has Sunk the Democrats; Biden: F-35's for Israel by 2016

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians Vote for Iran's New Ally: Hamas
Hamas has apparently now realigned with Iran, which is "rebuilding relations with the military wing of Hamas." Iran also, it seems, has sent Hamas millions of dollars over the past few months. Hamas shares "the same long-term objectives as the ayatollahs: the complete destruction of the state of Israel," and to that end, wants to undermine and destroy anyone who recognizes Israel.
To avoid this, the Palestinian Authority must first stop its ongoing campaign to delegitimize and isolate Israel. This campaign is being waged through the media, mosques and public rhetoric.
The Palestinian Authority must also maintain security coordination with Israel. The coordination is vital to the PA itself, not just Israel. Without Israel's help, the PA will not be able to prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank.
Finally, to stop the Palestinians from rallying around Hamas, the Palestinian Authority in general — and Fatah in particular — need to embark on comprehensive reforms. Above all, they need to stop blocking the emergence of new leadership, and get rid of all the icons of corruption and bad government.
Unless the PA does these three things, Hamas's popularity among Palestinians will continue to rise, bringing the Islamist movement closer to taking over the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority is shooting itself in the foot.
Caroline Glick: The new government’s greatest tasks
In testimony last week before the House committee in charge of State Department funding, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power acknowledged that the Obama administration intends to abandon the US’s 50 year policy of supporting Israel at the United Nations.
After going through the tired motions of pledging support for Israel, “when it matters,” Power refused to rule out the possibility that the US would support anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council to limit Israeli sovereignty and control to the lands within the 1949 armistice lines – lines that are indefensible.
Such a move will be taken, she indicated, in order to midwife the establishment of a terrorist-supporting Palestinian state whose supposedly moderate leadership does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, calls daily for its destruction, and uses the UN to delegitimize the Jewish state.
In other words, the Obama administration intends to pin Israel into indefensible borders while establishing a state committed to its destruction.
Mordechai Kedar: Obama, Ayatollahs and the History Books
President Obama has to decide whether to enter the history books as the leader in whose period of office, the road to Iran's turning into a nuclear power was paved, just as the history books will always accuse Jimmy Carter of helping Khomeini seize control over Iran. In contrast, Obama can choose to enter the history books as the president who prevented Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, in which case his place is like that of Jack Kennedy, who stood up to Cuba in 1962 and confiscated their Russian rockets.
Both presidents – Carter and Kennedy – were Democrats. An American president does not have to be a Republican in order to stand firm and present a resolute view of the dangers threatening the US and the world. All he has to do is use the power that, through great expenditure and effort, the US has amassed in order to prevent a war that will drag the world into a nuclear cataclysm brought on by Ayatollahs who believe that Allah's hand prevents them from making mistakes.
The angel of history must have been joking when he allowed the 2002 Nobel Prize for Peace to be awarded to Jimmy Carter, "for his efforts to find peaceful solutions to international disputes, promoting democracy and human rights, economic and social development."
It might be interesting to know what the prize committee thought of Carter's efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Iran, when he allowed Khoumeni to gain control of the country.
The angel's laugh will be even louder if President Obama – who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2009 – will turn out to be the president that allowed the Ayatollahs to obtain nuclear weapons.

1080 dead, including over 115 children, since Saudi airstrikes began

The UN News Centre writes:
As the United Nations humanitarian wing appealed for “any initiative that can reduce the violence” in Yemen, the World Health Organization (WHO) office in the country reported that the death toll from the fighting topped 1,000 over the past month and warned that main hospitals face shutting down because of critical shortages of power, lack of fuel and oxygen.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen said there were 7.9 million children among the 15.9 million people – or some 60 per cent of the total population – in need of humanitarian assistance in the war-torn country.

Reporting from its country office in Yemen, WHO said health facilities across the country had reported 1,080 deaths and 4,352 injured between 19 March and 20 April.
AFP adds
:At least 115 children have been killed and 172 maimed in the violence raging in Yemen since Saudi-led air raids began on March 26, the UN children's agency said Friday.
"We believe that these are conservative figures," UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told reporters in Geneva, saying at least 64 of the children killed between March 26 and April 20 were victims of air strikes.

The UN agency said another 26 children had been killed by unexploded ordnance and mines, 19 by gunshots, three by shelling and three by "unverified causes related to the conflict"
By the way, the Saudi and UAE airstrikes choose their targets based on US intelligence.

Hell of a pinpoint operation, right?

Independent (UK) says academic journals like The Lancet may lie, "free speech"

The Independent reports:
One of the world’s oldest and most venerable medical journals is under attack from an international group of more than 500 doctors over its coverage of the humanitarian disaster caused by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Lancet and its editor, Richard Horton, have been targeted over what the group claims is the “grossly irresponsible misuse of [the journal] for political purposes”. The controversy was sparked by an article deemed to be critical of Israel’s conduct in Gaza.

The protesting doctors, including five Nobel laureates as well as Lord Winston, the broadcaster and IVF pioneer, style themselves “concerned academics”, and accuse the journal of publishing “stereotypical extremist hate propaganda”. They also accuse the journal’s owner, the publishing firm Reed Elsevier, of “profiting from the publication of dishonest and malicious material that incites hatred and violence”.

The doctors threatened to boycott the journal if Reed Elsevier does not “enforce appropriate ethical standards of editorship”.

Observers say it is the most serious threat to The Lancet and free speech in academia since the journal’s first campaigning editor, Thomas Wakley, faced a series of lawsuits after attacking the incompetence, nepotism and greed of the medical elite shortly after it was founded 192 years ago.
The problem with The Lancet isn't its political positions. The problem is that it is willing to publish lies in support of its political positions.

The controversy isn't free speech, it is that a "venerable" journal is willing to jettison all academic and scientific standards in order to push its narrow anti-Israel agenda.

The letter that sparked this reaction wasn't just anti-Israel - it was anti-Israel lies. It said "Entries of food and medicines into Gaza have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited." That is a lie. It said "Before the present assault, medical stock items in Gaza were already at an all time low because of the blockade." That is a lie. It said "Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its produce.... agricultural products cannot be exported due to the blockade." That is a lie. The authors said "We declare no competing interests." That is a lie, since at least some are well known anti-Israel activists.

The Independent, and The Lancet, are defending lies in academic journals!

This is hardly the first time that The Lancet showed willingness to publish anti-Israel lies. It published a study that used a very flawed methodology to claim that Israel is the reason Palestinian Arab men beat their wives.

It published, as credible, accusations that Israeli doctors were involved in torturing Arab prisoners - ignoring that in the specific case they made those accusations, independent pathologists said they could find no evidence of the wild claims of "torture" or "poisoning" of the prisoner.

It once published, as fact, the claim that Palestinians "cannot take care of health and education as long as [they] live under occupation." As I pointed out then, somehow Jewish hospitals were originally established under British and Ottoman occupation.

The Lancet even jumped in on the "Arafat poisoned by polonium" idiocy.

The Lancet isn't offensive only because it is anti-Israel. It is offensive because it cannot distinguish fact from fantasy, which should be concern every doctor on Earth who wants to use it as a source.

Blackberry to open center in Israel; will the haters boycott it?

From Globes:
Mobile phone manufacturer BlackBerry is buying Israeli file-sharing security company WatchDox. The Canadian company did not disclose financial details about the acquisition but sources close to the deal say that the Canadian company will pay $100 million for WatchDox, which has developed a technology to protect files and documents.

Sources inform "Globes" that Blackberry will set up a development center in Israel based on the acquisition of WatchDox, which employs 100 in its Petah Tikva office.

Founded in 2008 by CEO Moti Rafalin, VP products Noam Livnat and Yuval Yaeger, WatchDox has raised $35 million to date from Shlomo Kramer (the company's chairman), Gemini Israel Ventures, Shasta Ventures, MTVP, Blackstone, and private investors. Shareholders, according to the company registry, include Mickey Boodaei and Rakesh Loonkar, who together with Kramer founded Trusteer, which was sold to IBM for $700 million in August 2013.

BlackBerry executive chairman and CEO John Chen said "BlackBerry is constantly expanding the potential of data security so that it enables more collaboration and sharing rather than creating limitations. This acquisition represents another key step forward as we transition BlackBerry into the premier platform for secure mobile communications software and applications, supporting all devices and operating systems. Together with last year's Secusmart acquisition, Samsung partnership, our own internal development efforts, and now the acquisition of WatchDox, we now have capabilities to secure communications end-to-end from voice, text, messaging, data and now enterprise file-sync-and share."

WatchDox serves leading organizations across a variety of industry sectors in which secure collaboration and mobility are essential, including government, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, law and media.
While some may think that Blackberry is yesterday's news, they have been changing their strategy lately away from their devices and more towards software that works across all mobile platforms. WatchDox is a perfect example; it is sort of a secure DropBox for business.

Blackberry now joins a long line of high-tech companies with development centers in Israel, such as Intel, Apple, Google and Microsoft. For some reason I have not been hearing any noises from the BDS crowd about boycotting any of them.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Video that Arabs claim show Jews provoking them in the Jewish Quarter

Jordan's Dostor news site writes:
Israeli Channel 7 published video of provocations practiced by Jewish settlers against Palestinians during the celebrations over 67 years of occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The video shows some girls shouting "Allahu Akbar" several times in front of a gathering of a number of settlers in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. The settlers attempted a provocation in the Palestinian city by raising the Israeli flag.
Arutz 7 sees it a little differently:
As part of Thursday’s Independence Day celebrations, a group of yeshiva students toured the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem, carrying Israeli flags.

As they walked down the streets, they encountered an outspoken group of Muslim women who tried to incite a confrontation, yelling at them in Arabic.

The boys, though, maintained their equanimity, and instead of hurling epithets back at the women, broke into a rousing chorus of “Am Yisrael Chai” (the Nation of Israel Lives”).

You can decide for yourself.



But why these obviously American students started singing a camp "color war" song is anyone's guess.

04/23 Links Pt2: Amnesty’s Problem with Antisemitism; The Academic War on Israel

From Ian:

Amnesty’s Problem with Antisemitism
I can’t escape the feeling that not many people take antisemitism seriously. Even now while we witness its rise throughout Europe. Even when Jews are shot dead in supermarkets and schools. This was made particularly clear on Tuesday by the decision taken by Amnesty International to reject a motion calling for them to tackle the rise in antisemitic attacks in the UK. According to the Jewish Chronicle it was the only motion to be defeated at their annual conference.
But don’t be under the impression that Amnesty International are the problem. Their decision to ignore antisemitism in the UK simply serves to hi-light the fact that even people who see themselves as anti racism activists can’t bring themselves to take antisemitism seriously.
They can’t bring themselves to admit Jews are targets of a vicious, murderous hatred so insidious it exists in all levels of polite (and impolite) society. They can’t bring themselves to see that Jews now live in fear of the next attack against themselves and their community. They can’t bring themselves to see how Jewish communal buildings are slowly being turned into fortresses complete with state of the art security systems and security guards. In the case of France no less than 10,000 soldiers were drafted in to protect French Jewry. Several of them were stabbed in an attack that would otherwise have been meant for innocent civilians.
Innocent save for the fact they, we, are guilty of the crime of being Jewish.
Judea Pearl: An open letter to Cornel West
Judea Pearl is Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science and Statistics at UCLA and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.
Dear Professor West,
This is a humble request sent to you from a rank-and-file Jewish professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where you are scheduled to deliver a keynote address in honor of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, titled “Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity.” My request may sound odd, perhaps even audacious, but it needs to be said as we are preparing to commemorate the life and legacy of Rabbi Heschel, his moral grandeur and his spiritual audacity.
I will be as blunt and straightforward as possible: You should excuse yourself from delivering this lecture. My reasons are also blunt and straightforward: No matter how eloquent your speech and how crafty your words, the audience you will face at UCLA will not be able to take them too seriously in light of your recent decision to become a leading propagandist for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. You have to forgive us for being pedantic in these matters, and perhaps not as flexible and nuanced as one might hope, but our history has taught us the importance of devising crisp and visible litmus tests to distinguish friends from foes. It so happened, and you know it as well as we do, that the term BDS has become our most reliable litmus test. In other words, we have come to equate promoters of BDS ideology with those who seek the destruction of Israel, hence the demise of the Jewish people.
Thus, as much as we might try to separate the words you would be saying in honor of Rabbi Heschel from those you uttered in a Feb. 25 interview with David Palumbo-Liu at Stanford (published in Salon), in which you took great pride in promoting cultural and academic boycotts of Israel, our minds will resist the separation. Our minds will be warning us, again and again, that the person speaking before us wants our destruction.
The Academic War on Israel
As the Middle East collapses all around Israel, as jihadi factions grow bolder and more barbaric, and as Iran spreads its reach into Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, Israel has become the canary in the West's coal mine.
In addition to that, there is now the subversion of Israel's very right to exist through "lawfare," (the frivolous or malicious use of the law for political manipulation); UN Human Rights Commission distortions, and, in many ways the most chilling: the work of teachers and students in Western universities to boycott, divest from and sanction (BDS) Israel.
Followers of Campus Watch or International Academic Friends of Israel, and readers of the essays in The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel (Wayne University Press, 2015) will be only too painfully aware of the decidedly unacademic raw Jew-hatred, posing as anti-Zionism, that has spread across university campuses throughout the United States, Europe and the West, particularly in the UK, Australia, Canada and elsewhere. Hate speech, disruption of lectures, demonstrations, expulsions and grotesquely one-sided lectures, papers and books have replaced the free speech, open debate, and academic neutrality that once characterized all universities within the Western tradition.
A generation of students is growing up learning to tolerate – and consider normal -- bias, falsehood and the runaway politicization of teachers and student thugs permitting only one-sided arguments. Many members of the faculty, radical Muslim teachers, and student thugs permit only one-sided arguments. It has become unpleasant, even a risk, for pro-Israel and Jewish students, such as Daniel Mael at Brandeis University, to lift their heads above the parapet.
In the UK, anti-Israel agitation has been not as violent but just as strong as in the US; and the BDS movement has been severe in many universities. For several years, the Association of University Teachers (AUT), the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) and the (later amalgamated) University and College Union passed boycott resolutions against Israeli academic institutions and individuals. The dominance of intolerantly "liberal" teachers in British educational circles has ensured a hindrance to open and civilized debate within the higher education sector as much as have the students.

Postscript to South African BDS hockey debacle

A few days ago I mentioned that a group of Israel haters tried to disrupt a hockey game between Israel and South Africa. in Cape Town.

IOL News quoted the haters as saying that they were the victims:
Cape Town activist, Bram Hanekom, a leader of the protest at the rink, said he was assaulted by security guards whom he alleged were part of the Israeli ambassador’s security detail.
...
Major said Hanekom was singled out during an interval and dragged out of the venue.

“They attacked him and beat him up,” she said.

“There were about 80 to 100 protesters, but most remained outside because they were doing racial profiling at the doors,” Major said.

“There was no warning, we were peaceful. Bram only had a South African flag, I had a Palestinian flag.”

Hanekom this morning said he had bruises but no broken ribs.
A few days later, the haters are once again revealed to be liars. As if that is a surprise:

Sun International has banned Cape Town activist Braam Hanekom from GrandWest and has instituted stringent new security measures after pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted an international ice hockey match between South Africa and Israel last week.

Hanekom and several other protesters were evicted from the GrandWest Ice Rink as the match was delayed for about 45 minutes on Thursday evening. Hanekom claimed he was assaulted, while the GrandWest management claimed the protesters threw glass marbles on the ice during their protests, endangering the players.

At the weekend, Sun International spokesman Michael Farr said the company had video footage that showed Hanekom throwing marbles on the ice during an interval, and the video footage also proved that he had not been assaulted as he claimed.

Farr also denied that racial profiling was carried out at the entrance to deny some of the protesters who had bought tickets access to the match.

He denied that security staff had attacked Hanekom or any of the other protesters.

“GrandWest has extensive surveillance and security cameras. Visuals from inside the Ice Station as well as outside the Ice Station have been reviewed and the footage is definitive. No such attack took place. The only assault that took place was that of a protester who assaulted a security officer,” Farr said.

He said Hanekom had been escorted from the premises.

In response, Hanekom on Monday said he does not know how he could be banned from the venue. “How do they do that? The event isn’t hosted by them, how can they ban somebody?” he asked.

When asked whether he had thrown marbles on the ice, he first said he had the marbles in his hands and that they fell on the ice when the security guards grabbed him. Then he said he could not actually remember what he had in his hands.

“But why can a person not have marbles on him? There is no law against it,” he said.

“I will return to GrandWest Casino, in order to protest the Israeli Ice Hockey team if they play again at GrandWest Casino. If I need to get a court order to do this, I will. There is no legal basis for the banning order and it will be impossible to implement.”

“As to the second allegation (of racial profiling), security footage also clearly shows the entrances to the Ice Station. No such racial profiling took place. All persons with tickets were subject to a security search before entering the Ice Station.”
Hanekom sounds like he has the emotional maturity - and the ability to lie - of a eight-year old. Marbles dropped to the ice from his seat?

Independence and self-defense (Vic Rosenthal)


Vic Rosenthal's weekly column:



Today is יום העצמאות, Independence Day, and I’m reading lots of articles about the significance of an independent Jewish state. “The meaning of independence in my view is, first of all, the ability to defend yourself,” said PM Netanyahu. On the other hand, left-wing journalist Nehemia Shtrasler doesn’t think that Israel is independent at all. “We are no more than an American protectorate,” he argues, because the US could stop selling us weapons and take steps to wreck our economy.

Shtrasler is wrong, because the fact that the US could destroy any country in the world if it cared to doesn’t mean that there are no independent countries. But he is correct that we are far too dependent on the US, something which is being made clear today as we face an unfriendly — arguably, even antisemitic — administration in Washington.

Netanyahu is right that independence requires the capability of self-defense, but of course that is only a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. It is also necessary to have the will to use your capabilities, which in turn depends on the conviction that you are morally justified in doing what is necessary to defend yourself.

This is precisely what is being attacked when Israel is delegitimized and demonized by anti-Zionist groups, NGOs and media. They say that Israel stole its land from the rightful “Palestinian” owners, and that it has neither the legal or moral right to possess it. We are told that Israel’s birth was facilitated by the commission of crimes against humanity, that Israel has continued to commit war crimes in its wars, which are portrayed as offensive and genocidal instead of defensive. Recently, even the pretense that it is only Israel’s presence in the territories that is illegitimate is being abandoned. Every inch of our country is contested.

The so-called “Palestinian narrative” is an example of the Big Lie technique, in which facts and history are inverted and the inversions repeated so often that they become conventional wisdom. ‘Inversion’ is a good word, because it really does turn the truth upside down. In fact, it was Arabs who perpetrated ethnic cleansing and massacres during Israel’s war of Independence, and it is the Jewish people who are truly indigenous to the land of Israel. It is the “Palestinians” who wish to establish an apartheid state, and it is they who target noncombatants and particularly children.

Unfortunately these big lies are effective, even — especially — in Israel, where one would expect that the truth would be more likely to prevail. The myths have become deeply ingrained, even in some of our politicians, even if they don’t realize that they are touched by them.

Self-defense sometimes means deterrence, but sometimes it means war. A political leader or officer in time of war must be able to justify extraordinary actions, actions that he knows will kill people. Some of them will be innocent noncombatants, no matter how careful an army is and how restrictive the rules of engagement — and Israel is very, very careful. Some of them will be our own children, husbands or fathers. Can someone who doesn’t truly believe that his cause is just take such actions?

Confidence in one’s moral and legal position is also required in less lethal pursuits, like diplomacy. Consider the negotiations with the PLO. As I think I’ve written before, the idea of land swaps for settlement blocs implies that the land across the Green Line ‘belongs’ to the Arabs. But anyone who knows the history knows that the Palestine Mandate was intended to provide a national home for the Jewish people, and that the Green Line was agreed by both sides to be nothing more than an armistice line with no political significance. So how did we get the idea that it separates Israel from “Arab land?”

One of the things that distinguishes a protectorate or satellite from an independent nation is that an independent nation has an independent foreign policy and doesn’t simply parrot the party line of its patron. I think this is a good starting point for improving relations with the US: we should try to educate the administration, to the extent that it is possible, about the true legal and historical facts about the State of Israel.

In effect, we need to make a ‘diplomatic declaration of independence’ from the US. Such a declaration would be an important step in reducing our overall dependence on it — and also in improving our ability to defend ourselves. Of course, in order to do this we will need to educate ourselves first, to extirpate the crippling guilt complex that our enemies have succeeded in creating.

One concrete step would be to officially adopt the Levy Commission Report of 2012. The commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, examined the legal status of the Israeli presence in the territories and concluded that according to international law, Israel is not an occupying power, and the 4th Geneva Convention — the usual basis for the argument that “settlements are illegal” — does not apply. The government took no action on the report. It should.

PM Netanyahu’s statement that there would be no two-state solution in the near future was a breath of fresh air, despite the fact that Obama seized upon it as an excuse to distance the US from Israel. The interminable pointless negotiations with the PLO/PA only served to provide leverage to extract concessions from Israel without any promise of reaching an agreement. As for Obama’s reaction, if Netanyahu hadn’t said it, he would have found another excuse to do what he was determined to do.

There are other things that we can do to increase our independence and improve our ability to defend ourselves. We should try as much as possible to develop our own weapons systems and to integrate systems from other suppliers than the US, so that it would be harder for an unfriendly US administration to cut us off without recourse. We should develop trade with India and the Far East to help offset the damage that a European boycott could cause. But most important, we should remind ourselves of who and what we are, while rejecting the invidious descriptions provided by our enemies.

No, we aren’t a protectorate. Not yet. But to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, the founders of the State of Israel gave us independence — if we can keep it.

04/23 Links Pt1: Happy Independence Day ! ; Obama’s 67 degrees of separation from Israel

From Ian:

‘This is our country, there is no other,’ says teary-eyed Aharish in Arabic
Lucy Aharish, an Israeli-Arab news anchor and actress, was among the 14 torch lighters in the official ceremony kicking off Israel’s celebrations of 67 years of independence on Wednesday night. Almost breaking down at the ceremony, she was the only one of the honorees to give part of her brief address in Arabic.
Aharish, 33, a Muslim Arab whose parents hail from Nazareth but who was educated in Jewish institutions, instantly became a target of far-right criticism when it was announced earlier this month that she had accepted the honor of lighting a torch at the state Independence Day ceremony.
Some left-wing critics said her accepting the honor constituted an agreement to serve as a fig leaf of the government.
Aharish was teary-eyed when she took her turn at the ceremony, saying she was lighting the torch “for all human beings wherever they may be who have not lost hope for peace, and for the children, full of innocence, who live on this Earth.
“For those who were but are no more, who fell victim to baseless hatred by those who have forgotten that we were all born in the image of one God. For Sephardim and Ashkenazim, religious and secular, Arabs and Jews, sons of this motherland that reminds us that we have no other place. For us as Israel, for the honor of mankind, and for the glory of the State of Israel,” she said.
Aharish, the only Arab lighting a torch in the ceremony, also spoke in Arabic, saying: “For our honor as human beings, this is our country and there is no other.”
Arab-Israeli Journalist Lucy Aharish Lighting Torch at Independence Day Ceremony


By Air, Land, and Sea: Aliyah under the British Mandate
Toldot Yisrael presents the dramatic stories of Jews from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Iraq who overcame great obstacles in their efforts to reach the Land of Israel. For 2,000 years, Jews around the world dreamed about returning to the Land of Israel. But the rise of antisemitism in the 1930s and 40s made the need to return to Israel far more urgent. Jews fled their homes in Europe and Arab Lands seeking refuge in Palestine but found the British Mandate had all but closed the doors to aliyah, forcing them to find dangerous and illegal methods to immigrate - by air, land, and sea.
This movie is the fifth episode in the "Eyewitness 1948" short film series produced by Toldot Yisrael. It is the centerpiece of an educational pilot program made possible through the generous support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Alexander Family, and others.


From 0 to 100 years in Hebrew
We are Maya Cohen and Tom Roes, two filmmakers from the Netherlands who were inspired by a project Jeroen Wolf did in Dutch.
It took us three journeys to Israel to finish this video. The 98 year old lady was the last person in front of our camera. Thanks to all the inhabitants of Tel Aviv and the rest of Israel for helping us!


Google honours Israel Independence Day with a Doodle