Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (seated, center) meets with a delegation of Likud Anglos at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2023. Credit: Judith Segaloff.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (seated, center) meets with a delegation of Likud Anglos at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2023. Credit: Judith Segaloff.

Eli Cohen meets the Anglos

English-speakers meet, greet and get to know Israel’s foreign minister.

Sovereignty, diplomacy and Iran were just a few of the topics raised by an English-speaking Likud group at the Foreign Ministry before an avid audience of one busy foreign minister, Eli Cohen, on Thursday, who took advantage of a window of time recently to hear what is on his Anglo voters’ minds.

The group started in 2016 with four or five people from Raanana and Kfar Saba. The Facebook page started then now has over 36,000 people on it. Paul Weiner, a retired businessman and computer scientist, was working with his son, David, both Likud members, in a loosely-organized group, conducting interviews with candidates like Nir Barkat and Yuli Edelstein, and Cohen, then intelligence minister, invited them to help introduce him to the Anglo group.

Then Paul started a WhatsApp group to enable the Anglos to discuss issues, crunch solutions and ultimately influence Knesset decisions. The latest meeting was crowd-sourced to understand what the Anglos thought Cohen could do with the Foreign Ministry.

“It was like a think tank,” explained Paul. “Newer members of the group got to meet Eli for the first time, and Eli took all the questions and proposals under careful consideration. We are trying to open this up to make sure Anglos have a voice in the Knesset. Eli is reliable, personable and people look up to him.”

Jack Cohen, a resident of Beersheva and a man who wears many hats, including that of professor at Ben Gurion University and blogger, shared a proposal with Cohen proving that Israel has a prima facie legal entitlement to extend its sovereignty over the area called the West Bank, citing three bases in international law: the British Mandate that awarded the entire state to the Jewish people; the Principle of Uti Poseiditis Jurus (UPJ) that serves to preserve the boundaries of colonies emerging as states; and the failure of the Oslo Accords, which, he says, envisaged ongoing negotiations but consisted only of Israel offering concessions and the other side refusing to negotiate.

“The idea is that Israel should start the process of annexing the Land of Judea and Samaria,” explained Jack Cohen. “There should be a major international conference held in Israel to openly debate these issues.”

Michael Friedman, a psychologist from Ramat Bet Shemesh, said his participation in the event was like the fulfillment of a dream.

He suggested that Cohen change the apologetic stance that Israel frequently adopts with other countries.

“There are subtle word shifts that can help convey a stronger message,” he explained. “For instance, when Israelis are attacked, change the word ‘civilians’ to ‘non-combatants.'”

Oshy Ellman from Raanana was concerned about Agenda 2030, and fears that Israel has already signed on to it.

“Agenda 2030 allows the United Nations, in partnership with global bodies like the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum, to enforce rules and regulations on all countries, taking away the sovereignty of nations to make the world more equitable and sustainable,” she said.

She cited COVID as the first major world crisis that convinced the general populace to give up sovereignty in the name of the public good and expressed her concern that the United Nations, which has proven to be corrupt and unfriendly to Israel, will be able to regulate our lives regarding energy, health, food and more.

“It is very important,” she said, “to raise awareness of this agenda and the consequences it has for Israel as a nation-state.”

David Weiner, Paul’s son, suggested that there be a law to help identify and flag sexual predators who come to Israel from other countries.

He explained that in his neighborhood a predator from the United States had recently moved in—a few houses down from his victim in the States.

Sarah Koren suggested that Cohen negotiate with countries funding the Palestinian Authority to assure accountability if the donated money is going to “Pay for Slay” stipends for terrorists.

After the murder of the Paley brothers earlier this month, a school in Qalqilya honored the terrorists.

“A big sign on the front of the school announced, ‘This school is funded by the United States of America,'” she said.

Cohen took notes and answered questions, first noting recent news about Oman opening up its airspace to all countries, including Israel.

“Flights from Israel to Asia will be considerably shorter” as a result, he said.

Cohen served previous administrations as the minister of economy and intelligence.

“The most dramatic thing that changed here were the Abraham Accords,” he said. “Our normalization agreements with Morocco, Bahrain and the United Emirates are important for stability, economy and to build a coalition against Iran.”

He pointed out that Sudan fought Israel in both the war of independence and the Six-Day War and now has a normalization deal in the works. And while Turkey has had its ups and downs in the past with Israel, after the tragedy of the earthquake, Israel came through for them, he noted.

“They are anticipating that 150,000 are dead, and Israel sent the second largest delegation to help,” he said. “Even as Palestinian terrorists were murdering Jewish children, Israel was saving children.”

Israel’s message is twofold, he said. First, Israel is like any Western country, and second, the danger posed by Iran.

“Israel is the only state that has another country calling for her destruction,” he said. “We need to do everything we can to prevent a nuclear option.”

‘We will not apologize anymore’

Cohen has been a busy man. He met with 40 foreign ministers in the past two months. He addressed the question of “occupation,” admitting that it did come up quite a bit. His answer: “You cannot occupy your own home. You don’t have to know history. Just look at Al Aqsa, atop the Temple Mount, and ask the question which came first. You will never see a Jewish site on top of a Muslim site.”

When the German foreign minister asked him if he believes in democracy, he said, he had answered, “What would happen in Jordan if there was a democracy there? The president of Jordan would be a Palestinian-elected official. Sixty-two percent of their population is Palestinian, compared to only 20% of Israel’s population.”

Cohen vowed to speak clearer and louder in the future—and not apologize. To the financiers of terror, he said, “If you are willing to pay for a hospital, fine, but you cannot interfere in Israeli affairs.”

He said the German foreign minister had voiced concern upon hearing that Israel was discussing taxing NGOs 60%. “I said we should tax them 100%,” he said.

Cohen ended the brief meeting with a question to one of the questions.

“Why is there no U.N. resolution on ‘pay for slay?’ ” he asked. “No, we will not apologize anymore. We are lucky to be in a democratic country.”

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