• Words count:
    257 words
  • Type of content:
    Video Page
  • Publication Date:
    December 4, 2023
Embeded Video:
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Headline
Israel at War
Intro
An Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) Webinar
text

This webinar was generously sponsored by Donna Gary in loving memory of her husband Stuart Hunter Gary.

After the sadistic, savage Hamas attacks of Oct. 7, Israel has had little option but to respond with force against the Gaza-based terror group. Is the current conflict simply another Israel-Palestinian war, or are there wider implications for all of us, in the West? To what degree is Iran involved in this war? How intent is Iran on staying out of this war, and to what degree are its proxies, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria and the Houthis in Yemen, willing to get involved? There are approximately 40,000 U.S. troops right now in the Middle East—to what degree are they at risk? What are the prospects of this becoming a wider war?

Here to answer this and more is Ambassador Yoram Ettinger.

https://youtu.be/1dxVuV9sk7I

About the Speaker: Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is an insider on U.S.-Israel relations, Mideast politics and overseas investments in Israel’s high-tech sector. He is a member of the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), which has documented dramatic flaws behind demographic fatalism on one hand, and a Jewish demographic momentum on the other hand.

He is a consultant to members of Israel’s Cabinet and Knesset, and regularly briefs U.S. legislators and their staff on Israel’s contribution to vital U.S. interests, on the root causes of international terrorism and on other issues of bilateral concern.

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More From Press+
  • Words count:
    169 words
  • Type of content:
    Update Desk
  • Publication Date:
    July 16, 2024

On Monday afternoon, the Dallas Independent School District posted on social media that it was the subject of a Dallas Morning News article, about how University of North Texas at Dallas students will be residents in elementary schools in the district. “Dallas ISD in the news,” the district wrote, using a newspaper icon.

It posted no such information after the U.S. Department of Education announced on Tuesday that it is investigating the district and California State University-Sacramento under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars schools that receive public funding from discriminating based on “shared ancestry,” including religion.

Neither the district—whose staff of 22,857 serves 139,584 students in 240 schools—nor the public university responded to queries from JNS. 

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights does not publicize alleged violations under Title VI, but it did state on its site that the probe of the Sacramento school, the California State University system’s six largest campus (of 23), relates to alleged “national origin discrimination involving religion.”

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  • Words count:
    674 words
  • Type of content:
    Opinion
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    July 16, 2024

Now it’s official and we have the data to prove it: to be a Jew in Europe today you must hide your Jewish identity.

In its latest survey of Jews’ experiences and perceptions of antisemitism, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) found an astounding 76% of European Jews have avoided wearing anything outside of their homes or synagogues that would enable passersby to know they are Jewish—up from 30% in 2013 when the first FRA survey was released.  

Before the 2013 survey, our information about antisemitism in Europe was extensive but largely anecdotal. We knew that Jewish communities were experiencing a steady erosion of their sense of safety and security and saw some of the first lethal attacks on Jewish targets in Europe in 2012. The data have only grown more alarming over the last decade.

Today, a staggering 80% of European Jews believe antisemitism has increased in the past five years and nearly all (96%) experienced antisemitism in the past year, with two-thirds saying they encounter it “all the time.”

Yet despite significant efforts to encourage Jews to report incidents of antisemitism either to the police or to Jewish community organizations, most still do not. Only one in four incidents of antisemitism and 49% of acts of antisemitic violence are actually registered.

Sadly, nearly half (48%) of those who do not report say this is because they do not think anything will change. Less than one-third of those surveyed believe their governments are taking the necessary steps to ensure their security.

Forced to acknowledge the troubling reality made evident by that 2013 survey, European leaders finally began to mobilize. In 2015, the European Union appointed a national coordinator to combat antisemitism. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also recommended measures that governments could take to improve the security of Jewish communities. In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted a Working Definition of Antisemitism that offered examples of both traditional and new forms of this age-old hatred, including antisemitism related to Israel.

But the headwinds proved strong and, even with these actions, FRA’s 2018 survey concluded that antisemitism was pervasive and had become “disturbingly normalized.” It found that more than one-third of those surveyed had considered emigrating because of it.

The most recent report, which closed its polling before Oct. 7 and thus failed to capture the explosive increase in antisemitism that followed the Hamas massacre, demands that we bring a new urgency to the battle. 

The essential steps to counter antisemitism are clear: 

Governments must ensure the safety and security of their Jewish communities by providing police protection and funding the necessary security enhancements and private guards that Jewish schools, synagogues and community centers require. 

In the face of antisemitic incidents, political leaders must speak out clearly, swiftly and without regard to partisan interests. Far too many are quick to point out antisemitism in the opposition while turning a blind eye to those within their own camp. 

Education is critical for both those with a professional responsibility to respond to hate crimes and the general public. The IHRA Working Definition is an indispensable guidance tool, already adopted by a majority of E.U. member states, with special value for colleges and universities seeking to protect students, staff and faculty from hostile learning environments.  

Antisemitism may be the world’s oldest hatred, but it has the uncanny ability to mutate and adapt over time and across borders, employing conspiracy myths that make Jews a ready target for all political and ideological groups. For these nefarious actors, demonstrating its irrationality is only further “proof” of its insidious nature.

Protecting Jews from antisemitism is a worthy goal in itself. But history has demonstrated that it is not only a threat to Jews. Left unchecked, it will endanger other minorities and undermine the very tenets of our democracies.

If Jews are to have a future in Europe, we must do more, we must do it better, and we must mobilize all of society to act with us. A Europe without Jews is no longer unthinkable, but it must not become inevitable.

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  • Words count:
    540 words
  • Type of content:
    News
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    July 16, 2024

Michail Chkhikvishvili, a Georgian national with neo-Nazi ties and whose aliases include "Commander Butcher," was indicted for soliciting hate crimes and acts of mass violence, per a federal grand jury indictment on Monday.

The 20-year-old alleged leader of the Maniac Murder Cult was arrested in Moldova on July 6 and indicted in Brooklyn, N.Y. (He had spent time in New York.)

“As alleged, the defendant sought to recruit others to commit violent attacks and killings in furtherance of his Neo-Nazi ideologies,” stated Breon Peace, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “His goal was to spread hatred, fear and destruction by encouraging bombings, arson and even poisoning children, for the purpose of harming racial minorities, the Jewish community and homeless individuals.”

According to the indictment, Chkhikvishvili started in November 2023 to plan a major attack in New York City on New Year's Eve.

"The scheme involved an individual dressing up as Santa Claus and handing out candy laced with poison to racial minorities," the Justice Department stated. "The scheme also involved providing candy laced with poison to children at Jewish schools in Brooklyn."

On or around Jan. 9, Chkhikvishvili wrote to an FBI informant posing as a recruit for Chkhikvishvili's hate group that "Jews are literally everywhere," and that the would-be recruit should attack on "some Jewish holiday" at "Jewish schools full of kids," per the indictment.

"Dead Jewish kids," he also wrote, per the complaint. He added that after publicizing a video of the attack on Jewish kids, his hate group "will become bigger than Al Qaeda once it drops."

The accused told the undercover agent how to make "ricin-based poisons in powder and liquid form, including by extracting ricin from castor beans," per the Justice Department. "Some of the materials transmitted by Chkhikvishvili have been linked to radical Islamist jihadist groups and designated foreign terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria."

On or around July 11, 2002, Chkhikvishvili bragged in a message "that he harmed and attempted to kill a Jewish victim in Brooklyn, N.Y.," per the complaint.

“I’m working in rehab center privately in Jewish family // I get paid to torture dying jew // I think I almost killed him today actually // If he dies soon that’s killstrike on me,” he wrote in a message, to which he attached "multiple images of his purported client in a hospital bed and bragged about harming the victim," per the complaint.

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces found that the defendant had worked at rehabilitation center in Brooklyn and was employed by an Orthodox Jewish family in July 2022 to assist a family member who has since died.

"Among other things, a member of the family positively identified the now-deceased family member in the photographs sent by Chkhikvishvili," per the complaint, "and further identified a photograph of Chkhikvishvili shown to him by JTTF personnel as the individual the family had hired, stating that he believed the individual was from Georgia and that he went by the name 'Michael,' which is an English iteration of Michail."

Chkhikvishvili faces up to 50 years in prison collectively for the four charges: soliciting violent felonies, conspiring to solicit violent felonies, distributing information about making explosives and spreading threatening communications.

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  • Words count:
    930 words
  • Type of content:
    Opinion
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    July 16, 2024

Gaza was not occupied by Israel, as a matter of law or fact, on Oct. 7, 2023 when genocidal Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and committed rapes, kidnappings, sadistic murders and other atrocities.

Israel fully withdrew from Gaza in 2005, including any military presence and all Israeli residents. Moreover, the records of the United Nations reflect that any occupation of Gaza ended in 1994. Thereafter, the Palestinian Authority era began, as acknowledged and agreed to by the P.A.—including in a 2010 U.N.-sponsored agreement.

President George W. Bush provided Israel with several substantive assurances as an inducement for Israel to proceed with withdrawing from Gaza. The agreement is summarized in President Bush’s letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, dated April 14, 2014. It includes four critical provisions:

  1. Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel.
  2. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.
  3. The U.S. reaffirms its commitment to Israel's security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel's capability to deter and defend itself by itself against any threat or possible combination of threats.
  4. Israel retains its right to defend itself against terrorism, including proactively against terrorist organizations. Existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters and land passages of Gaza are to continue.

The Bush-Sharon letter was, in effect, ratified by a near unanimous (95-3, with two absent) Senate resolution, dated June 24, 2004. Thus, it is arguably not just a binding executive agreement, but also U.S. law.

While Bush and Sharon were well-meaning and had the best of intentions and Sharon, the stark reality of the bad faith and ulterior motives of the P.A. and Hamas, as well as Hamas's genocidal program, sabotaged their agreement. Hamas defeated P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party in the 2006 P.A. elections. Abbas maneuvered to retain power and a civil war ensued with Hamas seizing control of Gaza in 2007.

Hamas established Gaza as an armed camp in violation of the Oslo Accords and regularly attacked Israel. Now, there is the ongoing war triggered by the Oct. 7 massacre.

Hamas is a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and it is illegal to provide it with material support or resources (18 USC 2339). Its avowed goal, enshrined in its Charter, is to destroy Israel. It also espouses antisemitic and genocidal doctrines directed against Jews. Clearly, Hamas’s atrocities cannot be justified or excused. Its baseless pretext of "occupation" is just another canard.

The foundational definition of the term "occupation" under international law is embodied in the Hague Convention. It provides that a territory is only considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of a hostile army. As a threshold matter, the military forces of the conquered territory must have surrendered, been defeated or withdrawn.

It also requires (1) a military presence in the occupied territory and (2) exercising governmental authority over the area conquered to the exclusion of the established civil government. Unless all of these criteria are satisfied, there is no occupation, as a matter of law. Merely having the potential to invade and control a territory that is not coupled with an actual presence and effective control is insufficient.

Gaza was part of the original area referred to as the Palestine Mandate. It was conquered by Egypt in the 1948 Israel-Arab war, which Egypt and other Arab nations started in an attempt to prevent the re-emergence of the modern Jewish state of Israel. Gaza was conquered by Israel in the 1967 defensive war. Israel administered the territory until governmental authority was transferred to the P.A. in 1994 under the Gaza-Jericho Agreement.

Under the Oslo II Agreement and the 2005 Disengagement Agreement, Israel obtained certain rights to patrol Gaza’s coastal waters and air space, which do not constitute effective governmental control over Gaza. This was intended to enable Israel to interdict illegal weapons deliveries to Gaza, which are expressly prohibited under those agreements.

Reflecting on these circumstances in 2008, the Israeli Supreme Court in the Al-Bassiouni case held there was no occupation by Israel of Gaza under international law. The European Court of Human Rights in 2015 ruled that control of the airspace above territory and the adjacent sea is insufficient to constitute an occupation under international law, noting that occupation is inconceivable without “boots on the ground.”

Peace should have been achieved when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. As the wise Charles Krauthammer wrote, “Israel evacuated Gaza completely. It declared the border between Israel and Gaza an international frontier. Gaza became the first independent Palestinian territory in history. Yet Gazans continued the war. ... Why? Because occupation was a mere excuse to persuade gullible and historically ignorant Westerners to support the Arab cause against Israel. The issue is, and has always been, Israel’s existence. That is what is at stake.”

History and experience dictate that an immediate and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is not the answer. Fundamental changes must first occur in Gaza and the P.A., including fully honoring the Oslo Accords, ending "pay to slay" and totally demilitarizing Gaza. Until then, there is every reason for Israel to demur, so as not to reward terrorism.

Creating nothing more than another Potemkin façade of peace masking another dysfunctional terror state is not a solution. A phased withdrawal plan based on the satisfaction of essential conditions over time makes more sense. Enough with the illusions of peace. Israel, the U.S. and the world need real peace.

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  • Words count:
    633 words
  • Type of content:
    News
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    July 16, 2024
  • Media:
    1 file

The families of five female Israel Defense Forces soldiers abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7 released new photos of their daughters Tuesday night.

The images, released by the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, show Liri AlbagKarina ArievAgam BergerDaniella Gilboa and Naama Levy shortly after they were taken from the IDF Field Observers base in Nahal Oz.

https://twitter.com/bringhomenow/status/1813244341554389162

“As the return of their daughters and other hostages seems closer than ever, the families will demand an immediate meeting with Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu],” according to a statement by the Forum.

“They will plead with him to sign the deal before his trip to Congress [on July 24],” it continued. “Additionally, the families will unveil photos of the five observers from their early days in Hamas captivity."

The families shared the photos with members of the media during a press conference at the headquarters of the Forum in Tel Aviv.

"It's not the time for traveling. It is time to close the deal and bring the hostages home," Ayelet Levy Shahar, Naama's mother, said of Netanyahu's upcoming trip to the U.S.

She noted that the families received the pictures "in the past few days" and decided to release them "to keep reminding everyone, the world, that this is going on and that pressure should be put to mobilize a deal right now."

"Now is the time to act, because we fear the fate of our girls," continued Shiri Albag, the mother of Liri. "Our girls, and all the other hostages, are in mortal danger every day. We need to do everything, everything we can to bring them back."

Orly Gilboa, Daniella's mother, pleaded with the Israeli premier: "I ask that, if you do choose to give the speech, it will be a speech declaring an immediate hostage deal, which will bring back the power, the joy, the hope for the State of Israel and bring back my Daniella."

Last week, a Hamas propaganda video of Gilboa was released to the public with the family’s consent.

“I’m under constant bombardment and gunfire around the clock, and I’m terrified for my life,” Gilboa says in the clip. “Why should I feel like I’ve been abandoned and forgotten? Pull yourselves together, dear government, and start doing your job properly. Bring us home alive.”

https://youtu.be/64lDl4VNWdU

In May, the Forum released a video of Hamas terrorists abducting the IDF observers on the morning of Oct. 7. The footage, captured by the terrorists' body cameras, revealed the violence and trauma experienced by five of the seven spotters captured alive. 

https://twitter.com/bringhomenow/status/1793297846529118623

Of them, Ori Megidish was freed by the IDF in a rescue operation in late October. Another, Noa Marciano, was murdered by Hamas in captivity. IDF troops found her body in a building adjacent to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City in November.

Fifteen additional field observers serving at the Nahal Oz base were murdered during the Oct. 7 invasion. 

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at his office in Jerusalem with the families of those killed.

"Netanyahu listened attentively to the stories about the lives and heroism of each of the young women, felt the families' pain, and heard their requests and demands for an investigation into the events and for the commemoration of their daughters," his office said in a statement.

"The prime minister answered their questions and said that matters would be thoroughly checked and that the lessons would be learned at all levels, including in the intelligence, operations, military and diplomatic spheres. He also promised to assist the parents in commemorating the young women and their legacy," it added.

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  • Words count:
    582 words
  • Type of content:
    Opinion
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    July 16, 2024

June 5, 2024, marked the 57th anniversary of the U.N.'s occupation of Government House in Jerusalem.

Before the termination of the British Mandate in 1948, the Government House complex, deliberately erected by the British in the 1930s on the commanding heights of the southern Jerusalem ridge overlooking the Old City, was a symbol of British rule.

Between 1949 and 1967 this area complex was acknowledged as a no-man's-land per the Israel-Jordan armistice of April 1949. On June 5, 1967, at 10:45 am, the Jordanian army opened fire on Jewish Jerusalem despite then-Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s attempt through the offices of the U.N. to persuade Jordan not to become involved in the hostilities.

The Jordanians subsequently captured Jebel Mukhaber and by 2:10 pm had seized Government House. In the battle to retake the complex from this illegal occupation, the IDF lost 21 soldiers—testified to by the memorial plaque on the Hass Promenade.

Having pushed out the Jordanians at great cost in lives, the Israeli government procrastinated—as shown in documents found in the State Archives—as to what should happen to the complex. The government failed to show its mettle and disregarded that the complex had been the prestigious headquarters of the Mandate. It should have been incorporated into Jerusalem to serve as the official residence of the president of Israel like the White House in Washington, the Élysée Palace in Paris or the Kremlin in Moscow.

Unfortunately, the Israeli government retained the galut mentality of cowering before the nations of the world instead of exhibiting self-confidence and pride. Were they afraid of offending the King of Jordan or the defeated Arab states? Or were they kowtowing to the “great” powers?

The U.N. was immediately permitted to reoccupy the complex without negotiations, lease or any other quasi-legal conditions.

Over the past 57 years, the U.N. has made substantial modifications to both the internal and exterior structures of Government House, illegally extending its boundaries by seizing adjacent land. All this took place under the watchful eyes of the government and the Jerusalem Municipality, both of which did nothing to restrain the U.N. through national or local planning legislation—for 57 years, they acted unilaterally.

Additionally, the U.N. does not pay Jerusalem municipal taxes or reimburse the suppliers of vital infrastructure utilities like electricity, water and telephone communications. It also occupies the adjacent Antenna Hill to the southeast.

Given that Israel has signed peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt and the U.N.'s force in Lebanon UNIFIL has not ensured that Security Council Resolution 1701 that restricts Hezbollah activities in Lebanon is enforced, there can be no reasonable grounds for the U.N. and its agencies to occupy Government House. They can move lock, stock and barrel to northern Israel where they will be on the spot.

Furthermore, the Housing Minister recently declared that the UNWRA complex in Ma’alot Dafna is illegal and is taking steps such as fines and requiring the payment of retroactive rent.

Given the attitude of the U.N., its secretary-general and its staff—as well as the General Assembly and Security Council—towards Israel and the Jewish people, we must stand firm against the U.N. and openly show our supreme sovereignty by regaining full control over the Government House complex and adjacent areas.

I call upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restore our dignity and self-respect by ejecting the U.N. from Government House and designating the complex the official legal residence of the president of Israel.

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  • Words count:
    813 words
  • Type of content:
    Opinion
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    July 16, 2024

Israeli Jews are widely cast as colonists who immigrated to "Palestine" over the last century and then displaced Palestine’s indigenous Arabs. 

This narrative has things backward. The Jews are indigenous; the Arabs are the colonists.  

Israel and its capital Jerusalem were founded by King David, a Jewish king, 3,000 years ago. Over those 3,000 years, Jerusalem and its Jews were conquered and/or colonized by, among others, Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mongols, Mamluks, Turks and the British. These invaders eventually left; the indigenous Jews remained.  

The Romans were especially fateful, not least because their animus towards the Jews helped create the modern myth that Palestinians have always been Arabs.  

Because the Jews for over a century kept rebelling against Roman rule and sometimes succeeded in humiliating the world’s greatest power, the Romans exacted revenge when they emerged victorious. They destroyed the temple that Herod the Great, the king of the Jews, had built; they packed tens of thousands of Jews in slave ships bound to Rome; they built the Arch of Titus to commemorate their victory over the Jews; and, to add insult to injury, they renamed the conquered land in honor of the Jews’ historic enemies: the Philistines. It became Syria Palaestina, i.e., Palestinian Syria.  

Modern-day Arabs who now call themselves "Palestinians" appropriated the term to make it seem as if they have been the historic people of Palestine. Yet the Philistines were nothing like the desert people called Arabs. As DNA evidence confirms, the Philistines, also known as the “sea people,” hailed from the Greek islands, making them European in origin.  

Arabs weren’t commonly called Palestinians until the 1960s, when the Soviet Union invented the “Palestine Liberation Organization” to wrest Israel from the West. Before the 1960s, “Palestinian” generally referred to Jews. The Palestine Post, now renamed The Jerusalem Post, was a Jewish newspaper. The Palestine Symphony Orchestra, now renamed the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, was a Jewish organization. 

Arabs wouldn’t make their mark in the land of the Jews until the 7th century AD with the emergence of the Muslim empire, one of the largest the world has ever seen. At its height, the Arabs had colonized everything from Spain and North Africa in its west to the Indian subcontinent to its east, covering an area exceeding 11 million square kilometers. The region vaguely known as "Palestine"—the Romans had given it no firm borders—was but a small part of the Arabs’ immense colonial empire.  

“Palestine” never became a coherent country to the Arabs, who viewed the largely unpopulated expanse as part of Syria. Arabs didn’t even have an indigenous name for it—Filastin is the Arabic pronunciation of Rome’s name. Although Arabs and then later the Muslim Ottomans held Palestine as part of their empire, it was a neglected part, so much so that Jerusalem, once a Jewish metropolis of 600,000, stagnated under Muslim rule to become a backwater of 2,393 households, according to an 1871-1872 Ottoman census.  

In contrast to the Arabs, the Jews never had much of an empire. According to the biblical account, Jews managed only a small empire under King Solomon, David’s son, around 1000 BC. Even if that account is true, and some dispute that Solomon had any empire at all, over the last 3,000 years the Jews’ only claim has been to their ancestral indigenous land. 

Because the Torah, the Jewish constitution, never aspired to empire, Jews readily gave the Sinai back to Egypt after Israel won it in the 1956 Sinai War, and again after Israel won it in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Jewish territory within the region that constitutes the 22 countries of today’s Arab League is vanishingly small. It amounts to one-sixth of 1% of the land area, versus 99.83% for the Arabs.  

In claiming that they are the indigenous people of Israel, today’s Palestinian Arabs faced a challenge: How could they counter the evidence in the Old and New Testaments, which describe at length the Jews of Israel in the centuries before and the century after Jesus’s birth.  

The Quran overcame the challenge by claiming that Moses was a Muslim. So were Jesus and his 12 disciples. By trumping the biblical descriptions of Jews via the Quran's revisionist history, Arabs lay claim to an origin that extends to the biblical era. 

Never mind that Muhammad founded the religion of Islam six centuries after Jesus died; that archeological evidence corroborates biblical accounts of Jews in Israel; and that ancient Greek and Roman historians identify Jews as the inhabitants of the biblical lands identified as Israel.  

The Arabs of Palestine, whose numbers have grown prodigiously over the last century, may have credible arguments for their land claims. They should make them and drop the absurd arguments that Jews aren’t indigenous to ancient Israel and that Jews who settle in their ancestral homeland are colonists.  

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  • Words count:
    1373 words
  • Type of content:
    Opinion
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    July 16, 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech this month to the U.S. Congress poses complex challenges for Israel. Not just to the Biden administration; not only to Donald Trump; not only to the West, which is beset by violent antisemitic demonstrations organized by Hamas and its supporters. 

The speech poses a serious challenge to the U.S. Jewish community. American Jewry opposes Israeli interference in U.S. internal affairs. Oct. 7 did not pass them by. The tragedy in the villages around Gaza and the war that followed have deepened the crisis in the community; a crisis that may affect the identity and identification of the young Jewish generation in North America.

An article written by Ehud Barak, Tamir Pardo and company in The New York Times was not aimed at Diaspora Jews. It was tuned to the political identity of Israeli Jews. The authors fear that a good speech will strengthen Netanyahu and therefore they demand that Congress cancel the invitation.

My decision to address this issue was influenced by several completely different vectors. It started when I read Avi Gil's new book Where is the Head? It is an engrossing, apparently fictional thriller that creates a surprising framework for a thought-provoking plot regarding Jewish affinity. 

Gil, a former director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a top Israeli diplomat. After retiring from public service, I was honored when he agreed to join the founding team of the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI). To this day, he continues to contribute significantly in the field of geopolitical analysis and policy planning. Recently, he has been "sinning" by writing fiction. His third book recounts the adventures of a unique action team formed to make a dramatic move to curb the loss of unity in Israel and the Diaspora.

A non-fictional warning light was turned on by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism (ISGAP) when it discovered that the Bafrayung Fund, headed by Rachel Gelman, is among the main donors to the Westchester Peace Action Committee (WESPAC), which supported anti-Israel groups and Hamas-inspired demonstrations on campuses across the United States. I do not personally know Rachel Gelman, but I know her parents well. 

Suzy and Michael Gelman are prominent leaders and major philanthropists in the North American Jewish Federations system, chaired the Jewish community of Washington D.C. for three terms, are active on the board of trustees of the Jewish Agency and were among the founders of Birthright Israel. I am familiar with their warm Zionist and liberal affinity. Their perceptions are typical of many North American Jews attached to Judaism and the Jewish state.

As I understand it, Suzy and Michael have established a philanthropic foundation in which their children can do whatever their hearts desire. The apple turns out to have fallen as far from the tree as a golf ball flying out of bounds.

However, the wake-up call came from a friend who has dedicated most of his life to the prosperity of the Jewish community of New York. He excitedly told me that there are Jewish leaders who are encouraging members of Congress to leave the hall during Netanyahu’s speech and join the demonstrations against him outside the Capitol.

"When Israel wobbles, all of Judaism trembles," said my friend. “Many American Jews fear Trump and worry that Netanyahu will play into the Republicans’ hands. They hate Israeli meddling in American politics, even if they admit that the U.S. administration does not hesitate to step into the Israeli political arena. The U.S. is a superpower. Not everything that the administration allows itself is also allowed for an Israeli politician.”

During the speech, hundreds of thousands of Hamas supporters are expected to demonstrate outside the Capitol, chanting "Palestine from the river to the sea." It will not be a rose garden. Jewish leaders of major American Jewish organizations say that Jews who intend to join the demonstrations and encourage Democrats to boycott Netanyahu's speech are a handful of activists of the progressive Jewish lobby J Street. They draw inspiration from and are helped by a handful of Israelis. The New York Times article revealed their identity.

Israel's supporters do not believe that many Jews will join the Hamas call "Palestine from the river to the sea." Those who arrive will be swallowed up by the crowd. Israel's supporters take solace in the fact that during Netanyahu's speech to Congress in 2015, only around 60 Democratic congresspeople boycotted the event; they believe the picture will be similar in 2024. The leadership of both parties signed the invitation to Netanyahu, so a significant Democratic presence is expected.

For decades, American Jews have provided Israel with a safety net. They have largely become a strategic asset. World War II gave birth to a deep frustration that stemmed from their powerlessness to help their brothers in Europe, who were led like sheep to the gas chambers. After the war, American Jews came to their senses and organized themselves.

On the eve of the Six-Day War, Levi Eshkol sought to characterize the State of Israel, which had not yet turned 20, as Shimshun der nebeckhdikehr—poor Samson. Israel was a young country facing an existential threat, strong in spirit and determined to exist, ready to fight against enemies who sought its extermination.

The Jews of the world stood by the Jewish state as one. They came to volunteer in kibbutzim and moshavim to free up the reservists from the burdens of their daily lives. The power of the Jewish community in the United States gained momentum after the Six-Day War.

The unequivocal victory of the IDF against Egypt, Jordan and Syria added to American Jews' national pride. Their strengthening in American society—politically and economically—added to their power and influence. The Jews, who had been excluded from leading universities, private country clubs, hotels and resorts reserved for WASPs only, became more and more welcome. The success of the State of Israel also contributed to this transformation.

Talented young Jews were absorbed into public service, politics, the media and academia. The same WASPs who moments earlier had opposed the reception of Jews in their clubs, began to take pride in brides and grooms of Jewish origin. Many of them, including American presidents, became grandparents to Jewish grandchildren.

This success worked in favor of Israel. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel was undergoing one of its most difficult times, then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger had a decisive influence on the American airlift sent to Israel, which changed the battlefield’s configuration.

In the early 1990s, China, countries that had broken free from the Soviet bloc and a significant number of third-world countries established relations with Israel because they believed that the road to Washington passes through Jerusalem. This was despite the fact that the White House at the time acted against the reelection of Yitzhak Shamir, who was considered a right-wing, nationalist and rigid leader.

This was mainly thanks to the unity of the Jewish people and the prosperity of the Jewish community in the United States, along with its visionary leadership headed by the iconic Max Fisher and a thriving Israel. Jews who occupied senior positions in the government were able to identify not only the common values but also the tangential interests the two countries shared and strengthen their relations.

Oct. 7 changed things. Israel's position as a regional power is eroding. The rift, the demonstrations in Israel, the shuffling on the battlefield and the rise of antisemitism are damaging.

Netanyahu must take advantage of the opportunity in Congress to strengthen the unity of the Jewish people; to recall the apples that have fallen far from the tree back to the roots; to tiptoe smartly between Biden and Trump. He must make clear to the Americans and the free world that even though the Israeli Samson had a haircut on Oct. 7, he is not a nebbish; that Israeli soldiers fight bravely and the IDF stands resolutely at the head of the Western front against the radical axis of evil led by Iran, Russia, China and North Korea. 

And, the critics at home... They should be a little more patient and shoulder a bit more responsibility if the Jewish state is still dear to them.

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  • Words count:
    505 words
  • Type of content:
    News
  • Byline:
  • Publication Date:
    July 16, 2024

Matthew Miller, the U.S. State Department spokesman, pushed back twice on Monday during a press conference when Said Arikat, D.C. bureau chief for Al-Quds, suggested that Israel targeted the al-Mawasi humanitarian zone on the "pretext" of killing the Hamas leader Mohammed Deif.

"You don’t feel that the attack on Mawasi that killed close to 100 Palestinians, injured about 300 others and so on, under the pretext of targeting Hamas leaders, which is really a very convenient—," Arikat began.

"A 'pretext' is a big word, Said. Just I—," Miller interjected.

"Under the pretext—I mean, okay, we had—," Arikat said, per the official State Department transcript.

"I just want to make sure that’s the word you mean," Miller said.

"Okay. I mean, under the claim that they were targeting Hamas leaders, which they really—they never have to prove anyway," Arikat said. "They can say, 'We know that this X person was there and Y person was there, so we target them. We kill all these people, then nobody is going to ask us.'"

Arikat, who frequently criticizes the Jewish state in his ostensible questions, added that "the most they can do is just, 'We will launch an investigation,' which we never hear the results of."

"So you don’t feel that such a—such a crime, really—using F-35s to bomb two places, one of them against the respondents, the first responders and so on, while the other was going on—you don’t think this is an attempt by the Israeli government to just basically say, 'You can go fly a kite,' so to speak, when it comes to negotiations?"

"I guess I don’t understand the logic of the question," Miller said.

Arikat said that "what we have seen in statements and, indeed, in the negotiations that Hamas is really—at least it appears to be committed to the negotiations and so on—but what we have seen is a pattern by the Israeli government that every time you get close to results, we get something like this."

"We get a bombardment that—in the hope that it will scuttle and leave it—leave it to keep the onus on Hamas, so to speak," the Palestinian reporter added. "So we’re not concerned about the Palestinians are committed to this ceasefire, but are you certain that Israel is committed to the points that were stated by the president on May 31?"

After the State Department spokesman noted that Israel is "committed to the proposal that they put forward that the president publicly described on May 31. They have said that publicly, they have affirmed that to us privately and they have committed to trying to work to reach a ceasefire and bridge the remaining differences."

When another reporter accused Arikat of justifying political violence, Miller said, "There are people in this room who come and raise their hand and ask questions, and I’m going to call on them."

https://youtu.be/6u5Is7ofaKQ?feature=shared&t=612
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