Video: Abbas, UNESCO, and the Test of Diplomacy – Dore Gold
In its latest resolution on Israel, UNESCO speaks about the Bilal Bin Rabah mosque in Bethlehem. Where did they get this? From the Palestinian Authority, which has taken Rachel’s Tomb, a famous Jewish holy site, and converted it into an exclusively Islamic site.
The irony is that in the documents of the Ottoman Empire, an imperial firman (decree) by the Ottoman Sultan describes Rachel’s Tomb as a Jewish site. Moreover, Bilal Bin Rabah, the first muazzin of Islam, was buried in Damascus, not in Bethlehem, according to Islamic tradition. UNESCO is supposed to be responsible for maintaining educational truth, but it doesn’t do so. The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former Israeli UN ambassador and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
‘You’re a Liar,’ Israeli Soldiers Tell Breaking The Silence Activist in Hard-Hitting New Video
An Israeli veterans organization has released a hard-hitting new video attacking “Breaking the Silence” – an Israeli NGO that publishes what it says are the anonymous testimonies of Israeli soldiers who participated in abuses against Palestinians – for “lying” about an incident in which a Palestinian prisoner was allegedly beaten unconscious.
The group, Reservists on Duty, said that the original Hebrew version of the video had garnered one million views, triggering their decision to release it in English as well. “Organizations promoting BDS such as Students for Justice for Palestine use testimonies provided by Breaking the Silence to further their agenda of demonizing Israel and attempting to curtail Israel’s right to defend itself from murderous terror,” said Reservists on Duty Executive Director Amit Deri.
The video focuses on the claim of a Breaking the Silence activist, Dean Issacharoff, who claimed at a protest rally that he was compelled by his commanding officer to tie up and beat a Palestinian prisoner while his soldiers watched. “I grabbed him by the neck and started to knee him in the face and chest until he was bleeding and unconscious,” Issacharoff claimed.
The soldiers in the video, who served with Issacharoff in the army, strenuously deny his version of events. A number of them are filmed looking directly into the camera and telling Issacharoff, “you’re a liar.” Another soldier asks, “Where do you come up with this stuff?”
“Your soldiers trusted you and you spat on them,” says another. (the Algemeiner)
Watch the video
Top PA official: Abbas is flexible on land swaps
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is still willing to negotiate “minimal” land swaps along the 1967 borders, Nabil Sha’ath, the Palestinian leader’s foreign policy adviser, said on Monday.
“[Abbas] has not changed that,” Sha’ath told The Jerusalem Post in an interview at the Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah, alluding to Abbas’s position on land swaps. “He is a flexible person.”
Land swaps refer to exchanges of territory between Israel and the Palestinians, in which the two sides would agree to modifications to the 1967 border in a final agreement.
Practically, land swaps would allow Israel to maintain some settlements and the Palestinians to annex parts of Israel.
Sha’ath, who is a former top Palestinian negotiator, said that land swaps have been a core part of the negotiations process since United Nation Security Council Resolution 242, which calls for “guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every state in the area.”
However, Sha’ath said that Israel is not thinking of the same type of land swap as Abbas, who backs “minimal” swaps, which are equal in terms of quality of land.
“The Israeli government is not thinking of minimal corrections,” Sha’ath remarked.
“It is thinking that 62% of the West Bank, Area C, would be exchanged for 1% in the desert around Gaza. We are not going to do that.”
Abbas has previously negotiated land swaps with Israel and even offered a 1.9% exchange at the Annapolis Peace Conference in 2007.
Nonetheless, Abbas has recently iterated that he will not accept anything other than a Palestinian state along 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Abbas said last Tuesday that the Palestinian leadership “will not accept any solution” that does not include a state along 1967 lines and east Jerusalem as its capital.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has said he supports a twostate solution, but also leads a government coalition, which includes member who oppose it.
Sha’ath, who was speaking a few days after Abbas and Trump’s first meeting in Washington, DC, also said that the meeting between the two leaders was “very positive.”
Sha’ath said the Palestinian leadership did not have high expectations for the meeting, but was pleasantly surprised upon its arrival in the American capital.
“The Palestinian flag inside the White House; the honoring of President Abu Mazen and his commitment to peace; Trump accepting our invitation to come to Palestine when he comes to the Middle East,” Sha’ath mentioned, trying to explain the optimism of the Palestinian leadership following its meeting with Trump. “Much of this is symbolic, but symbolism and things like this are important because it creates a different kind of atmosphere.”
Sha’ath added that the Palestinian delegation was able to make its case to the Trump administration, which, he said, listened attentively.
“[The Americans] listened to our case and were positive and appreciative of our position and commitment to peace,” Sha’ath said, without revealing the specific details of the meeting.
According to Sha’ath, the meeting was so successful that the Palestinian leadership thinks that Trump is more adamant than former president Barack Obama was to reach a deal.
“We were happy when Mr.
Obama came to Cairo… but obviously the question is not only about your general demeanor but, rather, your ability to carry it through. Mr. Obama really had so many other priorities, such as healthcare,” Sha’ath said. “Trump gives the impression that he is determined…
He is very much interested in a deal. If you’re interested in making a deal, you need resolve and flexibility, and we are sure he has these two.”
At the start of Obama’s first term in 2009, he delivered a speech in Cairo, in which he called for the establishment of a Palestinian state and a halt to settlement building.
While both the Israeli and Palestinian top leaderships have now visited the White House, they still have not committed to renew talks.
Sha’ath declined to comment if the Palestinian side is still demanding a settlement freeze to resume talks.
“We will have to discuss that issue in future meetings with the Trump administration,” he said.
Nonetheless, he thinks that Israel and the Palestinians should do everything possible to reach a peace deal while Abbas is in office.
“Abu Mazen is the best opportunity and is really committed to peace,” Sha’ath said. “Both Israelis and Palestinians need to take advantage of this opportunity.” (Jerusalem Post)
Abbas says he’s ready to meet Netanyahu as part of Trump peace push
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that he was ready to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of US President Donald Trump’s peace efforts, weeks before the US leader is expected to visit the region.
Trump is expected in Israel on May 22 as part of his first foreign trip and the Palestinian president said “we are looking forward to his visit soon to Bethlehem” in the West Bank, with speculation it will occur on May 23.
“We told him that we were ready to collaborate with him and meet the Israeli prime minister under his auspices to build peace,” Abbas told reporters while meeting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Abbas also said he was fully committed to a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines that would allow Israel and Palestine to exist side by side in peace, security and friendship.
Steinmeier said much time has already been spent on efforts to set up a state of Palestine alongside Israel.
“In our view there is no other solution,” than the two-state solution, he said. “It’s high time to work on the requirements for it.”
Abbas met Trump in Washington last week for their first face-to-face talks.
On Monday, senior Palestinian adviser Nabil Shaath praised Trump for Abbas’s warm reception at the White House and said any possible meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders would be discussed when the US president visits.
“What was discussed in Washington was getting ready to start the negotiations,” he told The Times of Israel.
Trump announced last week that his first foreign trip as president will include stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican — the spiritual centers of Islam, Judaism and Catholicism.
At the time of the announcement, a senior Trump aide did not rule out the possibility of a presidential stop in the West Bank, but said that it was likely to be contingent on security and Abbas taking concrete steps toward peace.
Trump has been seeking ways to restart moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
As he hosted Abbas in Washington, Trump confidently predicted that a peace agreement was within grasp, brushing aside the complexities of a decades-old conflict that has bedeviled successive US leaders. (the Times of Israel)
US House Appropriations will strongly look into PA ‘martyr’ funding
A Palestinian Authority program that provides stipends to the families of convicted terrorists in Israel concerns Democrats as much as Republicans on Capitol Hill, one lawmaker said on Sunday.
Rep. Grace Meng, a Democrat from New York, told The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York that, as a new member of the House Appropriations Committee, she will push for an end to the program, which the PA describes as a compensation scheme for “martyrs” of the Palestinian cause.
Congressional appropriations committees are responsible for regulating federal expenditures, such as US foreign aid to organizations like the PA.
Meng signed a bipartisan letter sent to US President Donald Trump last week encouraging him to raise the issue in his meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
“I’m appreciative that [Trump] took that into consideration,” Meng said. “However, Abbas’ denial of the reality of incitement is something that we need to continue to strongly look into. And I will be doing so.”
“There simply cannot be peace anywhere if children are raised with hatred,” she said.
Meng was the first New York Democrat to announce opposition to the Iran nuclear deal during a floor fight over its survival in 2015. She continues to oppose the agreement, she says.
“Making sure that we keep Iran accountable is a huge piece of the US-Israel relationship,” Meng said. “I am still working with like-minded congressional colleagues on a bipartisan level to ensure that Iran is not able to subvert the goals of the deal.”
To that end, Meng is part of several initiatives that would increase monitoring of Iran’s ports and checkpoints, press the Treasury Department on Iran’s alleged dollarization, target Iran’s ballistic missile activity and strengthen non-nuclear sanctions enforcement.
Since joining Congress, Meng has consistently voted to increase military aid for Israel, expressing particular favor for increased funding to its short- , mid- and long-range missile defense programs. On Sunday, she praised the Obama administration’s brokerage with the Israeli government of a memorandum of understanding that will provide the Jewish state with $38 billion in defense aid over the course of the next decade. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel unveils archaeological garden in Jerusalem’s Old City
Construction Minister Yoav Galant on Monday reiterated the unbreakable bond between the Jewish people and Jerusalem at the unveiling of the Davidson Center’s Archeological Garden of Jerusalem, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the capital’s reunification.
Situated near the Temple Mount, around the southwestern section of the Western Wall, the garden features antiquities from the Second Temple, early Muslim and Byzantine periods collected since the end of the Six Day War.
Galant, who has long championed the many initiatives of the Company for the Restoration and Development of the Jewish Quarter, which spearheaded the project, said the timing of the unveiling is significant and symbolic.
“Everything we are doing in Jerusalem is in order to reassure and confirm our existence here,” said the celebrated former commander of the IDF’s Southern Command.
“The Israeli history and tradition – and, of course, the Jewish tradition – is very important,” he said. “Therefore, this exhibition is special because it memorializes the unique moment of the reunification of Jerusalem, which to our generation is one of the most important things to take place since the establishment of the State of Israel.”
Asked what message he has for UNESCO following its recent resolution denying Israeli sovereignty of Jerusalem, Galant recommended the organization’s ambassadors and delegates take an overdue history lesson.
“They should learn from history – from the Romans and all the others – that it is impossible to defeat the Jewish spirit,” he said. “And the Zionist movement is the answer that we have since the last 100 years in order to symbolize what it means to come back to our homeland.”
In terms of ongoing international condemnation over the expanding housing developments for Jews beyond the capital’s Green Line, Galant said he is far more optimistic under the nascent Trump administration.
“I believe that this administration is more reasonable [than the Obama administration] and has more common sense about Israel and the world because bad is bad, evil is evil, and good is good,” he said.
“And [US] President [Donald] Trump and his administration know very well that the bright spot in the Middle East is Israel.
Therefore, I believe they will support us.”
According to Pini Refael, manager of education and tourism for the Company for the Restoration and Development of the Jewish Quarter, the garden showcases nearly 3,000 years of history in the historic area, surrounding a corner of the Temple Mount compound.
“Since the Six Day War, there have been a lot of university delegations that have come from across the globe to conduct excavations around the Temple Mount, because no excavations have ever taken place on top of the Temple Mount,” he said. “What happened here is that layer after layer of discoveries were found during digs covering 3,000-square meters that were up to 15 to 20 meters deep, allowing us to arrive at the original main street of the Jewish Quarter.”
While most of the relics unearthed in the area since 1967 are housed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Ethan and Marla Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center, located at the entrance to the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, the unveiled garden features an array of ruins spanning millennia.
“This takes us back 3,000 years ago, from the days of King Solomon,” Refael said.
“In fact, we found the remains of a gate and wall that date to King Solomon’s period, as well as thousands of coins, ancient jars, seal impressions and stones with Hebrew inscriptions from the Second Temple period.” (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians: Abbas’s “Culture of Peace”
by Bassam Tawil The Gatestone Institute
Thanks to Abbas’s falsehoods, his media continues to this day dishonestly to talk about “Jewish invaders and settlers storming” Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. This and this alone is the source of the knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.
Perhaps by a “culture of peace” Abbas means calling — as he and his top officials regularly do — Israel an apartheid and racist state. Or maybe “culture of peace” means calling all Jews “occupiers” and “colonists” — or denouncing and threatening Palestinian children who play soccer with Israeli kids. Or naming schools and electoral lists after convicted murderers?
Under Abbas, anti-Israel incitement and indoctrination is a business that has expanded exponentially. It has, in fact, grown to the point that a new generation has been raised on the glorification of jihadists — a generation impatient to draw yet more Jewish blood. If this is Abbas’s “culture of peace,” one has to wonder what he would consider a culture of war?
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas may soon be known for his sense of humor. Like many Palestinians, Abbas believes that Westerners will swallow his lies wholesale. Abbas, for instance, ended his May 3 meeting with US President Donald Trump with the following whopper: “We are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace.”
Abbas did not provide further details about the “culture of peace” upon which Palestinian children are being raised. Nor did anyone bother to ask Abbas or any member of his entourage to provide examples of the “culture of peace” in Palestinian society. Yet major Western media outlets were quick to publish Abbas’s unmistakable lie.
Apparently, like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, Abbas is convinced that Palestinians can fool “all of the people, all of the time” about their true goals and intentions. Arafat lied to Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton when he told them that he and the Palestinian Authority were promoting peace and coexistence with Israel. Under Arafat, anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media, schools and mosques intensified until Palestinians waged the Second Intifada in September 2000. This intifada was the result of seven years of vicious incitement and indoctrination that came after the inception of the PA. In a truly ironic turn of events, the Oslo Accords, signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993, gave the Palestinians media outlets, including television and radio stations, which were then used to amplify hatred against Israel and Jews on a daily basis.
Arafat used these media outlets to tell his people — when then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in September 2000 — that Israel was planning to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque. It was precisely this incitement that triggered the Second Intifada, in which Palestinians wage a massive and ruthless campaign of suicide bombings and drive-by shootings that caused the death of hundreds of Israelis.
Under Arafat, it was anything but a “culture of peace.” His message to the Palestinians was: “We will march towards Jerusalem and we will sacrifice millions of martyrs on the way!”
Unlike many Israelis who were murdered by Palestinians at Arafat’s incitement, Arafat’s famous battle cry is still alive and well. Currently, it is being echoed by many Palestinians, including children, during rallies and demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This call-to-arms openly encourages Palestinian youths to “march towards Jerusalem” and become “martyrs.”
Only one week before the Abbas’s meeting with Trump, the PA president’s Fatah faction called on Palestinians to take to the streets and clash with Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers. The call was made in “solidarity” with Palestinian prisoners who went on a “hunger strike” in Israeli prisons. The hunger strike was not about Israel’s prisons, well-known for being among the most comfortable in the world; the hunger strike was actually a political move to compete for which terrorist would be Abbas’s successor. The prisoners are terrorists, most of them with blood on their hands; the more blood, the higher the promotion.
In the fight for Palestinian leadership, being a “graduate” of an Israeli prison is far more important than being a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. The Palestinians’ former prime minister, Salam Fayyad. Fayyad, an economist and reformer adored in the West, received only 2% of the Palestinian vote.
By calling for clashes with Israelis, Fatah is inciting Palestinian youths to carry out violent attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers. This is the same Fatah led by Abbas — the same Abbas mouthing lies about a “culture of peace.” By voicing solidarity with convicted murderers and praising them as role models and heroes of Palestinians, Abbas’s Fatah pushes Palestinian youths to follow in their footsteps and engage in violence.
One day after the Abbas-Trump meeting, the current Palestinian Authority prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, participated in a rally in Ramallah, in solidarity with the hunger-striking terrorists. At the rally, Hamdallah affirmed the PA’s full support for the terrorists, by saying he was working to bring their case to the attention of the international community.
Like Arafat, Abbas continues to use alleged but non-existent threats the al-Aqsa Mosque to incite Palestinian youths against Israel. For the past 50 years, non-Muslims, including Jews, have been permitted to visit the Temple Mount as tourists. The visits were suspended when the Second Intifada began in 2000. But since the tourist visits resumed a few years ago, the Muslims have been trying to keep Jews away from the holy site. The Muslims claim that Jews are seeking to “destroy” and “desecrate” the al-Aqsa Mosque (on the Temple Mount) — a false claim that is added to the long list of lies and blood libels spread by Abbas and many Muslims. Abbas’s statement came in response not to any incidents at al-Aqsa Mosque, as Abbas and other Palestinians claimed: Tours of Jews to the Temple Mount are routine and peaceful.
In September 2015, Abbas stated that he “welcomed every drop of blood that is spilled in Jerusalem.”
Shortly after this statement, Palestinians began waging a campaign of knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis, in a violent insurgency known as the “Knife Intifada”. “We will protect Jerusalem and we will not allow them [Jews] to defile al-Aqsa (Mosque) and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with their filthy feet,” Abbas deceitfully announced.
It is still unclear why he decided to bring the church into the controversy surrounding Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. What is clear is that Abbas was lying: Jews had not entered either the church or al-Aqsa Mosque.
Ever since Abbas’s inciting statement, however, dozens of Palestinian youths have heeded his call by going out to stab or run over the first Jew they see. Their blood is on Abbas’s hands. He is the one who sent out the youths to “protect” al-Aqsa Mosque against the fictitious Jewish “invaders.” He is the one who continues falsely to talk about “herds of settlers storming al-Aqsa Mosque” — in reality, peaceful routine visits by Jews to the Temple Mount. Thanks, however, to Abbas’s falsehoods, his media continues to this day dishonestly to talk about “Jewish invaders and settlers storming” Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. This and this alone is the source of the knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.
This, evidently, is the “culture of peace” to which Abbas is referring. How can he utter such a staggering lie when his media and top officials continue to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews on a daily basis? How precisely is Abbas promoting peace when his Palestinian Authority names schools and public squares after Palestinian terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands? Earlier this year, for example, Abbas’s Fatah named a youth camp in Jericho after Dalal al-Mughrabi, a female terrorist who killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded more than 70, in 1978.
By honoring the murderers of Jews, Abbas is, instead, solely promoting a culture of hate and violence. His message to Palestinian youths is, straightforwardly: the more Jews you kill, the more honor and respect you will receive from your people.
Abbas talks about a “culture of peace” at a time when he and his Palestinian Authority are even combating all forms of “normalization” with Israel. The anti-normalization campaign, in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities, targets any Palestinian who dares to meet with Jews (even “pro-Palestinian” Jews). It operates solely under the auspices of the PA government. This campaign also promotes boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Its goal is to intimidate Palestinians who work towards peace and coexistence with Israel and to ban any business with Jews. Can any Palestinian invite Jews to a meeting in Ramallah without being targeted by the “anti-normalization” thugs, many of whom are affiliated with Abbas’s Fatah?
Perhaps by a “culture of peace,” Abbas means calling — as he and his top officials regularly do — Israel an apartheid and racist state. Or maybe “culture of peace” means calling all Jews “occupiers” and “colonists” — or denouncing and threatening Palestinian children who play soccer with Israeli kids. Or naming schools and electoral lists after convicted murderers? Those seem like debatable ways to advance his “culture of peace.”
Under Abbas, anti-Israel incitement and indoctrination is a business that has expanded exponentially. It has, in fact, grown to the point that a new generation has been raised on the glorification of jihadists, a generation impatient to draw yet more Jewish blood. If this is Abbas’s “culture of peace,” what, one wonders, would he consider a culture of war?
Will we ever learn?
By Cal Thomas The Washington Times
President Trump is about to score a religious trifecta, visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome, the “home” of three monotheistic religions. The president has said he wants to make the ultimate deal and achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
While the goal is similar to a high school kid attempting to hit a curve ball from an all-star pitcher, the scenario cannot end well for Israel. How do I know this? One has only to look at history. There has never — never — been a time when an American president has sought to lessen tensions in the region that Israel has not been smeared as the main impediment and required to “do more” to make peace happen. Israel is not an impediment to peace. Her enemies are.
Here’s the danger for Mr. Trump. The Koran allows Muslims to lie to “nonbelievers” in pursuit of Islam’s goal of an earthly kingdom ruled by their religion. An example occurred last week when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met at the White House with Mr. Trump. Mr. Abbas said, “Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children and grandchildren, in a culture of peace.”
That is a flat-out lie, as even a cursory Google search or visit to the Palestinian Media Watch website proves. President Trump correctly saw the problem in a campaign speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): “In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you’ve got a culture of hatred that has been fomenting there for years. And if we want to achieve peace, they’ve got to go out and they’ve got to start this educational process. They have to end education of hatred.”
Which country promotes the most extreme form of Islam in children’s textbooks, mosques and their media? It is Saudi Arabia. If a person, or nation, believes they have a mandate from their “god” to lie to achieve their goals, how likely is it that even a president is not regarded as an “infidel” whose desire for peace can be used to damage Israel’s best interests?
As Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick correctly noted last week: “Israel is the most immediate casualty of Trump’s decision to embrace Abbas and the PLO, because the PLO is Israel’s enemy. Abbas is an anti-Semite. His doctoral dissertation, which he later published as a book, is a Holocaust-denying screed.
“Abbas engages in anti-Semitic incitement on a daily basis, both directly and indirectly. It was Abbas who called for his people to kill Jews, claiming that we pollute Judaism’s most sacred site, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, with our ‘filthy feet.’ The Palestinian media and school system which he controls with an iron fist both regularly portray Jews as evil monsters, deserving of physical annihilation.”
This is not the attitude of one with whom a president or prime minister of Israel can make peace. A virus of hatred toward Israel and Jews is epidemic throughout the region. One is as likely to change the minds of such people as persuade a serious Christian to deny the resurrection of Jesus, or an Orthodox Jew to accept Him as Messiah. The difference is that Christians and Jews do not have world domination as their goal and violence as their method.
Mr. Trump should reread his AIPAC speech, because he was right to say what he said then. Mr. Abbas lied to the president during his visit. Mr. Trump can expect more lies on his trip to Saudi Arabia, whose leaders may promise all sorts of things and tell the president what he wants to hear, but won’t mean it. The proof is in their interpretation of their religion. As always, the West must pay less attention to what the enemies of Israel say and more attention to what they do.
Queen Elizabeth’s Mother-in-Law Saved Jews during the Holocaust
The incredible story of Princess Alice of Battenberg.
by Dr. Yvette Alt Miller Aish HaTorah
Prince Philip, husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, has announced that he is retiring from royal duties. The 95-year-old prince quipped that he’s standing down because he “can’t stand up much these days.” As well as being a distinguished royal, Prince Philip is also descended from a different kind of nobility: his mother saved Jews during the Holocaust and has been honored as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center.
Incredibly, Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, managed to rescue a Jewish family despite her own royal family’s ties to the highest levels of the Nazi party.
Princess Alice rescued a Jewish family despite her own royal family’s ties to the Nazi party.
Princess Alice was born in Britain in 1885, the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Her father was a German prince and her mother a British princess; Alice was related to most royal families in Europe. She was also unusual. Diagnosed with deafness at the age of eight, Alice learned to lip-read. Later on, some of her relatives speculated that her deafness rendered Alice more sensitive to others’ difficulties and more sympathetic to those who found themselves outside the mainstream.
Alice fell in love with then-Prince Andrew of Greece at the coronation of her cousin King Edward VII in London in 1902. The two were married the following year. The royal couple had one son, Philip, and four daughters. During this time, Princess Alice and Prince Andrew became close friends with Haimaki (“Chaim”) Cohen, a distinguished Jewish member of the Greek Parliament, his wife Rachel, and their family. Sensing the increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, the royal family pledged to help the Cohens if ever they needed aid. This peaceful period came to an end in 1921 when the Greek Revolution forced the royal family into exile in Paris.
In Paris, Prince Andrew effectively abandoned his wife and drifted into a playboy existence. Alice fell into despair and was even hospitalized for mental illness for two years in the 1930s. After her release, she returned alone to Athens. Her son Philip was sent to live with various relatives. One cousin later recalled that when he visited them for Christmas and signed the family guestbook, he wrote his address as “no fixed abode”. Alice’s four daughters all married German aristocrats.
Princess Alice at 25.
When World War II broke out, Prince Philip volunteered with the British navy where he saw action and served with distinction. Princess Alice’s daughters’ lives took a markedly different path: all four princesses’ husbands assumed high-level positions in the Nazi Government. One daughter, Princess Margarita, and her husband, Prince Gottfried of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, turned against Hitler. Prince Gottfried plotted to kill Hitler in 1944 but was discovered before he could complete his plan. Alice’s other three daughters became passionate Nazis. One even named her son Karl Adolf after Adolf Hitler.
With war underway, Haimaki Cohen and his family were in danger. When Germany invaded Greece in 1941, the Cohens fled to Athens which was then under Italian rule and safer than German-held areas for Jews. That changed in September 1943, when Germany took control of Athens and started hunting for Jews to deport. By 1943, Haimaki Cohen had died and his family was desperately trying to find a way out of Greece. One son travelled to Cairo to join the Greek government in exile there; the rest of the family remained in Athens.
Hearing of their plight, Alice sent word to Haimaki’s widow Rachel that she would hide the family. Rachel and her daughter Tilde moved in; they were later joined by another son, Michel. Alice had recently moved out of her modest apartment, into a larger building that belonged to her brother-in-law in order to be a caretaker. This large building afforded Alice the space to shelter a family in comfort, but there was a big drawback: the building was merely yards from the Gestapo’s headquarters in Athens. At times, the Gestapo became suspicious of the former Queen and brought her in for questioning. At those times, Alice would pretend to not understand their questions because of her deafness.
Alice’s trusted friend Demosthene Pouris later recalled those wartime years: “The Princess put a small two-room apartment on the third floor at the disposal of Mrs. Cohen and her daughter (and later son)…. Having been the only one who was authorized by the Princess to visit the Cohen family and with only a very limited circle of the Princess who were loyal to her, we were the only ones who knew the secret. During the long and difficult years of the occupation I would visit Mrs. Cohen and her children in the apartment, help them maintain contact with the outside world, run errands for them and keep up their spirits.”
Alice’s brother Lord Mountbatten of Britain managed to have some food parcels sent to Alice during those difficult years. When she received these packages, Alice gave them away to the needy.
Alice never spoke of her wartime heroism to her family who wouldn’t learn of her actions until long after her death. Four years after the War, in 1949, Alice founded an order of nursing nuns and moved to a convent on the Greek island of Tinos, withdrawing from the world. It seems that she wished to follow in the footsteps of her aunt, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna, who became a nun later in life. (Grand Duchess Elizabeth was killed during the Russian Revolution and was buried in Jerusalem.)
In 1993, Yad Vashem designated Princess Alice “Righteous Among the Nations” for sheltering and saving the Cohen family.
After the 1967 coup d’état in Greece, Alice returned to her birthplace, London, and moved into Buckingham Palace. Shortly before her death in 1969 at the age of 84, Alice requested to be buried in Jerusalem near her Aunt Elizabeth. At first her wishes were ignored, and Alice was given a royal burial in Britain. But in 1988, Princess Alice’s remains were transferred to the family crypt on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
In 1993, Yad Vashem designated Princess Alice “Righteous Among the Nations” for sheltering and saving the Cohen family. Even though the British royal family has never made an official state visit to the Jewish state, Prince Philip, along with his sister Margarita, travelled to Israel for the ceremony honoring his mother. Prince Philip planted a tree to memorialize his mother, and delivered a moving speech:
“The Holocaust was the most horrific event in all Jewish history and it will remain in the memory of all future generations. It is, therefore, a very generous gesture that also remembered here are the many millions of non-Jews, like my mother, who shared in your pain and anguish and did what they could in small ways to alleviate the horror. I suspect that it never occurred to her that her action was in any way special,” Prince Philip noted. “She would have considered it to be a perfectly natural human reaction to fellow beings in distress.”
When International Guarantees Utterly Failed – David Makovsky (Jerusalem Post)
On May 22, 1967, Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran, a critical blow to Israel which relied on oil imports from Iran. Israel believed it had received a guarantee from the international community in 1957 that it would reopen the Straits if Nasser again closed them, as he had in 1956.
After the Suez Crisis of 1956, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion conceded in principle to withdraw from Sinai, but requested assurances that the Straits of Tiran wouldn’t be blocked again, and that Israeli ships would have access to the Gulf of Aqaba and the Israeli port at Eilat.
When in 1967 Prime Minister Levi Eshkol dispatched Foreign Minister Abba Eban to Paris, London, and Washington to see if the international community would re-open the Straits, as Michael Oren writes in his Six Days of War, de Gaulle declared, “that was 1957…now was 1967.” President Lyndon Johnson was preoccupied with Vietnam.
Properly constructed agreements, such as the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994, have withstood the test of time. Agreements work that serve the interests of both parties.
The vacillation in the run-up to the 1967 war still teaches an important cautionary lesson, illustrating where international guarantees utterly failed. If the chips are down, Israel needs to be able to defend itself by itself.
The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.