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Latest Israel News – 14th September

Why Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism

Without a shadow of a doubt, anti-Zionism is inherently, essentially, necessarily anti-Semitic.

Anti-Zionism propagates the ideology that says Israel has no right to exist.

Anti-Zionism is the movement that strives to use political, economic and moral pressure to wipe Israel off the map and replace it with an Arab-majority Palestine.

Here are three reasons why anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism:

First, anti-Zionism says Jews alone should be stripped of their internationally-recognized right to a space where their distinctive culture can flourish.

Second, Anti-Zionism fails to recognize Jews as political equals and demands that Jews become subordinate. It’s a demand that Jews should become permanent minorities again. It’s an assertion of political supremacy over Jews. That’s anti-Semitism.

Third, anti-Zionism exposes Jews to dangers for which anti-Zionists have no answer. For millennia, Jews faced persecution and the nation-state of Israel is the answer to protecting all Jews. Anti-Zionism says the Jews cannot be the guarantors of their own existence in Israel. That’s anti-Semitism.

Anti-Zionism disregards the beliefs, agency and aspirations of the Jewish people. That’s anti-Semitism.

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Attempted stabbing thwarted near Hebron, attacker shot

A Palestinian man tried to carry out a stabbing attack on Wednesday at a bus stop at the entrance to the Kiryat Arba settlement before being shot and wounded, the IDF said.

The military said the man ran toward a bus stop at the Elias Junction brandishing a knife. He was spotted by troops who opened fire, injuring him.

No Israeli civilians or soldiers were injured, the army said, adding that he was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Hebrew media reports said he was in a serious condition.

Kiryat Arba is adjacent to the divided West Bank city of Hebron.

The attack came a day after Border Police officers arrested a Palestinian teenager carrying a knife at a checkpoint in Hebron, the third such incident over the past week.

After being asked by police to lift his shirt — where he was hiding the knife — as he passed through a checkpoint near the city’s Tomb of the Patriarch’s holy site, the 15-year-old pulled the knife on the officers, who in turn aimed their weapons at him, a police spokeswoman said.

The teenager was then arrested by Border Police and taken for further questioning by security forces, the police spokeswoman said, adding that no shots were fired during the arrest.

Police said they were looking into the teenager’s motive.

On Friday, a Palestinian man in his twenties was arrested in Hebron when he was discovered to be hiding a knife on his person, while last Wednesday Border Police officers arrested a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank city after finding a knife in his possession.

Both of those incidents also took place at checkpoints near the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

The flashpoint city of Hebron, where Palestinians live in close proximity to settlers who are guarded by Israeli troops, has been the scene of numerous stabbings and attempted stabbings since a wave of attacks carried out by Palestinians began in October 2015.  (the Times of Israel)

Argentina hands Israel thousands of WWII files to probe aid to Nazis

Argentina on Tuesday gave Israel thousands of World War II era documents during a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he says marks “a new dawn” in his country’s relationship with Latin America.

The digital documents delivered by President Mauricio Macri include nearly 140,000 secret files and photographs from 1939-1950. They include letters, telegrams and reports that were digitized by Argentina and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

“We have delivered these digitalized historical documents about the Holocaust so that the state of Israel can make sure that they are investigated,” Macri told Netanyahu after giving him a box containing five hard drives. “This is very important for us.”

The documents will clarify what help Argentina provided to Nazi criminals after the war.

Argentina remained neutral during the war but later became a refuge for fleeing Nazi criminals, including some of the most notorious, like Adolf Eichmann. Today, it has Latin America’s largest Jewish community and of the world’s biggest.

Claudio Avruj, Argentina’s secretary of human rights, told JTA that the documents “will help us to know the truth.” He said their delivery to Israel reaffirms the leadership that Argentina has regionally in Holocaust research.

Argentina is the only regional member of the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, formerly the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, or ITF.

Among the documents are the communications between Argentina and countries involved in the war —  as well as information sent by the Argentine Embassy in Germany. Some documents also contain records related to the blacklist of Jews, among others.

Netanyahu arrived Monday in Buenos Aires for the first visit by an Israeli leader to the region since Israel’s creation in 1948. He is also scheduled to visit Colombia and Mexico before going to New York, where he will address the UN General Assembly.

“It’s incredible that in 70 years of Israel, no prime minister visited any country in the Western Hemisphere south than the United States,” Netanyahu said. “We are beginning here the dawn of a new era and not accidentally we begin it here in Argentina.”

Macri at the meeting with Netanyahu said Argentina will work “together with Israel and our allies against terrorism.”

He also announced that Vice President Gabriela Michetti will visit Israel. (the Times of Israel)

Trump and Netanyahu to meet on sidelines of UN General Assembly, US confirms

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet in New York next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, a US official confirmed on Tuesday.

“The President is planning to sit down with the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and I know that the President’s looking forward to doing that,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters during her daily press briefing.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said he would meet with Trump while they both were in Manhattan, but Washington had yet to verify a summit would take place.

The meeting will be the two leaders forth together since Trump assumed office. The two met once in February when the Israeli premier visited the White House, and twice in May when the American president traveled to the region, which included a two-day stop in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Trump is slated to address UNGA on September 19. Reports have quoted officials saying the meeting with Netanyahu will likely take place on or around September 18.

Officials did not say where the meeting would take place, but last month the Israel Hayom daily reported it would be held at Trump’s National Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey.

Officials have not yet disclosed what subjects are on the itinerary of discussion, but their summit will come as Trump is making headlines for his machinations to toughen up on Iran and potential plans to decertify the regime as violating the 2015 nuclear deal, despite International Atomic Energy Agency investigators finding it is abiding by its terms.

Trump told The Wall Street Journal in August he “does not expect that they will be in compliance.” That interview came shortly after Foreign Policy reported that he told his aides to develop a case for why the Iran has violated the agreement by October, when he must report to Congress on whether Tehran is honoring the landmark pact.

Netanyahu has long been a fierce critic of the deal. On Tuesday, he said his position remained simple — that it is a bad deal and should either be renegotiated or trashed.

“In the case of Iran, there have been some news stories about Israel’s purported position on the nuclear deal with Iran. So let me take this opportunity and clarify: Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it — or cancel it. This is Israel’s position,” Netanyahu said from Argentina, where he is on a Latin American swing before making his way to New York for the UN General Assembly.

The meeting between the two leaders also comes at a sensitive time for Trump’s peace push. Last month, the former real estate mogul dispatched a US delegation to the Middle East to try and renew negotiations between the sides.

No tangible developments occurred, but Palestinians continue to criticize the US team for its refusal to back a two-state solution, a goal that has been central to American foreign policy for decades.

In August, Nauert responded to these criticisms by saying the Trump administration did not want to “bias” itself by supporting any particular outcome to the conflict.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will also be in town for the UN General Assembly. There is no indication yet that he is slated to meet individually with Trump or that the three will meet together.        (the Times of Israel)

Egypt won’t mediate between Hamas and Israel on captives, bodies

Egyptian intelligence informed Hamas representatives it is unable to continue mediating between the terrorist organization and Israel over the issue of prisoners of war and missing persons, a source in the Persian Gulf said Wednesday.

The report did not explain why Egypt withdrew its hand from the issue, but said the country expressed its support for any country willing to fill the void.

Egypt’s decision will make it difficult to continue the minimal communication that exists between Israel and Hamas, and comes only three weeks after the Israeli in charge of the issue, Col. (res.) Lior Lotan, resigned from his position.

A permanent replacement has not yet been chosen.

“My deep familiarity with the families of the prisoners of war and missing Israelis, and my privilege to serve their fateful mission — returning their sons home — has left me with a deep impression and constant commitment to them,” he said.

“I have also been exposed to the cruelty and cynicism with which Hamas operates on the issue… We thank you for the trust you have placed in me, for guiding the issue and for the right to serve the state and the people,” he added.

The families of the captives and missing expressed concern that Lotan’s resignation would end the possibility of their sons’ return from Hamas captivity.

The family of killed soldier Hadar Goldin, whose body is being held by Hamas in Gaza, declared after receiving the announcement that “we feel abandoned by the government.”

The family of Oron Shaul, who was also killed and his body seized during Operation Protective Edge, asked to “quickly appoint another representative to act to achieve the desired breakthrough for Oron’s return.”

In the next war, IDF forces will actively engage in the capture of enemy combatants, Lotan said.

He stressed the importance of deterring the enemy.

“In order to prevent the next kidnapping, Israel must take some of its own captives, and everyone has to take 200. That does not mean it will prevent kidnappings, but the attitude will be different,” he said.

“This is an idea that the IDF must improve on in the next war.”                        (Jerusalem Post)

High Court strikes down law that postponed ultra-Orthodox draft

In an eight-to-one decision, the High Court of Justice on Tuesday struck down Knesset legislation from 2015 that was meant to delay efforts to increase the rate at which ultra-Orthodox youth are drafted into the military.

The 2015 amendment to the Equal Service Law cancels a more aggressive 2014 law pushed by the centrist Yesh Atid party that sought to mandate more ultra-Orthodox youth to enter military service. The later amendment was passed under pressure from the Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, which rejoined the Likud-led coalition after the 2015 elections and demanded the change as a condition for joining.

The dramatic ruling on Tuesday set a one-year deadline to implement a different framework for handling the ultra-Orthodox draft.

The court was responding to four separate appeals — three of which claimed the current arrangement discriminated against non-Haredi Jews, and a fourth that argued it discriminated against Haredi Jews, who are being asked to increase their military draft rate while other minorities, especially Israeli Arabs, are not required to serve at all.

Eight justices, led by Chief Justice Miriam Naor, ruled that the current arrangement was increasing the inequality in the “draft burden,” rather than reducing it, which was the law’s stated purpose and the grounds for its constitutionality. That made it an “unconstitutional law,” the justices ruled.

One dissenter, Justice Noam Solberg, argued that the law had not been in effect long enough to determine its effect on the military draft, and therefore no determination could yet be made about its constitutionality.

The ruling was met with a furious response from ultra-Orthodox MKs.

Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush of the UTJ party said the High Court’s rulings made any legislative effort to reach an agreement on the issue into a “dead letter.”

“The High Court of Justice’s judicial activism completely empties Knesset legislation of importance, turning it into a dead letter. Today’s decision just drives another stake into the coffin. The High Court of Justice is eager for the apocalypse,” he said.

Fellow party member MK Yisrael Eichler claimed the decision was part of an “all-out war on Judaism.”

The judges “proved today that the sole motivation behind its decisions is a dictatorial hunger for power, to oppose the laws of the elected Knesset,” Eichler said in a statement.

“The High Court judges will bear personal responsibility for the all-out war on Judaism,” he warned.

Shas’s leader, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, vowed that “the yeshiva students will continue to invest themselves in their learning, and to protect with their [spiritual] merit the other residents of the country.”

He said Shas “will act with all our strength to amend the law and protect the existing framework.”

Ultra-Orthodox seminary students have been largely exempt from Israel’s military draft since then-defense minister David Ben-Gurion exempted 400 students from service in 1949 on the grounds that “their studies are their craft.” Exceptional young artists and athletes are often granted exemptions by the Defense Ministry on the grounds that two or three years of military service could hold them back dramatically.

By 1996, the numbers of ultra-Orthodox draft exemptions had soared to some 7.4% of the entire year’s cohort of Israeli 18-year-olds.

That growth sparked a political and legal battle that resulted in a 1998 Supreme Court ruling that the defense minister was not authorized to exempt what had swelled to some tens of thousands of students on an ad-hoc basis without the arrangement being anchored in law.

By 2002, the Knesset passed the “Tal Law,” which gave ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students exemptions from military service but placed strict demands on them that they be engaged in study for several years and could not enter the workforce during the period.

In 2006, the High Court upheld the contentious law, while noting that it compromises the principle of equality for all Israelis by allowing for easy draft exemptions to one subgroup but not others. A year later, the Knesset extended the five-year Tal Law for an additional five years, prompting new appeals to the High Court and a new ruling in 2009 that said the law was unconstitutional on the grounds that it did not appear to be enforceable, as it was not leading in practice to an increase in the ultra-Orthodox draft.

The court nevertheless allowed the law to remain in place until it expired in 2012.

That year, with the expiration of the law and the Knesset’s failure to enact an alternative arrangement, the court saw new appeals that demanded that the IDF forcibly draft all ultra-Orthodox youth in accordance with the laws governing national military service for the rest of Israel’s Jewish population.

While the court debated these petitions, the 2013 elections ushered in a government that included the Yesh Atid party, which had promised in its election campaign to fundamentally reform the ultra-Orthodox draft framework.

In early 2014, after long negotiations in the Knesset led by Yesh Atid and Jewish Home lawmakers, the Knesset amended the Defense Service Law to increase the burden on Haredi youth to demonstrate they were full-time seminary students, while demanding steadily increasing rates of military service from the community as a whole.

That arrangement did not last long. The nation went to new elections in March 2015, after which a new government was formed with the Haredi parties Shas and UTJ, with Yesh Atid left in the opposition. Within months, the Knesset passed a new amendment that did away with some of the new demands. It was that amendment that was struck down by the High Court on Tuesday. (the Times of Israel)

OECD gives Israel mixed report card on education

Israel spends a higher percentage of GDP on its education than most of the developed world. But it also spends among the lowest in the 35 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries per student and for pay per teacher.

The OECD released its 456-page “Education at a Glance 2017” report on Tuesday. The comprehensive statistical report used data from its 35 developed and 11 partner countries to reveal the current state of education. Topics included such items as student performance, classroom size and teacher status.

In 2014, Israel’s educational expenditure amounted to 5.8% of the gross national product, which was slightly above the OECD average of 5.2% of GDP.

The report shows that in 2014, Israel spent an average of $7,759 per student annually for all services across all levels of education, compared to the OECD average of $10,759.

According to the report, $6,833 was spent per student on Israeli primary education in 2014, while the OECD average was $8,733. For secondary education, the average was $6,699 compared to the OECD average was $10,106. Higher education spending in Israel was $12,989, compared to the OECD average of $16,143.

The report also showed that Israel on average paid their teachers significantly lower salaries, especially at the start of their careers. According to information received in 2015, the average primary school teacher’s starting salary was $19,507, while the OECD average was $30,838. Salaries after 15 years increased to $29,718 in Israel, compared to the OECD average of $42,844.

However, it should be noted that Israeli teachers work significantly fewer hours than their OECD counterparts. On average, total working time for teachers averaged 1,263 hours in Israel, while the OECD average was 1,611 hours.

The report also stated that since 2010, teacher salaries in Israel have increased significantly at all educational levels, due to a series of reforms in the education system.

The report notes the “New Horizon” reform – which began in 2008 and was almost fully implemented by 2014 – increased salaries for pre-primary, primary and high-school teachers.

The report showed that between 2010 and 2015, among countries for which data are available, Israel recorded one of the largest increases in salaries for 25- to 64-year-old high-school teachers.

Education Ministry director-general Shmuel Abuhav said: “The OECD report points to many measurable improvements, mainly teacher salaries. Quality education begins with quality teachers, and the intelligent use of resources enables us to improve the quality of instruction in Israel.”

“The report shows that the students receive more teaching hours, and the teachers receive more reward for their investments,” he said. “We intend to strengthen the teachers both young and old, because ultimately they are the backbone of the education system.”

Teachers Union secretary-general Yaffa Ben-David said in response to the report: “It’s hard to reconcile that teachers in Israel make less than 70% of the OECD average.”

“We welcome the improvement. However, it is not enough,” she said. “Teachers’ salaries are still significantly lower than countries. Despite the improvement trend in wages, the average salary of a teacher in Israeli primary education is 69% of the salary of his colleagues in the OECD. This is a figure we cannot put up with, which proves beyond doubt that the improvement is far from enough.”

The report showed Israel’s average classroom size was 28 students for 2015. The current average for the OECD was 21 students.

Israel ranked eighth in graduation rates, with 92% graduating in all levels of education, making it one of the most educated populations in the OECD.

With Israel’s mandatory early childhood education program beginning at age three, Israel and the United Kingdom had the highest enrollment of three-year-olds, reported to be 100%, compared to the OECD average of 78%.

Unlike previous years, the 2017 edition of this report focused on higher education. In that category, too, results showed that Israel has one of the most educated populations among OECD countries.

In 2016, 47% of 25 to 34-year-old Israelis held a bachelor’s degree or higher. The OECD average was 43%.

According to the report: “Typical gender imbalances in education are even more prevalent in Israel,” showing that women perform better than men at higher levels of education but are less likely to enroll in scientific fields and suffer poorer employment outcomes.”

Women in Israel are more likely to enroll in higher education, making up 57% of entrants, compared to the OECD average of 54%.

The report showed that women college graduates in Israel earn 30% less than similarly qualified men, compared to the average 26% average pay gap across the OECD countries in 2014.

However, Israeli women are more likely than their OECD counterparts to be employed in hi-tech related fields, with an average of 28%, compared to 19%. (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu: Israel Supports the Establishment of an Independent Kurdistan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Tuesday that Israel supports the establishment of an independent Kurdish state.

Netanyahu’s comments come on the heels a speech given a few days ago by Former IDF deputy chief, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan in a Washington conference, in which he expressed support for Kurdish independence and said that the Kurdish PKK fighting Turkey is not a terrorist organization.

“From my personal point of view the PKK is not a terrorist organization, that’s how I see it,” Golan said. “When you look at Iran in the east, when you look at the instability in the region, a stable and unified Kurdish entity in the middle of this swamp, is not a bad idea.”

Golan’s speech received a lot of media attention in Washington, Turkey and Iraq – both because the PKK has carried out thousands of terror attacks against Turkish soldiers and citizens over the years – and because of the intention of the government in Iraqi Kurdistan to hold a referendum on independence this month. The U.S. opposes the referendum and is pressuring the Kurdish leadership in Iraq to back down from the plan.

“Israel opposed the PKK and sees it as terror group, as opposed to Turkey that supports the terror organization Hamas,” Netanyahu said in the statement. “While Israel opposes terrorism as a whole, it supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state.”

Netanyahu has voiced support for Kurdish independence in the past. In June 2004, at a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) he said the Kurds deserve their own state. However, senior Israeli officials said on Tuesday that Netanyahu’s comments reflect the official Israeli policy on the matter in light of the possible referendum.

A number of senior Israeli officials, including the late President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have in the past years expressed support for Kurdish independence. A few days ago Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said during a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya that “Israel and countries of the West have a major interest in the establishment of the state of Kurdistan. I think that the time has come for the U.S. to support the process.”   (Haáretz)

Shas MK resigns amid flack over attending wedding of gay nephew

The somewhat unconventional Shas MK Yigal Guetta has stepped down as a member of Knesset after coming under fire from prominent rabbis for attending the wedding of his gay nephew some two years ago.

Guetta was interviewed on Army Radio last week during which he spoke about how two years ago his sister from Kibbutz Ginosar called him to tell him that her son was getting married.

“Here’s a scoop, hold on tight,” the Shas MK enthused before continuing on to describe how his nephew had told him he was marrying a man and how he had nevertheless attended the wedding along with his wife and children.

“We went together to the wedding, me my wife and my children, even though in general I don’t tell my children where to go, but this time I told everyone “attendance is mandatory” and we went and celebrated with them,” said Guetta, adding however that he told his children that the wedding was “forbidden according to Jewish law.”

This admission led to denunciations from several quarters including the dean of the prestigious Porat Yosef Yeshiva Rabbi Moshe Tzadka.

On Wednesday morning, Guetta submitted his resignation to Shas chairman Aryeh Deri who accepted it.

The MK received backing from liberal members of the Knesset including Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid who described the Shas man as an excellent MK and a friend.

“It’s sad that in Israel in 2017 an MK is forced to resign because he participated in the wedding of two people who love each other,” said Lapid on Twitter.

And Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli called on Guetta to retract his resignation and on Deri to reject it.

“This is a good moment to be reminded that everyone is created in the image of God,” said Michaeli. (Jerusalem Post)

The Palestinians’ “Jewish Problem”

by Bassam Tawil                       The Gatestone Institute


According to the Palestinians, the two US envoys seem fully to have endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s positions instead of representing the interests of the US. Why? Because they are Jews, and as such, their loyalty is to Israel before the US.

Perhaps this view is a projection of what many Muslims would do if the circumstances were reversed.

What we are actually witnessing is the never-ending search for excuses on the part of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, not to engage in peace talks with Israel.

The Palestinians do not like US President Donald Trump’s envoys to the Middle East. Why? The answer — which they make blindingly clear — is because they are Jews.

In the Palestinian perspective, all three envoys — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, cannot be honest brokers or represent US interests because, as Jews, their loyalty to Israel surpasses, in the Palestinian view, their loyalty to the United States.

Sound like anti-Semitism? Yes, it does, and such assumptions provide further evidence of Palestinian prejudices and misconceptions. The Palestinians take for granted that any Jew serving in the US administration or other governments around the world should be treated with suspicion and mistrust.

Moreover, the Palestinians do not hesitate to broadcast this view.

Take for example, the recent Palestinian uproar over statements made by Friedman in an interview with the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post.

One phrase that Friedman said during the interview has drawn strong condemnations from the Palestinians and some other Arabs. According to the Jerusalem Post: “The Left, he explained, is portrayed as believing that only if the ‘alleged occupation’ ended would Israel become a better society.”

Specifically, it was the use of the term “alleged occupation” that prompted the Palestinians to launch a smear campaign against Friedman — one that includes references to his being a Jew as well as a to his being a supporter of Israel. This, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, is enough to disqualify him from serving as US Ambassador to Israel or playing any role whatsoever as an honest and fair mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One political analyst with close ties to the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership in Ramallah called for removing Friedman from his job altogether.

Commenting on the interview with the US ambassador, Palestinian political analyst Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul wrote: “David Friedman is known to the Palestinian people and leadership as an ugly Zionist colonial who arouses revulsion.” Al-Ghoul called on President Trump to recall his ambassador to Israel and to instruct the State Department to start searching for a replacement. He said that the Palestinians are “have the right” to demand the removal of any ambassador or envoy who “trespasses diplomatic protocols.”

The political analyst’s opinion reflects the view of many senior officials of the Palestinian Authority. These officials, however, are either reluctant to air their views in public, out of fear that disclosing them would create a crisis with the US administration and end the money that the US pumps into the PA. In private, several Palestinian officials in Ramallah have been expressing concern and anger with President Trump’s choice of Jews as his top advisors and envoys on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This time, the Palestinian Authority was not able to restrain voicing its outrage with the US ambassador’s use of the phrase “alleged occupation.” Departing from the official PA policy not to launch personal attacks on President Trump and his representatives, the PA Foreign Affairs Ministry blasted the US for “whitewashing the occupation and covering up [Israeli] violations and crimes against the Palestinians.”

The ministry also denounced Friedman for attending a wedding in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank last May, and for participating in Israeli celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

Israeli citizenship also appears to be a red line for the Palestinians. They earlier had also lashed out at Friedman after reports that his daughter had obtained that citizenship. For them, this was further evidence of the US ambassador’s “bias” in favor of Israel, thanks to his Jewish identity.

Arab news websites and social media have also heaped scorn on Friedman for his pro-Israel position and for being a Jew, Here, for example, Friedman is dubbed a real estate broker because of his support for Jewish settlements and as someone who has influence on President Trump.

Conspiracy theory, anyone? These comments, which are common among Palestinians and Arabs, are reminiscent of the conspiracy theory that Jews control the US and the world. Friedman is depicted as a Jew who affects President Trump’s decisions. In other words, according to the Palestinians and Arabs, US policies are determined on the basis of what some influential Jews whisper into the ears of the US president rather than on US or international interests.

Similar charges have been made against previous US administrations, both Republicans and Democrats. Henry Kissinger, Dennis Ross, and Martin Indyk are only a few of the Jews over the last few decades who have been accused by Palestinians and Arabs of having played a major role in the US decision-making process.

The Jews are often referred to as being part of the Zionist lobby and a pressure group in the US that works to influence Washington’s policy to ensure that it is pro-Israel.

There is, of course, never any mention of the powerful Arab oil lobby.

When President Trump’s envoys, Kushner and Greenblatt, visited Ramallah late last month, Palestinians staged a protest in the city against US “bias” in favor of Israel. One of the protesters held a poster featuring Kushner tied to a leash by a blond woman (apparently his wife, Ivanka) who is dressed in an Israeli flag. Translation: Kushner is a puppet in the hands of the “Jewish Lobby.” Another poster carried by the protesters displayed a photo of President Trump with a Palestinian boy throwing a pair of shoes at his head. The caption: “Dirty Trump, our prisoners and martyrs are not terrorists.”

When President Trump’s envoys visited Ramallah last month, Palestinians staged a protest against US “bias” in favor of Israel. Pictured: A poster at the protest, featuring Jared Kushner tied to a leash by a blond woman (apparently his wife, Ivanka) who is dressed in an Israeli flag. (Image source: Wattan video screenshot)

The protest in Ramallah, which was organized by the National and Islamic Forces, an alliance of grassroots activists representing various Palestinian factions, including President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, could not have taken place without a green light from the Palestinian Authority leadership.

Abbas is not particularly known as an advocate of free speech; anyone who dares to criticize him finds himself behind bars. Just last week, Abbas ordered the arrest of two Palestinians, a journalist and an activist, who dared to criticize him in public. Anyone who wants to hold a protest in Ramallah needs the prior permission of Abbas and his lieutenants, regardless of the subject of the protest.

Abbas’s security officers were not blind to the anti-Semitic poster raised by the protesters against Kushner. In fact, Palestinian intelligence officers deployed at the scene were the best witnesses to this display of hatred against a US representative because of his religion. Such protests, however, are fine with the PA leadership so long as they are not directed against Abbas or any of his senior aides.

Each and every time Kushner and Greenblatt meet with Palestinian officials, someone in Ramallah reminds us that are Jews and that they thus cannot possibly perform as honest brokers.

Here is what Faisal Abu Khadra, another Palestinian political analyst, had to say in the semi-official Palestinian daily Al-Quds:

“The ability of Trump and his administration to exert pressure on Israel is currently limited. Trump is surrounded by a group of extremist Zionists. Even in his family, Trump has extremist Jews, which questions his ability to put pressure on Israel. It’s hard to see how Kushner and Greenblatt would be able to achieve a breakthrough toward peace.”

Among other accusations the Palestinians have lodged against Kushner and Greenblatt is the claim that when the envoys come to meet with Palestinian leaders, they parrot the positions of the Israeli government, and not the US. According to the Palestinians, the two US envoys seem fully to have endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s positions instead of representing the interests of the US. Why? Because they are Jews, and as such, their loyalty is to Israel before the US.

Perhaps this view is a projection of what many Muslims would do if the circumstances were reversed.

Palestinians and other Arabs therefore see and judge President Trump’s emissaries according to their religion, not their positions as authentic representatives of their own country, the US.

What we are actually witnessing is the never-ending search for excuses on the part of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, not to engage in peace talks with Israel.

IDF with Shofar