Report: US, Russia agree to help Israel ‘expel’ Iran from Syria
The United States, Russia and Israel have reportedly reached a consensus on the need to restrict and eventually expel pro-Iranian forces from gaining influence in Syria, the Kuwati daily newspaper Al-Rai reported Saturday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Arab outlet, has reached an understanding with Washington and Moscow that pro-Iranian forces, including Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, constitute an “existential threat” to the Jewish state.
This threat, therefore, necessitates Israeli action in Syria, including conducting airstrikes and other assaults to keep weapons and advancing militias as far as possible from Israel’s northern border.
According to anonymous US officials who spoke to the Kuwaiti publication, Israel’s targeting of pro-Iranian forces in the South of Syria is being accompanied by Russian pressure in the center and North to help stabilize the country. Russia is also reportedly open to withdrawing its forces in certain areas, leaving the Syrian army loyal to President Bashar Assad to take over.
Israel hopes, with the help of Russia and the United States, that this pressure will help weaken pro-Iranian military entities to the point where they can be removed from the battle-scarred nation.
But Iran’s meddling in the Syrian Civil War, which has raged for nearly six-years now and has claimed over 400,000 lives, makes that a difficult proposition, one US senior official told Al-Rai. Theran helped prop up the Assad regime soon after civil strife broke out in 2011, giving them a foothold in Damascus.
This has officials in Jerusalem worried, who loath to see a Iranian presence so close to Israeli territory. So It remains to be seen what calculations Assad and Russia have for the pro-Iranian presence in Syria and whether or not their influence can be abated.
Israel has publicly admitted that it has previously conducted assaults in Syria, an unusual step for a country known for its reticence concerning military operations.
Just recently, while on a state visit to China, Netanyahu reiterated that the Israel Air Force will continue to execute missions in Syria to contain threats against the country, and said he made this clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two leaders met in Moscow earlier this month.
“We attack if we have information and have operational feasibility,” Netanyahu stated, adding: “This will continue.” (Jerusalem Post)
US to accept Amona alternative in return for decreased settlement construction
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to fulfill his pledge and build a new settlement for Amona evacuees, but then restrain settlement construction elsewhere and focus on construction in the large settlement blocs according to terms of an agreement being hammered out with Washington, Channel 2 reported Saturday.
According to the report, the Trump Administration will also give Israel a green light to find a solution for other outposts – like Amona –where there are legal questions regarding land ownership. Channel 2 said that this agreement still needs the approval of both sides.
A spokesman in the Prime Minister’s Office said that the report “was incorrect,” but the PMO has not given any details itself about the contours of the agreement under discussion.
The report comes following two weeks of high-level talks between Israeli and US officials looking for a formula that would be acceptable to both sides and would govern future building beyond the Green Line. Netanyahu, during his visit to China last week, said that “significant progress was being made.”
Nevertheless, a week of talks in Washington ended last Thursday night with a joint statement saying only that the discussions were “serious and constructive, and they are ongoing.”
Discussions about finding a formula that would govern construction over the Green Line began when Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, came to Israel two weeks ago. The discussions continued last week in Washington, with the Israeli side represented by Netanyahu’s Chief of staff Yoav Horowitz, his foreign policy advisor Jonathan Schachter, and ambassador to the UN Ron Dermer. Greenblatt was joined in Washington by State Department and National Security Council officials.
According to the joint statement, “The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement. The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration.”
Jerusalem is keen on reaching an agreement with Washington on the matter in the early days of the new administration to remove it as a constant irritant in the relationship, as it was during the Obama years.
The statement said that the focus of the “four days” of intensive talks in Washington was on “concrete, near-term measures to improve the overall climate in order to advance the prospects for a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Israeli forces begin evacuating Amona
According to the statement, the issues under discussion “are exceptionally complicated, and the fact that both governments dedicated such senior delegations for nearly a full week of talk reflects the close cooperation between the two countries and the importance both assign to this vital task.”
While most of the media attention has focused on the settlement issue in the discussions, the statement said “a principal focus” was specific measures that could be taken to have a “meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential.”
The statement also said that the two sides agreed on the importance of implementing measures benefiting the people of Gaza “in ways that benefit the population without further empowering Hamas or other terrorist organizations.”
Trump has prioritized making peace between Israelis and Palestinians, characterizing a comprehensive agreement between the two parties as the “deal of all deals.” He has told both parties that now is the time for negotiations.
The last round of negotiations — led by then secretary of state John Kerry — ended in failure in 2014. (Jerusalem Post)
Police believe suspect began JCC hoax bomb campaign because army rejected him
The Israeli-American teenager arrested Thursday on suspicion of phoning in over 100 hoax bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the US and elsewhere reportedly began making the calls after the army refused to accept him for military service, apparently on medical grounds.
Quoting Israeli police sources, Israel’s Channel 10 news said the army rejection infuriated and depressed him, and made him determined to show “what he was capable of.”
Parts of the case, including the 18-year-old suspect’s name, remain under a gag order in Israel.
The TV report said that the suspect was tracked down following an initial tip from New Zealand, one of several countries along with the United States to which he had telephoned hoax bomb threats to Jewish organizations.
FBI investigators are in Israel questioning the suspect along with Israeli police.
His father is also in detention, reportedly on suspicion that he knew what his son was doing, while his mother has disappeared.
The American-born Israeli teenager had been wreaking electronic havoc of one kind or another for three years, Israel’s Channel 10 reported without elaboration.
He called in threats to Jewish institutions in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the US, and also issued threats to airlines.
His dozens of calls to Jewish institutions, notably including US Jewish Community Centers in recent months, caused evacuations of schools and daycare centers and widespread concern.
He had been home-schooled, rarely left home, but did want to do his mandatory military service, and was refused, the TV report said, infuriating him and prompting his hoax calls campaign.
When he saw the impact his bomb threats were having, his motivation grew to make more calls, the TV report said. Here he was “in his little room” in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, and “the whole world was paying attention… Little him, and the whole world was looking for him.”
The Daily Beast reported Thursday that the youth used a number of sophisticated technologies, including Google Voice and spoofing technology to mask his IP when making the threats.
Over time, according to the report, he grew careless and failed on at least one occasion to route his internet connection through a proxy, leaving behind a real IP address traced back to Israel.
The location was traced to a nearby Wi-Fi access point the suspect was reaching via a large antenna pointing out his window.
Yaniv Azani, head of technology in the Israel Police’s cyber unit, said the suspect used “several different means to camouflage the various layers of communication mechanisms” to carry out the calls.
Police banned publication of the suspect’s name, and said he would remain in custody until at least March 30. During the arrest raid, they said he tried to grab an officer’s gun but was stopped by another officer.
The arrest was announced by Israel Police on Thursday, after what they said was a months-long undercover joint investigation by the cyber unit of the Lahav 433 major crimes division and the FBI.
Police said they found at least five computers, a number of network interface controllers, satellite and antenna equipment during the arrest raid. According to Haaretz, the youth is refusing to sign a waiver allowing police to search his devices and is also refusing to cooperate, remaining silent during questioning.
The young man appeared briefly in court in the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion. He wore khaki pants and a blue sweater that he used to cover his face as he walked past reporters. He made no comment.
He faces charges of extortion and is accused of sowing widespread fear and panic, police said.
His lawyer, Galit Besh, said her client had a “very serious medical condition” that might have affected his behavior. She said the condition had prevented him from attending elementary school, high school or enlisting in the army.
“That’s why the medical condition can actually affect the investigation,” she said. “This is one of the things the judge told the police to check, to talk to his doctors, to get more documents and to investigate him in light of his medical situation.”
Channel 10 said the condition was a non malignant brain tumor.
In Washington, the FBI confirmed the arrest of the main suspect in the harassing phone calls.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the arrest was the culmination of an investigation “spanning multiple continents.”
“Today’s arrest in Israel is the culmination of a large-scale investigation spanning multiple continents for hate crimes against Jewish communities across our country,” Sessions said in a statement Thursday.
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspect allegedly placed dozens of threatening phone calls to public venues, synagogues and community buildings in the US, New Zealand and Australia. He also made a threat to Delta Airlines, causing a flight in February 2015 to make an emergency landing.
“He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” Rosenfeld said, referring to the dozens of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the US over the past two months.
Nearly 150 bomb threats hit JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish institutions since the beginning of the year, causing the evacuation of dozens of Jewish community centers. The threats have mostly come in waves, via phone and email. Many of the institutions have been threatened more than once.
While welcoming the arrest, many Jewish leaders in the US noted that the waves of bomb threats were accompanied by acts of vandalism in Jewish cemeteries and religious institutions within the US, actions that could not have been carried out from abroad. (the Times of Israel)
Palestinian petrol bomb thrower killed by IDF in West Bank
Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian and wounded three others on Thursday in the West Bank, a Palestinian health official said. The Israeli army said they had attacked a settlement with petrol bombs.
The Palestinian health source said the dead man was 17. Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news site, identified him as Muhammed Hattab. One of the three wounded was reportedly in critical condition.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said three assailants got out of a car and threw petrol bombs towards the settlement of Beit El, near Ramallah, when troops opened fire and confirmed hitting the men. She said the car then fled the scene.
There was no immediate account from Palestinian officials of what happened.
A demonstration against Israel’s military rule took place in Ramallah’s Manara Square in the hours following the Hattab’s death.
“Out, out, oh you occupier,” the demonstrators chanted. “How many martyrs? How many wounded?”
At least 240 Palestinians have been killed in Israel and the West Bank in a period of sporadic violence that began in October 2015 but has tapered off in recent months.
Israel says at least 160 were Palestinians who launched stabbing, shooting or ramming attacks on Israelis before being killed by Israeli security forces, while others died during clashes and protests.
Two American tourists and 37 Israelis have been killed in such incidents since October 2015.
The last round of peace talks broke down in 2014. (Jerusalem Post)
After London terror attack, UK blasts UNHRC anti-Israel bias
The United Kingdom has condemned the United Nations Human Rights Council for its biased treatment of Israel and for failing to condemn Palestinian terrorism in a strongly worded statement in Geneva.
Reflecting a sudden policy shift, it warned the UNHRC on Friday that Britain would stop supporting anti-Israel resolutions unless the 47-member body changed its tune on Israel.
“Today, we are putting the Human Rights Council on notice,” UK Ambassador Julian Braithwaite told the UNHRC as it wrapped up its 34th session.
He spoke just after the UNHRC approved four resolutions that condemned Israeli actions against the Palestinians and one that called on it to return the Golan Heights to Syria.
The UK supported two of the resolutions, abstained on another two, and voted against the one with regard to the Golan Heights.
Similarly concerned with UNHRC bias, the US traditionally has been the only country to consistently vote against all UNHRC resolutions that involve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and the Golan Heights.
In this session, both the US and Togo voted against all five resolutions that condemned Israel.
But Braithwaite warned that the UK would follow the US in rejecting all resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the UNHRC did not treat Israel proportionately.
Of the 10 condemnations issued against individual countries during the 34th UNHRC session, five were leveled at Israel. Erin Barclay says US seeks end to UN human rights council’s ‘obsession’ with Israel on March 1, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)
“If things do not change, in the future, we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Syrian and Palestinian Territories,” Braithwaite said.
He spoke just two days after a terrorist attack in London claimed the lives of five people, including the assailant.
The attack, in which the terrorist drove an SUV onto a crowded sidewalk and then left the vehicle to stab a police officer, is akin to the type of terrorist incidents that have occurred in Israel over the last few years.
“According to the Quartet’s report last year, there were 250 terrorist attacks leading to the deaths of at least 30 Israelis,” Braithwaite said. “Yet, neither ‘terrorism’ nor ‘incitement’ were a focus of this week’s council discussions and resolutions. This is not acceptable.”
Israel has “a population of eight million in a world of seven billion. Yet, since its foundation, the Human Rights Council has adopted 135 country- specific resolutions – 68 of which against Israel. Justice is blind and impartial. This selective focus on Israel is neither,” Braithwaite said.
He also took issue with the UNHRC mandate to debate Israeli human rights abuses at every session under Agenda Item 7.
“Nowhere is the disproportionate focus on Israel starker and more absurd than in the case of today’s resolution on the occupation of Syria’s Golan. Syria’s regime butchers and murders its people on a daily basis. But it is not Syria that is a permanent standing item on the council’s agenda – it is Israel.”
“While we are unswerving in our conviction that the Golan Heights are occupied and do not recognize Israel’s annexation, we cannot accept the perverse message sent out by a Syria Golan resolution that singles out Israel as [Bashar] Assad continues to slaughter the Syrian people,” Braithwaite said.
In the past, as in this session, the United Kingdom has set aside its concern about bias and focused instead on alleged Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israel, particularly with regard to settlement building.
But, unless the question of Israeli human rights abuses are dealt with proportionately, the UK will place more weight on the issue of bias, he said.
“For as long as the Human Rights Council continues down this disproportionate and biased path, it will make the achievement of a negotiated two-state solution harder, not easier,” Braithwaite said.
PLO Ambassador to the UN Ibrahim Khraishi said Israeli violations against Palestinians occur frequently and with severity.
“Israel is the leading violator of human rights,” Khraishi said, asserting that it has violated all 149 articles of the Geneva convention. There is no difference between the terrorist attack in London and Israeli violence against Palestinians, he said.
Agenda Item 7 “will remain on the agenda unless an end is put to occupation,” Khraishi said. He added the Palestinians have a right to seek a peaceful resolution of the matter through the UNHRC, particularly with the use of Agenda Item 7.
Egyptian Ambassador to the UN Amr Ramadan said he does not believe that Agenda Item 7 singles out Israel.
“We are talking about illegitimate practice under human rights law. If those practices ceased, we would not need these draft resolutions,” he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Hezbollah blames Israel for assassination of Hamas terrorist
The Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah on Saturday condemned the assassination of Mazen Faqha, a senior Hamas official, and accused Israel of masterminding the killing.
The organization asserted in a statement that the assassination was riddled with “Zionist fingerprints,” and added that its fight against Israel would continue, according to a report in the Al-Manar website, which is tightly associated with Hezbollah and serves as the group’s mouthpiece.
Faqha, who was jailed for life by Israel for organizing a 2002 suicide bombing, was released along with more than 1,000 other Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas for five years.
He was shot to death on Friday near his home in Tel el-Hawa, a neighborhood in southwestern Gaza City, by assailants using a weapon equipped with a silencer. He was hit by four bullets to the head, Gaza reports quoted by Army Radio said.
Thousands of Hamas supporters on Saturday called for “revenge” during Faqha’s Gaza funeral, as leaders of the terror group continued to blame Israel for his killing and threatened retribution.
Former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar, the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, headed the procession from the Shifa morgue to the Omari mosque, an AFP photographer said.
Khalil al-Haya, a deputy to Sinwar, promised retaliation.
“If the enemy thinks that this assassination will change the power balance, then it should know the minds of [Hamas] will be able to retaliate in kind,” he said. On Friday al-Haya said that only the Jewish state would have had something to gain from Faqha’s death.
A Hamas official quoted by Army Radio said Israel was “trying to force a new model of a clandestine war on Hamas, as it has failed in the open war model.” He said Hamas would know how to respond to such tactics.
Originally from a small village in the West Bank, Faqha headed the Hamas office in Gaza tasked with launching terror attacks against Israel from within the territory. His subordinates in the branch specialized in recruiting suicide attackers, collecting weapons and preparing explosive devices.
Faqha, 38, was responsible for sending a suicide bomber to carry out an attack in northern Israel in 2002 in which nine people were killed and 52 were wounded.
He was captured by the IDF and Shin Bet security services that year in his home village of Toubas in the northern West Bank.
According to a report in Haaretz from the time, Faqha was captured after a lengthy manhunt. He had previously been involved in several other attacks.
Before his release as part of the Shalit deal, Faqha was serving nine life sentences for planning the deadly 2002 terror attack. (the Times of Israel)
President Trump Wants a Peace Process Too
by Efraim Inbar BESA Center Perspectives/Middle East Forum
Since the 1970s, every American president has attempted to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
During the election campaign and after his inauguration, President Donald Trump said several times that he wants to close a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. The longer the list of failed U.S. attempts over the decades, the more alluring this challenge apparently becomes. The prospects for enduring acclaim in the event of success seem particularly enticing for narcissistic politicians.
In March 2017, only two months after the inauguration and before all the positions in the defense and foreign policy establishment had been filled, Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, was sent to Jerusalem and Ramallah to test the waters. The mission signals unwarranted eagerness.
While the new American administration seems genuinely interested in getting results, its determination to pursue a comprehensive deal is not clear.
Will Trump emulate the “messianic” approach of former US Secretary of State John Kerry? Will the US settle, after an undetermined period, for a “process” only, once it realizes there is no deal in the cards? Will the US finally concur with the Israeli consensus that there is no peace partner in Ramallah and/or in Gaza?
The Trump administration’s determination to pursue an Israeli-Palestinian deal is not clear.
In the absence of a Palestinian peace partner, there is some merit to engaging in a “process” that lowers tensions in the region and removes a sticky, if increasingly marginal, issue from the diplomatic table. This would allow the US to pursue its relationships with important states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, with little background noise.
In contrast, a lack of American involvement and consequent absence of a peace process might create the conditions for the emergence of a new paradigm to replace the defunct “two-state solution.”
Evidently, the American administration did not allow time to study the issue, opting instead for impatient activism.
In the absence of a Palestinian peace partner, there is some merit to engaging in a ‘process’ that lowers tensions.
Whatever its objective, the peace mission of Mr. Greenblatt started off on the wrong foot. He stressed how important it was to President Trump to stimulate the Palestinian economy and improve the quality of life for Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured Greenblatt that he is fully committed to broadening prosperity for the Palestinians and sees it as a means of bolstering the prospects for peace. According to the press release, the two discussed concrete measures that could support and advance Palestinian economic development.
It is odd to offer carrots to the Palestinians before they have committed to returning to the negotiations table they left in March 2014. The impulse to give out carrots displays the conventional wisdom of the international community that the Palestinians must be well fed to prevent their erupting into violence. This attitude has led to continuous financial support to the PA despite the growing awareness that a large proportion of that aid is channeled to terrorists and their families.
The so-called Second Intifada took place after several years of Palestinian economic progress.
Short-term calculations of this kind only prolong the conflict. Indeed, the campaign of terror that started in September 2000, dubbed the Second Intifada, took place after several years of economic progress during which the Palestinian standard of living was the highest in history. The many carrots provided did not overcome the Palestinians’ appetite for political achievements; nor did it channel their energies from terror to the negotiating table.
The art of negotiation requires a carefully calibrated mix of carrots and sticks. The cumulative failures since 1993 suggest that the right balance between carrot and stick has not yet been reached. Considering the huge amounts of money the PA has received over time and the Palestinians’ persistent refusal to recognize that a deal is in their interest, it is reasonable to conclude that the approach adopted to bring them around has lacked sufficient sticks.
The Palestinians’ intransigence has no correlation to the level of international support they receive.
The carrots awarded the Palestinians indicate that their intransigence and unwillingness to compromise have no correlation to the level of support they receive. The PA was subjected to hardly any sticks at all after the terrorist campaign was eventually put down. The Palestinians’ choices will never change if their poor decisions never exact a cost.
This month, the US and Israel missed an opportunity to try to change Palestinian behavior by emphasizing the sticks in the equation. The Palestinians are still committed to unrealistic goals like Jerusalem and the “right of return.” Yet without tacit and/or manifest threats that Palestinian lives could become much more miserable, there is little chance that their behavior will improve. Pain and suffering are important in ridding a nation of unrealistic dreams.
Arrest of JCC bomb hoaxer challenges the narrative on anti-Semitism
Israeli-Jewish suspect doesn’t fit the expected white supremacist profile; observers say case shows need to be cautious when analyzing hateful acts
By Ben Sales JTA/the Times of Israel
Many Jewish groups blamed white supremacists, emboldened by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, for the bomb threats that have plagued Jewish institutions since the beginning of this year.
It appears the groups were wrong.
The news that one Jewish teen — an Israeli, no less — was behind most of the approximately 150 bomb threats that have hit Jewish community centers since the start of 2017 is a shocking twist in light of months in which the Anti-Defamation League and other groups pointed their collective finger at the far right.
“We’re in unprecedented times,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, at a March 10 news conference on the bomb threats. “We’ve never seen, ever, the volume of bomb threats that we’ve seen. White supremacists in this country feel more emboldened than they ever have before because of the public discourse and divisive rhetoric.”
The ADL has repeatedly charged Trump with emboldening extremists, anti-Semites and far-right groups in the US. Other groups were even more explicit in linking rising anti-Semitic acts this year to the new president. On January 10, following the first wave of JCC bomb threats, Bend The Arc, a liberal Jewish group, said that “Trump helped to create the atmosphere of bigotry and violence that has resulted in these dangerous threats against Jewish institutions and individuals.”
In February, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said in a statement to Trump that “Rightly or wrongly, the most vicious anti-Semites in America are looking at you and your administration as a nationalistic movement granting them permission to attack Jews.”
But the perpetrator of the anti-Semitic acts, while his political opinions are not known, does not fit the profile of a white supremacist. According to Israeli reports, he’s a mentally ill Israeli-American Jewish teenager.
He worked from home, using a computer lab with sophisticated equipment, encryption and transmission systems, and a powerful antenna, according to reports. And his father may have known what he was doing.
Israel’s anti-fraud squad arrested the 18-year-old suspect at his home in southern Israel and searched the premises on Thursday. He was brought to court and ordered held until March 30.
The other suspect in the bomb threats, arrested earlier in March, also does not appear connected to the far right. He’s a left-wing African-American former journalist who apparently made the calls in a convoluted vendetta against a former romantic partner.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told JTA on Thursday that the organization stands by its prognosis of a surge in anti-Semitism and hatred in the U.S. since the campaign. Aside from the JCC bombings, Greenblatt pointed to a range of other hateful activities tied to white supremacists, from abuse of journalists on Twitter and harassment of Jews in Whitefish, Montana, to a South Carolina man who plotted a mass shooting at a synagogue.
“The impact is still the same: You’ve got children, families, the elderly, teens and others who have been terrorized by these attacks,” Greenblatt said. “We’ve seen rising levels of bigotry in ways that are brand new. The emergence of the ‘alt-right’ and the rising levels of abuse they perpetrated during the campaign against Jews and other minorities is despicable.”
The Anne Frank Center, a small group whose profile has risen in part due to the attention around the JCC threats, said in a statement Thursday that “it doesn’t matter where any suspect is from or what his or her background is.” Bend The Arc CEO Stosh Cotler said in a statement: “Violence and threats of violence, whoever or wherever they come from, are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.”
The JCC Association of North America said it was “troubled” by the news that the suspect is Jewish, while the Jewish Federations of North America called the news “heartbreaking.”
Greenblatt and Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, which advises Jewish groups and institutions on security, both said the suspect’s age and location were less relevant than the fact that someone has been caught for making the threats.
“What is relevant is that an individual or individuals were placed into custody who were engaged in or involved in criminal behavior, who were looking to terrorize our community,” Goldenberg said. “I do understand why people may have believed that this was part of a larger effort.”
For longtime observers of anti-Semitism, the news showed the need to be cautious when analyzing hateful acts. Former ADL national director Abraham Foxman, who has previously called for cooler heads in responding to recent hateful acts, said Thursday that the arrest shows the pitfalls of making assumptions.
“Always take these things seriously, but don’t jump to conclusions,” Foxman told JTA. “History has taught us the source of anti-Semitism does not come from one direction. It’s universal in its nature… I think it is on the increase, but it’s not in epidemic proportions.”
Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, noted that this isn’t the first time that Jews have committed anti-Semitic acts. In 1989, the former president of the Jewish Student Union at the State University of New York in Binghamton was charged with painting anti-Semitic slogans on campus.
“It is a reminder that we have to be very careful before we talk about a whole wave of anti-Semitism,” Sarna said. “Something like this will surely make everybody a little embarrassed as Jews, but also embarrassed in the sense that it’s not what people imagined it would turn out to be.”
Sarna added that this incident shows Jews may not be as hated in America as it may have seemed. He cited a recent study by the Pew Research Center showing Jews to be the most popular religious group in America.
“It’s good to take a middle ground,” he said. “Yes, there are people who hate Jews, but we’re not seeing storm troopers at the gate.”
Still, Sarna and Foxman noted the string of other anti-Semitic acts recently — the cemetery desecrations and swastika graffiti, as well as a deluge of anti-Semitic harassment on Twitter last year. Because anti-Semitic acts, beyond the JCC threats, remain frequent in the US, Foxman does not believe that Thursday’s arrest will lead to anyone downplaying future acts of anti-Semitism.
“It’s there,” Foxman said of anti-Semitism. “So there’s one guy who, whatever his problem was, that doesn’t change the fact that every day there are incidents of anti-Semitism in this country.”
Israel’s “Military Occupation” of the West Bank Ended Long Ago – Stephen M. Flatow
Despite all the talk about Israel’s “military occupation” in the West Bank, in fact, the Israeli military governor of the territories left long ago. The Israeli army was withdrawn by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, 22 years ago. In Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus you won’t see any Israeli soldiers. Instead, you’ll see Palestinian policemen and security forces.
In the areas where more than 98% of the Palestinian Arabs reside, it is the Palestinian Authority, not Israel, which is the ruling power. The mayors are Palestinians. The judges in the courts are Palestinians. So are the folks who guard the jails, staff the hospitals and teach in the schools. There are no Israelis to be found anywhere.
The writer, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. (JNS.org)
Lessons from Israel’s Response to Terrorism – Fiamma Nirenstein, editor (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
A team of Jerusalem Center experts headed by Fiamma Nirenstein – former Vice President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Italy’s Chamber of Deputies – takes a very timely look at Israel’s model for dealing with terror.
Contributors to this study include Amb. Dore Gold, Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Amb. Freddy Eytan, Amb. Alan Baker, Dan Diker, Prof. Asa Kasher, Jennifer Roskies, and Dr. Irwin Mansdorf.
Amb. Dore Gold: Terror against Europe and Israel is not different. Effective solidarity among states has become a prerequisite for ultimately succeeding in the war of the West against jihadist terrorism. Just as the West, the Arab states that are threatened, and Israel all face similar threats, the models developed in Israel for dealing with terror merit attention in Europe and beyond.
Fiamma Nirenstein: An important component of Israel’s struggle against terrorism is its population’s psychology, resilience, and capacity to counter the constant attacks against civilians. How do the Israeli people overcome being in the front line against terror? The answers lie in Israel’s history, sociology, education, and social values.
Brig-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser: Israel’s overall strategy of fighting terror was developed out of ongoing learning efforts. Understanding the goals and strategy of the enemy and the context in which it operates, and being agile enough to rapidly adopt adequate responses that build on former solutions, enabled Israel to become a world leader in the fight against terror.
Amb. Alan Baker: International law calls for stringent and active measures against terrorists. Today’s massive incitement to terror uses modern technology and means of communication as a central component of terror. The international community needs to act to criminalize incitement to terror.
Dan Diker: Palestinian and international terror organizations have increasingly engaged in both terror and diplomacy, conducting relations with states and within international bodies. In recent years, international organizations and institutions have legitimized Palestinian and some Islamic terror groups. Any counter-terror efforts require unconditional and uncompromising condemnation of all forms of radical Islamic terror.
Prof. Asa Kasher: How can democracy face terrorism? The first principle is the right and duty of self-defense. The second principle is the duty to respect human dignity. These two principles are meant to be applied together under all circumstances. This chapter provides a conceptual framework for presentation, explanation, and justification of practices Israel has used over decades for facing terrorism.
Jennifer Roskies: Familiarity breeds respect. Interaction between Jews and Arabs is a daily fact of life in Israel. The longstanding contact has yielded basic knowledge of Arab and Muslim customs among virtually all Israeli Jews, with acceptance of cultural differences. The result is a clear-eyed coexistence that is functional on a civic level and often cordial on a personal level.