US seeks ‘equitable and just’ solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, VP Pence says
The White House seeks a lasting, comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, US Vice President Mike Pence said on Sunday night.
Speaking for the first time before the lobby’s annual policy conference, Pence told a crowd of 18,000 followers that US President Donald Trump is intent to pursue peace in the world’s most complex region.
There would “undoubtedly have to be comprises” for such a peace, Pence said. But he added: “President Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel.”
“We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all who call her home,” Pence told the crowd. “President Trump and I stand without apology for Israel, and we always will.”
He spoke before a friendly audience, after the president of AIPAC, Lillian Pinkus, thanked him and his administration for offering a “warm embrace of Israel in these early days of this administration.”
The vice president spoke intimately of his Christian faith, which he says has brought him and his family close to the land of Israel that he has come to know well over recent years as a member of Congress.
“President Trump is committed to forging a lasting peace in the Middle East,” said Pence, who vowed that the United Nations would no longer be used as a “forum for invective” against the Jewish state.
Pence became a prominent administration official for the Jewish community when he was the first senior member to take a stand against antisemitic vandalism at the nation’s Jewish cemeteries.
In his speech, he said he was “never more proud” of his boss than when he condemned antisemitism at the very top of his address to a joint session to Congress.
“President Donald Trump is a man of his word, and he’s a man of action– for the first time in a long time. America has a president who will stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies,” Pence said.
“The world will know this– America stands with Israel,” he added. (Jerusalem Post)
Syrian threats to attack Israel with Scud missiles are a bluff
A warning from Damascus that the next Israeli airstrike on Syrian targets will be met with Scud missiles targeting both civilian and military bases is due to the regime of Bashar Assad needing to project strength as they continue to fight against rebels and the Islamic State.
Phillip Smyth, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Jerusalem Post that “projecting the image that they can still retaliate against one of the region’s strongest actors works on a rhetorical level.”
The warning of Scuds fired on Israel was published on Saturday evening by Lebanon’s Al-Diyar newspaper, stating that Syria had sent Israel a message via Russia that Scud missiles would be fired towards Israeli targets if Israel carried out any further airstrikes in the war-torn country.
“This new situation was conveyed to Israel by the Russian leadership from the leadership of President Assad that the patience of Syria is running out. Despite a six-year war Syria is not weak and knows how to defend itself,” it said.
Al-Diyar stated that Damascus prepared 4 Scuds out of their arsenal of 800 Scud missiles which carry half a ton of explosives, and would launch them without any prior warning if Israel carries out any new strike “as Israel does not announce their raids against Syrian targets.”
According to the report, any strikes against Syrian military targets will be met with Scuds launched at IDF bases while any strikes against civilian infrastructure will be met with missiles fired at Haifa’s port and petrochemical plant.
Israel is reported to have targeted caches of Scud missiles in Syria several times over the past several years, but according to Smyth, to focus on Scuds “obscures the potential of other longer range, more advanced rockets coming into Hezbollah’s possession. Scuds are a much older technology and wouldn’t fare so well against Israel’s Arrow missile system.”
According to Smyth, “the Assad regime has been facilitating advanced weapons transfers to Hezbollah for some time and even during the current conflict,” Smyth said, adding that “the worry is that Damascus would transfer a longer range rocket of some sort and then Hezbollah could use it when they needed it.”
Hezbollah is known to have various long and medium-range missile systems, including the Iranian-made Fajr-5, the M-600 rockets, Zeizal-2, and the shorter-range M75 and Katyushas. But according to a senior IDF officer in the IAF’s Air Defense Division, the terror group is continuously working and acquiring missiles with larger warheads and longer range.
The report comes after tension on the northern border reached a peak following an Israeli strike on a Hezbollah-bound weapons convoy and the firing of a SA-5 missile towards Israeli jets.
Following the strike, Syria’s ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said Syria’s response “appropriate and in line with Israel’s terrorist operation,” and that Israel “will now think a million times before striking again.”
“Syria’s forceful response to the Israeli attacks changed the rules of the game,” Jaafari added.
Israel, which rarely comments on reports of military activity in Syria, publicly admitted that it struck Hezbollah targets in Syria, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that strikes will continue when “we have information and operational feasibility.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also warned against any further launching of missiles by the Syrian regime, threatening to destroy Syrian air defenses and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot warned that the Lebanese government would be held accountable for any attack by Hezbollah on Israel, whether it be from Lebanon or Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
Ambassador Dermer at AIPAC Conference: For First Time in Many Years, There Is No Daylight Between US and Israeli Governments
“When it comes to the great challenges facing Israel and the United States, for the first time in many years, perhaps in many decades, there is no daylight between our two governments,” the Jewish state’s top diplomat in Washington declared on Sunday.
Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer was speaking at the opening session of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference at the Washington Convention Center.
According to Dermer, “there was a meeting of the minds” when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US President Donald Trump last month at the White House.
“That has made me even more confident that our alliance will be considerably stronger in the years ahead,” Dermer went on to say.
The greatest regional threat facing Israel and the US in the Middle East, Dermer stated, remains Iran. “We both recognize that the [July 2015] nuclear deal does not block Iran’s path to the bomb and that Iran’s appetite for aggression and terror has only grown since that deal was signed and sanctions were removed,” Dermer said.
“We also recognize,” Dermer continued, “that the worst outcome that could emerge from the horrific violence in Syria would be to effectively cede parts of Syria to Iran and Hezbollah.”
Furthermore, Dermer noted, “the rising tide of militant Islam which has engulfed the Middle East has also enabled a rare moment of opportunity to bring Israel and many in the Arab world closer together. In working together to thwart common dangers, there is a real prospect of building a genuine path towards reconciliation in the region — a path not based on empty hopes and dangerous illusions, but a path based on a clear-eyed understanding of shared threats as well as a common desire for a safer, more prosperous and more peaceful future.” (the Algemeiner)
UN Commission Adopts Israeli Resolution Aimed at Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment, Marking ‘Noteworthy’ Diplomatic Achievement for Jewish State
An Israeli resolution aimed at eliminating workplace sexual harassment has been adopted by consensus by the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
“The adoption of this resolution at the UN is a noteworthy achievement and an additional step towards the realization of Israel as a significant player at the UN,” Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon said in a statement on Friday. “Israel is proud to promote this important cause as we strive to put an end to this unacceptable scourge. The struggle against sexual harassment, and the successful promotion of women in the workplace, are of utmost importance and deserve suitable attention at the UN.”
Nelly Shiloh — the head of the Israeli UN Mission’s Human Rights Division who was in charge of promoting the resolution — stated, “We thank all the member-states who supported this important resolution as part of the effort to put an end to this dangerous menace and support women around the world. Israel is proud to fight for human rights and against sexual harassment from the UN.”
According to Israel’s UN Mission, the resolution “denounces sexual harassment in the workplace and encourages UN member-states to adopt a number of steps aimed at combating the phenomenon. The resolution also focuses on education and raising awareness, and it calls on the secretary-general to issue a comprehensive report on the topic.” (the Algemeiner)
The highest building in Israel is approved for construction
The Tower Between Cities, a 100 floor 400 meter high skyscraper planned to be the tallest building in Israel, has been approved to be built by the Finance Ministry’s district committee.
The tower, which will include a hotel, business and commerce offices and public areas, is set to be built on Menachem Begin Road in Ramat Gan on an area owned by the Tel Aviv Municipality.
It will not include residential apartments due to its distance from the city’s residential areas.
The planned tower
The district committee, which began discussion on the tower in June 2014, approved a recommendation by Tel Aviv’s city engineer Oded Gvuli to raise the tower’s height and allow it to spread over 166,500 square meter at its base on the ground.
To withstand the load of visitors and workers the building will also need to have 24 fast and spacious elevators, which was also approved by the committee.
The ground on which the skyscraper will be erected is an 11-dunam area which is currently being used as a parking lot.
The tower, planned by Miloslavsky architects, is expected to be finished in six years. When it is finished, it will outstrip the city’s Moshe Aviv Tower as the highest building in Israel.
“A building such as this has yet to be built in Israel; it is a groundbreaking project,” said Gvuli to Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday, excitedly adding, “Our way of coping with the planning was at a strategic level, and the results speak for themselves. Now that it’s been approved by the district committee, the public could file a petition against it for the next 60 days, after which we move to building it.”
“This is the first time in Israel’s history that the Finance Ministry’s district committee approved the erection of a 100-floor building,” Gvuli noted, saying that it will serve as a precedent and lead to more groundbreaking projects in the future.
The tower’s visage was influenced by its location between three cities: Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv and Givatayim, and so is shaped to look like a triangular prism, with curved edges that are separated from each other, opening like a flower at the top. (Ynet News)
As Israeli forces go on high alert after Faqha killing, Hamas may be looking to avoid a war
The assassination of a key planner of West Bank terror attacks was meant to send a signal; now the ball is in Hamas’s court
By Avi Issacharoff the Times of Israel
Israeli forces near the Gaza Strip have been placed on high alert amid expectations of a Hamas retaliation for the assassination of one of its top military leaders in Gaza on Friday night.
The alert was ordered Saturday by the IDF’s Southern Command.
Israel has not claimed responsibility for the killing of Mazen Faqha, a former prisoner in Israel who oversaw Hamas’s efforts to instigate terror attacks in the West Bank, but Hamas leaders have lined up to blame Israel for the killing throughout Saturday.
At a mass funeral procession for Faqha Saturday afternoon in Gaza City, participants shouted, “Revenge, revenge!”
Hamas-nominated attorney general Ismail Jaber also blamed Israel for the killing of Faqha, who was freed as part of the 2011 deal to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and was deported to Gaza. “This assassination has the clear marks of Mossad,” Jaber said.
Faqha, 38, was killed in an apparently professional hit job when he was shot near his home in the Tel Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City with a handgun equipped with a silencer.
His father, who lives in the West Bank, told a Hamas TV station that Israeli intelligence officers had warned the family three times that his son’s terrorist activity was going to get him killed. “They said Mazen was carrying out attacks against Israel, and that Israel’s arm is long,” he said.
Khalil al-Haya, a deputy to Yahya Sinwar, the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, 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.
Yet, for all its rhetoric, Hamas appears to lack firm evidence of Israeli involvement, a fact that may give the organization the political maneuvering room to avoid a dramatic response that could lead to a full-fledged confrontation.
Fuqha is from the northern West Bank town of Tubas, where he was arrested in 2002 for helping to plan suicide bombings during the Second Intifada. He was released in October 2011 during the Shalit deal, after which he was expelled to Gaza, where he and fellow West Banker Abd el-Rahman Ghanimat founded the “West Bank section” within the Gaza-based group.
The section was composed of military wing members formerly from the West Bank who were expelled to Gaza. Their task was to bolster Hamas infrastructures in the West Bank, including by means of terror attacks against Israelis. This included sending both funds and instructions to Hamas cells in Hebron, Tulkarem, Qalqilya and elsewhere in a bid to escalate violence and force new rounds of confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank. Each area in the West Bank was served by a “regional commander” within the section who sat in Gaza but was originally from the area in question.
According to Israeli intelligence, Fuqha and Ghanimat’s “fingerprints” were on many attempted and successful terror attacks emanating from Hamas cells in the West Bank in recent years, a fact that suggests Israel had a clear interest in his removal.
Fuqha lived and traveled in Gaza without bodyguards or other protection, and was assassinated near his beach-side home. If Israel did indeed carry out the assassination, it may have intended to send a message that Hamas leaders’ apparent belief that they are safe during periods of quiet is incorrect.
It is likely that the entire leadership of the organization is now changing its daily routines, on the assumption that if Faqha could be killed, they are all potential targets. They will have to live surrounded by security, and occasionally changing homes and hideouts – a return to the life that many Hamas leaders from the West Bank were forced to live a decade ago.
This was clearly the message of the killing: that everyone is a potential target.
But that’s doesn’t mean Israel’s alleged responsibility for the killing is obvious or indisputable. The assassins were highly professional, leaving no shred of evidence as to their identities. Indeed, this professionalism – the silencer and the clean disappearance – is the only real evidence pointing to Israeli intelligence agencies. Nothing more.
That lack of clarity means Hamas may decide it can be satisfied in the short term with the sort of threatening declamations issued by the group on Saturday, such as: “no more restraint” or “we won’t permit assassinations to go without a response.”
In the final analysis, Hamas decided on Saturday not to start shelling Israel in response, mainly because the group does not actually want a war with Israel at this time.
None of this is to suggest the group will refrain from responding to the assassination in due time. Its new Gaza chief, Yahya Sinwar, is known as a dangerous, unpredictable and uninhibited commander. He may prefer to wait for a moment when Israel will be caught by surprise, and to launch the sorts of operations seen in the past, such as kidnappings or, in a throwback to the previous decade, suicide bombings.
If Hamas launches such attacks, it will likely also attempt to do so without leaving evidence of its involvement, in order to give Israeli leaders the political space to avoid all-out war while still signaling that continued assassinations will be met with painful retaliation.
As one Hamas official said Saturday, 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.
Israel’s new approach to Hamas?
by Yossi Melman The Jerusalem Post
The killing of Hamas operative Mazen Fuqaha on Friday night near his home southwest of Gaza City was the work of professionals. The assassin or assassins acted calmly, fired four bullets at point-blank range with guns equipped with silencers and left the scene without leaving any trace – at least so far.
Hamas hurriedly pointed a finger at Israel and blamed the Mossad for the murder.
Some Hamas officials mentioned, in the same breath, the December assassination in Tunisia of an engineer who helped develop drones and a mini-submarine for Hamas. That killing was attributed by the media to the Mossad.
Radical Salafist groups in Gaza that oppose Hamas have launched rockets against Israel and hundreds of its members have been locked up by Hamas in recent months. Palestinian sources, however, estimate this probability as very low.
Another possibility is that the killing was an “inside job” – that someone in Hamas decided, for whatever reason, to get read of Fuqaha.
In the past, there have been incidents in which senior Hamas officials and commanders were murdered by their peers because of internal power struggles or personal disagreements. Surely, this scenario is possible, ever since Yahya Sinwar was elected the Hamas leader in Gaza. Nearly two years ago, he ordered the killing of a senior Hamas commander because of disagreements between them.
Israel, meanwhile, maintains its silence.
Assuming Israel turns out to be behind the assassination, it most probably was a joint operation of its intelligence community.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) is responsible for counterterrorism in Gaza, but works closely with other branches of the intelligence community and the IDF’s Special Forces.
Fuqaha, 35, from the township of Tubas in the northern part of the West Bank, was sentenced in 2003 to nine life terms in prison for dispatching a suicide bomber during the second intifada who murdered nine Israelis on a bus in northern Israel.
He was released in 2011 as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner swap, when the Shin Bet insisted that he and others would not be allowed to return to their West Bank homes and would be deported to Gaza.
There, in violation of his release commitment not to be involved in terrorism, he became a senior operative in the “West Bank command” of Hamas, which is subject to its military headquarters based in Turkey in charge of planning and executing terrorist operations against Israelis and the PA in the West Bank and Israel.
It’s worth noting that the Shin Bet chief told the Knesset last week that Hamas has increased its efforts to execute terrorist acts in the West Bank and Israel, especially before Passover. After Fuqaha’s death, his family in Tubas said Israeli intelligence officers had asked them to deliver warnings to him to stop his activities.
Assuming Israel is behind the assassination, it indicates a new approach.
True, Israel wants to maintain quiet and tranquility along the border with Gaza.
If, indeed, Israel can assassinate Hamas leaders in Gaza and abroad without leaving its fingerprints, it shows a more aggressive approach.
It’s worth noting that the new head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, has spent all his professional life in the special operations wing of his organization.
And the new Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, aspires to make his agency more “operational.”
When there is precise intelligence and operational feasibility, Israel has an itch to execute such operations, but it is a dangerous game that can get out of control.
Hamas spokesmen promise to avenge the killing of their member, but the organization still doesn’t want to be dragged into a new confrontation, because it feels it has not yet recovered from its loss in the last war in 2014 and is not yet ready militarily.
Therefore, Hamas most probably will try to avenge the killing of Fuqaha – not directly from Gaza, but indirectly from the West Bank or Jerusalem – without leaving its own prints
The ‘never-ending war’ against antisemitism
For Natan Sharansky, the struggle between globalization and nationalism is key to understanding the “longest hatred.”
by Tamara Zieve The Jerusalem Post
Long-time Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky has spent almost all his life fighting antisemitism in various capacities, but sadly, he believes this a fight that can never be won.
“It can be lost in a big way, like the Holocaust… but it’s a permanent fight,” the famed Soviet refusenik told The Jerusalem Post during an interview at his Jerusalem office on Tuesday.
Sharansky has been monitoring antisemitism since his days as a Soviet dissident, all the way to the Knesset, where as a minister he took on the same duty, among many others, and in the past eight years as head of the Jewish Agency.
In recent months, all eyes have been on the US, where a wave of antisemitic incidents of various kinds has swept the country since the beginning of the year. Dozens of Jewish community centers as well as Anti-Defamation League offices have received bomb threats, but on Thursday, a surprising development was announced: The Israel Police revealed that an 18-year-old dual US-Israeli citizen had been arrested on suspicion of standing behind most of those bomb threats.
In addition to the threats, several Jewish cemeteries have been defaced in recent months, antisemitic pamphlets have been distributed across college campuses and swastikas have been daubed on front doors or scrawled across subway walls. This follows an election campaign blackened by the unleashing of virulent white supremacism, which emerged with the rise of the alt-right and featured verbal attacks on Jewish journalists as well as classic antisemitic tropes and symbols resurfacing, predominantly online.
The Trump effect
Many have pointed their fingers at US President Donald Trump, accusing him and those around him of creating an environment that emboldens antisemites along with other types of racists.
But Sharansky categorically disagrees with such associations.
“The fact that this politician appeared is definitely the result of an historical process and antisemitism is part of this process, but you have to look at it much more broadly,” Sharansky says, calling it “laughable” to accuse Trump of causing antisemitism “because he did or didn’t say something about the Holocaust, for instance.”
Trump made waves on International Holocaust Remembrance Day with an official statement which failed to mention the Jews. The White House defended its statement, saying it was inclusive of all those killed in the Holocaust.
“To think that’s what defines this very deep process is ridiculous,” Sharansky told the Post, reiterating a statement he made earlier in the month that “you cannot make ties between a process so profound, long-term and historically significant, such as the return of antisemitism, and the political expression of one politician or another.”
Globalism vs nationalism
For Sharansky, the contemporary conversation about Israel and the Diaspora always comes back to the universal struggle between globalism and nationalism.
“For two generations, there was globalism and modernism – and no doubt there were a lot of good things with it,” he says, pointing to the establishment of human rights as international law. In 1948, from the ashes of the Second World War, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Jewish activists used this linkage between international law and human rights a lot,” he continues.
“So many barriers, prejudices against nations and religions and identities were brought down.”
But then, he says, when the idea of a nation-state became unpopular, Western intellectuals began to view the Jewish state as a “remnant of a colonial past.” Israel’s enemies, he added, took advantage of the trend to delegitimize Israel and “that’s how these new alliances in Europe and later in America were built.
“Globalization brought some very positive things for the world and for the Jews – it helped with their smooth integration – but it also brought big challenges for Israel,” he says. “It’s clear there must be some balance between globalism and nationalism. Pure globalism without nationalism would fail and pure nationalism without globalism failed long ago.” The Jews, he said, have excelled at protecting both their identity and freedom, with 2,000 years of practice in the Diaspora.
When globalization loses balance, the scale tips against national identity.
“At some point, Europe started feeling it… and as a result we have a situation today in Europe where more and more people feel that their civilization is in danger and they have to go back to their national identities,” Sharansky says, pointing to Brexit, the rise of France’s farright presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, and the election of Trump in the US.
While the US reaped great benefits from globalization in recent times, he says, its citizens have also started to feel its negative effects. “There is counteraction, national forces come to surface,” he continues, stating that Trump’s victory was a sign of a loss of confidence among Americans in their national identity.
“We are at a stage where many people realize some nationalism is positive… but there should be clear limits where the positive tide of nationalism ends and the negative one begins,” he clarifies, stressing that one should not have to choose between nationalism and globalism.
Asked about his thoughts on Jewish support of Le Pen, Sharansky responds: “If you think that everything against Muslims is good for the Jews, you will very quickly become something much more tough than Le Pen. What is good for Jews is liberal society in which they can live as Jews – which doesn’t undermine or threaten their opportunities to live in accordance to their national identity – but also should not undermine the rights of others to do so.
“Because France has gone so far in removing all barriers protecting them as Jewish communities, it’s clear they feel uncomfortable in all parts of France…. under all possible leaders,” Sharansky opines. A core principle of the French constitution is Laïcité (secularism), and the government has banned the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols in public institutions.
Left versus Right In their most polarized forms, Sharansky says, those who champion globalism tend to shun Israel while they embrace liberal Jews, while those who adhere to nationalism side with Israel but eschew liberal Jews. Sharansky mentions Palestinian- American BDS activist Linda Sarsour as an example of the former.
Sarsour raised $56,000 to help repair a Jewish cemetery in the St. Louis area that was defaced last month.
On the other side of the spectrum, one could find alt-right members who ardently support Israel and simultaneously excoriate liberal American Jews.
Sharansky warns that this is a dangerous trajectory, which Jews on all sides must refrain from being partners to.
“Suddenly you hear voices saying that if you are for human rights you must also be against Israel…. that if you are a real liberal who believes in the free open world you have to fight this ‘colonial remnant,’ the Israeli state, or you are with them,” he says.
“But now we hear opposite voices that Israel is great, because it is a national state standing against the wave of Islamists…. but that liberal Jews are a problem,” he continues.
“If we will simply permit ourselves to continue this process of polarization between hatred toward Jews and hatred toward Israel, that’s an opportunity for our enemies – but it’s also a great opportunity for us.
“I am not young a man so I can’t influence the young generation,” says the 69-year-old veteran activist.
In order to fight the battle against antisemitism effectively, Sharansky says it is essential that the predominantly left-leaning Jews who inhabit US campuses must understand the danger of the attacks on Israel they are confronted with. Meanwhile, he says, the proud Republicans among American Jews must fight antisemitism on the Right.
“It is our obligation to separate these two struggles – debate between the Left and Right will continue and it’s important, but it has to have nothing to do with giving any legitimacy to the fight against Jews and the fight against the Jewish state.
That’s where there is a lot of confusion, but now it is much more clear… now we see two parts of the same problem of division between new and old antisemitism.”
In 2003, Sharansky declared college campuses the main battlefield for antisemitism – for new antisemitism, specifically, a term used to describe antisemitism disguised as criticism of Israel.
“It was all about the delegitimization of Israel and suddenly extreme Muslim elements were allying with the Left,” he recalls. “That was and is a very challenging moment for liberal Jews in America,” he said, explaining that these elements throw their weight behind liberal Jews and their principles and then apply them to demonize Israel.
It was around that time that Sharansky coined his “3Ds” formula for distinguishing legitimate criticism of Israel from antisemitism. The three Ds stand for demonization, double standards and delegitimization.
Some 13 years on, Sharansky’s antisemitism test hasn’t changed.
“If you look at a 3D film without spectacles, you won’t understand the situation if you’re not using these principles – not using spectacles – you can’t understand the situation,” Sharansky explains.
Now, he says, is an opportune moment to see both parts of the struggle. “We have to convince both the liberals and the conservatives not to be blind,” he says.
“We have to work from both directions.
It’s very important to understand that antisemitism and new antisemitism are connected,” he said hammering home that the fight against antisemitism and anti-Zionism must not become a struggle between the Left and Right.
“Liberal Jews have to fight the so-called ‘allies of liberalism,’ antisemites who are using slogans of human rights against Israel, and right-wing Jews have to fight those who look like their allies but explain all the time that Israel is good… but try to mobilize them against liberal Jews.”
“We have to explain to right-wingers not to be so happy that people say Israel is great but liberal Jews are bad. Don’t dare turn them into your allies, don’t repeat the mistakes of those on the Left who turned enemies of Israel into their allies.”
Sharansky sees no conflict between one’s political views and their ability to fight antisemitism and anti-Zionism.
“I had to defend Israel against some very pro-Palestinian forces at the time of [the] Oslo [Accords] and I was very much against Oslo,” he says, comparing his situation in the 1990s as a right-wing Jew defending an Israel governed by the Left, to today’s liberal Jews defending Israel under the current right-wing coalition.
He adds that he was also strongly against Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, over which he resigned from the government in 2003, “but that didn’t stop me fighting day and night against anti-Israel forces.”
A wave of US aliya?
Earlier this month, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to of immigration to Israel from the US, due to the ongoing incidents of antisemitism there.
But Sharansky sees no such flood of immigration on the horizon, and while his work is dedicated to aliya, is he a firm believer in the carrot, rather than the stick.
“Antisemitism can make them choose to leave, but the only reason they would come to Israel is if they think that could have a meaningful, free life here – and that’s what we have to continue strengthening and that that’s what can bring a serious increase in aliya,” says Sharansky, adding that if these pull factors don’t exist, US Jews are more likely to choose a country such as Canada to move to.
He opines that antisemitism in the US has not reached a level that would drive large numbers of Jewish citizens from their homes, “but if they do, for them to choose Israel, a lot has to be done on our side. Those who come to Israel as a shelter, they look very quickly for a better shelter. I don’t want Israel to be seen as a shelter from antisemitism,” he emphasizes.
What’s the Palestinian Contribution to Peace? – Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations)
It is clear that President Trump would like to move the Israelis and Palestinians forward toward a peace agreement. According to press reports, his adviser, Jason Greenblatt, recently held discussions in Jerusalem on how Israeli settlement activities might be limited, and of steps that might be taken to improve the Palestinian economy.
These are important subjects to cover, but there is another one that simply must be on the table (and perhaps it was). The list of subjects must include what the Palestinians will give, not just what they will receive.
Congress is increasingly hostile to continuing American aid while payments to convicted terrorists and their families by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) continue.
There is also the matter of “incitement,” meaning statements and actions by the PA that glorify terror and demonize Israel and Jews. In the last few decades, under presidents of both parties, the U.S. has said this must stop but has never penalized the PA when it did not.
It would be a mistake to give the PA and PLO concessions in return for nothing. It would be a mistake to reward Abbas merely for returning to negotiations he should never have left and that are not a favor to the U.S. or to Israel.
The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the CFR, was a deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration.