IDF kills three Palestinians assailants
The IDF on Tuesday killed three Palestinian assailants in the West Bank, two in the area of the South Hebron Hills and one near Bethlehem.
In the afternoon a car arrived at the Beit Einoun junction and stopped close to a group of soldiers touring the area, according to the IDF.
A Palestinian man got out of the car with a knife, an IDF spokesman said. Soldiers immediately shot the Palestinian and the driver of the vehicle, the IDF said adding that the driver was still able to flee the scene.
The Beit Enoun junction is north east of the city of Hebron and near the villages of Al-Shayoukh and Sair.
According to Palestinian sources the IDF killed Adnan Hamed Al-Halayka, 17, in that area. An hour later Palestinian sources reported that 23-year-old Mohamed Ahmed Al-Kawazba, from the town of Sair, had been shot and killed by the IDF soldiers.
He is the fifth member of that family and that village to have been killed by the IDF in the last eight days.
Last Thursday, the IDF said that a group of its reservists shot and killed three Palestinian who attempted to attack the soldiers with knives near the Gush Etzion junction.
All three were members of Kawazba clan; Ahmed Salem Abdel Majid, 19, Ala Abed Mahmoud, 19, and Muhammad Ziad, 18.
Two days earlier at the Gush Etzion junction an IDF soldiers shot and killed Ahmed Yusef Kawazba, 18 after he stabbed and lighted wounded an IDF reservist at a bus stop.
Separately on Tuesday near the city of Bethlehem soldiers clashed with some 50 Palestinian rioters who threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the IDF. Soldiers responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Srour Ahmed Ibrahim Abu Srour, 21, from the Aydah refugee camp near Bethlehem, was killed after being hit in the chest with a bullet. (Jerusalem Post)
Erdan conditions release of TA shooter’s body on restraint at funeral
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan stressed in a statement on Monday that as long as the family of the gunman in the January 1 Tel Aviv shooting, Nashat Milhem, complies with Israel’s conditions his body will be released for burial.
Police have demanded the family ensures that Milhem’s impending funeral will not turn into a breeding ground for incitement of terror activity.
On Sunday Erdan delayed the release of Milhem’s body and demanded that police take preventative measures against an outbreak of violence.
Security forces killed Milhem on Friday concluding a week-long manhunt for the perpetrator that shot and killed two people in a Tel Aviv bar along with the murder of a taxi driver in the city.
Also on Sunday a terrorist organization held a symbolic funeral for the shooter in Gaza City.
The military wing of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee eulogized Milhem as a matyr as they marched in the absentee funeral ceremony, according to Palestinian agency Ma’an.
The group held the funeral “in support of the intifada, its activists and the martyrs who fell,” Ma’an quoted an Al-Nassar Salah al-Din Brigades spokesman as saying.
The gunman left two killed and eight others wounded on Dizengoff street in an attack in central Tel Aviv on January 1. He immediately fled the scene and killed taxi driver Amin Sha’aban in North Tel Aviv.
The Tel Aviv shooter’s father and brother were taken into custody and questioned after Milhem’s father was reported to have identified the shooter as his son to the police. The manhunt that ultimately culminated in the shooting of Milhem in his home town of Arara concluded the week-long pursuit of the suspect. (Jerusalem Post)
Police: Terror alert in south removed after suspect located
A terror attack alert Monday morning prompted security forces to set up roadblocks and heighten security across the Lachish region in southern Israel, according to a statement by Israel police.
The alert was issued in the municipality of Sderot and its surrounding areas.
Border Police officers reinforced border crossings in the region as part of the security effort.
Police gave no further details of the warning by mid morning, but called on the public to exercise caution and to report suspicious persons to police.
A suspect was later located by authorities and taken in for investigation. Initial findings determined that the terrorist suspected of having intentions to carry out an attack did not make her way into Israel.
The alert was removed and forces returned to normal operations. (Jerusalem Post)
Hiliary Clinton received plan to secretly galvanize Palestinian protests
A former top US diplomat suggested Washington foment Arab Spring-style Palestinian protests as a method of pushing the Israeli leadership into making moves, a new batch of emails from former secretary of state Hillary Clinton shows.
On December 18, 2011, Thomas Pickering, a former US ambassador to Israel who also served as undersecretary of state for political affairs under former president Bill Clinton, emailed Clinton a recommendation to spark Palestinian demonstrations, led by female protesters, to push Jerusalem into talks.
Upon receiving the message, Clinton asked an aide to print it out.
Without detailing how the US would spark these protests, Pickering noted that the US could not be seen to have had a hand in fomenting the rallies, instead suggesting that Washington employ non-governmental groups and third parties to “help.”
Pickering’s proposal, which included parallel protests by Israeli Jews and Arabs, called for the rallies to be female-only as a way to keep the demonstrations from becoming too violent.
“On the Palestinian side the male culture is to use force,” Pickering wrote. “Palestinian men will not for long patiently demonstrate — they will be inclined over time and much too soon to be frustrated and use force. Their male culture comes close to requiring it.”
The demonstrations within Israel proper, Pickering insisted, must also be driven exclusively by women.
“If the Palestinians see men engaged they will jump in and the soldiers of the IDF will sooner or later use force,” he wrote. “This comes from several former senior Israeli military officers I have spoken with. The soldiers are fearful, nervous, outnumbered, insecure and brought up on a severe distrust of Palestinian males whom almost all of them have never spoken to except at roadblocks.”
Pickering said the Palestinian leadership was willing to go along with the idea, and the use of females could “counteract” fears that protests could get out of hand and endanger Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s rule in Ramallah.
“They must develop growth and momentum, just like Tahrir Square, and attract more women to participate and thus gain world attention,” he wrote. “Their leadership has shied away from this idea because they can’t control it; they too are afraid of being replaced by a Tahrir Square style action.”
Citing a need to see “a game changer in the region,” Pickering described Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the impediment to reaching a two-state accommodation.
“Netanyahu is not going to move for anything that the Palestinians can offer him which they can deliver,” he wrote. “He cannot deliver anything the Palestinians can accept without our help. He is much more satisfied with the status quo than with the risks of change.”
“What will change the situation is a major effort to use non-violent protests and demonstrations to put peace back in the center of people’s aspirations as well as their thoughts,” Pickering added, “and use that to influence the political leadership. This is far from a sure thing, but far, in my humble view, from hopeless.”
Pickering’s email was unveiled after the State Department released just under 3,000 more pages of Clinton’s emails last Thursday night, which included 66 that were deemed classified.
According to the State Department, however, those emails were not marked as classified at the time they were sent.
Since March 2015, when it was discovered that Clinton used her family’s private email server for official State Department communications, she has maintained that, as secretary of state, she neither sent nor received such emails on her personal account.
Clinton also received an email, on September 28, 2010, from former State Department director of Policy Planning Anne Marie Slaughter proposing the launch of a “Pledge for Palestine” campaign that would emulate Warren Buffet’s “The Giving Pledge,” an effort that encourages wealthy people to donate to charitable causes.
Nearing the end of Netanyahu’s 10-month settlement freeze, launched in November 2009, Slaughter suggested the campaign could shame Israel into supporting and advancing Palestinian statehood.
“Such a campaign among billionaires/multi-millionaires around the world would reflect a strong vote of confidence in the building of a Palestinian state and could offset the ending of the moratorium for Palestinians,” she wrote. “There would be a certain shaming effect [regarding] Israelis, who would be building settlements in the face of the pledge for peace.”
Upon receiving this email, which was also sent to Cheryl Mills and long-time Clinton advisers Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan, Clinton responded to Slaughter, “I am very interested–pls flesh out. Thx.”
Slaughter, now the president and CEO of the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, recommended that by “tapping into the Clinton fundraising network it should be possible to generate a substantial … amount quickly enough to capture the public imagination” and to “serve as an expression of global solidarity with the Palestinians.”
She also stressed that making “a meaningful promise of material improvements for Palestinians on the West Bank” could “significantly bolster Abbas in a way that could help him stay in the talks.”
“This is what diplomacy beyond the state should mean,” she added. (The Times of Israel)
‘Hundreds of thousands can’t marry in Israel’
“We’ve got no-one to rely on apart from our Father in Heaven and the High Court of Justice,” said Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern on Monday in relation to the current legal options for marriage, divorce, conversion and other religious services.
Stern, who heads the lobby along with fellow party member MK Aliza Lavie, was referencing the growing numbers of people unable to marry in Israel, the growing mistrust of the chief rabbinate which has exclusive jurisdiction over marriage and divorce, and the increasing public support for civil marriage.
“It pains me to say such things, especially as an MK, but this is unfortunately the reality.”
According to Hiddush, a religious pluralism lobbying group, some 660,000 citizens who are either from the former Soviet Union, gay, non-Orthodox converts to Judaism or have specific types of Jewish personal status, are currently unable to marry in Israel.
This figure was presented to the People, Religion and State Knesset lobby on Monday, which discussed the current options available for marriage and the prevailing situation in which tens of thousands of people are unable to get married in the country where they live and have citizenship.
Hiddush r conducted research based on statistics from the Central Bureau of Statistics. The organization found that there are 364,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are classified as “without religion” and therefore cannot get married in Israel.
Such immigrants are essentially people from the former Soviet Union who were able to gain Israeli citizenship under the law of return but are not considered Jewish according to Jewish law.
Since the various established religious institutions representing the different faiths in Israel have sole jurisdiction over the marriage and divorce in Israel and there is no state-mandated civil marriage, anyone classified as “without religion” is unable to marry in the country.
Hiddush calculated that there are 284,000 homosexuals in the country, who also cannot marry due to the lack of civil marriage, 13,000 non-Orthodox Jewish converts and 5,000 people ineligible for Jewish marriage for various reasons of Jewish law.
Another group numbering almost 400,000 people face potential restrictions on who they can marry due to the constraints of Jewish law and the lack of civil marriage.
In Jewish law, a divorcée or a convert may not marry a Cohen, the Jewish priestly caste, and the Chief Rabbinate will not permit such marriages to be conducted or registered. There are some 80,000 males in Israel who have priestly lineage, who are unable to marry a divorcée or convert.
Some 269,000 divorcées would not be able to marry a Cohen if they so wished and 50,000 Jewish converts would similarly be unable to marry a Cohen if they so wished.
“The number of Israeli couples who want to be released from the restraints of the rabbinate is increasing,” said Hiddush director Uri Regev. “At the same time, the disgust in the general public with the political horse trading, which is conducted at the expense of freedom of marriage is growing. It’s not just that the rabbinate’s monopoly doesn’t contribute to the preservation of Judaism, it is making Judaism hateful to the general public and causing it to identify Judaism with zealotry, discrimination and darkness.”
A poll conducted by the Smith Institute for Hiddush also found that 64 percent of the Jewish-Israeli public support the establishment of civil marriage and 64% also support recognition of gay marriage.
Seventy percent of people identifying as secular said they would chose civil marriage if it were an option, although in total only 37% of the general Jewish public said they would get married in a civil ceremony.
“We are all aware that we need to find an alternative for those who cannot get married through the Rabbinate,” said Shuki Friedman, director of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Center for Religion, Nation and State, at the lobby hearing.
“We also know that real change comes from the bottom up – from grassroots work. We, the people around the table, need to vote for an alternative.”
Stern said the facts and statistics were testament to a growing abandonment of Jewish religious services and ceremonies due to the prevailing monopoly of the religious establishment.
“People are giving on the religious establishment and more people are going abroad to marry or or marrying outside of the rabbinate including religious people,” said Stern.
The fiery MK said he did not see any hope that the current Knesset or the political echelon in general would establish civil marriage in the near future.
“Good tidings on this issue will not come from politics, it will come from the people and the High Court of Justice,” he continued.
Stern said that once there are enough couples in Israel who have married outside of the chief rabbinate then a petition could be made to the High Court of Justice demanding that the state recognize them as married.
Lavie drew attention to a current law that bans rabbis from performing an Orthodox wedding service outside of the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate.
Rabbis doing so could be fined and even imprisoned for violating this law.
“Israel is the only country in the world that puts people in jail for putting up a wedding canopy and conducing a marriage ceremony,” she said. “Next Sunday, I will propose my bill requesting to cancel these unnecessary and harmful criminal sanctions. We need to confront our country’s new reality – more and more young people are choosing to marry without a religious ceremony, without the Chief Rabbinate.” (Jerusalem Post)
Knesset panel: Academics should exercise restraint in political discourse
The meeting was called two weeks after lecturers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem called Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked “neo-Nazi scum,” “filth” and accusing her of taking part in genocide.
Academics and intellectuals should exercise restraint on any topic pertaining to the political discourse, MK Ya’acov Margi (Shas), chairman of the Knesset Education, Sports and Culture committee said Monday.
He made these remarks during a Knesset meeting to discuss the “harsh remarks” made by lecturers in academia against elected officials and students.
The meeting was called just two weeks following the media storm surrounding two lecturers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – Prof. Amiram Goldblum and Ofer Cassif – who came out against Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Facebook calling her “neo-Nazi scum,” “filth” and accusing her of taking part in genocide.
The MKs were split about how to best respond to political statements made by university lecturers.
Some MKs, while condemning the remarks, said they represent freedom of speech while others called for the immediate dismissal of the lecturers.
MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi), one of the initiators of the discussion, said Cassif not only “crossed a line” in his remarks but that he was also unapologetic for his statements.
“I expect the Hebrew University to call the lecturer for an inquiry and if he does not apologize then the heads of the university should fire him,” he said.
MK Sharren Haskel (Likud), also one of the initiators of the discussion, said lecturers are “not only our teachers but we also receive from them values and morals and ideology.”
As such, she said students should not be expected to “absorb such words and incitement.”
MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) said he personally knows Goldblum and had studied under him.
If the professor made these remarks, he said, it just shows how bad the situation in the country is today. He added “it is not the remarks that are dire, but the situation.”
The committee heard from Prof.Menachem Hofnung, head of the university’s political science department.
who said he spoke to Cassif because he is a lecturer in his department, asking him to refrain from speaking in such a manner.
“That is the extent of what I can do because of freedom of academic speech and the fact that he made these remarks outside of the university,” he explained. “If someone believes that he has violated the law [with his remarks] then they should file a complaint to the police.”
MK Eitan Broshi (Zionist Union) said the discussion should not divide into the Right or the Left but that it represents a problem of lack of responsibility and is a greater reflection of “cultural behavior.”
He called to establish an authority, similar to the Knesset ethics committee, to oversee the actions and statements of university lecturers.
The committee also heard from numerous students and members of Im Tirzu, who said they were afraid to express their political views for fear of receiving bad grades from the lecturers.
In addition, several students said they were victims of harassment by university lecturers due to their political beliefs. (Jerusalem Post)
More Arab students in Israel attending university in new academic year
The percentage of Arab university students in Israel has risen significantly in recent years, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics report marking the start of the new academic year.
This year, 14.4 percent of bachelor’s degree students will be Arabs, compared with 9.8 percent in 1999/2000. In that same period, the rate of Arab master’s degree candidates rose from only 3.6 percent to 10.5 percent this year, while Arab Ph.D. candidates doubled from 2.8 percent to 5.9 percent.
The portion of women among Arab higher education students has also risen. In 2000, 61.7 percent of Arab students were women, while this year the figure is 67.2 percent. The most significant increase is in the advanced degrees. The percentage of women among Arab master’s degree candidates has jumped from 40.9 percent in 2000 to 71 percent this year and Ph.D. candidates from 18.3 percent to 55.4 percent.
There was little change in the percentages of Jewish women among Jewish university students in that same period, though women were a majority at all degree levels.
The number of ultra-Orthodox university students has also gone up. Some 9,100 ultra-Orthodox students are registered for the new academic year – 800 more than last year. Almost a third (30.3 percent) of the ultra-Orthodox students are in the field of education.
Funding to increase the numbers of ultra-Orthodox and Arabs in higher education currently stands at 214 million shekels ($55,540,000,) the bureau said. (Ha’aretz)
Two Jews attacked in France and Germany
Only two days after the world marked the first anniversary of a terrorist attack on a Parisian kosher grocery, two French Jews were physically attacked in unrelated incidents in Marseilles and Puttgarden, Germany.
The first victim was targeted outside a synagogue by a French minor wielding a machete in Marseilles on Monday morning, police sources told French TV station BFMTV.
The victim, who was wearing a kippa during the incident, was only lightly wounded, and his assailant, who media reports indicate may have been mentally unstable, was arrested 10 minutes after fleeing the scene.
The ninth arrondissement of Marseilles is known for having a large concentration of Jewish residents and Jewish-owned shops and restaurants.
The motive of the attack remains unclear, although Marseilles has been the target of several anti-Semitic attacks last year.
In November, a teacher at a Jewish school in the city was stabbed by three people professing support for Islamic State.
Saturday marked the first anniversary of an attack on the French capital’s Hyper Cacher supermarket by Islamic gunman Amedy Coulibaly in which four people were killed.
Following that attack French President Manuel Valls announced that the government was initiating a €100 million plan to battle anti-Semitism intended to regularly monitor racism and anti-Semitism in order to generate data, protect Jewish and Muslim houses of worship and communal institutions and push back against discrimination.
While statistics for French anti-Semitism since the unveiling of that plan have not yet been published, Robert Ejnes, executive director of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), the umbrella body encompassing much of the organized French Jewish community, recently told The Jerusalem Post the organization knows the number of anti-Semitic acts have been around the same number as the previous year.
“The full effects have yet to be analyzed, but no doubt that the prime minister and the government have done the job,” he said.
While the plan was generally well received, some experts, including the late Dr. Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Joel Rubinfeld of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, have said they did not believe that the initiative would yield significant returns.
“To fight a disease, you have to name causes, and generally in Western Europe most of the anti-Semitic attacks are from young Muslim people,” Rubinfeld told the Post after the plan was unveiled last April.
He added that those seeking to mitigate anti-Semitic violence generally do not approach the root causes head on.
“A few days after the commemoration of the attacks in January 2015, CRIF notes with dismay that anti-Semitic acts continue tirelessly against the Jews of France, collectively immersed in a spiral of hatred that never seems to stop,” the CRIF said. “CRIF believes that beyond the necessary enforcement measures, it is urgent to address the root causes of this scourge and those within the Islamo-fascist sphere, which grows especially on the Internet.”
Speaking to the Post on Monday, Ejnes stated that the Jewish community is “shocked, since this is not the first time this happens in Marseille,” adding that the local prosecutor is pursuing the case as an anti-Semitic terrorist incident. “In many previous cases, the first comments from legal authorities had mentioned that the aggressor was déséquilibré (a disordered person).
This young aggressor has explained this attack by anti-Semitic and pro-ISIS motives,” he said.
In a second, unrelated, attack on Monday, two migrants from Syria and Afghanistan attacked a French Jew at a ferry terminal in Puttgarden, Germany.
According to German newspaper Bild, they approached the man, who was wearing a kippa, verbally identified him as a Yahud (Arabic for Jew) and knocked him down before kicking and robbing him.
While the German-Jewish community has been largely in favor of absorbing Middle Eastern migrants, its leadership has also cautioned that the influx could also prove a catalyst for increased anti-Semitic activity.
In November, Josef Schuster of the Central Council of Jews in Germany called on Berlin to impose limitations on the number of migrants being granted asylum in the country, telling Die Welt that quotas are necessary in light of the fact that many of the refugees expected to arrive in Germany this year “come from places where hatred of Jews and intolerance are an integral part of the culture.”
A month earlier a delegation of Jewish leaders warned Chancellor Angela Merkel that “many refugees come from countries where Israel is an enemy; their resentment is often transferred to Jews in general.”
Suspicion of migrants has been on the rise in Germany after a series of attacks on women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve, with police suspicion resting largely on asylum seekers.
Commenting that the Puttgarden victim had been wearing a kippa, a Berlin resident and hassidic who declined to be named out of concern for his personal security told the Post that “people are not showing their Jewishness too openly” and certainly “less than before.”
Rubinfeld of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism told the Post that this is precisely the kind of incidents the organization feared following the massive arrival of refugees from countries where, according the recent ADL poll on anti-Semitism, around 90 percent of the population harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.
“With the refugees crisis, we are facing a huge dilemma: on one side, we can not remain insensitive to the situation of those people who are experiencing a tragic situation in Syria. On the other side, European governments’ primary task should be to protect their population from foreseeable threats.”
While for the most part things have been calm, security is tight at communal institutions such as synagogues and schools and tensions show themselves in forums such as social media.
Many people, Rubinfeld continued, are worried about the prospect of young men without prospects who are “bored” and on the streets.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League applauded Germany’s leadership and commitment to provide asylum to refugees, but also raised concerns directly with Merkel about the anti-Semitism refugees may bring with them, inculcated in them in their home countries.
“One attacker is reportedly from Syria. While Syria was not surveyed in our Global 100 poll of anti-Semitic attitudes, its neighbors, Iraq and Jordan, scored 92% and 81% respectively, and attitudes in Syria are unlikely to differ substantially. Given Germany’s special responsibility to combat anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic crimes should be included in any policy of deporting asylum-seekers who commit crimes.” (Jerusalem Post)
Israel welcomes newest submarine with much fanfare
Still water runs deep, they say in the Israel Defense Forces when describing the stealthy power of Israel’s submarines. But this week, with Israel marking the arrival of its fifth vessel — the INS Rahav — there will be less stealth and more fanfare. The submarine was to be welcomed in Israel with an elaborate ceremony on Tuesday.
The event, which was to take place at the Israeli Navy base in Haifa, was to be attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and outgoing Navy Commander Vice Adm. Ram Rothberg. As part of the ceremony, a fleet of Israeli vessels including the existing four submarines, missile boats and naval commando ships were to escort the latest addition to its docking place.
According to foreign reports, the latest submarine will provide Israel with second-strike capabilities in the event of a nuclear confrontation, making it an essential component of Israel’s deterrence mechanism.
The INS Rahav, the fifth of a planned six Israeli submarines, left the shipyard in Kiel, Germany, in mid-December. The submarine is carrying 50 crew members, including a senior Israeli Navy officer.
The new Dolphin-class vessel traveled 5,550 kilometers (3,450 miles) from Germany to Haifa, stopping 430 kilometers (270 miles) off the coast of Israel to honor the INS Dakar, an Israeli Navy submarine that sank there in 1968 with a crew of 69 on board. The fourth submarine, the INS Tanin, held a similar memorial service on its way to Haifa when it arrived last September.
At 68 meters (223 feet) in length, both the Rahav and the Tanin are longer than the Israeli Navy’s older submarines (57 meters, or 187 feet). Both feature air-independent propulsion systems, which allow them to stay underwater for significantly longer than conventional submarines without resurfacing, using fuel cells to supplement their diesel-electric engines.
“With a second AIP sub, Israel has seriously bolstered its naval capabilities,” an Israeli Navy official said.
A senior defense official said recently that the Israeli Navy plans to make do with five submarines, and that once the sixth German-made sub is delivered in 2019, the oldest Dolphin-class submarine still in service will be decommissioned.
Dolphin-class submarines are multipurpose vessels capable of carrying out a diverse range of missions. The Rahav is equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and countermeasures systems, allowing it to avoid detection by enemy vessels, as well as satellite communications capabilities and other systems for electronic warfare, making it one of the most advanced submarines in the world, the naval officer said.
Each Dolphin-class submarine costs around $500 million, a third of which was sponsored by the German government.
These submarines serve as the long arm of the Israeli Navy and, according to foreign reports, provide Israel with second-strike capability in the event of a nuclear conflict, making them an important element of Israeli deterrence. Israeli submarines carry out covert missions on a daily basis. (Israel Hayom)
The Roots of Anti-Israeli Attitudes
by Prof. Efraim Inbar Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies Perspectives
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The reasons for the dislike of Israel are numerous and often reinforce each other. Christianity and Islam, the religions adhered to by most of the world, are critical of Judaism for its rejection of their terms for redemption, while Israel’s unique story of an ancient people returning to the homeland is not easily accepted. Part of the West and the Muslim world see the establishment of Israel through a colonialist prism, by which Western powers have planted a Jewish state in the Middle East to enhance their control of this region. Moreover, post-nationalist attitudes in the West are critical of Jewish nationalism. Furthermore, the radical Left, traditionally hostile to Zionism, has become more influential in many countries. The Red-Green alliance, whose main glue is anti-Americanism, rightly perceives Israel as an US ally. In addition, the memory of the Holocaust for non-Jews is becoming more distant. Finally, animosity toward Israel is fueled by the activities of misguided Jews.
Israel is demonized and singled out by the media and international bodies. Israel is accused of excessive use of force, despite its great efforts to minimize collateral damage, while the massacres by the Assad regime or the heavy collateral damage resulting from Saudi attacks in Yemen are hardly mentioned. The EU decided to mark the products of the Israeli settlements beyond the “Green Line,” taking no similar action for the products in northern Cyprus (occupied by Turkey), or in Tibet (occupied by China), or in Western Sahara (occupied by Morocco). Israel, a democratic state, is accused of human rights violations, while the UN ignores the human rights violations of many of its members.
The reasons for the dislike of the Jewish state are numerous and often reinforce each other.
First, there is a theological base for hatred towards the Jews and Israel. For the two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, comprising roughly half of the world population, Jews are problematic. Theological considerations have produced centuries of anti-Semitism. While not all Christians and Muslims are anti-Semitic, their cultures are permeated with anti-Semitic motifs.
Deicide is a main motif in the Christian tradition. However, the obstinate Jews have consistently across time rejected the Christian conditions for redemption. Similarly, Islam was conscious of the Jewish rejection of the prophet Muhammad. While Jews, as people of the book, are not considered infidels, they are still relegated to dhimmitude – second class citizens.
We can detect attempts in Christianity to change internal attitudes towards the Jews. It remains to be seen how successful they are. In contrast, very few Muslim religious leaders have engaged in similar efforts. Furthermore, the rise of radical Islam is also hardening the attitudes towards Jews among Muslims and particularly Arabs.
Second, Israel’s unique story is not always easily accepted. Israel reflects an unprecedented journey of an ancient people in the diaspora back to their homeland. After 2000 years the Jews returned to reestablish their state. The juxtaposition of Israel’s Zionist story against the Palestinians’ is not always convincing. Often Zionists have to explain that a large proportion of the Arabs in Palestine have arrived in the 19th century. In addition, most of the world does not remember that the Arabs in Palestine have rejected all compromise proposals, and that attempts at co-existence were countered by rampant violence. Justifying Israel’s story needs prior knowledge when many people do not pay attention to historical details. Zionism is very different from the annals of national movements elsewhere. Jews are nowadays involved in a tragic struggle with a population that is seen by many as oppressed natives.
Indeed, part of the West is displaying feelings of guilt for its colonial past, which is projected onto the Arab-Israeli conflict. The establishment of Israel is seen through a colonialist prism, according to which Western powers have implanted a Jewish state in the Middle East to enhance their control of this region. The Muslim world has largely embraced this outlook, which reinforces its religious hostility to the Jewish state. Israel is seen by the Arabs as a nation of modern crusaders that are doomed to disappear.
Third, we witness, particularly in the West, widespread post-nationalist attitudes that are critical of nationalist particularism. For example, young Europeans adopt transnational identities. They consider themselves Europeans rather than belonging to a particular nation. Such a new transnational identity is encouraged by the spread of the multi-cultural ethos. Multi-culturalism obfuscates particular national identities.
In contrast, Israel is a nationalist phenomenon, when in certain circles, particularly on the left, nationalism has become more suspicious. Nationalism is often equated with jingoism and narrow minded conservatives. Furthermore, some reduce Judaism to constitute a religious phenomenon only, denying the legitimacy of its nationalist manifestation.
Fourth, the radical left, that has traditionally been hostile to Zionism, has become in many countries more influential. Such a shift we see in the socialist parties of Europe. For example, the new Labour leader in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, is far to the left and is of course anti-Israeli. President Barack Obama in the US is part of the left wing of the Democratic Party, which has been more critical of Israel’s policies than other elements in the American political spectrum.
Fifth, we witness the tightening of the Red-Green alliance. Its main glue is anti-Americanism. The Reds (Marxists and Communists) and the Greens
(Islamacists) don’t like America for what it stands for, and as Israel is rightly perceived as a staunch US ally, they by extension don’t like Israel. The Red-Green alliance is nowadays a stronger political force, particularly in Europe, where increasingly larger Muslim minorities are located.
Sixth, the memory of the Holocaust for non-Jews is becoming more distant. The feelings of sympathy for Jewish suffering are weaker today and cannot overcome deeply rooted cultural anti-Jewish dispositions. Unfortunately, such feelings are sometimes replaced with pervert sympathy for the Palestinians who are portrayed as victims of Israeli Nazi-type behavior. Furthermore, the Palestinians have capitalized on this with systematic propaganda to cultivate their perceived (and cherished) victimhood status.
Seventh, part of the animosity toward Israel is the result of the activities of misguided Jews. Often, we hear critics of Israel saying: “I read this argument in Haaretz.” We have organizations such as “Jews for Justice in Palestine,” similarly to “Jews for Jesus.” In the US, the J-Street lobby joins in supporting anti-Israeli campaigns.
Unfortunately, we have to recognize that hatred of Israel is omnipresent just as hostility toward Jews has always been a widespread historic phenomenon. Israeli policies can hardly change this predicament. Whilst facing an uphill struggle, Israel’s public diplomacy should not desist from its efforts to portray Israel as a moral beacon in the Dark Age that has befallen the Middle East.
David Bowie in Israel 1996
Shabbat Shalom from Hineni Federal Summer Camp