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Latest News in Israel – 23rd February

Arab Cleric Says ‘Zionists Turned Desert into Green Oasis’

A prominent Qatari cleric and Muslim theologian who holds radical anti-Semitic views said Israel has turned a neglected desert land into an “oasis.”

Yusuf al-Qaradawi is one of the better-known modern-day authorities on Islam. He has voiced support for the extremist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and has been barred from entering several European states.

In this video, al-Qaradawi laments the lack of work ethic in Arab society and at the very end praises Israel for turning arid desert into a flowering state.           (United with Israel)


Three attempted stabbing attacks thwarted in West Bank

A Palestinian assailant was shot and killed by IDF soldiers after he attempted to stab them near Nablus in one of three attacks against security forces in the West Bank on Sunday morning.

In Jerusalem, settlers held a rally outside the prime minister’s office during the weekly government meeting and called for an end to the rampant Palestinian terrorism on the streets of the country.

“The government must wake up,” Avi Ro’eh, head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, said at the rally.

“Almost 50 years have passed since the liberation of Judea and Samaria, and we are still fighting for our daily existence. We do not feel that there is a determination to fight the terrorism,” he said, calling on the government to take a much firmer action against terrorism, including exiling the families of the Palestinian assailants from the West Bank.

Soldiers were on a security patrol near the Habitot junction in the Samaria region when a Palestinian teenager attempted to stab them, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said. None of the soldiers was wounded.

Qusai Diab Abu Al-Rub, 16, was killed by the soldiers and buried in his hometown of Kabatiya south of Jenin. He is the cousin of Ahmed Najeh Abu Al-Rub, one of the three Palestinians who carried out the stabbing and shooting attack at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on February 3, in which Border Policewoman Hadar Cohen, 19, was killed.

The three assailants from the February 3 attack, all of whom were from Kabatiya, were killed. Since October, 10 Palestinian terrorists have been killed by the IDF while carrying out attacks against Israelis.

In the area of Hebron on Sunday, a 14-yearold Palestinian with a knife attempted to stab a soldier near the village of Kafr Bnei Naim.

In that attempted attack, soldiers overpowered the assailant and arrested him. There were no injuries.

Near Tapuah junction, east of Ariel, Border Police arrested a female Palestinian teenager with a knife.

Initial investigations indicated that the 17-year-old suspect from the village of Kusra, less than 10 km. east of Tapuah junction, had arrived at the scene inspired by incitement on social media, intending to carry out an attack against Jews.

Police reported that during the incident, security forces stationed near the flashpoint intersection called on the suspect, who was headed toward a hitchhiking spot, to stop, but she refused to heed their calls and continued advancing toward them.

The patrol’s commander cocked his weapon in her direction, after which she walked a few meters and halted. When asked to raise her hands, the security forces saw a knife in her hand drop to the ground.

The teen was taken in by security forces for further investigation.

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, who was touring the area at the time of the attack to push for construction of a bypass road that would safely skirt the Palestinians areas that Israeli drivers now pass through, said the attacks only prove how necessary such a road is.                               (Jerusalem Post)

Chilling Details Emerge From Thwarted East Jerusalem Hamas Plot to Assassinate Netanyahu in Terror Attack

Details of a thwarted Hamas-hatched plan to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were revealed for the first time on Sunday, after a two-month interrogation of the suspects involved, the Hebrew news site Walla reported.

According to the report, the plot was made public with the Attorney General’s indictment last month of two of the terrorists, including the head of the cell, a 25-year-old from Kfar Yassuf in the West Bank who had rented an apartment in the Abu Dis neighborhood of east Jerusalem.

Ahmed Azzam was in the advanced stages of establishing Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, with funding and direction from Hamas in Gaza, the indictment said. To this end, he had purchased chemical materials and rented the apartment in east Jerusalem, where he set up an explosives lab. Also, according to the indictment, Azzam recruited the terrorist who was tasked with transporting the bombs beyond the Green Line.

It was this terrorist, Hazam Sanduka — nicknamed “the mechanic” for his intimate knowledge of cars — who had determined that Netanyahu would be the main target.

The 22-year-old resident of east Jerusalem and a student of Arabic at Abu Dis University was recruited in November by Azzam, who was looking for a Jerusalem resident to aid in the preparation of terrorist attacks.

The following are excerpts of interrogations conducted by the Shin Bet-Israel Security Agency and Sanduka:

Interrogator: Did you plan where to carry out terror attacks?

Sanduka: After discussing with Azzam the possibility of kidnappings, suicide attacks or bombings, I began to think about the most suitable place to carry them out. Since I worked for a security company in Jerusalem, I thought the most appropriate places were the Malha shopping mall, the Jerusalem [sports] Arena and the Great Synagogue, because many people frequent those places, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Interrogator: What was your job at the security company?

Sanduka: My job was to conduct security checks at the Arena and the Great Synagogue… After purchasing the (chemicals) in Abu Gosh, I drove to Jaffa to check out whether I was being followed and if there was a good place there for a terror attack… I saw that there was, at the Jaffa Port and on the beach, where many restaurants are located, so it is filled with people.

Interrogator: Tell me about your work at the security company.

Sanduka: I worked there for a few months… as a guard and usher… I thought to myself that a stage [at the Jerusalem Arena] would be suitable for blowing up a bomb when… Netanyahu was on it with those close to him. I did not do it, because I don’t know how to do it and I don’t know how to create explosives and bombs.

Interrogator: Did you have the thought of becoming a martyr?

Sanduka: I did not have that thought, but I know that to die a martyr is the most sacred death.

According to Walla, the Shin Bet originally believed that this group was an ISIS cell operating in Israel. But eventually, it was led to focus on Azzam, who had served time in an Israeli prison two years earlier. It was during his stint in jail, Azzam later told his interrogators, that he had decided to contact Hamas in Gaza and pledge to carry out attacks in Israel in order to receive financial aid.

But Hamas inmates told him to stop talking about military operations, for fear that they would not be able to be released in future prisoner swaps. Nevertheless, according to Walla, in August Azzam managed to make the necessary connection with a dispatcher in Gaza – via the app Telegram and through Gmail chat – who told him he would be responsible for Azzam’s training.

Azzam told his interrogators about the instructions he received. Meanwhile, he said, he began to look for people to join the Hamas cell he was establishing – a mere few kilometers from Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem.                              (the Algemeiner )

Kerry urges calm, decrease in violence in meeting with Abbas

US Secretary of State John Kerry in talks on Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged calm on tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and reaffirmed the US commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict.

“The secretary continued to urge for calm and a decrease in violence, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement after the meeting during a visit to Jordan by the top US diplomat.

The talks included discussions of tensions at the Temple Mount.

Palestinian allegations that Israel is trying to alter the religious status quo at the site have helped fuel months of heightened violence.

Kerry stressed the US commitment to seeking a sustainable twostate solution and working with all parties to that end. He reiterated the US policy on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements.

Palestinian leaders say many Palestinian attackers have acted out of desperation in the absence of movement toward creation of an independent state. Israel says they are being incited to violence by their leaders and on social media.

Abbas, meanwhile, called on Kerry to intervene with Israel to secure the release of Palestinian detainee Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for nearly three months.

Abbas also told Kerry the PA leadership was determined to pursue its efforts to seek an international conference for peace in the Middle East, according to Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA presidency.

He said the PA leadership would continue its efforts to seek a UN Security Council condemning construction in the settlements and calling for an immediate cessation of building there, Abu Rudaineh said.

The PA president also briefed Kerry on his ongoing efforts to form a national unity government that would consist of Hamas and other Palestinian factions and end the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

One Israeli government official said that if the Palestinians were to go through with their threat to bring a resolution to the UN Security Council, “that would be a negative development.”

“It is time the international community held Abbas accountable for the incitement that his Palestinian Authority generates, for his failure to condemn terrorism and for his refusal to negotiate with Israel,” the official said. “If the Palestinians are not held accountable for their irresponsible behavior, they will continue with it.”   (Jerusalem Post)

Israel thwarts attempt to smuggle drones ‘intended for terrorists’ into Gaza

Crossings Authority inspectors together with the Shin Bet intelligence agency recently foiled an attempt to smuggle commercial multicopter drones into Gaza, authorities announced on Sunday.

The drones were earmarked for use by “terrorist elements in Gaza” to gather intelligence on IDF movements, the Authority said.

Drone[1] (2)

The inspectors stopped an Israeli truck carrying toys at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, where drones of various types and sizes carrying high quality cameras were found.

Additional attempts to smuggle commercial drones were intercepted by the Shin Bet in recent weeks.

A joint task force, made up of the Shin Bet, the IDF Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, the Israel Police, and the Crossings Authority are working to intercept the smuggling of such items into Gaza.

The Administration said it launched an investigation to track down the smuggling network behind the attempted smuggling effort.           (Jerusalem Post)

London Underground trains splashed with anti-Israel ads for Israel Apartheid Week

The discovery of hundreds of posters marking Israel apartheid week on London subway cars sparked a commotion in Jerusalem on Monday, with senior administration officials, as well as members of the opposition, contacting their British counterparts demanding answers.

“Over 500 London tube trains plastered with posters for the 4 million passengers to read” as part of a guerrilla advertising campaign, Brighton BDS, a pro-Palestinian group tweeted on Sunday evening.

The signs in question accused British security company G4S, which works closely with Israeli security services, of assisting with the detention of five hundred Palestinian children without trial and asserted that the BBC was “biased in favor of Israel,” valuing the lives of Israelis over those of Palestinians in its reporting.

The campaign also castigated British companies supplying military supplies to Israel, stating that they contributed to the “massacre” of Palestinians in Gaza and that they “directly profit from Israeli apartheid and contribute to the militarized collective punishment of Palestinians.

A spokesman for the local transit authority confirmed that the signs were unauthorized, terming them “vandalism” and promising that they would be taken down “immediately.”

The issue quickly became a political one in Israel, with both the Prime Minister and the opposition taking credit for their removal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold, who was in London Monday, to demand that the British government have the signs removed.

“Whoever says we don’t act is not telling the truth,” he said at a Likud faction meeting.

Netanyahu referred to earlier comments by Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid who took credit for the signs’ removal, after asking London Mayor Boris Johnson to do so.

Johnson reassured Lapid by phone that the signs were unauthorized and will be taken down, and instructed Transport For London to take immediate action.


Speaking at a Yesh Atid faction meeting, Lapid said: “This morning, residents of London entered the Underground and found a series of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel signs calling us an apartheid state, accusing us of torturing children, or murder, of terrible things.

“Since the Israeli government, as usual, did nothing, I talked to Johnson, a great friend of Israel, and explained to him that the State of Israel will not tolerate such things,” Lapid stated. “It turns out that it is possible to fight for Israel. We can win, we can achieve, we can defend ourselves, but to do that, we have to work at it…We just have to do something.” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said of the signs that “the inciters do not rest for a moment.” “The hateful signs against Israel…are a display of hypocrisy. Of course the killing of Palestinians is the star, but there is not one word about [Palestinian] terrorism and violence,” he added.

Edelstein continued: “Dear BDS activists, lying won’t help you. We are here to stay and we believe that we are just and moral.” MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) called for the entire political spectrum to fight the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, saying that it seeks to destroy Israel.

“Israel has to isolate them and not let other protest movements join them,” she said. “Israel is not an apartheid state and we in the Zionist Union will make sure it will not be one, because we will separate from the Palestinians. We will have a Jewish and democratic state, and they will have their own state.” Speaking on behalf of several Jewish organizations, a spokesman for the London Jewish Forum on Monday afternoon called the posters “awful smears that do nothing to contribute to peace and dialogue, placing significant strains on inter-community relations across London.”

“They are an act of vandalism, seeking to undermine the UK’s relationship with Israel and designed to foster discomfort. We welcome Transport for London’s commitment to quickly remove them.” The UK Zionist Federation likewise posited that the signs’ “grotesque, reductionist, and inaccurate portrayals of the issue” could cause subsequent problems for the local Jewish community.

Their assertions, such as that “that Israel is not only involved in massacres, but also in effect controls the subsequent media coverage – would undoubtedly have resulted in an increase in community tensions,” asserted Paul Charney, the group’s chairman.

London experienced a massive surge in anti-Semitism in 2015, with anti-Semitic incidents up more than 60 percent over the previous year.

According to figures released late last year by the London Metropolitan Police, 483 anti-Semitic crimes were recorded during the 12-month period ending on November 15, while only 299 such incidents were recorded during the corresponding period in 2014, marking an increase of 61.5 percent.

Not everybody agreed with the decision to speak out loudly against the signs, however with a community source telling the Jerusalem Post that it was “self-defeating and very foolish to elevate this publicity stunt by a small group into a matter of international importance.”

Meanwhile, in the United States, an advertising agency has announced that it will also remove a billboard calling for a boycott of Israel following a public outcry.

Lamar Advertising, which leases billboards throughout the country, announced in a Facebook post on Friday that it would remove the billboard “as soon as possible.” Earlier in the day, also in a statement on Facebook, the company said it had received a “large number” of social media comments and hundreds of telephone calls protesting the billboard located on a major highway about five miles from O’Hare Airport.

The billboard sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, or SEAMAC, is part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. It reads: “Boycott Israel until Palestinians have equal rights.”                         (Jerusalem Post/Times of Israel)

France plows ahead with plans for Israeli-Palestinian peace summit

There appears to be move afoot to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders together in a bid to revive the moribund peace process – with France leading the way.

According to a Channel 2 report on Friday, the French government has submitted details of its diplomatic plan to members of the UN Security Council.

The document calls for the convening of an international summit which would include Arab states as well as representatives of the Quartet.

The agenda of the conference, which would take place as early as April, includes laying the groundwork for a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials this summer.

Earlier this week, the French envoy to Tel Aviv, Patrick Maisonnave, presented the Foreign Ministry with details on the French initiative to convene a peace conference in Paris this coming summer, with the aim of relaunching the diplomatic process that last broke down in April 2014.

The meeting between the French and Israeli officials came the day after a senior Palestinian Authority official rejected the possibility of a return to the negotiating table.

On Monday during a visit to Japan, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the Palestinians would never reengage in direct talks with Israel.

“Israel supports the direct negotiating process with the Palestinians, and opposes any predisposed attempt to determine the outcome of the talks,” the Foreign Ministry said in reference to Malki’s comments.

In January, outgoing French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius originally presented the French initiative, threatening that Paris would formally recognize a Palestinian state should its efforts to renew the peace process fail.

“France will engage in the coming weeks in the preparation of an international conference bringing together the parties and their main partners to preserve and achieve the two-state solution,” Fabius told a conference of French diplomats in Paris.

In response, Israeli officials blasted the initiative as “an erroneous approach” that gives Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas an excuse not to negotiate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli officials said Netanyahu would decide whether or not to participate in the conference only after receiving an invitation.

Meanwhile, Abbas has welcomed the latest French initiative.

The Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Israel still supports the prospect of direct diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians despite their “predisposition” to oppose attempts at reaching peace.

“This principle [of talks], which has accompanied the process from its beginning, has won the support of the international community over the years and also stood as the basis for peace negotiations with Jordan and Egypt,” the ministry said in a statement.                   (Jerusalem Post)

Israel reportedly preparing plan to boost Palestinian economy

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has met several times with his Palestinian counterpart Shukri Bishara in recent weeks to hammer out a plan for boosting economic assistance to the Palestinians, according to a Sunday report.

Kahlon is now slated to bring a raft of new initiatives to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for approval in the coming days, Channel 10 reported.

The plan is the result of a series of meetings between senior officials in the Israeli and Palestinian finance ministries, over the last several months, despite spiraling street violence. The last bilateral meeting of the finance officials took place last week.

The proposal focuses on both knowledge-intensive industries such as healthcare and high-tech, as well as expanding Israeli-Palestinian economic integration in the construction sector.

Officials in Israel said the measure is intended in part as a gesture to the Obama administration, after Netanyahu promised US President Barack Obama last November to expand efforts to reinvigorate the Palestinian economy.

But it is also seen in Israel as key to tackling lowering tensions in recent months amid the collapse of peace talks and a wave of Palestinian terror attacks since October.

Under the new plan, Palestinian doctors will reportedly be invited to train in Israeli hospitals, especially in medical fields relevant to the recent wave of violence, which has claimed 166 Palestinian lives, about two-thirds of them attackers attempting to kill Israelis at the time of their deaths, and 31 on the Israeli side, including three foreign nationals.

In what may be a significant boost to the Palestinian tech sector, Kahlon is also expected to propose new study and internship opportunities for Palestinian tech entrepreneurs and engineers in Israel’s world-leading high-tech industry.

Palestinian construction companies and contractors will also be allowed to operate in Israel, expanding access to the Israeli market from the current situation in which only Palestinian day laborers are allowed into Israel to work for Israeli companies.

There was no immediate Palestinian confirmation of the initiative.

Palestinians and others have pointed to Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza as contributing to high unemployment rates and near-stagnant economic growth.

An IMF report released earlier this month found that economic growth for Palestinians in the West Bank slowed to an estimated 2.8 percent in 2015 and was likely to remain below 3.0 percent this year.                                 (The Times of Israel)

Ben-Eliezer to be arraigned today for bribery, money-laundering

Former defense minister and Labor party power broker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer is set to be arraigned Monday on charges of bribery, money-laundering, fraud, breach of public trust and tax offenses.

Because of his poor health, Tel Aviv District Court Judge George Kara ruled he did not have to attend the remand hearing.

In December, he was indicted along with five others: businessmen Jacky Ben-Zaken, Charlie Yehuda, Roi Mutzfi and Avraham Nanikashvili, and Ben-Eliezer’s former bureau chief Ayelet Azoulay.

Ben-Eliezer had been given an extensive pre-indictment hearing, a special procedure for public and former public officials, as a last chance to convince the state prosecution to drop the charges, but failed to convince then-attorney- general Yehuda Weinstein of his innocence.

The case deals with allegations from 2007 to 2014, covering a period when Ben- Eliezer was the national infrastructure minister.

The indictment includes the following: Ben-Eliezer accepted large bribes from a series of associates in order to help advance their business interests.

He laundered millions of shekels by buying real estate, funneling it to bank accounts belonging to relatives, and through the use of currency exchange businesses.

It also says the money included NIS 2,142,000 found in a safe deposit box belonging to Ben-Eliezer at a Jerusalem bank. He received illegally acquired funds from real estate developer Mutzfi to lobby on his behalf with Egyptian officials he was close to, so he could help advance a project the developer was planning in Egypt.

The funds included NIS 500,000 for buying a multi-million-shekel house in Jaffa and he also requested around an additional NIS 1.3 million for purchasing the house, but Mutzfi refused.

However, Mutzfi did provide an additional NIS 260,000 to Ben-Eliezer to buy a separate Ness Ziona property for his wife and son.

In addition, the indictment states he received around $400,000 in 2011 from oil magnate Nanikashvili for helping him during a tax probe.

The then-78-year-old Ben- Eliezer tendered his letter of resignation from the Knesset in December 2014, citing health issues, ending decades as a public servant.

The case against him broke just before the Knesset voted for a new president in June 2014. Before the case broke, he was expected to be a front-runner for head of state, but the probe all but killed his bid for the presidency.

Weinstein had been under pressure to submit the indictment for some time since the case broke open a year and a half ago, but had moved slow on the case, partially citing Ben-Eliezer’s health problems and the fact that he had already resigned from office as reasons for there being less of a rush.                   (Jerusalem Post)

Israel, US kick off large-scale missile defense drill

Israel and the United States kicked off their biennial ballistic missile defense exercise — Juniper Cobra — on Sunday, the Israeli army announced.

In addition to preparing the two militaries for the threat of a missile attack, the exercise is designed to teach the armies to collaborate more effectively, the IDF said in a statement.

Over “1,700 U.S. Service members, civilians and contractors” will take part in the multi-day drill, the eighth such exercise since the Juniper Cobra program began in 2001.

“This exercise is our nation’s premier exercise in the region, and EUCOM’s highest priority exercise for 2016,” said Maj.-Gen. Mark Loeben, Director of Exercises and Assessments at Headquarters for US EUCOM.

The IDF did not detail exactly what the exercise would entail. However, the army warned, “During the exercise, increased military activity may be noted.”

In 2014, the last time the exercise was held, thousands of soldiers from both armies took part in the five-day event, which included computer-assisted simulations of a missile attack.

“This exercise is a significant mile-stone in the strategic relationship between the two countries, a security alliance unmatched by any other country in the world,” Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, head of Israel’s Aerial Defense Division, said.

Juniper Cobra 2016 is slated to be larger than the last exercise, but still smaller than Austere Challenge 12, a 2012 drill involving thousands of troops from both sides, according to DefenseNews.

The US has either jointly developed or financed all three tiers in Israel’s missile defense program — Iron Dome (short-range missile interceptor), David’s Sling (medium range) and Arrow (long range).

“Support for Israel’s defense has been an integral part of US policy in the region for decades, and this exercise has, and will continue, to directly support that policy,” Loeben said.

(The Times of Israel)

The left’s problem with Jews has a long and miserable history

by Simon Schama          The Financial Times  (UK)


Much of the student left has “some kind of problem with Jews”, said the bravely decent Alex Chalmers last week in his resignation statement as co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club following a vote in favour of Israeli Apartheid Week.

Labour’s national student organisation is launching an inquiry but the “the problem with Jews” on the left is not going away. In January a meeting of the Kings College London Israel Society, gathered to hear from Ami Ayalon, a former head of Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic intelligence service, who now champions a two-state solution, was violently interrupted by a chair-hurling, window-smashing crowd.

Last summer the Guardian columnist Owen Jones made a courageous plea for the left to confront this demon head on. Since then, however, criticism of Israeli government policies has mutated into a rejection of Israel’s right to exist; the Fatah position replaced by Hamas and Hizbollah eliminationism. More darkly, support in the diaspora for Israel’s right to survive is seen by the likes of Labour’s Gerald Kaufman, who accused the government of being influenced in its Middle Eastern policy by “Jewish money”, as some sort of Jewish conspiracy.

The charge that anti-Zionism is morphing into anti-Semitism is met with the retort that the former is being disingenuously conflated with the latter. But when George Galloway (in August 2014 during the last Gaza war) declared Bradford “an Israel-free zone”; when French Jews are unable to wear a yarmulke in public lest that invite assault, when Holocaust Memorial day posters are defaced, it is evident that what we are dealing with is, in Professor Alan Johnson’s accurate coinage, “anti-semitic anti-Zionism”.

The fact is that the terrorists who slaughtered customers at the kosher supermarket in Paris did not ask their victims whether they were Israelis, much less supporters of Israeli government policies. They were murdered as Jews because in the attackers’ poisoned minds all Jews are indivisibly incriminated as persecutors of the Palestinians and thus fair game for murder.

When the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement singles out Israel as the perpetrator of the world’s worst iniquities, notwithstanding its right of self defence, it is legitimate to ask why the left’s wrath does not extend, for example, to Russia which rains down destruction on civilian populations in Syria?

With the retreat of Marxist socialism, militant energies have needed somewhere to go

Why is it somehow proper to boycott Israeli academics and cultural institutions, many of which are critical of government policy, but to remain passive in the face of Saudi Arabia’s brutal punishment of anyone whose exercise of freedom of conscience can be judged sacrilegious? Why is the rage so conspicuously selective? Or, to put it another way, why is it so much easier to hate the Jews?

Growing up in London in the shadow of world war two my pals and I talked about who might be the bad guys, should evil come our way. We agreed the Jew-haters would not wear brown shirts and jackboots but would probably be like people on the bus. It is not the golf club nose-holders we have to worry about now; it is those who, in their indignation at the sufferings visited on the Palestinians, and their indifference to almost-daily stabbings in the streets of Israel, have discovered the excitement of saying the unspeakable, making hay with history, so Israel is the new reich, and a military attack on Gaza indistinguishable from the industrially processed incineration of millions.

Enter the historian. And history says this: anti-Semitism has not been caused by Zionism; it is precisely the other way round. Israel was caused by the centuries-long dehumanisation of the Jews. The blood libel which accused Jews of murdering Christian children in order to drain their blood for the baking of Passover matzo began in medieval England but never went away, reviving in 16th century Italy, 18th century Poland, 19th century Syria and Bohemia, and 20th century Russia.

In 1980s Syria, Mustafa Tlass, Hafez al-Assad’s minister of defence, made his contribution with The Matzo of Zion, and last year the Israeli-Palestinian Islamist Raed Salah, once invited to parliament by Jeremy Corbyn as an “honoured citizen”, declared that Jews used blood for the dough of their “bread”.

In the 19th century virtual vampirism was added to the antisemitic canon. And the left made its contribution to this refreshment of old poison. Demonstrating that you do not have to be gentile to be an anti-Semite, Karl Marx characterised Judaism as nothing more than the cult of Mammon, and declared that the world needed emancipating from the Jews. Others on the left — the social philosophers Bruno Bauer, Charles Fourier and Pierre Prudhon and the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin — echoed the message: blood sucking, whether the physical or the economic kind, was what Jews did.

For the Jews, the modern world turned out to be a lose-lose proposition. Once reviled for obstinate traditionalism; their insistence on keeping walled off from the rest (notwithstanding that it had been Christians who had done the walling) they were now attacked for integrating too well, speaking, dressing and working no differently but always with the aim of global domination.

What was a Jew to do? The communist Moses Hess, who had been Marx’s editor and friend, became persuaded, all too presciently, that the socialist revolution would do nothing to normalise Jewish existence, not least because so many socialists declared that emancipating the Jews had been a terrible mistake. Hess concluded that only self-determination could protect the Jews from the phobias of right and left alike. He became the first socialist Zionist.

But that was to inflict an entirely colonial and alien enterprise upon a Palestinian population, so the hostile narrative goes, who were penalised for the sins of Europe. That the Palestinians did become tragic casualties of a Judeo-Arab civil war over the country is indisputable, just as the 700,000 Jews who were violently uprooted from their homes in the Islamic world is equally undeniable. But to characterise the country in which the language, the religion and the cultural identity of the Jews was formed as purely a colonial anomaly is the product of the kind of historical innocence which is oblivious of, say, Jewish kabbalistic communities in Galilee in the 16th century or the substantial native Jewish majority in Jerusalem in the late 19th century.

None of this unbroken history of Jews and Judaism in Palestine is likely to do much to cool the heat of the anti-colonial narrative of the alien intruder, especially on the left. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the retreat of Marxist socialism around the world, militant energies have needed somewhere to go.

The battle against inequalities under liberal capitalism has mobilised some of that passion, but postcolonial guilt has fired up the war against its prize whipping boy, Zionism, like no other cause. Every such crusade needs a villain along with its banners and I wonder who that could possibly be?

Redefining anti-Israel

BDS could embolden anti-Semitic discourse on campus

by Tom Tyler    The McGill Daily    (Canada)


Noam Chomsky, the polemically far-left academic, recently resurfaced as one of the more surprising critics of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a grassroots anti-Israel movement with the stated aims of boycotting, divesting from, and sanctioning Israel. What followed was a predictable flurry of vitriol from some individuals claiming Chomsky had become an irrelevant Zionist sell-out, and others praising him as an unlikely defender of Israel.

Of course, both are incorrect; Chomsky’s anti-Israel track record is both substantial and well-publicized. There is something to be learned from this bizarre incident, however. The fact that Chomsky is even considered by some to be a defender of Israel is a testament to how much BDS has moved the goalposts when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in intellectual spheres. What we appear to have now is a situation in which anyone who disagrees with the premise of severing all ties with Israel – and purging its every mention save for use in political invective – becomes a defender of the country. As such, for disagreeing with some of the terms put forth by BDS, Noam Chomsky, a man who idolized the Venezuelan socialist and vocal Israel critic Hugo Chávez, is suddenly pro-Israel.

If that statement strikes you as absurd, it should, for it is an absurd situation. I cannot attest to being Chomsky’s greatest political disciple, but I have always regarded him as an admirably principled man. When he warns of a movement that ostracizes even those with no connection to the occupation or the actions of the Israeli government, I believe he describes something that is well underway.

I also believe that most Jewish students on university campuses in the West could attest to this as much as myself. I highly doubt that my Jewish compatriots to the right are particularly fazed by what progressive and left-wing groups think of them; many of them are already quite convinced that the Western left is inherently anti-Semitic. Rather, those that feel threatened more than any are progressive Jewish students, feeling increasing pressure from their political affiliations to be the token ‘good Jew’ that is obliged to cut their every association with Israel so as not to be ostracized by their political communities.

It is the prospect of a blanket academic and cultural boycott of Israel as a whole with which I feel uncomfortable.

Such a trend is plainly visible in the ongoing scandal regarding the allegations of “institutional anti-Semitism” at the University of Oxford Labour Club; among the grievances brought forward by the Oxford University Jewish Society was the proposition that Jews at Oxford should be expected to disavow the ideology of Zionism, or the UOLC would not associate with them. In an even more brazen display of ethnically motivated ideological purging, students recently interrupted a faculty meeting at Brooklyn College to demand the ejection of “Zionists” from campus, accosting a Jewish faculty member as a “Zionist pig.”

To expand upon my own stance, it is not divestment from organizations directly involved in the occupation or based in the occupied Palestinian territories with which I, along with many other progressive Jews, feel uncomfortable. Rather, similar to Chomsky’s concern, it is the prospect of a blanket academic and cultural boycott of Israel as a whole (which is what BDS explicitly advocates), one that ignores each Israeli’s political stance. Of course, I do not believe that the events described above are in any way representative of the BDS movement, which is an amorphous, grassroots movement with no centralized authority and thus has no spokespeople as such. Nonetheless, I do believe that, if BDS is officially adopted by a student government, those who desire to behave in such a way will be emboldened to do so. If any association with Israel, political or otherwise, is to be erased, then I fear that the natural result would be more such litmus tests of the ideological purity of Jews on campus, lest they reveal themselves to be undercover Zionists.

This kind of McCarthyism has shown potential to extend even further than campus. Matisyahu, an American Jewish singer who is neither a citizen nor a resident of Israel, was disinvited from a gig in Spain after he refused to issue a statement specifying his political position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The organizers subsequently apologized for their decision following public outcry from Jewish organizations and invited Matisyahu back to perform, stating that their hand had been forced by a “campaign of pressure, coercion and threats” from BDS País Valencià.

BDS has not been endorsed by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), and no motions to adopt it have yet been passed at a General Assembly (GA). However, the newly formed McGill BDS Action Network will present a motion to endorse BDS at the forthcoming GA on February 22. I’m sure that the moral and political arguments for and against a boycott of Israel as a country will be debated ad nauseam in the coming days, but it is important to understand the ramifications that an endorsement of BDS would have within the student body, as opposed to merely pontificating on the minimal outward impact that a student union’s political stance will have.

I am acquainted with many activists who support BDS at McGill. I know them to be intelligent, astute, and intellectually honest individuals who I am sure would not sully themselves with the reactionary invective I speak of. But the legacy of BDS will outlast their time at McGill. If BDS opens the floodgates for Jewish students who associate in any way with Israel (that is, Israel proper, not just the occupied territories) to be openly ostracized, one wonders if this will embolden a newer, more reactionary contingent of activists – the kind who characterize the Holocaust as “white on white crime,” or tell Jews they cannot claim anti-Semitism due to apparently not being “of Semitic descent,” as an ethnic studies professor argued at the University of Washington – and how the discourse will shift when they take the helm.

Palestinians: Kerry and the Game of Obfuscation

by Khaled Abu Toameh                 The Gatestone Institute


This “intifada” is simply a further phase in a larger plan to destroy Israel. When the plan began officially, with the establishment of the PLO in 1964, there were no “settlements” — not until after the June 1967 War — so what exactly were the Palestinians planning to “liberate”?

The current conflict is not about “defending” any mosque from being contaminated by the “filthy feet” of Jews: it is about seeing Israel forced to its knees. Abbas and others seek to reap delicious political fruits from this “intifada.”

Here is a novel idea: Kerry could put pressure on the Palestinian and Jordanian leadership to cease anti-Israeli incitement and indoctrination. Now that would be pressure well applied.

Abbas is expected to become a partner in the fight against ISIS and radical Islamist groups. All well and good. Why then is he not expected to stop cheering on and glorifying young Palestinians who attack Jewish Israelis?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is back in town. This time he is meeting with Jordanian and Palestinian leaders about “ongoing security issues in the region and continued tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.”

For those not involved in political newspeak, here is a translation:

“Ongoing security issues” = the Islamic State terror group (ISIS).

“Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians” = the ongoing wave of Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks that began in October 2015.

Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) fighting ISIS? Now that’s an idea! Jordanian King Abdullah and PA President Mahmoud Abbas ending “tensions” between Israel and the Palestinians? Let’s think about that.

Kerry comes back, but never calls a spade a spade. The “tensions” to which he deceptively alludes are knifings and car-rammings. And what is the biggest spade that Kerry avoids calling by its name? The new generation of Palestinians brainwashed to believe that Israel can be defeated with knives and car-attacks.

This “intifada” is simply a further phase in a larger plan to humiliate and destroy Israel. This plan began officially, with the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in May 1964. At that time there were no “settlements” — not until after the June 1967 War — so what exactly were the Palestinians planning to “liberate”?

The plan continued in 1974, at the twelfth session of the Palestinian National Council in Cairo, with the 10-point “Phased Plan” (see Appendix below for full text of the Phased Plan). Article 2 called for “armed struggle” (terrorism) to establish “an independent combatant national authority” that is “liberated” from Israeli rule.

Contrary to Palestinian leaders’ pap, the current conflict is not about “defending” any mosque from being contaminated by the “filthy feet” of Jews: it is about seeing Israel forced to its knees. Abbas and others seek to reap delicious political fruits from this “intifada.”

That is why, in his meeting with Kerry, Abbas made it clear that he intends to pursue unilateral moves to impose a solution on Israel, with the help of the international community.

Abbas also told Kerry that he intends to continue with his efforts to seek a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel over “settlement construction.”

Never mind that on Palestinian maps, all of Israel is regarded as one big “settlement.”


Palestinian Authority leaders, official television, schools and media outlets often display maps showing Palestine stretching from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. The maps do not show the existence of Israel.

But back to Kerry. His “tensions” imply two sides engaged in some kind of a dispute that has aggravated a situation and strained relations between them, instead of what it really is: Palestinians openly trying to supplant Israelis — the entire state.

So the game of obfuscation continues. No doubt, we will witness more pressure on Israel to make concessions that will supposedly ease the “tensions.”

Kerry and his friends either do not “get it” or do not want to “get it.” Palestinians are waging an out-and-out war against Israel with the goal of making Israelis suffer to a point at which they will beg their leaders to capitulate. In the Palestinian view, such behavior pays off royally.

It is a Palestinian commonplace that the two previous uprisings — in 1987 and 2000 — brought major achievements to the Palestinians.

The first “intifada” led to Israel’s recognition of the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians” — a move that was followed by the signing of the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority.

The second “intifada,” the Palestinians argue, led to Israel’s full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005.

And so we arrive at the newest wave of attacks. As the saying goes: Step-by-step.

Kerry would like to see an end to the Palestinian attacks on Israeli Jews. The only problem is that his vacuous rhetoric prevents him from having a snowball’s chance in a Middle Eastern summer from attaining that goal.

Let us also not underestimate Palestinian Authority rejectionism. On the eve of the Kerry-Abbas meeting, Palestinian Authority officials were quoted as saying that they did not expect anything positive to come out of the talks “because the U.S. remains biased in favor of Israel.”

As always, the Palestinian stance is, “My way or the highway.”

Moreover, Kerry is dreaming if he thinks that President Mahmoud Abbas or King Abdullah are able to stop the attacks on Israelis. Neither has the mandate or the credibility to do so. In any case, they and their media outlets are too busy with their anti-Israeli ranting to do much on that score.

Thus far, not a word has been uttered by either of the two Arab leaders that could be even vaguely interpreted by their people as “stop killing Israelis.” In the Palestinian Looking Glass, it is Israel that is responsible for the deadly attacks. After all, claims that are untrue about Israelis “storming and desecrating the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Islamic holy sites” are provocative, to say the least.

Here is a novel idea: Kerry could put pressure on the Palestinian and Jordanian leadership to cease anti-Israeli incitement and indoctrination. Now that would be pressure well applied. And it does not even require funding.

President Abbas is expected to become a partner in the fight against ISIS and radical Islamist groups. All well and good. Why then is he not expected to stop cheering on and glorifying young Palestinians who attack Jewish Israelis?

When Kerry and his crew finally wake up to the fact that it is precisely this incitement that is driving Palestinians into the open arms of ISIS, Hamas and other terror groups, perhaps, finally, we will be able to hope for “easing tensions in the region.”

Meanwhile, Kerry is back blathering about peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately, he seems incapable of calling a spade a spade — especially when that spade’s name is Palestinian prevarication.