Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Anti-Semitism and Jewish destiny - Robert S. Wistrich

by Robert S. Wistrich

Hat tip: Jean-Charles Bensoussan

On Sunday, Robert S. Wistrich – the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – emailed the following column to ‘Jerusalem Post’ Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde, asking that it be published in the coming week. Wistrich died suddenly on Tuesday. We dedicate his last column to perpetuating his memory. May his words live on.

There are few topics of more pressing concern today to Jewish communities around the world than the current resurgence of anti-Semitism. Thus, there could have been no more appropriate time for the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism to meet than last week in Jerusalem. It was a large and impressive gathering of participants from all over the world, initiated by the Foreign Ministry, together with its Diaspora Affairs Department.

In my own remarks to the conference I emphasized the need to free ourselves from certain outdated myths. My first point was that even today, Jews in Israel and the Diaspora are fixated on the dangers of far-right traditional anti-Semitism – whether racist, religious or nationalist. While neo-fascism has not altogether disappeared, it is in most cases a secondary threat.

Second, there is an illusory belief that more Holocaust education and memorialization can serve as an effective antidote to contemporary anti-Semitism. This notion, shared by many governments and well-meaning liberal gentiles, is quite unfounded. On the contrary, today “Holocaust inversion” (the perverse transformation of Jews into Nazis and Muslims into victimized “Jews”) all-too-often becomes a weapon with which to pillory Israel and denigrate the Jewish people. Hence the approach to this entire subject requires considerable rethinking, updating and fine-tuning.

Third, we must recognize much more clearly than before that since 1975 (with the passing of the scandalous UN resolution condemning Zionism as racism) hatred of Israel has increasingly mutated into the chief vector for the “new” anti-Semitism.

By libeling the Jewish state as “racist,” “Nazi,” “apartheid” and founded from its inception on “ethnic cleansing,” its enemies have turned Zionism into a synonym for criminality and a term of pure opprobrium.

Hence, every Jew (or non- Jew) who supports the totally “illegitimate” or immoral “Zionist entity” is thereby complicit in a cosmic evil.

Fourth, today’s anti-Semitism is a product of a new civic religion that could be termed “Palestinianism.”

The official Palestinian narrative seeks to supplant Israel with a judenrein Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. In the case of Hamas, this intent is absolutely explicit. With Fatah, it is partly veiled for tactical reasons.

But when it comes to the Palestinian ideology and the millions around the world who support it, virtually all actions of self-defense by Israel are instantly classified as “genocide,” demonized and treated as part of a sinister Jewish-imperialist conspiracy. Not surprisingly, then, pro-Palestine demonstrations, beginning in the summer of 2014, were often accompanied by ugly chants of “Death to the Jews” and anti-Semitic incidents.

My fifth point is closely related to this reality. Since the turn of the 21st century, anti-Semitism has undergone a process of growing “Islamicization,” linked to the terrorist holy war against Jews and other non-Muslims with its truly lethal consequences.

Yet most debates skirt around the issues of Iran and radical Islam.

However, if we do not confront the prime danger posed by radical Islamist and genocidal anti-Semitism, how can our common struggle hope to succeed? One of the symptoms of this vain policy of appeasement pursued by America and Europe is the almost Pavlovian reflex after every terrorist, anti-Semitic outrage to immediately disconnect it from any link to Islam. Of course, Islamist is not identical with Islam, only a minority of Muslim believers support terrorism, and stigmatization is wrong. Equally, we must empower moderate Muslims wherever we can.

But denial does not work. Levels of anti-Semitism among Muslims clearly remain the highest in the world, and the horrific consequences of jihadi movements like Islamic State for all minorities are impossible to ignore. Nothing can be gained by sweeping this threat under the carpet.

The Islamists are the spearhead of current anti-Semitism, aided and abetted by the moral relativism of all-too-many naive Western liberals.

My sixth observation relates to the need for Israelis and Diaspora Jews to rediscover, redefine and reassess their Jewish identity, core Jewish values and the depth of their own connection to the Land of Israel as well as to their historic heritage. I was privileged to have authored two years ago the exhibition “People, Book, Land – The 3,500-Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land” for the bold project initiated by the Simon Wiesenthal Center together with UNESCO. Against all the odds and in the face of predictable opposition, it opened at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in June 2014.

In April 2015, the exhibit was even shown at UN Headquarters in New York, and it will soon come to Israel. This is not merely a historical exercise, for it shows the extraordinary tenacity, cultural vitality, spirituality, and metaphysical as well as physical bonds of Jews and Judaism to the Land of Israel. None of this was intended, it should be emphasized, to negate the historical presence and significance of Christianity and Islam in this land.

But it sets the record straight.

My final reflection flows from this experience. I believe that in an age of Jewish empowerment, living in a sovereign and democratic Israeli state, we can and must first clarify for ourselves our vocation, raison d’être, moral priorities, and the deeper meaning of our near-miraculous return to the historic homeland.

This is the other side of the coin in our essential and relentless fight against anti-Semitism. As we celebrate Jerusalem Day let us be worthy of the scriptural promise that “the Torah will come forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

Here, in the beating heart of the Jewish nation, where its body and soul come together in the City of Peace, we must be true to the national and universal vision of our biblical prophets. Anti-Semitism, the long shadow which has for so long accompanied our bi-millennial Diasporic tribulations, and nearly 70 years of renewed statehood, is neither “eternal” nor must it prevent Jews from fulfilling their ultimate destiny to one day become a “light unto the nations.”

Robert S. Wistrich

Source: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Anti-Semitism-and-Jewish-destiny-403703

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Hamas, Europe and How to Get a State - Uzay Bulut

by Uzay Bulut

  • Denmark's Foreign Minister, Martin Lidegaard, did not of course address the question: If your neighbor is trying to import weapons while threatening to kill you, what are you supposed to do about that? He also did not address the similar blockade of Gaza by Egypt, which faces the same problem. The more terror tunnels Hamas members build, the more respect they get from the West.
  • As someone born and raised a Muslim in the Middle East, and still living there, I can assure Europeans officials that if they think the recognition of Hamas and Palestinian statehood would encourage Hamas to change its charter and abandon its terrorists attacks, they could not be more wrong. Why then should Hamas change its charter or tactics, or commit itself to a peaceful resolution, when its current terror tactics seem to be working so magnificently?
  • "We do not distinguish between what was occupied in the 1940s and what was occupied in the 1960s... We will continue until the very last usurper is driven out of our land." – Sheik Nizar Rayan, a Hamas leader, Gaza, 2005.
  • The EU authorities speak about "peace talks," and a "two-state solution;" Hamas does not. Hamas openly rejects them. If one compares the language these governments use with the language Hamas officials use, they would appear to live on different galaxies. To Hamas, and apparently to many countries in Europe, Israel as no right to defend itself and no right to exist. But Europe is ready to prop up, with unconditional support, racist, anti-humanitarian organizations such as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Is this really the spirit of pluralism, humanism and tolerance these "good," "moral" European governments and the Vatican support?
This month, the Vatican signed the first treaty with "the state of Palestine," which it had already recognized in 2012.

The Vatican is not the only European state to have recognized the Hamas and Abbas government as an independent state. The Vatican is just the latest member of a trend that speaks volumes about how alarmingly clueless European states are about the conflict in the region and how blind they have become to see who actually causes terrorism and killings there.

Pope Francis greets Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican, May 16, 2015. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

Sadly, last year, Europe showed that terrorism and threats to commit genocide might just be the best way to acquire national independence.

In October 2014, the Britain's House of Commons voted in favor of symbolic motion that stands as initial stage of UK recognition of a "Palestinian state."

Then Sweden's government became the first major European country officially to recognize the state of "Palestine."

Shortly after that, the lower house of Spain's parliament voted overwhelmingly to recognize "Palestine" as a state, and then the Portuguese parliament did the same.

Into the bargain, call it a bonus, Finland and Denmark (in Copenhagen, before it was hit with a terror attack -- like those with which Israel has been contending for decades -- warned Israel of EU sanctions. Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said Israel could face EU sanctions over its actions in Palestinian areas.

In September, Denmark's Foreign Minister, Martin Lidegaard, said that if Israel does not commit to end its "blockade" of Gaza and stop "illegal settlements," then tougher steps should be adopted. "If nothing happens in the peace talks this time," he said, "and if we don't see a new pattern of response from Israel's side, then we will need to discuss the possibility of taking new steps, including changes to our trade relations with Israel." He did not, of course, address the question: If your neighbor is trying to import weapons while threatening to kill you, what are you supposed to do about that? He also did not address the similar blockade of Gaza by Egypt, which faces the same problem.

Finally, as the ultimate prize, on December 17, 2014, the General Court of the European Union, the second-highest court in the bloc, declared that it had removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations: "Hamas should no longer be included on an influential list of international terrorist organizations."

Have these parliaments and courts not read Hamas's charter, especially in its Article 7, which openly calls for genocide against the Jews, not only in Israel, but all over the world? Have the not heard the saying in much of the Arab world: "First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people" -- namely, Europe's Christians?[1] Have they not seen how Islamic extremists have been targeting Christians and others not only in the Middle East but right there among them in the West?

Is this really the spirit of pluralism, humanism and tolerance these "good," "moral" European governments and the Vatican support?

The EU authorities speak about "peace talks" and "a two state solution;" Hamas does not. Not only has Hamas never cared about such niceties; it openly rejects them. The more Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and murder of all the Jews, the more the Western governments incomprehensibly seem to interpret this as a call for peace. If one compares the language these governments use with the language Hamas officials use, they would appear to live on different galaxies.

In July, 2014, Hamas once more made it clear that "peace" is not its aim. When an Arabic-language television interviewer asked Mushir Al Masri, a Hamas MP and media spokesman, "Is there a proposal of Hamas?" he responded: "This is just the nonsense of the Zionists and a dream of theirs to live in peace and calmness for 10 years. We shall keep disturbing the Zionists until the last of the Zionists leaves our Palestinian land. Because every truce is temporary for a certain period of time. We are not talking about a long term truce. We are not talking about a peace agreement.

"'A truce' in the dictionary of the resistance means preparing for the next battle," he said. "Our resistance will keep on developing, producing and filling its arsenals and in the production of surprising elements for the next battles until the Zionist enemy leaves our land, with the help of Allah."

"In Islam peace has a different meaning," wrote the scholar Diane Weber Bederman. "And it is important that we understand that meaning when we talk about peace with Muslim leaders, especially those who represent Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, al Qaeda. Peace in Islam means submission to Allah. The ultimate meaning of Islamic peace is all of us living in Dar-al-Islam—the house of submission."

During last summer's war, started by Hamas rockets fired into Israel, the journalist Arsen Ostrovsky wrote: "In the last 24 hours alone, over 120 rockets have been fired on southern Israel. That's approximately five rockets per hour --" at a country the size of Vancouver Island.

At the end of that operation, Hamas once more showed that its struggle is all about destruction: hundreds of dead and wounded people – institutionalized human sacrifice -- used as propaganda for the television cameras. To Hamas, and apparently to many countries in Europe, Israel has no right to defend itself and no right to exist. But Europe is ready to prop up with unconditional support racist, anti-humanitarian organizations such as Palestinian Authority and Hamas?

As someone born and raised a Muslim in the Middle East, and still living there, I can assure European officials that if they think that the recognition of Hamas and Palestinian statehood would encourage Hamas to change its charter and leave its terrorist attacks, they could not be more wrong. Perhaps the Europeans are just hoping that if they keep on paying diplomatic "protection" and keep on giving terrorists what they say they want, the terrorists will see to it that nothing (more) blows up in their cities. Or maybe they are just currying favor for business contracts or Muslim votes.

In 2010, Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said: "Have we given up our lands occupied in 1948? We demand the liberation of the West Bank, and the establishment of a state in the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem as its capital – but without recognizing [Israel]. This is the key – without recognizing the Israeli enemy on a single inch of land....This is our plan for this stage – to liberate the West Bank and Gaza, without recognizing Israel's right to a single inch of land, and without giving up the Right of Return for a single Palestinian refugee."

Sheik Nizar Rayan, a Hamas "political" leader, said at a rally in Gaza, in 2005:

We will not rest until we liberate all our land, all our Palestine. We do not distinguish between what was occupied in the 1940s and what was occupied in the 1960s. Our Jihad continues, and we still have a long way to go. We will continue until the very last usurper is driven out of our land."

Hamas is harmful not only to Israel, but also to its own Gazan people. Hamas has reportedly carried out, with perfunctory trials at best, public executions by firing squads against alleged "collaborators" -- their own citizens who oppose Hamas terrorism -- possibly as "examples" to others in the Gaza Strip.

The engagement by Hamas in war-profiteering and financial corruption is also no secret. "With multi-million-dollar land deals, luxury villas and black market fuel from Egypt, Gaza's rulers made billions while the rest of the population struggled with 38-percent poverty and 40-percent unemployment," wrote Doron Peskin, a Middle East expert in regional economies.

The Institute for Palestine Studies published a detailed report on Gaza's terror tunnels in the summer of 2012. Hamas used child labor to construct underground network in Gaza, work which resulted in a large number of child deaths: "At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials," the report noted.

Hamas also openly declares that it engages in Jihad against the Jews in Israel and worldwide. Do European governments call for and enforce the demilitarization of Gaza until Hamas officials change their charter and abandon terrorist attacks? No, they recognize Hamas and a "Palestinian state."

The more terror tunnels Hamas members build and the more terror attacks they carry out, the more support they get from the West. The more Jews they kill, the more they are respected.

The more they exploit their own children and use them as human shields, they more "heroic" they become in the eyes of the West.

The more cartoons they broadcast on their children's channel indoctrinating Palestinian children why they should "shoot all the Jews" or "kill the Christians and Jews – to the last one," the more recognition and "aid money" they get.

Why then should Hamas change its charter or tactics, or commit itself to non-violence and a peaceful resolution when its terror tactics seem to be working so magnificently?

The Western governments should stop projecting their own wishes onto Hamas and should see Hamas as it really is: A terrorist group with a genocidal agenda that must be demilitarized for the future of all of us.

Recognizing Hamas or a Palestinian state does not mean protecting Palestinians. Palestinians can only be protected by stopping their incitement. That can be done in one minute and with no money. Europe and the West can also insist that all future funding be linked to their educating their children for peace instead of war. The funding first needs to be linked to changes, as worked so well in Russia with the Jackson-Vannick Amendment, which predicated all grain to the Soviet Union on allowing its people to leave. The finding then needs to be payed out in installments, after the changes have been made -- and maintained. No education for peace, no funding. It is only by changing the expectations of the Palestinians about what is acceptable – and by staying committed to those changes over time – in addition to the direct negotiations with Israel to which the Palestinians are committed under international law – that will actually build a Palestine mature enough to have a state.

The Pope was wise enough to see that the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas could be – but was not yet– "an angel of peace." Egypt and Jordan live in peace side-by-side with Israel. The Palestinians could, too. Just not now.

[1] About the "Saturday people," Hamas's former minister of culture, Atallah Abu Al-Subh, has said: "The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth, because they have displayed hostility to Allah."

Uzay Bulut    Follow Uzay Bulut on Twitter

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5800/hamas-state

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Col. Richard Kemp:'World encourages violence by condemning Israel constantly' - Judith Bergman

by Judith Bergman

Hat tip: Jean-Charles Bensoussan

In an exclusive interview, Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, speaks about the conflict with Hamas, the ethics of war, the battle for public opinion, and the prospects for peace • Peace is far from breaking out, he says.

Col. Richard Kemp
Photo credit: Yoni Reif, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies

Judith Bergman

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=25717&hp=1

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

How Anti-Israel Incitement Backfires - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel, while the Palestinian Authority (PA) is conducting security coordination with the Israeli Defense Forces. That is enough for their people to turn against them and accuse them of "collaboration" with the "Zionist enemy."
  • Will the PA and Jordan start educating their people abut tolerance and peace with Israel? Sadly, that is unlikely to happen, at least not in the near future. The anti-Israel rhetoric has made it impossible even to talk about the possibility of peace with Israel.
For several months now, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Jordan have been strongly condemning visits by Jewish groups and individuals to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The PA and Jordan have accused the Jewish visitors of "desecrating" the Haram al-Sharif [Noble Sanctuary], the name used by Muslims to refer to the Temple Mount.

The visits, which are held in coordination with the Jerusalem Police, are described by the PA and Jordan as attempts to "storm" the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The charges made by the PA leadership and Jordan have triggered a campaign by Muslims to foil the visits by Jews to the holy site. Almost every day, Muslim hecklers intercept the Jewish visitors by hurling abuse at them and chanting "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is Greater") in their faces.

In some cases, Palestinians have thrown shoes at the Jewish visitors, including children.

Hundreds of Muslims on the Temple Mount, yelling and throwing objects, surround three Jewish men and their children, as about a dozen police officers try to hold back the angry crowd and evacuate the Jews.

Various Palestinian groups have also recruited women and children to harass the Jewish visitors and any police officers accompanying them. The women, who are hailed as Murabitat ("the Steadfast"), have one main mission: to harass the Jewish visitors. They claim that their chief goal is to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque against Jewish "aggression." Some of the women receive monthly salaries of up to 1500 shekels (about $400) to try and block the Jewish visitors.

But now those who have been inciting against Jewish visitors have fallen victim to their own campaign.

Palestinian and Jordanian officials who recently visited the Temple Mount received a firsthand lesson in what incitement can lead to. The officials themselves have fallen victim to hecklers who shouted profanities at them and forced them to flee the holy site.

The latest victim was Sheikh Ahmed Helayel, the Chief Islamic Judge of Jordan, who arrived at the Aqsa Mosque last Friday at the head of a leading Jordanian government delegation that also consisted of the kingdom's Minister of Wakf Affairs.

Sheikh Helayel was supposed to deliver the Friday sermon, but was forced to abandon the podium after scores of worshippers protested his presence and began hurling abuse at Jordan and him. He and all the members of the delegation were rescued by other worshippers who escorted them out of the Temple Mount.

The Palestinians who humiliated and expelled the Jordanian delegation belong to the radical international Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), the objective of which is to "resume the Islamic way of life by establishing an Islamic State that executes the systems of Islam and carries its call to the world."

One of the leaders of the mob shouted at the Jordanian cleric: "We were hoping to see you visit us at the head of an Islamic army that would liberate Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque, and not under the boots of the Israeli occupation." Another protester accused Jordan of "selling" the West Bank and Jerusalem to Israel in 1967.

The incident has deeply embarrassed the Palestinian Authority leadership, whose representatives were quick to condemn the assault on the Jordanian officials.

PA government spokesman Ehab Bsaisso expressed regret over the incident. The chief PA Islamic Judge, Mahmoud Habbash, denounced the incident as "immoral" and "un-Islamic." Habbash claimed that those responsible for the expulsion of the Jordanian officials from the Aqsa Mosque were "providing a free service to Israeli occupation."

It is worth noting that PA officials regularly encourage Muslim worshippers to intercept Jewish visitors to the holy site. But last year, Habbash, who also serves as religious affairs advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, was forced to flee the Temple Mount after angry Palestinians attacked him with shoes, stones and eggs.

Still, officials from the PA and Jordan do not seem to have learned the lesson -- mainly that their incitement against visits by Jews will ignite a fire that will also consume them. Both Habbash and Sheikh Helayel found themselves in the same situation as Jews who are confronted by hecklers during their visits to the Temple Mount.

Palestinian and Jordanian officials who incite their people against Israel on a daily basis should not be surprised when their constituents spit in their face, throw shoes at them or expel them from a mosque.

Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel, while the PA is conducting security coordination with the Israel Defense Forces. That is enough for their people to turn against them and accuse them of "collaboration" with the "Zionist enemy."

Anti-Israel incitement has once again proven to be counter-productive. But will the Palestinian Authority and Jordan draw conclusions from their mistakes and start educating their people about tolerance and peace with Israel? Sadly, that is unlikely to happen, at least not in the near future. The anti-Israel rhetoric has made it impossible even to talk about the possibility of peace with Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh  Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5813/temple-mount-incitement

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Israel-Scandals Syndrome - P. David Hornik

by P. David Hornik

nhThe latest round of Israel scandals began on March 17, which was Israel’s election day, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post: “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out.”

It sounded bigoted toward Arab voters. It was atypical of Netanyahu, and just a few days later he apologized to representatives of the Israeli Arab sector at his Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, saying, “I know the things I said several days ago offended some of Israel’s citizens, hurt the Arab citizens. This was never my intent. I apologize for this.”

Case closed? Apology for an unpleasant, atypical remark accepted? By Israeli Arabs, at least officially, yes. By others—no way.

The Obama White House, and the State Department (among many others), kept raking Netanyahu over the coals for his March 17 statement, even after his apology. Even two months later, in his latest interview to Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama was still talking about it, saying Netanyahu’s words were “contrary to the very language of the Israeli Declaration of Independence” and had “foreign-policy consequences.”

Meanwhile the Israel scandals continued. On May 7 the Israeli government approved the building of 900 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem that is 20 years old and has 20,000 residents. The State Department weighed in immediately, calling the approval “damaging,” “disappointing,” and inconsistent with the two-state solution—which, logically speaking, would imply that Ramat Shlomo could not possibly be part of such a “solution” and, from now on, would have to be frozen in place.

And just around that time, another round of Israel scandals began—Scandalous Cabinet Ministers. With the new government finally being formed after difficult coalition negotiations, and new cabinet appointments being announced, the international media took over, shouting to the world that Very Bad People were taking office in Jerusalem.

So much attention to a small country’s affairs could seem flattering. Actually it’s the opposite—almost uniformly derogatory, unflattering, and essentially bigoted, and there are no apologies for it.

It started with the new justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, who was portrayed as a Dark Threat to Democracy. As Daniel Greenfield noted on Frontpage, the Washington Post, the London Times, and Foreign Policy all lambasted her. So did the New York Times, AFP, Reuters, and others.

Two main charges were leveled at Shaked. One concerned her Facebook post—last June, right after it was learned that three Israeli teenage boys had been kidnapped and murdered by Hamas—of an article by an Israeli journalist that included nasty words about Palestinians. Shaked almost immediately deleted the post and has called it a “mistake.” But in the Israeli goldfish bowl, a mea culpa—that is, if you’re a conservative politician—won’t get you anywhere.

The other charge was that Shaked, the new justice minister, was out to destroy Israel’s Supreme Court and its judiciary branch in general. Lost in the hostile media din was the fact that distinguished Israeli and foreign jurists, including some who are not on the political right, regard Israel’s Supreme Court as one of the most activist top judiciaries in the world, arrogating roles to itself that belong to the legislature, and hence as in need of reform. But why attend to such details when one could depict Shaked as the latest Israeli scourge of all that’s good and just.

And then there’s the new deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely. AFP has already darkly intimated that it has seen a video of her instructing Israeli envoys to quote the Bible about Israel’s rights to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Hotovely’s religious-historical attachment to these lands, shared by many Israelis, also won’t win her popularity with a world media and political establishment that—with all the fervor of a religious dogma—regards even Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods as a sacred Palestinian trust.

And the new appointee as deputy prime minister, interior minister, and head of negotiations with the Palestinians, Sylvan Shalom? Also no good; as Jonathan Tobin notes, Shalom’s appointment has likewise sparked European and American criticism because he came out against a Palestinian state in the past. As Tobin observes, Netanyahu’s official stance favors a two-state arrangement. But it can also be asked why the recent violent upheavals in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, and other Arab countries do not put in question the premise that creating yet another Arab state, this one abutting Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion Airport, and Tel Aviv, would be a plus for peace and stability. But, again, dogma brooks no doubts.

For a single month of May, the Ramat Shlomo building plans, plus the appointments of three Very Bad ministers, plus the continuing flak from Netanyahu’s March 17 post, might, to repeat, seem like a lot of scandals for a single small—it might be added, democratic—country. But the Israel-bashers were just getting warmed up.

The clincher, of course, came last Wednesday when Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon launched a new policy where Palestinians who pass through checkpoints to work in Israel would have to return to the West Bank through those same checkpoints. Since Israelis who live in the West Bank—owing to the fact that they do not pose a terror threat—do not have to go through checkpoints when leaving it or returning to it, the buses taking these Palestinians back to their homes in the West Bank would only have carried Palestinians, not Israelis.

This ignited fury. The internet erupted with shrieks of “segregated buses” and “apartheid buses.” It took just a few hours for Netanyahu, realizing this was a fight Israel was likely to lose, to scotch the new policy. Yaalon explained that its purpose had been to improve Israeli security and protect Israelis from terror attacks. But to say that, for the international Israel-condemning chorus, the security of Israelis is not high on the agenda is a great understatement.

How important is all this reflexive, one-sided, distorted, uniquely disproportionate criticism of the Jewish state? The answer is that it is extremely important and poses a serious threat to Israel’s future. An annual BBC poll shows why.

The poll asks people in countries all over the world to rate the influence of particular countries as “mainly positive” or “mainly negative.” It turns out that, in 2012, 2013, and 2014, with the exception of the United States, Russia (just barely, in one year), and a couple of African countries, majorities (often large) in all countries consistently rated Israel’s influence as “mainly negative.”

Notably, that includes countries like South Korea, China, and India that have no antisemitic tradition, and whose governments have good relations with Israel’s government. If one asks where people in such countries are getting such a negative impression of Israel—a lone democracy in a dark region, a productive and beneficial dynamo in hi-tech, medicine, agriculture, water conservation, and other fields—the answer is, of course, the international Israel-bashing media, with an assist from reflexively Israel-criticizing governments and most of all, lamentably, the current one in Washington, though frequent public State Department criticism has been a feature of all recent U.S. administrations.

Even though Israel’s trade and, to a lesser extent, diplomatic relations with many countries are thriving, the effect of this delegitimization and demonization is seen most clearly when Israel engages in military conflicts with terror organizations and comes under severe, concerted pressures to desist, with TV screens all over the world depicting Israel, not the terror organizations, as the villain. Israel is still engaged in an uphill struggle—not just to survive but to establish that it has a right to survive.

P. David Hornik

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2015/davidhornik/the-israel-scandals-syndrome/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

What Memorial Day Is About - Mark Tapson

by Mark Tapson

Obama has declared the fall of Ramadi a mere “minor setback”; meanwhile he and the Democratic party, who have worked assiduously to undermine America’s war efforts and to gut our military, urge you to celebrate a “Happy Memorial Day!” and enjoy your ice cream and BBQ.

Last Friday, as the week downshifted into the Memorial Day three-day holiday, the official Twitter account of the Democratic Party wished the country a “Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!” and tweeted a pic of – whom else? – President Obama lapping at an ice cream cone while media lapdogs zoomed their cameras in to capture the photo op. CNN anchor Jake Tapper injected a note of perspective by tweeting back, “Respectfully, @TheDemocrats, this is not what Memorial Day weekend is about.”

Indeed it is not, but for Barack Obama, of course, everything is about Barack Obama. And for the Democratic Party, everything is about selling the American people a crock of big-government idolatry, and so they followed up the Obama photo with tweets about a 15% off holiday sale at their website store – because nothing memorializes the men and women of our armed forces who paid the ultimate price for their country quite like a discounted “I Heart O’bama” Shamrock Lapel Sticker or a “Like a Boss” POTUS t-shirt.

This all came in the wake of the fall of Ramadi in Iraq to the demonic forces of ISIS – you know, the JV team that has absolutely nothing to do with Islam. In the early years of the war in Iraq, more American lives were lost in the intense fighting to secure the province of Anbar, which includes Ramadi and Fallujah, than anywhere else in the country.

Now our warriors who survived that fighting, and the families and friends of those who didn’t, are watching ISIS reclaim Iraq and are wondering what that sacrifice was for. It makes the loss of their loved ones and brothers-in-arms painful all over again. But not to worry – Obama has declared the fall of Ramadi a mere “minor setback”; meanwhile he and the Democratic party, who have worked assiduously to undermine America’s war efforts and to gut our military, urge you to celebrate a “Happy Memorial Day!” and enjoy your ice cream and BBQ.

In the very same month in 2004 when American warriors faced escalated attacks in Ramadi and Fallujah, my 81-year-old father Roger E. Tapson, a former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant and veteran of World War II, died in Sherman, Texas. He was buried near a small lake in the rolling, pastoral grounds of the Dallas-Ft. Worth National Cemetery alongside thousands of other veterans. There, those veterans, as poet Stephen Spender might say, are “feted by the waving grass, and by the streamers of white cloud, and whispers of wind in the listening sky.”

That cemetery is exactly the kind of place my dad would have described – without a hint of New Age devaluation of the word – as “spiritual.” It was the way I once heard him describe a still, brisk, early autumn morning on a gorgeously wooded golf course, his favorite place to be.

Spiritual indeed. To stand in a military cemetery among the unadorned, uniform white markers that stretch out in precise rows like an army-in-waiting, is to feel a spiritually heightened quality to your surroundings that demands humility, gratitude, and a more solemn reverence. You can feel that – to quote Spender once again – the fallen warriors have “left the vivid air signed with their honor.”

This is not to diminish the final resting place of anyone interred in civilian burial grounds, but the “vivid air” of a military cemetery is undeniably suffused with something extra, because it’s not merely a graveyard, but a memorial to qualities that constitute the best of humanity – honor, courage, dignity, service and sacrifice – and to warriors who once embodied them. Their grave markers stand as a challenge to those of us who remain.

Honor, courage, dignity, service, sacrifice – how many of us civilians can say that we commit to embodying those qualities in our daily lives? How many of us can say we are truly tested, body and soul, ever, much less on a daily basis, the way that the men and women of our military have been, and continue to be? How many of us can say we are ready and willing to do what is required for our country and our fellow Americans, even at the cost of our lives? Precious few if any, I would guess, and we civilians are all the lesser mortals for it.

That makes us all the more fortunate that there are Americans who can and do rise to that challenge on front lines around the world. It takes a special person to embrace that responsibility and earn a uniform of the United States armed forces, and it takes a special family – warriors too in their own way (“they also serve who only stand and wait,” as John Milton wrote) – to support their loved one from the home front.

That is why Memorial Day is not about ice cream and BBQs. It’s certainly not about Barack Obama, a man who has done more to diminish America’s standing, power, and military than any single figure in American history. It’s not a time to celebrate. It’s a day to be humbled and grateful that the men and women of the United States military have the rare and noble qualities it takes to be a sword between us and America’s enemies – when our government officials let them. It’s a time to honor the warriors who have purchased our freedom and rights and prosperity with their lives.

And this year in particular, it’s a time to meditate on the challenge that those fallen veterans have left us civilians: the challenge to do our part, to earn what our veterans have handed us, and to be warriors ourselves on the home front, so that their hard-won victories and sacrifices were not for nothing.

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2015/mark-tapson/what-memorial-day-is-about/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Hebrew inscriptions, jewels of Palmyra’s Jewish past, may be lost forever - Ilan Ben Zion

by Ilan Ben Zion

With Islamic State now in control, fears grow for archaeological gems that point to the ancient city’s resonant Jewish history

The Islamic State flag  raised on top of Palmyra castle, May 22, 2015. (Photo credit: The website of Islamic State militants via AP)

Among the archaeological gems from Palmyra, the pearl of Syria’s desert, at risk after the Islamic State’s takeover last week are vestiges of its Jewish past, including the longest Biblical Hebrew inscription from antiquity: the opening verses of the Shema carved into a stone doorway.

Western archaeologists who visited the site in the 19th and 20th century discovered Hebrew verses etched into the doorframe of a house in the ancient city. But whether that inscription is still at the site is unclear. 

The last time a European scholar documented it in situ was 1933, when Israeli archaeologist Eleazar Sukenik of Hebrew University photographed it.

“What may have happened to it since is anyone’s guess,” Professor David Noy, co-author of Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis (Jewish Inscriptions of the Near East), said in an email on Friday.

Three views of the Shema inscription found in a doorway in Palmyra, taken in 1884 and printed in Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis. (S. Landauer)
Three views of the Shema inscription found in a doorway in Palmyra, taken in 1884 and printed in Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis. (S. Landauer)

Palmyra was one of the Roman Empire’s major cities, rising to prominence in the first centuries of the common era as a vassal state and entrepôt connecting West and East. Situated at an oasis in the desert frontier separating the empires of Rome and Parthia, Palmyra grew to an estimated population of 150,000-200,000 at its height in the third century CE. Textiles, perfumes, spices and gems came from India and the Far East, and metals, glass, wine and cash from Rome passed overland, bypassing the longer Red Sea trade route.
Eleazar Sukenik, photographed in 1951 (Eldan David - National Photo Collection / Wikipedia)
Eleazar Sukenik, photographed in
1951 (Eldan David – National
Photo Collection / Wikipedia)

Because of its unique location, Palmyrene culture and art exhibited a fusion of Roman and Persian traditions. Traditional Mesopotamian mud bricks comprised the majority of the city’s architecture, Jørgen Christian Meyer, an archaeologist from the University of Bergen explained, but temples to Semitic gods such as Bel, Baalshamin and Al-lat were constructed in Classical style with stout columns hewn of stone.

When the city was abandoned following its destruction in 273 CE and left to the elements, the mud brick disintegrated, leaving behind a petrified forest of stone columns.

During its centuries of prosperity and decline it was home to a thriving Jewish community.

“What we see in Palmyra is a multicultural, and possibly also a multi-identity city,” Meyer, who headed a Norwegian-Syrian archaeological excavation at the site in 2011, just as the civil war started heating up. “Here we’ve got this mixture of Greek, Aramaic, Middle Eastern, Roman culture. This is fantastic.”

“That’s why it’s a unique place from a historical point of view, a cultural point of view,” he said.

Solomon’s Tadmor

That fusion included Jews. Two locally produced terra cotta lamps found next to one of the great pagan temples bear menorahs on either side of a conch, suggesting close integration of Jews and gentiles.
Solomon and the plan for the First Temple. (Illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Co.)
Solomon and the plan for the First
Temple. (Illustration from a Bible
card published by the Providence
Lithograph Co.)

Known in Hebrew and Aramaic as Tadmor, Jewish legend attributed the city’s construction to King Solomon. Josephus Flavius, writing in the first century CE, ascribed its construction to King Solomon, saying that the city of Tamar referred to in Kings I was the “very great city” Josephus’s contemporaries knew in the Syrian Desert.

“Now the reason why this city lay so remote from the parts of Syria that are inhabited is this, that below there is no water to be had, and that it is in that place only that there are springs and pits of water,” the Jewish Roman historian said. “When he had therefore built this city, and encompassed it with very strong walls, he gave it the name of Tadmor, and that is the name it is still called by at this day among the Syrians, but the Greeks name it Palmyra.”

Modern scholars, however, dispute the veracity of Josephus’s claim that it was built by Solomon. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Classical city of Palmyra didn’t predate the first century BCE, and the biblical city of Tamar was likely in today’s Negev Desert.

“The place had certainly existed and had been referred to centuries before. But there is nothing in the archaeological record to show that there was any settled occupation of the site through the Hellenistic period,” wrote Fergus Millar in The Roman Near East. “Suggestions of a phase of urban development in Palmyra before the disturbances of the late Hellenistic period can only be speculation.”

The ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria, released by Syria's official news agency SANA, May 17, 2015. (SANA via AP)
The ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria, released by Syria’s official news 
agency SANA, May 17, 2015. (SANA via AP)

Nonetheless, during Palmyra’s height during the Roman era, the city became home to a substantial Jewish community, as testified in Jewish texts. Two 3rd century CE Jewish tombs in Beit Shearim, outside Haifa, identify individuals as the interred sons of Palmyrenes. A passage in the Mishnah, compiled in the first to third centuries CE, also refers to one Miriam of Palmyra as living in the city during the first century CE.

Palmyra's Theater (Jerzy Strzelecki)
Palmyra’s Theater (Jerzy Strzelecki)
It’s clear that there was a serious Jewish community. Jews from [Palmyra] brought them for burial [in Israel] and wrote on the sarcophagus that they were from there.” Daniel Vainstub of Beersheba’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev said. “We know from the Talmud that some of the locals converted to Judaism.”

But most significantly, etched into the doorway of a house in central Palmyra, northeast of its main colonnaded street, were the four opening lines of the Shema, one of the central Jewish prayers, verses from the book of Deuteronomy. Scholars have debated whether it was an entryway to a synagogue, but now they lean toward it having been a private home.

Partial view of the ancient oasis city of Palmyra in Syria, March 14, 2014 (AFP/Joseph Eid, File)
Partial view of the ancient oasis city of Palmyra in Syria, March 14, 2014 (AFP/Joseph Eid, File)

The Biblical passage differs from the traditional text only inasmuch as it substitutes God’s name Yahweh for adonai — my Lord.

On the sides of the doorway were two other apotropaic inscriptions in Hebrew script believed taken from Deuteronomy as well. It was last photographed in the 1930s, and scholars contacted by the Times of Israel couldn’t ascertain whether it was still at the site, or whether in the intervening decades it was destroyed or sold on the black market.

“They’re part of the limited but clear evidence for Jews at Palmyra,” Tawny Holm, a Jewish Studies professor at Pennsylvania State University, said of the missing finds. They likely dated from before the 6th century CE, possibly from before the city’s destruction in 272-3, but “the inscription could have been added later,” she noted.

The queen of Palmyra

Queen Zenobia's Last Look Upon Palmyra, by Herbert Gustave Schmalz. (Original on exhibit, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.)
Queen Zenobia’s Last Look Upon
Palmyra, by Herbert Gustave
Schmalz. (Original on exhibit,
Art Gallery of South Australia,
In one of its more thrilling episodes, Palmyra was briefly ruled by Queen Zenobia, who launched a rebellion against Rome. After taking the throne from after her husband’s death in 267 CE, she succeeded in conquering much of the Levant, including Judea, and by 271 had taken Egypt. 

Though Christian accounts claimed she was Jewish, there was no contemporary Jewish acknowledgement of such. In fact, Judeans sided with Rome, and Rabbi Johanan bar Nappaha, who lived in the Galilean town of Sepphoris during Zenobia’s rise and fall, is quoted in the Mishnah saying, “Happy will he be who sees the fall of Tadmor.” (He died happy in 279, a few years after the city fell to Rome in 273.)

Evidence of Jewish inhabitation of Palmyra tapers off after the 4th century, Vainstub said, when the re-inhabited city was a shadow of its former glory. Centuries later, after the Muslim conquest, Palmyra began its slow decline into obscurity. At some point a Jewish man, one Tsadik the Cohen son of Eliezer, carved his name into a column of the Temple of Bel, which had years before been converted into a church and then abandoned.

Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, a 12th century Spanish Jew who chronicled his travels through Europe, Asia and Africa, visited Palmyra during his travels around Syria in the late 1160s or early 1170s. Describing Palmyra, he compares it to the ancient ruins he saw at Baalbek in Lebanon.

Benjamin of Tudela in the Sahara (Dumouza, 19th-century engraving)
Benjamin of Tudela in the Sahara
(Dumouza, 19th-century engraving)
“At Tarmod (Tadmor) in the wilderness… there are similar structures of huge stones,” he wrote. Cataloguing Jewish communities he visited, Benjamin of Tudela said Palmyra was hope to about 2,000 Jews — Damascus at the time had 3,000 and Jerusalem he said only had 200.

“They are valiant in war and fight with the Christians and with the Arabs, which latter are under the dominion of Nur-ed-din the king, and they help their neighbors the Ishmaelites,” Benjamin of Tudela wrote.

In 1400, Turkic Muslim conqueror Tamerlane sacked the city and razed it, effectively ending centuries of Jewish inhabitance in Palmyra.

With the site’s conquest to 21st century Islamist warriors, however, archaeologists and historians are fearful for the ruins of the ancient city. The Islamic State may destroy them for the sake of propaganda as they did the antiquities of Hatra and Mosul in Iraq in recent months. UNESCO chief Irina Bokova called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and for the international community “to do everything in its power to protect the affected population and safeguard the unique cultural heritage of Palmyra.”

“No harm has really happened to the ruins of Palmyra, until now,” Meyer, the Norwegian archaeologist who excavated the site, said on the phone on Wednesday. “What will happen now is quite another thing.”

“What I fear now is that ISIS will also use the ruins in Palmyra in their psychological warfare, and that means the destruction of the place,” he said.

Ilan Ben Zion

Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/hebrew-inscriptions-jewels-of-palmyras-jewish-past-may-be-lost-forever/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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