Thursday, February 04, 2016

No more illusions: Come home

From Isi Leibler, 3 February 2016:

Aliyah2  
 
Objectively analyzing recent events can only lead to the dismal conclusion that the status of Diaspora Jewry, bad as it is, is only likely to deteriorate.

The horrific escalation of the global anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli tsunami extends to areas that are not even inhabited by Jews. The United Nations Human Rights Council and other human rights organizations, hijacked by Muslim and far left elements, have been transformed into anti-Israeli hate fest arenas, employing blood libels against the Jewish state as a surrogate for the Jewish people in a similar manner to anti-Semites throughout the ages. The global community demonizes the only democratic state in the Middle East while downplaying the sea of barbarism that pervades the region.

The epicenter of global anti-Semitism is the Arab world, where hatred of Jews has become endemic among both Sunni and Shiite religious extremists. The Palestinians are the most fiercely anti-Jewish Arab sector. After being brainwashed and incited by Arafat, Abbas and the Hamas mullahs, their hatred of Jews has evolved into a murderous religious frenzy.

Muslim migrants who settled into enclaves in Europe have imported their hatred and formed unholy alliances with traditional anti-Semites and political leftists – including organizations purportedly promoting human rights – to foment an environment of Jew-hatred reminiscent of the 1930s, immediately prior to the rise of Nazism.

The ongoing influx of millions of Muslim refugees will massively reinforce the existing Muslim anti-Semitic elements and permanently alter the demographics of Europe. Unlikely to be reversed, it will enable Islam to become an immensely powerful political force in many West European countries. The implications for European Jews are horrendous, as the combination of the prevailing virulently anti-Israeli public opinion and extremist Islamic political agitation will, in all likelihood, lead to even more extreme policies toward Israel. Despite lip service to the contrary, anti-Semitism will continue to thrive.

Moreover, there is the constant danger of terrorist acts against Jews by jihadists who entered the country posing as refugees or by second-generation Muslims incubated by extremist European jihadi mullahs. Jews in Europe have been murdered and attacked in the streets and armed guards or military forces are required to protect schools and synagogues. University students face concerted anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli hostility, both casual and violent. Jews are warned not to draw attention to themselves and avoid being publicly identified as such.

To top it off, most European governments, even those like the French that have experienced jihadi terrorism, still direct their foreign policy to placate their Arab minorities by haranguing and applying their double standards against Israel. They refuse to recognize that the murder of Israeli civilians is a direct consequence of Palestinian incitement of religious frenzy and continuously condemn Israel for defending itself. They now seek to pressure Israel to create a Palestinian state despite the fact that such a criminal entity would represent an existential threat and merely prepare the ground for a takeover by the Islamic State group.

The absence of any sense of moral compass is highlighted by the despicable groveling of European countries toward the Iranian terrorist regime. The continent that was drenched with the blood of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust is currently hosting the leaders of a state that repeatedly calls for the elimination of Israel from the map and obscenely engages in Holocaust denial, even stooping to the grisly depths of state-sanctioned cartoon competitions lampooning the Final Solution. Yet in return for trade opportunities, most European leaders, including the pope, welcomed and embraced Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, without even referring to these abominations – not to mention Iran’s appalling human rights record.  Nor did they take into account that much of the $150 billion of frozen assets the Iranians retrieve will be directed toward strengthening their terrorist surrogates.

European Jews who fail to see the writing on the wall are simply living in denial.

But Jew-hatred is not restricted to Europe. Jews in South Africa face an equally grim situation and anti-Semitic forces in Latin America, encouraged by Muslim migrants and Iranian influence, have also increased dramatically over the past decade.

The situation in the United States, Canada and even Australia, while not comparable to Europe, has also taken a massive downturn since U.S. President Barack Obama assumed office. By its constant undermining and pressuring of the Israeli government, the Obama administration has effectively given a green light to the Europeans and others to intensify pressures against Israel.

Fortunately, two factors have inhibited Obama from going much further. The shameful silence of the Jewish leadership cannot detract from the fact that committed Jews at the grass-roots level are still an influential force and remain loyal to Israel. More importantly, American public opinion is overwhelmingly pro-Israel and the powerful and growing movement of evangelical Christians in America (and throughout the world) has now emerged as Israel’s most fervent supporter and ally.

But there are concerns. Bipartisanship, which prevailed over the past few decades, has frayed considerably with the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party, accelerated under the Obama administration.

More worrying is the hardening of liberal policy against Israel; the toleration and support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in academia; and above all, the intensity of frenzied anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity on campus. BDS in the United States (as in other parts of the world) is intimidating Jewish students, many of whom resist confrontations to avoid social stigma.

Since Justin Trudeau displaced Stephen Harper as prime minister, Canada has rapidly followed the Obama approach to Israel. Canadian Jews were appalled when Trudeau’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day message, like that of many European countries, omitted any mention of Jews.

Australia still retains a strongly pro-Israel government and is one of the most hospitable countries toward Jews. Yet there are today growing sections in the opposition Labor Party, partly influenced by Muslim electoral pressures, which have become virulently anti-Israeli. Anti-Semitic outbursts have also grown considerably over the past few years, anti-Israeli and BDS activities at university campuses have proliferated, and for the first time, armed guards have been deployed to protect Jewish schools.

The Diaspora Jewish situation can therefore be summed up as disastrous in Europe and South Africa and worrisome in North America and Australia.

But thanks to the existence of Israel, today most Jews are able to determine their own fate. Now is the time for Diaspora Jews to honestly review their situation and plan for the future.

Yes, Israel is currently undergoing a difficult period. Yes, there are threats. But we should bear in mind that the Israel Defense Forces have never been as powerful and are capable, if necessary, of defeating all our adversaries simultaneously.

Above all, here in Israel there is a Jewish army, a Jewish police force and a Jewish community – which is significantly different from a non-Jewish military presence grudgingly provided to protect Jews in the Diaspora.

As a former Diaspora Jew, I urge you to review the situation objectively. If you are a European and want your children to be proud Jews, you should seriously weigh leaving now!

Those in the U.S., Canada or Australia should consider encouraging their children to settle in Israel, their only true homeland.

The Israeli government and the Jewish Agency must get their acts together. This is a historic moment and every effort should be made to encourage Jews in countries under siege to come to Israel rather than relocating to another Diaspora community where they are likely to lose their Jewish identity. To achieve this, the government must formulate policies to ease their integration and open up every opportunity to provide employment.

Despite the inevitable spread of anti-Semitism, we will not be witnessing an overnight ingathering of the exiles. But the message to committed Jews who wish to ensure that their grandchildren remain Jewish is to objectively review their situation, consider coming home or at least encourage their children to make aliyah to the Jewish homeland.
Those remaining in the Diaspora should intensify their efforts to ensure that their Jewish heritage is transmitted to their children. Above all, despite the vicious anti-Israeli climate, they must appreciate the centrality of Israel in their Judaism, without which their Jewish identity will wither and they will be lost to the Jewish people.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Requiem for the Oslo Accords

From Isi Leibler, 27/1/2016:

White House handshake   
 
The controversy over the Oslo Accords, which bitterly divided the nation over the past quarter century, is no longer a contentious issue. [...there is no way Israel could achieve any mutually acceptable peace agreement in the foreseeable future.]
 
The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin personally told me on numerous occasions of his concern that the deal with Yasser Arafat, whom he despised as a murderer, was a gamble that Israel had to take in order to satisfy itself and the world that it had sought every opportunity to achieve peace.
 
In contrast, Shimon Peres, then foreign minister, in response to a few critical questions I posed in the days after the Oslo announcement, lost his cool and angrily stated, “They took Entebbe away from me, but they will never do the same with the peace process.”
 
Today Peres is possibly the sole remaining senior politician who still maintains that the deal with Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization should be retained as the basis for a peace settlement.
 
The consensus, extending beyond right-wing politics, which recognizes the failure of the Oslo Accords, was articulated by the former director general of the Foreign Ministry, Professor Shlomo Avineri, an esteemed intellectual doyen of the Zionist Left.
 
In an article published last October in Haaretz, Avineri enumerated a host of reasons on both sides that contributed to the failure. But overriding these was the fact that the Palestinian position did not consider the conflict as territorial but regarded all of Israel as a colonial implant which had to be uprooted.
 
Avineri concluded that we are obliged to face the reality that there is no way Israel could achieve any mutually acceptable peace agreement in the foreseeable future.
 
His views were echoed by one of the key architects of the Oslo Accords, former minister Yossi Beilin, who, at a recent U.N. Media Seminar, stated explicitly that the Oslo Accords must end. As he said, “Too many Israelis fear that a one-state marriage would destroy either our identity as a Jewish state or our claim to democracy. And a two-state divorce is unlikely to produce a prosperous and stable Palestine.” He concluded that the best solution now would be an Israeli-Palestinian confederation.
 
The final nail in the coffin of the Oslo Accords was the announcement by the head of Israel’s Zionist Union and leader of the opposition, Isaac Herzog, who admitted, “I don’t see a possibility at the moment of implementing the two-state solution.” He told French President Francois Hollande that “we have to be realistic. … It cannot happen at this time. Hatred and incitement among the Palestinians are just too great.”
 
... the leader of the Israeli Left has effectively joined the Israeli consensus which believes that under the current circumstances, the creation of an independent Palestinian state is not even on the horizon.
 
...Herzog seems to be attempting to sever connections between Labor Zionism and the post-Zionists and anarchists. ...Herzog makes it clear that in any future confidence-building initiatives and outreach to the Palestinians, the Israel Defense Forces would of necessity retain control of the West Bank and Jordan Valley.
 
With Herzog on board there is now a consensus for the major policies toward the Palestinians, extending from the left Zionist Union through to Avigdor Lieberman’s far-right Yisrael Beytenu...[...that there is no way Israel could achieve any mutually acceptable peace agreement in the foreseeable future.]...

Al Jazeera America closure signals a quieter Qatar

 
From JPost, 27/1/2016, by Tom Finn / Reuters:


Qatar's support for the entire Al Jazeera operation is in question...

An aerial view of Doha, Qatar's capital
An aerial view of Doha, Qatar's capital. (photo credit:REUTERS)
 
When Qatar announced the closure of Al Jazeera America this month, the decision by its new ruler marked a more cautious approach to public diplomacy by the tiny Gulf state after years of cultivating a high-profile international role.

Departing from a crowded US media market after a foray costing perhaps $2 billion is also consistent with a retreat from confrontation with Gulf Arab neighbors over Qatar's promotion of Islamists in the 2011 Arab uprisings.

While the gas-exporting nation is still determined to remain a power broker in the Middle East turmoil, its use of Al Jazeera as a megaphone in support of that goal appears to be on the wane under the young emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, former Qatari officials and Arab commentators say.


...The [American] channel ...struggled to shake off a perception ...that its corporate parent, Al Jazeera, was anti-American and a source of propaganda, a view articulated in 2004 by then-President George W. Bush.

Sheik Tamim, who succeeded his father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in 2013, prefers a different role for Qatar and more conventional forms of "soft power" like trade and investment, diplomats say.
As a result of this, support for the entire Al Jazeera operation, which includes Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic ...is in question...

"ERA OF THROWING MONEY ENDING"

"The era of throwing money at Jazeera is ending," said Hafez al-Mirazi, a former Washington bureau chief at Al Jazeera Arabic who directs the Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism at Cairo's American University.

"Al Jazeera fulfilled its mission: making Qatar a household name, influencing politics, at one point it was a powerful tool of foreign policy but all of that is over now," he said, adding that current low oil prices had given the Qatari leadership an excuse to end "the extravagance of Jazeera which has lost credibility in parts of the Arab world."

...Al Jazeera executives and representatives of the royal family or the Qatari government declined to comment on the future of the channel and its funding for this article.

The channel cheered on Doha's bank-rolling of the Arab Spring revolts, particularly a mass uprising in Egypt, but now faces aggressive competition in its home region, and suspicion from many governments over air time given to Islamist groups in Syria, Libya and elsewhere.

Al Jazeera's spectacular growth took place under Sheikh Hamad who, unlike other Gulf Arab leaders, backed Middle East protest movements and played mediator in a host of wars. Expanding into America was conceived under Sheikh Hamad.

Under Sheikh Tamim, Qatar has toned down its foreign policy.

Since taking over in 2013, the Arab world's youngest head of state has adopted more conciliatory and inward-looking policies, analysts and diplomats say.

LESS NOISY, MORE CAUTIOUS

"Sheik Tamim wants Qatar to remain relevant on the world stage, but he wants to do that without squandering money or angering neighbors ... he doesn't want to be sucked into conflicts in the region," said a former Qatari diplomat, who declined to be named.

"The new approach is less noisy, it's more cautious."...

BOMBED, RAIDED AND SHUTTERED

In the last decade Al Jazeera's bureaus have been bombed, raided, and shuttered and its reporters imprisoned and killed.

Critics of Al Jazeera accused the network of aggressively covering unrest in Syria and Libya, while skirting over protests in Bahrain, Qatar's small neighbor in the Arab Gulf, which Qatar's ruling elite has an interest in seeing remain stable..

Breaking the Silence is a political organization

 
From JPost, 27/1/2016, by Ben Hartman:

The survey was compiled by the Association of Civil Military studies in Israel [and] polled 500 Hebrew speakers between the ages of 18-65. ...53%, believe the NGO “Breaking the Silence” is driven by political interests not related to the behavior of the Israel Defense Forces in the Palestinian Territories...

...The poll determined that just one in five respondents believe that the findings of Breaking the Silence indicate that IDF soldiers don’t believe they have a place in the IDF to turn to for filing complaints and only 9% said they believe that the findings of BTS indicate that the deployment of the IDF among the Palestinian civilian population has corrupted the army’s morality...      

Israel to track potential terrorists and BDS activism on social media


Hamas social media                                
Hamas social media. (photo credit:PALESTINIAN SOCIAL MEDIA)
 
Israel will invest more in technology enabling it to gather intelligence on social media about potential “lone wolf” terrorists, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Wednesday.

Erdan was speaking at a session at the third annual Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv devoted to using Israel’s cyber abilities to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and efforts to delegitimize Israel. Erdan is also head of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, in charge of the government’s anti-BDS efforts.

The session was organized by the Israeli American Council, headed by Adam Milstein, which is promoting ways to use cyber technology to tackle BDS. Milstein described BDS as an “existential threat” to Israel.

Erdan said.... “today there is incitement on the Palestinian television and social media, and you find yourself against hundreds of thousands of potential attackers who could go out to kill innocent civilians,” adding that terrorist attackers over the last number of months have admitted the degree to which they were affected by the social media...

Regarding fighting BDS, Erdan said that the Strategic Affairs Ministry has a NIS 100 million budget to fight it, and he believes that sum will grow.

Amos Yadlin, the head of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, bemoaned the fact that today it is not clear who in the government is dealing with the issue, since various aspects have been spread out across six ministries.

“In a normal country, the foreign minister would deal with this problem,” he said.
 
Israel’s enemies have identified delegitimization as Israel’s Achilles’ heel, and as an area where they can harm Israel, Yadlin said.

“The most dangerous country in the Middle East is the ‘State of Facebook,’” [Yadlin] said, saying that it provides more energy than a number of armies in the Middle East.

Milstein, who said at the conference that his organization wanted to raise greater awareness of the issue and lead to more coordination and effectiveness among groups involved in fighting it, told The Jerusalem Post that BDS is “war against Israel by nonmilitary means.”’ The movement is publishing things that were “unthinkable” a few years ago, and creating an atmosphere in the US where even Jews feel uncomfortable identifying with Israel because of being labeled supporters of occupiers and human rights abusers, he said.

Milstein, whose organization for the estimated 500,000 Israelis living in America was established in Los Angeles some eight years ago, put together a brainstorming session at the conference to generate ideas about how best to gather information on BDS – know who their leaders are and what they have planned – in order to thwart their campaign.

[Israel will invest more in technology enabling it to gather intelligence on social media about potential “lone wolf” terrorists, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Wednesday.

Erdan was speaking at a session at the third annual Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv devoted to using Israel’s cyber abilities to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and efforts to delegitimize Israel. Erdan is also head of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, in charge of the government’s anti-BDS efforts.

The session was organized by the Israeli American Council, headed by Adam Milstein, which is promoting ways to use cyber technology to tackle BDS. Milstein described BDS as an “existential threat” to Israel.

Erdan said that the current wave of terrorism is forcing Israel to deal with a new challenge. When the terrorism was directed by terrorist organizations, Israel knew well how to collect intelligence and thwart the attacks, he said.

But, he added, “today there is incitement on the Palestinian television and social media, and you find yourself against hundreds of thousands of potential attackers who could go out to kill innocent civilians,” adding that terrorist attackers over the last number of months have admitted the degree to which they were affected by the social media.

Erdan said that Israel has learned about how these attackers operate, and about ways to monitor their intentions in advance.

“We learned that before the attacks they change profile pictures on Facebook, write on Facebook about their intentions and inform family and friends that they intend to attack. The Israeli government intends to invest more in the acquisition of resources and technologies that can help us reach the potential attackers,” he said.

Regarding fighting BDS, Erdan said that the Strategic Affairs Ministry has a NIS 100 million budget to fight it, and he believes that sum will grow.

Amos Yadlin, the head of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, bemoaned the fact that today it is not clear who in the government is dealing with the issue, since various aspects have been spread out across six ministries.

“In a normal country, the foreign minister would deal with this problem,” he said. Israel’s enemies have identified delegitimization as Israel’s Achilles’ heel, and as an area where they can harm Israel, Yadlin said.

“The most dangerous country in the Middle East is the ‘State of Facebook,’” he said, saying that it provides more energy than a number of armies in the Middle East.

Milstein, who said at the conference that his organization wanted to raise greater awareness of the issue and lead to more coordination and effectiveness among groups involved in fighting it, told The Jerusalem Post that BDS is “war against Israel by nonmilitary means.”’ The movement is publishing things that were “unthinkable” a few years ago, and creating an atmosphere in the US where even Jews feel uncomfortable identifying with Israel because of being labeled supporters of occupiers and human rights abusers, he said.

Milstein, whose organization for the estimated 500,000 Israelis living in America was established in Los Angeles some eight years ago, put together a brainstorming session at the conference to generate ideas about how best to gather information on BDS – know who their leaders are and what they have planned – in order to thwart their campaign...

Milstein said it was important to look at the trend line of BDS, and that this line was very negative, with many more unions, church groups, and academic organizations supporting it now than just a few years ago.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Israel Fund and B’Tselem effectively endorse murder!


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An important report has exposed the involvement of a number of "human rights activists", including the field researcher for B’Tselem in the South Hebron Hills, in a sting operation to hand over a person to the Palestinian Authority’s preventive security forces, with the certain knowledge that he would meet a bitter end of torture and death.

The photojournalism report was aired Thursday 14 February 2016, on Israel’s Channel 2 television’s Uvda (Fact) news program. In a video recording produced with a hidden camera, Ezra Nawi, a Jewish far-left activist from the Ta’ayush group, is heard speaking about four Palestinian real-estate sellers, whom Nawi said mistook him for a Jew interested in buying their property.

Ezra Nawi
Ezra Nawi. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
 
"Straight away I give their pictures and phone numbers to the Preventive Security Force," Nawi is heard saying in reference to the Palestinian Authority’s counterintelligence arm. "The Palestinian Authority catches them and kills them. But before it kills them, they get beat up a lot."

In the Palestinian Authority, the penal code reserves capital punishment for anyone convicted of selling land to Jews…

Nawi was also documented obtaining information from a Palestinian who believed Nawi was a Jew interested in purchasing land. Nawi is seen saying he intends to give that information to Palestinian security officials as well. An activist with the human rights group B’Tselem helped Nawi set up the would-be seller in a sting operation in which the seller would be arrested.

As a result, The Israel Police have opened a criminal investigation.

In this context it is important to note that Nawi also had work ties with Breaking the Silence and Rabbis for Human Rights, which paid for his services. These two organizations, like B’Tselem, mentioned above, receive funding from the New Israel Fund (NIF).

Still, despite the grave nature of the actions portrayed in the Uvda report, the New Israel Fund, a major financer and supporter of B’Tselem, chose to defend the organization, stating that the NIF is proud to support it. According to the NIF, "The clarification we received from B’Tselem … revealed that B’Tselem’s investigator, Mr Nasser Nawaja, who appears in the report, was acting on his own behalf as a Palestinian resident of the South Hebron Hills, and not on behalf of B’Tselem."

B’Tselem, whose regional field researcher, as noted above, was also involved in the effort to turn in the "real estate agent" to the Palestinian Authority, chose to support the researcher, claiming that "contacting the sovereign authorities cannot be considered turning someone in."

Furthermore, A.B. Yehushua, a member of B’Tselem’s Public Council, contended that,


"The mechanisms of the PA are those of an official body that we recognize and we are happy that they exist. We want transparency… even in the Palestinian Authority…As for their fate [the would-be sellers], that is another question… they don’t have to torture people who sell land. That must something that is forbidden…but transparency is one thing, torture is another… that is already their business, whom they torture and whom they don’t torture… I think it is a terrible thing for the PA to do, but it’s the PA, it’s their right."

In other words, instead of denouncing the actions of the researcher, the NIF and B’Tselem back his actions, ignore the serious ramifications and are effectively endorsing murder!

In contrast to them, Israel’s prime minister, defense minister and the former head of the Shabak security forces, emphasized the severity of the situation, and sharply denounced the actions:


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Facebook on Friday 15 January 2016 that the report "unmasked radicals among us, whose hatred for settlements has pushed them over the edge to the point of delivering innocents for torture and execution. Those who encourage murder cannot continue to hide behind the hypocritical pretense of caring for human rights."


Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said: "…Over the years I have encountered radical leftist activists, ‘human rights activists,’ whose main activities involve the maligning Israel, the IDF and the security forces, as part of the BDS phenomenon… in the guise of concern for human rights, some inciting against the State of Israel, spreading lies and, as it turns out – also endangering the lives of the Palestinian land sellers…and everything is kosher from their perspective in order to harm the State of Israel, out of hatred and other despicable motives… these people are promoting neither peace nor human rights activists..."

Former Shabak chief, Knesset member Avi Dichter, noted that, "In the past week I was made privy to extremely harsh materials on the covert activities of a number of organizations such as Ta’ayush, B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence and other organizations that purport to be human rights organizations. Only a few of these organizations were covered in the investigative report on Uvda, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. These are criminal activities that must be investigated by the police and the Shabak."
 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Israel Fund leader is taking a long sabbatical...

From Jewish Business News, 20 Jan 2016:


In a stunning turn of events amongst the radical American Jewish left, it has just been announced by Rabbi Gordon Tucker of Temple Israel Center of White Plains that he is taking a long sabbatical...

Rabbi Tucker became known recently for his financial support and vocal endorsement of the controversial New Israel Fund and its grantees.

In 2013, he assigned Temple’s discretionary funds to New Israel Fund, and did not inform his congregants that he is a leader of the organization, serving on its International Council. The New Israel Fund backs the boycott of Israel, seeks to delegitimize the IDF and fund efforts to see Israel brought before the Criminal Court at the Hague, to name just a few of what they fund.

Rabbi Tucker is further a prominent supporter and donor to Rabbis for Human Rights, which has been recently linked to payments toward Ezra Nawi, an Israeli activist who admitted to passing names of Arabs who are seeking to sell land to Jews to the Palestinian Authority. Nawi, who was on the payroll of Rabbis for Human Rights, admitted that the people he reported were killed.

After months of news items about Temple Israel, highlighting Rabbi Tucker and his steadfast support of these anti-Israel causes, he is now taking a significant step away from his duties in White Plains.
Sources have informed us that synagogue membership has dwindled. Finally, the members of Tucker’s synagogue have had enough – although he claims to be coming back in May, in hopes that pressure will die down. It will not. His synagogue must not allow him back.

Other American Jewish congregations that fund the NIF include: The Congregants of Temple Beth El of Santa Cruz, CA; Tzedakah Hevra at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, MA; Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun in WI, Kehila Chadasha of Bethesda, MD; Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, PA; Temple Beth Avodah of Newton Center, MA.; Temple Shalom of Newton, MA.; and Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, CA.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “We must not cave into the pressure, [we must] expose the lies and attack the attackers. We shall unite forces in Israel and abroad, expose our enemy’s lies, and fight for the Israeli citizen’s right to live their lives peacefully and safely.”

Those who support a boycott of Israel are wrong.

Restoring a love of Israel and pride in Jewish heritage

From Isi Leibler, 20 January 2016:

Photo by Sasson Tiram/Ministry of Education
Photo by Sasson Tiram/Ministry of Education
 
[There have been]...recent ...headline reports in the Haaretz newspaper accusing Education Minister Naftali Bennett of Stalinist behavior and seeking to brainwash Israeli children and deny them access to good literature. He was charged with instituting a “boycott” of a recent novel, “Borderlife” by Dorit Rabinyan, which deals with a love affair between a Palestinian man and an Israeli Jewish woman.
 
The Education Ministry stated that aside from other considerations, the book was not included as a compulsory text because “young people of adolescent age tend to romanticize and in many cases don’t have the systematic vision that includes considerations involving maintaining the national ethnic identity of the people.”
 
... There is not and has never been a call for a boycott of this book. There are hundreds of new novels appearing every year and those not selected as compulsory reading in the school curriculum are not being boycotted. In fact, the publicity has now transformed “Borderlife” into a best seller and those who wish can purchase it at any bookstore.
 
Contrary to media accusations, Bennett did not initiate his ministry’s decision. Nevertheless, he emphatically endorsed the ruling, noting that in addition to the Palestinian’s affair with an Israeli, the book also contained sections that “depict IDF soldiers as sadistic war criminals” and equated them with Hamas.
 
Bennett recommended that schools promote authors like Natan Alterman and Yehuda Halevy for Israeli students to read rather than a book extolling intermarriage between Jews and Arabs and besmirching the IDF. The vast majority of Israelis would undoubtedly endorse this.
 
But this issue is merely one example of the bogus efforts by the delusional leftists in Haaretz and other anti-government media outlets to demonize the government.
 
Culture Minister Miri Regev faced an uproar when, some months ago, she announced that government funds would no longer subsidize cultural initiatives that slandered or delegitimized Israel. She did not propose banning such activities but refused to endorse the use of taxpayers’ funds to vilify the state. This action was triggered by a government-sponsored play that glorified and humanized the abductor and murderer of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam and scorned his surviving family. To cap it, groups of schoolchildren were being taken to see this lamentable play.
 
Again, in this case there was not even a hint of boycott. Just the logical assertion that the government was not obliged to subsidize demonization of the nation. Yet Regev was accused of acting as a commissar and stifling free speech.
 
A similar scenario occurred when Bennett gave instructions that organizations like Breaking the Silence, which incited against IDF soldiers, were to be denied access to schools. That an organization notorious for slandering Israel and accusing the IDF of wantonly engaging in war crimes had to be formally prohibited from lecturing to schoolchildren reflects the current deplorable influence of marginal elements in the administration of the mainstream secular school stream.
 
In any society, the school fulfils a major role in molding national identity and good citizenship. This applies even more so in Israel, whose right to exist continues to be challenged, which is demonized throughout the world, and which faces additional hostility from its own entrenched post-Zionist academics and educators.
 
Incredibly, in the current Israeli secular educational arena there are elements that criticize the inculcation of love of Israel as nationalistic and worse, as an effort to promote patriotism – a nasty word in the lexicon of the far Left. Furthermore, they portray the view that there is an intrinsic conflict between a democratic and Jewish state. Some even suggest that Israel dispossessed the Palestinians and was thus born in sin. Needless to say, this type of education serves to diminish the motivation of youngsters for future sacrifices that may be required of them in defense of their country.
 
This negative atmosphere, accelerated after the Oslo Accords, contrasted starkly with the education of the earlier Labor Zionists. The founding Labor Zionist education ministers were secularists but steeped in Jewish knowledge, deeply sensitive to their Jewish heritage and passionate Zionists for whom the concept of Israel as a Jewish state was consensual.
 
In line with Labor Zionist ideology, they sought to foster secular schools designed to promote “a positive relationship to the values of democracy, together with an openness to a critical attitude” (“Curriculum in Citizenship for General and Religious State High Schools,” Education Ministry, 1976.) But they were also unequivocally committed to nurture youngsters with a love of the land of Israel and solidarity with the Jewish people and with an appreciation of Zionism as the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. They stressed the historical roots justifying “the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.”
 
With the enthusiastic personal support of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, they linked the study of the Bible with a love of the country and ensured that its geography and history were central features of the curriculum. Ironically, in many cases, graduates from the secular system were better versed in the Bible than their religious counterparts.
 
All of that changed when far-leftists, postmodernists and even post-Zionists, took over the Education Ministry. The first was Shulamit Aloni in 1992, followed by Yossi Sarid in 1999 and Yuli Tamir in 2006. Aloni and Sarid held office for about one year each, and Tamir for three. But in their relatively short tenures they introduced major changes that were not revoked by their successors. Study of Bible – a mainstay of Jewish identity in curriculum over the first half century of the state – was virtually expunged. Jewish subjects designed to promote the love of Israel were significantly eroded.
 
The dramatic change was exemplified in 1999 when Sarid, as Education Minister, saw fit to incorporate into the school curriculum two poems from the Palestinian rejectionist poet Mahmoud Darwish who had previously called on Israelis to “dig up your dead, take your bones with you and leave our land” and broke off relations with Yassir Arafat because he considered the latter too moderate.
 
Public rage ultimately forced Sarid to backtrack, but this was indicative of how the Labor Zionist education system, based on nurturing a love of the land and people, was being downgraded by discussions on whether or not Israel was born in sin. Critics complained that the curriculum was better suited for Hebrew-speaking Canaanites rather than proud Israelis.
 
The generational change in the Labor Party was highlighted last month when Opposition Leader MK Isaac Herzog cynically presented copies of the book “Borderlife” to schoolchildren as a protest against the “boycott.”
 
One wonders what his father, the late President Chaim Herzog, or his revered grandfather, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog (after whom he is named) would have felt about his endorsing a book as compulsory reading for Jewish students, in which Israeli soldiers are defamed as war criminals and intermarriage is approved.
 
Restoring a climate that nurtures love of Israel and promotes pride in Jewish heritage will be a real test for Bennett. This requires courage and will lead to a vicious debate in which he will undoubtedly be accused of extreme nationalism and fascism. But Bennett is articulate and if he makes his case and demonstrates that he is not imposing religious coercion, the majority of Israelis will support efforts to ensure that their schools inculcate love of our land and people, and promote patriotism and pride in our democratic Jewish state.
 
If Bennett succeeds, he will leave a lasting legacy that will benefit the entire nation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lessons We Palestinians Can Learn

From Gatestone, 6 Jan 2016, by Bassam Tawil*:

  • Opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians support an armed campaign against Israel, and want to see Israel destroyed and a State of Palestine built on its ruins. The polls also show a troubling increase in popular support in the West Bank for Hamas, and a decrease in support for Mahmoud Abbas.
  • The greatest tragedy of the Palestinians is not 1948, it is 2015. The only thing the Palestinian leadership and terrorist organizations can agree on is their obsession to destroy the State of Israel.
  • It is particularly disappointing that we keep trying to defraud the Israelis and Americans with fictitious messages of peace and "two states for two peoples." We assume they have no intelligence at all, do not understand Arabic and cannot read our Facebook pages.
  • The time has come to try creating -- for the first time -- a peaceful and demilitarized Palestinian state, which the Israelis have indicated for decades they would be happy to help us achieve.
This past week, the Israelis arrested 25 Hamas terrorists in the West Bank, most of them students from Al-Quds University in Abu Dis. Not rebels without a cause or the unemployed with a chip on their shoulder, but the finest minds we have, the intellectuals of the future Palestinian academia! The group, which dealt with recruiting and guidance and was being handled by Hamas in Turkey and its terrorist wing the Gaza Strip, was planning to carry out suicide bombing attacks inside Israel.
The leaders of the terror cell arranged safe houses and storage sites, where they set up laboratories to manufacture explosives. They recruited Palestinians -- from Bethlehem, Hebron, Qalqilya and even from Jerusalem, as well as Arabs from the Israeli Negev -- to acquire the chemicals and other equipment necessary for making car bombs for these students, who were getting ready to die as suicide bombers.

The Israeli security forces uncovered the network and arrested its operatives, who had also been influenced by the Palestinian Authority's non-stop incitement of the Palestinian population. The Palestinian Authority (PA) wants to sacrifice our best and brightest to carry out terrorist attacks against Jews.

Unfortunately, recent events herald the end of the concept of establishing an independent state for the Palestinian people. The cracks in the wall of Palestinian history -- which is barely a hundred years old -- are growing wider. The attempts to repair the fabric of Palestinian society with neon colors are a failure. There is also internal friction among the various Salafist organizations (Hamas, ISIS, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and the PLO and Fatah and other West Bank terrorist organizations.

There is also the issue of inheritance: which organization will control the PLO? What are the differences in their agendas? The Hamas leadership in Gaza wants first to reconstruct the Gaza Strip and then renew the fighting with Israel. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military-terrorist wing, demands the immediate renewal of attacks and rocket fire against Israel. Both are trying to establish new terrorist networks in the West Bank (like the one recently uncovered). The double objective of both groups is to kill Israelis and topple the Palestinian Authority.

We Palestinians seem incapable of agreeing on even the most basic productive and constructive issues, such as rebuilding houses, education, an intelligent use of the hundreds of millions of dollars received as donations, opening the Rafah crossing and improving relations with the Arab world, especially Egypt. The greatest tragedy of the Palestinians is not 1948, it is 2015. The only thing the Palestinian leadership and terrorist organizations can agree on is their obsession to destroy the State of Israel and establish a Palestinian state on the ruins; and even there, they cannot agree on the ways, stages and means.
As long as the Palestinians thought they could get what they wanted through negotiations and intransigence, they concealed their true intentions. Recently, however, when it became clear the Israelis would not waive their demand for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state or their determined objection to the right of return, Palestinian extremism came out of hiding. That is evident from the results consistently obtained by opinion polls, carried out by Palestinian polling centers, which show that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians support an armed campaign against Israel, and want to see it destroyed and the state of Palestine built on its ruins. The polls also show a troubling increase in popular support in the West Bank for Hamas, and a decrease in support for Mahmoud Abbas and the PA because of their inability to restore all of "occupied Palestine" to the Palestinians.

I wish we Palestinians were only smart enough to learn from the history of the Jews instead of totally rejecting them. We would immediately rid ourselves of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. But instead we use them, because they kill Jews.

Unfortunately, the late Yasser Arafat thought it would be easier to force the Jews to make concessions if the negotiations were held in an atmosphere of terrorist attacks and to that end, he subcontracted to Hamas.

Hamas, like Frankenstein's monster, grew to become a large terrorist organization, now threatening not just Israel but the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. In consequence, we are forced to collaborate with the Israelis if we want to survive and avoid being swallowed whole by Hamas, as we were in Gaza. That is why the threats from the Palestinian Authority to stop intelligence collaboration with Israel are nonsense. As our rhetoric becomes more and more extremist, some Palestinians suffer from a passive desire to submit to Hamas, and fewer and fewer people dare to challenge Hamas instead of rejecting both it and the Muslim Brotherhood, and gaining the trust of wider, far more powerful backer: the world, the West, and even in some ways the Israelis. We are, instead, soaking up Hamas's destructive extremism. We allow Hamas to brainwash our younger generation with its fanatic -- and unproductive -- web of hate, destruction and death.

The Palestinian leadership has not yet internalized the bitter consequences of our fruitless terrorist attacks against Israel. The leadership uses its media to spread false propaganda about knives, stone-throwing and car ramming attacks, along with threats of another intifada. They do not realize that nothing will move the Israelis. Nothing will make them leave; nothing will make them give up one inch of land -- certainly not terrorism. That only strengthens their resolve. We keep making the awful and perhaps irreparable mistake of educating our children, generation after generation, to hate the Jews and Israelis and to want to destroy the State of Israel. At the same time, we can see that the Israelis and the Americans follow our every move, and document our hate propaganda. Little by little, our credibility is shredded as they lose their trust.

We broadcast children's programs promoting violence and hate on government-funded -- and government-run -- Palestinian TV, and at the same time expect the Israelis to make concessions to us that will compromise their security. How stupid is that?

Then we continually brainwash viewers with the nonsense that, with the help of Allah, the State of Israel is temporary and will eventually cease to exist. Whom or what should the Israelis trust?

The elderly Mahmoud Abbas, without support in his own country, waiting until the younger generation, brought up on hatred and war, pushes him out? We have the program "Children Speak," which declared on November 11, 2015, with absolute certainty, that Israel's end was just around the corner and that all the land of Palestine from 1948, "from the River to the Sea," including Israeli cities such as Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and Nazareth, "belong to us" and "will return to us." If you were the Israeli government, you would be suspicious too.

It is therefore mystifying why Greece's parliament would now symbolically (non-bindingly) recognize a Palestinian State -- thereby pushing actual Palestinian statehood farther away than ever.

Abbas doubtless goes around trying to pick up such worthless endorsements, no doubt hoping that if he manages to bundle enough of them, stacks of internationally binding agreements will be bypassed and an actual Palestinian state, with no need for any concessions, might magically spring up.

Has no one in the intelligence services of either country noticed that, according to Palestinian TV (December 4, 2015),
some of the Palestinians who have lived on Palestinian land since 1948 did not leave and now defend the land from the abuse of the "racist occupation." The very fact that they still live on our land, despite the occupation's full control, means they preserve Palestinian existence and guard the land as Palestinian, and believe all the land will return to Palestinian control and be part of the state of Palestine.
Ahem. "The Palestinians who have lived on Palestinian land since 1948" are what the rest of the world calls "Israeli Arabs."

The above are two examples of official Palestinian propaganda spread by the Palestinian leadership, media and educational system throughout the Palestinian territories every hour of every day.

According to Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the official Palestinian newspaper, on December 10, 2015, Jihad Jayyusi, the Palestinian Authority's military liaison officer, visited a creative writing class in the Al-Awda girls' school in Bethlehem, and presented them with a plaque of "Palestine," which now includes all the territory of the State of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. According to the same newspaper, on November 17, 2015, the prize in a photography contest held by the PLO's "prisoner department" was a map of "Palestine," which included the same territories.
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.

It is particularly disappointing that we keep trying to defraud the Israelis and Americans with fictitious messages of peace and "two states for two peoples." We assume they have no intelligence at all, do not understand Arabic and cannot read our Facebook pages, including the page of the Palestinian national security forces, where Acre and Jaffa are called "occupied." We assume that Westerners never read Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, which on November 30, 2015, published a picture of two keys and a map of "Palestine" that included all the Israeli and Palestinian territories and read, "A memory that does not rust" -- or if they do read it, that they do not understand what they are looking at.

If there is to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the first step is for the Palestinians to coordinate their own expectations. Our leaders have to understand that the Middle East arena is in a constant state of flux, that descendants of the 1948 refugees clearly will never "return" to the State of Israel, Jerusalem will never be the capital of a state of Palestine, and we will never control the Jordan Valley (because of Israel's unfortunately justified security concerns).

In addition, in a world staggering under the burden of Islamist terrorism, Palestinian terrorism is likely, over time, only to strengthen the West's support for Israel's security and existence.

We should have understood a long time ago that Jews exist in Palestine, that they are here to stay forever, and that murdering them in the streets is not going to change anything. The time has come to try creating -- for the first time in history -- a peaceful and demilitarized Palestinian state, which the Israelis have indicated for decades they would be all too happy to help us achieve. I hope and pray we are not already too late.

*Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East

New Permutations in the Mideast “Game of Camps”

 From BESA, 17 January 2016, by Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman*:
 

 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Middle East is today divided into four rival camps:
  1. Iran with her proxies and allies;
  2. the Salafi Jihadists, currently dominated by the so-called “Islamic State”;
  3. the Muslim Brotherhood movement in its various manifestations, including Hamas, supported by Qatar and by Erdogan's Turkey; and
  4. the “forces of stability”: all those who fear and resist the rise of the first three camps, with Israel an active and important player in this latter camp.
... The escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are the most salient aspect of a larger drama now unfolding across a broad landscape – from Yemen to Syria and from the Gulf to Libya.
 
...It is easy enough, when the Saudis execute a Shi'a cleric and Iran erupts in sectarian anger, to simplify the current upheaval in terms of the primordial confessional divide between Shiites and Sunnis; the divide that has torn apart the world of Islam since the days of 'Ali Ibn Abu Talib in the 7th century. And yet the present confrontation deserves a more nuanced analysis; a perspective that avoids the tarring of all Muslims, or of all Shi'a or Sunnis, with the same brush.
 
... it is possible to discern in the "Middle East" as broadly defined – North Africa, the Levant, the Red Sea basin, and the Gulf – not two confessional camps, but four ideological camps.
 
[One might add a fifth, secular nationalist socialist camps, which once dominated Arab politics; and a sixth camp:  the hopeful young liberals who played such a prominent role in launching the political upheaval in the first place. But these are the forces of the past and (perhaps) of the future, respectively. They are not in real contention for power at present.]
 
Of the forces who are in contention, three camps or groups belong to the general category of Islamist totalitarians:
  1. Iran with her proxies and allies;
  2. the Salafi Jihadists, currently dominated by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS); and
  3. the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) movement in its various manifestations, including Hamas, supported by Qatar and by Erdogan's Turkey. (Prime Minister Netanyahu has called these groups “branches of the same poisonous tree”).
 
The fourth camp, loosely defined, brings together all those who fear and resist the rise of the first three camps. We can call these actors the forces of stability, with Israel as an active and important player in this camp.
 
What we are witnessing is a shift in the complex balance of power among these four camps. They are essentially at war – even if they do at times find it possible to cooperate across the ideological divide, against what they come to see as even more dangerous enemies.
 
The sharp edge of the escalating Iranian-Saudi confrontation reflects the fact that the Iranian camp on one hand, and the forces of stability on the other, have by now come to see each other as the predominant challenger, with IS and the MB relegated to a second tier.
 
What happened? To begin with, the Ikhwani (Muslim Brotherhood) camp went into sharp decline, diminishing their prospects and curbing their ambitions.  (Turkey had hoped that the AKP could become the predominant political template for the rising MB tide). Sisi's grip on power in Egypt seems firm, despite persistent economic problems, recurrent terror    attacks, and serious doubts as to the validity of the recent parliamentary elections. The chances of an MB return to power seem slim.
 
Elsewhere, an-Nahdha in Tunisia has regained the status of the largest party in parliament, when the governing coalition of parties (Nidaa Tunis) fell apart. But at this point, they seem to have little appetite to take power again.
 
Hamas, after the painful blows of 2014, remains eager to avoid another test of wills in Gaza. The Jordanian front party of the Ikhwan has split. The Syrian MB factions have been marginalized. Across the Gulf, the written work of Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Mawlana Abu-A'la al-Mawdudi and their likes is being taken off the shelves as subversive. The list could go on and on. In short, since the summer of 2013, the fortunes of the MB has been receding, casting doubts about the movement's usefulness as a “strong horse” with which to ride to power.
 
The same cannot yet be said of IS, whose spectacular acts of public brutality enhance their mystique and still draw to them certain types of young people, excited by the prospect of a life of action outside all Western (read: human) norms.
 
On the ground, IS has made gains in places like Libya, and its forcesstill hold large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Its momentum, however, has been checked.
 
The Russian intervention in Syria may not have been quite as transformative as it is claimed to be, but it did increase the Western drive to do more – as did the horrors in Paris. The fight against IS is still far from being overwhelming; it needs to be far more focused and purposive, operationally and strategically. But it is sufficient to ensure that Baghdadi's “Caliphate” is being steadily eroded, and cannot ultimately compete at the highest level of the struggle for power.
 
This seemed to leave the Iranian regime and its wide network of proxies, allies and agents in a position to turn the years of turmoil to its advantage. With the Russians now shouldering some of the burden of saving the rump regime state in what is left of Syria from collapse, the Iranian camp is free to resume the march for regional hegemony. This is true even before international sanctions on Iran are lifted and funds begin to flow to Teheran.
 
Consider these developments. An IRGC commander has already boasted that the Guards already control four Arab capitals – Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana'a – and two of the world's maritime choke points, in the Straits of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandab. To this scary list could be added the network of subversives in the Eastern seaboard of the Arabian peninsula – whose activities were at the core of the violent Saudi reaction. On the Mediterranean, in addition to their grip on Lebanon through Hizbullah, a fully-owned Iranian subsidiary, and their hold on Assad's remnant of Syria, Iran also has a proxy in Gaza known as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), as well as a cooperative relationship with Hamas (although the latter belongs to the MB camp).
 
The Obama Administration, which looks upon the nuclear deal as a key strategic legacy, has been paying lip service (but little more) to the need to counter Iranian regional ambitions. As the international focus shifts to fighting IS, it is not surprising that the Saudis and others in the region have the impression that Obama and other Western leaders are willing to look at Iran as part of the solution, not the key part of the problem. After all, Iranian-trained Shi'a militias were increasingly significant in the battle against IS in Iraq, and Tehran has been willing to sing from the same sheet of music as Washington when it comes to fighting “terrorists.”
 
(This is, of course, a fairly surprising assertion from the world's premier fount of state-sponsored terror, as the authorities in Argentina, Bulgaria and India know all too well. Even more surprising is the willingness of some in Washington to take these Iranian protestations at face value.)
 
Perhaps more than any other factor, it is this sense that the US can no longer be relied upon to stand effectively alongside the forces of stability in the region which drives the new dynamics in “the game of camps.”
 
Saudi Arabia has by now put together a broad, Sunni-based coalition of forces committed to fighting terrorism. It is, in effect, conducting a continuous and often brutal coalition warfare against the Houthi uprising in Yemen (– which is seen in Riyadh as a Shi'a dagger aimed at the two holy sites, Mecca and Medina, in the Hijaz, Saudi Arabia's Western province and the cradle of Islam).
 
Enough inducements (and pressures) were brought to bear on Bashir's regime in Sudan, ultimately translated into a dramatic decision to defect form the Iranian camp directly over into the Saudi-led ranks in Yemen The Sudanese have been joined several Arab states in cutting off relations with their former patrons in Tehran.
 
Most significantly, Turkey – facing growing friction with Russia over Syria and the need for a general review of her priorities, given the extremely poor results of past policies – also has strongly indicated an interest in closer association with the Saudis and their camp. In this context, interestingly enough, Ankara has openly raised the proposition of improving relations with Israel.
 
This new reality has thus become so distinct so as to force Turkey and Qatar to consolidate their bilateral cooperation, including unprecedented plans to station Turkish forces in Qatar, as well as to reconsider their priorities in the regional game.
 
It would be premature, and at this stage unwise, to speak of the emergence of a coherent and strong camp of stability, acting in close cooperation. The Saudis seriously differ with Egypt over Syria, and the Israeli relationship with Abbas’ regime in Ramallah, despite common perspectives on the broader regional challenges, has suffered a severe regression in recent months as the Palestinians latched on to a wave of terror as a political tool. Turkey's shift has yet to mature, and Erdogan's intentions (and his continued commitment to Hamas) still arouse suspicions in Jerusalem, and in Cairo.
 
But given the potential rise of Iranian power, alliances which until recently seemed unlikely may well become the building blocks of new realities. This is exactly what already has happened in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the interests of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Greece and Cyprus, as well as Italy and other European powers who are waking up to the dangers of the present situation – now cohere.
 
*Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman is a senior research associate at the BESA Center, and former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

China, Israel innovation cooperation

From xinhuanet.com, BEIJING, Jan. 6, 2016 (Xinhua):

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 9, 2013.
(Xinhua/Li Xueren)

...However different [China and Israel] are geographically and culturally, innovation is bringing the two countries together at an unprecedented pace.
At the first China Israel Technology Innovation and Investment Summit on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 [2016] in Beijing, entrepreneurs lined extra chairs along the back wall of the packed conference hall. Outside the hall, Israeli businessmen were busy exchanging business cards with Chinese counterparts, hoping to find potential partners.
The enthusiasm from both sides doesn't come out of nowhere. Chinese investors have began parking their money in world-renowned Israeli high-tech industries at a stunning pace.
About 40 percent of all venture capital flowing into Israel came from China in 2015, according to Ziva Eger, chief executive of the foreign investments and industrial cooperation division at the Ministry of Economy of Israel.
"2016 will be much much bigger than that, (the investment from China) will probably double," Eger told Xinhua.
But it's not merely money that the fund-thirsty Israeli companies are looking for. Seeing the tremendous market in China, Israel is trying to form a long-term strategic relationship with China through academic exchanges, research and development (R&D) cooperation and incubator programs.

OPPOSITES ATTRACT
About 4,000 miles away from each other, China, with a population of 1.3 billion and Israel, with 8 million, have hardly anything in common.
While China is a giant economy with significant manufacturing power, Israel is widely regarded as the innovation hub of the world, with little interest in manufacturing.
But it's the anomalies that have made Israel and China the perfect match, said Raz Gal-Or, co-founder of weWOWwe, a startup that tries to connect football fans around the world.
"They say opposites attract," the Israel-born, China-educated entrepreneur told Xinhua.
Indeed, Israel excels in fields where Chinese technology eagerly looks for breakthroughs. Modern agriculture, medical devices, and cyber security are sectors that brew the most innovation from partnership.
Alibaba, for example, made its way into the Israeli startup scene by investing in QR code company Visualead in 2015. It then became an investor of the Israel-based venture fund Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), a venture capital firm known for its investment in cyber security.
Fosun International, one of China's biggest private conglomerates, acquired Israeli medical device firm Alma Lasers for 222 million U.S. dollars in 2013.
China's major food manufacturer Bright Food closed a deal in 2015 to purchase a majority stake in Israeli dairy giant Tnuva, a deal the Bright Food executive said would creates synergy in R&D.
The increase in cooperation between China and Israel is not surprising. Partnerships between the two countries can be traced back to the ancient Silk Road, according to Philippe Metoudi, co-author of the book "Israel and China: From Silk Road to Innovation Highway.
While differences exist, the Israelis and the Chinese still have many in common, Metoudi said. Their views on education, family values and appreciation for history, for example, are all shared philosophies that will help further boost long-term cooperation between the two nations.
"We don't speak the same language, but we speak the same 'language' -- we have the same ideas, the same values," Metoudi said.

MORE THAN MONEY
As China transforms into a more innovation-driven economy, it's speeding up efforts to partner with Israel to strengthen its own technological might.
For Israeli officials, helping create a better startup ecosystem in China also benefits local firms.
"It's not only about money," said Ophir Gore, head of the trade mission at the Embassy of Israel in Beijing. "It's getting access to the Chinese market."
In the past few years, China and Israel stepped up academic exchanges and R&D collaboration.
The recent establishment of Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, a partnership between China's Shantou University and the Israel's Technion, is a prime example of the attempt by the two countries to cooperate in higher education.
Platforms such as the Changzhou Innovation Park in southern China provide physical proximity for Israeli firms to get funds and collaborate with Chinese companies in industrial R&D.
Israeli officials are further calling for Chinese companies to build R&D centers and set up production lines in Israel, pledging the best platform and grants from the government.
With growing academic cooperation, collaborative programs, and shared vision from both governments, "the golden age for Israel-China innovation cooperation has come," said Yin Hejun, China's Vice Minister of Science and Technology.