Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Eastern Mediterranean Alliance

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 897, July 17, 2018:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Eastern Mediterranean Alliance (Israel, Greece, and Cyprus) is emerging at a time of increasing global instability. All three states are firm democracies that promote peace, security, and environmental stability in the region. The tripartite alliance is strategically the most significant anchor of Greek security and economic progress.

Concrete steps over the past three years have set the foundations of an Eastern Mediterranean Alliance (EMA) comprising Israel, Greece, and Cyprus. The convergence of the three nations is the natural outcome of close democratic similarities and a joint desire for stability and progress in a region tormented by perennial Middle East strife, radical Islamism, and the morphing of Turkey into a fundamentalist Islamic autocracy.

The EMA is emerging at a time of increasing global instability. American retrenchment from traditional postwar strategic arrangements, the resurgence of Russia, a troubled EU, the illegal migration crisis, China’s rise as a global power, and much else leave little room for complacency.

Israel, Greece, and the Republic of Cyprus are the only Eastern Mediterranean actors that are firm democracies. As such, they do not only see a common interest in promoting peace, security, and environmental stability in the region, but also seek to promote strong economic bonds following the discovery of rich hydrocarbon deposits in their respective Exclusive Economic Zones.

While each of the EMA partners faces individual challenges, all three are united against the regional spoiler and strutting Islamic “superpower” of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey. The Turkish president misses no opportunity to vow that Ankara will “take what is rightfully hers” – and is just a step away from declaring the international treaties that settled Turkey’s fate after WWI null and void.

From the Greek perspective, the EMA initiative is indispensable. Greece’s sovereign debt crisis and its bankruptcy in 2010 put its relationship with the northern EU members under severe strain. At present, Athens faces the unpalatable prospect of long-term foreign fiscal “monitoring” and significant limitations placed upon its economic policies. Because present and future Greek governments must function while in the vise of EU “monitoring,” Athens seeks to promote alternative bilateral and multilateral initiatives outside the narrow Brussels-dominated space – and the EMA fits this bill perfectly.

Greece’s most pressing strategic concern is Ankara’s expressed purpose of “re-Turkifying” space once in Ottoman possession. Erdoğan’s incursion into Syria, his plans for militarily “stabilizing” northern Iraq, his expanding subversive and Islamicizing activities in the Balkans, and the daily violations by Turkey of Greek sovereign air and sea space leave little hope for a peaceful future. Greece also faces an impasse with the philo-Turkism of many of its “allies” despite waning Turkish fortunes in Europe and Ankara’s dead-in-the-water application to join the EU.

Thus, the EMA has emerged as the most strategically significant anchor of Greek security and economic progress. The discovery of hydrocarbons in Israeli and Cypriot waters has literally put the EMA on the map, stimulating strong interest in the politics, economics, and security of the region from the US and Russia as well as from countries that had been neutral towards the Eastern Mediterranean.

Athens needs to tread a delicate path vis-à-vis Jerusalem and Cairo, the latter of which is gravitating towards the tripartite EMA. Both Israel and Egypt are involved in ongoing disputes in the Middle East, a factor that traditionally “pro-Arab” Greece will need to handle with political and diplomatic finesse.

In any case, recent EMA summit meetings have concluded with optimistic declarations of purpose stressing the developing geopolitical cooperation of Jerusalem, Athens, and Nicosia. Central to these positive developments is the planned construction of the EastMed pipeline, which will bypass Turkey, despite increased cost, and thus enhance security in the Eastern Mediterranean by removing Turkey’s control over the EMA centerpiece.

Erdoğan’s electoral victory on June 24, 2018 strengthened his sultanic and Islamist aspirations and gives added urgency to the promotion of the EMA strategic project. A stronger Erdoğan means a faster transition for Turkey to Islamic fundamentalism. This in turn threatens to bring radical Islam to Europe’s doorstep while exponentially increasing the danger posed by Turkey to the EMA partners. With Erdoğan confirming, with every passing day, his rejection and condemnation of Western values, his hatred for the Jewish state, and his elevation of fundamentalist Islamism as the driving force behind the neo-Ottoman Türkiye, there is little room for compromise with Turkey’s emerging Islamic republic.

In the final analysis, it is not the EMA’s purpose to resolve the issue of Turkey, which is the thorniest security problem for the Western alliance in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. The EMA’s core mission is to promote and secure the collective interests of its partners, to encourage the primacy of international law over irredentist and aggressive policies irrespective of their source, and to create and strengthen a superstructure of economic initiatives of irrefutable strategic value to Europe and the US. In the meantime, as Federiga Bingi of Johns Hopkins put it, “Europe and NATO cannot afford to be checkmated by Erdoğan.” They should act accordingly.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Total separation won't work

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 890, July 11, 2018:

Rafah border crossing between Israel and Gaza, photo via Wikimedia Commons

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The situation in the Gaza Strip since the 2005 disengagement debunks three fundamental assumptions that have become axiomatic in the Israeli security discourse: 

  • that total separation between Israelis and Palestinians will inevitably enhance security and stability; 
  • that the IDF will comfortably win any future confrontation in the evacuated territories; and 
  • that Israeli military activity in the previously held territories will enjoy massive international legitimacy and support.

Ever since Israel’s hasty withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, it has been axiomatic among Israeli decision-makers that spatial separation between Israelis and Palestinians is a vital Israeli interest, even if not accompanied by a peace agreement. In line with this thinking, Israelis have been repeatedly promised that the implementation of spatial separation, including the removal of Jews from these territories and the construction of a security fence, would reduce daily friction and create a safer and more stable security situation.

Thirteen years after the unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, there is empirical evidence with which to identify the location where a more workable security situation has developed. Is it in the territory where complete separation has been effected, or in the West Bank, where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s vision of partial separation prevails?

Since Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the Israeli security forces have been conducting regular counterterrorism activities throughout the West Bank as a matter of course. Generally authorized by the Central Command and the Shin Bet without the need for the approval of the political echelons, this routine activity has given the security forces freedom of action and operational flexibility, which, together with other factors, has ensured relative calm and stability in the West Bank.

Imagine, for example, the launch of kite/balloon firebombs from Jerusalem’s Tzur Baher suburb into the city’s Jewish neighborhoods. The IDF or the Israel Police would send a couple of Jeeps to the neighborhood and neutralize the incident. In stark contrast, the total spatial separation between Gaza and Israel as of the summer 2005 disengagement has denied the IDF freedom of action beyond the border fence. Not that the IDF’s overall capabilities have been reduced, but by transforming the Strip into an ineradicable terror entity that can exact a heavy price from invading Israeli forces, Hamas has succeeded in placing a strategic “price tag” on a wide range of activities short of overall confrontation.

For example, the effectiveness of Israel’s Iron Dome system notwithstanding, Hamas’s rocket/missile arsenal constrains Israel’s daily operational routine as IDF commanders must consider its possible employment in various confrontational scenarios. It is no secret that the balance of costs, risks, and opportunities that accompanies the decision to act in Gaza has become infinitely more complex since the disengagement.

Nor should it be forgotten that a border fence can also benefit Hamas. The fence does indeed help Israel in its effort to prevent hostile infiltration of its territory; but it also enables Hamas to grow stronger and to organize safely under its protective wing. Indeed, under the auspices of the spatial separation, Hamas has managed to build a regular military force comprising battalions and brigades, armed with a large below-ground rocket/missile arsenal and supported by an effective command and control system. None of this would be possible without the full realization of the Israeli leftwing concept of “they are there and we are here.” This is the source of the glaring difference between Hamas’s formidable military position in Gaza and its difficulties in building its strength in the West Bank.

The situation that has developed in the Gaza Strip since the 2005 disengagement thus debunks three fundamental assumptions that have become axiomatic in Israeli security discourse over the past two decades: 

  • that total separation between Israelis and Palestinians will inevitably enhance security and stability; 
  • that the IDF will comfortably win any future confrontation in the evacuated territories; and 
  • that Israeli military activity in the previously held territories will enjoy massive international legitimacy and support.

These are but some of the major considerations that should be seriously weighed by Israeli policymakers before they commit themselves to even more disastrous “spatial separations” in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Indonesian calls for 'Islamic re-contextualization'

From DW, 28 June 2018

After visiting Israel and meeting with PM Netanyahu, Indonesian cleric Yahya Cholil Staquf ... said that a "reinterpretation" of Islam is necessary for peace.

Image result for Yahya Cholil Staquf
Yahya Cholil Staquf, Generalsekretär der Nahdlatul Ulama

Yahya Cholil Staquf is a prominent Muslim cleric and secretary general of the world's largest Islamic organization, Indonesia's Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which has 60 million members.

At the Global Forum of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Jerusalem earlier this month, Staquf was invited for a discussion on interreligious dialogue and the state of relations between Islam and Judaism.

...Indonesia, with the world's largest Muslim-majority population, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and many Indonesians support the cause of Palestinians....

In an interview with DW, cleric Staquf explained that the goal of Indonesia and NU is to promote world peace. According to Staquf, religious morality is an important element in the peace process.

DW: What was your impression of Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu?

Yahya Cholil Staquf, Generalsekretär der Nahdlatul Ulama: 'I ask clerics from all religions to think about what solutions religion can offer to various conflicts that are engulfing the world today'

He spoke about a desire to normalize relations with Indonesia. Although I am not speaking on behalf of the Indonesian government, in my opinion, looking at the present situation, relations between Indonesia and Israel can't be separated from the Palestinian issue. So, it is difficult to expect normalization between Indonesia and Israel, as long as there is still no solution for the Palestinian problem.

Do you feel Netanyahu took advantage of your presence in calling an impromptu meeting?

Yes, but it was reasonable for him to make use of it. I can also take advantage of him. For example, I can use the leverage of that meeting to reinforce the messages I want to convey.

However, if he wants to take advantage of my presence, what exactly are the benefits that can be obtained? I have affirmed many times that I am not a government delegate, nor a messenger of the NU. Therefore, he cannot claim to have the support of Indonesia, nor can he claim NU's support. There is no diplomatic advantage. If the [Indonesian] government still does not want to open diplomatic relations with Israel, he can't do anything.

What was the mission that brought you to Israel?

I received an invitation from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to give a presentation at their forum. It was similar to the invitation that the late Indonesian leader Gus Dur had received 16 years ago. So at the AJC forum, I was presented in the same frame of dialogue as Gus Dur was.

What message do you want to convey there?

I ask clerics from all religions to think about what solutions religion can offer to various conflicts that are engulfing the world today. Religion is often used as justification and even weapon for conflict. Is religion really just for this or does it offer a solution?

My agenda is to approach peace movements within Israeli society. Hopefully, the aspirations of peace within Israeli society will be strengthened. They want to build a stronger network with peace movements in other parts of the world, including in Indonesia.

Can Islam inspire peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

Maybe, as long as Islamic thinkers are willing to re-contextualize. Why is Islam functioning as the justification for conflict today? It is the fruit of an Islamic interpretation coming from the middle ages. If Islam wants to function more constructively in the present age, there must be contextual adjustment, because reality has fundamentally changed.

So if the mindset of the past is forced, it will certainly cause problems. And Muslims must be aware that conflict will continue to prevail if we are not willing to change our mindset.

Is it possible to re-contextualize the Islamic interpretation in relation to the conflict with Israel?

I can say it is likely, because religious interpretation is very diverse. If we look at the history of Islamic thought, at the beginning of the era when Islam came in contact with the civilization of Persia, the interpretation of Islam at that time was very diverse.

But as the established political system was founded, there was a confirmation of interpretation. This is what legitimizes the existing political system. Actually if we refer to the former exegesis, I am sure there must be a reference that we can use to understand the present reality with a more constructive point of view.

Monday, July 09, 2018

The Polish Government-in-Exile, during WW2, frequently, actively persecuted Jews...

From a statement by Yad Vashem, 5 July 2018:

The announcement on 27 June 2018, regarding the intention of the Government of Poland to revise the controversial amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, approved on 26 January 2018 by the Polish Sejm, stirred hopes of a positive development and a step in the right direction.

Pursuant to the announcement, the Prime Ministers of Poland and Israel released a joint statement declaring the deletion of Sections 55a and 55b of the amendment, which defined any public reference —“contrary to the facts”— that the Polish Nation or the Polish State was responsible and/or shared responsibility for “Nazi crimes committed by the German Third Reich” as a criminal offense, subject to up to three years in prison.

A thorough review by Yad Vashem historians shows that the historical assertions, presented as unchallenged facts, in the joint statement [by the Prime Ministers] contain grave errors and deceptions, and that the essence of the statute remains unchanged even after the repeal of the aforementioned sections, including the possibility of real harm to researchers, unimpeded research, and the historical memory of the Holocaust.

The statement contains highly problematic wording that contradicts existing and accepted historical knowledge in this field.

The joint statement’s wording effectively supports a narrative that research has long since disproved, namely, that the Polish Government-in-Exile and its underground arms strove indefatigably—in occupied Poland and elsewhere—to thwart the extermination of Polish Jewry. As such, they created a “mechanism of systematic help and support to Jewish people” and even took vigorous action against Poles who betrayed Jews. Although the joint statement acknowledges that there were cases in which Poles committed cruelties against Jews, it also says that “numerous Poles” risked their lives to rescue Jews.

The existing documentation and decades of historical research yield a totally different picture: the Polish Government-in-Exile, based in London, as well as the Delegatura (the representative organ of this Government in occupied Poland) did not act resolutely on behalf of Poland’s Jewish citizens at any point during the war. Much of the Polish resistance in its various movements not only failed to help Jews, but was also not infrequently actively involved in persecuting them...

Friday, June 08, 2018

University of Sydney Glorifies Terrorism

From The Australian • June 8, 2018, by Richard Ferguson:

Jewish students Janine Joseph, Ben Ezzes and Dana Segall at Sydney University. 
(Source: James Croucher/The Australian).

A female suicide bomber who killed dozens of Israeli soldiers has graced the front cover of a University of Sydney student newspaper, and Jewish students who ­complained about the cover have been “condemned” for ­censorship. 

The AUJS has slammed the controversial cover.

Hamida al-Taher killed more than 50 people, mainly Israeli military personnel, when she blew herself up in Southern Lebanon in 1985. The special edition of the University of Sydney’s student newspaper Honi Soit, produced by the student women’s collective a fortnight ago, put her on the cover and called her a “martyr” in an issue dedicated to the struggle against “Israeli colonisation”.

There are calls for the newspaper to publicly apologise for the covers.

The student queer collective’s edition of Honi Soit on April 16 was criticised for having a picture of a petrol bomb on the cover and supporting a boycott of Israel.

The Australasian Union of Jewish Students has called for an apology over the covers. ...

The University of Sydney’s ­Student Representative Council ["SRC"] passed a motion, 11 to 10, against AUJS on Wednesday night for complaining about the publication.

“This SRC condemns AUJS for suggesting the university should intervene to censor a student-run publication...This SRC congratulates those who put together the women’s ­edition of Honi for their brave and highly defensible cover depicting a pro-Palestine freedom fighter ­(opposing) the ­illegal Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Palestine.”
Taher was a member of Syria’s Arab Socialist Ba’ath party, which is accused of killing thousands.

SRC women’s officers Madeline Ward and Jessica Syed said ...“...The policy of the University of Sydney SRC and our collective is pro-Palestine.”

The latest Israeli-related stoush at the university comes months after multiple staff members pledged to boycott Israeli universities over the situation in Gaza...

The University of Sydney said it did not condone the cover but would not intervene.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Hamas’s ‘Great March of Return’ has delayed a two-state solution, possibly indefinitely

From The Spectator (Australia), 2 June 2018, by James Kennard:

Israel’s government is often accused of preventing a two-state solution by its actions but rarely are the decisions of Hamas or the Palestinian authority judged in the same way.

Yet Hamas’s ‘Great March of Return’ has set the cause of the two-state solution back by decades.

Whether intentionally or not, Ariel Sharon created a pilot version of a Palestinian state when he pulled every soldier and settler out of Gaza in 2005.

Had Gazans, enjoying more foreign aid per capita than anywhere else on earth, fulfilled Shimon Peres’s dream of a ‘Singapore on the Mediterranean’, had it established peaceful and fruitful relations with Israel, even modelled on the ‘cold peace’ that Israel enjoys with Egypt and Jordan, then there is no doubt that external and internal pressure on the Israeli government would have led to a similar withdrawal from the West Bank within a few years.

But it was not to be.

There is a reason that polls consistently show a large majority in Israel for a Palestinian State, while election results consistently produce a majority for the right-wing bloc, which puts security before concessions.

That reason is Gaza.

Instead of creating a Palestinian Singapore, Hamas took control of the Strip and turned it into a giant launching pad for missiles, aimed at Israeli civilians. They built tunnels rather than an economy; they crossed the border to kill soldiers and kidnap another, whose release they only granted after many years and the freeing of hundreds of terrorists (now that’s a ‘disproportionate response’!). Israelis could only imagine a similar result of withdrawing from the West Bank, but with the tunnels and the launching pads placed in the very heart of Israel and on the border of Jerusalem, and concluded that a Palestinian state will have to wait, possibly for many generations, until a new Palestinian generation has arisen that genuinely wants ‘two states side by side’ rather than two states constantly at war.

Yet, until last month, one result of the withdrawal from Gaza seemed to be working.

As left-wing Israeli politicians had wished for (and Sharon, astonishingly, supplied) there needed to be a border separating ‘them over there’ from ‘us over here’. Even though the border with Gaza was far from peaceful, it did serve to establish that separation.

But no longer.

With Hamas’s explicit and oft-repeated call for the border to be stormed and breached, and for Gazans to ‘return to their homes’ on the other side, it became clear that the holy grail of an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders (which are actually only the armistice lines of 1949) was not enough for Hamas.

The nations of the world pressure Israel to repeat the Gazan withdrawal in the West Bank (except for those who demand it in Gaza as well, oblivious of the fact that they are thirteen years out of date), claiming that this, and only this, will bring peace.

...the Gaza experience shows that the most likely outcome is continued war and real danger for Israeli citizens. And now, after the ‘Great March’, it is obvious that no border, from ‘67, from ‘49 or even from the ‘47 partition plan, will be anything more than an obstacle to be overcome on the way to the destruction of Israel.

No other country would risk its own existence or the safety of its citizens in this way.

When a true history of our times is written, Hamas will be ascribed its large share of responsibility for delaying a two-state solution, possibly indefinitely.

The Oslo process was predicated on ‘two states for two peoples’. The Palestinian authority, by refusing to accept Israel as a Jewish state, believe in ‘two states for one people’. And Hamas, by attempting to trample over the border, wants ‘one state for one people’.

Is it too much to ask for the international community to start giving it some of the blame right now?

How Palestinian Activists Manipulate Western Christians

From Times of Israel, 30 May 2018, by Daniel Swindell:

Since the recreation of the modern state of Israel in 1948, there has been a Christian doctrinal anti-semitic revolution. 

After Rome adopted Christianity as the state religion, the early forms of Christian anti-semitism were created and fixed, and remain embedded in Catholic policy. The most common forms of Christian anti-semitism were built on the accusation of deicide, the depiction of Jews as Satanic, and replacement theology.

There was very little variation in these forms until after the recreation of Israel in 1948: the rebirth of Israel presented a serious theological challenge to replacement theology. For those who wished to deny the Jewish people the right to freedom from Christian and Islamic overlords, new theological reasons had to be formulated to argue that the Jewish people should be denied a nation.

For this reason it might be helpful to divide Christian anti-semitism into Pre-Israel and Post-Israel Christian anti-semitism.

Post-Israel Christian anti-semitism is primarily defined as a method of using Scripture to argue that modern Israel should be eliminated. A great deal of Post-Israel Christian anti-semitism is being developed by Palestinian Christian theologians, who partner with western theologians in manipulating the Christian faith to deny the Jewish people the right to a nation. Some have called this new version of anti-Israel Christianity, “Christian Palestinianism.”

Christian Palestinianism was primarily developed with three goals:

  1. to invent a Christian doctrine which calls for the delegitimization of Zionism and the complete destruction of Israel, 
  2. to justify Arab claims to possess the land, and, 
  3. to justify the Arab-Islamic war against Israel. There is a network of Christian Palestinian theologians who have devoted themselves to spreading this message to western Christians.

[The source] essay is longer than the average blog in order to cover more information.... Follow the link to read the full essay

The question of whether modern Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy.

The issue of whether modern Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy is a necessary question for all three monotheistic faiths, and thus, the answer will have a direct affect on one’s position for or against Israel...

The Catholic Church developed replacement theology, which taught that God was finished with the Jewish people and replaced them with the Church. Pastor John Hagee, the founder of, “Christians United For Israel” (CUFI), explains:
Replacement theology, which is also called supersessionism, is a particular interpretation of the New Testament claims, viewing God’s relationship with Christians as superseding His prior relationship with the Jews. This destructive idea espouses the idea that the promises, covenants, and blessings ascribed to Israel in Scriptures have been taken away from the Jews and given to the church.” This doctrine, “holds that the historic nation of Israel no longer has a part in God’s divine plan for the remainder of time.”
There is also an Islamic version of supersessionism. Central to Islam is the doctrine that Mohammed is the last prophet of God, superseding all others, from Abraham to Moses and Jesus. Thus, Koranic law superseded Jewish law and created a view of Islamic triumph over Judaism. In addition, there is an Islamic teaching that Jews and Christians altered the Torah as well as the Gospels to hide the revelation of the coming of Muhammad, called, Taḥrīf (Arabic: “alteration”).

Thus, the recreation of Israel was a slap in the face to centuries of religious doctrine which did not anticipate a secular state of Israel. Since Israel’s recreation in 1948, all three faiths have been faced with a burning question: is the current nation of Israel the fulfillment of biblical prophecy? 

...Christian Zionists believe that modern Israel is the fulfillment of prophecy.

Anti-zionist Anglican Vicar Stephen Sizer summarizes the position of his opponents: Christian Zionists are, “Those who insist that the Jewish people are God’s ‘chosen people’ also insist that the promises made to Abraham and the Patriarchs concerning the land bequeathed to them are promises that apply to his physical descendants today. So the contemporary State of Israel is seen as evidence of God’s continuing protection and favour toward the Jewish people.”

Christian Palestinianism ...claims that modern Israel is not the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. As a religious-political movement, Christian Palestinianism asserts that the ancient biblical nation of Israel is not the same entity as the modern state of Israel. The goal of Christian Palestinianism is to convince the world that the promises made in the Bible to ancient Israel do not apply to modern Israel, that God is finished with the Jewish nation.

The players in the network:

Image result for Naim Ateek+terrorist
Naim Ateek

The godfather of Christian Palestinianism is Rev. Naim Ateek, an Arab-Israeli citizen who self-identifies as a Palestinian. He is the founder of Sabeel (Arabic for “the way”), an Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center based in Jerusalem. Sabeel has become one of the leading international headquarters to spread anti-zionism into many western churches. Ateek is calculating and has devoted his life to developing a strategy to separate the Bible from Zionism. He wrote,
“The center should go beyond the immediate area of conflict to reach Christians abroad, especially the West. This outreach should aim at… de-Zionizing the Bible.”
Ateek has partnered with western theologians, pastors and activists, such as Walter Brueggemann, Stephen Sizer, Mary Gray, and Mark Braverman. Over the last couple of decades these Palestinians and western theologians have created a new systematic reading of Scripture to attack every foundation which can be used to support Israel. Theologian Walter Brueggemann wrote,
“It is my hope that the Christian community in the United States will cease to appeal to the Bible as a direct support for the state of Israel.”
The Jerusalem Sabeel Document contains a section called, “The Vision for the Future,” which states, “the ideal and best solution has always been to envisage ultimately a bi-national state in Palestine-Israel.” Sabeel seeks, “One state for two nations.” This is also known as the “one state solution,” which means that Israel would be removed and replaced with an entirely different bi-national country. In other words, the best solution is for Israel to disappear.

Another major headquarter promoting Christian Palestinianism is Bethlehem Bible College, founded in 1979 by local Arab pastors under the leadership of Bishara Awad. The college sponsors the “Christ at the Checkpoint,” conference. Most of its speakers claim to be pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, yet they blame Palestinian suffering on  Israel alone.

Another lead organization is Kairos Palestine, a coalition of Palestinian Christians. In 2009, they produced The Kairos Palestine Document, which singled out the Israeli military occupation as a “sin.” These Palestinian organizations also marketed an American version; for example, Sabeel created Friends of Sabeel North America, and Kairos Palestine created Kairos USA. These Palestinian groups collaborate with western theologians, pastors and activists, attempting to spread their message throughout churches.

Kairos Palestine promotes the boycott movement against Israel in major American churches. As the anti-Israel publication, “Electronic Intifada,” reported in 2012,
“This summer, headlines about Palestine dominated news from gatherings of Christian churches. North America’s United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and United Church of Canada voted to boycott products from Israeli settlements.” And, “At the center of these efforts lay a document… known as the Kairos Palestine Document.” And, “Over three years the document and Kairos Palestine, the organization behind it, have infused church-based activism for Palestine.”
Millions of Christians travel to Israel to visit the Holy Land. The standard tours bring Christians to see the holy sites, such as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Palestinian Christians have established a number of Palestinian social justice tour groups, which piggyback on the tourism industry. These tours visit places where Jesus walked, as well as Palestinian areas. One website lists all of the standard Christian sites, but adds a, “Geo Political tour of Bethlehem including Palestinian refugee camps, youth centers, the wall and checkpoints.”

The Palestinian network has worldwide influence through the World Council of Churches (WCC), which represents roughly 600 million church members. The WCC has established several groups “aimed at ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.” In 2008, the WCC and Sabeel published a booklet titled “Imagine Peace,” which claimed that Christ’s promise of peace is unfulfilled because, “this part of the world is under the domination of American/Israeli military power.” In 2013, the WCC issued the following statement: “Christians who promote ‘Christian Zionism’ distort the interpretation of the Word of God and the historic connection of Palestinians—Christians and Muslims—to the Holy Land, enable the manipulation of public opinion by Zionist lobbies, and damage intra-Christian relations.” Allied with the Palestinian organizations, the WCC wages church warfare against Israel.

There are seven major pillars of both Judaism and Christianity which had to be attacked in order to argue that the modern nation of Israel should be destroyed....

Follow the link to read the arguments in the full essay...

Islam’s New War on Christians

...In more recent times, Christians are being ethnically cleansed across the entire Middle East, except for Israel. 

Raymond Ibrahim is a Christian of Coptic descent. He is a leading expert on the motivation behind Radical Islam and the author of “Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.” He described the current situation in the Middle East,
“One hundred years ago, 20% of North Africa and the Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity, was Christian. Today, Christians make up 4% of the population. Much of that decline has occurred in the last decade. In essence Muslims are rendering North Africa and the Middle East free of Christians.”
 As the Christian organization Open Doors reported, the pattern is exactly the same in the West Bank and Gaza.
“The percentage of Christians has dropped from ten percent of the Palestinian population in 1920 to little over one percent today.”
In sharp contrast, since the creation of Israel in 1948, the Christian population has increased by nearly 300 percent. 

The numbers demonstrate that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are protected and granted equal rights. The numbers also demonstrate that Arab Christians are being ethnically cleansed in the same exact pattern under Islamic authority in Gaza and the West Bank as they are under Islamic authority in the rest of the Middle East. This pattern demonstrates that the Muslim Palestinian authorities are to blame for the decrease in the numbers of Christians in Gaza and the West Bank, and not the Israeli “occupation.”

All of this is to demonstrate that the behavior of Palestinian Christians is circumscribed within the Palestinian war with Israel, their unofficial status as dhimmis, and the ethnic cleansing of Arab Christians in the Middle East. Western Christians do not realize that Palestinian Christians lack the civil rights of westerners and are not free to speak their minds.

Palestinian Christians are surrounded by a Muslim majority which is engaged in a violent struggle against Israel. If they side with Israel, they would be seen as a fifth column, and they are totally helpless to defend themselves. If they want to maintain somewhat normal lives, they must repeat the same message as the Muslim majority, which blames Israel for the lack of peace – even if the facts demonstrate that Israel treats its Christian population far better than Palestinian society.

Palestinian Christians who honor terrorists are rewarded, while Palestinian Christians who condemn terrorism are persecuted.

The effect of the physical and psychological reality of the unofficial system of dhimmitude, as well as the dangers of the ethnic cleansing and the persecution facing the Palestinian Christian population can be seen in concrete terms. A tiny minority of Palestinian Christians speak out against Islamic terrorism and seek genuine peace with Israel. The main leaders in this movement are Evangelical Pastor Naim Khoury and his son Pastor Steven Khoury; both have Israeli citizenship, but both have chosen to minister amongst the Palestinians.

The concrete reality of the situation for Palestinian Christians can be seen by comparing the treatment of Pastor Mitri Raheb with Pastors Naim and Steven Khoury. In 2017, two Druze-Israeli policemen were shot to death near the entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In response, Israel attempted to install some new metal detectors, which are common at every holy site in the world. However, the Palestinians held protests against the installations of these metal detectors. Pastor Mitri Raheb joined in these protests. In a video posted two days after the attack, Raheb declared that his visit to Al Aqsa was an “unforgettable night… demonstrating… Christian-Muslim unity as a tool of creative resistance.”

Dexter Van Zile reported, “Raheb’s rhetoric was almost enough to make people forget that the drama surrounding metal detectors at the Temple Mount began with Palestinian terrorists shooting two unsuspecting Israeli police officers.” If the policemen, “had not been ambushed by murderers who had been lying in wait for them on the Temple Mount, no metal detectors would have been installed, no protests would have taken place, and Raheb would have no ‘creative resistance’ to celebrate.”

Van Zile further reported, “Because of his ties and utility to the Palestinian Authority, Raheb has been able to build something of an empire in the West Bank. In addition to serving many years as pastor at the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem… Raheb is founder and president of the Diyar Consortium, a non-profit that provides social services to people in the West Bank. He is also founder and president of Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, often described as the third largest private employer in Bethlehem.” By continuing to support the kind of people who celebrate the murder of Israeli policemen, Rehab has become quite powerful.

In sharp contrast, Pastor Naim Khoury and his son Pastor Steven Khoury have been persecuted for simply preaching that Jesus was Jewish and for condemning Islamic violence. The Jerusalem Post reported, “Steven Khoury was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Bethlehem. Today he is the pastor of Calvary Church in east Jerusalem. His father, Dr. Naim Khoury, is the founding pastor of First Baptist Church in Bethlehem. Both men are Israeli Arabs. Together their umbrella ministry is called Holy Land Missions… Their message never changes: Jesus was born a Jewish baby in Bethlehem, (and) died an observant Jew in Jerusalem… Taking this stand is hazardous. Because of it, the Khourys have seen their places of worship firebombed and defaced. Church members have been attacked. Property has been stolen, stones thrown, shots fired. Steven’s uncle was murdered. And his father, Dr. Naim, has been shot at four times over the past 10 years.”

During an interview on The 700 Club, Steven Khoury was asked why Christians are leaving Bethlehem. He replied, “Christians are leaving because they are seeing that nobody is standing with them, they are seeing that extremism is growing, anti-Christian agenda is growing.” And, “Unfortunately, a lot of people’s mindsets, who are considered jihadists or extremists, that is their ultimate goal, is to put fear and submission in the heart of every single Christian in the Middle East.”

Within 24 hours of the interview Steven Khoury was given an eviction notice, giving his Church one month to vacate, even though the rent had been paid for a full year. He explained, “The family that we are renting from have been pressured by the extremists in the community.” Steven Khoury struggles to maintain a permanent church building. Evidently, any Palestinian pastor who honors terrorists is rewarded while any Palestinian pastor who condemns terrorism is persecuted.

Conclusion: Christian Palestinianism does not lead to peace:

There is a question of whether Christian Palestinianism can even be considered a form of normative Christianity. The average American Christian has nothing in common with the message of Christian Palestinianism, although both are called, “Christian.” In fact, it is immoral for western Christians to partner in good faith with those who rewrite Jewish and Christian history for political reasons.

In essence, Christian Palestinianism is a cynical distortion of the Christian faith, created after the restoration of Israel and based on a new version of Palestinian replacement theology, with the express political purpose to deny the Jewish people the right to a nation. It is a twisted reading of the Jewish Bible to deny the prophecies of restoration. It is a twisted reading of the Christian Bible to claim that Christ would command his followers to only support the Palestinians. It was created to be compatible with Islamic supersession doctrines over Jewish scripture. It was created to be submissive to Islamic apartheid laws and to avoid being the target of radical Islamic violence. It was created to justify the Arab claims to own the land, and to be compatible with the greater Arab-Islamic war against Israel. In conclusion, Christian Palestinianism was not created to express the Christian faith, but rather designed to be a Christian doctrinal weapon to erase Zionism, and ultimately the state of Israel, from the planet.

Second, the teachings of Christian Palestinianism do not call for peace. The problem with all of the organizations in the network is threefold: First, they ignore the fact that the Arabs started the 1948 War. Second, they deny the role that Palestinian terrorism plays in necessitating security checkpoints and restrictions on movement. The checkpoints do not target Palestinian Christians or Palestinian Muslims; the checkpoints look for Palestinians who wish to carry out attacks.

Third, their message is that Zionism is evil. But, Zionism is simply the belief that Jewish people have the right to self-determination. The claim that Zionism is evil is equivalent to saying that the existence of a Jewish state is evil. The Palestinian Christian network promotes the message that Jewish people should not have the right to self-determination, while arguing for the right of Christian and Muslim Palestinians to own the land. They use the term peace but are not promoting peace: by definition, peace means recognizing Israel, not denying it’s right to exist.

Fourth, the Middle East is comprised of roughly 20 countries, and Christians are being ethnically cleansed from all of them, except for one country – Israel. The Jewish State has emerged as the singular example of how to protect Christians in the Middle East. Yet, pro-Palestinian western Christians reverse reality, condemning the single Middle Eastern country which protects Christians, while not bringing to account the countries which actively persecute Christians.

By condemning the protector of Christians, these western Christians draw attention away from ongoing ethnic cleansing in Muslim countries, as well as in the Palestinian territories. The end result is that they aid and abet the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. If these western Christians really care about their fellow Christians in the Middle East, maybe they should start caring about the fact that they are disappearing and partner with the Israelis who are protecting them.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Turkey transfers $10 million to UNRWA

From Arutz Sheva, 1 June 2018, by Dalit Halevi:

Image result for fat stupid turkey

Image result for uninvolved in peace

The Turkish government on Thursday announced the transfer of an additional $10 million to fund the activities of UNRWA, the UN’s agency for “Palestinian refugees”.

... UNRWA's assistance is granted to Palestinian Arabs who have been defined as “refugees” since 1948 and their descendants without any time limitation.

...The U.S. announced in January it would cut some of its funding to UNRWA, citing a need to undertake a fundamental re-examination of the organization, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded.

...UNRWA ... is notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.

Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.

More recently, the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza expressed his support for the anti-Israel marches along the Israel-Gaza border and pledged that the organization’s medical centers will provide care for “Palestinian refugees” who might sustain injuries during them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Analysis: Israel’s Left veers to the Right

From WIN, 29 May 2018 by Mati Wagner:

Analysis: Israel’s Left veers to the Right
Labor party leader Avi Gabbay (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The moderate Israeli Left seems to have reached the conclusion that they must jettison classic leftwing positions and associations to remain politically relevant.

In recent days, two senior Labor politicians have sought to distance themselves from the Left in an apparent attempt to appeal to a broader constituency.

This development is part of a broader trend within Labor under the leadership of Avi Gabbay.

Veteran Labor MK Eitan Cabel caused an uproar among his fellow party members over the weekend after announcing his support for annexation of Jewish communities located in Judea and Samaria.

Nachman Shai, who came to the revamped Labor party — which now calls itself the Zionist Union — from Kadima has also ruffled feathers. Shai, who now plans to run for Jerusalem mayor on the Labor ticket, aroused the rancor of Labor Members of Knesset when he was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying he was “not a candidate from the Left” and by Makor Rishon that calling him a leftist was “a stain” that he intended to fight.

...Cabel supported applying Israeli law to the big settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria while freezing construction outside these areas until both Israel and the Palestinians have what he called “a Nelson Mandela.” Cabel added that the “Oslo paradigm” based on direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians had failed and that a new, more pragmatic, approach was needed.

...In November, Gabbay made headlines when he told a group of students at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba that the Left “forgot what it means to be a Jew.”

Gabbay has also called residents of communities in Judea and Samaria “the beautiful and devoted face of Zionism” and said he would not evacuate settlements as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

He also said he would not join a coalition with the Joint (Arab) List.

The political senses of Gabbay, Shai and Cabel seem to be telling them that positions associated with the Israeli Left, such as faith in the viability of a two-state solution, or attempts to present Jewish residents of communities in Judea and Samaria as obstacles to peace, no longer are shared by the vast majority of Israelis.

Many Israelis have become disenchanted with the Left due to its tendency to side with, or at the very least give legitimacy to, criticism leveled at Israel by the international community – particularly by Western European countries — for “occupation of the West Bank” or purported human rights abuses.

Israelis are rightly asking themselves why they should support a party that calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state at a time when Palestinians in the West Bank are led by a corrupt leadership that rejects democratic process and equitable rule of law, and in Gaza by Islamist terrorists vowing to destroy Israel.

The “demographic threat” or preventing a situation in which Israel loses its Jewish majority does not seem to be enough of a justification for uprooting tens of thousands of peaceful, law-abiding settlers and handing over land resonant with Jewish history and religious meaning to an autocratic Palestinian leadership...

International condemnation of Hamas

From Times of Israel, 29 May 2018:

...Four Israelis were injured by shrapnel during several salvos of rockets and mortar rounds that targeted southern Israel, including three troops. One soldier suffered moderate wounds and the other three people were lightly injured...
“We see Hamas, which cooperates with [Palestinian Islamic] Jihad, as responsible for this escalation,” [Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel] Nahshon said.
... international condemnation rained down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad, much of it focusing on a mortar shell that landed in a kindergarten playground shortly before children arrived.

The site where a mortar shell from Gaza hit a kindergarten in southern Israel on May 29, 2018. 
(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Envoys for the European Union, the United Nations, the US administration, and other nations vocally condemned the attacks.

US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Jason Greenblatt, said Hamas had failed the Palestinians.
“Reprehensible – mortars fired from Gaza at a kindergarten and community in Israel! Hamas has failed – all it can offer is terror... Palestinians in Gaza need real leaders to work on Gaza’s real problems with its water, its economy and so much more.”
France also condemned the attacks from Gaza.
“France condemns these unacceptable attacks, which are targeted at civilians, thankfully without fatalities. France’s commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering,” the Foreign Ministry in Paris stated.
“France condemns the use of violence, which is incompatible with a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reviving a credible political process requires all parties refrain from it.”

EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret was the first member of the international community to comment on Tuesday’s events.
“As kids were preparing for school this morning a barrage of rockets from Gaza fell on southern Israel,” he tweeted. “One landed outside a kindergarten. I know the resilience of communities in southern Israel but indiscriminate attacks are totally unacceptable and to be condemned unreservedly.”

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said he was
“deeply concerned by the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants from Gaza.”
He stressed that at least one mortar shell hit the immediate vicinity of a kindergarten and could have killed or injured children.
“Such attacks are unacceptable and undermine the serious efforts by the international community to improve the situation in Gaza...  All parties must exercise restraint, avoid escalation and prevent incidents that jeopardize the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.”...

From Arutz Sheva, 30 May 2018:

English Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt on Tuesday night slammed Gaza's Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups for firing rockets and mortars on Israeli civilians.
"I condemn the rocket fire from #Gaza into Israel today. Indiscriminate attacks against civilians, especially those that risk killing or injuring children, are completely unacceptable under any circumstances..." ...

Earlier Tuesday night, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a similar condemnation.
"Israel has every right to defend itself against these deplorable attacks by the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Our thoughts are with everyone affected today..." ...
...the United States called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the latest attacks on Israel out of the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other militants....
“The recent attacks out of Gaza are the largest we have seen since 2014. Mortars fired by Palestinian militants hit civilian infrastructure, including a kindergarten. The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian leadership needs to be held accountable for what they’re allowing to happen in Gaza,” said US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

Three Israeli soldiers wounded as dozens of mortars fired from Gaza in heaviest barrage since 2014 war

From The Telegraph (UK), 29 May 2018, by Raf Sanchez in Jerusalem:

Israel warned it was closer to war in Gaza than it had been in years after Palestinian militants fired dozens of mortars at Israeli towns and Israel’s military responded with heavy airstrikes across Gaza. 

.. waves of missiles were fired out of Gaza into southern Israel. At least three soldiers were wounded. One shell fell into the yard of a kindergarten, spraying the front of the school with shrapnel.

Israel accused the militant group Islamic Jihad of doing most of the shelling but said Hamas, the Islamist faction which controls Gaza, also participated in the attack.

Israeli jets struck more than 30 Hamas and Islamic Jihad bases across Gaza in response...

Most of the projectiles were shot down by Israel's Iron Dome missile system
Many of the projectiles fired from Gaza were shot down by Israel's Iron Dome missile system CREDIT: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

...Israel Katz, the Israeli intelligence minister, said the country was closer to war with Hamas than it had been at any point since 2014. 
“We are the closest to the threshold of war since Operation Protective Edge,” he said. “We don’t want it, and the other side doesn’t either, but we have our red lines.”
The shelling from Gaza into Israel was widely condemned internationally and Britain said the “indiscriminate attacks” were “completely unacceptable under any circumstances.”

The mortar shells and rockets fell in and around Israeli communities near the Gaza border, triggering air raid sirens and sending thousands of Israelis running for bomb shelters. The Israeli military said many of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

Video from the Israeli kindergarten showed the front of the building had been pockmarked by shrapnel from a mortar. The shell struck at around 7am, before any children had arrived at the school. “Seven o’clock is the busiest time of day. This could have ended differently,” said Merav Cohen, an Israeli mother who lives near the kindergarten.

The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad jointly claimed responsibility for the shelling...

The Israeli military said the 107mm mortars fired by Islamic Jihad were supplied by Iran, which has long funded the group as a proxy force against Israel.
“There’s no doubt that the Iranians are involved...” Lt Col Conricus said. 
...Alistair Burt, a [UK] Foreign Office minister, was in Gaza on Tuesday and condemned the Palestinian shelling.
"Indiscriminate attacks against civilians, especially those that risk killing or injuring children, are completely unacceptable under any circumstances,” he said. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Iranian forces banned from using airbases in Syria

From JOL, May 28, 2018, by Becca Noy:  

The Syrian Air Force has banned Iranians and pro-Tehran Shiite militias from using its military airbases, Zaman al-Wasl reported Monday.

image description
An Iranian Air Force jet prepares for takeoff on a Syrian base. Wikimedia Commons.

Citing a “well-informed” source, the Syrian opposition newspaper said that the decision was made in light of the “series of Israeli strikes in the last few weeks amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel.”

On Thursday, an airstrike was carried out on Iranian bases near Homs that are manned by the Hezbollah terrorist group, according to Syrian media outlets. While Syria and Iran are claiming that the IDF was behind the attack, Israel has refused to comment on the reports, and a spokesperson for the Pentagon stressed neither the US nor its allies had attacked Syria.

...Last week, Moscow said that all foreign forces, except for Russian military officials, should leave Syria. The Iranian Foreign Ministry strongly denounced the statement, saying that it will remain in the war-torn Arab country.
 “We will remain in Syria as long as there is a threat of terror and as long as the Syrian government wants us there [no longer, now],” the ministry said. “The nations that need to leave Syria are those who entered without the approval of the Syrian government.”
The increased tensions between the Iranian forces in Syria and Israel began in early February when an Iranian drone that had infiltrated Israeli airspace was shot down by an Israeli Air Force aircraft. The incident was followed by a direct clash between Syrian and Iranian forces on one side and Israeli forces on the other. During the clash, an Israeli aircraft was shot down by Syrian air defense missiles.

Since the February 10 clash, there have been several reports of Israeli attacks in Syria and Iranian fatalities as a result of the alleged Israeli air raids [including two strikes using the fifth-generation F-35 fighter - the first time it's been used in live combat - SL].

Monday, May 28, 2018

US ambassador: Evangelicals more devoted to Israel than many Jews

From World Israel News, 21 May 2018, by Batya Jerenberg:

Ambassador David Friedman praised evangelical support for Israel in explaining the prominent role of two pastors at the US embassy dedication ceremony in Jerusalem.

US ambassador: Evangelicals more devoted to Israel than many Jews
Pastor John Hagee (L) of Christians United with Israel and PM Benjamin Netanyahu 
(Amos Ben Gershom/Flash90)

US Ambassador David Friedman told The New York Times (NYT) that evangelical Christians “support Israel with much greater fervor and devotion than many in the Jewish community.”

Friedman made the comment in the context of a discussion on last week’s inauguration of the new American embassy in Jerusalem, acknowledging that it was a very deliberate act on his part to have two evangelical representatives deliver the opening and closing prayers respectively.

The ambassador had invited Pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee to address the ceremony because “they’re two of the most followed leaders of the evangelical community, and I wanted to honor the community for having been so constructive in helping to move this along.”

The push made by the evangelicals for the Trump administration to transfer the embassy is a symbol of the solid backing that community gives to Israel in general – and  it is extremely important, Friedman said.

“You’re running a country, you need friends, you need alliances, you need to protect your people,” the ambassador, who is known as very pro-Israel himself, told the NYT.

Are American Christians more pro-Israel than Jews?
Surveys done over recent years back the view that the liberal, non-Orthodox  sector of US Jewry – which comprises the vast majority of the Jewish population –  is less supportive of the Jewish state, especially the younger generation.

Globally, there are an estimated 600 million evangelicals, with tens of millions in the United States alone. Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, said evangelical support has “got to be a solid quarter of the population, and that is maybe 10, 15, 20 times the Jewish population,” making that community the “backbone” of American support for Israel.

Israeli government officials, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, apparently agree that the relationship between the evangelical community and Israel is well worth encouraging.

Nineteen Israeli parliamentarians belong to the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, which was established in 2004 to help forge ties with Christian leaders, organizations and political representatives in Israel and throughout the world.

Netanyahu: ‘Israel has no better friends’
In an address to a Christian media summit in Jerusalem last year, Netanyahu said, “Israel has no better friends, I mean that, no better friends in the world than the Christian communities around the world.”

Political support is also translated into monetary support, with evangelicals reportedly making up 13% of all tourists to Israel. According to an AP tally reported on Ynet recently, donations from the community also paid for about a third of all immigrants moving to Israel last year.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Strike on Syrian air base said to target Hezbollah arms depot

From Times of Israel, 24 May 2018, by JUDAH ARI GROSS:

... Israel most likely behind Thursday night attack ...missiles fired at airfield near Homs, previously reported hit by IDF on May 10

The al-Qusayr military air base in western Syria. (Google Earth)
The al-Qusayr military air base in western Syria. (Google Earth)

A military air base in western Syria was hit in an airstrikes Thursday night, sparking large explosions, which were heard throughout the area..

The targets of the strike were munitions depots belonging to the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group, located on an air base south of the city of Homs...

The Israel Defense Forces refused to comment on the attack.

The Daba’a air base, also known as al-Qusair air base, and the surrounding area are known to be a stronghold for Hezbollah and Iran-backed militias. It was also reportedly struck by Israel in skirmishes against Syrian and Iranian forces on May 10.

...Conflicting accounts emerged about the exact number of missiles fired at the Syrian air base. Various Syrian and Lebanese outlets reported that it was between two and eight.

...Earlier on Thursday night, Lebanese media outlets reported that Israeli jets were flying through the country’s airspace.

Syrian media outlets reported that S-200 anti-aircraft missiles were fired during the attack on the air base.

On Wednesday, a senior Israeli Air Force official issued a stern warning to Syria, telling the country that if its air defense systems fired on Israeli jets, they would be targeted in return.

“All batteries that fire on Israeli aircraft will be destroyed. All batteries that do not fire on us will not be destroyed,” the senior officer told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Thursday night’s reported airstrike came two weeks after a major skirmish between Israel, Iran, and Syria. On May 10, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s al-Quds Force launched 32 rockets at Israel’s forward defensive line on the Golan Heights border, Israel said. Four of them were shot down; the rest fell short of Israeli territory. In response, over the next two hours, Israeli jets fired dozens of missiles at Iranian targets in Syria and destroyed a number of Syrian air defense systems.

For years, Israel has been waging a quiet campaign against Iranian interests in the country. That campaign came to light and stepped up considerably in February, when an Iranian drone carrying explosives briefly entered Israeli airspace before it was shot down and Israel launched a counterattack on the T-4 air base in central Syria from which the drone had been piloted.

During the aerial bombardment, an Israeli F-16 was shot down by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile, prompting the air force to launch a second round of strikes, this time against Syria’s air defenses.

Last month, Israel conducted another strike on the T-4 air base to destroy a recently delivered Iranian advanced anti-aircraft system, killing at least seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including a senior officer.

Iran immediately vowed revenge, and the Israeli military has set out to thwart those attempts at reprisal by targeting Iranian weapons systems in Syria, in an effort dubbed “Operation Chess.”

Israel has repeatedly stated that it will not allow Iran to set up a permanent military entrenchment in Syria and is prepared to take military action to prevent such a presence. Recent weeks have also seen the IAF stepping up its efforts to keep Iran from carrying out reprisals against Israel for an airstrike on April 9, according to Israeli officials.
“...we constantly have to be actively defending the State of Israel,” the officer said. “This is the only thing preventing offensive measures by Iran.”

A moment before an Israeli missile destroys a Syrian SA-22 air defense system on May 10, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

In addition to conducting military operations to thwart Iranian efforts, the army this week also appeared to be turning to public threats, both overt and somewhat more subtle, against Iran and its allies.

On Tuesday, IAF chief Amikam Norkin revealed that Israel had used its F-35 fighter jets to conduct airstrikes in Syria, making it the first country in the world to use the fifth-generation aircraft operationally, a hint to Iran of Israel’s operational capability.

Norkin also made the announcement while standing in front of a picture of the stealth aircraft flying in the skies over Beirut — which Iran’s main proxy, Hezbollah, calls home.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel “will not let Iran establish military bases in Syria, and we will not let Iran develop nuclear weapons...” ...

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New Israel Fund calls on UN to investigate Israel

The NIF's actions vis a vis the recent riots at the Gaza fence prove it is hostile to the State of Israel so that anyone who donates to that organization is damaging the Jewish State.

...The Hamas Facebook page infamously instructed "demonstrators" to take knives and guns with them to breach the fence and to kill Israelis once they have stormed across. Of the 60 Gazan rioters killed, over 50 have been proven to be Hamas terrorists.

Against this backdrop, Nicky Haley, The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations stated at the UN Security Council on Tuesday that “no country would act with greater restraint than Israel” – adding that Hamas is responsible for the deaths and injuries. 

Addressing the delegates, she said: “Let’s remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy.” She added: “This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday.”

While reports from Gaza falsely suggested the majority of protesters were unarmed, Ms. Haley called attention to the tactics employed, which included the use of Molotov cocktails attached to kites.

The Trump administration noted Monday that the deaths of protesters along the border are “tragic” but ultimately the responsibility of Hamas, not the IDF.  “We believe that Hamas as an organization is engaged in cynical action that is leading to these deaths,” White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas.” Israel has a right to defend itself and its borders, he said.

So where is the New Israel Fund (NIF) when it comes to these Palestinian Hamas terrorists? 

A press release this week from seventeen “human rights” organizations largely funded by the NIF, including Adalah, B’Tselem, Hamoked, Machsom Watch and others called on “Israel to immediately refrain from the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians,” while blaming Israel.

Their press release claims: 
“The Israeli government has described the events as an assault on Israel's sovereignty, while failing to address the reality that has led to the mass protest – 50 years of occupation and over 10 years of closure. Daily life for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip is unbearable: Basic infrastructure is in ruins, the economy is stunted, unemployment has reached an all-time high, and health services are in danger of collapse. For years, residents of Gaza have lived on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.
Children in Gaza, who make up the majority of the population, are still struggling with the trauma of previous rounds of violence and war, terrified of another attack and more death and destruction. Time and again reality demonstrates that there is no military solution to the conflict between Israel and Gaza. Instead, Israel must stop the shooting and killing and immediately lift the closure, thereby safeguarding the lives and human rights of the people of Gaza and the region as a whole.”
According to the logic of the New Israel Fund, violence and attacks are justified. It is of no consequence that Hamas attempts to import weapons by sea is the reason for the blockade and that Israel allows far more than sufficient goods into Gaza by convoy, knowing that the cement for rebuilding homes and schools is being used to dig terror tunnels. And that the people of  Gaza voted  Hamas into power.

Further, New Israel Fund backed organizations sent an urgent letter to the United Nations Security Council decrying the “ongoing and imminent escalation of violence across the occupied Palestinian territory, and in the Gaza Strip specifically”, where organizations including Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel emphasize that “[o]ver the past seven weeks, Israeli occupying forces have excessively used force to suppress the Great Return March in the Gaza Strip, willfully targeting and killing protected persons. Since the mass protests began, the Israeli military has fired live ammunition from snipers, used plastic-coated steel bullets, and launched tear gas grenades from drones.”

The organizations called upon the United Nations Security Council member states “to take immediate and concrete action to protect civilians and bring Israel’s unlawful closure of Gaza to an end. Specifically, we ask you to:
"Convene an emergency Security Council session to address the urgent situation in the Gaza Strip and the unlawful conduct of the Israeli occupying forces;
"Demand that Israel take concrete action to immediately lift its unlawful closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, and cease all forms of collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian population therein;
"Implement all options to protect Palestinian civilians and ensure that Israel refrains from resorting to force, including lethal force, against unarmed civilian protesters;
"Establish an independent and transparent investigation into the Israeli occupying forces’ use of live fire and snipers and the resulting killings and injuries of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since 30 March 2018.”
The ...organizations further emphasized that the “Security Council has failed to take concrete steps to lift the unlawful closure and protect the Palestinian population in Gaza” and that this ”lack of meaningful international action has pushed Gaza to the brink of collapse and has given Israel a green light to further breach international law, including the commission of war crimes, with full impunity.”

The letter concluded by calling upon the United Nations Security Council as“Palestinians mark 70 years since the Nakba…  to act on its responsibility by ensuring Palestinians’ demands are finally heard and their rights realized, holding perpetrators accountable, and delivering victims their rights and effective remedy.” In a time of war what would one call these activities?

There’s a bill pending in the Knesset which calls for all governmental cooperation with the New Israel Fund to end. It must pass – as must all American donors who stand with Israel stop giving money to the NIF.

As Education Minister Naftali Bennett has said, The New Israel Fund must be boycotted – as Birthright Israel boycotts NIF – noting that he would “boycott whoever persecutes Israeli soldiers,” and “not apologize for it.”

Bennett went on: 
“Members of the New Israel Fund, listen carefully: Whoever harms, slanders and persecutes Israeli soldiers are not my brothers. The NIF works methodically and consistently to attack our Israeli soldiers, accuse them of war crimes, of torturing Palestinians and intentionally attacking women and children. They turn to the UN and to the committees that are most hostile to Israel and try their best to convince them that Israel is a war criminal.”
Shame on The New Israel Fund. They continue to openly support a boycott of the State of Israel and are hostile towards the Jewish State as it is faced with violent terrorist hordes who vow to destroy it.