Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Jewish World is bigger`than you may think

From A7, 7 Dec 2015, by Raphael Poch:

Finding lost Jews has been one of the most tantalizing mysteries of Jewish history. Now the 'crypto-Jews' are beginning to re-emerge.
A group of Portuguese Bnei Anousim visit the Kotel on a trip organized by Shavei Israel
A group of Portuguese Bnei Anousim visit the Kotel on a trip organized by Shavei Israel
Courtesy: Shavei Israel

One of the more tantalizing mysteries of Jewish history is the possibility of the discovery of lost Jews.

Since the time of Sennacherib in the 7th century BCE, the question of lost Jews has been one that has received a lot of attention. Today, with the return of Jews from all over the world to the State of Israel, the subject has never been more relevant.

According to various genetic/DNA studies conducted over the past decade, 20% of men in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) have Jewish genetic ancestry. In Brazil, estimates are that 5-10 million people are descendants of so-called Bnei Anousim - descendants of Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity. This phenomenon spans the world, potentially reaching millions more.
Two organizations have dedicated themselves to the discovery of lost Jews from the Iberian Peninsula, Shavei Israel and Reconectar.

Arutz Sheva spoke to both organizations about the work that they are doing to reconnect Jews of Spanish and Portuguese descent to their Jewish roots.

Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit, has launched a new initiative to help Spanish and Portuguese descendants of Bnei Anousim reconnect with their Jewish Heritage, while Reconectar, which has an Israeli base but is mainly located in South and Central America, has an ongoing outreach liaison program with whom members of the community can contact in order to learn more about their heritage.  

Michael Freund, Founder and Director of Shavei Israel, told Arutz Sheva about the challenges of discovering who is a descendant of the Bnei Anousim.

“More than five centuries after Portuguese Jewry was compelled to convert to Catholicism, there are of course many challenges to identifying people with a Bnei Anousim background. There are some who have family trees stretching back over the centuries which prove that their ancestors only married among themselves down through the generations, but in most cases it involves more detective work.”

The castle overlooking the town of Belmonte, Portugal, where more than 100 Bnei Anousim have openly returned to Judaism. Courtesy: Shavei Israel
"Clues to uncover"
Ashley Perry, the Director of Reconectar, likewise described the detective work needed.
“There are a lot of clues that we need to uncover. People may not have a heritage stating that they were Jewish, but their name may signify it, and some of the customs they keep may point to it. We do not have a 100% answer yes or no, which is why if people want to fully return to Judaism, they have to undergo a conversion, but according to a response published by Rabbi Soloveitchik, they do not need to say a blessing on the conversion.”

In an effort to help those who may think that they are descended from Jewish ancestry, Shavei Israel has published an online book that will help people who think they are descendants, identify some of the tell-tale signs. The unprecedented 109-page guide is aimed at assisting the millions of people in Brazil, Portugal and elsewhere who may have a long-lost Jewish lineage reconnect to their roots.
According to press release by Shavei Israel “the book covers all the major questions someone at the beginning of their process of Jewish discovery might have.”

Cover of book published by Shavei Israel to help Portuguese anousim reconnect with their Jewish roots 
Courtesy: Shavei Israel
One of the primary aims of the book Freund said “is to provide people with the tools they need to begin assessing their roots by looking at family customs and family names.” These as well as DNA advances can help provide clues to one’s Jewish ancestry. “I want to get people to start asking questions and digging into their past in the hopes that this will encourage them to uncover their possible Jewish connection.”

“We are at the beginning of an historic turning point, one that will see millions of people throughout the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world reconnecting with their Jewish roots,” Freund declared.
When asked why it is so important for the about the return of the Bnei Anousim to return to Judaism Freund responded by saying: “The Bnei Anousim are our brothers and sisters. Their ancestors were taken from us, they were essentially kidnapped from the Jewish people. And yet with remarkable courage and determination, many continued to practice Judaism in secret down through the generations, despite the persecution of the Inquisition. We owe it to them and their ancestors – and to ourselves! – to bring back as many of their descendants as possible.”

“The Bnei Anousim are unique because of the breadth and scope of the phenomenon, which can be found in just about every Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking country around the world. In addition, the story of the Bnei Anousim is one of heroism in the face of tragedy, and determination in the face of disaster, which is what makes it so inspiring and compelling.”

Both organizations are dedicated to helping the Bnei Anousim, and neither is interested in coercing anyone to learn more about their heritage. “Our goal is first and foremost to help the Bnei Anousim to reconnect with the Jewish people and Israel,” said Freund.

“I don’t believe in coercion of any sort. If there are Bnei Anousim who want to formally return to the Jewish people and make Aliya, then of course we help them. We leave it up to each individual to decide if and how they want to interact with their Jewish ancestry. The important thing is to ensure that the Jewish spark within them continues to burn brightly,” Freund explained.

Perry said that his organization is kind of a “matchmaking” organization, making the connection between the individual and their Jewish roots. “We don’t want to push someone who isn’t interested. We will simply help those who are. That is what we are about, helping people discover their Jewish roots and heritage if they are interested in doing so.”

Freund pointed out that the return of the Bnei Anousim to the Jewish people was foretold.
“Don Isaac Abarbanel, the great rabbi and financier who was himself expelled from Spain in 1492, writes in his commentary to the Books of Deuteronomy and Isaiah that a time will come when the Anousim will one day return to the Jewish people. We are witnessing the beginning of the fulfillment of his vision, and it behooves us to roll up our sleeves and do everything we can to help the Bnei Anousim to return to the Jewish people. Doing so will strengthen us qualitatively and quantitatively, spiritually and demographically.”

“The numbers of descendants of Bnei Anousim is vast. We believe that the total number exceeds tens of millions of people; their self-discovery as Jews can greatly impact and enrich the international Jewish community,” says Freund. “Our mission is to support anyone who is in search of their Jewish ancestry and we are thrilled with the outpouring of interest, especially at a time when we are witnessing a resurgence in European anti-Semitism.”

War of Wills

Photo by: REUTERS
How do you manage in these conditions to create a situation in which those not involved in terror activities can continue with their lives? How can you not undermine the routine of life, while providing an effective response to the threat that emerges from individual attackers – knives, vehicle rammings, shootings? It is not organized; there is no organization, but it comes directly out of the civilian population. How can you, nevertheless, allow a sizable Arab civilian population in Judea and Samaria to live its life if it is not involved in terror activities?
…In this war which is predominantly a war of wills, of two societies with conflicting wills, a war in which endurance is more important than firepower, [the question is] which society will prevail? 
– Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, Israel Democracy Institute, November 25 
...Ya’ the epitome of an officer and a gentleman...motivated more by his sincere perception of the national interest than of any narrow personal gain.
However, despite my esteem for the man and his impressive accomplishments, the issues at hand are so fateful that I feel compelled to overcome my personal reluctance to engage him critically in public, and take him to task for what I see as grave misperception of reality and of the policy required to contend with it.
“Ya’alon: We must let West Bank Arabs live as normal lives as possible”
in last Thursday’s Jerusalem Post ...[by]...Jeremy Sharon, referred to an address Ya’alon gave at the inauguration of a new program at the Israel Democracy Institute on “National Security and Democracy” in memory of the late IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak.
...It painted a vivid picture of moral and operational dilemmas facing Israeli decision makers in waging what is termed an “asymmetrical war” with various Arab militias such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Ya’alon articulated how the desire to preserve Israel’s “core values” of humanism and democracy imposed restraints on the IDF, designed to avoid (or at least reduce) civilian casualties on the other side, and how this desire impacted decisions on what action should/ should not be undertaken.
In essence it was an impassioned call for restraint and “proportionate” response to individual acts of terror, while making strenuous efforts to keep the civilian population largely immune from the consequences of those “proportionate” responses.
... I am utterly convinced that his prescription for restraint and proportionality is a counterproductive recipe that will almost certainly sustain the conflict, perpetuate the “cycles of violence” and result in mounting civilian casualties—on both sides.
Right diagnosis, wrong prescription 
...On the one hand, Ya’alon correctly diagnosed the conflict as a clash of collectives – “predominantly a war of wills, of two societies with conflicting wills” – in which the victor will be the side with the greater persistence, not superior martial prowess – “a war in which endurance is more important than fire-power.”
...But then, on the other hand, Ya’alon urges – in my mind, inexplicably – that Israel should strive to preserve “the routine of life” for its inimical adversarial collective!
... If the clash is essentially one between collectives, surely victory will require one collective breaking the will of the rival collective. Accordingly, ensuring that said rival can maintain its daily routine hardly seems the most promising stratagem to adopt in an effort to break its will and achieve victory.
Indeed, if anything, it would seem the exigencies for a collective victory over an adversarial collective would dictate the diametrically opposite endeavor – disrupt the daily routine of the adversary...
It is for these reasons that I have repeatedly called for Israel to relate to the Palestinian collective in precisely the manner in which it defines itself – an implacable enemy – and to undertake policy that reflects this irrefutable truth by denying it the provision of merchandise and services that allow it to maintain its daily routine of unfading and undisguised Judeophobic enmity.
Palestinian ‘normal’ 
Indeed, it would be a grave error to conceptually decouple the animosity of individual Palestinian-Arab terrorists, who actively express that animosity, from that of the Palestinian- Arab collective that passively harbors it, for the two nourish each other.
Two recent opinion polls, using large samples, conducted by Palestinian organizations, shed sobering light on what opinions are held by the Palestinian public.
In a poll conducted in mid-September by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, headed by the reputable Dr. Khalil Shikaki, participants were asked the following question: “There is a proposal that after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the settlement of all issues in dispute, including the refugees and Jerusalem issues, there will be a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. Do you agree or disagree to this proposal?” Some 58 percent of those polled disagreed while only 39.6% agreed.
With regard to the “vaunted” Saudi peace plan (a.k.a. Arab Peace Initiative), so fervently embraced by the Israeli Left, the question was: “According to the Saudi plan, Israel will retreat from all territories occupied in 1967… and a Palestinian state will be established. The refugee problem will be resolved… in a just and agreed upon manner and in accordance with UN resolution 194 which allows return of refugees to Israel and compensation. In return, all Arab states will recognize Israel and its right to secure borders, will sign peace treaties with her and establish normal diplomatic relations. Do you agree or disagree to this plan?” Some 48.6% rejected the plan, while only 43% endorsed it.
More on Palestinian “normal” 
Arutz 7 (November 28) reported on a new public opinion poll, conducted by Watan Research Center among Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza in mid- November.
It found that an overwhelming majority supports continuing the ongoing terror attacks.
A full 72% expressed support for continuing the current “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Intifada,” while 44% favored an armed intifada terror war and 48% indicated that the long-term goal should be the destruction of Israel.
Accordingly, whether or not all Arab demands – borders, Jerusalem, refugees – are met, a clear plurality of the Palestinian public would obdurately refuse recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews, while a massive majority endorse the current homicidal rampage against Jewish civilians – and merciless slaughter of women, children and the elderly.
What conceivable interest, never mind moral obligation, does Israel have to sustain the social and economic “routine” of such an inimical collective, so overwhelmingly devoted to our demise? Unless policy makers can rid themselves of the crippling constraints of prevailing political correctness and the misleading and misguided conventional “wisdom” it begets, the chances of Israel prevailing in the “war of collective wills” look increasingly bleak.
Ya’alon, quo vadis? 
There is something, however, that makes Ya’alon’s recent political pronouncements even more puzzling – indeed, perturbing.
For several years Ya’alon, together with an impressive line-up of former generals and senior diplomats, was involved in a project conducted under the auspices of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, headed by Dore Gold, former UN ambassador, and today director-general of the Foreign Ministry.
The study focused on the issue of what Israel’s minimum security requirements were for defensible borders and a viable peace.
Ya’alon authored a 10-page introduction of an impressive monograph, well over 100 pages, excoriating the land-for-peace paradigm. The conclusions were that Israel must retain control of both the western and eastern slopes of the Judea-Samaria highlands, the Jordan Valley, as well as the airspace and electromagnetic spectrum over the entire area of Judea and Samaria.
I, of course, warmly endorse the findings of the study, but find myself compelled to ask: What are the political implications of these prescriptions for minimal Israeli security, and what “routine” does Ya’alon envisage for the recalcitrant Arab population in these areas, under such overwhelming Israeli dominance? Does he believe that there is any conceivable Arab partner, who would countenance any such dominance as “routine’? I know Ya’alon as a man of intellect, integrity and courage. As such I hope he will pick up the gauntlet, address these troubling questions and provide answers that many would be eager to receive.

Boycott, Shmoycott...

The boycott campaign has no economic significance at all.
Nor is it a peace movement or a human-rights movement.

It is a propaganda campaign of vilification and an attempt to delegitimise and destroy Israel.

From JPost, Thu, 10 Dec 2015, By HERB KEINON:

Britain, which has emerged as a center of Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment activity against Israel, was in 2014 the third largest market for Israeli exports in the world.
...British Ambassador David Quarrey said on Wednesday... speaking to a group of journalists, ...that annual trade between the two countries has now reached the record level of nearly $7 billion.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics numbers, in 2014 the two countries conducted $6.3b. worth of trade, with almost $4b. of that being Israeli exports to the United Kingdom.
Britain, which has emerged as a center of Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment activity against Israel, was in 2014 the third largest market for Israeli exports in the world, following the US and Hong Kong.
...Quarrey said that not only is the number of Israeli companies using the UK as a bridge into Europe growing, but that in 2014 more Israeli companies were listed on the London Stock Exchange than from any other country, with the exception of the UK.
He also said that there is now unprecedented scientific cooperation between the two countries, with increased funding for projects.
What is particularly interesting about the trade figures is that they have increased significantly since Britain implemented a voluntary scheme for settlement labelling in 2009....

The IDF 'exceeded standards' of war rules

From JPost, 11 Dec 2015, by Yaakov Lappin:

A member of a group of international former chiefs of staff and officers who reviewed the 2014 Gaza War says: 
"None of our armies went to the extent that the IDF did to minimize civilian causalities."

 Israel Navy
Members of the High Level Military Group speak to an Israel Navy officer during a fact-finding mission this year. (photo credit: Courtesy)                                                   
Israel’s military measures to defend its population during the 50-day clash with Hamas in Gaza last year met, and often exceeded, the expectations of the Laws of Armed Conflict, a group of former international chiefs of staff and senior-ranking commanders has found, following a lengthy examination.

The 14 independent military and security professionals came from around the world to form the High Level International Military Group this year.

They conducted in-depth research into Operation Protective Edge, receiving unprecedented access to the IDF and the government, before releasing their full version of their report this week.

“No country would accept the threat against its civilian population that these rockets and tunnels present to Israeli population centers. Members of the High Level Military Group, some of whom had never visited the country prior to our fact-finding visits, were united in our view that Israel’s efforts were entirely necessary and justified in the defense of that country’s national security,” the report’s executive summary stated.

“We can further be categorically clear that Israel’s conduct in the 2014 Gaza Conflict met and in some respects exceeded the highest standards we set for our own nations’ militaries. It is our view that Israel fought an exemplary campaign, adequately conceived with appropriately limited objectives, displaying both a very high level of operational capability as well as a total commitment to the Law of Armed Conflict,” the report said. “The IDF not only met its obligations under the Law of Armed Conflict, but often exceeded these on the battlefield at significant tactical cost, as well as in the humanitarian relief efforts that accompanied its operation.

“Where the high standards of conduct the IDF sets for its personnel have not been met, incidents are investigated, including criminal investigations, through an independent mechanism under the oversight of the democratic institutions of the State of Israel. This mechanism clearly meets the requirements of legal recourse, judicial independence and democratic oversight that our own nations set for ourselves,” the authors said.

“Hamas in turn not only flagrantly disregarded the Law of Armed Conflict as a matter of course as part of its terrorist-army hybrid strategic concept, but rather it abused the very protections afforded by the law for military advantage. Embedding its entire military machinery in civilian locations and sensitive sites, including those of the United Nations, Hamas indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians throughout the conflict with extensive rocket fire and willfully sought to draw the IDF into battle in a prepared urban stronghold amid the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, for which it located its operational headquarters in Gaza’s main hospital,” they said.

The High Level International Military Group is comprised of top military officials from several democratic states, and the members have had extensive battlefield experience. The group included Gen.

Klaus Dieter Naumann, who was the former chief of staff of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, and served as chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 1996 to 1999.

Other members include Gen. Vincenzo Camporini, who is the former Italian chief of defense, and ex-deputy chief of defense general staff. He later served as chief of staff of the Italian Air Force, as well as chief of defense general staff.

Lt.-Gen. David A. Deptula is a former three-star general in the US Air Force with extensive operational experience. Deptula was the principal attack planner for the Desert Storm coalition air campaign in 1991. He served as director of the Combined Air Operations Center in Afghanistan and as the first deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at Air Force Headquarters.

In addition was Adm. José María Terán, who serves in the Office of Strategic Assessment of the Spanish defense minister. A former chief of the joint staff and chief of the Strategic Analysis Group, he has also served as director for Reorganization of the Spanish Intelligence Service.

Maj.-Gen. Andrew James Molan served as the chief of operations for the Headquarters Multinational Force in Iraq. He is a former commander of the Australian Defense College and has served as adviser to the vice chief of the Australian Defense Force on Joint Warfighting Lessons and Concepts.

Col. Richard Kemp was commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and has served in Iraq, the Balkans, South Asia and Northern Ireland. He has led the international terrorism team at the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee and served as chairman of the strategic intelligence group for COBRA, the UK national crisis management committee.

Other senior former officers came from India, France and Colombia.

The group made two fact-finding visits to Israel and four more research trips between June and August of this year, and its members said they received “unprecedented access, undoubtedly in excess of what our own countries would afford in similar circumstances,” meeting with all ranks of the IDF, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and members of the IDF’s Military Advocate General’s office and the IDF’s International Law Department.

“Hamas’s strategic concept rests in large part on a deliberate unlawful tactic of embedding its military operations deep within the urban civilian infrastructure of Gaza and drawing the IDF into that territory’s urban centers. Hamas thus exploits the advantages of fighting on pre-prepared urban terrain in addition to exploiting the constraints brought about by the IDF’s strict adherence to the Law of Armed Conflict,” the report said. “Fighting in urban terrain is one of the most complex, dangerous and challenging operations of war.”

Additionally, the group concluded, “Israel adheres to the accepted norms and rules that make up the Law of Armed Conflict, including rules embodied in conventions to which Israel is not party, where these form part of customary international law.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post by phone from the US, Deptula said, “I am very familiar with the laws of armed conflict.”

“Clearly, what had happened was that Hamas abused international norms and procedures to obtain goals that otherwise cannot be achieved by political or other military means,” he said. “It used law as a weapon. What is so frustrating is to see international organizations, like the UN, fall into the trap and even giving these heinous terrorists the time of day.”

The international US-led coalition currently engaging the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in an air campaign is facing “the exact same kind of lawfare,” he added. “This is really something that modern, peace-loving nation-states have to be very concerned with.”

In 2014 the IDF went “well beyond what is necessary according to the rule of armed conflict, to assure minimal loss of life and avoid unintentional civilian casualties,” he continued. “I think the IDF showed enormous restraint. It often accepted higher levels of risk for its own forces that were necessary under the laws of armed conflict.”

Measures included calling in warnings to civilian to evacuate a facility “known to be harboring Hamas operations,” dropping warning pamphlets and dropping small charges as warning signs on buildings before actually striking them.

“Hamas understood these actions, and prevented civilians from leaving the area. That is absolutely criminal. If anyone should be taken to the International Criminal Court, it is Hamas,” the lieutenant- general argued.

Addressing the ongoing fight against Islamic State, he asked, “What is the logic of a policy that restricts the use of air power to avoid the possibility of collateral damage while allowing the certainty of the Islamic State’s crimes against humanity?” During their visit, the group met IDF units that uncovered cross-border Hamas attack tunnels.

“We really had unrestricted access, not just to the military, but to the political elements of Israel’s leadership,” Deptula recalled.

Democracies forced to deploy force against terrorist- guerrilla forces “need not to be cowed by information operations and propaganda,” he said. “Using truth as a weapon is very important in many cases.

We’ve ceded the information domain to propaganda and lies.”

Kemp told the Post by phone from Britain, “I think the IDF made many efforts to minimize civilian casualties.”

He added, “None of our armies have gone to this extent. Also, the IDF’s actions went well beyond requirements of the Geneva Convention. The real picture... is totally different from the picture the media presents. That was very striking for all of us.”

Israel’s high level intelligence on Gaza enabled discriminate precision strikes, Kemp said. The approximately 50-percent civilian casualty rate in Gaza is far lower than the civilian casualty rate in Iraq and Syria, he added, because “the West is not trying to deal with the problem of the Islamic State. The majority of the operation in Syria and Iraq is for presentational purposes. No politician can stand up and say we are bombing Islamic State and doing something. They can be extremely selective about what they hit. If there is any chance of civilians near the target, [we] don’t need to do a thing.”

Even mass casualty incidents like the Paris terrorist attacks pale in comparison to the risk posed to Israeli civilians from Hamas, Kemp added.

“Hamas fired barrages of rockets into Israel from a short distance. The problem Israel [is facing] is absolutely immediate. It had to be dealt with effectively.

If not, Israeli civilians would have died, and the government would fall. Israel had to take strong action,” he said. “The other point is that Hamas wanted to get their civilians killed.”

Hamas “deliberately lured Israel into a situation in which it had to kill innocent civilians. Hamas planned operations and positioned forces in every way so that [Gazan] civilians would die.”

Looking ahead at the global effort to engage Islamic State (or lack of it), Kemp said, “I don’t think we’d ever be able to match the intelligence Israel has in Gaza with intelligence we’d have on Syria. I know Israel has much better intelligence than we do on Syria, and that it is sharing it with us, which does help.”

If Western countries ever committed ground forces to destroy Islamic State on the ground, they would not be able to mimic the IDF’s efforts to warn civilians, Kemp said.

“It would be impossible for us to issue the range of warnings that Israel gave to the population in Gaza.

British commanders would not be able to send text messages to people in Raqqa telling them to evacuate their homes – we don’t have their numbers,” he said.

“I didn’t feel that the IDF were running a propaganda operation or spinning things,” he added.” I have 30-years experience, and know when I’m being lied to. The same is true of other officers, some of whom were much senior to me. People will say that Israel knows it’s in trouble. But Israel recognizes that its reputation is on the line, that it has come under heavy criticism and it wants to mitigate that.”

For more information regarding the report,


Friday, December 11, 2015

Supporting Israel

By Hal G.P. Colebatch PhD
(Winner, Western Australian Premier's Prize for Poetry, Australian Prime Minister's Prize for History)

There is much we can do to help Israel. We can send comforts and messages of good cheer to the brave men and women of the Israeli Defence Force. 

At home in Australia, we cannot be backwards in confronting enemies of Israel and anti-Semites, such as the Catholic Bishop Pat Power and many church, “aid” and “peace” organizations so-called, as well as the outright political extremists. Confront them, challenge them, put them on the spot! We and our friends can complain, not once but repeatedly, about the blatant anti-Israel bias of the ABC. One complaint will make no difference, but hundreds might. Any of you can do that.

Martin Luther King Jr said: “When people criticize Zionist(s), they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism... Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity... Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” 

Present American policy has sought to straddle the motivations of all major parties in the Middle East and America is therefore losing the ability to shape events.

The U.S. is now opposed to, or at odds in some way or another with, all parties in the region: with Israel over its insults to the Prime Minister and its Munich-like nuclear agreement with Iran, with Egypt on human rights; with Saudi Arabia over Yemen; with each of the warring Syrian parties over different objectives. It treacherously refuses to help or support almost its one desperately-threatened true friend in the neighbourhood apart from Israel – the ancient Assyrian Christian community.      

The U.S. proclaims determination to remove Mr. Assad but has been unwilling to generate effective leverage—political or military—to achieve that or any other aim. Nor has the U.S. put forward an alternative political structure to replace Mr. Assad should his departure somehow be realized.

Russia, Iran, ISIS, El Qada and various terrorist organizations have moved into this vacuum: Russia and Iran to sustain Mr. Assad; Tehran to foster imperial and jihadist designs. The Sunni states of the Persian Gulf, Jordan and Egypt, faced with the absence of an alternative political structure, favour the American objective but fear the consequence of turning Syria into another Libya…

There are some signs that give grounds, very cautiously, for hope. Russia seems to be awakening to the threat Islamism poses toi itself. The atrocities of the abominable ISIS, ISIL, Da’sh or whatever it is called, have caused Egypt and Jordan to move closer to Israel, in military co-operation, and perhaps later to co-operation in other matters as well.      

These countries recognize Islamic extremism is a threat to themselves as well as Israel. 

Israel, Jordan and Egypt have recently carried out combined air-exercises. The extremist Egyptian leader Morsi, a member of the Moslem Brotherhood, was thrown out by a popular Egyptian majority uprising, despite President Obama’s incredibly stupid efforts to prop him up, and to oppose help to the moderate El Sisi regime.

Egypt’s present President El Sisi has very bravely denounced Islamic extremism, taking his life in his hands by doing so – he can hardly have forgotten his heroic predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was murdered for doing the same thing and for signing a peace treaty with Israel.

Egypt has flooded nearly all the terrorist tunnels leading from its territory into Gaza, through which terrorists smuggled weapons and rockets. But now there is a significant sign things have moved beyond mere military co-operation: For the first time since Egypt voted for the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the Arab State has voted in Israel’s favor at the United Nations, this time to support Israel’s bid for membership of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Affairs. The bid passed, admitting Israel to the committee, which governs the exploration and use of space for peace, security and development. One hundred and seventeen UN member states voted in Israel’s favor, 21 countries abstained, including many Arab states, and only one country – Namibia – voted against. 

I also feel hope because Israel is well-supplied with a natural resource more precious than any other in the world – human capital. The achievements and quality of its people are a beacon to the world

If I were to read out a list of this tiny country’s scientific and technological, and artistic and cultural, achievements, and add perhaps the names of the Jewish Nobel Prize winners, in the hard subjects, we would be here a very long time.        Let me quote one small example of Israel’s achievements, a story from The Australian of September 15:

“Israel’s saline Arava Valley receives only 20-50  of rain per year, yet 90% of its 3,500 residents are farmers growing capsicums, eggplant, dates, figs, tomatoes, melons, flowers, grapes and fish, producing up to 60% of the country’s agricultural exports.” Those of you who have been to Israel will have seen the farms and lush orchards created from howling wilderness. It is a real-world miracle. My son, and I thought this rather amusing, worked on a kibbutz raising pork. Israeli desert techniques could feed the world. They could certainly multiply Australia’s food production. 

Last year, six of the 10 companies on Forbes’s Top 10 Health Tech Changing the World were Israeli. The country, already known as an incubator of high-technology businesses, is a strong player in a growing global medical devices market, which is expected to grow by billions of dollars in the next few years, according to market research companies. Investment in startup tech companies in Israel has grown to more than $5-billion (U.S.) in 2015,

There is a stream of innovation coming out of Israel, in all disciplines but perhaps most dramatically in medicine, potentially to the benefit of all the human race. In medical technology and invention this tiny country leads the world. One cannot help noticing that its enemies have invented nothing in all the centuries. Instead of engaging the modern world and the wonderful, truly miraculous, possibilities of modernity, they remain sunk in hatred, self-pity and medievalism.

None of us can forget for one moment that Israel is a tiny country surrounded by enemies sworn to its annihilation, with whole populations brainwashed in blind hatred from birth. It cannot afford to relax its security and strength for one moment.

How totally shameful it is that some Western Universities have banned Israeli scholars or refused publication of Israeli-authored scientific papers! I know this has happened in Britain and Europe and even at some universities in the US. I don’t know if it happens in Australia, but if it does, then the universities concerned should be subjected – by people like you – to a relentless and unremitting barrage of protests. I know universities. I know that many are run by politically-sensitive cowards – Vicars of Bray on princely salaries, and they will cave in when pressure is applied or when their actions bring them the sort of publicity they do not like. I repeat those words of Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

Talking of which, much of the media is not, I think, prejudiced. Much of it is too stupid to be prejudiced. But it will support those who use it most cleverly. As a professional journalist of many years’ experience, I will be happy to make that experience in dealing with the media available for our cause.

Israel is the point-soldier of Western civilization, the one ahead of all the rest at the sharp end.

I say from the bottom of my heart, to Jews and to my fellow Christians, and to atheists and agnostics too: If Israel stands, we may have a bright future on Earth and even perhaps in the stars. But if Israel falls or fails, we are all lost. There is nothing more certain.

As a Christian, I conclude with the words of Ruth: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.’ ”

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Hamas sympathiser and Israel basher appointed to advise Obama on IS

From Judicial Watch, 2 December 2015:

A radical foreign policy adviser fired by President Obama years ago for meeting with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas is back as the administration’s new czar in charge of countering the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).


The White House downplayed the new appointment by burying it deep in a press briefing delivered at a Paris hotel during the recent climate summit.
“The President recently elevated Rob Malley, the NSC [National Security Council] Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, to serve now as the Senior Advisor to the President for the Counter-ISIL Campaign in Iraq and Syria,”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during the briefing at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel and Conference Center. Before moving onto the next topic Earnest said the president has directed Malley to “support our reinvigorated diplomatic track toward a political transition in Syria…”

Malley has a well-documented history of sympathizing with extremists, which makes this appointment rather outrageous. Judicial Watch wrote about Malley last year when Obama made him the senior director at the NSC even though the president had dumped him as a foreign policy adviser for meeting with and having regular contact with Hamas, long classified a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

Malley’s family had close ties to Yasser Arafat, founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Fatah movement, and Malley was an adviser in Bill Clinton’s White House. He consistently exonerates Palestinians and condemns Israel.

Over the years he has published a number of newspaper opinion pieces urging the United States to reach out and negotiate with terrorist enemies like Hamas, Hezbollah and Muqtada al-Sadr. A website that documents the networks and agendas of the political left offers details about Malley’s scary past and provides links to the egregious articles he’s published, including several co-written with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to Arafat. In 2007 Malley published an op-ed piece in a mainstream newspaper expressing strong support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a murderous tyrant who has been credited with helping ISIS rise.

Malley grew up in France and his Egyptian-born father was a key figure in Egypt’s communist party and a close friend of Arafat’s. His parents were fervently anti-Israel and huge supporters of several leftist revolutionary liberation movements, especially the Palestinian cause. Malley published a piece in a mainstream newspaper declaring that Israel was responsible for the failure of Bill Clinton’s peace talks with the Palestinians. Malley attended the 2000 event, which was held at Camp David because it was the site of the landmark 1978 Israeli-Egyptian peace accords.

Shortly after Obama got elected president Israel’s largest news site revealed that the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported that Hamas engaged in talks with Obama for months through his “fired” adviser. The article quotes Ahmad Yousuf, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s political advisor, saying this: “We were in contact with a number of Obama’s aides through the Internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza, but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as they may have a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain (to attack Obama).”

How can Americans possibly confide in Malley to help dismantle what is arguably the world’s deadliest and most brazen terrorist group? A Florida-based Jewish weekly helps answer this, albeit with another question: “With a history of dissing Israel, snuggling up to Hamas, shielding Assad, and promoting the containment of a nuclear-armed Iran, is it any surprise that Malley is Obama’s choice to spearhead the U.S. response to ISIS?”

From "Discover the Networks" on Robert Malley:

  • Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group
  • Formerly served as President Bill Clinton’s Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs
  • Son of Simon Malley, a key figure in the Egyptian Communist Party
  • Blamed Israel for the failed Camp David peace negotiations with Yasser Arafat in 2000
  • Has co-written a number of op-ed pieces with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to Arafat
  • Consistently condemns Israel, exonerates Palestinians, urges U.S. disengagement from Israel, and recommends that America reach out to negotiate with its traditional Arab enemies
  • Became foreign policy advisor to presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2007

  • Robert Malley was born in 1963 and lived in France from 1969-80. His mother—a native New Yorker—worked for the United Nations delegation of the National Liberation Front, the leftist, anti-American political party that led the independence movement in Algeria in the 1950s and early '60s. Robert's father, the late Simon Malley, was a key figure in the Egyptian Communist Party. The elder Malley was bitterly anti-Israel; a confidante of PLO leader Yasser Arafat; an inveterate critic of “Western imperialism”; a supporter of various leftist revolutionary “liberation movements,” particularly the Palestinian cause; a beneficiary of Soviet funding; and a backer of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    Robert Malley attended Yale University and in 1984 was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where he earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy. He then went on to earn a J.D. at Harvard Law School, which he attended at the same time as Barack Obama. And in 1991–92, Malley clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron White.

    After his clerkship, Malley became a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he published The Call From Algeria: Third Worldism, Revolution, and the Turn to Islam—a book that charts Algeria's political evolution beginning from the turn of the 20th century.

    Malley subsequently served as the U.S. National Security Council’s Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Affairs from 1994-96; National Security Advisor Sandy Berger’s executive assistant from 1996-98; and President Bill Clinton’s Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs from 1998-2001. In July 2000 he was a member of the U.S. peace team that participated in the Camp David Summit between Bill Clinton (who brokered the talks), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. The talks ended without an agreement.

    Since 2001, Malley has written several controversial articles—some were co-authored with Hussein Agha, a former advisor to Arafat—blaming Israel and exonerating Arafat for the failure at Camp David. For instance, in a July 2001 op-ed (titled “Fictions About the Failure at Camp David”) which was published in the New York Times, Malley alleged that Israeli—not Palestinian—inflexibility had caused the previous year's peace talks to fail.

    In an August 9, 2001 piece, “Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors,” Malley and Agha again dismissed claims that the Camp David talks had failed when “Ehud Barak’s unprecedented offer” was met with “Yasser Arafat’s uncompromising no.” Rather, they wrote that Barak had taken an unnecessarily hard-line approach in negotiating with Arafat. According to the authors, Arafat believed that Barak was intent on “either forcing him to swallow an unconscionable deal or mobilizing the world to isolate and weaken the Palestinians if they refused to yield.”

    Malley’s identification of Israel as the cause of the Camp David failure has been widely embraced by Palestinian and Arab activists around the world, by Holocaust deniers like Norman Finkelstein, and by anti-Israel publications such as Counterpunch. According to American Thinker news editor Ed Lasky, Malley “was also believed to be the chief source for an article [dated July 26, 2001] by Deborah Sontag that whitewashed Arafat’s role in the collapse of the peace process, an article that has been widely criticized as riddled with errors and bias.”

    Malley’s account of the Camp David negotiations is entirely inconsistent with the recollections of the key figures who participated in those talks, most notably then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, U.S. President Bill Clinton, and U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross (Clinton’s Middle East envoy). According to Ross, the peace efforts failed for one reason only: because Arafat wanted them to fail. “[F]undamentally,” said Ross, “I do not believe he [Arafat] can end the conflict. We had one critical clause in this agreement, and that clause was, this is the end of the conflict. Arafat’s whole life has been governed by struggle and a cause ... [F]or him to end the conflict is to end himself…. Barak was able to reposition Israel internationally. Israel was seen as having demonstrated unmistakably it wanted peace, and the reason it [peace] wasn’t … achievable was because Arafat wouldn’t accept.”

    Ed Lasky enumerates and summarizes some additional Malley op-eds condemning Israel, urging the U.S. to disengage somewhat from the Jewish state, and recommending that America reach out to negotiate with its traditional Arab enemies such as Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Muqtada al-Sadr:
    “Playing Into Sharon's Hands”: In this January 2002 piece, says Lasky, Malley “absolves Arafat of the responsibility to restrain terrorists and blames Israel for terrorism. He defends Arafat and hails him as ‘… the first Palestinian leader to recognize Israel, relinquish the objective of regaining all of historic Palestine and negotiate for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 boundaries.’”

    “Rebuilding a Damaged Palestine”: This May 2002 article accuses Israel’s security operations of deliberately weakening Palestinian security forces (which themselves are replete with terrorists and thus make little or no effort to prevent terrorism), and calls for international forces to keep Israel in check.

    “Making the Best of Hamas’s Victory”: In this March 2006 piece, Malley recommends that nations worldwide should establish relationships with, and send financial aid to, the Palestinians’ newly elected, Hamas-led government. He also alleges that the policies of Hamas and Israel are essentially mirror images of one another. Writes Malley: “The Islamists (Hamas) ran on a campaign of effective government and promised to improve Palestinians’ lives; they cannot do that if the international community turns its back.” In Malley’s calculus, the Hamas victory was a manifestation of Palestinian “anger at years of humiliation and loss of self-respect because of Israeli settlement expansion, Arafat's imprisonment, Israel's incursions, Western lecturing and, most recently and tellingly, the threat of an aid cut off in the event of an Islamist success.” In addition, Malley counsels the U.S. not to “discourage third-party unofficial contacts with [Hamas] in an attempt to moderate it.”

    “Avoiding Failure with Hamas”: This April 2006 article not only advocates international aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, but also suggests that a failure to extend such aid could trigger an environmental or public health crisis for Palestinians.

    “How to Curb the Tension in Gaza” (July 2006): Here, Malley and co-writer Gareth Evans condemn Israel for its military’s efforts (in 2006) to recover Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who had been kidnapped and held hostage by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The authors classify Israel’s retaliatory actions as “collective punishment” that stands in “violation of international law.”

    “Forget Pelosi: What About Syria?”: In this April 2007 piece, Malley advocates U.S. and Israeli outreach to Syria, notwithstanding the latter's close affiliations with Hezbollah, Hamas, and al Qaeda in Iraq. He further contends that it is both unreasonable and unrealistic for Israel or Western nations to demand that Syria sever its ties with the aforementioned organizations or with Iran. Malley suggests, moreover, that if Israel were to return the Golan Heights (which it captured in the 1967 Six Day War, and again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War -- two conflicts sparked by Arab aggression) to Syrian control, Damascus would, as Lasky puts it, “somehow miraculously” pursue peace -- “after they get all they want.”

    “Containing a Shiite Symbol of Hope”: This October 2006 article advocates U.S. engagement with the fiercely anti-American Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite leader of the Mahdi Army in Iraq.

    “Middle East Triangle”: Co-written with Hussein Agha, this January 2008 piece calls for Hamas and Fatah to end their bitter disputes and to join forces in an effort to derail what the authors view as Israel’s attempt to “perpetuate Palestinian geographic and political division.” Malley and Agha predict that such a strategy would prompt Hamas to: (a) abandon its longstanding quest to destroy Israel; and (b) encourage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (a leading member of Fatah) to negotiate for a lasting peace with Israel.

    “The U.S. Must Look to its Own Mideast Interests”: Co-written with Aaron David Miller, this September 2006 article urges the U.S. to engage with Syria and Hamas, rather than to “follow Israel’s lead.” Malley and Miller add: "A national unity government between Fatah and Hamas appears within reach, and the Europeans seem prepared to resume assistance to such a government once it takes shape. Should this happen, America shouldn't stand in the way -- regardless of whether Hamas recognizes Israel or formally renounces violence. Instead, the United States should see this as an opportunity to achieve what is achievable: a Palestinian cease-fire involving all armed organizations, a halt to all Israeli offensive military actions, and the resumption of normal economic life for the Palestinian government and people."

    “A New Middle East”: In this September 2006 article, Malley contends that Hezbollah’s infamous attacks and kidnappings targeting Israelis (two months earlier) were motivated partly by that organization’s desire to liberate Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, and partly by pressure from Hezbollah’s close allies, Syria and Iran.

    In February 2004, Malley testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and recommended that the Arab-Israeli “Road Map for Peace” be abandoned because neither side had confidence that the other was bargaining in good faith. As Ed Lasky writes, “[Malley] advocated that a comprehensive settlement plan be imposed on the parties with the backing of the international community, including Arab and Moslem states. He anticipated that Israel would object with ‘cries of unfair treatment’ but counseled the plan be put in place regardless of such objections; he also suggested that waiting for a ‘reliable Palestinian partner’ was unnecessary.”

    In July 2006 Malley criticized the U.S. for allegedly remaining “on the sidelines” and being a “no-show” in the overall effort to bring peace to the nations of the Middle East. Exhorting the Bush administration to change its policy of refusing to engage diplomatically with terrorists and their sponsoring states, Malley stated: “Today the U.S. does not talk to Iran, Syria, Hamas, the elected Palestinian government or Hizballah…. The result has been a policy with all the appeal of a moral principle and all the effectiveness of a tired harangue.”

    In 2007, Malley became a foreign policy advisor to Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama.

    In January 2008, Ed Lasky observed that Malley’s overarching political objectives included “a radical reshaping of decades of American foreign policy and a shredding of the role of morality in the formulation of American policy.” “These policies,” said Lasky, “would strengthen our enemies, empower dictatorships, and harm our allies.”

    That same month, one U.S. security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated that Malley “has expressed sympathy to Hamas and Hezbollah and [has] offered accounts of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that don't jibe with the facts.”

    At that time, Malley was the Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group (ICG), which receives funding from the Open Society Institute (whose founder, George Soros, serves on the ICG Board and Executive Committee). In his capacity with ICG, Malley directed a number of analysts based in Amman, Cairo, Beirut, Tel Aviv, and Baghdad. These analysts reported periodically on the political, social and economic factors which they believed had the potential to spark conflict in those regions, and they made policy recommendations in an effort to defuse such threats. Covering events from from Iran to Morocco, Malley’s team focused most heavily on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the political and military developments in Iraq, and Islamist movements across the Middle East.

    On May 9, 2008, the Barack Obama presidential campaign was forced to sever its ties with Malley after the latter told the Times of London that he had been in regular contact with Hamas as part of his work for ICG.

    On November 5, 2008, Middle East Newsline reported that Obama “had sent senior foreign-policy advisor Robert Malley to Egypt and Syria over the last few weeks to outline the Democratic candidate’s policy on the Middle East.” The report added that Malley had “relayed a pledge from Obama that the United States would seek to enhance relations with Cairo as well as reconcile with Damascus.” “The tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests,” said an aide to Malley.

    After President Obama's 2012 reelection, he appointed Malley to serve as his senior advisor for Iraq-Iran-Syria and the Gulf states. Obama pledged, however, that Malley would have no involvement in issues related to Israel and the Palestinians.

    On February 18, 2014, it was announced that Malley was formally returning to the White House to serve as a senior director at the National Security Council (NSC), where he would be in charge of managing relations between the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf. In March 2015, Obama appointed Malley to direct the NSC’s policy in relation to the entire Middle East, including Israel.

    Malley has been a member of J Street's advisory council for a number of years.