Friday, May 13, 2016

Calling Israel an apartheid state is an insult to black South Africans

From The Oregonian, 10 May 2016, by Leon Jamaine Mithi*:

I am from Zimbabwe and grew up under the strictest regime of apartheid in South Africa. Today, I am an author and law student at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. ...

I have read the recent guest column in The Oregonian written by Alice Rothchild.

Jamie Mithi 
I understand that the Methodist and, later, the Presbyterian Church USA are considering proposals to boycott and divest from Israel.

I believe the Christian faith and the state of Israel are irrevocably intertwined. This is because the Christian faith flows naturally from the Judaic faith.

There are some who would seek to have the Christian churches distance themselves from the state of Israel. There is a call for the churches to join the boycott divestment sanctions (BDS) movement. It would be a big victory, indeed, for the Palestinians to convince some of the biggest allies of the state of Israel to remove their support.

This call is based on the claim that Israel is an apartheid state and, secondly, that negotiations have not been successful as a strategy for peace. These two premises are both incorrect.

Allow me to elaborate.

Like Ms. Rothchild, I used to support the BDS movement, but I withdrew my support after I visited Israel and Palestine (the West Bank).

Having been there, having seen what the BDS movement calls "apartheid," I have to say that calling Israel an apartheid state is an insult to black South Africans who suffered under the now defunct system of strict racial segregation.

And I feel a terrible loss of the true black South African apartheid narrative, because the term has been appropriated to wrongly label Israel when referring to conflict with Palestine.

Apartheid was colonialism on steroids.

For Israel to be an apartheid state, it would have to be a colonial entity. The comparison of Israel to South Africa, from the view of a South African, is not correct. It would require us to ignore the archeological history of the Jewish people.

Up until 1948, Jewish communities existed throughout the West Bank. They were all forced out. It is ahistorical to consider a people with ties stretching over thousands of years to an area as a colonizer after being expelled and returning home 19 years later in 1967. Israelis are not some colonizers from Europe. They are a community that is nation building in an area where they have always lived.

Indeed, the prodigal son was not viewed as an alien by his own father.

Another difference between the situation in Israel and the West Bank is that, unlike the South Africa, where the oppressed blacks were mostly peaceful, Israel has faced multiple wars started by its neighbors and faces ongoing attacks against Jewish Israelis by a significant segment of the Palestinian people. This is what has led to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the West Bank. This war-zone environment sets true apartheid apart from the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Finally, BDS' claim that a boycott of and divestment from Israel is the only way to achieve peace is also not reflective of a nuanced understanding of how South Africa reached a delicate peace.

Nelson Mandela had to reach across the aisle to negotiate with his rivals. Further, there were several processes which followed, still based on good faith negotiations with the other side. BDS' approach of shutting down discourse, isolating the opponent, trying to turn them into a pariah, is not a healthy ground for any negotiation.

The arguments proposed by Alice Rothchild are not arguments the Methodist or Presbyterian Churches should accept.

It is not our role to misrepresent the truth or walk away from the state of Israel.

*Leon Jamaine Mithi is a law student at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Melanie Phillips defends Israel from "progressive" Jews

Israeli “See the World” hosts Melanie Phillips, May 9, 2016:

Yaakov AchiMeir, host of “See the World” on Israeli TV, hosts Melanie Phillips, British journalist, author and public commentator, for an eye-opening perspective on where anti-Israel ideas and sentiments originate. It is hard to believe that Phillips needs to come to Israel and explain the basic facts on Israeli television. In the surreal reality of Israel and her Middle Eastern neighbors, the unbelievable seems reasonable: a British journalist defending Israel’s right to exist to the people of Israel.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How Obama deceived us

From The Washington Post, 9 May 2016, by Richard Cohen:

Benjamin Rhodes
In 2013, Jofi Joseph, White House national security aide accused Rhodes of leaking classified info about the Stuxnet virus to the press.

...I suggest reading a lengthy interview with Benjamin Rhodes, the president’s supremely cocky foreign-policy speechwriter and, by his own admission, master manipulator of the moronic media. The interview, published in the New York Times Magazine, makes for gripping reading.

It is not usual, after all, for a senior White House official to crow about how he deceived the press (and the nation) about when negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program actually began. It was not when the more moderate current regime took power, but earlier, under the auspices of more recalcitrant hard-liners. In effect, the White House lied.
The lie exposes a truth. Obama wanted the deal (almost) no matter what. He had not been beckoned into the talks by more reasonable Iranians, but had initiated them with the previous regime. In other words, he wanted the talks more than the Iranians did — a negotiating position of great weakness. It explains why nothing in the agreement thwarts Iranian efforts to support terrorism in the Middle East or continue to make mayhem in Iraq. It lowers the odds that Iran will continue to adhere to the agreement.

Rhodes, who had scant background in foreign affairs before typing his way into the heart of the president, is now so close to Obama that “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.” (One more interview like this and he’s going to find out.) Many say Rhodes and the president have a “mind meld,” and so the reader authoritatively learns of the centrality of Iran to the president’s thinking. If Obama can reach some understanding with Iran, he can rid himself of the pesky Middle East and pivot ... elsewhere...

It could be that Obama’s foreign policy is a brilliant reassessment. It could be that the Washington foreign-policy establishment he so reviles — see Jeffrey Goldberg’s piece in the Atlantic — is stuck in the amber of lessons learned from World War II and the Cold War. I know that I am, but I do not know that these lessons are irrelevant to our day. Hitler was evil. Stalin was evil. The reluctance and, in some cases, sheer inability of key aspects of U.S. leadership to appreciate these facts doomed millions of people.

Rhodes calls the foreign policy establishment “the Blob” and he, like the president, dismisses its fusty thinking and crows the cleverness of their own, especially — and amazingly — the success of their Syria policy. Their only standard is the number of Americans who have died there — very few. That is commendable, but it is false to assert by implication that an alternative policy would have done otherwise. The intervention in Libya cost zero American lives; so too the ones in Kosovo and Bosnia. The United States could have implemented a no-fly zone in Syrian skies. It could have grounded the Assad regime’s helicopters, which drop barrel bombs on civilians, eviscerating them with nails, pellets and scrap.

No one knows anymore how many have died in Syria’s civil war — maybe as many as 400,000. More than 4 million people have fled the country, swamping Europe and coming pretty close to destabilizing governments. The continent has turned sour, inhospitable to migrants yet hospitable to right-wing groups last seen in black-and-white newsreels.

Russia now arguably has more influence in the Middle East than the United States does, and Iran and its proxies are everywhere.

The United States hasn’t pivoted. It’s plotzed.

If this is success, what constitutes failure? When Obama and his mind-melded sidekick proclaim their own brilliance and the failure of almost everyone else, what are they talking about? ...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Iran's Plans to Control a Palestinian State

From Gatestone Institute, May 9, 2016, by
  • The Iran nuclear deal, marking its first anniversary, does not appear to have had a calming effect on the Middle East.
  • Iran funnels money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad because they share its desire to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. The Iranian leaders want to see Hamas killing Jews every day, with no break. Ironically, Hamas has become too "moderate" for the Iranian leadership because it is not doing enough to drive Jews out of the region.
  • More Palestinian terror group leaders may soon perform the "pilgrimage" to their masters in Tehran. If this keeps up, the Iranians themselves will puppeteer any Palestinian state that is created in the region.
The Iran nuclear deal, marking its first anniversary, does not appear to have had a calming effect on the Middle East. The Iranians seem to be deepening their intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general and in internal Palestinian affairs in particular.

This intervention is an extension of Iran's ongoing efforts to expand its influence in Arab and Islamic countries, including Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon and some Gulf states. The nuclear deal between Tehran and the world powers has not stopped the Iranians from proceeding with their global plan to export their "Islamic Revolution." On the contrary, the general sense among Arabs and Muslims is that in the wake of the nuclear deal, Iran has accelerated its efforts to spread its influence.

Iran's direct and indirect presence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon has garnered some international attention, yet its actions in the Palestinian arena are still ignored by the world.

That Iran provides financial and military aid to Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad has never been a secret. In fact, both the Iranians and the Palestinian radical groups have been boasting about their relations.

Iran funnels money to these groups because they share its desire to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. Like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas and Islamic Jihad agreed to play the role of Tehran's proxies and enablers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (left) confers with Iranian "Supreme Leader" Ali Khamenei, in 2010.
(Image source: Office of the Supreme Leader)

But puppets must remain puppets. Iran gets nasty when its dummies do not play according to its rules. This is precisely what happened with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Relations between Iran and Hamas foundered a few years back over the crisis in Syria. Defying their masters in Tehran, Hamas leaders refused to declare support for the Iranian-backed Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad. Things between Iran and Hamas have been pretty bad ever since.

First, the Assad government closed down Hamas offices in Damascus. Second, Assad expelled the Hamas leadership from Syria. Third, Iran suspended financial and military aid to Hamas, further aggravating the financial crisis that the Gaza-based Islamist movement had already been facing.
Islamic Jihad got it next. Iranian mullahs woke up one morning to realize that Islamic Jihad leaders have been a bit unfaithful. Some of the Islamic Jihad leaders were caught flirting with Iran's Sunni rivals in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Even worse, the Iranians discovered that Islamic Jihad was still working closely with their erstwhile allies in the Gaza Strip, Hamas.

Iran had had high hopes for Islamic Jihad replacing Hamas as Tehran's darling, and major proxy in the Palestinian arena. But here were Islamic Jihad leaders and activists working with their cohorts in Hamas, in apparent disregard of Papa Iran.

The mullahs did not lose much time. Outraged by Islamic Jihad's apparent disloyalty, Iran launched its own terror group inside the Gaza Strip: Al-Sabireen (The Patient Ones). This group, which currently consists of several hundred disgruntled ex-Hamas and ex-Islamic Jihad members, was meant to replace Islamic Jihad the same way Islamic Jihad was supposed to replace Hamas in the Gaza Strip -- in accordance with Iran's scheme.

Lo and behold: it is hard to get things right with Iran. Al-Sabireen has also failed to please its masters in Tehran and is not "delivering." Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip say that Iran has realized that the investment in Al-Sabireen has not been worthwhile because the group has not been able to do anything "dramatic" in the past two years. By "dramatic," the sources mean that Al-Sabireen has neither emerged as a serious challenger to Islamic Jihad or Hamas, and has not succeeded in killing enough Israelis.

So Iran has gone running back to its former bedfellow, Islamic Jihad.

For now, Iran is not prepared fully to bring Hamas back under its wings. Hamas, for the Iranians, is a "treacherous" movement, thanks to its periodic temporary ceasefires with Israel. The Iranian leaders want to see Hamas killing Jews every day, with no break. Ironically, Hamas has become too "moderate" for the Iranian leadership because it is not doing enough to drive Jews out of the region.
That leaves Iran with the Islamic Jihad.

In a surprise move, the Iranians this week hosted Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah and senior officials from his organization, in a renewed bid to revive Islamic Jihad's role as the major puppet of Tehran in the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad officials said that the visit has resulted in the resumption of Iranian financial aid to their cash-strapped organization. As a result of the rift between Islamic Jihad and Iran, the Iranians are said to have cut off nearly 90% of their financial aid to the Palestinian terror organization.

Some Palestinians, such as political analyst Hamadeh Fara'neh, see the rapprochement between Iran and Islamic Jihad as a response to the warming of relations between Hamas and Turkey. The Iranians, he argues, are unhappy with recent reports that suggested that Turkey was acting as a mediator between Hamas and Israel.

Other Palestinians believe that Iran's real goal is to unite Islamic Jihad and Al-Sabireen so that they would become a real and realistic alternative to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Whatever Iran's intentions may be, one thing is clear: The Iranians are taking advantage of the nuclear deal to move forward with their efforts to increase their influence over some Arab and Islamic countries. Iran is also showing that it remains very keen on playing a role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- one that emboldens radical groups that are bent on the destruction of Israel and that share the same values as the Islamic State terror group.

Iran's latest courtship of Islamic Jihad is yet another attempt by the mullahs to deepen their infiltration of the Palestinian arena by supporting and arming any terror group that strives to smash Israel. For now, it seems that Hamas's scheme is working, largely thanks to the apathy of the international community, where many believe that Iran has been declawed by the nuclear deal.
But more Palestinian terror group leaders may soon perform the "pilgrimage" to their masters in Tehran. If this keeps up, the Iranians themselves will puppeteer any Palestinian state that is created in the region. Their ultimate task, after all, is to use this state as a launching pad to destroy Israel. And the Iranians are prepared to fund and arm any Palestinian group that is willing to help achieve this goal.
*Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.

A new kind of Jew

From JPost, 5 May 2016, by Shmuley Boteach:

...A new kind of Jew is now inhabiting the Earth.

It is the Jew who is fed up with being subject to a hatred he has never earned and malice which he does not deserve.

It is the Jew who knows he has done nothing to warrant the world’s enmity.

It is the Jew who knows he killed no one’s god, stole no one’s land, poisoned no one’s wells, drank no child’s blood, and is the victim, rather than the perpetrator, of genocide.

For too long we Jews have developed a surrender mentality.

If six million Jews die, it must be because we were sinful.

We didn’t observe the Sabbath. God punished us.

If Israel is hated around the world, it must be because it’s doing something wrong. It’s occupying another people. It stole the land from the Arabs, making them pay for Jewish suffering in the Holocaust by colonizing a darker skinned people. And if Jews are blown up on buses or stabbed in the streets of Ra’anana, it’s because of West Bank settlement policy.

John Kerry himself said so, as did Peter Beinart ...

...When six million Jews die, the Israel warrior shakes the foundation of the heavens demanding divine justice. We are guilty of no sin. We deserve long lives. And we demand that the God of Israel protect us.

When Jews living peacefully in their ancient homeland are targeted for murder, the Israel warrior builds a defensive army to protect life.

Yes, I know, it was the Jewish people that gave the world the notion of peace. I am well aware that Judaism says that peace, not war, is life’s highest value and that God’s very name is peace.

But as King Solomon said so wisely in Proverbs, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven… a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, just 71 years after the crematoria were silenced, we declare that
  • so long as Iran is allowed to threaten the Jewish people with annihilation, there can be no peace. 
  •  So long as Hamas fires rockets at Jewish nurseries, there can be no peace.
  • So long as the Palestinian Authority incites its citizens to stab pregnant Israeli women on the streets of Jerusalem there can be no peace. And
  • as long as BDS calls for the economic destruction of the Jewish states on the world’s campuses, there can be no peace.
Throughout the world there is a global onslaught against the Jewish people. Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy, has remarkably become the single most hated country on Earth. The Israel warrior takes no pride in having to fight.

He, like King David before him, prefers a harp and lyre to a sword and shield. He, like the Maccabees before him, prefers to light candles to dispel the darkness then fling arrows at invading Greek armies. The Israel warrior does not today, and has never in the past, erected a monument to a military victory, the way that Rome did with Titus’s and Constantine’s arch.

But for all his reluctance to fight or revel in the glory of combat, the Israel warrior will not shirk from a battle that is imposed on him. He will fight back. Jews will not glorify martyrdom. They will not walk into gas chambers.

I showed Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the UN, that her famous advocacy for R2P, Responsibility to Protect, has its foundation not in the Christian New Testament, which encourages a love for one’s enemies, but in the Hebrew Bible, specifically in this week’s Torah reading, where it states clearly, “Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.” (Lev. 19:16) Last week I traveled to the Golan Heights, the Vale of Tears, where we were escorted by Israel’s greatest living war hero, Avigdor Kahalani, who led the fight in this, one of the greatest tank battles in human history.

The War broke out at 2 p.m. Israel time on Judaism’s holiest day. Four hundred Syrian tanks faced 40 Israeli tanks in his sector alone. Kahalani summoned his soldiers and told them they are the only obstacle standing in the way of Syria taking over all of northern Israel. Then, before he left, he told them, “You must eat, you must break your fast,” and with that he took a bite out of an apple. Because in Judaism everything falls before the value of human life.

We uphold life, we fight for life, we cherish life.

Most of the men he spoke to would be dead 48 hours later. But Israel, through their sacrifice, would live.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Sheldon Adelson: Trump will be good for Israel

From Arutz Sheva, 6 May 2016, by Ari Yashar:

Jewish American billionaire throws his support behind Trump, emphasizing that 'he won fair and square.'
Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson

Jewish American billionaire Sheldon Adelson on Thursday night revealed he will be supporting Donald Trump in his presidential campaign, and stated that the real estate mogul will be a good president in strengthening ties with Israel.

Speaking to the New York Times at a gala dinner in Manhattan for the Jewish organization World Values Network, the casino magnate said he will back Trump now that he's the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

...The statement by Adelson, who is also known as a backer of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, comes after a Trump adviser on Wednesday said he will not pressure Israel into concessions as Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton would likely do.

Earlier this week Trump supported Israel's right to build in Judea and Samaria, and on Wednesday he told a haredi magazine that "violence towards Israel is also violence towards us."

Adelson's support for Trump comes after the billionaire did not officially endorse any candidate during the Republican presidential primaries, even though he expressed willingness to back Trump in March.

That willingness came despite an initial altercation between the two in October, when Trump took aim at Adelson and wrote on Twitter that the billionaire wanted to make Senator Mark Rubio (R-FL) "his perfect little puppet" in the Republican race.

However, the two met in December and apparently sorted out their differences. Adelson later said they discussed Israel, and said he found Trump to be "very charming."

Peter Beinart exposes how dangerous the Jewish left is to the State of Israel

From Arutz Sheva, 6 May 2016, by David Friedman:

David Friedman serves as the President of American Friends of Bet El. He is a practicing trial lawyer in New York and maintains a residence in Jerusalem.

Several weeks ago, I was “outed” as one of Donald Trump’s two advisors on the relationship between the United States of America and the State of Israel. It is an honor and a privilege to advise Mr. Trump on a critical issue that is near and dear to my heart, and I fervently hope that I have the opportunity to assist him in developing and implementing policies that strengthen both countries and the unbreakable bond between them.

Right now, however, the bloodsport of American presidential politics is in full bloom, and within that scented garden emerges a recent Op-Ed piece by CNN panelist, Peter Beinart, published in Israel’s left-wing paper Haaretz. Beinart, a well-known supporter of J Street, New Israel Fund and the BDS movement, decries Trump’s selection of Israel advisors as a cynical charade by which Trump leverages Jews in his employ to go “all in” on Israel solely to garner political capital. According to Beinart, these token Jews, myself included, are just willing pawns in a modern day Game of Thrones, all willing to fall on their proverbial swords for Trump the King.

I have never met Mr. Beinart nor do I care to, and he knows absolutely nothing about me. Had he made the slightest inquiry (apparently no longer necessary for modern journalists), he would have known that I am not in Mr. Trump’s employ,  have hundreds of other clients, and hold views on Israel that are entirely independent of any political movement or candidate.  Those views have been developed over more than thirty years of study of historical accounts and scholarly works, interaction with Israeli political, military and business leaders, and probably 100 trips or more to the Holy Land. I didn’t just come out of “central casting,” as Beinart implies, to facilitate some political theatre, and my beliefs are not for sale to the highest bidder. The same holds true for Jason Greenblatt, Mr. Trump’s other advisor, whom I have known for years.

But I do want to thank Mr. Beinart for getting this issue out on the table, albeit clumsily and disingenuously. Because his reflexive reaction to my involvement in the Trump candidacy lays bare how dangerous the Jewish left is to the State of Israel.

Let’s look at the criticisms offered by Mr. Beinart of views that I have previously expressed. He thinks I’m no good because
(1) I have accused President Obama of “blatant anti-Semitism,”
(2) I have questioned the wisdom of Israel bestowing the benefits of citizenship, including free tuition at some of its best universities, upon those who advocate the overthrow of the State, and
(3) I have likened J Street supporters to “kapos during the Nazi era.”

Let’s unpack each of those a bit.

First, Obama’s anti-Semitism. Here’s the context – Hamas puts on school plays in which 10 year olds dressed as terrorists plunge fake knives into 10 year olds dressed as Jews to the delight of the audience, and Palestinian Authority leaders (they’re supposed to be the “moderate ones”) bestow praise upon all participating in the “knife intifada.” Asked to comment on the unspeakable tragedy of innocent Jewish civilians being murdered by knife-wielding Islamic radicals, Obama and Kerry do little more than condemn the proverbial “cycle of violence.” I’m sorry, but this is pure and outright murder and any public figure who finds it difficult to condemn it as such without diluting the message with geo-political drivel is engaging in “blatant anti-Semitism.”

Second, the wisdom of free stuff for those engaged in advocating the overthrow of the State of Israel. Every civilized country other than Israel punishes treason. In the United States, advocating to overthrow the government by force or violence can get you life in prison. In Israel, Islamic radical citizens speak this way all the time, often on the way back and forth from world class institutions of higher learning which they attend for free. Is this a good idea? Is there no minimal allegiance required for Israeli citizenship? Sure seems like a fair question to me.

Finally, are J Street supporters really as bad as kapos? The answer, actually, is no. They are far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps. The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty and who knows what any of us would have done under those circumstances to save a loved one? But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas – it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.

Mr. Beinart, therefore, has done us a service, albeit unintentionally. He has shown us the danger of the Jewish left – the lost souls who blame Israel for not making a suicidal “peace” with hateful radical Islamists hell bent on Israel’s destruction...

The Arabs' "Grievance" against the Jews

  • The Arab world still does not today accept the concept of a Jewish state of any size or any shape. Even Egypt and Jordan, who signed peace agreements with Israel, do not accept that Israel is a Jewish state, and they continue to promote anti-Semitic hatred against Israel.
  • During Israel's War of Independence, Jews were ethnically cleansed from Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and in the years that followed, they were ethnically cleansed from the rest of the Arab world.
  • Jews demand the right to exist, and to exist as equals, on the land where they have existed and belonged continuously for more than three thousand years.
  • We would rather claim that the conflict is about "occupation" and "settlements." The Jews see what radical Islamists are now doing to Christians and other minorities, who were also in the Middle East for thousands of years before the Muslim Prophet Mohammed was even born.
  • The real Arab grievance against the Jews is that they exist.
As Arabs, we are very adept at demanding that our human rights be respected, at least when we live in liberal democracies such as in North America, Europe, and Israel. But what about when it comes to our respecting the human rights of others, particularly Jews?

When we examine our attitude towards Jews, both historically and at present, we realize that it is centered on denying Jews the most fundamental human right, the right without which no other human right is relevant: the right to exist.

The right to exist in the Middle East before 1948

Anti-Zionists often repeat the claim that before modern Israel, Jews were able to live in peace in the Middle East, and that it is the establishment of the State of Israel that created Arab hostility towards Jews. That is a lie.

Before modern Israel, as the historian Martin Gilbert wrote, "Jews held the inferior status of dhimmi, which, despite giving them protection to worship according to their own faith, subjected them to many vexatious and humiliating restrictions in their daily lives." As another historian, G.E. von Grunebaum, wrote, Jews in the Middle East faced "a lengthy list of persecutions, arbitrary confiscations, attempted forced conversions, or pogroms."

The right to exist as an independent state

Zionism stemmed from the need for Jews to be masters of their own fate; no longer to be the victims of discrimination or massacres simply for being Jews. This project was accepted and formally recognized by the British, who had been granted a mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations. The Arab world, however, never accepted the recognition formulated by Britain in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and it never accepted the partition plan approved by the United Nations in 1947, which recognized the right of the Jews to their own state.

The Arab refusal to accept the Jewish state's right to exist, a right that carries more international legal weight than almost any other country's right to exist, resulted in several wars, starting with the war of independence in 1948-1949. The Arab world still does not today accept the concept of a Jewish state of any size or any shape. Even Egypt and Jordan, which signed peace agreements with Israel, do not accept that Israel is a Jewish state, and they continue to promote anti-Semitic hatred against Israel.

The right to exist in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem

In 2005, Israel evacuated all its troops and all Jewish inhabitants from Gaza, in the hope that this would bring peace at least on that front, and to allow the Gaza Strip, vacated by Jews, to be a flourishing Arab Riviera, or a second Singapore, and perhaps to serve as a model for the West Bank. The experiment failed miserably. This is a case where Jews willingly gave up their right to exist on a piece of land, but sadly the Palestinians of Gaza took it not as opportunity for peace, but as a sign that if you keep on shooting at Jews, they leave -- so let's keep on shooting.

There are many opinions among Zionists as to what to do about the West Bank. These opinions range from a total unilateral withdrawal as in Gaza, to a full annexation, with many options in between. At the moment, the status quo prevails, with no specific plans for the future.

Everyone, however, despite the treacherous UNESCO's rewriting of history, knows that before that piece of land was called the West Bank, it was called Judea and Samaria for more than two thousand years.

Everyone knows that Hebron contains the traditional burial site of the biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs, within the Cave of the Patriarchs, and it is considered the second-holiest site in Judaism. Every reasonable person knows that Jews should unquestionably have the right to exist on that land, even if it is under Arab or Muslim jurisdiction. Yet everyone also knows that no Arab regime is capable or even willing to protect the safety of Jews living under its jurisdiction from the anti-Semitic hatred that emanates from the Arab world.

East Jerusalem, which was carved away by the Kingdom of Jordan from the rest of Jerusalem during the war of independence, is part of Jerusalem, and contains the Temple Mount, the Jews' holiest site. The Old City in East Jerusalem was inhabited by Jews up until they were ethnically cleansed by Jordan in the war of 1948-1949.

In May 1948, the Jordanian Arab Legion expelled all of the approximately 2000 Jews who lived in the Old City of Jerusalem, and then turned the Jewish Quarter into rubble.

Although Israel has twice in the past, first under Prime Minister Ehud Barak then under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, offered East Jerusalem as part of a Palestinian state, that offer is not likely to be made again. Jews know that it would mean a new wave of ethnic cleansing, which would deny the Jewish right to exist on the piece of land where that right is more important than anywhere else.

The right to exist in the Middle East now

During Israel's War of Independence, Jews were ethnically cleansed from Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and in the years that followed, they were ethnically cleansed from the rest of the Arab world.

Today, Israel's enemies, many of them Arab, are challenging its right to exist, and therefore the right of Jews to exist, on two fronts: threats of nuclear annihilation and annihilation through demographic suffocation.

Iran's Islamist regime has repeated several times its intention to destroy Israel using nuclear weapons. Just in case Iran is not "successful," the so-called "pro-Palestinian" movement, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has a different plan to destroy the Jewish state: a single state with the "return" of all the descendants of Palestinian refugees. The refusal of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat to accept any two-state solution presented to them is part of that plan.

The right to exist elsewhere

Anti-Zionists claim that Jews are imperialists in the Middle East, as were the British and the French, and like them, they should leave and go back to where they belong. This analogy is of course not true: Jews have an even longer history in the Middle East than do Muslims or Arabs.
Do Jews belong in Europe, which tried only a few decades ago to kill every Jew, man, woman, or child? Do Jews belong in North America where until a few hundred years ago, there were no Europeans, only Indians?

Saying that Jews "belong" in such places is not reality; it is just a convenient claim for anti-Zionists to make.

The Jews will not give up

As Arabs, we complain because Palestinians feel humiliated going through Israeli checkpoints. We complain because Israel is building in the West Bank without Palestinian permission, and we complain because Israel dares to defend itself against Palestinian terrorists. But how many of us have stopped to consider how this situation came to be? How many of us have the courage to admit that waging war after war against the Jews in order to deny them the right to exist, and refusing every reasonable solution to the conflict, has led to the current situation?

Our message to Jews, throughout history and particularly when they had the temerity to want to govern themselves, has been clear: we cannot tolerate your very existence.

Yet the Jews demand the right to exist and to exist as equals on the land where they have existed and belonged continuously for more than three thousand years.

In addition, denying a people the right to exist is a crime of unimaginable proportions. We Arabs pretend that our lack of respect for the right of Jews to exist is not the cause of the conflict between the Jews and us. We would rather claim that the conflict is about "occupation" and "settlements". They see what radical Islamists are now doing to Christians and other minorities, who were also in the Middle East for thousands of years before the Muslim Prophet Mohammed was even born: Yazidis, Kurds, Christians, Copts, Assyrians, Arameans, and many others. Where are these indigenous people of Iraq, Syria and Egypt now? Are they living freely or are they being persecuted, run out of their own historical land, slaughtered by Islamists? Jews know that this is what would have happened to them if they did not have their own state.

The real Arab grievance against the Jews is that they exist. We want the Jews either to disappear or be subservient to our whims, but the Jews refuse to bend to our bigotry, and they refuse to be swayed by our threats and our slander.

Who in his right mind can blame them?

*Fred Maroun, a left-leaning Arab based in Canada, has authored op-eds for New Canadian Media, among other outlets. From 1961-1984, he lived in Lebanon.

Holocaust history distortion in Eastern Europe

From JPost, 5 May 2016, by Efraim Zuroff:

Victims of the Nazi-backed Ustasha regime killed at the end of the World War Two lay on the ground
Victims of the Nazi-backed Ustasha regime killed at the end of the World War Two lay on the ground surrounded by posing Ustasha soldiers near the Sava River in Croatia in 1945. (photo credit:REUTERS)
... in Croatia ... the accepted narrative of World War II and the Holocaust have come under heavy attack from ultra-nationalists and revisionists.

... less than two weeks ago, at the official state ceremony commemorating the victims at Jasenovac, the largest and most notorious of the concentration camps established by the Ustasha regime, which was nicknamed “The Auschwitz of the Balkans,” a new low was reached in terms of Holocaust commemoration. On the direct intervention of Natasha Jovicic, the director of the memorial complex, who also serves as a special adviser to the president on Holocaust issues, notorious Ustasha supporters from the Croatian National Platform were allowed to lay a wreath in memory of “all the victims of the camp from 1941 until 1951.”

The practical implication of this outrage was to legitimize the myth propagated by the Ustasha apologists that the postwar Communist regime turned Jasenovac after its liberation in April 1945 into a death camp where innocent people were murdered, thereby creating a false symmetry between Ustasha and Communist crimes. (The local Serb and Jewish communities, as well as the organized opponents of fascism, had justly refused to attend this official state ceremony to protest the failure of the government to stem the resurgence of neo-fascism and Ustasha nostalgia, and therefore were not present, and could not have prevented this outrage.)
The problematic events in Croatia are only the tip of a huge iceberg of Holocaust distortion which is spreading throughout post-Communist Eastern Europe. An important part of the explanation for this dangerous phenomenon has to do with the history of the area during the Holocaust. While the Nazis sought and succeeded to enlist local collaborators in every country they occupied, as well as in those allied with them, only in Eastern Europe did collaboration with the Nazis include active participation in mass murder.

Thus while the Nazis’ helpers elsewhere actively assisted in the implementation of the initial stages of the Final Solution (definition: Aryanization of property and valuables, concentration and deportation), these collaborators were not the ones who committed the murders. They were accessories to murder, having sent Jews to be annihilated in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

In countries like Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Belarus, local collaborators were integrated into the mechanism of the mass murder of the Jews. This historical fact is one of the main reasons why these countries find it so difficult to tell, teach and write the truth about World War II and the Shoa.
Another reason is their oppression under the Communists and their desire to obtain recognition and compensation for their suffering.

In that regard, the success achieved on behalf of Holocaust survivors is a source of envy, and one which these countries seek, unsuccessfully until now, to replicate.

These two factors are the main themes of the attempts to rewrite the accepted narrative of World War II and the Holocaust – to minimize or hide the crimes of local perpetrators and to promote the canard of equivalency between Nazi and Communist crimes. They find practical expression in the Prague Declaration of June 3, 2008, which calls for a rewriting of European textbooks to reflect the supposed historical equivalency between the crimes of the two totalitarian regimes, the establishment of a European Institute of Memory and Conscience which would serve as a museum/memorial and research center along the lines of Yad Vashem, and a joint memorial day for all the victims of totalitarian regimes to be observed on August 23, the day that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a Non-Aggression pact.

Needless to say, the adoption of any of these demands would seriously undermine the hereto accepted perception of the Holocaust as a unique historical event and the singular fate of Jews under the Third Reich.

Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, the views expressed in the Prague Declaration were fairly strong in Eastern Europe, but they were not so actively promoted, for fear that they might negatively affect these countries’ chances of obtaining entry to the European Union and NATO. Once that goal was achieved, however, all restraint in this regard disappeared and now the revisionist agenda is being pursued with vigor.

I wish I could say that the EU, the US, Canada and Israel were taking the necessary steps to prevent the revised version of history being promoted in Eastern Europe from being accepted, but unfortunately virtually nothing has been done.
A variety of political and economic interests have combined to prevent any effective action and in the meantime, an entire generation of Eastern Europeans has grown up virtually ignorant of the Holocaust crimes of their own countrymen and convinced that Communist crimes (which in Eastern Europe are out of all proportion to reality – and blamed on Jews) were just as bad as those of the Nazis.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is another good opportunity for a wake-up call in this regard.

*The author is the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the director of its Israel Office and Eastern European Affairs. His most recent book, Musiskiai; Kelione Su Priesu (in Lithuanian, “Our People: Journey With an Enemy”) which deals with Lithuanian complicity in Holocaust crimes, was published in January 2016 by Alma Littera.