Saturday, May 07, 2016

A very simple conflict

From Israel Hayom, 7 May 2016, by Martin Sherman:
It was on Jan. 28, 1976, that then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in an address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, made the following insightful assessment of the roots the Arab war against the Jews:
"Until 1967, Israel did not hold an inch of the Sinai Peninsula and the West Bank, the Gaza Strip or the Golan Heights. Israel held not an acre of what is now considered disputed territory. And yet we enjoyed no peace. Year after year Israel called for -- pleaded for -- a negotiated peace with the Arab governments. Their answer was a blank refusal and more war. ... The reason was not a conflict over territorial claims. The reason was, and remains, the fact that a free Jewish state sits on territory at all."

Four decades later, in Cairo, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, confirmed the enduring validity of that diagnosis when he said,
"We will never recognize the Jewishness of the State of Israel" in November 2014.
Brutal simplicity
One of the widely propagated falsehoods regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict in general, and the Palestinian-Israeli one in particular, is that it is an immensely complex problem requiring great sophistication and creativity to resolve.Nothing could be further from the truth.
The hundred-year struggle between Jew and Arab over control of the Holy Land, extending west of the Jordan River to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, is in fact a very simple one.
But recognition of the stark simplicity of the conflict does not in any way imply that it is easy to resolve. In fact, it is the brutal simplicity of the conflict that makes a solution so elusive.
Any effort to obfuscate this unpalatable fact can only have -- and indeed, has had -- gravely detrimental, even tragic, consequences, just as mistaken diagnosis of a malaise is likely to have detrimental, even tragic, outcomes. Any attempt to portray the conflict as "complicated" is not a mark of sophistication or profundity, but rather of a desire to evade the merciless, unembellished truth.
For the clash between Jew and Arab over the exercise of national sovereignty anywhere west of the Jordan is a classic "them" or "us" scenario, an arch-typical zero sum game, in which the gains of one side are inevitably the loss of the other.
No amount of genteel pussyfooting around this harsh reality will change this fact. No amount of polite politically correct jargon will soften it.
Essence of enmity
This reality is aptly conveyed in the introductory excerpt from Rabin's January 1976 address. In his more lucid, pre-Oslo period, he succinctly diagnosed that the root of Arab Judeophobic enmity was not a dispute over any particular allocation of territory between Jew and Arab, but the allocation of any territory for Jewish sovereignty: "The reason [for the Arab refusal of peace and the ongoing belligerency] was not a conflict over territorial claims. The reason was, and remains, the fact that a free Jewish state sits on territory at all."
Rabin's assessment was valid then, and it is valid today.
No matter what territorial configuration for dividing the land was proposed, it was invariably rejected by Israel's Arab interlocutors -- from the 1947 Partition Plan; through the far-reaching concessions offered by Ehud Barak in 2000, that elicited nothing but a massive wave of violence that lasted almost five years and left thousands dead and injured; to the even more dramatically pliant proposal put forward by Ehud Olmert and rejected by Abbas in 2008.
Clearly then, as Rabin identified, the roots of Arab belligerence vis-a-vis the Jews cannot be traced to any specific borders of the Jewish state -- but to the existence of the Jewish state itself.
Not about borders, but existence
Accordingly, we are compelled to conclude that the "root causes" of the dispute are:
- Not about Jewish military "occupation" of Arab land, but about Jewish political existence on any land.
- Not about the Jewish state's policies, but about the Jewish state per se.
- Not about what the Jewish people do, but about what the Jewish people are.
Resounding affirmation of this came from the allegedly "moderate" and "pragmatic" Abbas himself, who in November 2014 told an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers that no peace accord with Israel was possible if this involved recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people -- see introductory excerpt.
This was no slip of the tongue.
Several months earlier, Reuters reported that "the Arab League has backed Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas's rejection of Israel as a 'Jewish state' ... [and] endorsed Abbas's rejection of Israel's demand for recognition as a Jewish state." The League issued a statement declaring: "The council of the Arab League confirms its support for the Palestinian leadership ... and emphasizes its rejection of recognizing Israel as a 'Jewish state.'"
Clearly, this should be a sobering message for all the self-professed Zionists who have so eagerly advocated that Israel adopt the Arab League Plan (aka the "Saudi Initiative") -- which calls for a return to the indefensible pre-1967 lines, division of Jerusalem, return of Arab refugees, and withdrawal from the Golan Heights -- as a basis for peace negotiations and pan-Arab recognition.
Recognition? Really? As an un-Jewish state? How accommodating....

Friday, May 06, 2016

Iran: heirs of the Nazis

From Dore Gold, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel
Some seventy years ago, Bergen-Belsen emerged as one of the key concentration camps established by the Nazi regime for the purpose of exterminating the Jews of Europe. Bergen-Belsen had no gas chambers like the Nazi-run death camps at Auschwitz and Treblinka in Poland. Yet thousands died in Bergen-Belsen – from disease, starvation, exposure, and sheer exhaustion, especially after the death marches in the winter of 1944-45 from the evacuated camps in the East. Typhus and typhoid fever were rampant.

Thus, Bergen-Belsen's role grew as a central hub of the concentration camp system after the Red Army crushed the Wehrmacht along the Eastern Front and the Germans transferred their surviving Jewish prisoners to camps within the borders of the German state.

Jews from all over the Nazi Empire were forced into Bergen-Belsen – from Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, France, as well as North African states, like Libya and Tunisia. The commandant of Bergen-Belsen at the end of 1944, Josef Kramer, was an SS officer who previously had been in charge of the main killing center at Auschwitz.

On a personal note, my own mother-in-law, Dina Sherman, was also relocated from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen along with her sister, Esther, who died in her arms in this place. This was also where Anne Frank died with her sister, Margot, after they were moved from Auschwitz, along with tens of thousands of others.

Five days after the British army liberated Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945, a BBC reporter, Richard Dimbleby, entered the camp and made a tape recording of the former Jewish prisoners congregating on a Friday night, rising up with their frail bodies, and breaking into a Hebrew song, "Hatikvah," which means "the Hope." It was to become Israel's national anthem. 

That very moment in time forged a link between the horrors of the concentration camps and the restoration of Israel just a few years later. By choosing Hatikva, the Jews at Bergen-Belsen were also reminding the world that theirs was a 2,000-year-old hope that dated back to when the Jews lived as a free people in their own land. They were also saying that it was time to go back home. 

What has the modern state of Israel learned from the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, and the Holocaust, more generally?
Chaim Herzog served as an officer in the British forces that entered Bergen-Belsen in 1945. In April 1987, he went back, as Israel's sixth president, and directed his words to the victims in their graves. He declared that they bequeathed a responsibility to later generations to ensure that the Jewish people would never again be helpless. That meant, first, that we will never allow anyone to do this to us again. 

In present times, there is a new antisemitic wind blowing across Europe, reviving memories of what transpired on this continent decades ago. And even the physical threat to the Jewish people remains, emanating most recently from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nearly every year, it parades a missile in Tehran, called the Shahab-3, and fastens to its launcher the words, "Israel must be wiped off the map."
Iran's leaders do not leave a shred to doubt as to what their missiles are intended. The reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 2011 have added that Iran aspires to remove the conventional warhead from the very same Shahab-3 and replace it with a "spherical nuclear payload." 

Iranian intentions have not changed. The same slogan calling for wiping Israel out was also brazenly written in Farsi and in Hebrew on a more advanced Qadr-H missile, when it was test-fired this year on March 9, 2016.  This despite the agreement recently signed between Iran and the Western powers. It is, therefore, no wonder that Israel feels it must do everything in its power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. This is not an obsession, but a sacred trust handed to us by the people buried here. 

The legacy for Israel and the Jewish people from Bergen-Belsen is not only a particularistic imperative. Since the end of the Second World War, Jewish judges and lawyers have stood at the forefront of the international struggle against genocide in any form, in any context. It was a Jewish jurist named Raphael Lemkin who in fact invented the term. It was another scholar, René Cassin, who had a pivotal role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Shabtai Rosenne fought for the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC), though it became, tragically, corrupted by states that sought to politicize it shortly after it was founded.

Despite these and similar legal efforts, genocide has persisted since the Second World War: in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and across the Middle East. Israel is a small state. But Israeli diplomacy must do everything in its power to recognize the warning signs and the threats of genocide and then to mobilize and press states to prevent it. That is an enormous responsibility, but as the survivors of the greatest crime in human history, we must bear that burden and undertake to banish this threat from the family of nations. 

Stop the Holocaust analogies

From The Times of Israel, 5 May 2016, by Fred Maroun*:
Some Zionists feel the need to make analogies between Nazi Germany and Israel.

The latest such occurrence came from no less than IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan. Golan said, “If there is something that frightens me in the memory of the Holocaust, it is identifying horrifying processes that occurred in Europe…70, 80 and 90 years ago and finding evidence of their existence here in our midst, today, in 2016”.

I admire Yair Golan for identifying weaknesses in the IDF and Israeli society and trying to improve them. He is not unique in this among Israelis. It is one of the main reasons why Israel is a light unto the nations. What bothers me however is that he made an utterly unwarranted analogy between Israeli society and pre-Holocaust Germany. 

Does Golan seriously believe that Israel is in any danger of rounding up Arabs and shipping them to death camps? I ask this because this is exactly the extrapolation that the enemies of Israel will make. People whose full-time job is to demonize Israel and the IDF will say, “Even the IDF Deputy Chief of Staff says so”.
If there is frustration among Israeli Jews towards Arabs, who in their right mind could blame them? I am an Arab, and I get it. Why doesn’t Golan get it?
After almost seventy years of having been welcomed into the Jewish state, many if not most Israeli Arabs still show more loyalty to Palestinian terrorists than to their own state, and they elect Politicians who bring that foul outlook to the heart of Israel’s own Knesset. After almost seventy years of fighting for its survival against a much larger Arab enemy, Israelis still need to fight for their survival and to be subjected to a demonization that is very much reminiscent of pre-Holocaust Europe.
The question I ask is not why some Israelis are frustrated towards Arabs. The question I ask is by what miracle they still tolerate Arabs among them. We all know that if the roles were reversed, the Jews would have been massacred long ago.
If Golan must make an analogy with the pre-Holocaust Europe then he should look at the Europe of today where one quarter of the French army is needed to protect 717 Jewish schools. He should look at the analogy between the BDS movement of today and the boycott of Jewish businesses in the 1930’s Germany. He should look at the similarity between Iran’s threats against Israel which the world seems to ignore and the Nazis’ threats against Jews which the world also ignored. These are apt analogies to make.
Wanting to be better is one thing, and of course neither the IDF nor Israel is perfect, but making inane analogies with the Holocaust is quite another thing. These damaging analogies must stop. Israel and the Jewish people deserve better.
Fred Maroun
*Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities, including Palestinians, can co-exist in peace with each other and with Israel, and where human rights are respected. 

Kuwaiti Urges Arab & Muslim States to Recognize Israel Immediately

From United with Israel, 12 April 2016:

Arab states Israel
Dignitaries attend the closing session of the Arab League Summit in Kuwait in 2014.
(AP/Nasser Waggi)

Yousuf 'Abd Al-Karim Al-Zinkawi
Yousuf ‘Abd Al-Karim Al-Zinkawi.

In a true sign of change in the Arab world, Kuwaiti media personality Yousuf ‘Abd Al-Karim Al-Zinkawi called on all Arab and Muslim states to recognize Israel, openly and without delay, and stop calling it “the Zionist Entity” or “the Israeli occupation,” terms which undermine Israel’s legitimacy.
In an article published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa on Saturday, he argued that by sitting alongside Israel at the United Nations, these states have already effectively recognized the Jewish State and they should learn from countries like Qatar and Oman that take a pragmatic approach to Israel and maintain ties with it openly.

Al-Zinkawi writes that the vast majority of the world effectively supports Israel’s existence, and the Arab states have begun to move in that direction and should complete the process.

“The very presence of the Arab and Islamic states in the UN General Assembly, under the same roof as the Israeli delegation, means… that they recognize Israel. Otherwise, what is the meaning of their presence [there], alongside Israel, which they do not recognize? All those Arab and Islamic states that do not recognize Israel, if they have courage, let them stand before the members of the UN General Assembly, or in a session of the [UN] Security Council, and declare that they do not recognize Israel,” Al-Zinkawi challenges them in the Al-Siyassa, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman deal with the reality of Israel pragmatically, and recognize that it is a fait accompli that we cannot ignore.” Despite changes since, these Arab countries maintain bilateral relations in various domains with Israel. “These relations existed openly and directly.”

“If the Palestinian state itself – by means of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is considered to be the legitimate representative of the Palestinians…consolidated its ties with Israel, why do some Arab and Muslim countries take a more proprietary approach than the Palestinians?” he asks.

“The countries that have established ties with Israel understood reality as it was and took active steps to deal with it. The first and foremost of them is Qatar, which recently hosted a beach volleyball tournament, in which Israel took part a few days ago. If for decades we have been maintaining indirect ties with Israel, by means of Israeli companies that [operate under the flags of] other countries – and most Arab and Islamic companies and businessmen are aware of this ridiculous reality – why should we keep up this political charade, and until when?”

Dramatic Shift in the Middle East

Since the Arab Spring and over the course of the past half-decade, the Arab countries’ stance towards relations with Israel has shifted dramatically, while a growing number of Arab policy makers have publicly supported open and full relations with the Jewish State.

In January, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Dore Gold revealed that Israel maintains covert ties with almost all Arab countries.

Gold said Israel maintains contacts with “almost every Arab state, as long as it then does not make it to the front page of the daily newspapers” and said there is “the willingness in the Arab world for ties with Israel under the table,” terming at as a “dramatic change.”

In February, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a change in the way countries that have ties with Israel display and express them publicly, adding that Israel is experiencing a dramatic and positive shift in its ties with many countries, and primarily with the Arab world in the Middle East.
Major Arab countries are changing their view of Israel…they don’t see Israel anymore as their enemy, but they see Israel as their ally, especially in the battle against militant Islam,” he said.

Europe has failed to learn lessons of anti-Semitism, Shaked says, pointing finger at UK Labor

From JPost, 4 May 2016, by Ilan Evyatar:

The justice minister was speaking at a symposium marking 80 years since the Nuremberg race laws and 70 years since the Nuremberg trial.

Ayelet Shaked Poland                                
Ayelet Shaked speaks at Nuremberg Symposium in Krakow, Poland . 
KRAKOW – Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called Wednesday on UK Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn to take a loud and clear stand and end the political career of any member of his party guilty of anti-Semitism, which she said is alive and well in Europe today.
“I call on the United Kingdom Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn to state clearly the Labor’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. Mr. Corbyn must clarify that anti-Semitic comments are not within legitimate political debate, and that anti-Semitic views should end a politician’s career and disqualify [him] from any future public office,” Shaked said, referencing the recent scandal in the Labor Party over anti-Israel comments made by former London mayor Ken Livingstone, MK Naz Shah and others. She also called on European leaders to “heed the British lesson and affirm that anti-Semitism is unacceptable.”

“Make no mistake,”
she said in comments that appeared to be directed at certain European countries, “the Israeli government cherishes our strong and warm relationship with friendly nations... but we will not compromise our sovereignty. We will maintain our might, defend our borders and secure our citizens.”

The justice minister was speaking at a symposium marking 80 years since the Nuremberg race laws and 70 years since the Nuremberg trials that was organized by the March of the Living International, the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights and Krakow’s Jagiellonian University, the same university, she noted, where her husband’s grandfather had studied law before leaving for Palestine in the 1930s. He was, she said, the only member of his family to have survived the Holocaust.

Shaked questioned whether Europe had learned the lessons of the Holocaust and charged that anti-Semitism continues unabated on the continent.

“We can witness anti-Semitism today; in fact, the anti-Semitic voices seem to get louder and stronger still,” she said. “There are Holocaust deniers, and others wish to slander Israel and blame it for all the world’s travails. We witness anti-Semitic attacks in the heart of Europe. We hear anti-Semitic slanders in European media. We feel anti-Semitic hatred in the continent that should have learned.”

Shaked said that unlike the period of the Holocaust, the Jews now have a state and that this is “an era of Jewish power.”

“Some of our detractors may find that notion offensive,” she added. “But like other nations, Jews now exercise power. Yes, we exercise power ethically yet resolutely."
“We are committed to the defense and security of the Jewish people,” Shaked continued. “Israel was founded on the premise of offering a safe haven for the Jews. We shall never depend on others for our survival. We will determine our own destiny. We must defend ourselves because others failed to help us.”

UK Shows Where Anti-Zionism Leads

We didn’t have to wait for the results of the independent inquiry into charges of anti-Semitism promised by the head of Britain’s Labour Party to see the scale of the problem. On Monday, the Telegraph reported that what it describes as the party’s “compliance unit” had already been overwhelmed by the problem of dealing with charges of anti-Semitism because it lacked the resources to look into so many cases. Nevertheless, the paper reported that Labour had already suspended 50 party members for anti-Semitism and as many as 20 in the last two weeks. But the problem isn’t going to be solved by a bigger inquiry or the sort of meaningless mea culpas that we’ve heard from some Labour figures.
The answer to what lies behind the string of disgusting comments that Labour is trying to rationalize and/or punish is the straight line that runs from the anti-Zionist agitation that is mainstream opinion among European and British left-wing elites to anti-Semitism. The same can be said of similar efforts to demonize and isolate Israel in the United States. What starts with agitation on college campuses will, if left unchecked, ultimately lead to politicians engaging in anti-Semitic invective.

As Tom Wilson wrote here yesterday in a cogent summary of the events of the past week, part of the problem is Labour’s growing dependence on radicalized Muslim communities as key elements of its base. But the willingness to pander to groups that retain anti-Jewish attitudes brought with them from the Middle East only provides part of the explanation. The odd alliance between leftists and Islamists is rooted in the way many intellectuals link imperialism, colonialism (the original sins of modern Europe in the eyes of the elite), and Zionism. That fallacious analogy in which the national liberation movement of the Jewish people is damned as an offshoot of Western colonialism has created a slippery slope on which the left has found itself scrambling to avoid being seen as encouraging hate while embracing positions that lead inevitably to prejudice.

Nothing could have illustrated this more plainly than what happened the day before the news of the Labour suspensions broke. Though Corbyn denounced anti-Semitism in a May Day speech on Monday, on Sunday Labour’s spokesman insisted that the party head would not disavow his contacts with both the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups. The statement represented Corbyn’s connection to anti-Israel terrorists as merely meeting with people that he disagrees in the course of his advocacy for Palestinian rights; the truth is that he has done a lot more than that. Prior to being Labour’s leader he had embraced Hamas and encouraged dialogue with the group that runs Gaza as a terrorist state. He has also spoken of the equally radical and violent Hezbollah group as his “friends.”

To be fair to Corbyn, in this respect, he is hardly alone on the left. The willingness to treat the Jewish state’s terrorist foes as freedom fighters while demonizing Israelis is merely the logical conclusion for those who regard Israel’s creation as illegitimate and who oppose its right of self-defense.

Is it possible to hold such views while still treating Jews with respect and condemning religious prejudice? That’s what many anti-Israel activists claim, but they are all either deceiving themselves or lying.

Let’s be crystal clear about this. Those who seek to deny to the Jewish people what they would not think of refusing any other people on earth — the right to a state and to live in peace and security on at least a part of their ancient homeland — is an act of bias. The term for acts of bias against Jews is anti-Semitism.

There is simply no analogy to the anti-Zionist insistence that Jews have no rights to any part of the land of Israel or the territory of the former British Mandate for Palestine and any other territorial controversies elsewhere on the globe. Not everyone supports the rights of Catalans, Basques, or Kurds to their own separate nations. But no one seeks to force them out of their homes or considers their national movements inherently illegitimate. Only Zionism is treated in this manner. Only the movement to give Jews the same rights accorded other peoples is passionately opposed around the globe in this way.

The fervor of the anti-Zionists always winds up in anti-Semitic slanders because the source of the passion that drives this effort stems from traditional hatred of Jews. The problem isn’t just that a lot of British left-wing politicians have loose tongues and no self-control when it comes to venting on social media. Nor is it a matter of Jews misinterpreting criticism of Israel’s government as anti-Semitism, as many on the left disingenuously claim. If you think Jews are uniquely unworthy of the same rights as others you are not only practicing a form of prejudice; you are inevitably going to wind up saying vile things that demonstrates this bias.

It is to be hoped that the spectacle of Labour’s anti-Semitism problem will further discredit Corbyn and cause both his party members and the rest of the British people to draw the right conclusions from his faction’s flirtation with anti-Zionism. We should encourage such a development both in Britain and elsewhere in Europe where such attitudes have also worked their way back into the mainstream seven decades after the Holocaust. But it would be foolish to think that the widespread opposition to Israel’s right to exist in Europe is not a function of the legacy of centuries of anti-Semitic hate that festered on the continent.

All of this should give pause to the growing numbers of Americans who are either supporting anti-Zionism in academia or treating it as a legitimate expression of opinion rather than hate. What we learned in Britain in the last week is that you can’t create a firewall against religious hatred while simultaneously nurturing a movement that is rooted in bias against Jews. If you tolerate or rationalize groups that single out Israel and Jewish rights for opposition — whether it is called BDS or some other euphemism for Jew-hatred — you are inevitably going to wind up excusing anti-Semitic hate.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

An Arab whose heart lives in Israel

From Jerusalem Online, 1 May 2016, by Fred Maroun:

Lebanese Canadian citizen Fred Maroun in an interview with Newsdesk Israel explains why he as an Arab Christian is opposed to Jews who support the BDS Movement.

image description
Fred Maroun Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Meet Fred Maroun, a Christian Arab who was born in Lebanon and moved to Canada at the age of 23, after 10 years of civil war. In this special interview with Newsdesk Israel, Maroun explains what he thinks of the Jews who support the boycott Israel movement.
He says that all his life, he supported equal rights for minorities and vulnerable groups, including women, LGBT, etc., and always considered Israel a liberal model for the Arab world. In an article published last week in the Times of Israel, Maroun wrote,
"My heart lives in Israel, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, in an office building in Haifa, or on a bus in the busy streets of Tel Aviv. As long as Israel must fight for the right to exist, my heart will live in Israel".

You write a lot in support of Israel. When did you start to understand that Israel is not the enemy?
Fred M: “Although I have not always been strongly pro-Israel, I was never anti-Israel. I have always been liberal-minded, and even when I lived in Lebanon, even though I knew little about Israel’s history, I saw Israel as a liberal model to the Arab world...

You wrote against the Jews who collaborate with BDS organizations. What do you think of them?
Fred M: “I think that a growing number of Jews in the United States, Canada, and other Western countries are supporting anti-Zionist movements such as BDS for several reasons. They do not understand the Arab mindset. People living in the West think in rational terms, and they think that if the Arabs have not accepted peace with Israel, it must be because Israel has not offered a reasonable deal. They do not understand that the Arab attitude towards Israel is not rational, it is not based on a cost-benefit analysis, and it is governed by an irrational hatred.

They (Jews who support BDS) want to fit in. The West is increasingly anti-Israel, especially on university campuses, and Jews, particularly young Jews, want to adopt the prevailing attitudes and not be seen as outsiders. They do not see Jews as threatened. When they look around them, particularly in North America, they do not see discrimination against Jews (like their parents and especially their grandparents did), so the concept that Israel is needed as a haven for Jews is a difficult concept for them to understand.

They do not see Israel as threatened. They see that Israel has never lost a war and is the dominant military power in the Middle East. They do not take the threats against Israel seriously, even from a nuclear Iran. They think that the threats are not credible and that Israel is exaggerating them in order to gain support. They do not know or do not accept as relevant the fact that Jews were expelled from Arab countries, and that Israel began building settlements only after most Arabs rejected the partition plan.”

What do you think about the fact that the world blames Israel most of the time?
Fred M: “There is a combination of factors that explain why much of the world blames Israel. One big factor is anti-Semitism which has not disappeared but has disguised itself as anti-Zionism. But even among people who are not anti-Semitic, there is little support for Israel because people have a short attention span. They see Israel as strong and the Palestinians as weak, and they have little understanding of the factors that created the conflict and that keep it going. Also all the factors that I mentioned in response to the previous question apply to non-Jews even more strongly than they apply to Jews. Jews at least have some understanding of Jewish history in the Middle East, but non-Jews tend to see Jews as Western imperialists.”...

Hezbollah: Iran's Henchmen in Brazil

From The National Interest, 27 April 26, by Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

Across Latin America, Iran’s public face appears innocuous: mosques, cultural centers, schools, halal meat inspectors, religious literature, social work and even Boy Scout groups. Yet beneath the veneer of piety, outreach and interfaith dialogue, Tehran leverages connections with anti-American regimes and movements to gain a foothold in the region, and to indoctrinate local Muslims in its brand of revolutionary Islam. Rather than relying on the traditional tools of statecraft, Iran advances its agenda with mosques and missionaries.

Tehran’s use of Iranian and Lebanese Shia clerics as unofficial agents of the Iranian revolution is not new. The first such cleric to reach Latin America was Mohsen Rabbani, who in 1983 came to Argentina to lead the Al-Tawhid mosque and serve as a halal meat inspector in Buenos Aires. Both tasks appeared innocuous enough, but Rabbani was intimately involved in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in the Argentine capital that killed eighty-five people and injured over three hundred.

Rabbani was not alone. Shortly after his arrival to Buenos Aires, another cleric, Sheikh Taleb Hussein al-Khazraji, made his way to Brazil. Both Rabbani and Khazraji were cited by the slain Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman in his 2013 report on Iran’s Latin American networks. According to Nisman, “Interpol [Brasília] informed that Khazraji was an employee of the Iranian government and. . . was engaged in recruiting highly politicized believers to get them close to Teheran.” An integral part of their task was to dramatically expand Iran’s support base both among local Shia immigrants and through missionary work.

They succeeded. Though Rabbani left Latin America due to mounting suspicions over his involvement in the Jewish center bombing, he continues to run his recruitment program from Iran’s center of religious learning in Qom. Khazraji remains entrenched in the Shia community of São Paulo, Brazil, where he pursues his clerical tasks and the production of promotional literature in Portuguese.
The dual role of Shia clerics as religious and political emissaries of the Islamic revolution was underscored in 2010, when the U.S. Treasury identified another religious minister as Hezbollah’s representative in Latin America. According to the Treasury, Bilal Mohsen Wehbe “relayed information and direction between Hizballah leaders in Lebanon and Hizballah elements in South America,” and oversaw its counterintelligence activity in the “triple frontier” of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Wehbe continues his missionary activity in Brazil undisturbed.
 Another cleric reportedly linked to Hezbollah is Sheikh Ghassan Youssef Abdallah. Abdallah is active in Chile, in Brazil (frequently visiting the tri-border area, where his U.S.-sanctioned brother Mohammed Youssef Abdallah resides), and in Paraguay (where he once ran the Iranian mosque in Ciudad Del Este).

They are not alone. Alongside dozens of Iranian and Lebanese Shia clerics, there is also a new generation of locally born clerics who have joined their ranks. Converts are routinely sent to Qom, all expenses paid, to attend Iranian seminaries specially tailored to Spanish and Portuguese speakers, before they return home to act as Iran’s unofficial emissaries in their countries of birth.

The State Department recently pronounced that Iran’s influence in Latin America and the Caribbean basin is “waning” due to sluggish trade, and a noticeable downturn in high-profile official visits from Iran since President Hassan Rouhani succeeded his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranian influence, however, should not be measured in the number of presidential visits to regional capitals. It is the day-to-day missionary work performed by religious envoys that is steadily buying influence, conveying messages of anti-Americanism and hatred for Israel.

While the outward posture of Shia leaders broadcasts an ecumenical message of tolerance and dialogue with Catholicism, Latin America’s dominant faith, the modus operandi behind closed doors is militant indoctrination.

One such example is the Boy Scouts attached to Shia mosques. These groups have the outward appearances of innocent youth movements, imparting a social conscience to new generations. In fact, they are a mirror image of Hezbollah’s Mahdi Scouts, are led by Lebanese instructors who do not hide their sympathy for Hezbollah, and are supervised by Wehbe, the U.S.-sanctioned Hezbollah cleric.

Images of the Scout groups show members enacting military drills during May 25 celebrations — Resistance Day in Lebanon’s calendar, marking the date of Israel’s 2000 withdrawal from South Lebanon. During Ashura ceremonies last October, Scouts and their instructors at the Mesquita do Brás in São Paulo were wearing Hezbollah T-shirts showing its logo and the Ashura 2015 logo designed by Hezbollah’s media relations department.

The cult of martyrdom is also prevalent. In June 2014, the Imam Ali mosque in Curitiba hosted a well-attended memorial service for a young Hezbollah fighter killed in Syria in March 2014. His Brazilian uncle, clad in a Hezbollah scarf, led the memorial, exalting the fallen youth as a role model.

Community members routinely post photographs of the Brazilian flag juxtaposed with the Hezbollah logo, and photos of young Hezbollah men in South Lebanon proudly holding the same flag. Hezbollah T-shirts can even be purchased online for thirty Brazilian reais, or less than $10.

What can the U.S. government do to counter these activities? Ultimately, it is up to regional governments to recognize the threat posed by a foreign power radicalizing local populations. But it would be an important step if the U.S. administration were to acknowledge that Iran’s religious outreach is intoxicating thousands of captive minds. After all, the Latin American targets of Iran’s anti-American indoctrination could one day draw the logical conclusion from their education that striking the “Great Satan” itself is no less than God’s will.

UK Labour has secretly suspended 50 members for anti-Semitic and racist comments

From The Telegraph, 2 May 2016, by

Jeremy Corbyn is under increasing pressure over an anti-Semitism row

Jeremy Corbyn in under increasing pressure over an anti-Semitism row Credit: PA
Labour has secretly suspended 50 of its members over anti-Semitic and racist comments as officials struggle to cope with the crisis engulfing  the party.

Senior sources reveal that Labour's compliance unit has been swamped by the influx of hard-left supporters following Jeremy Corbyn's election.

The  suspensions that have been made public so far are said to be just the tip of the iceberg.

On Monday night Mr Corbyn appeared to acknowledge there was a problem for the first time, while insisting it was "not huge". He told the Daily Mirror: "What there is is a very small number of people that have said things that they should not have done. We have therefore said they will be suspended and investigated."
There is growing pressure on the Labour leader ahead of the local elections on Thursday, in which his party is forecast to lose more  than 100 seats.

Senior figures are now so concerned about the row that they are openly discussing the possibility of an attempted coup following the EU referendum.

MPs are said to be plotting a coup to remove Mr Corbyn after the election if things go badly, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell  poised to take over.

...Also on Sunday night shadow education secretary Lucy Powell became the first shadow cabinet minister to acknowledge the party had a problem with anti-semitism.

She told Channel 4 News : "There clearly is an issue with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party otherwise we wouldn't have spent the best part of the last six or seven days talking about it.
"I think it is a very small element within the Labour Party and probably a small element in wider society as well. And that's why we are taking swift action to root it out."

On Monday it emerged that the party suspended three councillors within  seven hours  over a series of allegedly anti-semitic posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Two of them had called for Israeli Jews to be relocated to America while a  third compared a former Premier League footballer to Hitler.
A senior source within the party told The Daily Telegraph that the problem went much further and the compliance unit has actually suspended 50 members  in the past two months.

They include up to 20 members within the past two weeks alone, with the unit struggling to cope because it does not have necessary resources.

Only 13 Labour members have been publicly named since October after being suspended.  The source said: "There are just six people in the compliance unit with one more joining after the EU referendum and frankly, it's  nowhere near enough.

"They can't cope with the number of new members that have joined since Jeremy became leader, they need more resources."

Mr Corbyn is facing one of the most dangerous periods of his  leadership after he was last week forced to suspend Naz Shah, a Labour  MP, and Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, over alleged  anti-semitic comments.
Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies of British  Jews, said that Mr Corbyn's failure to accept that there was a more  widespread problem is "an issue in itself".
He said: "Labour will need to consider whether the compliance unit is  the right approach or whether there needs to be a stronger mechanism  to deal with what we see, to our sadness, to be a pretty serious  problem in the current party membership."

John Woodcock, a Labour MP and critic of Mr Corbyn, said: "The Labour  party should make public the number of incidents it has had reported  in recent years to the present, we mustn't allow any impression that  we are seeking to minimise this very serious issue or sweep it under  the carpet."... 
...Tom Watson, Labour's Deputy Leader, voiced concerns that the anti-semitism row could damage the party's prospects in the local election.

Sadiq Khan, the party's London Mayoral candidate, has also raised  concerns that he may lose because of the row.  Despite the row Mr Corbyn and his allies have sought to downplay the problem.
Diane Abbott, the shadow international development secretary, said claims that Labour has a problem with anti-semitism are a "smear" while Len McCluskey, the leader of the Unite union, accused critics of using the row to undermine the Labour leader.
One Labour MP said:"There's clearly a problem that needs to be dealt with and it's not right that well known figures in Labour like Jeremy and Diane and Len are constantly trying to downplay the issue when there is an problem that we need to address.

"People would have much more trust if we set out openly the scale of the issue we are facing and publish the number of people who have been suspended."

Labour was on Monday forced to suspended three councillors within  seven hours over material on Twitter and Facebook.
Mr Aziz posted this image to Facebook
Mr Aziz posted this image to Facebook Credit: Facebook
Ilyas Aziz, a Nottingham councillor, was suspended when it emerged  that he said on Facebook that “it would be wiser to create Israel in America it’s big enough. They could relocate even now [sic]”.
Salim Mulla, a former mayor of Blackburn, was suspended a few hours  later when it was found that he had posted the same graphic proposing  Israel’s relocation to the United States.

Shah Hussain, of Burnley council, tweeted to Israeli footballer Yossi  Bennayouyn that “you and your country doing the same thing that hitler  did to ur race in ww2 [sic]”.
Speaking to The Telegraph Mr Aziz denied that the comments he posted  were anti-Semitic and insisted that the media was "trying to stir up  trouble".

The compliance unit suspends members who are reported for "bringing  the party into disrepute". It assesses material on social media websites and elsewhere and then launches a formal investigation.
A source close to the Labour leader said the party does not comment on the number of suspensions but added that Diane Abbott said on Sunday that there have been "12 reported incidents of antisemitism" in the party. 

Monday, May 02, 2016

American Jewry Will No Longer Be the Center of the Jewish World

From Mosaic Magazine, 26 April 2016, by Elliott Abrams:

In the 20th century the American Jewish community was the world’s largest and strongest, and helped establish and protect the Jewish state. The 21st century will be different.
In late fall 1940, as World War II raged in Europe and despite the parlous situation of the Jews in British-Mandate Palestine, their leader David Ben-Gurion spent three and a half months in the United States, returning again in November 1941 for a far longer stay of more than nine months. The wartime route from Palestine to the U.S. was lengthy and dangerous, but Ben-Gurion keenly understood not only the prime importance of relations with America but also the fact that the American Jewish community had [in 1940] become the center of world Jewry.

Indeed, soon enough—and for decades to come—that same Jewish community, the world’s largest and strongest, would play a critical role in the establishment and subsequent support and protection of the first Jewish state in 2,000 years.

But that was the 20th century; the 21st will be different. That is the conclusion of my essay in Mosaic, “If American Jews and Israel are Drifting Apart, What’s the Reason?
I’m grateful to Daniel Gordis, Martin Kramer, and Jack Wertheimer for their kind words about the essay itself and especially for their thoughtful comments on its thesis. Taken together, those comments affirm but also broaden and deepen my argument.

All three of my respondents note the remarkable change in the relationship between Israel and American Jewry since 1948, some of which is due to sheer demographics. At the time of Israel’s founding, as Martin Kramer explains, its Jewish population was one-ninth the size of American Jewry, and was also largely poor and needy. Today, the population ratio is one to one, Israel’s economic situation has improved immeasurably, and its population is growing—even as our numbers in America are being reduced by low birth rates and intermarriage.

As Kramer puts it, “Israeli Jews have worked out a successful survival strategy,” while, by contrast, the “American Jewish survival strategy is struggling.” The trend lines are clear—which is why I suggested in my essay that we American Jews may end up needing what amounts to foreign aid, with the Israelis trying to rescue us, or anyway some of us, as best they can.

The distances between Israeli and American Jews are growing in other ways as well. A couple of generations ago, most Israeli and most American Jews were immigrants from Europe; today, 70 percent of Israeli Jews were born in Israel and an even higher percentage of American Jews were born in the United States. Moreover, something like 90 percent of American Jews are of Ashkenazi heritage, while, as Kramer points out, half of Israeli Jews are of Sephardi or Mizraḥi descent.

All of this has taken its toll in feelings of inter-community solidarity, and so has another factor mentioned in my essay: the detachment of most American Jews from the combined ritual and communal moorings that held Jews together for 2,000 years of exile. Driving this point home is the sad tale that Daniel Gordis tells about an uncle of his. A former executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, this uncle has taken to the public prints to proclaim that “in every important way Israel has failed to realize its promise for me.”

Gordis rightly underscores those amazing final words—“for me”—as if the task of Israelis, who live in a region “leaning toward perpetual war,” were “to soothe the moral disquiet of Jews whose circumstances are “more peaceful and stable than any environment in the history of humankind since Adam.” Writing with similar bite, Jack Wertheimer, the eminent American Jewish historian and an acute, unblinking analyst of contemporary realities, records that growing numbers of American Jews have become so “deracinated” as to lose all empathy with fellow Jews living in “a neighborhood considerably more dangerous than brownstone Brooklyn or the Edenic communities of the San Francisco Bay.”

Sadly, in this context, none of my three respondents has protested that I’m dead wrong in my analysis and that the future glows brightly both for the American Jewish community itself and for its relationship with Israel. Nor does any of the three offer a magic formula to extricate ourselves from our troubles, because there is none. To the contrary, all appear to accept, as I do, the further and all but inevitable weakening of the non-Orthodox American Jewish community.

Still, their comments do suggest some paths forward.

One of them is critical: an Israel-oriented education that will take in the enormous miracle of the recreation of a Jewish state after two millennia, absorbing its history and the lessons contained in that history, and inculcating a knowledge of the Hebrew language. About 10 percent of American Jews say they can carry on a conversation in Hebrew; I would bet that most of them are Orthodox—themselves by far a minority within the community as a whole. Gordis correctly refers to the “essentially across-the-board neglect of Hebrew-language literacy as a community priority.”
This is not the case in other Diaspora communities. Jews elsewhere not only are likelier to speak Hebrew but, correlatively, visit Israel more frequently, and acquire a more thorough Jewish education. In the UK, for example, 60 percent of Jewish children attend day schools.

For American Jews outside the Orthodox community, such day schools hold little attraction. I suspect they strike many as contrary to the long-prevailing desire for full integration into America society: the central goal of American Jews who in the decades after World War II did not struggle to move to Evanston and Scarsdale and Beverly Hills in order to send their children to Jewish schools.
But that integration is now a fact, and staring the American non-Orthodox in the face is the prospect of Jewish assimilation leading to Jewish extinction. That being the reality, is it possible that day schools might be re-examined?

One critical barrier here, even for the moderately affluent, is financial: on top of the other burdens of engaged Jewish life—synagogue dues, summer camps, kosher food, and so forth—day schools are an expensive proposition. Especially in localities boasting excellent public schools, they may seem either beyond reach or unnecessary, or both. And here, to make things worse, the organized community’s priorities are upside-down. Rather than making sure that a day-school education is affordable and available to all who want it—as Jack Wertheimer has tirelessly advocated—Jewish agencies have not only undervalued the relative worth of such an education but have often led the fight against extending any help at all to religious schools in general, even in the form of vouchers, tuition tax credits, or other tax breaks that are clearly constitutional.

The day-school movement in America is one of the proven secrets of continuing Orthodox strength and solidarity. As Wertheimer has written, a day-school education “greatly increases the chances of children learning the skills necessary for participation in religious life, for living active Jewish lives, and for identifying strongly with other Jews.”

One can only hope that non-Orthodox Jews and Jewish organizations seeking to survive in America will reconsider its benefits and relax their visceral and ideological opposition to communal and other forms of support for non-public schools.

Whether or not they do, however, I join my three respondents in fearing the near-irreversibility of the underlying trends contributing to the weakening of the American Jewish community.

All the more reason, then, to keep front and center in one’s consciousness the single key fact of modern Jewish existence: for the first time in 2,000 years there is a Jewish state, it is growing and thriving, and it is becoming the center of world Jewish life. Would we want it otherwise?

American Jews today may be declining in strength and centrality, but they are also witness to and can actively participate in the miracle of the Jewish state. In Daniel Gordis’s words, Israel is “the Jewish people’s last remaining hope.” It is also something more: something, in Martin Kramer’s words, that we should always regard just as a hundred generations of Jews before us would have done—with “pure wonder.”

Appeasement doesn't work

From the Hoover Institute, 27 April 2016, by Victor Davis Hanson:

Seventy-seven years ago, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, triggering a declaration of war by Great Britain and its Empire and France. After Hitler’s serial aggressions in the Rhineland, the Anschluss with Austria, the Munich Agreement, and the carving up of Czechoslovakia, no one believed that a formal war over Poland would lead to anything greater than yet another German border grab. The invasion of Poland would likely be followed by loud but empty threats for Hitler to stop, and a phony war of inaction and grumbling.

But after dismembering Poland, and dividing its spoils with the Soviet Union, Hitler unexpectedly absorbed Denmark and Norway the next spring. Then in May 1940, he successfully invaded Belgium, France, Holland, and Luxembourg. He tried to bomb Britain into submission. The conflict eventually spread to the Mediterranean and became truly a “world war” in 1941 with the surprise Axis attacks on the Soviet Union and the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Sixty million people would perish in the six years of war, more than any man-caused or natural calamity in history—and World War II would become one of the few conflicts in history in which the losers suffered far fewer fatalities than did the winners. Yet the lessons of World War II endure and had, until recently, guided our foreign policy successfully.

The war taught us that deterrence matters, far more than multiparty arms-limitation treaties, world bodies like the League of Nations, or guarantees from dictators at widely publicized summits. Hitler’s Nazi military in 1939 was weaker and smaller than the combined might of the Western European democracies. Its planes and tanks were no better and in many cases clearly inferior to French armor and British fighters and bombers. Yet Hitler guessed rightly that after six years of appeasing Germany, the democracies were in no mood for war in 1939-40. He was again proven right when France, which had helped to defeat Germany in World War I, collapsed in just six weeks.

Deterrence, however, is not just calibrated by soldiers and weapons. The mettle of leaders counts just as much. Today, the military of Vladimir Putin’s Russia is hardly omnipotent. But Putin’s unpredictable aggression is predicated on his belief that the more powerful democracies will not want to deal with the hassles and costs of stopping him.

But such concessions to dictatorships only strengthen them while undermining internal dissenters. Generals of the German general staff, conservative Prussian aristocrats, and liberal reformers were all terrified of Hitler by 1939. As early as 1936, some had even sought to remove Hitler and his gang through half-baked plots. But each time the Allies backed off during an international crisis—and as Hitler added Austrian, Czech, and Polish territories to the growing Third Reich—his popularity with everyday Germans soared—and designs to remove him fizzled. After the war, early opponents of Nazism confessed that French and British appeasement had empowered Hitler and undermined their efforts.

Perceived momentum counts. The majority of the public and nations at large have no real ideology other than a wish to ally themselves with a winner. After the fall of France in June 1940, Germans mobbed the streets to catch a glimpse of their Fuhrer; yet after the Wehrmacht’s catastrophe at Stalingrad in early 1943, Hitler was afraid to speak to everyday Germans and went into virtual seclusion. Indeed, when the war went badly in mid-1944, his own military once again tried to blow him up.

Likewise, most of Eastern Europe had been awed by the Third Reich after its unprecedented victories in the West. Within a year, almost all of these nations deemed Hitler unstoppable and logically chose to join his Axis alliance—Hungary and Romania in November 1940, Bulgaria in March 1941, and Yugoslavia one month later. But by early 1945, as the Red Army in the east and Allied ground forces in the West neared the borders of a collapsing Nazi Germany, those same nations began abandoning Hitler, the assumed loser.

A similar dynamic is at work today with Islamic terrorists. Organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda gain recruits and win stealthily with help from Islamist nations when they pull off successful and brutal attacks against soft Western targets. Empty redlines empower the patrons of these weak bullies. In contrast, terrorists and their supporters lose credibility when they are humiliated, bombed, or see their leaders captured or killed. Bashar Assad, tottering on the brink of defeat and internal defection, recalibrated his control over Syria once the U.S. backed off from its prior threat to bomb him if he used chemical weapons.

We sometimes hope that reaching out to the Taliban or radical Islamists will lessen tensions. But usually such magnanimity is seen as weakness, unless the war has been clearly going our way. Hitler admired the strength of Stalin who eventually crushed him, and loathed the Allied governments that had once conceded to his every wish.

By the same token, current agreements with dictators in Cuba or Iran should have had none of the urgency of the détente of the 1970s with a USSR armed to the teeth with nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S. Such optional foreign policy accords with our twenty-first-century enemies may superficially appear to calm tensions, but in truth such outreach more likely sabotages Iranian and Cuban dissidents, while ensuring unearned popularity for Iran’s theocratic Ayatollahs and Cuba’s Castro Brothers, who all brag on their censored media how the U.S. gave into their demands.
Geography and national character are likewise unchanging. Hitler learned the lesson of Napoleon that it is suicidal to invade Russia from the West. The distances are too long, the campaign season is too short, and Russians fight quite differently on their homeland than abroad. The Red Army, unstoppable inside Russia, lagged in 1939 during its invasions of Poland and Finland, and slowed when it advanced into Eastern Europe in 1945. The best way to deter Putin is probably not to send ground troops inside the former Soviet Union.

Japan and China, whose disputes of the 1930s helped to trigger the Pacific war, will always likely remain in some sort of conflict. The proximity of the two antithetical civilizations—the one, a land power with a huge population and territory, the other, an island naval power with a highly capable, disciplined, and cohesive population—ensures that age-old tensions will transcend the particular political disputes of the moment. Likewise, Eastern Europe will always look for support from Western Europe and the United States—and often in vain. Its unfortunate geography puts these vulnerable countries in the bind of being squeezed between a vast Russia and the economic and cultural powerhouse of Germany. No wonder that our best U.S. foreign policy experts were schooled in World War II and learned that keeping the peace between both Germany and Russia, and China and Japan, should be the cornerstones of American alliance-building and diplomacy.

In the postmodern age, we scoff at the Cold War anachronism of NATO. But its 1949 informal mission statement was not just to deter a communist Soviet Union from invading democratic Western Europe. In truth, according to the words of General Hastings Ismay, the first secretary general of NATO, the alliance aimed “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”
That formula endures and is yet another valuable lesson from World War II. Germany, currently the banker of Europe and arbiter of European immigration policy, is a force for good—when integrated within NATO and the European Union, and as a non-nuclear partner with nuclear Britain and France. Russia is Russia, whether communist or not, and causes trouble when it looks westward into Europe. And the United States must always fight its natural isolationist proclivities to stay engaged abroad and to put out small fires before they become global conflagrations.

The ending of World War II is also instructive. The settlement of 1945 followed the destruction and occupation of German, Italy, and Japan. All these Axis countries were monitored by peacekeeping troops of the victors, which, incidentally, still have bases inside the borders of their former enemies. Their constitutions were rewritten by the Allies; their militaries were disarmed; and they were made allies of the winners.

We sometimes believe the far milder Versailles Treaty of 1919 that formally ended World War I caused World War II. It probably did, but certainly not in the way that most think: Versailles was not too harsh, but rather combined the worst of both worlds in superficially humiliating Germany without concrete efforts to occupy its ground and monitor its postwar recovery. The Allies did not repeat that mistake in 1945 and the world has so far earned a peace of sorts for seventy, rather than a mere twenty, years.

The tragedy of World War II was that 60 million people perished to confirm that the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain were far stronger than the fascist powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy—a fact that should have been self-evident in 1941 and in no need of such a bloody proof, if not for prior British appeasement, American isolationism, and Russian collaboration.

Peace? Not for a long time...

From The Times of Israel, 27 April 2016, by Sally Abrams:

If the people of Gaza were free to choose, what sort of society would they build?
...Hamas, in control of Gaza for a decade, is not in the business of building an economic infrastructure. They are busy building terror tunnels into Israel. The materials, manpower, and money that go into constructing an apparatus to terrorize Israelis could be put into the service of building an economy for Palestinians.
[But] even under different leadership, a leadership dedicated to peaceful coexistence with Israel, the idea of tourists visiting a Gaza hotel or restaurant will take time to catch on. Probably a long time.
...what [would] people in Gaza choose for their future if they were free to do so.
[Surely] they would jump at the chance to advance themselves economically, to build a better future for their children, to embrace peace while building something amazing alongside Israel.
...yet another survey [shows] widespread Palestinian support for terror against Israelis.
... Gazans celebrated last week after a bus in Jerusalem was blown up. Hamas took credit for the attack.
... How long would it take to prepare the people of Gaza to live peacefully alongside Israel, to un-teach the toxic Jew-hatred in which these people have been immersed for decades? To help Gazans internalize the values that go into building a free, pluralistic, civil society?
...I don’t know the answer. maintain any hope for the [peace], we will need a lot of the [patience].

Clinton, Trump... anyone, but Obama

From Israel Today, 26 April 2016:

Everyone knows that the current Israeli and American governments don’t get along very well. And the Obama Administration’s hostility toward Jerusalem only seems to be increasing in its waning days.

The Obama White House has experienced “overwhelming frustration” in its dealings with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said US Vice President Joe Biden last week. Speaking at a gathering of the left-wing Jewish organization J-Street, Biden accused Netanyahu of “moving us and more importantly…moving Israel in the wrong direction.”

In survey results published this week, Israelis signaled that the feeling was mutual concerning President Barack Obama and his handling of American affairs.

Conducted on behalf of Israel’s Channel One News, the poll found that a solid 51 percent of Israelis believe that no matter who wins the upcoming US presidential election, the end result will be a positive change for the Jewish state.

Only 8 percent felt there was a chance US-Israel relations could get worse than they are under Obama....

Has UK Labour "done something it doesn't agree with"?

From The Telegraph (UK), 28 April 2016, by Michael Deacon:

“Solution for Israel-Palestine conflict. Relocate Israel into the United States... The transportation costs will be less than 3 years of defence spending” A Facebook post shared by Labour MP Naz Shah in 2014
Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West, apologises in the Commons for remarks she made in 2014 about Israel and Jews 
Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West, apologises in the Commons for remarks she made in 2014 about Israel and Jews Credit: PA
Beat this for a piece of spin. Today the Labour party was in trouble over remarks one of its MPs, Naz Shah, made online in 2014 about Israel and Jews.

Journalists asked a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn whether Mrs Shah was anti-Semitic.

We’re not suggesting she’s anti-Semitic,” said the spokesman. “We’re saying she’s made remarks that she doesn’t agree with.”

...Poor Mrs Shah. A hostage to her own [statements that she doesn’t agree with].

Still, she had to act, and swiftly, to prove that she utterly rejected the comments misattributed to her by her[self]. There was only one thing for it. Keep schtum for two years, and apologise only once her views had been exposed in the media.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron demanded to know why Jeremy Corbyn had done nothing to discipline Mrs Shah. Shouldn’t he be listening to his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, who in March had said that if anyone in Labour expressed anti-Semitic views then “full stop, they’re out”?

Standing behind the Speaker’s chair, Mr McDonnell was out of most MPs’ sight. But I unmistakably saw him nod.

After PMQs, pressure continued to mount. Journalists asked Mr Corbyn’s spokesman to confirm that the Labour leader had the authority to dismiss Mrs Shah as a party whip. “Of course, he’s the leader,” said the spokesman. “Having met with her, he’s chosen not to.”

News of this decision did not meet with universal acclaim. Desperately, Mrs Shah had a go at apologising to MPs in the Commons. “I fully acknowledge I have made mistakes,” she said, “and I wholeheartedly apologise for the words I used… I truly regret what I did…”
It wasn’t enough. An hour later, Labour announced that she was suspended from the party.  “Jeremy Corbyn and Naz Shah,” said a statement, “have mutually agreed that she is administratively suspended from the Labour Party by the general secretary.”

Look at the wording of that. The party leader, who decided that Mrs Shah should face no consequences, agrees that she’s subsequently been suspended by someone else.

I wonder how Labour members feel now, when they look back at last September’s leadership election. Are any of them beginning to worry that they did something they don’t agree with?