Friday, April 16, 2021

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Israel has made it, now it needs to grow up
At independence, Israel was little more than a spark of light – a tiny spark – in the Jewish world. From a total of 11.5 million Jews alive on the 5th of the month of Iyyar in the Jewish year 5708, (May 14, 1948), only 650,000, or 6% lived in Israel. In contrast, the day Israel was founded, some five million, or 43% of world Jewry were living in the United States.

Fast forward 73 years and that little spark of light is now the sun in the Jewish solar system. With 6.9 million Jews out of a total of 14.9 million, not only is Israel the largest Jewish community in the world by far with 47% of world Jewry living within its boundaries, by 2030, the majority of world Jewry will be living in the Jewish state.

As for America, although half a million Jews immigrated to the US since Israel was founded, the total number of Jews in America stands today at a mere 5.7 million. American Jewry has been reduced to just 38% of the world Jewish population. The implications are straightforward. Since 1948, virtually all of the growth in the Jewish world population has happened and is continuing to happen in Israel.

Israel's transformation into the center of the Jewish world isn't just a question of demographics. Most Torah learning that is happening in the world is happening in Israel. Most Jewish literature is being written in Israel. Jewish advances in everything from medicine to economics and business, to science, engineering, culinary arts, visual arts and more are happening in Israel. Jewish history is being researched in Israel and is being made in Israel. Israel is the present of the Jewish people and the future of the Jewish people.

Aside from everything else, this state of affairs exposes the manifest stupidity of the claim that anti-Zionism is anything other than antisemitism.

Although Israel's position at the center of the Jewish world is undeniable, it has gone largely unnoticed by most Israelis. Most of the Israelis who are engaged with Diaspora Jewry continue to act as though Israel – with a per capita GDP higher than Japan's – is an underpopulated, impoverished backwater that cannot survive without the support of our wealthy and more secure brethren in America, Australia or France.

So too, most Israelis are unaware of the revolution the country has brought to Judaism itself. In the space of three generations, Israelis have taken their grandparents' practices from the ghettos of Europe and the melachs of North Africa and Arabia and turned them into a dynamic, eclectic living, breathing creed. Judaism is the rhythm of life in Israel. In every neighborhood, village and town, the Judaism that is lived in Israel has an electric vibrance. Israeli music, fashion, customs, prayer, settlement, religious studies, agriculture, and cooking are separately and together expressions of a spiritual renewal the likes of which no one imagined, or planned.

It is the organic outgrowth of the reunification of the people of Israel and their faith in their land. Few have noticed any of this or considered its spiritual and cultural significance, let alone recognized its potential.

The reformation of Jewish life is not Israel's only huge achievement that has been largely overlooked and underappreciated by the people of Israel. They have also largely missed the transformation of Israel's global position. The ongoing domestic debate regarding the goal of Israel's policies in relation to Iran's nuclear program is a testament to this lack of national self-awareness.
Melanie Phillips: Isi Liebler's moral courage
The death in Jerusalem of Isi Leibler at the age of 86 has robbed the Jewish world of one of its towering figures at a time when it is particularly ill-equipped for such a loss.

Leibler, who was head of the Australian Jewish community before he immigrated to Israel, became a multi-millionaire global Jewish leader who was influential for decades on the international stage. His efforts helped pave the way for diplomatic relations to be established between Israel and China and for full diplomatic relations between Israel and India.

Counting Benjamin Netanyahu as a personal friend, he didn't flinch from criticizing Israel's prime minister in public – and reportedly to his face – when he thought Netanyahu was getting things badly wrong.

He gathered round his Shabbat table like-minded thinkers, writers, academics and public figures who could help supply his voracious need to inform himself ever more widely, as well as bolster what increasingly felt like the resistance movement of the Jewish people against a world spinning off its moral and political compass.

Leibler is perhaps best known for his seminal role in the campaign to free Soviet Jewry and his single-handed battles against the World Jewish Congress.

In 1959, he launched a press and lobbying campaign that brought the plight of Soviet Jewry first before the Australian parliament and then to the United Nations. Arguably, no other individual made a more significant contribution to the eventual exodus of the Soviet Jews some three decades later.
Eventbrite Removes San Francisco State University-Sponsored Webinar With Palestinian Terrorist Leila Khaled
Eventbrite has removed a San Francisco State University-sponsored event featuring Leila Khaled — a member of US-designated terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) — from its platform for violating its terms of service.

The move comes after The Algemeiner reported that SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicity and Diaspora Studies (AMED) program was planning an April 23 Zoom webinar, facilitated by the Eventbrite platform, featuring Khaled as a speaker.

“Eventbrite is committed to empowering event organizers to gather for their chosen purpose, so long as they don’t violate our Terms. Due to one of the speaker’s affiliation with a foreign terrorist organization, this event violates our Terms of Service, so we have removed it from our platform,” an Eventbrite spokesperson wrote in an e-mailed response to The Algemeiner.

The April 23 event, “Whose Narratives? What Free Speech for Palestine?”, is co-sponsored by SFSU’s AMED program and moderated by the university’s Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, who has previously been criticized by Jewish groups for her rhetoric against pro-Israel students. It marks the second attempt by the organizers to host an event with Khaled as a speaker. In September 2020, an online seminar featuring Khaled — who took part in the hijacking of a Tel Aviv-bound commercial flight in 1969 — was dropped by Facebook and the videoconferencing provider Zoom, and was taken down from YouTube after partially airing.

Asked about the April 23 event, a Zoom spokesperson told The Algemeiner that the company was “reviewing the facts of this event to determine if it is consistent with our Terms of Service and Community Standards and will decide on an appropriate course of action after that review.”
  • Friday, April 16, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

From Ma'an:

 Restrictions and military checkpoints prevented worshipers from reaching the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform the first Friday prayers in the month of Ramadan.

The occupation forces set up their checkpoints and spread in large numbers in the streets, roads and neighborhoods of Jerusalem leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Wadi Al-Joz, Al-Sawana, Sheikh Jarrah, Bab Al-Sahira and Al-Amoud), in addition to an intense spread in the old roads of Jerusalem and the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Zionist criminal occupiers must have really been working overtime to prevent tens of thousands of Muslims from reaching the site.

But the very next part says:

The Islamic Endowments Department estimated the number of worshipers in Al-Aqsa who were able to reach it on the first Friday of the month of Ramadan at 70,000.

Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, Director General of the Endowments for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs, said: “The conditions are promising and the numbers are flocking to Al-Aqsa with a continuous increase, a year after it was closed during Ramadan and the people were unable to pray there under the shadow of the Coronavirus."

Sheikh Al-Khatib added, "The numbers that arrived from the West Bank are estimated at 10,000, as he stated, in addition to the worshipers from inside Palestine" who continue to arrive today to perform the Maghrib, Isha and Taraweeh prayers at Al-Aqsa.

 It is almost like the article is written by a robot. The contradiction between "Israelis are preventing Muslims from worshiping" and "tens of thousand of Muslims are worshiping" is simply not noticed. 

From Ian:

How Israel kept the Arab Spring from becoming the winter of its discontent
Israel had much to fear 10 years ago. But the scenarios its leaders feared either didn’t come to pass, or occurred at a much lower level than expected. Chemical weapons did not reach the hands of terrorists; Egypt remains very much committed to security cooperation with Israel; jihadist organizations did not emerge as a major threat to Israeli citizens or soldiers; King Abdullah sits securely on the throne in Jordan.

The outcome is even better when one surveys how Israel’s adversaries fared. Iran, which enjoyed a wave of success in the early years of the Arab Spring, has been on the defensive of late. Senior commanders like Qassem Soleimani and key allies have been killed, it continues to suffer stunning intelligence failures around its nuclear program and its economy is in shambles under US sanctions.

The Sunni jihadist networks have also been hit hard. The Islamic State’s caliphate was smashed, and al-Qaeda-linked groups have rejected it in Syria as senior leaders continue to be eliminated or spend long stretches in hiding.

At the same time, moderate Sunni states have come together around opposition to Iran and Turkey, while signing normalization agreements with Israel.

Though a number of factors played into the outcome, Netanyahu is credited for his leadership in navigating the drastic changes over the last decade, even by many who are not supporters of his policies in other realms.

“I personally disagree with Netanyahu’s views on peace with the Palestinians and the JCPOA,” said Byman, of the Brookings Institution. “However, given his beliefs, he played his hand very well. He helped foster discontent with the [Iran nuclear deal], which Trump withdrew from, and in general was able to use Iran to forge new relations with important states like the UAE. More broadly, he was able to work with Russia — though it was often difficult — as the US decreased its role in the region. Overall, Israel has emerged from the last decade with new or stronger ties to important regional players and has not had to make concessions on the Palestinian issue.”

“I think that some of his decisions have been correct,” said Svetlova, who served in the opposition as an MK while Netanyahu was prime minister, “such as the non-involvement in the Syrian civil war.”

Looking at the entire period, Netanyahu’s overall policy was correct, said Brun. “Israel took advantage of the chaos, or the war, to operate with relative intensity against existing and emerging threats. “
Analysis: Israel’s three-front conflict with Iran
The attacks noted above have generally been measured and below a particular threshold as not to elicit a military response that would ignite a regional conflict. However, the amount of attacks on the nuclear, Syrian, and maritime fronts are intensifying during a time when Iran is seeking a renewed nuclear deal after years of heavy sanctions by the Trump administration.

It is also noteworthy to mention the uncharacteristic amount of leaks sourced from unidentified Israeli security officials about the maritime and Natanz attacks. The policy of strategic ambiguity has seemingly disappeared as detailed reports attributing Israel to attacks have been published mere hours after military operations have been executed – which in itself has caused a stir among some Israeli defense officials.

Additionally, Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert added to the cascade of leaks by revealing detailed information to the Israeli media by remarking that the April 11 explosion at Natanz was caused by a bomb planted over ten years ago.

The leaks about covert operations only encourages an Iranian response and serves no operational purpose.

It is difficult to ignore the significance of Iran being attacked on three fronts in the span of less than a week. It isn’t a coincidence and the attacks are meant to send a message that Israel is willing to escalate the conflict despite the Biden administration’s attempt to salvage the nuclear deal.

Whether this strategy will deter Iran or force it to harden its position has already produced some unfavorable results. Nevertheless, what is occurring is unprecedented, and on a course towards a regional conflict that neither country is likely looking for.

Media Ignore Outrageous French Court Acquittal of Antisemitic Murderer
France’s highest court has ruled that a man who savagely attacked and killed his Jewish neighbor by throwing her out of the window of her Paris flat was not criminally responsible as he had smoked a large amount of marijuana, and therefore will not stand on trial.

The decision sparked outrage and shock from the local and global Jewish community, with many Twitter and Facebook users taking to social media to express their disgust at the atrocious miscarriage of justice.

However, virtually the entire media has elected to turn a blind eye to this grave injustice, with the result being zero mainstream coverage. To date, only Jewish news outlets and French media have touched the story.

On Wednesday, the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the French judiciary, upheld a 2019 Paris court decision that Kobili Traoré, who in 2017 broke into the home of his 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish neighbor, Sarah Halimi, before proceeding to beat and then kill her, was not fit to stand trial.

The police reports of the incident documents claims that Traoré shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) before throwing her out of the balcony of her home in a clearly antisemitic crime. However, because Traoré had consumed a significant quantity of marijuana, the court ruled that he could not be held responsible for his actions.

The media serve the critical role of keeping our public officials honest, and exposing injustice where it occurs. It is HonestReporting’s role to keep the media honest, and ensure that the public can trust news coverage, safe in the knowledge that it fully, fairly and accurately reflects developments so that injustice is not allowed to occur unchecked.
  • Friday, April 16, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

I stumbled upon this most interesting 1931 book where two non-Jew, Heywood Broun, a journalist,  and author George Britt,  take a look at antisemitism in America, specifically in New York City.

It attempts to understand and document antisemitism, and some of the authors' observations are worth revisiting. The writing style is breezy and often dotted with dark humor.

For example, here they discuss the charge that there are "too many Jews." Yet even when there is only one, it is "too many."

Franco may indeed have been the first Jew in America, and was certainly the first Jew in Massachusetts.  (He did return to England where he converted to Anglicanism.)

Here's another example where Jews can do no right:

Even in 1931, antisemites were quick to say that some of their best friends were Jewish.

The book notes that Jews will often make light of prejudice against them, although saying that they "thrive" on it is a little bit of a stretch:

The centerpiece of the book is a look at how Jews are excluded from various fields of employment, universities and clubs. The authors come up with a startling statistic:

One point made is that humor may in fact be the best way to fight prejudice.

As those who read this blog know, I fully support ridiculing and satirizing antisemites of the old and new kind. This is a great observation on how well that can work.

  • Friday, April 16, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Palestinian news site Amad published an op-ed by Nidal Khadra pushing the Khazar myth.

The Zionist movement falsified history by claiming that the Jews of the West and Russia, immigrants to the settlements, are ethnically and religiously pure, in order to be able to promote their immigration to the settlement that is called Israel.
Note that all of Israel is a "settlement."

It was difficult for the Zionist movement to convince the Jews of the East of the Zionist ideology, because they were living In the Arab and Islamic East, in safety and reassurance, in addition to the purity of their biblical beliefs in which are difficult to introduce Zionist thought easily.
That's very amusing, since practically all of those Jews who lives in "safety and reassurance" in the Arab world were ethnically cleansed by their friendly neighbors - and the majority decided to go to Israel for some reason.

The Zionist movement has resorted, since its inception, to falsify the historical narrative and create facts that prove that the Western Jews and Russians immigrating from Western Europe and Russia to Palestine, that they are pure Jews by race and belief.
This genius thinks that Ashkenazic Jews didn't consider themselves to be Jewish - until the Zionist convinced them that they were!

Many historical accounts, most notably the thesis of the Egyptian thinker Jamal Hamdan in "The Anthropological Jews" confirm that the Jewish immigrants from the West and Russia are Jews from the Tatar Khazars and have nothing to do with the Jewish race, which belongs to the descendants of the Prophet Jacob and his eleven tribes.
Eleven tribes?

Khadra then castigates the Arab world for not doing enough to expose these facts to the world. 

The author, who lives in Gaza, appears to be a researcher for the Cairo-based Arab Democratic Center for Strategic, Political and Economic Studies.

The Khazar myth is similar to Holocaust denial, denying that Jews are a people and denying that Jews have ever had any connection to Jerusalem - all popular Arab antisemitic theories that masquerade as historic debate. With the exception of Holocaust denial, none of them are covered in the definitions of antisemitism by the IHRA or its opponents, which is a significant gap in those definitions. 

  • Friday, April 16, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

JTA reports:
 Two liberal pro-Israel US groups, J Street and Americans for Peace Now, are backing a House bill to be presented this week that would list actions Israel may not fund with US money.

The measure, which will be introduced by Democratic Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota and was first reported by The Intercept, would restrict Israel from using US funds to detain Palestinian minors, appropriate or destroy Palestinian property or forcibly move Palestinians, or annex Palestinian areas.

The endorsement by two groups that describe themselves as pro-Israel and McCollum’s new seniority as the chairwoman of the defense subcommittee of the powerful Appropriations Committee suggest that the bill could attract broader Democratic support than previous attempts to restrict how Israel spends US assistance. Americans for Peace Now is a member of the umbrella Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Aid from the US already has strings attached - and it explicitly bars using the aid for anything but defensive purposes.

From the current Congressional Research Service report on Foreign Aid to Israel:

The 1952 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement and subsequent arms agreements between Israel and the United States limit Israel’s use of U.S. military equipment to defensive purposes. The Arms Export Control Act (AECA, 22 U.S.C. §2754) authorizes the sale of U.S. defense articles and services for specific purposes, including “legitimate self-defense.”  The AECA (22 U.S.C. §2753) states that recipients may not use such articles “for purposes other than those for which [they have been] furnished” without prior presidential consent. The Act stipulates that sale agreements entered into after November 29, 1999, must grant the U.S. government the right to verify “credible reports” that articles have been used for unauthorized purposes. The Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, as amended, also contains general provisions on the use of U.S.- supplied military equipment.

 It is the statutory responsibility of the Departments of State and Defense, pursuant to the AECA, to conduct end-use monitoring (EUM) to ensure that recipients of U.S. defense articles use such items solely for their intended purposes. The AECA also provides authority to the President (through a presidential determination) and Congress (joint resolution) to prohibit the sale or delivery of U.S.-origin defense articles to a recipient country if it has used such articles “for a purpose not authorized” by the AECA or the FAA.

And there is more:

Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, prohibits the furnishing of assistance authorized by the FAA and the AECA to any foreign security force unit where there is credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. The State Department and U.S. embassies overseas implement Leahy vetting to determine which foreign security individuals and units are eligible to receive U.S. assistance or training.

There are already multiple mechanisms in place to do exactly what the critics of Israel are insisting on. In fact, some of the same people sponsoring this bill wrote a letter to previous Secretary of State Pompeo asking him to look into this very issue. It is unclear if he ever answered,  but in 2016 Israel critics in Congress demanded answers from a State Department that was decidedly more hostile to Israel about how the US aid was being used, the answer was that Israel was doing nothing wrong. 

If there are already rules in place prohibiting Israel from misusing American funds, and there are already audit mechanisms, as well as a methodology to formally request audits on specific issues, then what does a new Congressional bill accomplish?

The bill is meant to do only one thing: to demonize Israel.

The bill will never pass just as previous versions didn't. It is a PR move to get headlines in newspapers that indicate that Israel is an untrustworthy partner, that it is an enemy and not an ally.  The very existence of the bill is meant to create a slander amongst Americans that Israel is scheming to steal US tax dollars, that Israelis are taking money from poor Americans, and that they are lying to the US government. It sure isn't doing anything to either save Americans money nor to save Palestinian lives. 

The rationale behind the bill is not too different from what Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said recently: "The Jews in [pre-war Europe] took over the economy and politics and exploited the resources of these peoples for their own benefit." That's what McCollum is saying Israeli Jews are doing to Americans.

That is why this bill is antisemitic. 

The antisemitism doesn't even end there.  McCollum told The Intercept, “I don’t want $1 of U.S. aid to Israel paying for the military detention and abuse of Palestinian children.” But her earlier bill H.R. 2407 demanded that the US give $19 million annually to NGOs that supposedly protect Palestinian children. 

Which NGOs? McCollum has been working closely with Defense for Children International - Palestine, which is linked to the PFLP terror group. She took text from lying DCI-P reports in drafting her anti-Israel bills - reports that included 17 year old members of terror groups as innocent child victims of Israeli aggression.

So while she self-righteously says she doesn't want $1 of US aid to go towards hurting Palestinian children, she demands $19 million of US aid to go to a group whose members have been  leaders in the PFLP which is responsible for the murder of Israeli children - including Rina Shnerb.

This is cynical. It is outrageous. It is motivated purely by hate for the Jewish state. Yet it is being supported by self-declared "liberal Zionists."

Thursday, April 15, 2021

  • Thursday, April 15, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar, speaking on Iraq's Al-Etejah TV, has some interesting theories about Jews.

The [Arab] regimes that subscribe to the Neo-Arab-Zionism, which emerged after Christian and Jewish Zionism... How come they do not ask why the Holocaust happened? Was it because those who burned [the Jews] were criminals, or was it because the Jews in those countries took over the economy and politics and exploited the resources of these peoples for their own benefit?

As historical evidence, see how many countries deported Jews. Every single country in Europe deported the Jews, because they spread corruption in those countries, controlled their money, exploited their economies for their own benefit, and collaborated with the enemy in times of war. Therefore, the local people hated them and deported them. So the Holocaust was not an extraordinary case, because every single country in Europe deported the Jews and killed Jews. The evidence for that is what happened on the eve of World War Two.
Remember in 2017 when Hamas put out a huge public relations campaign to pretend that they took antisemitism out of its charter (they didn't) and declared in a new document that they had no problem with Jews, only Zionists?

Apparently, no reporter does, because MEMRI released this story six days ago and no one thought it was newsworthy. Including the many media outlets who believed the lie that Hamas repudiated antisemitism. 

From Ian:

After last year’s lockdown, Israelis back at parks to celebrate Independence Day
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis flocked to beaches and parks across the country Thursday, barbecuing, waving flags and craning their necks for a glimpse of the Air Force fighter jets’ flyby to mark the country’s 73rd Independence Day.

While most wore face coverings or had masks strapped around their chins, the scenes looked nearly identical to those from the pre-coronavirus era. After an early wave of the pandemic tamed celebrations significantly last year, Israelis were allowed to celebrate freely this year, with restrictions drawn back almost entirely.

As a result, families flocked to national parks and beaches, filling many to full capacity. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority issued a statement early Thursday afternoon urging civilians to avoid traveling to the Tel Ashkelon National Park in the coming hours due to overcrowding.

The Tze’elon, Shikmim and Amnon beaches at the Sea of Galilee were also shuttered to additional visitors after reaching full capacity, the parks authority said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Air Force planes jetted across the country to mark the occasion. The flyover, a popular and iconic feature of Independence Day celebrations, is passing over more cities and towns than usual this year in what the Israel Defense Forces has called a “salute” to all Israeli citizens.

Last year, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the flyby saluted medical staff over the nation’s hospitals.

Ben-Dror Yemini: On this Independence Day, Israelis have a lot to be proud of
There is no point in denying that after four consecutive election rounds in two years, the atmosphere in the country is tough and even irritating.

And while the public discourse, as filled with discontent as it is, paints a seemingly gloomy picture, the people of Israel are actually pretty pleased with their country - as they should be.

This is not due to blind optimism spurred by the festivities of the 73rd Independence Day. No, it is an actual fact solidified by concrete data.

Israel is placed fourth among OECD countries in the sphere of healthcare. And while the average happiness index score among OECD countries is hovering around 6.5 out of 10, in Israel the score is 8.5.

Indeed, the people of Israel are stronger than the eroding influence of its political system.

And while the voices of discontent among Israelis are indeed loud, they do not, in fact, represent the majority.

Israel's Gini index - a measure of the distribution of income across a population - reached a 20-year low in 2018, which means inequality gap is narrowing.

That is without mentioning the fact that Israel is ranked fifth in the world in intergenerational mobility - which means that an individual's wellbeing is less dependent on the socioeconomic status of his or her parents. In that respect, we have beaten countries such as New Zealand, Sweden, Germany and Japan.

According to one survey, however, as least 48% of Israelis are considering emigrating to another country. In reality though, Israelis tend to emigrate much less, at least compared to other OECD countries.

In fact, emigration from Israel has declined. In 1990, according to a study by Uri Altman, the rate of those leaving Israel was 5.3 people per 1,000. After about a decade, it dropped to 4.2 per 1,000 and by 2017 it stood at about 1.6 per 1,000.

It seems that despite warnings about people leaving the country en mass, the majority of Israelis have actually decided to put down roots in the Jewish State.

Independence Day torch lighters span in age from 18 to 102
Fourteen people have been selected to light the symbolic torches at this year’s Israel Independence Day ceremony on Wednesday night, according to Israeli news site Maariv.

The ceremony, in which 12 torches are lit to symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel, traditionally marks the transition between Israel’s day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and Independence Day marking the country’s founding in 1948.

Among those who are being honored as torchbearers are Ofri Butbul, an 18-year-old Israeli who saved the life of an elderly man she had gotten to know as a volunteer with a nonprofit organization, as well as Yaish Giat, a 102-year-old Yemenite Torah scholar who owns a spice shop and sells natural medicines.

A committee chooses the torchbearers, who are approved by Israel’s sports and culture ministers.

Giat was surprised to hear he had been chosen for the honor.

“People say it is a great honor. I do not know,” he told Ynet. “When I raise the torch I will wish that our nation love one another, that people will respect one another for the benefit of the Land of Israel.”

This year’s Diaspora representative, a recognition introduced in 2017, will go to Gabriela Sztrigler Lew, a volunteer from Mexico who turns 20 this week.

Lew has participated in more than 10 humanitarian missions with the Shalom Corps, an organization run by Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Jewish Agency, and assisting Holocaust survivors during the pandemic.
CEO of Pfizer proud of Israel's achievements on Independence Day
Israel offered Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla the chance to light an Independence Day torch, and although he declined due a scheduling conflict, the CEO did give a pre-recorded video speech at the event.

"I'm honored that you've chosen to pay tribute to Pfizer in this Independence Day ceremony," Bourla began.

"Along with other Jews in the world, I take immense pride in Israel. Pride in the fact that Israel is there for Jews everywhere, for us and for our children. Pride in Israel's achievements in science, technology, innovation, and so much more" he told the audience.

"This year, the partnership between Israel and Pfizer produced yet another groundbreaking achievement," he said. "Together we are demonstrating that through mass vaccinations, we can defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives. I want to thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and all the Pfizer colleagues in Israel. We have been shown that there is a path back to normalcy – and that is definitely something the entire world can celebrate."

The CEO concluded by saying "Happy Independence Day" in Hebrew.

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Palestinian parliamentRamallah, April 15 - Declarations by members of the party controlling the Palestinian Authority that unless their rivals or Israel make substantive changes to longstanding policies and practices, a long-delayed parliamentary contest that will likely see the ruling party fall from power will not take place as planned, have not elicited the anticipated changes that those declarations aimed to achieve, in particular the casting of that party as a confident source of leadership, party sources reported today.

Fatah, the now-dominant faction governing the autonomous Palestinian Authority in inland areas Israel vacated under a 1993 agreement, faces electoral defeat, according to recent polling, in parliamentary elections that have not taken place since 2007. Their chief rivals, the Islamist movement Hamas that staged a coup in the Gaza Strip that year and has since governed that coastal territory separately, stand to overtake Fatah in those elections, and for reasons not entirely clear to Fatah spokesmen, threats to call off the elections have not cast Fatah in the public imagination as demonstrating the swagger expected of leaders secure in their role who will attract popular support.

"It's weird - this isn't what we expected to happen," admitted Nabil Sha'ath, a longtime ally of President Mahmoud Abbas, who also serves as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. "We thought that the collective equivalent of threatening to resign unless we get what we want - a popular tactic among Palestinian government officials - would make us look like concerned public servants leveraging the government's public image to extract changes from the higher-ups. In fact it's had the opposite effect, namely it's made us look like a bunch of cowards afraid to face the wrath of an electorate that hasn't had a change to express its dissatisfaction with a corrupt, incompetent, short-sighted, thuggish, hypocritical, lying, repressive leadership in a decade and a half. An easy mistake to make."

Fatah stalwart Nabil Aburdeineh noted that the party had hoped to rely on Israel to provide a pretext for canceling the context and saving Fatah face, but that the Jewish State, preoccupied with its own election and post-election concerns, has so far failed or declined to play that role. "We thought Israel would come out and say, as they have many times before, that East Jerusalem Palestinians may not participate in Palestinian Authority elections," he acknowledged. "That's been our old standby for many years to avoid facing inevitable defeat. The danger to Israel's claim to exclusivity on control of the city has always been enough to spark that move on their part - but this time around they've stayed mum on the issue. What are we supposed to do - actually let people vote? That's crazy talk."

From Ian:

J Street and Americans for Peace Now back bill that restricts Israeli spending of US aid
Two liberal pro-Israel groups, J Street and Americans for Peace Now, are backing a House bill to be presented this week that would list actions Israel may not fund with U.S. money.

The measure, which will be introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., and was first reported by The Intercept, would restrict Israel from using U.S. funds to detain Palestinian minors, appropriate or destroy Palestinian property or forcibly move Palestinians, or annex Palestinian areas.

The endorsement by two groups that describe themselves as pro-Israel and McCollum’s new seniority as the chairwoman of the defense subcommittee of the powerful Appropriations Committee suggest that the bill could attract broader Democratic support than previous attempts to restrict how Israel spends U.S. assistance. Americans for Peace Now is a member of the umbrella Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“It’s time that Congress stand up and defend the human rights of the Palestinian people,” McCollum said Wednesday on Twitter.

Spokesmen for J Street and Americans for Peace Now confirmed that they backed the bill. The latter’s president, Hadar Susskind, emphasized that the bill does not condition aid to Israel but restricts it. Thus Israel may carry out the activities named in the bill, but would incur no penalty if it can show the actions were completed without the use of American funds.

U.S. assistance to Israel, $3.8 billion a year, overwhelmingly goes to weapons systems.

The bill requires State Department and General Accounting Office reporting on whether Israel is using U.S. funds to carry out the restricted activities, but it does not describe a mechanism to penalize Israel.

“The one thing this bill does is that it requires reporting,” Susskind said.

The bill expands prior attempts by McCollum to restrict areas where Israel may spend U.S. funds. McCollum has sought previously to keep Israel from spending U.S. funds on detaining Palestinian minors. Those bills attracted only a handful of backers, and no support from groups that described themselves as pro-Israel. Center and right-wing pro-Israel groups, chief among them AIPAC, have forcefully opposed the McCollum initiatives.

The Caroline Glick Show: Episode 1: The "accident" at the nuclear facilty: Iran, Israel and the Biden administration
In the premiere episode of the Caroline Glick show, Glick and her co-host historian Gadi Taub take a deep dive into last weekend's "incident" at Iran's nuclear installation at Natanz. They discuss the stakes, the pathologies of U.S. Iran policy going back to 2002. Caroline, who was an embedded reporter with the 3rd Infantry Division at the outset of the Iraq War analyzed the consequences of the war on Iranian power. Gadi discussed the roots of America's "woke" Iran policy in Edward Said's anti-intellectual legacy. And Glick and Taub marked Israel's 73rd birthday considering the threats and triumphs of the Jewish state.

JINSA Podcast: When a Week Seems Like a Year: Parsing the Middle East’s Very Busy Week with John Hannah
JINSA’s newest Senior Fellow John Hannah joins host Erielle Davidson to break down an eventful week in the Middle East, from a potential coup to oust the Jordanian king to the latest Iran deal negotiations in Vienna. Mr. Hannah discusses why recent events in Jordan should remain on the U.S. radar and what internal dynamics within Jordan might have contributed to the alleged coup. He then unpacks some of the concerns facing the United States as it begins talks to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. John and Erielle also review Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s timely visit to Israel, as well as the conclusion of the Iraq Strategic Dialogue.

As expected, the Biden administration is actively pursuing reestablishing the Iran deal. Currently, US representatives are meeting Iran officials in Vienna who have demanded that US sanctions imposed under the Trump administration be removed first as a precondition to talks. Secretary of State Blinken, for his part, has claimed that Biden wants to “lengthen and strengthen” the deal.

This time around, there is no longer talk framing opponents to the Iran deal as warmongers, as the Obama administration and its allies did. It was a theme that was repeated endlessly and hammered into the public consciousness, that while the deal was not perfect, the choice was a binary one -- on between the Iran deal and war.

The argument worked.
The argument of limited choice has also been used in pushing the two-state solution -- but has been updated. 

At one time, the need to create a separate, independent Palestinian Arab state was justified on the basis of the threat of a "demographic time bomb," that the Arab population in Israel, Gaza and the "West Bank" would swamp the Jewish population. For example:
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) released its annual population survey for 2014, in which it predicted that starting in 2016, the number of Palestinians and Jews living in Israel and the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza "will total about 6.42 million each by the end of 2016 provided that current growth rates remain constant." The bureau also states: "The number of Palestinians in historical Palestine [Israel and the Palestinian territories] will total 7.14 million compared to 6.87 million Jews by the end of 2020." [emphasis added]
Obviously, this did not materialize.

So now there is another justification. As acting US Ambassador Richard Mills claimed at a UN Security Council meeting, the two-state solution "remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state."

That was back in January. In March, US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated at a UN Security Council meeting that "we believe this vision [of a 2 state solution] is the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state."

This might go back to December 2016, when then-Secretary of State John "No, no, no and no" Kerry said
If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic; it cannot be both, and it won't ever really be at peace.
Hold on.

It is one thing for the US government to pursue an admittedly imperfect deal and do an end-around to bypass Congress to make an agreement. It is one thing for the US to do this to ourselves. 

But it another thing to force this on an ally. 

The US has a history of deliberately influencing the Israeli elections, with the excuse that it was being done in the interests of peace. And it is a peace that on the other side of the world where the US will not have to live with the consequences for security. 

There is another comparison between the US attitude to Iran and the Palestinian Authority.

Back in 2016, Kerry defended the $150 billion in sanctions relief to Iran that could end up going to terrorist groups. A.J. Caschetta, a fellow at the Middle East Forum writes:

Kerry reiterated that, after settling debts, Iran would receive closer to $55 billion. He conceded some of that could go to groups considered terrorists, saying there was nothing the U.S. could do to prevent that.

“I think that some of it will end up in the hands of the IRGC or other entities, some of which are labeled terrorists,” he said in the interview in Davos, referring to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. “You know, to some degree, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that every component of that can be prevented.”

But he added that “right now, we are not seeing the early delivery of funds going to that kind of endeavor at this point in time.” [emphasis added]

Iran did not share Kerry's interest in economic recovery.

And it is almost painful to read the degree that Kerry is forced to hedge on how little the billions in relief would go to terrorism. Of course, much of it did go to terrorism and not towards the benefit of the Iranian people.

Caschetta sees the same wishful thinking in Biden's planned bypassing of the Taylor Force Act (TFA) to provide millions in aid to Abbas:
Likewise, Joe Biden believes that the advantages to funding Palestinians outweigh the unfortunate fact that a percentage of that money will be spent on missiles, salaries of imprisoned terrorists and pensions for the families of Palestinian "martyrs."
Add to that the Biden administration's support of the upcoming Palestinian Arab elections, which will allow Hamas terrorists to again directly participate with Fatah. This is a repeat of the elections in 2007, when the Bush administration OK'ed Hamas participation -- and culminated in the bloody coup that kicked out Abbas and Fatah and sent them packing, back to the West Bank.

Putting aside the legal issues of US aid in contravention of the TFA, Jonathan Schanzer, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies notes that US support for these elections is itself problematic:
This is somewhat awkward in light of the fact that Biden, while serving as a U.S. senator, spearheaded the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, which prohibits U.S. assistance if the Palestinian Authority is “effectively controlled by Hamas.”
According to that law, that Biden co-sponsored:
 (a) Declaration of Policy.--It shall be the policy of the United 
            (1) to support a peaceful, two-state solution to end the 
        conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in accordance with 
        the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution 
        to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (commonly referred to as the 
            (2) to oppose those organizations, individuals, and 
        countries that support terrorism and violently reject a two-
        state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
            (3) to promote the rule of law, democracy, the cessation of 
        terrorism and incitement, and good governance in institutions 
        and territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority; and
            (4) to urge members of the international community to avoid 
        contact with and refrain from supporting the terrorist 
        organization Hamas until it agrees to recognize Israel, renounce 
        violence, disarm, and accept prior agreements, including the 
        Roadmap. [emphasis added]
Of course, if Biden can work his way around the Taylor Force Act, he should have no problem contravening the law that he himself proposed.

This comparison between Iran and the Palestinian Authority also points to differences.

Consider the push by the media and progressive groups for the US to take action against Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The measures suggested include ending US support for the Saudis against the Iranian-supported Houthis in Yemen, cutting back US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and pushing against crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

This already started during the Trump administration.
Now, it is promoted as part of the Biden administration's vaunted support for human rights.

So on the one hand, we have the call for justice on behalf of Khashoggi, who was not a US citizen, contrary to media claims. He was in the US on the basis of an O-1 visa, which is granted to individuals with “extraordinary ability.” Putting aside his jihadist views, this journalist who wrote for the Washington Post did not even know English; his articles were translated by an employee at the Qatari embassy and his last article was delivered by this translator the day after Khashoggi was reported missing. The Washington Post did not respond when asked if they were aware of this background to the articles.

The US concern for justice for Khashoggi is not matched by a concern for justice for Malki Roth, whose murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, continues to be sheltered by the Jordanian government in defiance of the active extradition treaty between the 2 countries. While the Trump administration made clear it considers the treaty in force and broached the topic with the Jordanians, it never applied pressure on what they consider an ally. 

Can we expect the Biden administration's professed concern for human rights to extend to extraditing the self-confessed murderer of an actual American citizen?

Or is Biden going to follow Obama's example, as when he treated American lives cheaply when he paid the ransom for the release of Americans kidnapped by the Iranian regime?

One of Trump's last contributions towards the end of his term is the Abraham Accords, which will be a thorn in the side of the Biden administration, both in terms of its Iran policy and any attempt to bring a two-state solution to reality. 

In terms of Iran, Trump supported the steps Israel repeatedly took to defend itself against Iranian attempts to exploit its position in Syria and expand its sphere of influence against Israel. We have already seen that Israel continues this policy during the Biden administration, even while the US is engaged in negotiations with Iran in Vienna in an attempt to restart the Iran Deal. Thanks to the Abraham Accords, Israel is no longer alone in this fight.

In terms of the Palestinian Authority, while Biden will be able to some degree to renew US support for the Abbas regime, both politically and even economically, claims of the inevitability and necessity of the two-state solution have lost their sense of urgency. The normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world will continue and may even converge with a growing attitude among Arab Israelis to work within the system to improve their lives.

In terms of the lives of Arabs in Israel, Biden may find himself irrelevant.
In terms of the lives of Palestinian Arabs, if the best that Biden can do is offer a continuation of the Abbas regime, he has nothing of substance to offer.
In terms of Iran, the US may find that it cannot go back to 2015.

  • Thursday, April 15, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Israel's National Library, photos of the first Yom HaAtzmaut:

  • Thursday, April 15, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

Albert Arie, the oldest Jew in Cairo, passed away Thursday morning, at the age of 91.

Like the rest of the dwindling handful of Jews in Egypt, Arie was anti-Zionist and he was celebrated by Egyptians for his refusal to move to Israel as so many other Egyptians were forced to in stages as Egypt persecuted and expelled them starting in 1948.

Arie would often do interviews where he would speak about what life used to be like for Jews in Egypt, recalling how Egyptians used to be able to take a train directly to Jerusalem (although his claim that it took only two hours seems suspect.)

This interview took place last October:

JIMENA estimates that there only about four Jews left in Egypt, and most reports say the remainder are all or mostly elderly women.

However, last month some 13 Yemeni Jews fled their country and went to Cairo, so at least for a while, there are more Jews in Egypt than there have been for about ten years. It would be interesting to see if Egypt allows them to become citizens - current Egyptian nationality law would seem to allow them to apply to become citizens after ten years, since they come from a Muslim-majority country, and the president can override those requirements.

  • Thursday, April 15, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon

I wrote the original essay around 2002 and I have been modifying it every year since then. Here is this year's version:

I am a Zionist and I am proud of it.

I know that Israel has the absolute right to exist in peace and security, at least as much as any other country. Given Israel's unique history and the resurgence of antisemitism worldwide, Israel arguably has more moral legitimacy than any other nation on Earth.

In last year's essay, I wrote:
In a short period of time Israel made itself into a strong yet open nation that its neighbors can only dream of becoming.

And they are indeed starting to dream. Arab nations are waking up to the reality of Israel and the desire to be more like her.. Despite the constant incitement against Israel in their media, ordinary Arabs know that Israel treats its minorities with more respect, and gives them more civil rights, than Arab nations give their own Arab citizens. Miraculously, in recent years, we are seeing some of Israel's enemies now accepting that Israel has the right to exist and seeking to partner with it. This was unthinkable a few years ago, and the reason is because of Israel's strength, both militarily and economically. The biggest (and artificial) dagger that has been used against Israel for 72 years, the Palestinian Arabs, is quickly losing its effectiveness in the Arab world except for lip service. Israel is simply more valuable to the Arab world as a partner than as an enemy, and this is directly due to wise and forward thinking Israeli policies..
Little did I know what amazing changes would happen the following year.

This was the year that Israel signed normalization deals with the UAE and Bahrain, and peace deals with Sudan and Morocco. 

Who cannot be proud of such accomplishments?

The Abraham Accords go way beyond the specific treaties, though. They mean that Israel is now truly part of the Middle East, with economic ties as well as growing cultural ties. There was a sea change in the Arab world this year, and we now see articles that are pro-Israel and philosemitic in countries that would never have published those a year ago. Saudi Arabia is no longer an enemy. Qatar cooperates openly with Israel. Jordan and Egypt remain hugely antisemitic, but they are buying natural gas from Israel and there is no foreseeable danger of them becoming enemies again.

Clearly the people who accuse the Jewish state of anti-Arab racism were not prepared for Israel - and Israelis - eagerly embracing their new Emirati friends. It turns out that "militant" and "intransigent"  Israel is far more interested in peace with its Arab neighbors than any of Israel's many critics, who often belong to groups with "human rights" and "peace" in their names. 

If  those had been the only amazing accomplishment for the year, dayenu.  But there is so much more.

This has been an annus horribilis for everyone. And yet, under such trying circumstances, Israel one again showed the world how seriously it takes its responsibilities. 

Israel spared no expense to become the world's leader in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. It paid a huge premium on vaccines, and bargained with the leading vaccine manufacturer, in order to get them as early as possible - and to save as many Israeli lives as possible. That is the most basic obligation of any state, yet no other nation acted so above and beyond to save their people's lives. It has been a light unto the nations. 

We can safely assume and be just as proud that Israel has been equally innovative, creative and effective in fighting Iran's nuclear ambitions as it has been in fighting the coronavirus. 

Because of COVID, the number of Palestinian terror attacks went way down this past year. That is one reason the number of Palestinians killed while attacking Jews and the IDF also plummeted.  But the other reason there were fewer casualties is because the IDF keeps continuously improving, learning from its mistakes  It is truly the most moral army in the world, and I am proud of it. 

There seems to be no limit to what difficult problems Israel can solve. I am proud of how Israel responds to so many seemingly intractable problems. In the early days of the intifada there seemed to be no solution - but the IDF found one, managing to bring deadly suicide attacks from 60 in 2002 down to practically none today. For every "successful" attack (if you can use such a term) there have been many failed attempts, and these are truly miraculous. Hamas has been reduced to celebrating attacks that cause only minor injuries because most of their major attacks, thank God, are foiled. Today there are new challenges, but each one is met and solved with brains and creativity.

If Israel had a real Palestinian partner for peace, there would be peace.

Israel has succeeded and continues to succeed in its many accomplishments in building up a desert wasteland into a thriving and vibrant modern country, with its countless scientific achievements, incredible leadership in high-tech and the environment, world class universities and culture. Practically every computer and mobile phone being built today includes technology and innovations from a single small Middle Eastern country. A tiny nation, under constant siege, with few natural resources besides breathtaking beauty, has used its smarts and strength to build a modern success story.

Zionists have every reason to be proud of the incredible achievements of the Jewish national movement. 

The word "Zionist" is not an epithet - it is a compliment.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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