Thursday, April 30, 2020

From Ian:

3 more virus deaths bring toll to 222, as daily infections continue to drop off
The Health Ministry on Thursday evening said the country’s death toll from the novel coronavirus has climbed to 222 — three additional fatalities since the morning.

The overall number of cases rose to 15,946, up just 112 in 24 hours as the downturn in infections persisted.

Meanwhile, the gap between the number of recovered patients and active cases continued to grow, with the number of recovered patients rising to 8,561 — an increase of 328 over the previous 24 hours.

According to the health data, 105 people are currently in serious condition with COVID-19, 82 of them on ventilators. Another 79 are in moderate condition, while the vast majority (6,979) of the active cases are displaying mild symptoms.

There was no immediate information available on the latest three deaths.

In recent days, Israel’s infection rate has dropped off significantly, with only dozens of new cases being reported every 12 hours, and the government has announced steps to ease restrictions on businesses and travel.
How the Chimera of a “Palestinian Right of Return” Makes Peace Impossible
A review of The War of Return by Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf, All Points Books (April 2020) 304 pages

In a story that may be apocryphal, the late Christopher Hitchens claimed that he had once seen legendary Israeli diplomat Abba Eban comment that the most striking aspect of the Israeli-Arab conflict is how easily it can be solved: It is simply a matter of dividing the land of Israel into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The only thing standing in the way of this solution is the intense religious or nationalist attachment of both sides to the idea of an undivided nation between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed, this assumption that partition alone can bring peace has been the foundation of all of the international community’s peace efforts since the 1967 Six Day War. The only difficulty, it is believed, is persuading the two sides to agree to it.

Not so, argue former Israeli Knesset Member Einat Wilf and journalist Adi Schwartz in their new book The War of Return. What actually lies at the heart of the conflict, they say, is the Palestinian assertion of a “right of return.” Hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled from what became the State of Israel after its War of Independence, and the persistent demand that they and their descendants be allowed to return constitutes a refusal to accept a Jewish state on any part of the former mandate. For decades, the Palestinian national movement has insisted on the return of the Arab refugees, and for just as long, Israel has seen this demand as an existential threat that would immediately turn Israel into an Arab state by sheer weight of demographics. And it is this, Wilf and Schwartz say, that has rendered all peace initiatives futile. As Henry Kissinger once said, the minimum concessions that the Arabs demand are greater than the maximum Israel is willing to concede.

“Our research revealed that the Palestinian refugee issue is not just one more issue in the conflict; it is probably the issue,” Wilf and Schwartz assert. “The Palestinian conception of themselves as ‘refugees from Palestine,’ and their demand to exercise a so-called right of return, reflect the Palestinians’ most profound beliefs about their relationship with the land and their willingness or lack thereof to share any part of it with Jews.” As such, they say, the refugee issue has become “a nearly insurmountable obstacle to peace.”

In The War of Return, Wilf and Schwartz trace the convoluted history of the refugee issue and its centrality to Palestinian nationalist ideology, from its origins in 1948 through decades of war and peace efforts to the current stalemate between the two parties to the conflict. Along the way, they reveal much that has been misrepresented, deliberately concealed, and often consciously distorted throughout the long struggle over this tiny piece of emotionally fraught real estate. Presented with such evidence, and despite some innovative suggestions as to a solution, their conclusions, while often revelatory and convincing, are regrettably more than a little depressing.
The Tikvah Podcast: Matti Friedman: The End of the Israeli Left?
Have you ever seen the old murals that decorate the walls of Israel’s historic kibbutzim? They often feature young, brawny Jewish men and women working and plowing the land. They evoke the pioneering spirit of early Zionism: glorifying the mixing of sweat and soil, focused on what Hebrew labor could achieve through cooperation and collective action, and strikingly statist, even socialist. These murals are, in fact, a stark reminder that the Jewish state was founded in large part by Labor Zionists, and that the Israeli Left once dominated the country’s politics. Things have changed a great deal over the past 72 years. Israel is now a nation with a strong conservative consensus. The Labor Party of David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir—the political organization that erected the governing structures of the country—has been reduced to a mere three seats in the 23rd Knesset. And a poll conducted earlier this month shows that if elections were to be held right now, the party that dominated Israeli politics for decades would not win a single seat in the next Knesset.

What happened? And what does Labor’s decline tell us about contemporary Israel? Earlier this week, the journalist and author Matti Friedman wrote a piece in the New York Times examining “The Last Remnants of the Israeli Left.” In this podcast, he joins host Jonathan Silver to discuss the history and precipitous decline of socialist politics in Israel.

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory

Check out their Facebook page.

Simba, Everything The Light Touches Is Our Kingdom Unless Muslims Ever Ruled It, Even Briefly
by King Mufasa
Serengeti - Simba, look out over the pridelands. All the way to the horizon in all directions. Everything the sunlight touches, we hold sway. Except for that shadowy place, the badlands where the hyenas roam. And except for any part of the kingdom where the Islamic empire once held, no matter how fleeting that hold. Then it must remain under Islamic control forever, because reasons?
I admit I'm not entirely clear on that part, Simba. But apparently the way it works is, only the period after the seventh and eighth centuries count, unless Muslims were losing, in which case revert back to whenever they were winning and make that the default state. Yes, it seems arbitrary, but so do many things. My choice of a hornbill as a majordomo, for example. But we work with what we are given, Simba. One cannot insist everything conform to his will; that way lies misrule, ecological collapse, and failure of the pride. Just look at the Palestinians.

All the animals, the plants they eat, their nesting and breeding grounds, their role in this kingdom - all that exists in a delicate balance. The Circle of Life means everything we do affects everything else, ultimately even our own species and group. When the time comes you must assume responsibility for maintaining that balance even as you prey on the other creatures. It is a burden you must carry everywhere but the places where some forgotten Islamic potentate won a battle that gave him brief control over some random locale long ago. Then you must never set foot there no matter how grossly its helpless inhabitants are mistreated by its government. That would be colonialist and racist. You cannot judge a society just because it engages in barbaric behavior and glorifies it. Except your own. Then go ahead, because you probably deserve it. You're not Muslim. I think that's how it works.

Be wary of those who might usurp this kingdom from you, Simba. That uncle Scar of yours has always had designs on the throne. The hyenas have always resented our dominance of the food chain. It will not be easy to maintain control, balance, and family integrity without wisdom that I hope you develop while you're still young. If any of those characters converts to Islam and decides to take over the kingdom in the name of Allah, no one will ever be allowed to take it away from them, because Islamic control erases everything that came before even as it tries to shore up its legitimacy by anchoring itself in the preexisting holy sites of other faiths. Pride Rock will become Haram al-Scarif, and that will be it. Scar-al-Islam.

You get my drift.

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  • Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Jewish Voice for Peace Action, their political arm, issued this today:

Since I'm always interested in the foreign policies of potential members of Congress, I looked up Lopez' platform on her website.

Here is her entire foreign policy:

The United States must cease interference in the democratic processes of other nations, whether through the use of unilateral coercive measures (sanctions), forced imposition of neoliberal austerity plans through the IMF, or through both covert and overt warfare. In every corner of the world, frontline communities are innovating responses to food scarcity, housing shortages, and climate change. These solutions have the best chance of building toward a liberated future since they are time-tested, sourced locally, and implemented through collaboration.
I certainly agree that the United State shouldn't interfere in the democratic processes of other nations, but I don't think she means Israel. When she says "sanctions" she seems to be speaking about Iran.

Indeed, the only other time the word "sanctions" appears on her website is concerning Iran on her COVID-19 Response Page:

We also call for an end to sanctions on countries like Iran, so that their people can get access to the medical supplies they need in order to combat the COVID-19 crisis.
Forget the fact that the US sanctions on Iran doesn't include medical equipment, or that Iran has rejected medical aid.

This idiot thinks that Iran is a democracy!

What part of "Iran's Supreme Leader" does she not understand? When the only people who run in "elections" are approved by the current leadership, does she consider the voting to be a "democratic process"?

Of course Jewish Voice for Peace loves her - they can feed her any lies they want and she's stupid enough to believe them!

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  • Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Today the Islamic Waqf said that it will continue the closure of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the courtyards that make up the entire Temple Mount.

"This is because the reasons that led to these painful decisions for all of us are not gone, and they still exist and threaten the lives of people and lead to an increase in the spread of the epidemic."

This is reasonable and prudent. But there may be something that would change their minds.

A few days ago,  Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque, warned Israel against allowing settlers to ascend to the holiest place in Judaism, stressing that if the doors of the Mughrabi gate open to the "settlers," then all the doors of Al-Aqsa will open to tens of thousands of worshipers.

Typically Jews only go to the site in small groups that could easily maintain social distancing.

Apparently, all the concern about the health of Muslims in a potential "super-spreader" scenario of tens of thousands or even, during Ramadan, hundreds of thousands of Muslims visiting the sacred spot disappears if there is a chance of a couple of dozen of Jews visiting. 

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From Ian:

Germany outlaws all Hezbollah activities, including by political wing
Germany on Thursday officially announced that it has outlawed activities by the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. In a dramatic departure from Berlin’s previous policy, which was based on the European Union’s stance, the new ban does not differentiate between the group’s military and political wings.

Hezbollah activities “violate criminal law and the organization opposes the concept of international understanding,” said German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

The group, headed by Hassan Nasrallah, denies Israel’s right to exist and “supports the armed terrorist fight” against the Jewish state, his ministry said in a statement issued Thursday. “It is to be expected that Hezbollah will continue to plot terrorist acts against Israel and Israeli interests also outside the Middle East.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote on his Twitter account that Hezbollah denies Israel’s right to exist and threatens “with violence and terror and massively upgrades its rocket arsenal. It is important that Germany exhausts the means of the rule of law to take action against criminal and terrorist activities of Hezbollah.”

Early on Thursday morning, German police raided four groups associated with Hezbollah in various locations across the country to ensure that “evidence of potential sub-organizations in Germany could not be destroyed when this ban was announced,” the Interior Ministry said.
Netanyahu calls on Hezbollah to be banned worldwide
Israel and the United States have long pushed for Germany to ban the Shi’ite terrorist group. Germany previously drew a distinction between Hezbollah's political arm and its military units, which fought alongside President Bashar Assad's army in Syria.

Hezbollah symbols may not be used publicly in any assembly, or in print, audio and visual material in Germany, and its assets will be confiscated “to the benefit of the Federal Republic of Germany,” the Interior Ministry’s press release read.

The ban is because Hezbollah is a terrorist group, and also because it “calls for the violent elimination of the State of Israel and questions the right of the State of Israel to exist.

“The organization is therefore fundamentally against the concept of international understanding, regardless of whether it presents itself as a political, social or military structure,” the ministry said.

“Its violent denial of the right to exist of the State of Israel also fundamentally opposes Germany’s national ethos,” another Interior Ministry document states.

The order allows German authorities to “use all available instruments of the rule of law to crack down” on Hezbollah and its German sub-organization, the statement reads.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz praised the decision, saying it is “very important and values-based.”

Banning Hezbollah is “significant in the world battle against terror,” Katz added. “I want to express my appreciation to the German government for this step and am certain many governments in the Middle East and victims of Hezbollah’s terrorism share my gratitude.”

  • Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

This was shown on Libyan TV, where a "reporter" with a crude Israeli flag microphone asked shopkeepers if they thought Libya should trade with Israel.

In the segments we can see, the "reporter" was berated and beaten, to the delight of viewers.

(h/t iTi)

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  • Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

Electronic Intifada published an article from Hind Khoudary, cashing in on her fame from informing Hamas about a Zoom meeting between Gaza and Israeli peace activists, resulting in the abduction and disappearance of Rami Aman three weeks ago.

Khoudary, a former Amnesty contractor who described herself as a human rights activist until this incident, shows off the insanity that is the accepted Palestinian mentality - and this is accepted by the anti-Israel crowd as if it makes sense.

Her article includes these examples of what only can be described as psychological illness.

She describes her reaction to hearing Aman in the Zoom meeting say that most Gazans want peace with Israel: "I grew so angry listening to this meeting, I started to shake. This was normalization, pure and simple. To me, there is no greater sin."

No greater sin than Arabs speaking to Jews on Zoom as if they are human beings? Of Arabs seeking peace through dialogue?

Worse than gang rapes? Worse than genocide? Worse than blowing up buses and hotels and pizza shops filled with kids?

To Khoudary and Electronic Intifada, that is indeed the case.

She doubles down:
I believe that the worst sin any Palestinian can commit is normalization.
She paints herself as a victim:
I know that what happened may affect my future career, my relationship with international organizations I’ve worked with before, even my online presence. I have already been kicked out of a couple of online journalism groups.
But she knows that she has equally insane haters who share her pathology of Jew-hatred:
But I’ve also received a lot of support from Palestinians, ordinary folk, journalists and political activists.
And she breezily dismisses anyone who disagrees:
And to those who ask how resolution and peace can ever be reached without “dialogue,” the answer is simple: Peace begins when occupation ends.
Besides the absurdity of demanding that Israel just give back land without negotiations, Khoudary betrays what she considers "occupation" to be - and to her, it didn't start in 1967. She wrote earlier, "The root cause of Palestinian misery is the creation of the State of Israel."

Which means that she is not demanding Israel end "occupation" - she is demanding that Israel dismantle itself.

Only then, she says, could there be peace.

This is the reason the Arab world has grown tired of the Palestinian issue. Israel has given the Palestinians land and self-rule - more than any Arab regime has ever given any of their many minorities - and the response has been terror, rejectionism and demands way beyond the foolhardy Israeli peace offers of years past.

Khoudary's rants hurt her cause more than she can even imagine.

People like Khoudary think that they have support because a fringe of crazed anti-Israel activists show support for her extremist positions. Similarly, Palestinians still pretend they have support because the UN and the Arab League still issues statements bashing Israel and expressing solidarity with Palestinians. But they are closing their eyes to the truth - the Arab world and the Arab street are sick of them and their refusal to accept peace.

As long as Khoudary is being positioned as a spokesperson for Palestinians at sites like EI. even the Europeans will start to follow suit and give up on the idea of statehood for immature, intransigent Palestinians.

In that sense, I welcome Knoudary's screed where she claims that speaking to Israeli Jewish leftists is a worse crime than murdering Jews.  I welcome Electronic Intifada publishing such pieces.  Even as they think that they are bolstering their case (just as there was a fringe who used to justify Palestinian terror in the early 2000s) in reality they are the ones who are hammering the nails in the coffin of the Palestinian cause.

Any Palestinians who truly want peace, who truly want a peaceful Palestinian state side by side with Israel, should be in the forefront of denouncing Khoudary and her fans. It is a shame that such people are so hard to find.

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  • Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
This week was the 100th anniversary of the San Remo Conference that provides the legal basis for Israel's ownership of Judea and Samaria. I've never seen a convincing argument otherwise.

The international community has not accepted that reasoning, but it is an interesting exercise to figure out exactly how the world - specifically, the UN - has looked at Judea and Samaria over the years.

When did the territory become "Palestinian?"

When Israel regained that land in 1967, nobody referred to it and Gaza as "Palestinian territories."

The media sometimes called it "Israeli-occupied Jordan."  But practically no one in the world accepted Jordan's annexation of the territory in 1950, and the UN certainly didn't.

UN resolutions in the 1970s referred to "Occupied Arab Territories" but that was because they were including the Sinai and Golan Heights which no one considers to be "Palestinian." Often the documents punted on the idea of exactly whose territories were being occupied by saying "Occupied West Bank."

One might think that the date that they became "Occupied Palestinian Territories," which the UN still refers to routinely as the "oPt." would be the date that Jordan formally gave up its claims on Judea and Samaria in 1988 and recognized the PLO as the sovereign of the territory. Even though Jordan itself had no legal right over the territory, perhaps that was the fig leaf that the UN used?

However, the UN started referring to the west bank of the Jordan as "occupied Palestinian territory" years before. The earliest I can find is from the report of an international conference on the question of Palestine in 1983, which refers to "occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories."  (I found an earlier reference to the phrase in 1981 but it was from a speech by a Jordanian delegate to the UN and not from an official UN document.)

Also interestingly, the UN archive system seems to have changed the titles of some documents to refer to the "situation in the OPT" as early as 1979, but the documents themselves use no such language. Perhaps the UN archivist is trying to retroactively change history, but I'm not sure why they might have chosen 1979 as the start date.

If one does not accept Israel's argument from international law from San Remo, then there must be a date that the territories transferred to become "Palestinian." Transfer of territory is a legal matter that requires a legal transaction, whether it is a war or an agreement or an annexation. For those who do not accept Israel's claim, there is great confusion as to who legally owned the territory after the Ottoman Empire collapsed - was it the British? The League of Nations? And then, after 1948, was it Jordan?

But besides the Palestinians themselves, no one said that the territory was Palestinian - until the 1980s when the idea gained currency.

I still can't find that magic moment when the UN and the international community collectively decided that the land belonged to the PLO terror group, or to a people who nobody recognized as a people before the 1950s.

This indicates that the purported Palestinian ownership of the land has been more propaganda than law.

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 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

In Israel, Memorial Day (yom hazikaron) is the day before Independence Day (yom ha’atzmaut). It makes sense: you can’t think about the miracle of our Jewish state without remembering the 23,816 soldiers, police, and other security people who lost their lives so we could get it and keep it, or the 4,166 civilians who were murdered by terrorists who want to take it from us.

Israel is a small country. An equivalent number, adjusted for population, would be over 1 million Americans. Every Israeli knows someone who has lost at least one family member to war or terror.

When I cook or putter in my little workshop, I listen to the radio, to reshet bet, the news and talk channel of Israel’s public broadcast corporation. My favorite radio personality is a guy called Yigal Guetta. Guetta was born in the northern development town of Kiryat Shmona in 1966 to a family that immigrated to Israel from Morocco. He wears a black kipa and served in the Knesset on behalf of the Sephardic Haredi Shas party in 2016-7, but was forced to resign by his party after he revealed in an interview that he had attended the gay wedding of his nephew. He didn’t dispute the rabbis who demanded that he quit. He was and is a traditionally observant Jew. But family is family. Some years before that he was fired from a job as CEO of a small city when he accused the mayor of corruption. Like me, he likes to cook and sometimes describes traditional Moroccan recipes on the air. This is who he is.

But yesterday, I learned something about him that I did not know. He talked about one day when he was 8 years old, April 11, 1974. That was when Palestinian Arab terrorists (PFLP-GC) infiltrated Kiryat Shmona from Lebanon, and murdered 18 people, including 8 children. The terrorists first entered a school building, but it was closed for the Passover holiday. Then they moved on to a residential building, shooting everyone they saw and throwing grenades. The army was late to arrive, and Guetta’s brother and sister-in-law were among the victims.

He described how his parents were never the same after that. I can’t come close to imagining how it was for them.

You would think things would have changed since 1974, but because of our failure to take a consistently severe stand against our enemies – in Jabotinksy’s phrase, our failure to build an “iron wall” – Palestinian Arab terrorism continues. Just yesterday, maybe while Yigal Guetta was describing 1974’s events in Kiryat Shmona, a 62-year old woman was stabbed seven times, in the street in Kfar Saba. Fortunately she will recover, but less fortunately the terrorist, who was shot by a civilian security guard, will also live. Israelis all know the drill – he will get the best medical care available in the Middle East, spend a few years in probably the most comfortable prison regime in the world outside of the Scandinavian countries, and receive a handsome salary from the PA, funded by generous donations from the EU.

Terrorism won’t end until Israel finds the gumption to eradicate the Palestinian Authority that sponsors, funds, and promotes it. Indeed, the PA’s official media recently praised the terrorists that killed Guetta’s relatives as “martyrs” and “heroes.”

But you haven’t heard the worst part. The psychopathological post-Zionist contingent in Israel, combined with various American leftist groups and supported by the New Israel Fund, holds an annual“Alternative Yom haZikaron ceremony” which “mourns the loss of all those who fell in the context of the conflict – both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Do you understand? The PFLP-GC terrorists, the great “martyrs” and “heroes” of the Palestinian movement, who murdered 18 people in cold blood, including 8 children, including Yigal Guetta’s brother and sister-in-law, are mourned by some of their Jewish targets.

And not only them. The terrorist that exploded his bomb in the Sbarro Pizza restaurant in 2001, killing 15, including 7 children. The ones that hijacked the bus on Israel’s coastal highway in 1978, and killed 38, including 13 children. These Jews pray for them.

I simply cannot wrap my mind around this. I cannot understand why an Israeli Jew or indeed any Jew would mourn for those who met their ends when they murdered or attempted to murder us. Do Americans hold ceremonies to mourn the 9/11 terrorists? Do Russians cry for Hitler? The only word that adequately describes this is “insanity.”

It isn’t surprising that extremist anti-Israel groups like If Not Now and J Street would participate in this lunacy. But the largest Jewish organization in North America, the Union for Reform Judaism, is one of the event’s cosponsors. They even retweeted an announcement by the organizers of this event, and added their own words, asking people to “… Join us and thousands of others from all over the world as we join together in peace.”

One of the feelings invoked in me by yom ha’atzmaut is that the re-establishment and survival of a sovereign Jewish state in our historic homeland is a highly unique and remarkable event. If I were a religious person, I would say it is miraculous. Surely it was accomplished at great cost, and it continues to exact a cost in blood. We owe so much to the families who have lost their sons and daughters in the struggle against an implacable enemy, that to mourn the very ones that ripped the hearts out of those families is an obscenity.

The long struggle has been too much for some of us, and there are those who have descended into a syndrome of madness, who choose to draw close to their murderers by adopting their point of view. They hope, perhaps, that by sacrificing their own people they will purify themselves from the evil they have come to believe is inherent in their nation-state, and if truth be told, in themselves as Jews.

By forcing themselves to empathize with those who are capable of shooting Jewish children, they believe that they will be better humans, and therefore find a way to communicate with the Other so as to bring peace.

But at the end of the day, this strategy always fails; and they find themselves estranged from their people, while still despised by their enemies.

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  • Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon

I had a blast doing this interview. It goes for almost an hour but it is interesting throughout. Aboud is really a great guy.

Hope you enjoy it!

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

From Ian:

For first time, Israelis recovered from coronavirus outnumber those still sick
For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country earlier this year, the number of people in Israel who have recovered from the virus surpassed the number of those who are still sick, according to Health Ministry figures published Wednesday.

There have been a total of 15,782 confirmed carriers of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, of whom 7,929 have recovered. Of the 7,641 still sick, 120 have serious symptoms, 91 of them on ventilators, and 85 are in moderate condition.

The coronavirus has so far claimed 212 lives, with two people dying overnight, the Health Ministry said.

Since its Tuesday morning update, another 193 cases were confirmed, the ministry said.

One of the new fatalities was identified by Hebrew-language media as Rabbi Yaakov Koldetsky, 70, from Bnei Brak, an associate of ultra-Orthodox spiritual leader Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and a former Torah study partner of the late spiritual leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv.

He had been hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv a month ago, after being diagnosed with COVID-19 following his return from the United States. His situation deteriorated several weeks ago, and he died Tuesday night.

Top public health expert compared 'Zionists' to Nazis
A public health expert at the centre of criticism of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has a long history of making inflammatory statements, comparing "Zionists" to Nazis and wrote that "Jews" should reflect on the actions of the Israeli military, the JC can reveal.

Professor John Ashton, a former regional director of public health for north-west England, appeared on BBC Panorama on Monday to discuss the findings of an investigation into the failure to stockpile personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS staff.

But aside from offering his advice over health issues, Professor Ashton, who has been a long-time member of the Labour Party, regularly posts on social media on issues involving Israel and Zionism. In one tweet he suggested it was, "Time to isolate Zionists and all religious fundamentalists whatever colour of black."

An analysis of social media posts made by the former President of the Faculty of Public Health from 2012 until 2018 shows that he has frequently equated Zionism with Nazism.

Writing in November 2012 in response to Israeli military actions in Gaza, he stated: "Sickening to see Zionists behave like Nazis."

When challenged by former Labour MP John Woodcock over allegations that Hamas terrorists were using Palestinian families as human shields in the same conflict, Professor Ashton wrote: "The Nazi thing was not a distraction to the Jews in Europe. The Zionist thing is not a distraction to the Palestinians."

Following comments made in 2013 by Ed Miliband, the then Labour leader, that he would consider himself to be a Zionist, Mr Ashton, one of the initiators of the World Health Organisation's Healthy Cities Project, again went on the attack. In March 2013 he wrote: "Is this true? If Miliband is a Zionist what are the humanistic internationalists to do? Is this Labour Party policy?"

  • Wednesday, April 29, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
Seth Mandel wrote an important thread on Twitter:

Editors at major publications for years have treated this person as representative of the Jewish political world.Image
Said it before and will say it again: There needs to be a massive reformation in how the US media talks about Israel. Who they publish, who they run to for quotes, who they rely on as experts. Top-to-bottom--if indeed there is a bottom--bedikat chametz.
If your opeds and guest spots are going to someone who says Jews are Nazis, if your 'experts' are the ones who predicted Armageddon for recognizing Jerusalem's Jewish connection, etc., you really need to understand how deeply you've defrauded your readers/viewers and atone.
How many ppl are in your 'Israel & US Jewry' rotation who denied Jewish peoplehood simply because Trump recognized it? How many 'No, the Jews aren't a nation' tokens do you still publish? It's gut check time, folks.
Every oped you gave to Mairav Zonszein instead of, say, Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll is another al-chet you owe the heavens. How you've distorted a great religion because someone's name sounded Israeli enough for you to make them your token.
The worst part is, you don't think the Jews deserve more than this. 
Stephen Daisley added:
A righteous thread, but I'd go further than @SethAMandel. There is a real problem with non-Jewish editors consistently, almost exclusively, commissioning those willing to vilify the Jewish mainstream, Jewish communal groups, Israel etc. I question the motives of those editors. 

Dissonant voices naturally capture the attention of an editor. That's why e.g. the NY Times is far likelier to publish a Catholic priest defending abortion than one denouncing it. This is not that. This is more deliberate and more targeted.
There are respected liberal newspapers whose commentary on Israel is largely written by people most Jews have never heard of and who espouse views most Jews do not share. Yet non-Jewish editors hold them up to non-Jewish readers as representative.
This is not about identity politics. Anyone can write about anything as long as they know about it. (As a non-Jew who does just that, that's kind of a 'duh' point from me.) The problem is one of distortion and misrepresentation.
When your good, progressive newspaper consistently presents a distorted view of Jewish thinking (and treats no other community that way) you should stop and ask yourself exactly what you're up to. Because what you're up to isn't good or progressive. 
I'm not sure this is only a problem with non-Jewish editors. I think there are a high percentage of Jewish editors who have swallowed the "progressive" Kool-Aid and think that the people they follow on Twitter are representative of Jews as a whole. (This happens on other topics as well.)

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Sovereignty is not the same thing as annexation. Prime Minister Netanyahu knows this, which is why he is always careful to speak of exercising Israel’s sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and in the Jordan Valley. The media never seems to see this as a serious distinction, and often cites Netanyahu as speaking of “annexation,” as in this April 26, 2020 Jerusalem Post piece, “Netanyahu: I’m confident annexation will happen in a couple of months.”
In fact, Netanyahu never did say that, which the body of the same article makes clear. “Three months ago, the Trump peace plan recognized Israel’s rights in all of Judea and Samaria,” the article quotes Netanyahu as saying. “President Trump pledged to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Jewish communities there and in the Jordan Valley. In a couple of months from now, I’m confident that pledge will be honored, that we will be able to celebrate another historic moment in the history of Zionism.”
You don’t see the words “annex” or “annexation” in the above quote. You don’t see them there, because to speak of annexation would be to suggest that Israel is taking land that belongs to others and adding it to the State of Israel. Instead, the prime minister says clear as day, Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley are Israel’s lawful territories. They already belong to Israel, are part of Israel. And the U.S., under President Donald J. Trump has pledged to recognize this fact.
The difference between sovereignty and annexation is not just a question of semantics, but of two quite different actions. Writers that insist on using the “a” word strengthen the trope that Israel is an occupier of someone else’s land, that we acquired the land through aggression.  And that’s not fair. Or unbiased.
It’s propaganda. It tells the world that Israel is a thief. Which is not the case.
It is true that Israel, for instance, kept the official status of Judea and Samaria vague from 1967, hoping that by leaving something on the table, there would be something left to negotiate, for peace. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t always see these territories as belonging to anyone but Israel, ever.
And in fact, the status of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley as part of Israel isn’t just a matter of how Israel sees things, but a matter of international law and domestic Israeli law, too. There’s the December 23, 1920 Boundary Convention, as well as the subsequent Demarcation Agreement of 1923, (see: which protects these borders, and which were enshrined by Article 5 of the Mandate for Palestine which says these territories may not be ceded. Under Israeli law, there is the 1948 Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance, which states that any territory in the Land of Israel that is entered by the IDF, is declared to be under Israeli control and automatically comes under Israeli rule of law, every bit the same as for Tel Aviv: "Any law applying to the whole of the State of Israel shall be deemed to apply to the whole of the area including both the area of the State of Israel and any part of [Mandate] Palestine which the Minister of Defence has defined by proclamation as being held by the Defence Army of Israel."

The only thing missing is for Israel’s Minister of Defense to now declare these territories under Israeli control and to apply civilian law. In short, all that is needed is the declaration—to say: these are our territories—and to exercise the rights that attend that declaration by ending the state of martial law.
The fact that the United States, under Donald J. Trump, has agreed that this is so, underscores a point the media refuses to absorb: Israel has never engaged in an illegal occupation, and has every right to this territory, and has always had that right. It is ours and will always be ours. The U.S. declaration is by way of recognizing Israeli law, something some journalists can’t seem to bring themselves to do.
As I write this on the eve of Israeli Independence Day, I can’t help but think how good it would be for Israeli journalists to finally understand this—yes, even those who write for the supposedly pro-Israel Jerusalem Post—and stop spreading propaganda for the other side with misleading headlines. There really is a difference between exercising sovereignty and annexation, and I say vive la différence.

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From Ian:

JPost Editorial: Independence Day – Israel's 72nd birthday
Despite these daunting challenges, Israelis have by and large proved themselves exceptional at coping with the extreme situation and adhering to the strict regulations that have been imposed.

And although we, as a newspaper, have been critical of government policy and efforts in combating the deadly pandemic, it must be acknowledged that this has been uncharted territory that ministries and government officials have been thrust into. And their exhaustive, well-intended efforts must be applauded, while at the same time scrutinized.

Even more deserving of our thanks and gratitude are the thousands of healthcare workers who have placed themselves and their families on the front lines of danger to treat the thousands of corona patients in the nation’s hospitals and emergency rooms. The same goes for law enforcement officials and IDF soldiers who have worked tirelessly to help those in need.

The question is, what kind of Israel will emerge from the coronavirus challenge? One unexpected outcome of this crisis is that we have become a more caring people.

Will we fall back into the old patterns of conspicuous consumption and tall fences between neighbors? Or will we use the lessons of the past two months to help forge a more cohesive and compassionate society, which has seen signs of emerging?

At age 72, Israel can be proud of so much. And thanks to corona, those most simple attributes that form the basis of what makes Israel a great country have come to the forefront. Let’s hope they stay with us.
President Rivlin's greeting for Israel's 72nd Yom Haatzmaut / Independence Day

Israel at 72: A country under curfew salutes those fighting the coronavirus
Israel on Wednesday celebrated its 72nd year of independence without the traditional public revelry associated with the holiday as the coronavirus pandemic continued to impose itself on national life.

In a display of appreciation, official events were dedicated in honor of medical staff working to combat the virus and the Israeli Air Force gave a sky-high salute to those on the front lines.

The air force, which usually shows off its inventory of jets and helicopters in a cross-country flyover, instead only sent out a squad of four stunt planes that followed a flight path over the country’s hospitals and medical centers.

At each site the planes looped and circled in an expression of the nation’s appreciation for medical workers.

The IDF canceled the traditional flyover in a bid to get people to stay at home, as a nationwide curfew went into effect from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday evening, to prevent large gatherings as Israelis celebrate the founding of the state.

Israelis were told to stay at home and avoid crowding the streets and parks for barbecues and public parties, in a bid to avoid a fresh outbreak of the deadly pathogen.

In some places, the army and other security agencies also paraded jeeps and emergency vehicles by homes instead of setting up displays around the country and at bases, as is done in most years.

Independence Day is celebrated each year on the Hebrew date of the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Independence Day celebrations began on Tuesday night as the country transitioned from the sober Memorial Day.

The annual torch-lighting ceremony, a centerpiece of the shift to Independence Day, was prerecorded for the first time at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery and took place without an audience present. Mount Herzl, along with all other military cemeteries in the country, was locked on Monday to all visitors, to prevent gatherings on the annual remembrance day for Israel’s 23,816 fallen soldiers and terror victims.
Israeli Air Force Honors Medical Staff on Israel's 72 Independence Day

What Would the World be without the State of Israel?
Israel’s creation changed the life of every Jew throughout the world, whether they were Zionists or religious. It made everyone stand up taller and feel safer. And its continued survival led to a movement among the millions of Jews in the former Soviet Union to demand their rights after half a century of oppression.

While we worry about a revival of anti-Semitism in our own day in which Israel is the stand-in for traditional anti-Jewish stereotypes and scapegoats, without it, the fate of contemporary Jewry would be immeasurably worse. Those who grew up in the post-1948 world simply have no idea how much it changed the way Jews are thought of and treated. Israel was not merely the place of refuge for Holocaust survivors and nearly a million Jews from the Arab and Muslim world all seeking freedom; the creation of a home for the Jewish people also made it easier for Jews to live as equals even if they chose to remain in the Diaspora.

To its detractors, Israel is a disappointment because it fails to live up to some unrealistic standard of morality unmet by any democracy at war, as it has been for every moment of those 72 years. But the real Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East, as well as a haven for the arts and the sciences, and a “startup nation” that is at the cutting edge of so many advances for humanity.

Israel is a beacon of freedom for Jews everywhere, as well as a guarantor that the cycle of hate, oppression and slaughter that characterized Jewish history for 20 centuries would finally end. As such, it deserves the support of decent people—Jewish and non-Jewish—everywhere. While some mired in the fantasy world of anti-Semitism may dream about a world in which it never existed, the hope for the eradication of the one Jewish state on the planet is a manifestation of hate, not science fiction.

By Daled Amos

The fringe group If Not Now has found a new way to draw attention to itself this week:

Their argument is presented in a bulleted list:
o Israel controls Gaza's air and coastline, and six of Gaza's seven land crossings. --
This is according to Gisha. We will discuss the issue of "control" below.

o Israel reserves the right to enter Gaza at will with its military and maintains a no-go buffer zone within the Gaza territory. --
It's not immediately clear what the source is, but we can all agree that Israel reserves the right to defend itself against Hamas terror attacks.

o Israel controls Electricity: At certain points during the blockade, Gaza had electricity for only 4 hours a day  --
 but this is based on a Haaretz article from 2 years ago, that specifically says the reason is a temporary lack of diesel fuel

o Israel controls Water Supply: Less than 4% of water in Gaza is drinkable at this point --
"At this point"? But the Oxfam article used as the source, though undated, is from June 2017 according to the HTML code.

o Israel controls the Internet: the internet in Gaza is only available when electricity is available --
this is from Al-Monitor, which doesn't sink to accusing Israel of diabolical "control of the Internet" 
Their tweet includes a map from Gisha detailing the Israeli blockade of Gazan fishing -- up to 2016.

Also, note If Not Now hedges its bet by claiming that Israel is either occupying Gaza or exercising control.

Their basic argument seems to come from Gisha, which has a position paper from 2011 with an executive summary here, where they make their case, also heavily stressing that Israel has "control":
In 2007, Gisha published “Disengaged Occupiers: The Legal Status of Gaza”, a position paper in which it argued that the law of occupation continues to apply to all Israeli actions toward the Gaza Strip due to the significant control it still exercises over Gaza. “Scale of Control: Israel's Continued Responsibility in the Gaza Strip” updates our previous legal analysis and adapts it to reflect the changes on the  round and in the patterns of control exercised over the Gaza Strip by the various actors  since 2007, including as a result of the Hamas movement’s takeover of internal  control in Gaza.

This position paper illustrates how despite recent developments, Israel continues to control Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, the Palestinian population registry and passage of goods and people to and from Gaza. Israel still collects customs and value added tax for goods entering the Gaza Strip and maintains some physical presence in the Strip. Israel also controls Gaza’s infrastructure by virtue of its control over supply of electricity and other inputs to the system. [emphasis added]
The thing is, the European Court of Human Rights refuted this argument in 2015.

Marko Milanovic, who writes "EJIL:Talk!: Blog of the European Journal of Int'l Law" wrote a post in 2015 'European Court Decides Israel Is Not Occupying Gaza.' The case is Azerbaijan's claim that Gulistan is occupied by Armenia. In order to address the issues involved, the court defines what constitutes occupation.

And that is where things get interesting.

Milanovic quotes from the court decision in CASE OF SARGSYAN v. AZERBAIJAN, which notes that occupation requires foreign troops "with boots on the ground."
Military occupation is considered to exist in a territory, or part of a territory, if the following elements can be demonstrated: the presence of foreign troops, which are in a position to exercise effective control without the consent of the sovereign. According to widespread expert opinion physical presence of foreign troops is a sine qua non requirement of occupation[2], that is, occupation is not conceivable without “boots on the ground”, therefore forces exercising naval or air control through a naval or air blockade do not suffice. [emphasis added]
The source for that "widespread expert opinion" requiring the physical presence of foreign troops -- in refutation of If Not Now -- is The International Red Cross (ICRC):
2Most experts consulted by the ICRC in the context of the project on occupation and other forms of administration of foreign territory agreed that “boots on the ground” are needed for the establishment of occupation – see T. Ferraro, “Expert Meeting: Occupation and Other Forms of Administration of Foreign Territory” (Geneva: ICRC, 2012), at pp. 10, 17 and 33; see also E. Benvenisti, cited avove [sic], at pp. 43 et seq.; V. Koutroulis, Le début et la fin de l’application du droit de l’occupation (Paris: Éditions Pedone, 2010), at pp. 35-41. [emphasis added]
In its decision, the European Court, indicates that w/o the presence of troops, there is neither occupation nor "effective control," refuting both of If Not Now's own myths:
144. The Court notes that under international law (in particular Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations) a territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of a hostile army, “actual authority” being widely considered as translating to effective control and requiring such elements as presence of foreign troops, which are in a position to exercise effective control without the consent of the sovereign (see paragraph 94 above). On the basis of all the material before it and having regard to the above establishment of facts, the Court finds that Gulistan is not occupied by or under the effective control of foreign forces as this would require a presence of foreign troops in Gulistan. [emphasis added]
Milanovic puts it all together:
See what I meant? Replace “Gulistan” with “Gaza”, and there you have it!...I also very much doubt that the judges were really aware of the implications a categorical statement such as the one made here will have on the whole Gaza debate. If they were, I imagine that they would have avoided it like the plague.
A key part of the decision is that it not only decides that a physical presence is necessary, with boots on the ground, but it also directly refutes both If Not Now and Gisha by making clear that "forces exercising naval or air control through a naval or air blockade do not suffice."

The term "control" is, in any case, a nebulous concept. In that ICRC report which found the majority of legal experts require a physical presence, there is this footnote:
The notion of “effective control” is not found in treaty law; it reflects an idea developed in the legal discourse pertaining to occupation to describe the circumstances and conditions under which one could determine the existence of a state of occupation under IHL. As such, effective control is reached when the three criteria derived from Article 42 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 – and discussed infra in the report – are fulfilled [ (1) foreign forces are physically present in the territory of a State without its consent; (2) the authorities of the latter State lack the capacity to exercise authority in the territory; and (3) the foreign forces have the capacity to exercise authority over the territory]. (p. 17) [emphasis added]
All this is not to say that there are no legal opinions that agree with If Not Now -- the footnote quoting the ICRC indicated a majority opinion, not a unanimous one. And there may be a time that a court of international law decides that "control" without "boots" is enough. The point is that international law is based on precedent, and this legal decision by the European Court of Human Rights provides exactly that.

But another issue remains.

Forget about If Not Now and Gisha -- what about the International Red Cross itself?

In that Gisha report, it says on the bottom of page 29:
Contrary to the Supreme Court of Israel, international organizations such as the UN48 and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)49 continue to consider Gaza to be occupied territory...
Here is the source Gisha uses for the ICRC:
See for example, a news release issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which defines the Gaza closure as "collective punishment": Gaza closure, Not Another Year!, INT'L COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS, June 14, 2010, at: See also posts on the ICRC website in which Gaza is defined as an occupied territory: "In 2010, the ICRC reminded the Israeli authorities of their responsibilities under IHL towards the people under Israeli occupation and called for an end to the Gaza blockade". The ICRC in Israel and the Occupied Territories, International Committee of the Red Cross, 2010 at: [emphasis added]
This self-contradiction in the ICRC was already noticed in 2013 by Elder of Ziyon, in a post where he pointed out how the ICRC found a consensus of experts that Gaza was not occupied -- yet still claimed that it was. He also links to an earlier post by Marko Milanovic in 2009, making the point that occupation, in fact, does require troops on the ground.

Juan-Pedro Schaerer, ICRC Head of Delegation Israel and the Occupied Territories, responded to Elder of Ziyon's post:
The ICRC closely monitors developments in the Gaza Strip, since facts on the ground are crucial to determining whether the elements of effective control required for occupation continue to be met. While it cannot be said that the Gaza Strip is a "classic" situation of occupation, Israel has not entirely relinquished its effective control over the Strip. This control includes amongst other the almost total control over the borders of the Gaza Strip (except for the border with Egypt), the control over the airspace and the entire coast line, the control over who can move out of the Gaza Strip, the control of the population register, control over all the items that can be imported and exported from the Strip and the control over a no-go zone along the Gaza fence inside the Gaza Strip. These facts and others allow ICRC to determine that Israel exercises effective control and therefore remains bound by the law of occupation in the case of Gaza.
In other words, despite the consensus in the ICRC's own report, they are intent on making a special case out of Gaza.

As Elder of Ziyon notes, it is one thing when the UN mischaracterizes Gaza --
In the case of the ICRC, it is worse. Because the ICRC acts like it is the ultimate authority on international humanitarian law, so when it says Gaza is occupied - against the legal reasoning of the experts it consulted* - it has gravitas.
The issue becomes more interesting in a follow-up post he writes, A legal scholar details ICRC bias against Israel over "occupation" of Gaza, quoting Professor Avi Bell, an expert in international law who has written on the topic.

Prof. Bell notes:
The argument first used by Mr. Schaerer was taken near verbatim from one invented by Gisha, a political pro-Palestinian NGO. It is not an argument that has any basis in general international law.

Mr. Schaerer’s argument consisted of a list of factual assertions, some of which are obviously correct but irrelevant (yes, Israel controls Israel’s own land borders with Gaza), and some of which are obviously both false and irrelevant (no, Israel does not “control … all the items that can be imported and exported from the Strip” – Gaza imports and exports goods through its land borders with Egypt).

None of the factual assertions relate to the generally understood legal criteria for effective control as understood in international law, as ICRC officials would readily acknowledge if Israel were not in the dock. [emphasis added]
Rather than Gisha merely using the ICRC as a source in its report, their relationship appears to be symbiotic.

And, like If Not Now, Schaerer is so intent in emphasizing Israeli "control" that he get some details wrong.

Another point to keep in mind is that as mentioned earlier, that footnote in the ICRC report notes that "control" is an abstract idea and not originating in treaty law, which may be why it is anchored in those 3 criteria -- possibly to curb the kind of loose interpretation that the ICRC is using.

Another indication of the weakness of the ICRC's defense of its contradictory position is found in a second clarification that Schaerer sent:
In response to your comments and for the purpose of clarification, I wish to emphasize that the ICRC does not maintain that Israel has retained all elements of authority and governmental functions in Gaza. Rather, our position is that even after the withdrawal of its forces in 2005 Israel continues to exercise effective control over certain key elements of authority in Gaza and therefore remains bound by obligations under the law of occupation within the territorial and functional limits of the competences it has retained. This reflects a functional approach to the law of occupation that emanates from the underlying purpose and rationale of that body of law. In simplified terms it means that to the extent that an occupying power retains control of key functions and authorities in the occupied territory it also remains bound by the relevant provisions of the law of occupation. Where there is control there is responsibility. For an elaboration on this see T. Ferraro, Determining the beginning and end of an occupation under international humanitarian law, 94 IRRC 133, 159 (available online here:)
Prof. Bell points out, Schaerer clarification only makes matters worse:
Mr. Schaerer’s “clarification” is even more mystifying. He appears to be saying that the ICRC acknowledges that Gaza is not occupied by Israel, but that the ICRC claims that Israel can still be bound by some of the rules of belligerent occupation due to legally insufficient effective control. This is a novel theory that was advanced by Gisha after its earlier arguments that Israel “occupies” Gaza found no support among legal scholars not pre-committed to the Palestinian side. Needless to say, Gisha’s new theory has no basis in the text of any treaties, and it has never been applied against any other country in recorded history. In other words, it is a brand-new anti-Israel theory aimed to create legal duties that restrict the conduct of the Jewish state, but not of any other state in the world. [emphasis added]
Schaerer's attempt to defend ICRC's disregard for its own report by claiming a "functional approach" is making a difference without a distinction -- Prof. Bell notes that "I cannot find a single public statement of the ICRC that acknowledges that Gaza is not actually belligerently occupied by Israel."

This novel distinction is apparently only for the benefit of readers of the blog and makes no real practical difference in international law, except for the purpose of singling out Israel.

Despite all its scrambling in an effort to escape from the blatant discrepancy between its own report and its actions, in the end The International Red Cross reveals itself as a biased, as opposed to a neutral, organization.

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