Friday, December 26, 2014

Israel's Identity Problem

Israel has an identity problem. Is it a Jewish state that provides legal and material preferences for citizens of Jewish ancestry? Or is it a secular nationstate, but one that happens to be rooted in Jewish culture and the Hebrew language? For more than six decades Israeli politicians have maintained a useful ambiguity about this deeply existential question. But no longer. In elections in March, Israel’s voters will be forced to confront stark choices about the country’s national identity. In the absence of a formal, written constitution, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has embraced a game­changing “nation­state” bill that would award “national rights” only to Jewish citizens. The outcome of this crossroads election is by no means certain. Initially, polls suggested that Mr. Netanyahu might well cement his hold on power and accelerate Israel’s rightward drift. But the recent forging of a new political coalition between Isaac Herzog, leader of the left­center Labor Party, and Tzipi Livni, leader of the Hatnua, a small center­right party — who was sacked from the cabinet earlier this month, as Mr. Netanyahu called for new elections — suggests that there may be a viable electoral alternative. Mr. Herzog and Ms. Livni oppose the Jewish nation­state bill. They are old­fashioned Zionists, wedded to the notion that all of Israel’s citizens, Jewish or otherwise, are entitled to equal democratic rights. And unlike Mr. Netanyahu, they both understand that Israel’s continued control over the post­ 1967 occupied territories threatens its democratic character. Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence guarantees “complete equality12/26/2014 Israel, a Jewish Republic?­a­jewish­republic.html?_r=0 2/4 of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” So Israel may be a “Jewish state” in a cultural sense, but at least no more so than America can be called a “Christian state.” Israel was never intended to be a theocracy. It is also home to less than half of the world’s people who claim Jewish ancestry. Twenty percent of its citizens are not Jewish, but rather Muslim, Christian and Druze. And this minority is growing. Furthermore, most of Israel’s citizens who do claim Jewish ancestry are in fact secular, nonpracticing Jews. A large majority of its million­plus Russian immigrants are not even recognized as Jewish by the Orthodox rabbinical courts. A Jewish nation­state law would discriminate against these non­Jewish citizens — but it could also provide the quasi­judicial pretext for denying Palestinians citizenship if the ultraright get their way and Israel someday annexes the occupied territories. This is a bad idea in every conceivable way. In reality, Israel is a multiethnic, vibrant and largely secular society. This is clearly not a tragedy. It is actually what most of the country’s original Zionist founding fathers envisioned — a new, modern state in ancient Palestine where those Jews who so desired could become citizens of a nation like any other modern nation­state. “Israelis” would be seen not as members of the Jewish Diaspora, but citizens of their own state. Hillel Kook (1915­2001), an early Zionist leader from the Revisionist wing, thought of the new Israeli state as a “Hebrew Republic” — a place where Jews could leave behind the Diaspora. Instead of being Jewish Americans or Jewish Frenchmen, their identity would be defined in the first instance by their chosen citizenship in the new Israeli state — and not their Jewishness. They would be Israelis first — and would choose or choose not to practice their ancestral religion, just as most Frenchmen are Catholics who never attend Mass. Over more than six decades Israelis have created a distinct national culture, largely based on their language — always a key ingredient to any national identity. And this cultural identity is wholly separate from a Jewish Republic? ­ This definition of Israeli identity — one based on the Hebrew language and culture rather than religion — is a very good thing for the prospects of peace. The Palestine Liberation Organization and most Arab leaders already recognize the reality of the Israeli state. So why would Israeli leaders now want to define their identity from their neighbors’ in religious terms? Why does Mr. Netanyahu want to define his nation­state with precisely the same phrases used by Hamas, a nonsecular, fundamentalist party dedicated to the formation of an Islamic republic? Mr. Netanyahu himself is a secular politician. His insistence on a “Jewish state” seems to be only a prescription for endless conflict with his “Muslim” neighbors — and perhaps today a tactic to postpone further negotiations on the creation of a Palestinian state. The notion of a Jewish state is ultimately political poison for the Jewish Diaspora, and specifically for American Jews. If Israel is seen as a Jewish state, then the implication exists that some or all of America’s seven million Jewish Americans “belong” in Israel. They do not. They belong in the United States, and they’re not going anywhere. American Jews have thrived over the last hundred years, and in doing so they have enriched the secular and multi­cultural ethos of the United States. They can practice their faith as well or better in America than anywhere else. Their relation to the state of Israel is precisely the same as that of IrishAmericans to Ireland, or Italian­Americans to Italy. For all these reasons, talking about a “Jewish state” destroys a useful and wise ambiguity. Instead, Israelis need to celebrate their “Israeli” national identity. They should talk about Israel’s cultural and technological achievements. And talk about Israel’s security, too, and where its borders should be drawn so that the endless conflict between Arabs and Israelis can finally come to an end. Kai Bird is the author, most recently, of “The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames.”12/26/2014 Israel, a Jewish Republic? ­­a­jewish­republic.html?_r=0 4/4 Correction: December 25, 2014 An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Isaac Herzog, leader of the left­center Labor Party. He was not sacked from the cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A version of this op­ed appears in print on December 26, 2014, in The International New York Time AT 6:00:00 PM 0 COMMENTS

Monday, December 22, 2014

The new Euro-Muslim states

The new Euro-Muslim states

Op-ed: The Westernization of the Arab world has been replaced with the Islamization of Europe. The Arab League boycotted Israel from its very first day, and the 'European Union' with its new Muslim masters may now follow in its footsteps.
Published: 12.22.14, 00:33 / Israel Opinion
Once again, the "European Union" is forgetting about everything and dealing only with Israel and the Jews – a well-known and popular habit in Europe for hundreds (the Jews) and dozens (Israel) of years.

But this time it's different: The distance between the continent and the Muslim world is becoming increasingly shorter, and a new historical term can be coined: "Euro-Muslim states."

Just like the Arab world did all in its power to harm the young Israel, the same trend is taking shape in the European Union as well. While in the past we talked about the Westernization of the Arab world, we are now talking about the Arabization of Europe. The Arab League boycotted Israel from its very first day, and the "European Union" may now follow in its footsteps.

This may surprise many people, but there are already large citiesin Europe which will have a Muslim majority within five to seven years. Not just a huge minority, but an actual Muslim majority. And because cities determine reality these days, the coming years are expected to bring an extensive demographic and political change in the Euro-Muslim states.

The first European city which will have a Muslim majority by the end of the decade is Marseilles, the second largest city in France, where Muslims already make up 30% to 40% of the population. In 2016, the city will inaugurate a huge mosque with a 25-meter minaret and a prayer hall for 14,000 worshippers, fitting the huge community. This city has such a high crime rate that it's almost dangerous to live there.

Demographic censuses are banned in France, but according to estimates, the percentage of Muslims in the country has already crossed 13%.

A Muslim praying in Germany. 'If I were European, I would be very anxious right now. It's possible that the continent's Islamization is already an irreversible process' (Photo: Reuters)
A Muslim praying in Germany. 'If I were European, I would be very anxious right now. It's possible that the continent's Islamization is already an irreversible process' (Photo: Reuters)

By the end of the decade, a Muslim majority is also expected in Barcelona, Spain, where about 30% of residents are Muslims and there is a huge demand for more and more mosques.

There are smaller Spanish towns like Salt, where 40% of resident are already Muslims. The Muslim immigration rate to Spain is huge, and so is the birthrate, which leans on the welfare policy of the clumsy, suicidal giant called the "European Union."

Another city where a Muslim majority is expected very soon is Brussels, which is ironically the capital of the "European Union" and where 25-30% of residents today are Muslim. Islam is more powerful than the Catholic Church in Brussels.

In Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden, 25-30% of residents are Muslims and 40% are foreigners. The city has an alarming crime rate. In the capital of Stockholm, "only" 20% of residents are Muslim.

The same applies to Rotterdam and Amsterdam – in both cities, 25% of residents are Muslims – and Luton, which is located 50 kilometers north of London. Luton is the third largest city in England, and its white residents are already a minority – only 45%. The rest are Muslims and Asians.

The socialist parties are trying to gain support among these new huge communities, knowing that attacking Israel will be seen very favorably there. But the socialist rule marks an even quicker increase in the percentage of Muslims in the continent, as the socialist are in favor of continuing the crazy, legal and illegal, immigration of Muslims to the continent.

If I were European, I would be very anxious right now. That's the reason why right-wing parties are beginning to rise in Europe, seeing this transformation in the face of the continent as an eternal disaster.

These parties will increasingly take over the continent in the coming years, and that will cause greater shocks to the point of future civil wars. And it's also possible that the continent's Islamization is already an irreversible process.

It's a shame that little Israel is unwillingly inserted into the internal shocks in the continent (why is Israel the European Parliament's business anyway?), but punching the Jews and gaining legitimacy has always been a European game, whether among the Christians or, now, with the new masters – the Muslims.

Friday, December 19, 2014

EU Backs Palestinian Dictatorship

These European parliaments are also turning a blind eye to the fact that, under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, there is no respect for the rule of law, free speech, transparency or accountability.
These Western parliamentarians are in fact acting against the interests of the Palestinians, who are clearly not hoping for another corrupt dictatorship in the Arab world.
"The situation in Palestine does not conform at all with democracy or the rule of law... Wake up and see the loss of rights, law and security." — Freih Abu Medein, former Palestinian Authority Justice Minister.
"Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] wants to concentrate all authorities in his hands and the hand of his loyalists. He's acting in a dictatorial way and wants to be in control of everything, especially the finances." — Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary General of the PLO.
By turning a blind eye to human rights violations, as well as assaults on freedom of expression, the judiciary and the parliamentary system in the Palestinian territories, Western parliaments are paving the way for a creation of a rogue state called Palestine.
European parliaments that are rushing to recognize a Palestinian state are ignoring the fact that the Palestinians have been without a functioning parliament for the past seven years.
The Palestinian parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC], has been paralyzed since 2007, when Hamas violently seized control over the Gaza Strip and expelled the Palestinian Authority [PA].
These European parliaments are also turning a blind eye to the fact that, under the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, there is no respect for the rule of law, free speech, transparency or accountability.
This week, the European Parliament also adopted a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood in principle. A total of 489 MEP's voted in favor, while 88 were against.
Ironically, the EU Parliament vote coincided with an unprecedented crackdown by the Palestinian Authority leadership on the Palestinian Legislative Council and its secretary-general, Ibrahim Khraisheh, in Ramallah.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the arrest of Khraisheh for allegedly criticizing PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Following strong protests by leaders of various Palestinian factions, who described the decision as a flagrant breach of freedom of expression, Abbas was forced to backtrack.
But for Abbas, this was not the end of the story. After canceling the arrest order against Khraisheh, Abbas dispatched policemen to the parliament building in Ramallah to prevent the top official from entering the compound. The presence of the policemen at the main entrance to the parliament building drew sharp denunciations from many Palestinians.
The Palestinian Legislative Council building in Ramallah. (Image source: Alaraby)
Khraisheh was removed from his job because he dared to criticize the Palestinian government for arresting Bassam Zakarneh, head of the public employees' union in the West Bank. Many Palestinians have also denounced the arrest of Zakarneh as an assault on workers' rights and an attempt to intimidate them.
But the EU Parliament and other parliaments that voted in favor of recognizing Palestinian statehood did not see a need to comment on Abbas's measures against the PLC and one of its senior officials.
EU parliamentarians who voted in favor of Palestinian statehood are most likely unaware of what the former PA Justice Minister, Freih Abu Medein, had to say about the rule of law and order in the Palestinian Authority.
Abu Medein drew a bleak picture of what the future Palestinian state would look like. In a damning article he published last week, Abu Medein wrote: "The situation in Palestine does not conform at all with democracy or the rule of law, because the Palestinian mentality is too coarse to cope with transparency of the law and its regulators and provisions."
Abu Medein's scathing attack, which is directed first and foremost against Abbas, ended with an appeal to Palestinians to "wake up and see the loss of law, rights and security" in the areas controlled by the PA and Hamas.
The former Palestinian Authority justice minister is not the only prominent Palestinian who seems to understand that a Palestinian state under the current circumstances would be anything but democratic.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary-general of the PLO who until recently was considered one of Abbas's top confidants, was quoted last week as strongly condemning the Palestinian Authority president's "dictatorial" rule.
Referring to Abbas by his nom de guerre, Abed Rabbo said: "Abu Mazen wants to concentrate all authorities in his hands and the hands of his loyalists. He's acting in a dictatorial way and wants to be in control of everything, especially the finances. I don't know what this man wants and why he's behaving in this way. What will happen after Abu Mazen's departure?"
The parliament members of Sweden, Britain, France and Portugal who voted in favor of recognizing Palestinian statehood do not seem to care about their Palestinian colleagues, who have been deprived of carrying out their parliamentary obligations as a result of the power struggle between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah faction.
Nor do they seem to care if the Palestinian state would be another corrupt dictatorship where there is no room for the rule of law, transparency or freedom of speech.
Obviously, Western parliamentarians see no wrongdoing or evil in the actions of the Palestinian leadership and Hamas. They are prepared to vote in favor of a Palestinian state even if it does not appear to be headed toward democracy and transparency.
These Western parliamentarians are in fact acting against the interests of the Palestinians, who are clearly not hoping for another corrupt dictatorship in the Arab world. By turning a blind eye to human rights violations, as well as assaults on freedom of expression, the judiciary and the parliamentary system in the Palestinian territories, Western parliaments are paving the way for the creation of a rogue state called Palestine.

 by Khaled Abu Toameh

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The dilemma is, why do we spend millions of dollars each year supporting an organization that passes Resolutions but never takes the time to implement them

Unlike UN General Assembly resolutions that are considered more matters of political expedience than matters of law, the UN Security Council resolutions are serious matters, matters that can lead to sanctions and even military response.Under the terms of Resolution 1373, the UN Security Council “decided that all States should prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, as well as criminalize the willful provision or collection of funds for such acts.  The funds, financial assets and economic resources of those who commit or attempt to commit terrorist acts or participate in or facilitate the commission of terrorist acts and of persons and entities acting on behalf of terrorists should also be frozen without delay.

Read more: UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) | Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks | The Blogs | The Times of Israel
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The Council also decided that States should prohibit their nationals or persons or entities in their territories from making funds, financial assets, economic resources, financial or other related services available to persons who commit or attempt to commit, facilitate or participate in the commission of terrorist acts.  States should also refrain from providing any form of support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts; take the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts; deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, commit terrorist acts and provide safe havens as well.”
Why, then, is this Resolution, unanimously accepted, still one of the best kept secrets around?
For if it is not a secret, then how come the world continues to funnel billions of dollars to terror entities such as Hamas? Why does the UN continue to embrace countries like Qatar, like Turkey that provide a safe haven to known terrorists and support organizations that facilitate terrorist groups? And why is it that no one talks about the obvious, that country after country is doing its best not to comply with binding International Law they find inconvenient?
One could assume that perhaps the fault rests with the language in which the Resolution is written which might lend a basis for misinterpreting or misunderstanding it, though the language is quite clear and comprehensive, or perhaps the voting abstention of some members could be an excuse, but there were none.
It is becoming clearer and clearer that in today’s world, the inconvenient truth dictates that such a Resolution continues to be kept in the drawer where it has been safely tucked for the last 13 years. Exposing it, enforcing it might undermine the status quo of a politically correct world run and guided by some fearful, spineless leaders who are terrified of ruffling the feathers of those very same entities against whom this Resolution has been so carefully crafted.
It is also the same dread of the inconvenient truth that has led the blind world to make up, as Ms. Glick further states in that debate, “imaginary international laws” that “require” it to sanction Jewish projects on Jewish land in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem.
George Orwell  (“1984″)  would laugh to see his thoughts reflected in the behavior of the International organization founded to promote peaceful resolution to international problems choosing to redefine everything to appease the world’s bullies,  equating Jews trying to live in peace, building homes, with terrorists murderers launching 1000’s of rockets to kill Jewish civilians — In Orwell’s words that apply to our reality today  “war is peace”  “freedom is slavery”  and Jews wanted to pray quietly at their holiest place on the planet is “aggression”.
The dilemma is, why do we spend millions of dollars each year supporting an organization that passes Resolutions but never takes the time to implement them yet makes up imaginary laws and spends millions of dollars on enforcing them?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Israel’s proposed constitutional legislation to confirm its status as the “nation state” of the Jewish people has caused concern

 December 9 

Israel’s proposed constitutional legislation to confirm its status as the “nation state” of the Jewish people has not only generated controversy within Israel, where it has helped bring down the current parliamentary coalition, but has also drawn criticism from the U.S. and Europe. The draft legislation has been decried as extreme and undemocratic. (To be clear, no draft bill has been approved, only a set of compromise principles for reconciling several rather different versions; apparently, people do not have to read the bill, or know any of its provisions, to oppose it.)
These objections do not hold water. For one, ensuring Israel’s status as a Jewish nation state is a goal expressly endorsed by the same critics, when it comes to pressuring Israel into diplomatic concessions. Second, the law is far from unusual by Western standards: it actually does far less to recognize Jewish nationhood or religion than provisions common in other democratic constitutions. This post will consider the general parameters of the legislation in comparison to constitutional provisions of other Western democracies. Tomorrow, a second post will relate the law to the “two state solution.”
The nation state bills mostly constitutionalize the national anthem, symbols, holidays, and so forth. There is nothing racist, or even unusual, about having national or religious character reflected in constitutional commitments, as research by my colleagues at the Kohelet Policy Forumdemonstrates. Seven EU states have constitutional “nationhood” provisions, which typically speak of the state as being the national home and locus of self-determination for the country’s majority ethnic group. This is even the case in places like the Baltics, with large and alienated minority populations.
For example, the Latvian constitution opens by invoking the “unwavering will of the Latvian nation to have its own State and its inalienable right of self-determination in order to guarantee the existence and development of the Latvian nation, its language and culture throughout the centuries.” It continues by defining Latvian “identify” as “shaped by Latvian and Liv traditions, Latvian folk wisdom, the Latvian language, universal human and Christian values.”
Or consider the Slovak constitution, which opens with the words, “We the Slovak nation,” and lays claim to “the natural right of nations to self-determination.” Only then does it note the “members of national minorities and ethnic groups living on the territory of the Slovak Republic,” which are not part of the “We” exercising national self-determination.Then there is language. Israel has Hebrew, the majority language, Arabic, and English (a leftover from the British Mandate) as its official languages – and new bill does not change that. This is very unusual. Most multi-ethnic, multi–lingual EU states give official status only to the language of the majority group. Spain’s constitution, for example, makes Castilian Spanish the sole official national language and requires all citizens to know it, even if their mother tongue is Basque or Catalan. Most exceptionally, Ireland grants “primary” official status to Gaelic, though only a small percentage of citizens actually speak it. This is an obviously enshrines the state’s special relation to the Irish ethnic group.
Then there is religion. Contrary to common conception, Judaism is not the official religion of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state. (It has no official religion, but all religious groups get funding from the government). Nothing in the proposed bills establishes a religion.
In this respect, Israel is far more liberal than the numerous European countries with an official religion. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, seven European countries (from Iceland to Greece) have constitutionally-enshrined official religions, despite large Moslem minorities, to say nothing of atheists and other Christian denominations. Moreover, in five European countries the head of state must actually belong to the official religion. In Israel, by contrast, the president certainly can be a non-Jew, and indeed a Druze has been one (on an acting basis).
It is noteworthy that most of the European constitutions affirming a particular national heritage are both recent and involve nations with sizable ethnic minorities. It is hard to understand why what works for them should be so widely denounced when it comes to Israel.
[Comments now enabled.]

Eugene Kontorovich is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, and an expert on constitutional and international law. He also writes and lectures frequently about the Arab-Israel conflict.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Iran Is Playing With Fire

Iran is playing with fire Analysis: Did the IAF strike in Syria in response to public declaration by Iranian Revolutionary Guard on transfer of advanced missiles to Hezbollah?

 Published: 12.08.14, 00:06 /

 Israel Opinion
The strikes in Syria on Sunday afternoon, which have been attributed to the Israeli Air Force, were likely intended to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry from Iran to Hezbollah. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard continues to play with fire by equipping Hezbollah with arms that have the capability to cause widespread losses and destruction in Israel. Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter The appraisal is based on the fact that the targets were in two distant areas – one near the international airport in Damascus and the other in Dimas, west of the capital, mere miles from the border with Lebanon. It is widely believed that shipments of missiles and other arms destined for Hezbollah land in Iranian cargo jets at the airport in Damascus, then transferred to a Syrian military storage site, until they are sent to over the border to Lebanon. It is reasonable to assume that today's strike, if it actually was undertaken by the IAF through Lebanese airspace, was launched based on precise intelligence and after all operational and strategic aspects were considered. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has previously announced the three red lines according to which Israel takes action on the northern front. The transfer of "game-changing" weaponry to Hezbollah Chemical weapons Any harm to Israeli sovereignty Since there had been no recent case of breaking Israeli sovereignty, the likely assumption is that the attack was undertaken because of high-end weaponry transferred to Hezbollah or the transfer of chemical weapons – or both. Regardless, it is reasonable to assume that Defense Minister Ya'alon approved and ordered the attack. Today's strike was reminiscent of the May 2013 attack which was attributed to the IAF, when advanced, precise missiles, of the Fateh-110 variety, arrived on planes from Iran. The following night a large Syrian military missile storage site near the Lebanon border was attacked. It is increasingly likely that today's attack – which has been attributed to the IAF but has not been confirmed by Israeli officials – was executed for similar reasons under similar circumstances. In recent weeks, many Hezbollah officials and senior members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have publicly boasted about the advanced ground-to-ground missiles which Iran supplied Hezbollah and which allow the terror group to threaten almost any target within Israel. Analysts believe the officials were boasting of the Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles. It is in the realm of possibility that several shipments of these missiles occurred, significantly upgrading Hezbollah's capability to unleash destruction on Israel territory as far south as the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. It is also likely that today's attack was intended to stop another shipment scheduled to arrive at Damascus international airport, from where it was to be transferred to the Lebanese border. Syrian President Bashar Assad, it must be noted, owes Hezbollah a great deal, as the Lebanese terror group defends his regime – which is likely why he carries the risk of Israeli attacks on his territory. It may be assumed that today's attack will not heat up tensions between Israel and Syria. Assad does not make a habit of responding to attacks on Hezbollah weapons transfers in his territory in order to avoid a destructive clash with Israel at a time when he is fighting for his survival against local rebels. It is also assumed that Hezbollah will not respond, either. In the past the terror group launched reprisal attacks over Israeli strikes which destroyed its weapon shipments, but only when these strikes took place within Lebanese territory. The Lebanese terror group has not responded to attacks on its organization in Syrian territory – since Hezbollah chief Nasrallah believes in defending only Lebanese land, while retaliating to an attack in Syria will serve as confirmation which he is receiving illegal weapon shipments from Iran. That's how it worked in the past. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that Hezbollah and Syria will maintain this policy and thus the IDF must maintain alert on the northern front – both on the ground and in the sky. It is reasonable to assume the IDF will change its missile defense deployment, reinforcing positions in the country's north. Meanwhile, it's likely that Iran will respond using armed Palestinian militias in the Golan Heights. Israeli officials did not address the reports in the past – and are not confirming them – in a bid not to corner the Syrian regime or Hezbollah. The Syrian military rushed to condemn the attacks, only because it serves its propaganda line – which claims cooperation between Syrian rebels and Israel.


 Posted by Michael Blackburn at 7:15 PM

The Chomsky Hoax

The Chomsky Hoax
Exposing the Dishonesty of Noam Chomsky