Prezza on Gaza

I quite like former Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.

Here’s a man, by no means perfect, like all of us, but a man who, from humble origins rose to be Deputy Prime Minister.

I respect his lifelong battle for social justice and to better the lives of working people.

Yes, I know about 2-Jags, his affair, his hatred of eggs, especially when aimed at his head.

But there is something to admire in his pugnacity. He’s an old-style socialist and it shows.

His piece in The Daily Mirror today, ‘Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is a war crime – and it must end’, where he weighs in on the conflict on Gaza, is ignorant and provocative because of its ignorance.

And I am not alone in this view because, at the end of the article is a chance to vote if you agree or not, and all day the ‘No’ vote has been over 80%.

So let’s see what he has to say:

Imagine a country claiming the lives of nearly three times as many as were lost in the MH17 plane tragedy in less than three weeks.

Hey, John, heard about Syria? heard about the 170,000 deaths there and millions as refugees? Heard that in one day Assad kills more than in those three weeks?

Of course, comparing a greater evil does not excuse a lesser, but one wonders whether he wrote anything about Syria yet. So let’s check.

Well, I found this: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/06/tony-blair-wrong-on-syria_n_3879904.html where he agrees with his party leader Ed Miliband that military intervention in Syria is wrong. So, you might say, his distaste for toppling dictators has allowed Assad free rein to murder thousands of Palestinians, for example, in Yarmouk.

Difficult one, isn’t it John? Tony Blair was wrong on Iraq, he says, so Ed must be right on Syria.

Yet, I have not found that he has ever written about war crimes in Syria or anywhere else. Why is that?

A nation which blasted a hospital, shelled and killed children from a gunboat as they played football on the beach and was responsible for 1,000 deaths, at least 165 of them children, in just two weeks.

The death of those boys is horrifying.

There are no excuses.

Accidents happen in war – I know that’s easy to say when innocent life is lost. Yet, those boys were playing near an area where Hamas had been firing at the Israelis. What parent would allow his kids to be playing in a war zone in an area where Hamas were known to have been located. In those circumstances tragedy can happen.

Is Prescott suggesting it was deliberate?  Did the British never kill children in Afghanistan or Iraq? Does John know that 160 children died building Hamas’s terror tunnels by Hamas’s own admission. Does he care about that deliberate abuse of the children? Does he worry about the hundreds of kids, even babies, dressed in Hamas combat uniforms, toting weapons? Did he see the video of a father showing a kid how to fire a rocket launcher on a beach just like the one the four boys were killed on? What does John have to say about that?

Shelling a hospital? Which hospital is he talking about? Hamas fire from hospitals, store weapons in hospitals, conduct their operations from hospitals. All war crimes. Did John hear the recording of a phone call to someone associated with the Wafa hospital asking time and again if there were any patients in that hospital because Israel wanted to return fire coming from that building but, under international law, could not do so unless the hospital were evacuated completely? When that confirmation was given, the building was attacked. Not before. Does John even wonder why they would do that? Does he know it was being used as a command centre?

Gaza lost a hospital because it lost its protected status when Hamas chose to use it to fire at its enemy.

The Shifa hospital was also struck. Israeli images showed that 4 rockets had been fired from behind the hospital; one was intercepted over Ashkelon, one landed on or near the hospital, one fell out to sea and one also fell short in northern Gaza. In fact, 10% of all rockets fired from Gaza fall short. We do not know what damage they do or who they kill because Hamas are quick to clear up their own mess and we now know that thanks to Italian reporter Gabriele Barbati:

Twitter___gabrielebarbati__Out_of__Gaza_far_from__Hamas____

Let’s just read that again. ‘Out of Gaza far from Hamas retaliation. In other words, Hamas are intimidating journos in Gaza and hiding their crimes and the deaths they themselves cause. Yet, people like John Prescott are all too willing to attribute every death, every explosion to Israel, as if the other side wasn’t firing at all.

Surely it would be branded a pariah state, condemned by the United Nations, the US and the UK. The calls for regime change would be ­deafening.

An outrageous and calumnious statement full of moral equivalence and moral bankruptcy.

‘Regime change’? Is he suggesting Israel is a dictatorship like Iraq? The only democratic country in the Middle East, with a world-renowned independent judiciary, freedom of the press, full rights for all its citizens, freedom of religion? Is he serious?

Israel, a pariah state for defending itself against an Islamo-fascist murderous regime that deliberately uses its own people as political cannon fodder? How dare he suggest Israel can be a pariah state and not Iran or Syria or any number of oppressive regimes funding murder, intolerance, oppression of women and gays?

Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trots out the same excuses. Hamas “militants” in Gaza fired their rockets first. Israel has a right to defend itself. It needs to protect its citizens.

Excuses? Here’s a man who is not keen on a swift retaliation against an aggressor? Think again.

Err.. that was just a little egg, John, not 2000 rockets with high-explosives. And these are ‘excuses’?

And he’s right on all three counts – but as always with Israel this is not the full story. The military action supposedly targeting Hamas is so brutally disproportionate and so grossly indiscriminate that it makes it impossible not to view Israel’s actions as war crimes.

Does it? Who says? That’s opinion. Accusing anyone or any state of war crimes is a serious accusation. You need evidence, legal opinions, full investigations and, in Israel’s case, a ready kangaroo court to jump to conclusions. John needs to look up the laws of proportionality. He also needs to understand that this is asymmetric warfare with an enemy that fires indiscriminately at civilians (war crime) from urban areas (war crime) and then hides underground.

Indiscriminate. 1100 deaths, at least 40% combatants, in over 2000 separate attacks. That doesn’t sound indiscriminate. Warning people and evacuating them (where can they go!? You’d rather they die?) is not indiscriminate. Making phone calls, dropping leaflets is not indiscriminate. What is indiscriminate are the Hamas rockets, especially those dozens that fall short and kill their own people. But even that is a victory because journalists are not allowed to film it so they can blame Israel, and everyone complies nicely – or else!

When you are fighting an enemy that simply wants to murder you and your children, says so repeatedly, and proves its intentions with bombs, mortars, suicide attacks, missiles – what would you do to protect yourself and your family and how would you fight? Just think about it. Are you a military expert? Do you understand how Hamas operates? Really? Do you know that it actually wants people to die so that YOU are shocked because YOU have moral scruples and human empathy, but THEY do not.

THEY intimidate journalists, murder collaborators and drag them through the street; they kill people who simply protest against them. They are evil monsters. YOU try dealing with them without harming a lot of innocents.

 Those who live in Gaza are kept like prisoners behind walls and fences, unable to escape the bombings, and an Israeli economic blockade has forced Palestinians into poverty.

Well, Egypt frequently closes its Rafah crossing and has a border with Gaza where not a lot gets through. Why don’t you mention that. On the other hand Israel does the following:

  • Cogat report just for today when there’s a bloody war going on: http://www.cogat.idf.il/901-11564-en/Cogat.aspx
  • Israel provides, directly or indirectly, all Gaza’s electricity – and Gaza does not pay for it.
  • Thousands of Gazans are treating free in Israeli hospitals.

In fact, there is no siege. But there is a maritime blockade because Iran and others send the rockets and weaponry Hamas uses, and would send much more if ships were allowed to dock unchallenged. Can you imagine what they would send? There is a relatively small list of restricted goods which can be used for building Hamas terror infrastructure. This does not include any food items.

Meanwhile, Israel has allowed in, under international pressure, the very concrete used to produce terror tunnels.

Israel’s Iron Dome defence system easily intercepts missiles launched from Gaza. Three Israeli citizens have died from these ­primitive rockets, with 32 soldiers killed fighting Hamas.

This is the usual argument of a Hamas apologist. They are primitive. Really? Grad and Fajr rockets are primitive? So primitive they can close an airport? And the ‘home-made’ ones may be unsophisticated, but they still can kill. Is John saying that Israel’s actions would be justified if more Israelis were killed? Is Israel to blame that it defends its citizens whilst there are no bomb shelters in Gaza, but an extensive network of tunnels used to murder Israelis, not to protect Gazans.

Britain just allowed the Luftwaffe to bomb it, to send V1′s and V2′s without response, did it John? Does Dresden ring any bells?

Compare that to the toll in Gaza. Of the 1,000-plus to die, more than 80 per cent were ­civilians, mostly women and children.

See above for the ‘fair-play’ idea of warfare. In war you want your people to live, unless you are Hamas. As for the lie about ‘mostly women and children’ no-one has managed to find a dead terrorist yet. But Al Jazeera has. Look at this from Elder of Ziyon. It demonstrates that the demographic of deaths clearly indicates that the claim most are civilians is not just false but an utter distortion. And bear in mind that Hamas uses suicide bombers as young as 14.

Israel brands them terrorists but it is acting as judge, jury and ­executioner in the ­concentration camp that is Gaza

Wow, John. No terrorists in Gaza then. But using the term ‘Concentration Camp’, a clear reference to the Holocaust is beneath him. Yet it is a common image used by ‘critics” of Israel who want a genocidal, pathological, fascist regime to have free access to Israel – and Egypt – import what it chooses and to bring death and destruction to Israel.

Well, Jews actually are well aware of what a concentration camp or a death-camp is and we don’t need lessons from Prezza. Because if he has his way and allows the harmless Hamas regime with its fireworks free rein, there really would be concentration camps, and it would be Israeli Jews that would be in them. Prescott’s apologia for a terror organisation is disgusting.

And Israel flouts international law by continuing to build illegal Jewish settlements. Why? Because it knows it can get away with it.

What has that got to do with Gaza? it’s a whole different question. Hamas is not about settlements or blockades, it’s about genocide of the Jewish people – read their charter John.

What happened to the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis is appalling. But you would think those atrocities would give Israelis a unique sense of perspective and empathy with the victims of a ghetto.

I’m puking my guts that John would use this well-worn and outrageous comparison between Israel’s actions and the those of the Nazis. This is actually antisemitic by the definition approved by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) :

‘Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

I don’t believe he is antisemitic, but this is shameful and ignorant.

Hamas is wrong to continue its rocket attacks and must ­recognise ­Israel’s right to exist.

That’s the problem, John. They never will and it’s that little factlet on which every argument against Israel’s actions ultimately fail.

But as Channel 4’s Jon Snow said this week: “If you strangle a people, deny them supply for years, extreme reaction is inevitable.

Firstly, they are ‘strangled’ due to their own actions and those of their government. They have adequate supplies. Did you ever see a starving person on all the videos in Gaza? And they seem to have plenty of supplies of guns and mortars and anti-tank rounds and thousands of missiles. And when they do get building materials, they build tunnels. Hardly Israel’s fault.

‘Extreme reaction is inevitable’. NO IT IS NOT. The extreme reaction was Hamas turning Gaza into an armed camp after Israel abandoned the territory in 2005. There were no blockades or sieges then. It was Hamas’s firing of rockets and using Gaza as a proxy base for Iran to attack Israel that led to subsequent events and wars. FACT.

Is it not truly ‘disproportionate’ to want to exterminate every Jew with missiles and guns? The usual causal inversion and moral blindness is alive and well. Someone threw an egg at Prezza and he tried to flatten him. He didn’t try to flatten him first, and then the guy threw the egg. But in the world of Israel-bashing, the right hook came first, and then the egg.

This is the fundamental conflation of two sets of circumstances: sympathy for the plight of Palestinians, especially in Gaza, and the fact that Hamas is governing them.

No one with an ounce of humanity could feel anything but horror at what is happening and what has happened before. It’s heart-breaking. But it is the responsibility for that plight that is the issue, and the responsibility for the necessity for Israel to protect itself and bring quiet and security to its citizens that is always ignored. Oh yes, politicians and Hamas terror apologists always add that qualifier to show they are being ‘fair’ to Israel, but they expect them to do so with hands tied behind their back.

Nevertheless, there is always justification in questioning the military tactics of Israel. Israelis do it. Frequently. They demonstrate against it. Gazans do not have that privilege.

It’s very easy to empathise with the people of Gaza. It’s very easy to see Israel as the bad guy and not the terrorists because, not only do they physically hide behind their population, they give YOU an excuse to ignore and hide their crimes because YOU are too busy being morally outraged by what you see and hear and are fed, by proxy, by Hamas itself.

The question remains: what would you do and how would you do it? And don’t say ‘negotiate’ because Hamas will not. Don’t say ‘lift the blockade’ because that is just an excuse and a ploy.

It’s very simple. Get rid of Hamas and the problem goes away. Stop hating Jews and the problem goes away. Stop firing rockets and trying to kill and kidnap, the problem goes away.

Shame is, a lot of people believe exactly what Prezza believes. But not the readers of this opinion piece though, according to the vote.

** Latest – vote has now swung in favour. I guess it was too good to be true.

This is Israel

[This is the text of a speech I made yesterday at meeting of my synagogue to offer prayers for peace, and support for Israel]

Dear friends – thank you. Thank you for coming to show your support and love for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

I shouldn’t be here tonight. I should be in Israel with my wife visiting our son who lives in Tel Aviv, and our family across Israel. But President Obama tried a little BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) of his own, and our flight was cancelled. So it is beshert that I am here to address you this evening. Im yirtzeh hashem we shall be flying out in the near future.

I want to tell what I and my wife have been doing for the last few weeks every waking moment available to us.

My wife with her phone, I with my iPad have followed every heartbreak, every attack on Israel and the Jewish people, every act of unspeakable evil and every act of unimaginable bravery.

We wept with the families of the fallen, we woke every morning wondering how many more of our beautiful young boys were gone, and how many more families would lose a son, a husband, father a brother.

We watched in awe as 30,000 people braved sirens and rockets to attend the levaya (funeral) of a lone soldier who had no family in Israel. I followed on Twitter calls for people to attend shiva houses (of mourning) of the fallen chayalim bodedim – lone soldiers. It was truly amazing to see. Many of the people I follow on Twitter in Israel actually attended these funerals.

This is Israel. This is the Israel we know and love.

And all through these long weeks we have been phoning relatives in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Netanya, Gan Yavne, Kiryat Ono to ask how they are coping. Did they have to run to a shelter? Are they OK?

You know at that this time more than 2500 rockets have been fired into Israel from Eilat in the South to Rosh Hanikrah in the North. In the last decade at least 12,000 have been fired at Israel.

For weeks, we have sat wondering to ourselves: will our son be called up as a reservist. Would he have to fight? So far, he has not baruch hashem, thank G-d. Very few of us here are completely unaffected by events in Israel; I’m sure many of you have children or grandchildren, relatives and friends in Israel.

I downloaded an app called Red Alert. Every time a rocket is fired into Israel it will sound an alarm that you can configure – you can chose whether it is a wailing siren or a woman saying ‘Tzeva adom tzeva adom’ – Red alert. This so freaked out my wife as my iPad was telling us every few minutes that a rocket was fired at somewhere in Israel that I had to change the noise to be like an email alert. Each time my wife asked – where was that one? Was it Tel Aviv? Was anyone hurt?

This is how we have lived these last few weeks – can you imagine what it is like over there? I’m sure some of you have been and can tell us your own experiences.

We have had to face the surreal knowledge that in a few days we would be entering a war zone ourselves.

As someone who for years now has been involved in hasbara and has used social media to counter lies and distortions and to get the truth about Israel out there, I have been just one of an international network of people who are active on Twitter, on blogs, Facebook and even on the Television and radio here in the UK, Israel, the United States and across the world.

So, what have I learned, then, these last few weeks. Here are some highlights and lowlights.

Well, guess what! Those who say anti-zionism is not anti-semitism have been shown to be seriously deluded. Although criticism of the policies of the Israeli government is a perfectly legitimate exercise, and one mostly performed in Israel itself, the vast majority of anti-Israel bashing is clearly antisemitic.

In France a traumatised Jewish community numbering more than 350,000 has been subjected to what can only be called pogroms. After a so-called pro-Palestinian demo in Paris, congregants in a shul – ironically called ‘de la Roquette’ – were besieged by a baying mob of stone-throwing and knife-wielding Muslims. Only the police saved them from a lynching. Nine synagogues in France have been attacked, even fire bombed. Jewish shops and businesses burned to the ground. Hundreds of French Jews have made aliyah (emigrated) to Israel, where one said he would rather sit in a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv than walk on a street in Paris wearing a kippah.

On Facebook they created a page with the photos and names of French Jews so that they can be attacked. In Paris a Jew was recognised and attacked by fifteen thugs as people looked on.

In Belfast the shul had its windows smashed – twice.

In Manchester, after the pro-Palestinian rally, a convoy of Blackburn Muslims, who had probably never spoken to a Jew in their life, terrorised Jews in Broughton Park, throwing eggs and insults and shouting ‘Heil Hitler’.  Indeed, Hitler’s popularity is at its highest for about 70 years.

On Shabbos, a member of this congregation told us how the Kedem shop in King Street has been besieged for a week, and he urged all of us to support the pro-Israel contingent against an aggressive mob of hardline left-wing activists and Muslims who had tried to block the entrance to the shop and had terrorised staff.

In London and Paris, in Berlin and in Belgium and Holland and even in Cardiff violent pro-Palestinian demonstrators held banners which compared Israel and the Jews to the Nazis, called for ‘death to the Jews’, or chanted ‘Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas’ and other unspeakable horrors, unchallenged by police, or the public. The Hamas, Hizbollah and ISIS flags were freely carried without hindrance. In Bradford and Preston the Town Halls took down the Union Flag, our national flag, and raised the Palestinian in an act of solidarity; something they failed to do for the thousands of Palestinians killed in Syria for the last three years.

In Paris, those ever ready to associate Zionism with Nazism gleefully made the antisemitic quenelle salute, a version of the Nazi salute, and called for another Holocaust – the one they all deny ever happened, of course; yet it is Israelis who are the Nazis?

A Turkish shop in Liège in Belgium bore a sign in the window saying ‘Dogs are welcome, but not Jews’.

The Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayib Erdogan said what the Israelis are doing in Gaza is 100 times worse than what the Nazis did to the Jews.

And the United States is not immune with violent rallies against Israel across the country, even in Miami.

Meanwhile, in the UK the Liberal Democrat MP, David Ward, tweeted ‘Ich bin ein Palestinian’ and that if he were in Gaza, would he fire a rocket? yes, I probably would, he said. In other words, he would be prepared to commit a war crime by firing a rocket indiscriminately at Israeli civilians, presumably as form of ‘collective punishment’.

After a storm of protests on Twitter, in which I took part, his colleague, ex MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, stood up for Mr Ward and called the Board of Deputies (so that includes me) a ‘ frightful bag of disputatious Jews’ .

Talking of ‘frightful bags’, on BBC Newsnight that evening, Baroness Jenny Tonge thought Israelis are so despicable that she would also be prepared to commit a war crime against Israel were she to be in Gaza. This is the same woman who once said she could empathise with suicide bombers.

The media and social media talk endlessly of ‘proportionality’ without the slightest idea of the actual definition of this term in international law, in the hope that, it seems, more Israelis will be killed to satisfy their desire for some obscene arithmetic idea of ‘fair play’, as if war were a Sunday afternoon cricket match, not about justice and righteousness or self-preservation in the face of a pathological and suicidal enemy.

Without the Iron Dome, can you imagine how many more Gazans would have died, let alone Israelis. I say that because without the Iron Dome Israel would have to have acted with far, far greater force.

Yet they mock the rockets as harmless homemade fireworks – even though many are provided by Iran – in order to accuse Israel of disproportionality. Because Israel protects its citizens with this technology, they expect Israel to sit back and just allow rockets to rain down on them because, unlike any other nation, they don’t believe Israel has a right to protect itself. And these rockets can, and have killed, and wrought destruction, fear and trauma especially to young children. And, if they are so harmless, how come airlines decided it was too dangerous to land at Ben Gurion?

And yet these same pedlars of semantic mendacity are not concerned that in Syria 170,000 people have died, including thousands in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, Millions are refugees. Did you see any demos in London or Paris about that?

In Iraq, the most evil gang of criminals since the Nazis, ISIS or ISIL, or whatever acronym of evil they now use, are trying to outdo them, killing thousands, ending 1800 years of Christian life in Mosul in Iraq, spreading terror, destroying mosques and churches and precious historical artifacts, the tombs of saints and prophets. And all in the name of the same god that inspires Hamas and their criminal allies. Where are the mass demonstrations? Where are pogroms against Muslims? Where the outrage? Where are the Methodists? Where the Quakers? All we get is a shrug and a soon-forgotten op-ed in one of the dailies.

Yet, if the State of Israel dares to defend itself against a decade during which barely a day has passed without a rocket, an attempted infiltration to kidnap or murder, or a mortar attack against a school bus, the UNHRC ( a mockery of the words ‘human’ and ‘rights’ but definitely ‘united’ against one state – Israel) the UNHRC, a bunch of gangster states that would make the Mafia blush, is falling over itself to launch a war crimes investigation, whilst completely ignoring the Hamas rockets and terror. There have been 32 UNHRC resolutions, 26 of them against Israel and no more than one or even none at all for Syria, Sudan, Russia, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Sri Lanka or Iran.

Ironically, in the 2014 UN Human Development index, Israel came 19th. France was 20th. Not one of Israel’s neighbours came in the top 50, and the ‘State of Palestine’ has a higher index than most other Arab or even Muslim states. So much for genocide..

This is the world we live in.

But it is at times like this when we should take great pride in Israel which shines like a beacon of hope and goodness; yet much of the world is blind to it. Their ignorance of history, their political ideologies, their religion, yes, their prejudice and culturally acceptable thinly-disguised antisemitism, fuels hatred, violence and death, stoked by the media, politicians, and the Internet.

Israelis, and we who support them, we who have morals and scruples, we who abhor death and embrace life, are forced to witness death and destruction and human suffering visited on the people of Gaza, who are as much the victims of Hamas terror – maybe more so – as the people of Israel.

We take no joy or satisfaction in the death of a single innocent, yet they cheer and jeer the death of an Israeli soldier or a civilian, whilst their apologists toss ancient blood libels at Jews like the sweets the Palestinians hand out to their children to celebrate their cult of death.

Today the famous words of Prime Minister Golda Meir are still true: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

They use their people as human shields, preventing them from leaving their homes when Israel warns of imminent attack, physically intimidating and beating them so that they will be killed to provide a photo-op for the gullible press, who would rather believe the representative of a terror organisation than a member of the Israeli government.

They hide weapons in schools, mosques and hospitals, they booby trap homes and fire from those same homes and from protected buildings.

But Jeremy Bowen ‘sees no evidence of human shields’.

Did you know that 5 years ago Hamas itself and other observers revealed that 160 children, who they used to build the tunnels, were killed in those tunnels? Yet it is Israel and the Jews that are the child-killers, the baby murderers.

I’m sure many of you would have seen the graphics on social media and heard the words of Bibi Netanyahu – ‘we protect our civilians with our missiles, they protect their missiles with their civilians’.

$100m at least spent on several kilometres of terror tunnels, and not a single bomb shelter in Gaza, except the ones in the basements of hospitals where their cowardly leaders hide. Did you know that Hamas have a command centre in an office next to the emergency room in Shifa hospital?

Another aspect of the anti-Israel hatred, which for so long has permeated the media, is the corruption of the language of the Holocaust and our national suffering, referring to Gaza as a ‘concentration camp’ or the ‘Warsaw ghetto’. The Arab population of both Gaza and the Territories has grown steadily, yet Israel is committing ‘genocide’ a word never used in reference to Syria or Iraq.

Even our own political leaders, even Jewish ones, have characterised Gaza in terms of the Holocaust; Gaza where life expectancy is higher than parts of Glasgow.

Meanwhile, Israel sends through its crossings hundreds of truckloads of medical equipment and aid every single week, and even the cement used to build the terror tunnels. Whilst at other crossings, hundreds of Palestinians are taken for free medical care to the Rambam hospital in Haifa or the Soroka in Beersheva – even wounded terrorists!

This is Israel.

Only Israel would build a field hospital to treat the civilians of their enemy, and only Israel would have it shelled deliberately by that same enemy, who try to prevent their own people from using it.

Only Israel would have utility workers ready to risk their lives to repair pylons and infrastructure damaged by their enemy so that the innocent could watch Hamas TV courtesy of an Israeli technician, and so that terrorists could continue to use that same power for their malign purposes. Electricity which, by the way, Israel provides for free, anyway.

This is Israel.

Dear friends, sometimes I feel that the darkness is closing in on us. We are relatively safe here in the UK, but it can change quickly. Who would have thought that the 1930’s would return in the second decade of the 21st century. My mother a’h used to tell me that she was often told to ‘Go back to Palestine’ now they are telling Israelis to ‘go back to Poland’.

Yet, this is not the 1930’s. Today we have, b’h the State of Israel and every pogrom, every UN resolution, every rocket, every attack on a Jew proves how necessary it is for us to have our own state where we can be the masters of our own destiny. By attacking Israel and calling for its destruction and the murder of every Jew, they strengthen our will and our determination to survive and prosper as a people and to be a light unto the nations.

They spew hate, we generate love. They tear down, we build. They bring death and destruction, we bring life, medical breakthroughs, technology to feed the world. Israel sends water technologists to Africa, rescue and medical teams to Haiti and Japan when disasters strike. Israelis and Jews win Nobel prizes  ‘disproportionately’ to their numbers.

The lovers of death are the absolute antithesis of what we are as a people.

So my message to you tonight is this: stand firm and stand tall and proud of what we are and what we do. Support Israel. Buy Israeli goods, go to Israel for a holiday, tell your colleagues about Israeli achievements. Tell them what they don’t see on the TV or hear on the radio or read in the newspapers. Learn history. Read about Israel. Arm yourself with knowledge, and don’t believe the lies and distortions fed to you by the BBC or SKY News.  Write to the media. Write to your MP. Sign petitions. Respond to calls for action from the Board of Deputies or the Rep Council.

Let me finish with a final story from my online life.

Today, one of the biggest heroes in Israel is the Colonel of the Golani Brigade, which has taken many casualties in Gaza. He led his men from the front rather than from a luxury hotel in Qatar. He was wounded and hospitalised. He begged the doctors to allow him to go back and lead his men. He did just that with the scars still livid on his handsome face. He is a lion of Israel. His name is Ghassan Alian. He is not a Jew, but a Druze.

This is Israel.

Kol haKavod lo. May Hashem bless all the good works of his hands and those of his men and all the IDF.

Chazak ve’amatz

Am Yisrael Chai

Elder of Ziyon: An open condemnation of the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir

I have just signed this condemnation:

An open condemnation of the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir

We unequivocally condemn the horrific murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. It was unjustifiable under any circumstances. The killing was reprehensible and we hope that the criminals who did this sickening act are found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Israel is a country run by the rule of law. There are reports that Jews have been arrested for this crime. If a trial finds that Jews are indeed guilty of this unconscionable killing, our condemnation is redoubled. The idea that Jews could do such an act fills us with shame and horror.

The people who murdered Mohammed do not represent us in any way. It is not enough to dissociate ourselves from the dreadful act; we must also ensure that crimes like this are never repeated.

Just as the appalling murders of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar do not in any way justify the hideous murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, neither does Khdeir’s murder justify the violence, terrorism, destruction and incitement we have seen over the past few days against Israelis and Jews.

We hope and pray that everyone, Arab and Jew, lives in peace and security in the region.

The Cult of Death That Took Away Our Boys

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My heart is heavy. I feel loss and despair.

Today I watched the funerals of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sha’ar and Eyal Yifrach, three teenagers abducted and murdered on their way home from seminary two weeks ago.

As I watched the simultaneous live streaming of the three funerals, prior to burial in Modi’in, where they now lie side by side, united in death as in life, I witnessed love, warmth and compassion bursting from every fibre of their families’ being. I listened to the heart-wrenching eulogies of parents, siblings, teachers. I witnessed their families’ love of their community, the Jewish people, humanity,  G-d.

Their dignity is inspiring. We are moved to want to cross the distance that separates and to comfort and mourn with them. There is no consolation for a parent who has lost a child to brutal, meaningless, unspeakable murder.

Not so long ago my son was at a seminary nearby to theirs. Yes, not so long ago I passed the very spot from where they were abducted and murdered. It could have been my son, G-d forbid. It could have been yours. These boys ARE our sons. We are the Jewish People. We are the Jewish Family. Your son is my son and mine yours. You are my brother, sister, father, grandfather, my niece and nephew.

At the funerals there was not one single call for blood or revenge; just dignity and heartbreaking emotion. It was unbearable. I could not watch the final scenes.

Don’t tell me that we – anyone – doesn’t value the life of our own more than the other; whoever tells you that is a liar – or a saint. I have pity, yes, but not this sense of close familial ties, not this depth of grief and anger. Not this despair.

This cult of death which gloats and laughs with glee at grief and suffering, this cult with its maniacal glorification of revenge, this cult which feeds off the offal of its own vicious immorality, is simply not human; it is a travesty of thousands of years of human moral development to which Judaism and the Jewish people sit as the cornerstone and the abiding custodian.

It is, however, here to stay as it spreads across the Arab-Muslim world; a death cult devoid of pity, the absolute zero, the deep ocean trench, the nadir of nadirs of human moral worth and value. A cult that, like a tsunami of ideological delusion, scarifies the landscape of our culture, leaving a wasteland of flinty desiccation, the death of the heart, of the soul, and every last scintilla of humanness.

It is a cult that throws rocks at ambulances bearing the dead teenagers, distributes sweets rejoicing at the abduction of children (and considers them fair game), indoctrinates children to hate with a passion that is pathological, immiserates its people and wallows in the swill of its self-inflicted victimhood.

Israel and the Jewish people are not faultless, they are capable of evil, fanaticism and hatred; but this is not a pathology, it is not an essential and indivisible component of the culture, it is confronted and prosecuted, it is not nurtured and glorified.

This is the challenge of our century: how to defeat unconscionable evil, and expose its apologists.

To do so may mean our own culture is morally damaged in the fight against this scourge of our modern world, which competes with itself in plunging to new depths of depravity.

The Jewish people and the State of Israel, with all their imperfections, must be supported, critically if necessary, in this fight. It is a mistake to see it as a fight for land only, it’s far more complex. There are competing rights and claims, but interwoven with this narrative is an ever increasing, ever harsher infiltration of religio-political ideology which paints Jews as devils and untermenschen and reverses the meaning of good and evil.

Whilst the Jewish mother is consumed with loss, the Palestinian mother’s loss is somehow transformed to glorious martyrdom and the desire for more sons to sacrifice. As the Israel Matzav blog so aptly points out quoting journalist, Brett Stephens:

Here’s my question: What kind of society produces such mothers? Whence the women who cheer on their boys to blow themselves up or murder the children of their neighbors?

Well-intentioned Western liberals may prefer not to ask, because at least some of the conceivable answers may upset the comforting cliché that all human beings can relate on some level, whatever the cultural differences. Or they may accuse me of picking a few stray anecdotes and treating them as dispositive, as if I’m the only Western journalist to encounter the unsettling reality of a society sunk into a culture of hate. Or they can claim that I am ignoring the suffering of Palestinian women whose innocent children have died at Israeli hands.

But I’m not ignoring that suffering. To kill innocent people deliberately is odious, to kill them accidentally or “collaterally” is, at a minimum, tragic. I just have yet to meet the Israeli mother who wants to raise her boys to become kidnappers and murderers—and who isn’t afraid of saying as much to visiting journalists.

To hell with moral equivalences and journalistic ‘balance’, it’s time to decide which side you are on because it will sooner or later become that simple: life or death. Which path to you want humanity to follow in the decades ahead? Is it to push back and defeat, to obliterate religio-fascism, or bury yourself in a quagmire of misdirected human rights’ qualms that are only appropriate for a society and culture that has the moral capacity to produce them?

Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu said at today’s funeral:

The moral chasm that separates us from our enemies is deep and wide.

On his website, former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, had the last word on the distinction between a cult of death and those that cling to, and value life:

Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were killed by people who believed in death. Too often in the past Jews were victims of people who practised hate in the name of the God of love, cruelty in the name of the God of compassion, and murder in the name of the God of life. It is shocking to the very depths of humanity that this still continues to this day.

Never was there a more pointed contrast than, on the one hand, these young men who dedicated their lives to study and to peace, and on the other the revelation that other young men, even from Europe, have become radicalised into violence in the name of God and are now committing murder in His name. That is the difference between a culture of life and one of death, and this has become the battle of our time, not only in Israel but in Syria, in Iraq, in Nigeria and elsewhere. Whole societies are being torn to shreds by people practising violence in the name of God.

Now that Russia has invaded Crimea …

sevastapol

Now that Russia has illegally annexed and occupied another country I fully expect to see the following:

Co-op members strongly pressing for a boycott of all goods made in the Crimea

Russian owned businesses to be picketed

Actors, filmmakers and performers to pressured into not going to Russia

Those same actors, filmmakers and performers to take out a full page advertisement in the Guardian denouncing the Russian government and expressing solidarity with the Ukraine

Performances by Russian orchestras at the Proms to be interrupted

EU to vote to label all goods made in Crimea

Russian speakers to be heckled and harassed at UK and US universities

Russian academics disinvited from speaking at UK universities and elsewhere

Russian military personnel and lawmakers involved with the annexation to be arrested on arrival in the UK

Trades Unions to vote to break ties with Russian counterparts

If these things all happen I will be less inclined to believe that similar measures carried out against Israel and Israelis are only antisemitism and not genuine political and humanitarian concerns.

Water, water, everywhere – the Palestinian Authority’s dirty little secret

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

drop-of-water-27261288549217SWMrI was recently impressed by this article by Haim Gvirtzman on the Times of Israel website.

Gvirtzman is a professor of hydrology at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University and a member of the Israel Water Authority Council.  He is also an advisor of the Israel-PA Joint Water Committee.

The article is titled “The truth behind the Palestinian water libels’ and shows how water is being used as a weapon by the Palestinian Authority to ‘besmirch’ Israel’s name. And it does this at the expense of its own people using tactics cleverly intended to present Israel to an easily believing world as the perpetrator of water injustice, a profligate over-user of scant resources.

Consequently, Israel is widely seen as using water to deny Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza a precious resource whilst ‘settlers’ use it to water gardens and fill swimming pools.

Thus, water is just another way the PA manipulates world opinion with lies and deliberate policies of denying resources to its own people in order to promote Machiavellian political attacks against Israel.

I urge you to read the entire article but here are some highlights:

The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz has asserted that:

the amount of water available to the average Israeli unfairly overwhelms the amount of water available to the average Palestinian.

Under the Oslo Accords the Palestinians have the right to draw 70 million cubic meters from the Eastern Mountain Aquifer. But they do not use that resource fully having only drilled about one third of the 40 sites identified even though there have been numerous offers from the international community to assist with drilling.

If they were to do so the water shortage in the Hebron hills would be averted.

Instead, there is a deliberate policy to drill the Western Aquifer which provides water to Israel. This appears to be done as a political statement of entitlement rather than to solve a problem for the people the PA is supposed to represent.

There is a completely ludicrous absence of water leakage maintenance costing 33% of water taken.

They will not build water treatment plants despite this being a stipulation of Oslo. Result is that raw sewage flows into rivers and who gets the blame? Israel, of course. This is gross negligence as it spreads disease and is easily avoidable.

Other negligent actions include failure to irrigate properly, refusal to build desalination plants and generally refuse most help from outside. In other words, they choose to place their people in danger and in squalid conditions do they can point a finger of accusation against Israel.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority’s deleterious policies – as evidenced in the six facts listed above – are a function of the Palestinian water war against Israel. There is no real Palestinian desire to solve water problems; they prefer to perpetuate the water problems in order to besmirch the State of Israel. They view water as a tool with which to bash Israel.

The warlike strategy adopted by the Palestinian Authority regarding water explains several additional realities.

In addition, the PA do not charge people for water usage there is virtually no meterage, there is illegal drilling.

The sum total of the situation ….. is that the Palestinian Authority is using water as a weapon against the State of Israel. It is more interested in reducing the amount of water available to Israel, polluting natural reservoirs, harming Israeli farmers, and sullying Israel’s reputation around the world than truly solving water problems for the Palestinian people. The Palestinians are not interested in practical solutions to address shortages; rather, they seek to perpetuate the shortages, and to blame the State of Israel.

Unfortunately, President Schulz’s Knesset address, with its seemingly-straightforward but baseless accusations against Israel, suggests that the PA is succeeding in this effort to befuddle international observers and besmirch Israel.

…… it is worthwhile to consider a broader perspective on the water situation in the Middle East. The Palestinians live in the shadow of the State of Israel, a world superpower in terms of water technologies. Consequently, the Palestinians enjoy a relative Garden of Eden. Only in Israel, in the West Bank, and in Gulf States does sufficient, safe, drinkable tap water exist in 96 percent of households. Residents in almost every other country in the region suffer from terrible water shortages.

In Amman, the Jordanian capital, water is supplied to private homes just once every two weeks. In Syria, agricultural fields in the Euphrates Valley are drying up due to the upstream diversion of water by the Turks. In recent years (before the “Arab Spring” began), about three million farmers migrated from the Euphrates Valley to the outskirts of Damascus because their lands had dried up. In Damascus, too, the water running in the river beds, which used for drinking, is mixed with sewage. In Iraq, agricultural fields are drying up because waters upstream on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are being diverted by the Turks. There too, millions of farmers lost their lands. In Egypt, enormous amounts of water are lost due to flood irrigation. The Nile provides 30 times more water than Israel’s annual usage and Egypt’s population is just 10 times greater than Israel. Therefore, we would expect to see a water surplus. Nevertheless, Egypt suffers from severe hunger and thirst due to severe wastage of water. 

So the next time someone tries to persuade you that it is Israel who is oppressing the Palestinians using water as a means of that oppression, be forearmed with the contents of the article by professor Gvirtzman to rebut their lies.

The PA puts an albatross round the necks of its own people.

The lies they tell at St.James’s Church, Piccadilly, London

This is a cross post from Barry Shaw’s The View From Israel

antiisraelwallYasser Arafat defied the Christian tradition in Bethlehem, which had been respected and upheld under Israeli authority, by appointing a Muslim governor and engineered a Muslim takeover of the city council. He then put his stamp on this town by converting the Greek Orthodox monastery, next to the Church of the Nativity, into his official Bethlehem residence.

At great risk to his life, Pastor Naim Khoury, of the Bethlehem Baptists Church, exposed the developing threats to Christians within the territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority. “People are always telling Christians to convert to Islam.”
His ministry is based on love and non-violence. He is also a strong advocate for Zionism based on God’s land covenant with Israel through Abraham.
Because of his views, his church has been bombed fourteen times, and he has been shot three times. He has been threatened by the Palestinian Authority to close the doors of his church which they consider as “illegitimate.”

This brave Christian priest needs and deserves the active support of church leaders worldwide. Instead, they boycott him and pick on Israel for their wrath, ignoring the human rights crimes of the Palestinian leadership whom they openly support. How twisted is that?

Elias Freij, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem at the time of the Oslo Accords in 1993, warned Israeli Prime Minister, Yizhak Rabin, to maintain control over his town. “Bethlehem will become a town of churches devoid of Christians if you transfer control to the Palestinian Authority.”
Israel caved in to international pressure, handed over Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority and, for the middle class Christian residents, their lives became threatened, and the mayor’s warning became the current Christian nightmare.

The St. James’s Church Christmas charade failed to mention the fear that pervades the shrinking Christian population. The fear of attack by Muslim Palestinians is personified by Joseph Canawati whose sister, her husband, and three children have fled to America.
“I want to leave but nobody will buy my business. I feel trapped. We are isolated,” he complained.

But the Piccadilly church leaders turn a deaf ear to his plea, or to the fear of death at the hands of non-Christian Palestinians in Bethlehem, such as that felt by Jeriez Moussa Amaro whose two sisters, Rada aged 24 and Dunya aged 18, were gunned down by Palestinian Muslims in their own home. Their crime was to be young, attractive, and wear Western clothes and no veil.

Sami Qumsieh, the general manager of “The Nativity,” the only Christian television station in Bethlehem, has received death threats and visits from armed gunmen. He is now ready to leave.
“As Christians, we have no future here.”

How sad it is that this church, the British Methodist Church, and many other Christian leaders are blindsided in their pursuit of a perceived Jewish enemy that they fail to come to the rescue, or campaign for, their co-religionists, persecuted by those who they actively and expensively support.

Other related articles

http://www.thecommentator.com/article/4511/major_london_church_and_its_wall_for_terrorism

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-bigotry-and-lies-of-st-james-church.html#.UsXgydJdWCM

http://cifwatch.com/2014/01/01/christmas-priorities-at-st-jamess-church-israel-security-wall-stunt-cost-30000/comment-page-1/

Israel racist and discriminatory? You judge

I happened upon this video on YouTube.

It is one of a series where the interviewer asks Israelis, and even Palestinians, questions that are frequently asked of Israel, and usually in a negative way.

This video deals with the question: Minorities: Do you feel discrimination in Israel?

It’s very revealing. The interviewer asks Ethiopians, Druze, a ‘Messianic’ Jew, a Japanese, an Indian and others.

Listen carefully to their responses. Many have gripes. They are ISRAELIS! What do you  expect. But the impression I have is that there is racism, discrimination, suspicion and a lot of bureaucracy.

Er, sound like any country you know? Maybe the one you are living in right now.

The overwhelming impression I had was from so many people of so many backgrounds that faced no day-to-day discrimination, racism or abuse. This sounded like a country that was unique in the Middle East, maybe in the whole of Asia. A country considerably less racist than many European countries.

Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAEILcV5PhQ

Kennedy, the Doctor and Me

WH/HO PortraitNo apologies for being off-topic on this day of days.

For today’s teenagers and twenty-somethings the defining moment of their young lives was probably 9/11.

For me, it was the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22nd 1963.

I was only a child at the time but the hazy memories and indecipherable TV images were seared into my mind and have remained an abiding obsession.

I don’t recall in detail the events of that evening. The half century since has added false memories, no doubt.

I recall sitting in our lounge in North West London in front of a TV which today would be an object of curiosity and derision; a screen no bigger than those on a laptop computer, but square with rounded corners, and in ‘black and white’. In reality it was more grey-blue.

I remember seeing the US TV pictures taken from behind the motorcade, and the horrific site of Jackie Kennedy climbing out of the car onto the trunk. The real horror of the assassination would only hit home years later when I saw the Zapruder footage in colour. I can’t watch it any longer.

Then I remember the BBC actually shutting down and playing funereal music – probably Beethoven.

Even though I was young, Kennedy’s charisma had made him a hero for me. His speeches, his good looks and charm were intoxicating. He had recently visited London. He had declared that a man would walk on the Moon by the end of the decade. He and Jackie were the most glamorous couple in the world – and they knew it.

We did not know then all the scandal and the peccadilloes  and the corruption. Kennedy was the future. It was the beginning of the 60′s; the Beatles had just changed the world; it was a very exciting time.

Then this.

I believe I saw Lee Harvey Oswald shot live by satellite. That was a very traumatic event for a young boy.

A few years later – perhaps it was the 5th anniversary – the Sunday Times did an extensive piece on the the details of the events of that day. I wrote a poem  - I don’t have it now – based on that article. I would, as an adult, buy books, read articles and watch TV documentaries. I would shout at the film ‘JFK’ telling the actors it was all wrong, it didn’t happen that way.

Every year since; yes, every year, this day, the 22nd of November, has been Kennedy day. This was the day when the world penetrated my life and I became aware that the it was not always safe, just or pleasant. It was the day that will always leave us wondering – ‘what if’ – what if he had lived.

The following day, November 23rd 1963 ‘Dr Who’ was first broadcast and I was in front of that same old TV watching, spellbound. Those early episodes had an atmosphere that was claustrophobic and menacing.  But just as the Beatles had captured the world of music, so Dr Who captured the imagination of my generation; we couldn’t get enough of the Daleks and the Cybermen.

The series, which now looks quaint and dated, was a new world of science fiction and special effects. It never really scared me but it enthralled me. The second coming of Dr Who after a hiatus of 15 years has had a similar affect to the first series with a string of brilliant actors and imaginative stories. I admit, I don’t watch it that much but I found David Tennant compelling, even when overacting.

When I was a kid I bought a little Dalek which used to move around on a ball bearing. I bought others models, collected picture cards, bought annuals and even went to see the film starring Peter Cushing and Roy Castle.

There is something in our nature which clings to cultural icons and approaches a kind of religion or cult or simply becomes today’s folk culture and fairy tale; a super-hero, indestructible, yet vulnerable with his disciples facing down evil and dispensing goodwill and righteousness. Dr Who is a messianic figure that makes us feel that evil can be defeated by good and that the most intractable problems and dangers can be dismantled by optimism and hope.

Is not Dr Who a bit like Kennedy?

IsraAID responds to Philippines disaster

Once again an Israeli aid agency is leading the way in the wake of a natural catastrophe.

I am informed that IsrAID are sending a medical team tonight to the Philippines. An additional team of trauma experts and child protection specialists will join them in the next few days to offer safe space shelters and physco-social treatment for women and children.

They will be joining local government units to offer assistance to the tens of thousands affected.

They are seeking additional support in order to be able to expand our efforts and help those in need on the ground.

This is in the great humanitarian tradition of the tiny state of Israel which, as ever, punches well above its weight.

IsraAID has helped with previous disasters, most notably, in Jordan, Haiti and Japan.

It has considerable experience in such situations, especially providing medical expertise from dedicated staff and volunteers.

This is what its website says about its work in Jordan with Syrian refugees:

Our first team arrived in Jordan in June 2013, and began distributing emergency supplies and hygiene kits. Since then, reoccurring missions have only highlighted the overwhelming needs on the ground, and we are striving to meet them.

We are also conducting needs assessments on the need for trauma assistance, and the support of child friendly spaces / women shelters.

Someone on Twitter asked me, yesterday, why I support Israel. This is just one reason.

 

As I See It – Israel, Zionism and the Media