Tag Archives: palestine

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.

Why David Ward’s remarks about Israel and the Holocaust are mainstream

David Ward MP is in a spot of bother with the Liberal Democrats.

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK he chose to make the following slanderous comparison between Israeli Jews and Nazi Germany:

” [he was] “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza”.

Even to rebut this piece of trash is like trying to respond to a ‘when did you stop beating your wife’ question, but here goes.

There are about a hundred things wrong with this statement so let’s dissect it.

Firstly he makes the telling conflation of Jews and Israelis. Is he really saying that, given his statement that ‘atrocities’ are and have been visited upon Palestinians that the Jews are responsible wherever they are in the world? Israel may be the nation state of the Jews but not all Jews live there or even identify with it.

Second:  he uses that trick which others have used before; to be ever so sorry about the Holocaust and to tell us how awfully the Jews were treated and then go on to accuse them of ‘not learning the lesson’ of the Holocaust as if it’s the victims who have a lesson to learn and not the perpetrators. it also conveniently avoids the fact that it is Israel’s and the Jews’ enemies who daily proclaim their wish to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people: Hamas, Hizbollah and the Iranian regime.

Third: He says ‘within a few years’ of the lesson that the world taught the Jews, they were themselves perpetrating atrocities. Oh, really. In the 19 years between the declaration of the State of Israel when it was attacked by armies of the Arab League intending to finish Hitler’s work, until 1967 when the same Arab League lost a war in 6 days and had to concede territory after attacking Israel once again, all the ‘atrocities’ were against the Jews.

Fourth: He says that these atrocities were perpetrated IN the new State of Israel. Is he referring to the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who fled or were forced out as a result of the attack on Israel by the Arab League? Did atrocities occur? Of course they did; war always produces atrocities whether it be in Afghanistan, World War II or Vietnam. Israeli atrocities as regrettable as they were were certainly no greater than those of their enemies and, in my view, considerably less. However, an atrocity is an atrocity. But is Mr Ward, therefore, holding Israeli Jews to a higher standard than the rest of the world? If so, than this is actually a marker for anti-Semitism – not that I would accuser Mr Ward of that, that would be too simple. it’s far deeper than a irrational hatred, it’s a pathology.

Fifth: ‘continue to do so on a daily basis’. So Mr Ward is saying that Jews (presumably those in Israel) are daily committing atrocities. Like what? No doubt there is much Israel can be criticised for. No doubt that innocents die. But there is a context for this, whether you agree with Israel being in the West Bank, for example, or not what atrocities are here? Maybe he means settlers allegedly taking Palestinian land? Or, maybe some settlers have shot and even killed Palestinians. Is he referring to the awful ‘Price Tag’ actions which target Mosques and farmers’ crops. These may all be crimes, but are they atrocities like the Nazis committed atrocities? Do they deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence? If so, half the countries of the world should have learned these lessons – why pick on Israel, of all countries, or rather ‘Jews’ as examples of atrocity perpetrators when he could have mentioned: Cambodia, Rwanda, Tibet, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, Congo. This is not an exhaustive list. Every one of those conflicts exhibit truly awful atrocities on a large scale of both genocide, and ethnic-cleansing as well as internecine and tribal warfare.

Even the USA and the UK have not been atrocity free in recent years. And this is to say nothing of Islamist atrocities, including those against Israel, which have been a part of everyday life for over a decade.

He also mentioned Gaza which was ethnically cleansed of Jews by the, er, Israelis eight years ago, since which time its inhabitants have set a course of suicide bombings and rocket fire against Israel. Its government, Hamas, has a charter which clearly sets out its mission to destroy Israel and the Jews. Nice. Clearly THEY didn’t learn the lesson of the Holocaust; or maybe they did, and the lesson was that if you threaten to wipe out the Jews no-one will believe you.  Meanwhile Israel continues to provide them with water, electricity, hundreds of truckloads of goods daily and treats thousands of Gazans every year for free in Israeli hospitals.

So  Mr Ward, the British provided the Germans with all that was necessary to sustain life whilst the Luftwaffe blitzed England, is that right, Mr Ward?

Yet it is Israel who has to learn the lesson of its own intended destruction.

Sixth: Mr Ward’s words imply strongly, and please read them very carefully, that Israel’s actions are, somehow, comparable to the actions of the Nazis. This is in itself actually an anti-Semitic marker, but let’s again exonerate Mr Ward from that accusation; I’m sure many of his constituents in Bradford would never countenance, let alone elect anyone with such views.

So let’s look at what characterised the Nazi’s atrocities against Jews (and here I also have to mention Roma, Gays and the mentally ill etc. who, it is presumed, have indeed learned the lessons of their experiences in the Holocaust and would never commit a single atrocity against anyone, ever again, as a result, their all being very special super-human people who inherited the no-atrocity gene from their forbears, whereas the benighted Jews did not).

Please, Mr Ward, show me the death camps, the labour camps; show me the ghettos (and, no, Gaza is not a ghetto, it’s a political entity which happens to be an outclave of the Palestinian Authority thanks to Egypt cutting it loose some time ago). Show me the starving millions; the cattle trucks; the gas chambers; the denial of paid work; the laws. Show me the death pits, the disease, the torture, the summary executions of innocents – show me the genocide, Mr Ward.

So, Mr Ward has knee-jerked his anti-Semitic trope, inspired as he was by Holocaust Remembrance Day which sticks in the throat of certain people on the Left in British political classes, because their favourite victims, the Palestinians, engineers of their own fate, and themselves as anti-Semitic as they come, don’t figure in this national breast-beating for the wrongs done to the Jews and others. They cannot abide that the Jews should garner a single drop of sympathy or that maybe some people might just begin to figure out why the Jews need their own country and justify defending it against those who are themselves inspired not by Holocaust Remembrance Day but by the perpetrators of the Shoah, the Nazis, to whom Mr Ward so egregiously compares the Jews.

Some have said that Mr Ward is playing to his Muslim constituents gallery. If this were true it would be a calumnious attitude towards them in that it implies that Muslims in his constituency would be more likely to vote for him because he accuses Jews of behaving like Nazis. After all, Mr Ward is not George Galloway.

All this goes to show that, in the UK today, you can get away with (give or take a reprimand) slandering Israel – even on the eve of a day intended to remind us what such attitudes can lead to.  Such views are now mainstream because the public has bought into the anti-Israel narrative to such a degree that they will even believe that Israelis behave like Nazis thus demonstrating not only ignorance of Nazis but also Israelis.

 

 

Dead wrong: counting the cost of war in the Gaza conflict

… or the obscenity of arithmetica in bello.

I’ve lost count of the number of times in the last few days that the anti-Israel lobby on Twitter and on blogs have condemned Israel as the clear aggressor because 150 people in Gaza have died and only 5 in Israel.

Clearly, the argument goes, if more people die on one side than the other, then one side must be the evil aggressor using disproportionate force.

The fact that you are predisposed to hate Israel or at least have a negative view, and have been fed images of poor benighted Gazans starved, besieged, blockaded, denied medical treatment and so on, will, of course, reinforce the view that 150:5 is an obscene ratio and, QED, Israel is guilty of heinous crimes.

An overwhelmingly powerful country is pounding and bombarding the towns and residential areas of a small outclave of 1.5 million people.

It seems blindingly obvious, doesn’t it? Who’s guilty and who’s not.

Except, why did every western nation either support or, at least, not condemn Israel’s actions? How could they take such a stance? 150:5 and they still won’t condemn Israel.

Thanks to the complete abrogation of journalistic duty in the lead up to targetted killing of a senior Hamas figure in Gaza, most of the western world, which does not follow events in Israel, were blissfully unaware of an acute escalation in rocket fire over southern Israel in the days before, a tank round fired at a jeep and a huge underground explosion attacking IDF personnel within Israel but planted across the border.

I say ‘escalation’ because rocket fire had for years been a constant fact of life for communities in Israel which lie in approximately a 35 mile radius of Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of people in this area lived in constant threat of rocket fire. The sound of sirens was an almost daily event, often occurring as children set out for or returned from school as the terrorists tried to kill children, their preferred prey. Websites and Twitter feeds were created dedicated to counting these rockets and mortar attacks.

12,000 rockets since 2000. In fact, it was rocket fire that precipitated Cast Lead in 2008-9.

If you are a Hamas apologist, this fact has to be dealt with. Any rocket fired that indiscriminately targets civilians is a war crime and potentially a crime against humanity. A rocket fired from within an urban area is also a war crime. Rockets are fired from or near schools, hospitals, UN facilities, media centres and mosques.

The apologists know that these are crimes. They have, somehow, to make a mental accommodation for these crimes so that their confirmed view of the world and Israeli evil can remain unchallenged and their hero-worship of antisemitic, misogynist, homophobic, terrorists can remain intact.

This mental gymnastic exercise thus has to decide that the rockets are ‘home made’ or ‘fireworks’ and even ‘harmless’. These crimes are ‘forced’ upon these people as their only recourse against injustice and oppression. And so the justification for war crimes and terrorism is constructed lie by lie.

But even the premise of the grievance is false. In 2005 Israel unilaterally disengaged and pulled out of Gaza. Gaza became free of Jews. Here was an opportunity to create a mini Palestine, to show the world what the Palestinian people could achieve without occupation.

But they threw that opportunity away because they allowed Islamist Hamas to take power, and as soon as they did the attacks on Israel were ramped up: rockets, suicide bombings, mortar and rocket attacks.

Why? There was no blockade, no siege. But Hamas’ objective, indeed their whole raison d’être was and still is, to destroy Israel and establish an Islamist state in Palestine.

Hamas are not interested in land or border disputes or one or two-state solutions. Their aim, as expressed in their charter, is to kill every Jew on the planet.

Now it is perfectly valid to criticise Israel’s methods to restrain Hamas in order to cut off weapons supply and to protect its citizens from suicide bombers. That is not what is being argued here. None of Israel’s actions would have been necessary if Hamas were not determined to immiserate the lives of Israelis, whilst, as it happens, immiserating the lives of its own citizen by imposing draconian Islamist laws.

No rockets = no targetted killings, no air strikes , no blockade. No suicide bombers = no embargoes and other restrictions.

Whatever opinion you may have of Israel’s policies, allowing free access to terrorists to bomb and murder your citizens is not a reasonable expectation of any country. You can’t ask a country to strip itself bare of defences because you happen to have a grievance against it, and demand it allow open season on the people it is legally obliged to protect.

No other country that I know, whether western democracy or tyrannical state, and certainly no other country in the region would allow hundreds of rockets to rain down on its citizenry just because world opinion says its policies are wrong. When a missile from Syria struck a town in Turkey a few weeks ago, just one missile, Turkey did not sit on its hands, it retaliated.

Imagine thousands of rockets being fired from Syria into Turkey. How would Mr Erdoğan react? If that fire came from within Syrian cities would he spare his neighbours? Would he make an arithmetic calculation or move to save his citizens? And would the world agree?

And what about Turkey’s ongoing battle with its own terrorists, the PKK. Turkey is a member of NATO with overwhelming military and air superiority attacking and killing Kurds almost daily. Who says this is disproportionate or that more Kurds than Turks are being killed, so Turkey must, QED, be the bad guy? No-one. The Kurds, who have a far better and prior claim to their own state than the Palestinians, just do not figure in any deliberations in a UN monopolised by Israel-haters obsessed with the fact that Jews have a country and are prepared to defend it.

But, oh, the moral mathematicians opine, Israel attacks civilians in urban and built up areas.

So,they are saying that because Hamas commits a war crime by embedding itself amongst the people it is supposed to protect and fires rockets and stockpiles weapons, illegally, in schools and mosques, that Israel cannot defend itself? Well it can according to international law, as long as it does so proportionately.

1500 targets were hit by Israel. 150 people died in Gaza. No-one in the media has yet, to my knowledge, distinguished how many of that 150 were combatants. It is at least half. See this article in Daled Amos for why that estimate is probably accurate.

Let’s say 75 civilians killed in densely populated areas in 1500 attacks and we are back to the obscenity of one civilian for every 20 attacks. Is that indiscriminate?

But wait. We learn that many rockets land short. They actually fall in Gaza and as there is no warning, they kill.
The IDF spokesperson reported, much to the disbelief of the haters, that 99 rockets had fallen short in 4 days. The final figure I have seen is 152 out of 1506 (which, incidentally means Israel dropped as many bombs as Hamas fired rockets = proportionality?) Even this morning the Iron Dome twitter feed reported that they had taken no action against a rocket fired toward Ashkelon (reported as a false alarm several hours after the ceasefire) because it had fallen short.

The disbelievers might like to consider that there are several factions in Gaza who do have a homemade rocket industry rather than the more sophisticated weapons of Hamas, and these are prone to failure, often with deadly consequence for the civilians in Gaza and which are then covered up as Israeli crimes. It might be sobering to note that ‘celebratory gunfire’ after the ceasefire caused the death of one person and injury to three others. This shows how much the authorities care for their own people.

If we make a ‘guesstimate’ of 1 in 10 casualties as being victims of friendly fire (and it may be greater), the ratio of deaths per attack is even less. And if we then account for Hamas’ well-documented use of human shields, deliberately putting people in harm’s way to increase casualty figures so they can make these very claims of disproportionate force, then the figures become truly remarkable. They show that Israel really does try to avoid civilian casualties at the same time Hamas seeks to maximise them.

Yes, I know the horrendous story of the family that was wiped out; 10 members in one attack which Israel needs to account for and explain. But the obscenity of arithmetic means that the putative 75 or even 50 civilian dead becomes 65 or 40 in 1499 attacks. That is almost impossible and unprecedented. Remember Iraq and the air attack on Baghdad? Think of the thousands killed in Homs and other Syrian towns and cities. I suggest you cast your mind back to 2003 and look at an article in the Guardian and compare notes between what the forces of the US and the UK do when they bomb cities. How about this BBC report – 50 dead in one air raid.

How many Israelis would have died without the Iron Dome missile defence system, without safe rooms and without early warning sirens, (if you can call 15 seconds and early warning for the people in Sderot and other towns near to the Gaza border)? Would it have been 1 for every 20 rockets? Possibly. But there we go down the road of justification by arithmetic again.

Bottom line is: if you are constantly firing rockets at me, and I respond only by targetting those who fire them rather than the stockpiles and the infrastructure that supports them, sooner or later I am going to go for a more radical solution.

So the math, as they say in America, is a clear demonstration that contrary to what the innumerate pro-Hamasniks want you to think, and with a couple of provisos, Israel acted impeccably, whilst Hamas behaved the way a bunch of evil terrorists in control of a mini state would behave: illegally, mercilessly, mendaciously and pervertedly.

In other words, no words can describe the depths of inhumanity that these people can stoop to. And yet, so many westerners love and adore them and hold rallies for them and say they are All Hamas and send delegations to them. Yes, they are All wannabee genocides, terrorists, torturers, war criminals and antisemites. What a wonderful world we live in.

So please, Israel haters everywhere, contrary to what someone tweeted to me, the numbers DO lie because although they are important they do not even begin to tell the whole story.

To quote numbers only is an admission that you have lost the moral argument. Go figure.

Update: IDF official figure 177 casualties, 57 uninvolved – so my math was pretty good – if you trust the IDF, that is, which you won’t if you chose to believe terrorists who have been shown to lie and falsify evidence. Your choice.

Update: Whoa! Mishal Hussein BBC news anchor joins in the numbers game and shows her own prejudices

And Peter Tatchell, clueless on Gaza in the Huff Post “Israel launched more than 1,500 airstrikes on Gaza, while Islamists fired over 1,000 rockets into Israel. At least 160 Palestinians were killed, including dozens of civilians, and five Israelis died too. A rather one-sided death toll. Nevertheless, I mourn all these deaths.” Otherwise, despite ignorance, not bad from  Tatchell – at least he calls out Hamas for what they are. (my emphasis)

BBC Panorama – Price Tag Wars

Whenever the UK media covers the Israel/Palestine conflict I worry about bias and misrepresentation of the facts.

This fear is based on experience over many years.

When the BBC broadcast a special programme about the Mavi Marmara incident last year I and many others were very surprised that the programme came out largely on the side of Israel in terms of who was telling the truth. It was rather less surprising that the BBC should be vilified for it, after all, Israel is always wrong, don’t you know.

On Monday this week, which also happened to be the first day of the Jewish New Year, when most Jews would not be watching TV, the same BBC programme and the same reporter, Jane Corbin, covered the Price Tag phenomenon in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Given the fact that the BBC decided to cover the issue, it was lucky Jane Corbin covered it. I thought it was largely fair. However, the Palestinians came out as squeaky clean pacifists despite mention of Arab terrorism.

The Price Tag movement is an extremist, religious settler movement which attacks mainly Arab, but also Israeli targets as a ‘Price Tag’ for any action the Israeli government takes against settlements, such as dismantling those even the Israelis deem illegal.

The aim of the Price Tag movement is to make the government pay in terms of embarrassment and also international disgrace for the actions of its citizens.  The objective is to further populate the West Bank / Judea-Samaria which the Price Taggers believe to be their god-given land. According to their beliefs, no Jew has any right to remove Jews from Eretz Israel.

The programme labelled them ‘terrorist’. The term ‘terrorist’ has been applied by the Israeli government itself. These despicable people are a disgrace to Israel and the Jewish people and there is no justification for their actions. However, the Price Tag people have killed no-one, not yet anyway. Graffiti, torching empty vehicles, setting small fires in mosques, insulting the Prophet and generally behaving like vandals in any other culture is barely terrorism. Compared with the real thing it seemed at times an almost laughable comparison as not all incidents were serious ones. Daubing graffiti is not terrorism. But the language of the Middle East has become so degraded that even Israelis are prepared to use it, probably as a linguistic way of registering their dismay and disapproval.

Most of the acts of ‘terrorism’ secretly filmed, or even with the connivance of the perpetrators, were carried out at night and amounted to very little beyond incitement. Setting fire to mosques or daubing churches is another matter. These are acts of outrageous desecration which are very serious sins according to Jewish religious teachings, let alone contrary to any norm of human behaviour or basic law.

Calling them all ‘terrorists’ creates a moral, or should that be immoral, equivalence between setting a fire in a mosque (and note this isn’t even a fire-bombing. No mosque has been destroyed as far as I know, the worst damage is smoke, burned carpets and Korans) and blowing up a bus full of schoolchildren or a restaurant full of diners.

I do not wish in anyway to diminish the seriousness of the crime. What I find a little hard to accept is the debasement of language which is an attempt, ultimately, to diminish full-blooded terrorism. Calling these people terrorists lets real terrorists off the hook. One incident where people were seriously burned in their car is a hate crime and could, justifiably, be considered ‘terrorism’.

Unfortunately, Israel is not doing enough, in my opinion, to stop this. Any ‘settler’ found guilty of these crimes should be given exemplary punishments. It is not an easy crime to prevent. Nevertheless, it must be stamped on, and very hard.

The programme shape-shifted somewhat. It seamlessly morphed from a programme about Price Tag to an examination of settlements, especially illegal ones (even under Israel law) and the tensions between settlers and Palestinians.

I felt genuinely sorry for some of the Arab victims of settler vandalism and intimidation who seemed to be entirely innocent people just trying to get on with their lives. This impression of mine was surely shared by any decent person who watched the programme. But that impression was not really examined; very little time was given to Arab incitement, Arab terrorism, Arab vandalism. It appeared that the Arabs were completely innocent victims if you didn’t listen or want to listen to the odd allusion to attacks and murders of children.

Whatever the Arabs do can never excuse the behaviour of the Price Taggers or indiscriminate settler violence which is actually targeting the Israeli government and deliberately trying to provoke Arab reaction – the Price Tag.

The context of settlements was addressed in the program in standard terms – occupation, illegal, land grab, god-given land etc. It was made clear, however, that these people were extremists but their atypical behaviour (if you take Israel as a whole) and beliefs were not really stressed. For someone ready to believe the worst about Israel, the programme provided ample evidence. For those with a more nuanced and balanced approach, it would have been clear that these criminals are considered such in Israel and under Israeli law. This is in stark contrast, of course, to Arab terrorists who are national heroes and richly rewarded for actually murdering people. That comparison was never made.

But, I have to say, the program could have been a lot more hostile and damaging. It will reinforce the prejudices of those already convinced of evil Israel. It will embarrass people like me, but only because unless Israel is perfect, it is irredeemably evil and this is the narrative we confront daily. We are always being forced to be defensive because Israelis are just like everyone else, not perfected paragons of virtue that the world demands they be.

C of E ignores violence against Christians whilst slating Israel

Stuart Palmer (haifadiarist.blogspot.co.uk) has recently responded to a letter on the Church of England Newspaper to a letter writer who blames the ills of the Palestinians completely on Israel.

Stuart has been kind enough to allow me to reproduce his letter.

I thought this letter makes a number of points the C of E and, indeed, all Christians who are so quick to blame Israel for everything bad about the Middle East East conflict.

Sirs,

Re Jeremy Moodey’s analysis “A Question of Bias on Israel-Palestine”, it is beyond belief that the writer can lay the blame 100% on the side of Israel. I do wonder whether he has ever visited the region and sat down to have coffee with the Palestinian youth in Bethlehem or Jerusalem. It may surprise him to know that they are supportive of Israel and would prefer to be part of the Israel success story rather than the dictatorial, fragmented and corrupt Palestinian Authority.

And while Moodey is making the case for the Palestinians, he does not seem to care what is happening to the adherents of his own Christian religion in the area.

a)        The war on Christianity and its adherents rages on in the Muslim world. In March alone, Saudi Arabia’s highest Islamic law authority decreed that churches in the region must be destroyed; jihadis in Nigeria said they “are going to put into action new efforts to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women”; American teachers in the Middle East were murdered for talking about Christianity; churches were banned or bombed, and nuns terrorized by knife-wielding Muslim mobs. Christians continue to be attacked, arrested, imprisoned, and killed for allegedly “blaspheming” Islam’s prophet Muhammad; former Muslims continue to be attacked, arrested, imprisoned, and killed for converting to Christianity.

To understand why all this persecution is virtually unknown in the West, consider the mainstream media’s well-documented biases: also in March alone, the New York Times ran a virulently anti-Catholic ad, but refused to publish a near identical ad directed at Islam; the BBC admitted it will mock Jesus but never Muhammad; and U.S. sitcoms were exposed for bashing Christianity, but never Islam

b)        Dozens of Gaza Christians staged a rare public protest this month, claiming two congregants were forcibly converted to Islam and were being held against their will. The small but noisy demonstration showed the increasingly desperate situation facing the tiny minority. Protesters banged on a church bell and chanted, “With our spirit, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus.”

Since the Islamic militant Hamas seized power five years ago, Christians have felt increasingly embattled, but have mostly kept silent. There are growing fears among Gaza Christians that their rapidly shrinking community could disappear through emigration and conversions.

Their numbers appear to have shrunk from some 3,500 to about 1,500 in recent years, according to community estimates. They are a tiny minority among 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza, most conservative Muslims. “If things remain like this, there’ll be no Christians left in Gaza,” said Huda Al-Amash, mother of one of the converts.

c)        From a Christian friend in the UK in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, she wrote that:  “I, for one, am not prepared to fund the activities of such as Dr Dinnen or the Synod whilst they embark on an unjustified crusade, out of all proportion in comparison to so many urgent issues in the world, against this legitimate, democratic country. Israel makes no claims to be perfect, like ourselves, they make mistakes. However, it is a country  which subscribes to the same sets of values and rights as ourselves, and is a beacon in an area of the world which is full of ‘despots, tinpots and crackpots’ and deniers of equal human rights for women, homosexuals and those of different faiths. 

Hence my decision to terminate my standing order. I suspect that there are many other Christians who share my opinions but most worryingly, also many more who do not fully know the facts but take their cue from the Church’s stance. Unfortunately this misguided stance is yet another example of the Church concentrating on the wrong issues and smacks of moral cowardice, dubious motives and delusion. I for one find it extremely depressing”.

Meanwhile the Christian community in Israel is flourishing, a testament to the open society in which we live, but, of which, Mr Moodey is totally ignorant or perhaps chooses to ignore. Let him come and visit the most multi cultural city in Israel – Haifa – and see for himself.

IOC sides with terror against dignifying and commemorating murdered athletes

In the 1970′s Black September hijacked aircraft and blew them up.

In the 21st century their successors in the form of the Palestinian Authority/Fatah has hijacked the memory of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered in 1972.

Despite the support of many people and organisations the IOC has cravenly demurred from just one minute of silence to remember 11 dead Olympians who came to Munich in 1972 to celebrate the true meaning of the Olympic ideal: that is, for the youth of the world to gather in peace and harmony, where national rivalries and disputes and hatreds are put aside and to compete in a celebration of youth, the human spirit and global fraternity.

That spirit was cruelly murdered by a disgusting bunch of terrorists who then, as now, represented a movement that has no regard for human life or dignity, especially if that life is Israeli and, more specifically, Jewish.

Just 27 years after the end of the Holocaust, Palestinians whose Grand Mufti had been an inspiration to Hitler and who promised to help him wipe out Jews in Palestine, with total disregard for the Olympic ideal, held hostage and then killed Israeli athletes and coaches.

The intention was to kidnap and hold hostage in order to force the Israelis to release more than 200 prisoners and the Germans to release the  leaders of the notorious Baader-Meinhof  ‘Red Army faction’.

The terrorists who survived were later released as a result of the hijacking of a Lufthansa aircraft in 1977 by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, another Fatah group closely associated to today’s Palestinian Authority leaders including Mahmoud Abbas who it is claimed funded the massacre 40 years ago.

So how fitting is it, then, that that same Abbas should endorse a thank you letter, a billet-doux to Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC for not holding a ‘racist minute of silence’.

Palestinian Media Watch reports:

The Palestinian Authority is against the moment of silence at the Olympics to commemorate the Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics in 1972. According to the headline in the official PA daily, “Sports are meant for peace, not for racism.”

According to Jibril Rajoub, President of the Palestinian Olympic Committee:

“Sports are meant for peace, not for racism… Sports are a bridge to love, interconnection, and spreading of peace among nations; it must not be a cause of division and spreading of racism between them [nations].”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 25, 2012]

These words appeared in a letter sent by Rajoub to the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge. The letter ”expressed appreciation for [Rogge's] position, who opposed the Israeli position, which demanded a moment’s silence at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London.”

How can anything be more obscene, more morally repugnant, more of an inversion of all norms of civilised behaviour than actually calling it a racist act for the world to commemorate the killings of Jews by racists.

The real reason the PA does not want the Minute of Silence is that they actually applaud and revere the terrorists who committed the act. They are national heroes.

How can there ever be peace and reconciliation with people who hold such vile views. Better to shut up. Instead they actually congratulate the IOC in their brazen dirt-rubbing, self-satisfied, vainglorious smugness.

Why congratulate? Because this actually is the act of hijack; it says ‘look world, what we did is OK because the IOC are on our side. The Jews can go to hell. Those murders were a victory. You don’t cry over dead Jews’.

So Rogge and his cowardly Olympic cabal are now complicit in that massacre by association. It’s not good enough that he held his miserable minute of silence in front of 50 people at the signing of the Olympic Truce. Some Truce. Some chutzpah!

Despite this, earlier today, the Zionist Federation held a 15 minute ceremony which was webcast and attracted much attention on Twitter. Last week an initiative in Hackney brought the Mayor of London and several dignitaries to the Arthaus for a moving ceremony and unveiling of a plaque.

40 years later, little has changed. Israeli Jews are still murdered in Europe; Burgas last week being a case in point. But in those years Israel has moved in world public perception from plucky little David, a victim, to a perpetrator who can hardly be surprised when it is attacked for its ‘crimes’.  That crime is the crime of existence.

Let’s hope the Olympics are a great success. But don’t be fooled. The Palestinian team is there to further its attempt to be recognised without negotiation. It’s there not because it cares for its athletes or the Olympic ideal; it’s just another means to further its political objectives, delegitimise Israel and demonise Jews.

Is the synod EAPPI with this?

In response to the recent vote in the General Synod of the Church of England to support closer ties with EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel),  I was involved in writing this response on behalf of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region which was subsequently sent to Christian magazines as an open letter:

The Jewish Representative Council  of Greater Manchester and Region  expresses  its great disappointment  at the result of  the vote in the General Synod to support EAPPI (the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel).

Whereas it is perfectly legitimate for any Church or religious body to question or criticise the actions of the UK government or any foreign  government for that matter, as a question of conscience, it is alarming in the extreme to see the established Church of England support an organisation which itself associates with individuals and organisations whose motivation is not that of human rights or religious conscience, but of demonization and deligitimisation of the State of Israel.

This  was reflected in the tone and content of some of  the speeches made at the Synod. The debate at Synod  was littered with references to ‘powerful lobbies’, the money expended by the Jewish community, ‘Jewish sounding names’ and the actions of the community ‘bringing shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust’.

This is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind the motion.

The content of the EAPPI website  itself is rife with uncontextualised allegations, witness and declaration whilst giving but lip service to balance, historical perspectives and disputed legalities.

The Church of England would do well, if not better, to concentrate its efforts, and lead on the parlous situation of Christian communities in the Palestinian Arab Territories and throughout the Middle East where they are subject to attack, abuse, dispossession, forced conversions, expulsion and murder not at the hands of Jews but of Muslims.

It should be noted that Israel is the only country in the Middle East whose Christian community is growing.

Our Council  which only last week joined in the celebrations connected with  the establishment  of the Council of Christians and Jews 70 years ago  will continue its interfaith work with the Church of England in Manchester with whom it has strong and highly valued ties; but this relationship has been severely damaged by this vote.

We especially thank the Bishop of Manchester Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch for his opposition to the motion and  for his deep understanding of the real issues.

I have emphasised the area under discussion but I believe this topic merits more than one blog post.

I read today in YnetNews

The Orthodox Christian Church in the Gaza Strip is claiming that a group of armed Islamists kidnapped five Christian Palestinians, a young man and a mother and her three daughters, to force them to convert to Islam.

In a statement, the church said that “the dangerous Islamist movement is trying to convince Christian men and women to convert to Islam, destroying Christian families and the Christian presence in the Gaza Strip.”

The church refused to divulge the name of the Islamist group it accused of these attempts.

The head of the Gaza church claimed that one of the Christians was abducted on Saturday after he had been heavily pressured to convert to Islam and had been prevented from seeing his family. According to the leader, the young man’s parents filed a police complaint, but the police did nothing after learning that the person behind the alleged kidnappers was a senior cleric identified with Hamas.

This reinforces my emphasised text above written before this story. All over the Arab world and within the Palestinian Authority Christians are under attack. In Bethlehem they are leaving or being forced out not by Israelis but by Muslims who intimidate them and appropriate property; in Egypt the Copts have been under attack. In Syria; in Iraq the Christian population is all but gone after centuries. Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post reviewed the situation last year.

So where is the EAPPI equivalent in these countries? Where are the Synod resolutions? What is the Church doing about it? Which governments are they protesting to? Which NGO’s have they set up to investigate?

As usual, it’s only Israel and the Jews who are subject to a level of scrutiny Israel alone in the Middle East would tolerate.

Meanwhile the in Israel the Christian community is the only one in the Middle East that is growing and the only one that feels safe and whose religious rights and practices are protected not just by law but in fact.

I make a point about Jewish refugees from Arab lands

For months now a particular pro-Palestinian website has directly linked to an image on my website.

The image was of a UK and an Israeli flag and used to illustrate an article, on this other website, about the decision of the UK government to tighten up the universal jurisdiction rules which were being abused to issue arrests for Israeli lawmakers and military visiting the UK.

I just deleted the image so that a blank space would replace the flag image.

Then, after so many months, still linking to my site, I decided to strike a blow for the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab lands who were expelled over a decade for no other reason than they were Jews in a spiteful ‘revenge’  for the creation of the State of Israel.

Of course, where would these refugees go? Many to Israel. Thus the Arab countries were hoist by their own petard, as it were and now it was my time to do a little hoisting of my own.

So I recreated the image I had deleted but this time it carried a message: “Between 1947 and 1958 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries because they were Jews”; beneath is the Israeli flag.

So far, it’s still there.

I wonder how long it will remain.

I guess you might call it self-hacking on their part.

But then, those uprooted Palestinians are the only refugees in history whose numbers have increased over time and who are granted that status in perpetuity and uniquely.

Meanwhile the 900,000 Jews have settled and got on with their lives building a future for their families having left behind their property, memories and dead relatives who lived in their former host countries for centuries.

Nothing speaks more eloquently of the need for a Jewish homeland than those who would deprive us of one.

Israel, Palestine, valuing life, valuing death

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of hearing Rabbi Israel Meir Lau speak at the official opening of the new King David High School in Manchester.

I had heard him on three previous occasions, the first in Birkenau in 1998. You can see a snippet of that speech in the video I posted of the March of the Living here. Rabbi Lau, now Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, mesmerised his audience at King David with a vivid account of his experiences after liberation from Buchenwald concentration camp. He was 8 years old and was at a young persons convalescent camp near Paris.

I won’t rehearse the story here. I suggest you do what I did and that is to buy his memoir ‘Out of the Depths’.

Almost every page contains a heart-rending story, an amazing life-saving incident, a tearful memory. You gasp, you cry with every line and the unfolding of his amazing story.

I was struck at the beginning of the book where Rabbi Lau describes one of the many occasions where his life was saved by what appeared to be a providential hand.

The story I have in mind is heart-breaking and unbearable. Rabbi Lau describes how, as a 7 year old, he was to be placed on a transport with his mother whilst his older brother Naphtali was separated with the men of working age.

Rabbinit Lau knew that she and the women and children were destined for death, whereas those who could work had a chance, at least, for life.

With a mother’s desire to see her child live she literally threw ‘Lulek’ at his brother in order to save him, knowing full well that it was unlikely she would see either of them again. She took the agonising decision to separate herself from her little boy and face almost certain death alone so that he might live.

Her instinct was to do anything she could to save her son.

How different, I thought, when reading this, from those mothers in Gaza and Jenin and across the Palestinian territories who do the exact opposite. Instead of saving their sons and daughters they encourage them to strap suicide belts to their bodies and detonate them in Israel. Then they celebrate their son or daughter as a martyr and rejoice at the deaths their child has caused.

Not all Palestinian mothers think this way, of course, but many, many do.

At the heart of the conflict with its many nuances and complexities lies this awful truth.

The Jewish experience means that we embrace life and mourn loss and regret the killing of innocents – their are always those who do not fit that generalisation, but it is largely and overwhelmingly the case; the Palestinian experience has taught them to embrace death and martydom and exult in its consequences – another generalisation but very often true.

Am Yisrael Chai