Tag Archives: peace

Shana Tova 5773

Wishing all my readers a healthy and prosperous New Year whatever your religious affiliation or none.

Sorry I have not posted for a while, which may be a relief to some.

I have had a busy few months with my community responsibilities.

It’s not as if nothing is going on, is it?

Some recent highlights:

  • Wild accusations of Mossad involvement in the Lac D’Annecy shootings
  • Hannan Ashrawi denies Jews expelled from Arab lands are refugees, thus, at the same time, accidentally confirming that Palestinians refugees aren’t refugees.
  • BBC to show a Panorama programme on the night of Rosh HaShonah about the Price Tag movement in Israel and the Territories
  • The genocidal megalomaniac Iranian President Ahmadinejad will be speaking at the UN this month
    Will Israel bomb Iran or not?
  • Ongoing BDS with Habima, BatSheva, an Israeli store in Brighton, the Co-op, the TUC
  • Rachel Corrie decision
  • Supporters of the religion of peace riot, kill and burn because some idiot Egyptian Copt ex-pat with a grudge claiming to be an Israeli Jew posts a ludicrously amateurish video on YouTube insulting the Prophet which hardly any of the rioters will even have seen
  • Worrying developments at the Church of England Synod re EAPPI

Having survived two Manchester Jewish stores this morning thronged with last-minute Yom Tov shoppers and Tesco to boot, I am sure that I shall return in 5773 ready to take on anyone and any thing.

 

Big Tent for Israel – A Day to Remember

The Big Tent for Israel conference at the Mercure Piccadilly hotel in Manchester city centre on Sunday November 27th was an outstanding success for the organisers, the Manchester Jewish community and the inspiration behind the conference, Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag of the Whitefield Hebrew Congregation.

More than 700 people came from throughout the country to the event aimed at encouraging  grass-roots advocacy and activism to counter the delegitimisation of the State of Israel in the UK.

The Reut Institute in Tel Aviv has identified five streams of delegitimisation in public life: politics, media, churches, academia and trades unions.

The conference invited speakers, experts and trainers from the UK, Israel and the United States to facilitate discussion, learning and workshops in these five spheres.

The keynote speaker at the opening plenary was Israel’s Ambassador  H.E. Daniel Taub who thrilled the audience in a packed International Suite with a stirring speech outlining Israel’s many successes and achievements and castigating the lies of its detractors.

Well-known speakers at the many sessions included Douglas Murray and Lorna Fitzsimons of BICOM who delivered a rousing keynote finale in the closing Plenary telling the delegates that each and every one of them can, and should, contribute to advocacy.

Other speakers included Eran Shayshon of the Reut Institute, Yakov Triptou of Israeli Trades Unions organisation, Histadrut.  Bishop Dr Doye Agama, Revd Steve Williams and the Revd Alan Morris were just three of many leading Christian supporters of Israel.

The Muslim community was also represented by two outstanding speakers: Mohammed Amin of the The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester and Kasim Hafeez. Kasim amazed and moved the audience with the story of his journey from anti-Semite to Zionist.

Other outstanding contributors were professor of international law, Prof. Ronnie Sabel of the Hebrew University, Marcus Sheff of The Israel Project, Andrew White of Beyond Images and Stuart Palmer –  an expert in Social Media.

The presence and participation of the British Jewish leadership organisations gave a huge boost and endorsement to the conference. These included Vivian Wineman and Jon Benjamin from the Board of Deputies, Jeremy Newmark from the Jewish Leadership Council and Harvey Rose of the Zionist Federation. A video message from Mick Davis, head of the UJIA and the JLC was well received.

Local community leaders also featured prominently: Lucille Cohen of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region , Joy Wolfe MBE of Stand With Us UK, David Arnold of the Council of Christians and Jews and Doreen Gerson of Trade Union Friends of Israel all of whom were organisers of the event along with myself and Benjy Black.

There were also student and youth sessions and a special reception for students provided by the Israeli Embassy.

The event was a triumph for Debbie Marks of Qube Events who made all the arrangements for the venue and whose efforts brought great praise from the organisers and delegates.

The CST provided an amazing security regime and ensured the safety of everyone.

Reaction and feedback from the event has been very positive, and the organisers hope to use the conference to support grassroots activism in the community.

Some pictures have been posted here https://plus.google.com/photos/115830918051751848836/albums/5680436340038578081

Some thoughts on the eve of the Big Tent for Israel conference in Manchester, UK

It’s only a few hours away now and I am beginning to get a feeling in the pit of my stomach similar to that I felt on the eve on my wedding, or my sons’ barmitzvahs.

I have never been so closely involved with an event of this magnitude, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Despite political, community and other problems and issues, we now have the buzz and excitement we wanted with more than 600 people attending the event in central Manchester tomorrow.

Even now I hear that more people from London want to come even though the registration was officially closed at 2pm yesterday.

I have met, communicated with, phoned and emailed dozens of people across the UK and Israel and even the USA.

With a very few exceptions everyone has been incredibly supportive and appreciative of the work that the Organising Committee has carried out in what, in the end, had to be a very short space of time.

We’ve had many ups and downs, a few laughs, several arguments, huge pressure and stress, but tomorrow we shall see that it has all been worthwhile.

A Big, Big Tent thank you to all the team and a special shout out for Debbie Marks of Qube Events who has been and continues to be heroic. Kol HaKavod to Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag whose vision made this event possible.

This is only the beginning of the fight back against the haters and delegitimisers. This is not just about the Jewish community in the UK, it’s about bringing together all those who see the dangers facing Israel from without and within and passionately believe in its survival, in peace and justice for the entire Middle East.

No doubt I’ll be reporting and posting about the event next week.

I can then get back to blogging again which is how I got involved in this in the first place.

 

Gilad Shalit and the Muslim newsagent

My wife shops near her school Fridays to get bread and stuff for Shabbat from the Jewish baker.

She then goes next door to the newsagent to get her Jewish papers.

The owners are devout Muslims.

They are always friendly, polite, respectful.

However, you never really know what they think of their Jewish clientele, after all, business is business, no?

Today I drove my wife to collect the bread and get the papers.

I stood beside her as she took the local Jewish paper to the counter where the young (20 something) son of the owner was serving.

On the front page was a huge picture of Gilad Shalit.

This is what the young man said, verbatim, unprompted:

“Thank God he is home safe”.

I don’t know why but I fill up just thinking about that.

We were both speechless. We expected a polite ignoring of this story, after all, why should he care? We always presume that the sympathy would be only with the Palestinians.

I was reluctant to tell this story that had moved me. Was it patronising or discourteous to Muslims to somehow believe they would not be relieved at the release of a young man? A Jew. An Israeli.  Did it say more about my prejudices than those I am subscribing to them?

A Muslim friend advised me that it was a good story to tell. It shows us that if we really spoke to each other more, we might surprise each other.

Chag Sameach.

 

Declaring a unilateral Palestinian state would be illegal

H/T Elder of Zion

In September the Palestinian Authority, backed by the Arab League and over a hundred other countries, will try to have ‘Palestine’ declared as a state based on the ’1967 borders’.

It will thus bypass several UN Resolutions and bilateral agreements and trigger a likely annexation by Israel of areas it will now claim as part of Palestine.

Whilst I have always conceded that a two-state solution is the only likely one to bring long-term peace, the only way this can be achieved is via negotiation.

The JCPA has published an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon signed by several international jurists and lawyers.

The core of this letter is reproduced below which explains the illegality of such a move:

    1. The legal basis for the establishment of the State of Israel was the resolution unanimously adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel. This included the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, and close Jewish settlement throughout. This was subsequently affirmed by both houses of the U.S. Congress.
    2. Article 80 of the UN Charter determines the continued validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations). Accordingly, the above-noted League resolution remains valid, and the 650,000 Jews presently resident in the areas of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem reside there legitimately.
    3. “The 1967 borders” do not exist, and have never existed. The 1949 Armistice Agreements entered into by Israel and its Arab neighbors, establishing the Armistice Demarcation Lines, clearly stated that these lines “are without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.” Accordingly, they cannot be accepted or declared to be the international boundaries of a Palestinian state.
    4. UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) called upon the parties to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and specifically stressed the need to negotiate in order to achieve “secure and recognized boundaries.”
    5. The Palestinian proposal, in attempting to unilaterally change the status of the territory and determine the “1967 borders” as its recognized borders, in addition to running squarely against Resolutions 242 and 338, would be a fundamental breach of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in which the parties undertook to negotiate the issue of borders and not act to change the status of the territories pending outcome of the permanent status negotiations.
    6. The Palestinians entered into the various agreements constituting what is known as the “Oslo Accords” in the full knowledge that Israel’s settlements existed in the areas, and that settlements would be one of the issues to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations. Furthermore, the Oslo Accords impose no limitation on Israel’s settlement activity in those areas that the Palestinians agreed would continue to be under Israel’s jurisdiction and control pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.
    7. While the Interim Agreement was signed by Israel and the PLO, it was witnessed by the UN together with the EU, the Russian Federation, the U.S., Egypt, and Norway. It is thus inconceivable that such witnesses, including first and foremost the UN, would now give license to a measure in the UN aimed at violating this agreement and undermining major resolutions of the Security Council.
    8. While the UN has maintained a persistent policy of non-recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem pending a negotiated solution, despite Israel’s historic rights to the city, it is inconceivable that the UN would now recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, the borders of which would include eastern Jerusalem. This would represent the ultimate in hypocrisy, double standards, and discrimination, as well as an utter disregard of the rights of Israel and the Jewish People.
    9. Such unilateral action by the Palestinians could give rise to reciprocal initiatives in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) which could include proposed legislation to declare Israel’s sovereignty over extensive parts of Judea and Samaria, if and when the Palestinians carry out their unilateral action.

Even though the US and other countries, including the UK, will veto this on the UN Security Council. the intention of the resolution and a vote in favour in the General Assembly is intended to isolate Israel and give a kind of de facto respectability to the Palestinian claims.

A peace agreement was intended to end the conflict. This does not end the conflict. It leaves the Palestinians still claiming that millions of descendants of refugees from 1948 should be entitled to ‘return’ to Israel and that Jerusalem is the capital of ‘Palestine’.

The PA will claim a consensus legitimacy for its ‘Palestine’ whilst still removing Israel from its maps of ‘Palestine’.

Establishing ‘Palestine’  on the 1967 borders will do absolutely nothing to further the cause of peace; in fact, it will do the exact opposite.

With Israel or against? The West has to decide NOW and fast

With Israel or against? The West has to decide NOW and fast whether it is willing to stand by and see a second Holocaust.

Will Cameron and Sarkozy and Merkel and Obama and the rest wring their hands and say: “If only they had compromised; if only they had shared Jerusalem and dismantled the settlements. If they hadn’t been such stiff-necked Jews then all this genocide would not have happened.

Why do I say this? Surely Israel is the regional superpower?

Well that means nothing.

The Palestinians are so emboldened by the UN and the Western powers not standing up for Israel, and, to the contrary, accusing Israel of intransigence, failure to compromise, not wanting peace, occupation, appropriation, war crimes, crimes against humanity… you know how it goes; so emboldened are the Palestinians that now they have no fear of saying in English what they have always said in Arabic.

Now the days of bad faith and playing the peace game are over. The mask has dropped.

Now they are telling it like it is and ‘it’ is the destruction of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian IslamoFascist, West-hating, anti-Semitic, racist, genocidal, state.

And this is to replace the democratic, free, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, JEWISH state of Israel.

Let’s see what the Palestinian Authority’s president had to say in the New York Times on the anniversary of what he calls the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) and what Israel calls its Independence Day.

This month, however, as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe — the Palestinian people have cause for hope: this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.

Of course, he doesn’t mention that the same United Nations recognised the very State of Israel that he refuses to recognise. He does not mention that the so-called 1967 border is in fact the 1949 armistice line and was never an agreed border. The borders of Israel were never finalised because the Arab states would not recognise Israel and have not recognised Israel since or intend to do so in the future.

And here’s the really good bit:

It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued. Indeed, it was the descendants of these expelled Palestinians who were shot and wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday as they tried to symbolically exercise their right to return to their families’ homes.

Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled.

Let’s see how some commentators reacted to this outrageous rewriting of history.

Elder of Ziyon:

A complete and utter lie. Within mere hours after the partition vote, Arabs started murdering Jews:

The link in the above quote is to another Elder blog which describes the massacre of November 1947 :

The first victims were on a bus to Jerusalem. Some were killed instantly from a grenade hurled into the bus; one of the injured passengers was murdered as he tried to tend to his injured wife. Another victim was on her way to Jerusalem to get married.

Others were killed that day as well, and many hundreds more – men, women and children – were to be brutally murdered in the coming months.

The reasons for the hate have not changed a bit from then to today. They were not murdered because of “occupation” or “refugees” or any of the dozens of other justifications that have been since used to minimize the horror of these unabashed terror attacks.

Their “crimes” were simply because they were Jews with the desire to live in their own nation, at peace with their neighbors. What the world recognized instinctively in 1947 – that Jews deserve the right to self-determination – was to be tested by a massive temper tantrum of Arab supremacists who were willing to attempt a second genocide against the Jews rather than face what they consider “humiliation.

The Elder tells us:

Abbas’ account is so outrageously false that it should have been rejected from being in the New York Times editorial just on that basis. An op-ed does not give the writer carte blanche to make up history. The facts are documented quite well. Abbas is a liar.

The Arab armies that invaded in May 1948 didn’t “intervene” to protect Arabs of Palestine. They went in to massacre all the Jews of Palestine.

So it is not surprising that an established liar can write:

Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled.

That “promise” was roundly rejected by not only the entire Arab world but by every Palestinian Arab leader themselves. Abbas is arrogantly trying to pretend that he deserves a state when his forebears, and he himself, have rejected just such a state numerous times.

Rivka Shpak Lissak wades in:

Abu Mazen’s article is a combination of 2 lies:
About historical facts
About the negotiating with Israel

Lies about History:…

The historic name of the country is the Land of Israel
It was the homeland of the Jews/Israelis from the 18th century BCE. 3 to 4 million Jews lived in the Land of Israel in 66 CE when they revolted against the Roman occupation of their country and failed.
From 66 CE to 640 CE the Romans and the Byzantines were engaged in a policy to put an end to the Jewish majority, and by 640 only 200,000 Jews survived. Many were killed, many enslaved and sold in the empire’s markets and many were forced to run away.

Until the 15th century CE there was a Christian – Aramaic majority in the so called Palestine (the Romans changed the name of the country in 135 CE).

In the 16th century there were less than 100,000 Muslims in the country. Most of the ancestors of the today Palestinians immigrated to Palestine from Arab and Muslim countries between the middle of the 19th century and the 20th century, most of them, illegally,during the 20th century, due to jobs created by the Zionist movement and the British Mandate.
The only region settled by Arabs in Palestine between the 7th and 12th centuries was the today Western Bank

Conclusion: There was never an Arab or Palestinian state in Palestine.

Lies about the negotiating with Israel

Abu Mazen wrote:
“We have been negotiating with the state of Israel for 20 years without coming any closer to realizing a state of our own.”
The Palestinians are responsible for the continuation of the conflict without a peace agreement:
2000 – Camp David, Clinton and Barak gave Arafat a fair proposal. It included 97% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza, and compensation in Israeli territory for part of the settlements, division of Jerusalem and a solution to the holy places. Arafat rejected the proposal because it included settlement of the refugees in the Palestinian state and not in Israel.
2008/9 – Ulmert proposal was even better than the Clinton – Barak proposal, Abu Mazen admitted in an interview to the Washington Post , May 2009, but he did not say Yes to the proposal because it did not include the settlement of the refugees in Israel.

The settlement of the refugees in Israel is a Trojan horse to put an end to the Jewish state, by turning the Jews into a minority.
The refugee problem was created as a result of the war Palestinians and Arab states declared against Israel because they refused to accept the 1947 UN resolution of 2 states. They declared they were going “to throw the Jews into the sea.” And eliminate the Jewish state,
Israel.
Palestinians could get a state in 1947 besides Israel, thus the refugee problem would have never created. Its their responsibility.
Freeze of settlements was never a pre- condition in 2000 and 2008/9. This is a new device to prevent negotiations.
The settlements were always part of the talks – not a pre- condition. This issue should be part of the negotiations.

So this is the narrative which gets western leaders putting their fingers in their ears and singing ‘la la la’.

It could not be plainer,

This is what Abbas said:

The State of Palestine intends to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Once admitted to the United Nations, our state stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel. A key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948.

Palestine would be negotiating from the position of one United Nations member whose territory is militarily occupied by another, however, and not as a vanquished people ready to accept whatever terms are put in front of us.

So even when he has his state it will still be negotiating for the return of refugees TO ISRAEL bu Israel is, to him, ‘militarily occupied’. Don’t be fooled. You may think he is talking about the West Bank, but he is clever, this peace-loving man with a doctoral thesis questioning the extent of the Holocaust. He knows and his people know that when he speaks of ‘territory’ that is ‘occupied’ he means the WHOLE OF ISRAEL.

This same narrative is the one you can encounter in the Guardian’s Comment is Free, in the politics of the Far Left, in trendy kaffiyeh-wearing students who shout death to Israel and the United States.

It’s the same lie that makes the dispute a border dispute not an ideologically and religiously driven 100 year long struggle to kill or drive Jews from sacred Islamic land. Leave, die or become a fourth class dhimmi, oh Jew. That is the true narrative. Not settlements, not the Green Line, not so-called East Jerusalem. It’s about a psychotic and deeply-embedded hostility to Jews qua Jews that is endemic in Palestinian society and in the countries which surround Israel. If they wanted a state they could have had it at least four times in history.

An important article from Palestine Media Watch reports what is taught in Palestinian School Books which explains the real truth and intention of the PA and, for that matter, the tens of thousands of people who invaded or attempted to invade Israel on the anniversary of the ‘nakba’ earlier this week:

Abstract:“The Zionist gangs stole Palestine … and established the state of Israel” – this quote, from an official PA 12th Grade schoolbook, is an accurate depiction of how the PA educates its population to view the establishment of the State of Israel. Presenting the creation of the state as an act of theft and its continued existence as a historical injustice serves as the basis for the PA’s non-recognition of Israel’s right to exist. In order to create an ideological basis for this, the PA denies there was an ancient Jewish history in the Land of Israel and also distorts modern history, presenting Zionism as a demonic Nazi-like phenomenon. In order to explain what made Jews come to Israel, since they claim there was no historical connection to draw them, Zionism is presented as a colonialist movement created by the West to further its interests.

First, the countries of Europe wanted to rid themselves of the Jews and needed a place for them. They also wanted a foreign body in the heart of the Arab world to serve Europe’s colonialist aims. For these reasons, they sent the Jews to “steal Palestine.” Israel is further demonized through images and descriptions, such as “the foster child of the Nazis,” “an organized terror state,” “the cruelest enemy,” etc. Accordingly, the idea of the State of Israel ceasing to exist is presented as the achievement of justice.Today, following the establishment of a Fatah and Hamas unity government, many countries are demanding that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist as a condition for the world’s recognition of their new government. Ironically, this very condition is violated daily by the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.

Not only to they teach anti-Semitism as they would teach Mathematics, their intention is clear. The state they intend to have recognised in September is just a Trojan horse, another step along the road of delegitimisation, demonisation and ultimate destruction.

On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme we heard exactly this narrative from a Palestinian representative , Husam Zomlot.

The question was: did not Israel have the right to defend its borders when thousands of people from neighbouring hostile countries, who are technically in a state of war, come streaming across the border. Is  it not surprising some were killed?

Mr Zomlot did the usual rhetorical trick of avoiding an answer simply because he believes Israel is not Israel; it’s Palestine and these people were returning to their homes. If you are in the UK you can hear the interview and also Mark Regev’s response on behalf of Israel here. But here’s a flavour of it:

“… they reside in what remains of the Occupied Palestinian Territories’ (namely, Israel)”

Humphrys: “They were carrying clubs, they were throwing stones, they posed a threat to the Israelis”

Zomlot: “Those are the definition (sic) of peaceful demonstration, sir.”

Humphrys: “How would you have expected the Israeli security forces to react?”

Zomlot: “This is not a security matter… definitely the security forces would always fail to deal with such a purely political, humanitarian, legal matter”. Wha? Clearly avoiding the issue.

Humphrys: “You say it’s not a security matter.. if I marched into your house waving a club and throwing a stone then it would be a security matter, wouldn’t it?”

Zomlot:  According to the United Nations, according to UN Security Council resolutions, those people they’re marching to their homes, they have the deeds of their homes, it’s their private property… these people are not marching into a foreign territory

And there you have it. Israel is not a foreign territory for this Palestinian spokesman, it is Palestine. From the River to the Sea.

You see now what I mean about ‘emboldened’. Now we see how these Palestinians (if indeed they are) feel. They have a right to march into their homeland because Israel is not a legitimate state. And he has the audacity to quote the UN resolutions as proof of this when, in fact, quite the opposite is true.

The nakba invasions proved very fertile ground for those who would destroy Israel. It gave them a very potent weapon; they will organise more such invasions backed, no doubt, by Hizbollah/Iran and Hamas/Iran and see what the Israelis do. They will be ‘peaceful’ demonstrations, even though invading another country is not peaceful. They will be unarmed with sticks and rocks. And when the Israelis try to  hold them back with tear gas or rubber bullets or live rounds they will be violent colonialist aggressors.

Here’s someone with a long memory salivating at the though of murdering Jews and stealing their property AGAIN. A 92 year old woman gloats about how she saw Jews being massacred in Hebron.

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2929.htm (transcript below)

An interview with Sara Jaber, a 92-year-old Palestinian who participated in a Right of Return demonstration on the Jordanian Israeli border. The interview was aired on Al-Aqsa TV on May 13, 2011:

Interviewer: Please tell us who you are.

Sara Jaber: I am from Hebron. The Jaber family.

Interviewer: What is your name?

Sara Jaber: Sara Muhammad ‘Awwadh Jaber.

Interviewer: How old are you?

Sara Jaber: I am 92.

Interviewer: So you remember May 15, 1948, the day of the Nakba.

Sara Jaber: Why wouldn’t I remember? May Allah support us. I hope we forget those days. Allah willing, you will bury [Israel], and massacre the Jews with your own hands. Allah willing, you will massacre them like we massacred them in Hebron.

Interviewer: What does this day mean to you? You have lived 63 years since the Nakba. You have experienced the entire Nakba…

Sara Jaber: 92 years. That’s 92. I lived through the British era, and I lived through the massacre of the Jews in Hebron. We, the people of Hebron, massacred the Jews. My father massacred them, and brought back some stuff…

Interviewer: Thank you very much.

And if you can stomach some more, take a look here:

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2934.htm (transcript below)

Following are excerpts from an interview with Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on May 11, 2011:

Yunis Al-Astal: The [Jews] are brought in droves to Palestine so that the Palestinians – and the Islamic nation behind them – will have the honor of annihilating the evil of this gang.

[…]

All the predators, all the birds of prey, all the dangerous reptiles and insects, and all the lethal bacteria are far less dangerous than the Jews.

[…]

In just a few years, all the Zionists and the settlers will realize that their arrival in Palestine was for the purpose of the great massacre, by means of which Allah wants to relieve humanity of their evil.

[…]

When Palestine is liberated and its people return to it, and the entire region, with the grace of Allah, will have turned into the United States of Islam, the land of Palestine will become the capital of the Islamic Caliphate, and all these countries will turn into states within the Caliphate. When this happens, any Palestinian will be able to live anywhere, because the land of Islam is the property of all Muslims.

Until this happens, we must reject all the resettlement plans, naturalization, or even reparations prior to the return of the refugees.

[...]

It’s about time the democracies of the world stood behind Israel. It’s about time the UN did something about it. It’s about time they all recognise this conflict for what it is: a genocidal and fanatical war against Israel, democracy and freedom.

If this is the Arab Spring what will winter bring.

 

 

 

Michael Morpurgo and the children of Israel and Gaza

Children’s author Michael Morpurgo published a book called ‘The Kites are Flying’ two years ago, apparently an uplifting story of how children across the divide between Israel and the Palestinians find friendship in the common pursuit of kite-flying across the Separation Barrier.

It’s an extraordinarily political thing to do to write about an ongoing conflict and present it to children who probably understand little of the origins of that conflict.

Putting that thought aside, a few days ago, Morpurgo appeared on BBC2′s Newsnight where he presented a short documentary film he had made in Israel and Gaza and discovered the the real world either side of the divide.

The film and visit were sponsored by the NGO Save the Children.

The documentary showed Morpurgo to be a humane man, desperate for children in this conflict to give us hope that they can live in peace in the future. It was optimistic and idealistic with a smattering of realism. There were also one or two problems with it which I want to discuss.

The documentary was followed by a discussion chaired by Jeremy Paxman with Morpurgo and Louise Ellman (MP Lab Liverpool Riverside) who is a passionate advocate of Israel in Parliament.

I shall come to that discussion too. But first the short documentary, which is still on BBC iPlayer as I write  (it does not appear to be on YouTube yet).

Morpurgo begins by telling us about the book he wrote even though he had never been to Israel or the Palestinian Territories. Strange, I thought, that he could write about a subject of which he had had no personal experience and then sell it to kids. But everyone thinks they understand the conflict because they see it on the news channels and read about it in the papers.

We discover he ‘was sent’ by Save the Children to Israel and Gaza as an ambassador for that organisation.

His expressed aim was to try to find out whether children on both sides see a chance for peace or ‘whether my book was sentimental nonsense’.

We see Morpurgo asking questions at a school in Neve Shalom. This school is the first in Israel that is bilingual and ‘bi-national’ as he puts it.

I am already having problems. ‘Bi-national’? Does he not realise that all these children are Israelis? Let’s accept his shorthand for ‘bi-ethnic’ or ‘bi-cultural’ but surely the point is that it is decidedly not ‘bi-national’.

The kids are bright, eager, they speak English. They are typically Israeli. They are happy and smiling, well-balanced kids as far as we can see. Only those who know Israel would be able to spot who is a Jew and who is an Arab.

He now asks them what they feel about the other community. But this is rather ignorant. These are not Israelis and Palestinians from either side of the Barrier. They are not Israelis and Gazans learning together. They all live in the same country, have the same rights, are free to go where they wish, worship where they will, say what they think, write what they believe.

I sense a false analogy creeping up. Morpurgo’s voice and delivery is full of gravitas, empathy, almost like a Church of England vicar.

He asks a Jewish kid if it is easy to play with ‘Arabic’ kids. The boy says ‘yes, but it takes time’. The boy tells us that the word ‘Arab’ is used as a ‘curse’ – he means it’s a defamatory name to call a friend, like ‘Jew’ is to an Arab, no doubt. Clearly this kid has not been primed by the hasbara police.

Another boy, an Arab (I think!) tells us that on the news we only see the bad things not the good. No-one has asked the Arab children what they think of the Jews. Maybe they don’t speak English as well as the Jews.

Morpurgo and the kids make kites, like in his story. He believes that the more schools like this, the more chance of reconciliation.  But again he does not understand. Yes, there are tensions within Israel; yes, the Arabs are discriminated against and their opportunities are fewer. The point he misses is that this school is no different to, say, a school in the USA where black kids are integrated with white.

It’s about making a single society, it’s about achieving the true objectives of Zionism and the ideals of the founders of the State; equality not just in law but in fact. Arabs need to feel more part of the state and less as suspicious aliens in their own country. They need equal opportunity and they need freedom from prejudice and suspicion.

What Morpurgo misses is that the school he thinks this one in Neve Shalom is, would, in reality, be a school where Palestinians from the Territories go to school with Jews from Israel. That’s where the reconciliation is needed far more than in Israel. That’s the true test of children becoming the future peacemakers.

Instead, children in the Territories are taught not reconciliation and understanding but hate and murder, genocide and martyrdom. Why did we not see this in the film? Why did Save the Children not take Morpurgo to a typical school in the West Bank? Why did they not show him he kids TV programmes which deny the existence of Israel and promote the killing of Jews? It’s these children who need saving more than Israeli Arabs, surely.

The kids happily fly their kites with whoops of joy. Children playing together. At the age of 12, we are told, they move on to secondary school and separation.

We are now taken to Sderot, the town in Israel which has been under constant bombardment from Gaza since Israel withdrew from Gaza completely in 2005. It was Sderot which was one of the main reasons for Israel’s attack on Gaza in Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9. Sderot is just a few kilometres from the border.

Now a rarity. Morpurgo explains to us with newsreel footage, that Sderot is  under constant threat of attack.

Soon we are are taken to Operation Cast Lead and told that despite this, the attacks continue. Sderot and its problems are soon left behid, This was the ‘balance’ part of the program. Now for the ‘horrors’ of Gaza.

Morpurgo mistakenly tells us that the Gaza strip is surrounded by a great wall. This is not true. Most of it is a fence.

He tells us about the blockade to prevent weapons entering. ‘To me, it looks like a siege’, he says blithely. I wonder how many sieges he has seen.

At this point, of course, Morpurgo does not realise that what he sees and where he goes is strictly controlled by the Hamas propaganda machine and he is falling for it straightway.

Clearly, there is a huge difference between what he sees in Gaza and what he just saw in Israel. He is shown the worst of Gaza but the hotels and pools, the shops full of food and white goods are nowhere to be seen.

Morpurgo is not an investigative journalist, he is a writer. He should also read more.  Does he realise, for example, that this ‘siege’ is supported by hundreds of trucks bringing food and other necessities from Israel every day? Does he realise that Israel provides electricity and fuel, treats hundred in its own hospitals free of charge?

I always place a caveat when describing Gaza. Life there is no picnic. They are are in a cage caused by geography and history. Gaza is an enclave cut off from the rest of the Palestinian Territories. It is  easy to characterise this as  a siege or a ‘prison camp’.

Morpurgo tells us that levels of poverty and malnutrition are appalling. The doctors at the hospital he visits report on these levels of malnutrition. It is a hospital to specifically treat this problem.

Why is this? Does he know that Hamas take foreign aid given freely and sell it in their own shops?

Does he not wonder why Hamas seem to be able to get hold of weapons but are unable to provide food for their people?

If so, he doesn’t tell us.

He does not tell us that if Hamas were not in a state of belligerence with Israel their economy would be as good as that of the West Bank where there is no malnutrition and where attacks on Israel have considerably reduced.

Why does he not question the fact that the shops are full of food, so why do children go hungry?

We are now taken to the Tamar school in Gaza City which looks like any other city in the Middle East. The kids here are not like the Arabs of Neve Shalom. They are ‘angry’, they have seen their family members dead in the street. We do not know, however, what these family members were up to at the time.

No doubt they are traumatised. No doubt they are brain-washed with hatred. Morpurgo is not focused on this. He wants to discover seeds of reconciliation in their hearts. As in Neve Shalom, the Gazan children (who do not look emaciated at all, quite normal and healthy) are making kites.

He asks the children what they think of Israeli children. A young girl says that the blockade is made by the Israelis. They want their children to have rights, but not Palestinian children.

Morpurgo asks if they could talk to Israeli children were they to be there at that moment. The reply is that one day that child might be a government minister and lift the blockade.

So we see that the children of Gaza believe the blockade is some sort of punishment for them and is not prompted by anything perpetrated by Hamas. So why no blockade on the West Bank? The word ‘blockade’ should rightly refer to the maritime blockade. There is no land blockade, but there is an embargo of certain items such as building materials which could be used for terrorists purposes.

The embargo and blockade are not pretty, but can you name any historical situation where a country supplied anything to another country or political entity which threatened it daily and whose purpose was the total destruction of that country?

A young boy says that there are people who want to take what they have by force and they must try as hard as they can to get back their land by blood. Nice. This is the point, of course. Israel left Gaza completely. The boy means Israel when we speaks about getting back his land. This is what he is taught, he knows no other reality.

The same boy tells horrendous stories of how his family members were killed by Israelis during the conflict.

Despite this, Morpurgo says ‘I sense a willingness not to condemn Israeli children’. I do not know where he got this sense from, it is not evident in the film. In any case, children grow up and become martyrs or fighters. The boy in the film may be 12 years old. He may already have been on ‘operations’. Who knows.

More kite-flying and more wishful thinking from Morpurgo. I don’t blame him for his optimism, but he needs to be a student of the conflict to understand the realities and the death cult and antisemitism aimed at children daily. He does not report on this form of child abuse, of course, because Hamas would never allow him to see it.

Morpurgo is clearly moved by his experiences in Gaza. ‘Leaving Gaza, I feel like a deserter, turning my back on all the suffering and despair’.

He is now subjected to a Pallywood moment and falls for it. I may be being cynical here but the Palestinians are past masters at staging atrocities when foreign film crews happen to be passing through.

We are told and see film of young boys collecting rubble near the border which they can sell in Gaza. Morpurgo does not question why young boys of about 12-14 should be near a a known danger at the border.

Then Morpurgo tells us that whilst he is waiting to cross he hears gunshots. A young boy has been shot and has been put on a cart pulled by a donkey to get him to hospital.

How convenient. I do not want to sound insensitive but I really don’t buy this. We see the cart coming straight at the camera with ‘ a young kid lying bleeding in the back of it’.  Morpurgo says he has never seen anyone shot before. I think he still hasn’t.

The Israelis use remote controlled guns to shoot at anyone who comes near the fence. Even Morpurgo says it’s difficult for him to ‘confirm this has happened here’. But he said he saw a bleeding boy? Who does he think may have shot the kid? Or is he suggesting that he was not shot at all. If so, why does he not say so.

Morpurgo is upset that a commander has to give an order for these remote guns to be fired, but he still does not question why these young boys are allowed near the fence by the Hamas police or their parents. He does not know that this is sanctioned because it gives cover to those who would lay explosives to kill Israelis. If the Israelis fire they might kill a young kid being used as a human shield. Another martyr and another black mark against Israel.

But Morpurgo just sees them as kids scavenging to make a living. He even says they do it near the border to ‘cock a snook’ at the Israelis. He does not appear to be confused by the fact that no-one has run away from the scene of the ‘shooting’ and life carries on. He does not realise he has been the latest victim of Pallywood.

Morpurgo’s conclusion comes more from his own sense of hope and his love of children. He believes the seeds of hope are there on both sides. He sees this as a morally equal battle. He does not appear to take sides – at least not yet. He accuses no-one, at least not yet.

He believes that peace will come as it did in Europe, South Africa and Ireland.

I don’t like analogies. None of these are analogous to each other or the Israeli-Arab conflict.  Let’s hope he is right, but not in my lifetime, I fear.

Back to Paxman in the studio who tells us with that voice of his that expresses cynicism that the IDF told the BBC that remote guns are used to stop terrorist attacks near the fence. Last month young boys tried to place a cart full of explosives at the border. His expression seems to say ‘you would say that wouldn’t you’.

The studio discussion is most interesting mainly for the ineffective performance of Louise Ellman – she really must up her game. She comes over as an apologist who has few answers and expresses those she has as if they were platitudes that no-one will believe.

Morpurgo strongly believes that despite the situation, if Gazan children came to Israel and Israeli children to Gaza a dialogue could start and sow seeds of reconciliation for the future.

Of course, many, many friendships existed and still do between Israelis and Gazans. They do business, they call each other. Many Gazans worked for Israelis and bonds were formed. We don’t hear this.

Ellman tries hard to tell Paxman that Hamas is at the heart of the problem using the children as human shields and gives them explosives or forces them to carry them.

Paxman asks her to comment on the ‘siege’. Like an idiot she uses his word and therefore implies she believes that it is a ‘siege’ when answering his question! She says the siege is about preventing weapons getting into Gaza to be used to blow up Israeli children. She does not distinguish the blockade from the embargo, and so her argument is not convincing.

Paxman, to his credit, says to Morpurgo that he been ‘had’, but only because he didn’t go to Sderot to see what was happening there. Morpurgo insists he does know about it.

But now Morpurgo moves into Guardian anti-Zionist narrative by saying ‘You cannot wage war on children’ and telling us more than 300 children died during Cast Lead. But all wars are fought against children in that they get in the way. And in Gaza, Hamas puts them in harm’s way and some of these children were actually combatants.

Paxman pulls him up on this, again to his credit, and says Israelis are not going in to kill children and Morpurgo says ‘but it happens’. Of course it does. That’s what happens in a war. Should Israel allow its children to be targeted in their schools and do nothing in case Gazan children are killed in their attempt to stop it? Is he serious? It’s Hamas who are targeting children; their own by abusing them to become militarised at a young age and the Israeli children because Hamas send their rockets at times when they know children are going to school or coming home. So who is it that is targeting children? Ellman says nothing.

Morpurgo speaks of a cycle of hatred caused by Israeli actions. There is no cycle of hatred because Israelis do not hate Gazans, they hate Hamas. They are the haters, not the Israelis.

Morpurgo quotes a figure of 26 children shot by Israelis, targeted, he says again, in 2010. But again, what is a child? 16 is not a child in Gaza terms. 14 is not. Why are these ‘children’ at the fence? What are they doing? It is Hamas who use them cynically. If they succeed, Israeli soldiers are killed or maimed, if they fail, Israel is killing children.

How many children died in Iraq in 2010 as a result of terrorism, or in Pakistan? No-one seems to care about these children, only Gazan children who are very often on some military operation.

The discussion comes to an end with Paxman dismissing claims that it’s all one side’s fault or another and that Morpurgo’s idea is a good one but how can you do it with a wall in the way. Ellman tells us that that the wall / barrier is there because Hamas kids go into Israel with suicide belts. Not very convincing.

That’s not why there is a barrier. Morpurgo then smiles and says he hasn’t seen kids with suicide belts and there is a lot of talk about this and implies it’s all rubbish. Ellman here has really lost the plot by banging on about kids with suicide belts. The vast majority are adults and her argument is not helped by a failure to explain the purpose of the barrier.

She redresses the balance by telling us about Gazan children treated in Israeli hospitals, but it’s all delivered in monotone. Israel needs a better advocate than this. Sorry Louise, you are just not forthright enough. If I can say I would have done better, then you know it was not a great performance.

Paxman says that we saw some very malnourished children ‘as a consequence of the Israeli “siege”‘. How does he know that this is the reason for their malnourishment? Gaza actually has an obesity problem, apparently. They are 8th most obese (England 11th) for men and 3rd, yes 3rd for women.

Ellman again fails to make use of statistics and blames Hamas, therefore accepting Paxman’s premise even though we do not know the malnutrition rate, its causes, and how widespread it is. It’s all surmise and speculation, no hard facts.  In other words, Hamas’s propaganda machine wins again. How many starving kids did Morpurgo see outside the hospital?

Morpurgo ends by telling us that Neve Shalom is a beacon of hope where both groups can rub along; Paxman clarifies that these kids are Israelis, but Morpurgo persists in his incorrect claim that these are Israeli kids and Arab kids – he is wrong; they are Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. He does not appear to understand the difference. When it comes to this conflict, ignorance is not bliss but a dangerous misreading and misinterpretation which viewers who don’t know any better take as the truth.

Ellman not once pulls him up on this. It was a poor performance by her.

Morpurgo’s final word: ‘we are all friends of Israel here, but it does them no good to target children’. Ah, that old blood libel. Morpurgo should know better.

Michael Morpurgo is a very well-meaning man and I truly believe he is neutral and wants peace, although there was a hint of one-stateism in his report and discussion. However, he needs to get his facts right and the Israeli case needs to be better represented on these occasions. Ellman does her best, but I was not impressed.

Update 22.02.2011

In the Dimbleby Lecture which Michael gave on the day after this programme he repeated the story of the boy that was shot near the border fence. Even though he said he could not be sure what happened, he stresses that it does happen regularly.

I concede that it may well be true that the boy, or teenager, was shot and maybe operating in an exclusion zone is meant to provoke such actions.  However, can you say in one breath that such young men have been guilty of planting explosive devices intended to kill Israelis on the other side of the fence, and in the next breath condemn the Israelis for trying to prevent it.

As I asked above, why do the Palestinians allow youngsters to operate in such a dangerous zone? In the BBC film we could clearly see Palestinian police watching but not intervening.

Morpurgo has failed to identify the fact that Hamas are completely comfortable with sending children on ‘operations’ and do not have his qualms or share his morality.

Rambam Hospital Haifa – three inspiring stories

The Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa is one of Israel’s and the region’s leading hospital complexes.

This hospital has been at the forefront of encouraging and promoting excellence among the country’s Arab medics and also promoting women to leading roles..

Previously Dr Suheir Assady became the first Israeli Arab woman to be the head of a department.

This video is of the very impressive and charming Dr Assady as reported by Israel21c.com.

Today there was news of another female doctor becoming the first Arab woman plastic surgeon in Israel. Her name is Dr Rania El Hativ.

As Israel’s first Arab woman to become a plastic surgeon, Dr. Rania El Hativ represents a professional role model for others like herself. Further, the 28 year-old Rambam Health Care Campus (RHCC) doctor is confident that her presence will encourage more female patients from her sector to seek the medical care they need.

“While there is growing openness to plastic surgery among the Arab population, the field is still relatively unknown,” says Dr. El Hativ. “In addition, Arab women may be hesitant to reveal bodily defects to male doctors, and may neglect serious problems. Just by being there, I hope to make it easier for Arab women to undergo examinations for plastic surgery procedures.”

For Dr. El Hativ, work is a calling. “I want to raise awareness of plastic surgery in the Arab sector, where it is not well known and accepted,” she says. “Everyone is a member of a specific society, and should contribute. You cannot only think on a personal level, you must also give.”

Dr. El Hativ stresses that plastic surgery is far more than facelifts and breast enhancements. “Our work is incredibly diverse,” she says. “It involves treating a range of problems like war injuries, tumors, burns and cleft palates, as well as providing breast and facial reconstruction for cancer patients,” she says.

While Rania does not perform any exclusively cosmetic procedures, she does operations that involve aesthetic, medical, and emotional aspects. For example, rhinoplasty, commonly known as “nose jobs”, can cure breathing difficulties. Liposuction, on patients who have lost a great deal of weight, eliminates fungi between hanging folds of flesh. Breast reconstruction restores a natural look to women who have undergone mastectomy, while reductions ease the back problems of those with large breasts. Procedures can restore normal appearances – and lives – of patients with oral tumors who were left with exposed teeth and gums.

In addition to the discipline’s variety and ability to ease suffering, its creative aspects attract Dr. El Hativ. “Treatments in other fields of medicine go by the book, but in plastic surgery you can insert your own personality. There are thousands of ways of doing an operation, and plastic surgery demands an artistic view,” says the young surgeon, who incidentally, loves to draw.

Rania adds that empathy and connection are also crucial in her field. “Without the personal touch,” she says, no patient will ever be one hundred percent satisfied.” Likewise, plastic surgery demands a special open-mindedness, and the courage to try new techniques. ”This profession has no boundaries,” she says. “Plastic surgery is a sea without end.”

Also today, a press release told of the story of a Jordanian doctor, Dr. Kamal Hafiz, who came to the Rambam on a fellowship. He has now returned to Jordan.

This is a testament to the standing of Israeli medicine and the part it does and can continue to play in promoting peace, understanding and co-operation through medicine.

Dr Kamal Hafiz [on the left in photo above with Dr. Zohar Keidar, Deputy Director of Nuclear Medicine & PET/CT Institute at RHCC], a specialist in general surgery from Jerash Hospital in Jordan, recently completed an acute care surgery fellowship at Rambam Health Care Campus (RHCC). The first Jordanian surgeon ever to participate in such a program, Dr Hafiz remained for a year at Rambam, gaining crucial skills which he currently applies in his own place of work.

Dr Hafiz was first drawn to RHCC by its reputation as a top notch acute care center, with wide-ranging experience. Acute care is a specialty that combines trauma surgery and general emergency surgery. Likewise, the Jordanian doctor was impressed by the positive reports of a colleague, who in 2006, participated in a course in Rambam on trauma care for Jordanian doctors and nurses. Contributing to Rambam’s attractiveness was its proximity to Jordan. In less than two hours, Dr Hafiz could be in Jerash with his family, which he visited once every three weeks.

Starting his fellowship with an intensive Hebrew course, Dr Hafiz gained a rudimentary command of the language before beginning his spell at Rambam. Once settled in RHCC, performed general surgery and joined surgical teams for emergency procedures. During the last four months of his year at Rambam, Dr Hafiz became a medical staff member, and did patient rounds. “Being in Rambam was a very worthwhile experience, which helped me enrich my surgical practice,” says Dr Hafiz, who worked primarily with Director of the Department of General Surgery Prof Yoram Kluger, Director of Acute Care Surgery Dr Hany Bahouth and Director of the Hepato-Biliary Surgical Service Dr Arie Arish. In regular correspondence with these Rambam surgeons, Dr Hafiz says he “will never forget the staff of Rambam.”

“Dr Hafiz knew that Rambam deals in high volume of trauma and emergency surgery. He realized he was in a good place with good people, and learned things that answer needs at home,” says Dr Bahouth, who did his own fellowship in emergency and critical care at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, USA.

Prior to Dr Hafiz’s visit, two delegations of 13 doctors and nurses each came from Jordan to Rambam for two weeks of training in trauma care and building trauma systems. Held in 2006 and 2009, these courses were arranged as a joint effort between the Jordanian government and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I would like to have the chance to come back to Rambam because I learned a huge amount of medicine and gained hands-on practice from some of the best surgeons in the region,” says Dr Hafiz, who also commented on the bigger picture: “I hope the collaboration will continue between doctors from Israel and Jordan.”

Behind the rhetoric there are real people who can promote peace through this kind of co-operation and exchange of expertise.

*Photo credit: Pioter Fliter-RHCC

Israel and the Palestinians – more hope through medicine

Further to my last post, the IDF has come out with a truly amazing statistic. Tamara Shavit reports:

Humanitarian dilemmas are a recurring issue in the Judea and Samaria region. A terrorist fires at IDF soldiers, is shot and gets wounded. Is an IDF medic to be called to treat him? A building is about to collapse in the heart of Ramallah. Does the IDF enter? Does it jeopardize its soldiers’ lives, or does it call the International Red Cross and risk losing precious time?

To Israel, the answer to these questions is clear. According to Division Medical Officer, Lt. Col. Michael Kassirer, “The treatment of the Palestinian population is first and foremost a moral and professional obligation for every one of us.” Do we treat them? There is no question about it. But what happens in the long run and how? Where do international organizations fit in? How will an independent Palestinian medical body be established and how does coordination between bodies happen in life? These are the real questions.

Shavit reports on a Palestinian doctor, Tawfik Nasr, who explained at a conference at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem that, although the situation in Judea and Samaria has improved, there are many challenges due to accessibility problems and the ability to move freely from the West Bank into Israel.

But despite these difficulties, there are also many successes.” He cites as an example of patients coming from Gaza, treated in Jerusalem sometimes over a period of three to four months. They receive a special permit from the director allowing them to stay in Israel so they won’t have to go back and forth and are housed in a special hotel in the Mount of Olives. “All these things are ultimately coordinated by the Israeli Civil Administration. Therefore I want to take this opportunity to thank you. It is particularly important for me to express my deep gratitude to Dalia [Basa, the medical co-ordinator for the Territories], who is responsible for organizing everything.”

And here’s the statistic:

Last year, 180,000 Palestinian citizens entered Israel to receive treatment. 3,000 emergency patients were transferred from Israeli to Palestinian ambulances using the “back to back” method, without warning.

So much for genocide.

Israel and the Arab world – hope through medicine

The Elder of Ziyon website is constantly providing some fantastic stories from the Arab world.

Most of them are about negative relations, but in the last few days a story that gives us a small window, a little chink, into a world that could be, has been reported.

It’s all about an Arabian princess. But it appears it’s no fairy tale:

From JPost:

A member of the royal family of a Persian Gulf state is undergoing advanced medical treatment in Israel, sources close to Deputy Minister for Negev and Galilee Development Ayoub Kara (Likud) revealed Sunday.

Kara’s office confirmed that the foreign visitor had completed a series of tests Sunday, in preparation for heart surgery on Tuesday, but would not detail the medical tourist’s country of origin, or the name of the hospital in which he is being treated.

Kara’s office became involved in the visit when Kara aided the patient in securing the necessary paperwork in order to allow him to enter Israel. Israel does not have official diplomatic relations with any of the Persian Gulf states.

Then an update from Arutz Sheva:

The woman’s husband, a prince of the unnamed Gulf kingdom himself, is considered a key figure in his country. He told MK Kara that if – and hopefully, when – his wife recovers, he plans to lobby for construction of a large medical center that will take in patients from around the Arab world – with Israeli doctors helping to set up the project. In a statement, MK Kara’s sees medicine as an important bridge to bring Israel and the Arab world closer, “especially given the fact that in recent years more and more Arabs have been exposed to Israeli medicine, and are well aware of the high quality of Israeli medicine.”

Wouldn’t that be incredible if a leading member of a Gulf state were to begin an initiative that would link the Arab world to Israel via humanitarian co-operation.

Whoever the man is, he is certainly someone who, perhaps, recalls a time when Jewish doctors were held in high esteem in the Muslim world. He is also someone who appears to be brave enough to support a medical project with Jewish doctors.

I like the bit about the Arabs having been exposed to Israeli medicine in recent years. This is something rarely, if ever, reported in the Western media. Such stories do not conform either to the narrative of complete animosity between Israeli and Arab, Jew and Muslim, nor do they conform to the image of Israel as a murderous pariah state.

How often do we hear how Israel has allegedly blocked medical assistance to Palestinians whilst the real stories about the thousands who cross from Gaza and the West Bank every year to seek out (often freely given) medical assistance are a footnote, if they are reported at all.

As this story has more than one source, let’s hope it is true.

Medicine is an area where Israel leads the world and can truly fulfil the best traditions and moral precepts of Judaism and Jewish culture.

Medicine as an instrument of peace is certainly something to be supported and lauded and whoever this Arab prince or sheik is, he must be applauded.

And by the way, if you are wondering, MK Ayoub Kara is a Likud member of the Knesset and is a Druze.