We wish all our subscribers, supporters and friends a very happy New Year which brings a lasting and defensible peace and security to the United States, to Israel, and to Jews all over the word.
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Editorial Board: Ruth King, Rita Kramer
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Zionism 101.org: This was Herbert Zweibon’s Last Project
Online now: The British Mandate Part 1
Learn about the roots of Israel and Zionism and pass this knowledge on to the next generation through this amazing series of films.
There are already 40 videos on the site, covering everything from Zionism’s founding fathers to Christian Zionism.
Zionism 101.org is free. You need only register to see the videos and to be informed when the next video is available.
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“…I see a new horizon
My Life has only begun…”
That snippet from a 1930s Broadway musical would appear to mirror Benjamin Netanyahu’s mood as he reaches for an unprecedented fourth term as prime minister of Israel when national elections roll around sometime next year.
Unfazed by a plunge in his popularity ratings to 38 percent from 82 percent at the height of “Operation Protective Edge,” the prime minister has shifted his attention to a more recent set of poll figures with ostensibly greater political shelf-life. Asked whom they would trust at the helm of the ship of state for the next four years, 42 percent of the respondents named Netanyahu. His nearest rival, at 20 percent, was candidate “I don’t know.” His head swimming with these results and the widespread conviction that neither of his warring coalition partners, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) has the stomach for bringing the government down and forcing early elections, the prime minister has been giving voice in the wake of the Gaza stand-down to visions of “a new diplomatic horizon”–a grand alliance of Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in pursuit of a safer, saner Middle East, arrayed in diplomatic combat against an Iranian-backed Hamas and a homicidal Caliphate-obsessed ISIS. Mr. Netanyahu might have stumbled on the germ of an idea, but living in close proximity to the Judean Desert, horizons can easily be mistaken for mirages. The last time an Israeli leader became captive to the “new horizon” syndrome we wound up with Oslo and the ensconcement in Ramallah of Yasser Arafat and 150,000 of his pistoleros.
While the rockets may have been temporarily stilled, “Operation Protective Edge” is by no means over. So if the prime minister is truly “new horizon”-minded, he might try focusing his recharged imagination on two no less critical phases of that campaign–the now and future political and economic war against Hamas. Neither of them is going to be easy to tackle, but the political offers the most transparent target. Well before the 50 days of fighting ended, the European Union committed itself to “the disarmament of Hamas and the monitoring of future imports and funding to prevent the creation of new funds for the replenishment of missile stockpiles.”
Israel needs, with all due haste, to call the EU in on this pledge. Self-interest would almost certainly dictate Egyptian support and Jordan and the Saudis wouldn’t be far behind. None of the three wants to see the rearmament of the Palestinian branch of the Moslem Brotherhood.
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Israel pulled its punches in the war against Hamas; now Israeli TV reports that the IDF warns it dare not do a repeat performance in the next war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Col. Dan Goldfus, commander of an infantry brigade, warns that Israel will have “to act more decisively, more drastically,” given that Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 rockets, ten times the number Hamas had, and that its 5,000 long range missiles are capable of carrying large warheads, with which the Iron Dome defense system cannot cope. Goldfus warns that Hezbollah is also a more formidable force now that it has accumulated three years of battlefield experience in Syria.
The Channel 2 report also acknowledges the probability that there are attack tunnels under the Israeli border in the north just as there were in Gaza. Yossi Adoni of the Ma’aleh Yosef Council in the north said “We are absolutely certain there are cross-border tunnels” and dozens of border-area residents have reported the sounds of tunneling under their homes since 2006.
Muslim Refugee Wave to U.S.
It’s hard to think of anything more opposed to the interests of American Jews than vastly increasing the number of Muslims in this country but don’t expect a word of protest from the mainstream Jewish organizations. On the contrary, Melanie Nezer, head of policy for HIAS (the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) wrote an op-ed March 28 in the New York Daily News calling for the U.S. to take in 75,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years—that would make the Syrian equal the Iraqi refugee program, the largest in the United States. Iraqi refugees here are mostly Muslims; the Syrian refugees will be almost entirely Muslim.
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HIAS has skin in the game because, like a variety of Christian outfits, it operates as a government contractor in resettling refugees, financially rewarding work. The more refugees, the larger the government grants. Other Jewish organizations, without financial incentive, engage in moral preening.
One need only look at Europe to see the impact of a large Muslim immigration on the Jewish population. Already in this country, the impact on politicians is beginning to show. In Minneapolis (where large numbers of Somalis have been resettled) Mayor Betsy Hodges showed up to a meeting wearing a hijab. The average Somali family in Minnesota has six children. It won’t be long before the sheer number of Muslim voters sharply affect public policy.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, falls this year on September 24. The year that just ended—5774 on the Jewish calendar—was not an easy one.
There was the war against Hamas in July and August, which Israel won overwhelmingly while losing 64 soldiers and seven civilians. In June there was Hamas’s kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenage boys. (The murderers have now met their just fate.) And Israel’s overall security environment in the Middle East seems more and more precarious. Among other things, jihadis are battling the Syrian army just across Israel’s Golan Heights border; Jordan’s moderate regime could be in danger; Islamic State has set up its “caliphate” of atrocity in Iraq and Syria; while Iran keeps being allowed to progress along the nuclear path by Western powers playing feckless diplomatic games.
Where, then, does a “bright future” come into all this? Looking ahead to 5775, Israel has a track record of overcoming security challenges, and in other ways keeps thriving.
1. Surviving the Obama administration.
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The first five and a half years of Obama have, no doubt, been rough for Israel. There’s no one who seems to get the president’s goat like Israel’s thrice-elected prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Obama has given Netanyahu a churlish and unprecedented snub at the White House, publicly vilified him as a peace-wrecker, and lashed out at him viciously on the phone during the latest Gaza war.
Israel is very worried that the administration’s ceaseless courting of Iran belies any seriousness about stopping its nuke program. Against Israel’s warnings and advice, Obama backed Mohamed Morsi’s (fortunately short-lived) Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt. After the 2012 Gaza war, the administration, together with Morsi, pushed Israel into a deal that allowed Hamas to rearm and set the stage for this year’s war.
And yet, with all that and more, the U.S.-Israeli alliance is today stronger than ever. On September 19 the Senate passed a bill declaring Israel a “major strategic partner” and boosting U.S. trade, energy, R&D, and military ties with Israel. Even Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, whose anti-Israeli track record alarmed many after he was nominated, is said to have an excellent working relationship with Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon.
As the Middle East descends into worse and worse turmoil and terror, Israel’s democratic stability, military preeminence in the region, and topnotch intelligence capabilities have to look better and better. Even the Obama administration isn’t totally blind to the reality.
Cuba’s hostility to the United States and the West has always extended to the State of Israel. For decades, invective against Israel and Zionism has been spewed from Granma and other official Cuban media. Hatred of the Jewish State has not stopped there. Castro’s Cuba has always played a singularly negative and destructive role in the Middle East. Cuban support for the most radical regimes and terrorist groups fighting against Israel included training violent guerillas in Cuba itself and providing all sorts of support and assistance. Significantly, Cuba has also played a central and leading role at the United Nations in organizing a poisonous apparatus of propaganda and delegitimization against Israel.
One need only listen to the words of the Cuban delegate to the UN at the August 6th, 2014 Special Session of the General Assembly held to discuss the situation in Gaza. Her extreme, one-sided and distorted condemnation of Israel even includes the words of Fidel Castro who, despite his “retirement”, manages to hurl outrageous and offensive invective against Israel in an editorial in the pages of Granma (where he also accuses Israel of “a new repugnant form of fascism”): “Why does (Israel)…believe that the world will be insensitive to the macabre genocide which today is being perpetrated against the Palestinian people?”
In 55 years of revolutionary government, Havana severed diplomatic ties with only one country: Israel, in 1973. There were no issues between the two governments at the time, and Fidel Castro announced the break in relations while attending a conference in North Africa in order to ingratiate himself with radical Arab leaders.
In 1959, when Fidel Castro came to power, the vibrant Jewish community numbered about 12,000. They, like other Cubans, had all of their properties, and businesses, no matter how small, confiscated. Before being permitted to leave Cuba they had to turn their homes, electric appliances, furniture and jewelry over to the state. Today, there are six hundred Jews left in Cuba.
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The Jewish enemies of Israel, if they are sufficiently profligate in the expenditure of claptrap, often come to the aid of her defenders. Early this summer (2014) I wrote the following paragraph in the prologue to a book (entitled Jews Against Themselves) that I was sending off to my publisher:
“I have not attempted a systematic taxonomy of all the species of Jews arrayed under the genus ‘enemies of Israel,’ a monumental task that would require an Encyclopedia to include the following: Jewish Progressives against Israel; Jewish Queers against Israel; Haredim against Israel; Holocaust Survivors against Israel; Children of Holocaust Survivors against Israel; Jewish Voice for Peace; Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors against Israel; Survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto against Israel; J Street; Jewish Postmodernists against Israel; Jewish Berkeley Professors against Israel; Post-Zionists against Israel; Jewish Members of MESA [Middle East Studies Association] against Israel; Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBIG, also called, seasonally, London’s Jewish Christmas Carolers against Israel); and so on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Despite this, there will always be readers who express astonishment that there are Jews who question the Jewish right to live as a natural right, or hate Israel and are ashamed to have a state. Surely they are as rare as singing mice or card-playing pigs?
I felt more or less content with that Swiftian list, yet also sensed that something was missing from it. The recent publication, first in Britain’s Guardian on August 15, and then in The New York Times on August 23, of an ad accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza and calling for “full economic, cultural, and academic boycott of Israel” told me what it was. The ad was placed by “Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors” and also “friends of survivors,” “friend of many survivors,” “cousins of survivors,” “cousins of victims of Nazis in Ukraine,” “the great niece of an uncle who shot himself,” “spouse of hidden child,” and “relative of victims.” Where defamation of Israel is concerned, imagination cannot keep pace with the fantastic moral coarseness of the defamers.
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Those who lazily blame Israel for the problems in the Middle East are deluded.
Jews are attacked here in Britain, they are blockaded into a synagogue in Paris and the chant ‘Death to the Jews’ is heard in Germany for the first time in 70 years.
But too few people seem to want to notice this or admit what it means. They think this is just about Israel, or just about Jewish people. It isn’t. It is about all of us.
The decision by the Israeli government to respond to Hamas rocket-fire from Gaza is the response any government would choose if rockets were fired at its citizens. The Israeli government has the right– as does any government – to stop the bombarding of its people.
However, it has become plain that much of the world expects a different response from Israel. They expect Israel not to fight for the safety, security and survival of its people, but to lie down in front of the Islamic extremist enemy.
The UK government has even – disgracefully–stopped selling some arms to Israel just when the country needs such weapons most. But in expecting Israel to behave differently from the rest of us, our societies and governments reveal far more about our own state than the State of Israel.
Because the truth is that behind the demands for Israel to lie down in front of its enemies is a fatal unwillingness of our own to face the problem which is in our midst.
The brutal murder of James Foley by ISIS underlines the real threat to world peace.
The ambition of the jihadists – from al-Qaeda to Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and more – is to subjugate the entire world
There are those who think that Israel is somehow the cause of the world’s problems, or that in defending themselves from Islamic extremists Israel is somehow causing Islamic extremism. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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It is a settled matter that the IDF are tops in bravery and ethical warfare. Give them any job, and it’s done. But when politicians run the war, Chelm is likely to happen – Chelm being the town inhabited by those fabled “wise men” loved by tradition for their well-meaning but bumbling ways, like the following rules for conducting combat.
1. Advise your enemies to get ready for a surprise attack. Make sure to remind them where the surprise will take place and precisely what time it is to begin.
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2. Shower the place with cautionary leaflets to make sure that every single enemy combatant finds safety. We do not want terrorist barbarians getting hurt.
3. Wait till the coast is clear before striking. Kill as many buildings as you can to prove that you really mean business.
4. Tip off your enemies when a “surprise” attack is about to come; this alone could kill them as they die laughing at your stupidity.
5. Make sure to remind the world that no other nation is so respectful towards its foes. The world admires you and adores you for this. Look around.
6. Always be ready to give up more Jewish territory. Judea and Samaria, for instance. See how well this worked in Gaza after 10,000 Jews were evicted.
7. As bombs keep falling on your people, keep supplying your enemies with food and water and gas and electricity.
8. You do not want to inconvenience the people who keep trying to kill you.
9. Tell your citizens who suffer daily from incoming rocket attacks that it’s okay. It’s no big deal. Go home and get used to running to shelters. Stop complaining. Don’t make trouble.
10. Tell your enemies that this time! you’ve had enough and then beg them for a ceasefire.
There are few weapons as deadly as the Israeli house. When its brick and mortar are combined together, the house, whether it is one of those modest one story hilltop affairs or a five floor apartment building complete with hot and cold running water, becomes far more dangerous than anything green and glowing that comes out of the Iranian centrifuges.
Forget the cluster bomb and the mine, the poison gas shell and even tailored viruses. Genocide is a minor matter when in the presence of the fearsome weapon of terror that is an Israeli family of four moving into a new apartment.
Sudan may have built a small mountain of African corpses, but it can’t expect to command the full and undivided attention of the world until it does something truly outrageous like building a house and filling it with Jews. Since the Sudanese Jews are as gone as the Jews of Egypt, Iraq, Syria and good old Afghanistan, the chances of Bashir the Butcher pulling off that trick are rather slim.
Due to the Muslim world’s shortsightedness in driving out its Jews from Cairo, Aleppo and Baghdad to Jerusalem, the ultimate weapon in international affairs is entirely controlled by the Jewish State. The Jewish State’s stockpile of Jews should worry the international community far more than its hypothetical stockpiles of nuclear weapons. No one besides Israel, and possibly Saudi Arabia, cares much about the Iranian bomb. But when Israel builds a house, then the international community tears its clothes, wails, threatens to recall its ambassadors and boycott Israeli peaches.
Angry British men in red Keffiyahs hold up signs about the Holocaust in front of Jewish cosmetics stores in London. Marginalized French youth, by way of Algeria and Tunisia, hurl stones at synagogues. John Kerry interrupts a speech on the dangers of Global Warming as an aide notifies him of an even bigger threat to the world. David just made a down payment on a two bedroom in Gvaot.
You can spit on the White House carpets and steal all the gold in Greece. You can blow up anything you like and threaten anyone you will, but you had better not lift a drill near the hills from which Balaam tried and failed to curse the Jewish people. Where the old Mesopotamian warlock failed, his successors in the United Nations curse Israel every day of the week.
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Jerold Auerbach is the author of ten books and numerous articles, many of them on Israel. His academic credentials are also impressive: Guggenheim Fellow, Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School, Fulbright Lecturer at Tel Aviv University and Professor Emeritus of History at Wellesley College.
One could easily be forgiven for thinking that he has already written all there is to write on the subject of Israel for he has covered its history, law, religion, political divisions, fraternal conflicts, settlements and anti-Semitism.
Alas, however, Israel is the gift that keeps on giving in that its antagonists constantly find new lines and venues of attack.
Israel, one of many nations which achieved independence from British colonial rule after World War II, is the only one whose uphill struggle for legitimacy has persisted since its founding in 1948, including challenges from its own citizens.
As the author points out, there is ample historical precedence for discord among Jews. Rebellions go back to the Exodus. They continued from the time of Josephus to the Zionist awakening in the nineteenth century. In recent times that discord produced the tragedy of the Altalena, which is revisited in the first chapter of this book.(For more on this seminal event read Auerbach’s Brothers at War-Israel and the Tragedy of the Altalena).
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Auerbach details the issues which simmered between secular and religious, left-leaning and right-wing Jews. But it was the liberation of Judea and Samaria in 1967 that would eventually escalate the ideological divisions within Israel which found their way beyond its borders to become an international assault.