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Editor: Rael Jean Isaac

Editorial Board: Ruth King, Rita Kramer

Annual membership: $50.

Americans For a Safe Israel

1751 Second Ave. (at 91st Street)

New York, NY 10128

Tel (212) 828-2424 / fax (212) 828-1717

Email: afsi@rcn.com


Levy’s Bombshell: William Mehlman

“In a time of universal deceit,” George Orwell wrote, “to tell the truth is a revolutionary act.” The opening note in just such a revolution in Israel may have been struck with the issuance in July of an 89-page investigative report confirming beyond reasonable doubt the international legality both of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria and that of its 120 communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines.

The report is the product of a three-member blue-ribbon panel headed by retired High Court of Justice magistrate Edmond Levy and including former Foreign Ministry legal advisor Alan Baker and former Tel Aviv District Court Deputy President Tchia Shapira. It was commissioned by Prime Minister Netanyahu in January, ostensibly to guide him through the legal thickets raised by the allegedly unauthorized “Outpost” construction which has fueled the demolition of Jewish homes in places like Amona and Ulpana. The resultant Levy Report, as it has become known, went a lot further. It not only recommended transforming the outposts, wherever possible, into new settlements, it blew the almost universally accepted canard that Israel is in “occupation” of Arab real estate in Judea and Samaria clear out of the water.

The laws of occupation “as set out in the relevant international conventions,” the Levy panel’s findings asserted, “cannot be considered applicable to the unique and sui generis historical and legal circumstances of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria spanning over decades. Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered illegal.” Punctuating these findings with a calculated rap across the knuckles of both the current Israeli government and its predecessors, the panelists added that “we wish to stress that the picture that has been displayed before us regarding Israeli settlement activity in Judea and Samaria does not befit the behavior of a state that prides itself on, and is committed to, the rule of law.” The tinkling sound discerned in the background was the illuminati breaking the dishes.

While it was Mr. Netanyahu who set the Levy panel in motion, the impact of its findings and recommendations on Israeli policy remains distinctly moot in the face of an immediate State Department re-rejection of the “legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity” and opposition to “any effort to legalize settlement outposts.” Will the prime minister have the courage to remove adjudication of Arab land claims in Judea and Samaria from a High Court of Justice highly deferential to the views of a far left cabal of bitterly anti-settler journalists, academics and NGOs to a special tribunal tasked with examining the validity of those claims and making their data public, as recommended by the panel? Is he prepared to make it clear to his defense minister, Mr. Ehud Barak, that in accordance with Levy, construction within the bounds of existing settlements will henceforth be permitted to proceedwithout further government or ministerial approval and that there will be no prohibition on construction in Judea and Samaria within the bounds of settlements built on land seized by military order? Will he call a halt to the demolition of Jewish homes on land whose status remains unclear, pending the exhaustion of all avenues for the granting of building permits? On these and other Levy recommendations, the jury is likely be out for some time.


From the Editor: Rael Jean Isaac

Last of the Lions

With the death of Yitzhak Shamir on June 30 at the age of 96, the last of Israel’s founding fathers is gone.

One of Shamir’s finest moments was when he voted against the Camp David Accords and the subsequent peace treaty with Egypt. He stood up against a wall to wall coalition swept away by the euphoria surrounding Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem.

When Shamir led Lechi, the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, the most vilified of the underground organizations, few could have imagined that he would one day become Prime Minister.

As David Isaac summed up in his tribute to Shamir on his ShmuelKatz blog, “The man most stubborn in facing the British proved to be most stubborn in defending Israel’s rights. He championed Jews living in Judea and Samaria and when asked about land for peace liked to say that Israel had already given up 80 percent of its land–the part that is now Jordan. ”

Amazing Israel

With so much negative reporting on Israel, it is heartening to find Michael Ordman’s remarkable blog (www.verygoodnewsIsrael.blogspot.com) which chronicles a staggering number of Israeli achievements each week. Here are just a few reported for the week of July 8-15.

1) Israel’s LifeWatch Technologies unveiled the Lifewatch V, a first of its kind medical smart phone that measures ECG, heart rate, body temperature, body sugar levels, body fat percentage, blood oxygen saturation and provides an index for measuring stress.

2) A new method for treating diabetes is being developed by Israeli biotech company Orgenesis. The therapy is called autologous cell replacement and uses a patient’s own cells.

3) A robotics professor and an aerospace engineering scientist at Israel’s Technion have decoded the movement of insects. Replaying the electronic signals makes the insect move. Known as Biomimicry this can help produce small controlled vehicles.

4) Israeli student Tirosh Shapira has become the first person to meld his mind and movements with a robot surrogate, or avatar. Situated inside an fMRI scanner in Israel, he controlled a humanoid robot 2000 kilometers away in France using just his mind.

5) The recently discovered Higgs boson helps explain the structure of matter in the universe. A Weizmann team helped develop particle detectors, a Technion professor designed a key experiment and several Israeli researchers were involved in building the accelerator.

It’s a pity all those bitter divestors and boycotters can’t be divested from benefitting from all the Israeli achievements that brighten–and in some cases may save–their lives.


Nine Lives of Israel: A Nation’s History through the Lives of Its Foremost Leaders, by Jack L. Schwartzwald. Reviewed By Edward Alexander

“History,” wrote the Victorian sage and hero-worshiper Thomas Carlyle, “is the essence of innumerable biographies.” Jack Schwartzwald, a professor of medicine at Brown University, has adopted this principle for his compact history of the country that, in a mere 64 years, has already survived at least the proverbial nine attempts upon its life by enemies who think little of building up their own societies, but much of destroying that of their neighbor. Delicately balancing biography and history, he tells Israel’s story through the lives of nine of its founding figures and brief yet remarkably thorough analyses of the historical epochs and critical events (both glorious and calamitous) in which they played crucial roles. They are as follows: Theodor Herzl and the birth of modern political Zionism; Chaim Weizmann and the British Mandate; David Ben-Gurion and the birth of the state; Abba Eban and Israeli statesmanship; Moshe Dayan and the wars of 1967 and 1973; Golda Meir and the Yom Kippur War; Menachem Begin and Camp David; Yitzhak Rabin and the Oslo accords; Ariel Sharon and disengagement.

The chapters are not written according to formula; each has a shape that develops organically from its biographical and historical content. We begin with Theodor Herzl, an assimilated Hungarian Jew whose manifesto The Jewish State: An Attempt at a Modern Solution to the Jewish Question (1896) , may be said to have dreamed the Jewish State into existence. Recognizing that Jewish existence was imperiled by assimilation in the west and by anti-Semitism in the east, he proved John Stuart Mill’s axiom that “philosophy, which to the superficial appears a thing so remote from the business of life and the outward interests of men, is in reality the thing on earth which most influences them, and in the long run overbears every other influence….” In his diary entry for September 3, 1897 Herzl wrote that “At Basle [the first World Zionist Congress] I founded the Jewish state. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years, and certainly in fifty, everyone will know it.” Fifty years later, in 1947, everyone did.

The distinctiveness of Schwartzwald’s biographical approach becomes clear if we compare this opening chapter with Hannah Arendt’s account of the birth of the Zionist movement during the Dreyfus Affair. As Paris correspondent for Neue Freie Presse in 1894, Herzl covered that trial, witnessed the French mobs chanting “Mort aux Juifs (“Death to the Jews”), and in his writing and political activity drew the Zionist conclusion about the Jewish future in Europe: the Affair was a dress rehearsal for the Nazi movement. Arendt, in her historical analysis of the Affair, grudgingly but correctly called Zionism “the only political answer Jews have ever found to anti-Semitism and the only ideology in which they have ever taken seriously a hostility that would place them in the center of world events.” But she attributed that Jewish awakening to “the subterranean forces of the nineteenth century,” and did not even mention Herzl.


Israel…A Peacetime War Or A Wartime Peace Daniel Greenfield

In the library, opposing polemics on the Middle East are wedged up against each other. Alan Dershowitz rubs shoulders with Tony Judt who leans onto George Gilder who balances out Norman Finkelstein who flakes bits of paper on Benjamin Netanyahu. Though located in the history section, most of these books are not history. They are long opinion pieces, arguments for and against the Jewish State.

On the left there are vituperative diatribes and on the right there are earnest defenses. The Holocaust Industry contends with The Case for Israel, The Jewish Lobby with Start Up Nation. Every few months brings new combatants to the shelves. Shlomo Sand is swapped out with Peter Beinart who is swapped out with Noam Chomsky like a baseball team that is forever calling the same players off the bench to make the same plays.

The four-hundred thousand word argument can be summed up as, “Israel is bad and those who live there are bad people” and “No, they aren’t.”

When the torchbearers of the anti-Israel argument are the likes of Norman Finkelstein and Tony Judt, anyone who appears less filled with violent hatred seems moderate by comparison. It allows opponents of Israel like Peter Beinart to rebrand themselves as Liberal Zionists because at least they aren’t claiming that the Prime Minister of Israel ritually eats four babies for breakfast every morning.

Few of the books are concerned with the reality of Israel. They are concerned with it as an ideal. The left tears apart the ideal. The right defends the ideal. There is a growing body of books by Jewish leftists who visit Israel, stop by a supermarket outside their hotel, visit one or two sites, cringe at the guns, take in a nightspot, visit the Western Wall, visit the Separation Wall, and transmit the whole thing into a miniature memoir expressing their disappointment with the experience.

The latest such offering is Harvey Pekar’s Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me. A 70 year old son of a Communist mother and Orthodox father visited Israel for the first time and discovered that it didn’t live up to whatever mixed-up ideal his parents promised him. Pekar is already dead, but there is an entire conveyor belt along which the younger set rides to write critical books, graphic novels, blogs and tweets about their disappointing experience in the Jewish State.

Whatever books are on the shelves two years from now, it is likely that very little will have changed. The world as a whole, not just the occasional liberal brat, will continue being disappointed in Israel for not having magically and non-violently resolved the dilemma of people shooting at it no matter what it does. After all there’s already a book titled, How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less on the shelf. Why not just read it and do what it says?


France’s Shame: Rita Kramer

(Editor’s note: The Jews of France feel increasingly vulnerable. In a recent article “Anti-Semitism Sweeping France,” Peter Martino notes that anti-Semitic violence is dramatically on the rise. In certain neighborhoods of Paris, Marseille or Lyons it is no longer safe for Jews to walk the streets; Mohammed Merah, the mass murderer at the Jewish school in Toulouse, has become a role model for young Muslims; rising numbers of Jews no longer send their children to public schools for fear of harassment or actual harm; emigration to Israel has doubled. The culprits in anti-Semitic acts are overwhelmingly Muslim, but the public has not rallied strongly to put an end to this savagery. Rita Kramer reminds us of the terrible history of French complicity in Nazi crimes against Jews in wartime France. The French are not participants in the violence as they were during the German occupation but indifference enables the violence to continue and grow.)

The long history of anti-Semitism in France, that had seemed to reach its climax with the Dreyfus Affair as the nineteenth century segued into the twentieth, was to provide worse to come, worse than could ever have been imagined, in the new century.

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of an event that signaled France’s wholehearted participation in the murder of Europe’s Jews–La Grande Rafle du Velodrome d’Hiver, the Great Raid resulting in the rounding up and incarceration in inhuman conditions of 13,152 Jewish men, women and children, the first step on their way to extinction.

Carrying out a decree by the Nazi rulers of occupied France, in the spring of 1942 the French police required that all Jews register their names and addresses. “Since,” as David Pryce-Jones has put it, “the majority of Jews were not conscious of having done anything wrong,” they lined up to register and then sewed on the yellow stars they were now required to wear like the Jews of Germany and Poland.

At the end of June Eichmann arrived in Paris to discuss with representatives of the French police services “the objective of deporting all French Jews as soon as possible.” Plans were laid for a huge roundup to be carried out by teams of French police, with no Germans directly involved. Fifty buses were provided by the Compagnie des Transports, those familiar green and white buses so much a part of Paris.

On the night of July 16 and into the following day, French police sealed off parts of the city and began knocking at the doors of the addresses so conveniently provided for them–the addresses of Jewish families. They were foreign Jews, refugees from parts east who had come to France seeking a haven in the cradle of the rights of man, the home of liberty, equality, fraternity. Now they faced treatment no different from what they had fled from.


Peres on ‘Tomorrow’ – Yesterday and Today: Martin Sherman

Ambition drove many men to become false; to have one thought locked in the breast, another ready on the tongue

– Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), Roman historian and politician, (86 BCE-c.35 BCE)

During the state’s first decade, as a young protege of David Ben-Gurion, Shimon Peres is credited with playing a leading role in setting up much of the foundations for the nascent nation’s military infrastructure that has been so crucial in ensuring its survival and its technological edge – including Israel Aircraft Industries (today Israel Aerospace Industries), the acquisition of advanced combat aircraft from France and the establishment of the nuclear facility in Dimona.

As defense minister at the time of the Entebbe raid in 1976, many identify him as providing the political will to push through the decision to carry out the now legendary operation.

But perversely, it has not been Peres’s successes – but his failures – that have catapulted him to international stardom.

It was the Oslo Accords – which have long since imploded into bloody ruin – that brought him the 1994 Nobel Peace prize.

It was his lofty vision of a “New Middle East” – with peace and prosperity stretching from the Maghreb to the Persian Gulf – that caught the imagination of so many but now appears nothing but a ludicrous delusion.

Thus it was not his considerable contributions to Israeli security that made him such a sought after figure on the global stage, but rather his adoption of the role of supranational statesman on a noble quest for regional peace, a quest that precipitated nothing but death and devastation.

Peres has always been obsessed with “Tomorrow.” In many ways he has appropriated it as his professional trademark, in an endeavor to brand himself as future-oriented statesman.

One of his first forays into “Tomorrow-territory” was a programmatic book he authored as chairman of the Labor Party, just after it had lost power for the first time, to Menachem Begin’s Likud. Titled Tomorrow is Now and published in 1978, it laid out Peres’s prescriptive vision for the future conduct of the affairs of the nation.

In many ways, the book – available only in Hebrew – is an astonishing document.


Daniel Gordis and the Prestige of Israel: Emmanuel Navon

Last month, a panel of three Israeli legal experts submitted to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Justice a “Report on the Status of Building Activities in Judea and Samaria” (the “Levy Report”). The report was immediately condemned by the US State Department whose spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, declared: “We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.”

Less expected was the condemnation coming from mainstream North American Jewish leaders. In a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, those leaders expressed concern “about the recent findings of government commission led by Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Edmond Levy.” They went as far as to claim that the endorsement of the Levy Report by the Israeli government would place the “prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community in peril.” The letter was noticeably signed by Shalem Foundation President Daniel Gordis.

I found it hard to believe that a report whose purpose was to analyze the legal status of Israeli buildings beyond the armistice lines of 1949 would, if officially endorsed, imperil the “prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community.” So I read it.

The three authors clarify (on Page 2) that their report does not constitute an opinion on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Israel’s settlement activity. Indeed, the report quotes testimonies from experts and organizations from all sides of the political spectrum (including “Peace Now,” “Betslem,” “Yesh Din” and “Addalah”).

The Levy Report only repeats a legal opinion that has been known for decades and expressed many times in the past (including by Israel’s Foreign Ministry) regarding the legal status of Judea and Samaria. This opinion states that Judea and Samaria cannot be defined as “occupied” in international law, since a territory is occupied only if it has been conquered from a recognized sovereign country. Judea and Samaria were not a sovereign country or part of a sovereign country when Israel conquered that territory in June 1967.


Let’s Have a Conversation About The Real Illegal Settlements: Ruth King

The late Shmuel Katz once admonished me for using the word “settlement” instead of town, village, borough, district, or community for those areas reclaimed by patriotic Jews in Judea and Samaria. He was right. The word “settlement” evokes temporary and makeshift and is now twinned with the word “ illegal” by the mendacious media and those who echo it.

There are illegal settlements in Israel but the unreported story is that they are Arab settlements.

Although the destructive Israeli organizations that are obsessed with Arab claims get the most coverage, thanks to the organization Regavim (http://www.regavim.org.il/en) there is, in Israel an awakening to the real usurpers in Israel’s heartlands.

Regavim’s video “Did You Know?” details the burgeoning Arab settlements on Jewish land, illegal activity that goes unchallenged by a government that is swift to demolish the homes of Jews. Did you know that over 100,000 illegal Arab homes were built within the past few years? Did you know how the Bedouin of southern Israel work under the radar and continue illegal construction? Did you know that the cowboys of southern Israel are routinely threatened by criminal Arab elements? See the video!

Regavim does more than expose these problems. They have had impressive success in countering them.


Editor: Rael Jean Isaac
Editorial Board: Herbert Zweibon, Ruth King

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Americans For a Safe Israel
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