There is only one instance of “twisting” that I think of as positive at the moment:
That is Artem Dolgopyat’s fantastic in-the-air maneuvers, which won him the gold on Sunday in the floor exercise of the artistic gymnastic event. This was the first gold for Israel in the 2020 Olympics, and the second ever.
Scroll down here for a video of his performance.
I watch, and I am astounded at his physical virtuosity (and he later said he wasn’t even at his best for this competition).
I am also forever filled with pride at seeing the Israeli flag waved grandly, and to hear Hatikvah played. Scroll down some more on the same page and you can see this, as well.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid did his own figurative twist in the air the other day. But this was nothing to be proud of.
What did he do? He spoke at the Global Conference on Combating Antisemitism held in Jerusalem mid-July. In a biting critique, Ron Jager cites Lapid’s words (emphasis added):
“…he explained to the world and to the Jewish public here in Israel and abroad that Antisemitism is not unique in the history of the world, but instead is one of the many bigotries expressed in the annals of human hatred.
“In one fell swoop Lapid brought to an end the historical uniqueness of Antisemitism culminating but not ending in the Holocaust. Unbelievably and without hesitancy or remorse, he continued and stated: ‘Antisemitism, exists everywhere…. The anti-Semites weren’t just in the Budapest Ghetto, the anti-Semites were slave traders who threw chained slaves overboard into the ocean. The anti-Semites were the members of the Hutu tribe in Rwanda who massacred members of the Tutsi tribe. The anti-Semites are the Muslim extremists who killed 20 million fellow Muslims in the last decade. The anti-Semites are Islamic State and Boko Haram. The anti-Semites are people who beat to death young members of the LGBT community.’”
Lapid, says Uri Cohen, “normalized” anti-Semitism and its most serious consequence in the twentieth century – the Holocaust.
”Was it naivety or stupidity?” he wonders. “Even in the left-wing press they said: ‘…Had he thought about and understood its significance beforehand, it is doubtful that he would have delivered it [his speech]…In any event, the harm done by this speech is serious, and is liable to have far-reaching ramifications for the Jewish people. (Emphasis added here and following)
“…Yair Lapid, perhaps inadvertently, has entered the Historikerstreit (Historians’ Dispute), which took place in Germany in the 1980s, when a historical approach developed which focused on the interpretations and meanings of the Holocaust, without descending to the level of Holocaust denial. Its advocates sought to diminish the uniqueness of the Holocaust…
“There is a decision at the heart of Yair Lapid’s speech to call an end to the Historikerstreit, with unimaginable success for those who have sought to diminish, to minimize and to normalize anti-Semitism and the Holocaust…”
And so, Yair Lapid has given us even further reason to pray that this government will fall quickly.
But I want to carry this deeply troubling perspective one step further: Lapid’s position has enormous implications for Israel. Many social analysts recognize that anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism. So much is this understood that the when the European Monitoring Centre (EUMC) issued a Working Definition of Antisemitism more than ten years ago, it offered several examples of anti-Israel rhetoric that went beyond simple criticism of the country’s policies and crossed the line into demonization.
However, if the Holocaust is seen as not unique, but just one of many manifestations of racism, then it becomes easier to argue that the international attitude towards Israel is not unique either.
But it IS unique, and uniquely troubling.
 Demonization of Israel is routine and these accusations have no relationship to the facts: It is apparently irrelevant that the equal rights afforded Israeli Arab citizens makes the accusation that Israel is an “apartheid state” ludicrous. The accusation is made anyway, probably in many cases by people who don’t even know what apartheid in S. Africa was really like. Similarly, Israel is said to be practicing ethnic cleansing even though the number of Arabs in Israel continues to grow.
 Israel is held to a higher standard than other nations. Although the IDF is the world’s most moral army (warning civilians to get out of the way before attacks are levied), Israel is accused without legal basis of utilizing “disproportionate” force.
International law professor Eugene Kontorovich defends Israel brilliantly by comparing how the world responds to other situations as compared to how it responds to Israel.
 Israel is the only country about which it is claimed that it has no right to exist: with everything else, this is a denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Iran routinely threatens to eradicate Israel, and yet there is no massive outcry – either from individual western nations or from the UN.
As far as BDS, about which we are hearing so much lately, is concerned, its goal is the same. The claim is made that Israel should be boycotted in order to force a withdrawal from “Palestinian Arab land” in Judea & Samaria. This is a just, a righteous, campaign, it is argued.
But then we must ask why Israel is singled out for boycotting, when there are an enormous number of severe human rights violations and injustices practiced by various nations that proceed with no threat of campaigns to boycott them in order to coerce them to mend their ways. Only Israel.
And here we come to the truth of the matter: Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, doesn’t speak about using BDS to correct ethical failings in Israel, but to eliminate Israel:
“Most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian – rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian – will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”
The vile part of Barghouti’s stance is the fact that he has permanent resident status in Israel and received a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University. He knows the truth about Israel.
Then there are the words of pro-BDS author Ahmed Moor:
“Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself…BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.”
We’ve been paying attention to the Olympics at present. One of the issues that has come up is the fact that some athletes refuse to compete with competitors from Israel. That is a form of BDS as well – an attempt to delegitimize Israel.
There is antipathy between many nations of the world. Do we hear regularly that the athletes of one refuse to face the athletes of another? Only where Israel is concerned.
Lastly, I add here the fact that Israel has done more for the nations of the world in less time than any other country. This is with regard to medical and technological innovations that benefit many, as well as the way in which we rush to be of assistance to other countries in trouble.
We are not recognized for this across the board internationally, and should not expect that we will be.
And why does this situation prevail? Because Israel is the Jewish State.
It is the job of all of us who love Israel to hold our heads up high, stay well informed on the issues, refute lies, and promulgate the truth as widely as possible.
The Ben & Jerry’s fiasco continues to make news and it is likely that I will return to it yet again. But since I am speaking here about BDS, I wanted to share specific information that has come to me:
“…the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation has doled out more than $100,000 in the last two years to the Oakland Institute think tank, founded by Palestinian land rights activist Anuradha Mittal, who is also chair of the ice cream company’s board and vice president of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.
“Mittal, 54, is one of the architects behind the company’s boycott in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, where there are more than 600,000 Jews scattered in about 140 settlements…
“Mittal…supported a controversial human rights group in the West Bank in 2017 with cash from the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. The BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights received a $3,000 grant from the foundation in 2017, tax filings show.
“Last year, the European Union pulled nearly $2 million worth of funding from BADIL after it refused to sign an “anti-terror” clause in its funding contract. The clause stated that none of the EU’s funds would be diverted to members of terrorist organizations, such as the military wings of Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Are we surprised?
I began with good news, and will close with a few brief good news items as well. Hanging on to that balance:
“A three-way kidney swap between patients and their relatives in Israel and Abu Dhabi was made possible by Abraham Accords collaboration.”
Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh, who was the first female Druze member of the Knesset, is going to Washington DC as a senior shlicha (Israeli emissary) on behalf of The Jewish Agency for Israel.
For the first time, the Miss Universe pageant will be held in Israel: In Eilat in December. What this means is that thousands of people will be coming to Israel in delegations from 100 countries.
It can only do us good that the event will draw an estimated 1.3 billion viewers, who will be following the pageant in broadcast, print and social media.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.