Once again, I choose to begin my posting with good news.
Here you have a very short video from Jeremy Gimpel of Voice of Israel, speaking about the real reason that Israel sent rescue and medical teams to Nepal. I believe his words are absolutely on the mark. And I hold my head high.
This is also good news – a sign of changing times (with emphasis added):
Prominent Egyptian historian Maged Farag has just given a lengthy interview on Egyptian (Mehwar) TV, in which he insisted that “the old ideology and cultural heritage on which we were raised” [which included virulent anti-Semitism] should be abandoned.
“What I’m saying is that we should pay attention to the interests of our country…
“There are no such things as eternal enmity or eternal love. There are only eternal interests…As a man who knows a little bit about history and about international relations, I believe that it is in our interest to maintain normal relations with Israel…
“The state [of Israel] is not the problem. The problem lies with the people [of Egypt], who still live the old ideology and the cultural heritage on which we were raised. Our generation was raised upon hatred and upon these people being barbaric…”
As to the “Palestinian cause”….
“For over 70 years, the Palestinian cause has brought upon Egypt and the Egyptians nothing but harm, destruction, and expense. We have been preoccupied all our lives with the Palestinian cause…
“The occupied land [Sinai] has been liberated. End of story, as far as I’m concerned. Let us now live and care about the interests of my country.
“Am I supposed to shackle myself to the Palestinian cause? Let the (Palestinians) resolve it… We have tried to help them many times.”
“They don’t think it is in their interest. They don’t want to resolve their own problem.”
Farag endorses normal relations with Israel, beginning with cultural exchanges:
“I must not fear the other…We should visit there.”
And technological exchanges:
“There are Israeli companies that specialize in modern drip irrigation…We have a water problem…Why can’t we take advantage of their technology?”
I do not pretend that this is normative thinking in Egypt today. Not at all. But it is a refreshing start.
You can see a MEMRI video of the Farag interview here: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/4932.htm
Yesterday was the annual “Celebrate Israel Parade” in NY, with some 30,000 or 40,000 who came out to view those marching, the largest such celebration that takes place outside of Israel. There is definitely a major feel-good atmosphere to the parade, and you can see some video of it here:
There is however, a downside, with regard to the participation of groups that support the delegitimization of Israel or BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). The argument made by the organizers is that all groups that are “pro-Israel” should be included so as not to divide the community. But that argument is all too facile – and the question of how an organization can be legitimately “pro-Israel” when working to weaken Israel looms large.
The major focus of this discussion was the New Israel Fund, which truly cannot be considered “pro-Israel,” as it funds organizations that support BDS. See here two informative articles addressing this issue, from United With Israel:
And from lawyer/correspondent Lori Lowenthal Marcus:
Wish all were sweetness and light, but it’s not so.
Don’t know how long the current coalition is going to last, but while it does, it’s reassuring to see how Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is moving ahead. She is pushing through with all due speed the legislation to increase penalties for rock throwers. A major issue here is the question of “intent to harm,” which was part of previous legislation and is difficult to prove sometimes: she wants this removed.
But there is another piece of legislation that she is promoting as well: no cellphones for security prisoners. This may seem like a no-brainer, but in point of fact, terrorists in our prisons have gotten ahold of phones and provided instructions to groups on the outside to instigate violence, and have given interviews, as well. Seems the banning of cellphones has been at the discretion of wardens, and – yes, this is incredible! – sometimes prisoners have gone to court, successfully, claiming the need for a phone for “humanitarian reasons.”
Sometimes I think we are nuts. So, right on, Ayelet!
Credit: Yonaton Sindel/Flash 90
As we’re speaking of the coalition…
Benny Begin, after a very brief stint of less than 20 days as Minister without Portfolio, has resigned. His resignation (or that of some minister from Likud) was necessary once Gilad Erdan was made a minister, as the number of ministers permitted to Likud according to coalition agreements had been exceeded.
I had written that Begin was trying to avoid having to submit his resignation, but my information was incorrect. It was Netanyahu who was working mightily to retain him. However, Likud’s coalition partners – not surprisingly – were not receptive to the suggestion that the excess in Likud ministers be allowed to stand.
And so Begin, a man of integrity, resigned. There has been some question as to whether he will opt to remain in the Knesset, but he says he’s staying.
Credit: Flash 90
And now about that “charade?” Not sure if this is the most appropriate term. Perhaps “game-playing.” Or, often when I describe a statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu, I refer to his “M.O.” – and yes, this is what it is about. Except that it feels over the top.
There have been a couple of startling statements made by Netanyahu since the coalition was formed. A few days ago, he made a declaration that sounded like a proposal that we return to the negotiating table with the PA. But on closer look, it was apparent that it wasn’t – not really.
The EU had protested that Israel should not be doing construction beyond the borders of the main settlements blocs. Our prime minister then proposed that we go into negotiations to determine the borders of those settlement blocs. Obviously he knew that the PA would never, ever go for this, and indeed the PA did not: There was immediate screaming about how the negotiations must be based on the “1967 border” and that Israel would not be permitted to retain any settlements.
So, what he did in that instance was not terrible. Although his ostensible proposal was certainly not pleasing to those of us who believe all of the land belongs to Israel, he made his point: that that it was foolish to criticize Israel for building “outside of borders” when those borders had not been determined. And he exposed the total PA intransigence.
There was another, similar incident. And then yesterday, we had this:
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who will be going into Gaza, was visiting here. In the course of a press conference he had with Steinmeier, Netanyahu made this statement:
“The only way is direct talks. I believe that the solution is two states for two peoples. I am saddened that while we loosen restrictions, the Palestinians have been dealing…attempts at delegitimization. We need to send a clear message to the Palestinians – stop this campaign and come back to negotiations without preconditions.” (Emphasis added)
Excuse me? “The only solution is two states for two peoples”? The man who now proclaims this is the same one who declared before the election that there would be no Palestinian state on his watch because the security situation absolutely precluded it.
Yes, I know he was playing to Steinmeier. And I acknowledge that in his full statement he added all the provisos about the PA recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and the Palestinian state being demilitarized.
And yet it is not acceptable. This turn-about. This eagerness to please the Europeans. This unwillingness (or inability?) to stand strong.
It’s Jonathan Tobin, Editor of Commentary, who has a clearer sense of the matter, when he says, “How to Defend Israel? Talk About Rights. Not Just Security”
Hey, in the citation I provide above, Netanyahu isn’t even talking about security. But here is Tobin’s take (emphasis added):
“Israel’s case for its presence in the West Bank is based on historical, legal and spiritual factors that cannot be negated by revisionist Arab history of the region or the hate that the Jewish state inspires in its foes. It’s time for all of its representatives to stop trying to avoid the core issues of the conflict and to realize that no one will back Israel because its scientists are brilliant, its high-tech industry is innovative or its beaches are beautiful. The only answer to the apartheid state lies is a counter-argument that is rooted in the same sense of justice that motivates those who sympathize with the Palestinians.”
And then we have this, as well:
After the parade in NYC yesterday, there was a concert in Central Park. Republican president candidate Mike Huckabee was there. In an interview with Yoni Kempinski, he spoke about his love for Israel. As to the “two state solution,” he declared:
“…two governments holding the same piece of real estate is irrational and unworkable, and I think it’s time for us to quit playing this pretentious game.”
He sees the situation clearly, and is not afraid to tell it like it is. And I say, Bravo!
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.