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Turkey, the Arab World is Just Not That into You

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 00:00

Sunni Arabs do not wish to revisit their Ottoman colonial past. Still, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists.

A poll by Zogby found that 67% of Egyptians, 65% of Saudis, 59% of UAE citizens, and 70% of Iraqis had an unfavorable opinion of Turkey.

For the Sunni Saudis, the Turks were allies only if they could be of use in fighting Shiite Iran or its proxies, such as the Iraqi government or the Syrian regime. Meanwhile, as Turkey, together with Qatar, kept on championing and giving logistical support to Hamas, an Iranian satellite, Saudi Arabia and Egypt distanced themselves from the Palestinian cause and consequently from Turkey.

He runs around in a fake fire extinguisher’s outfit, holding a silly hose in his hands and knocking on neighbors’ doors to put out the fire in their homes. “Go away,” his neighbors keep telling him. “There is no fire here!” I am the person to put out that fire, he insists, as doors keep shutting on his face. That was more or less how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman, pro-ummah (Islamic community), “Big Brother” game has looked in the Middle East.

After years of trial and failure Erdogan does not understand that his services are not wanted in the Muslim neighborhood: The Iranians are too Shiite to trust his Sunni Islamism; the (mostly Sunni) Kurds’ decades-long dispute with the Turks is more ethnic than religious, and Sunni Arabs do not wish to revisit their Ottoman colonial past. Still, Erdogan insists.

Turkish textbooks have taught children how treacherous Arab tribes stabbed their Ottoman ancestors in the back during the First World War, and even how Arabs collaborated with non-Muslim Western powers against Muslim Ottoman Turks. A pro-Western, secular rule in the modern Turkish state in the 20th century coupled with various flavors of Islamism in the Arab world added to an already ingrained anti-Arabism in the Turkish psyche.

Erdogan’s indoctrination, on the other hand, had to break that anti-Arabism if he wanted to revive the Ottoman Turkish rule over a future united ummah. The Turks had to rediscover their “Arab brothers” if Erdogan’s pan-Islamism had to advance into the former Ottoman realms in the Middle East.

It was not a coincidence that the number of imams [religious] school students, under Erdogan’s rule, has risen sharply to 1.3 million from a mere 60,000 when he first came to power in 2002, an increase of more than twenty-fold. Erdogan is happy. “We are grateful to God for that,” he said late in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Education Ministry added Arabic courses to its curriculum and the state broadcaster, TRT, launched an Arabic television channel.

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Not enough. In addition, Erdogan would pursue a systematic policy to bash Israel at every opportunity and play the champion Muslim leader of the “Palestinian cause.” He has done that, too, and in an exaggerated way, by countless times declaring himself the champion of the Palestinian cause — and he still does it.

Erdogan’s Turkey championed an international campaign to recognize eastern Jerusalem as the capital city of the Palestinian state, with several Arab pats on the shoulder.

His spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, happily said that the dispute over Jerusalem after President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital “had in fact united the Muslim world”.

A united Muslim front around the “Palestinian capital Jerusalem” is a myth. Iran, for instance, renounced Turkey’s Jerusalem efforts because, according to the regime, the entire city of Jerusalem, not just eastern Jerusalem, should have been recognized as the Palestinian capital. Before that, Turkey accused some Arab countries of showing a weak reaction to Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

The Turkish-Arab fraternity along Muslims lines is an even bigger myth. For instance, the Saudi-led Gulf blockade of Qatar imposed in June came as a complete shock. One of his Sunni brothers had taken out the sword against another?! Turkey’s Sunni brothers had once been sympathetic to his ideas but no longer are.

Only two years ago, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were mulling the idea of a joint military strike in Syria.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Antalya, Turkey, during a time of better Turkish-Saudi relations, on November 15, 2015. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

For the Sunni Saudis, the Turks were allies only if they could be of use in any fight against Shiite Iran or its proxies, such as the Baghdad government or the Syrian regime. For the Saudis, Turkey was only useful if it could serve a sectarian purpose. Meanwhile, as Turkey, together with Qatar, kept on championing Hamas, Saudi Arabia and Egypt distanced themselves from the Palestinian cause and consequently from Turkey. Both the Saudi kingdom and Egypt’s al-Sisi regime have viewed Hamas, an Iranian satellite, with hostility, whereas Turkey gave it logistical and ideological support. Another reason for the change in Saudi Arabia’s position toward Turkey — from “friendly” to “semi-medium-hostile” — is Saudi Arabia’s newfound alliance with Egypt’s President el-Sisi. El-Sisi replaced the Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, in Egypt, while Turkey and Qatar, have effectively been the embodiments of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.

Erdogan offered to build a Turkish military base in the Kingdom, for example, but in June, Saudi officials turned him down.

Erdogan might benefit by being reminded of a few facts and shaken out of his make-believe world. For instance, he might recall, that his worst regional nemesis is an Arab leader, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, not an “infidel king.” He must realize that he is no longer the “rock star” he was in the streets of Amman or Beirut that he once was – when the only currency he could sell on the Arab Street was his anti-Semitic rants. Turkey does not even have full diplomatic relations with the most populous Sunni Arab nation, Egypt.

More recently, a tiny sheikdom had to remind Erdogan that his expansionist, “ummah-ist” design for the Middle East was no more than a fairy tale he persistently wanted to believe. In December, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan shared a tweet that accused Turkish troops of looting the holy city of Medina a century ago. In response, Erdogan himself lashed out:

“Some impertinent man sinks low and goes as far as accusing our ancestors of thievery … What spoiled this man? He was spoiled by oil, by the money he has”.

But that was not the end of what looks like a minor historical debate. The row symbolized the impossibility of what Erdogan has been trying to build: An eternal Arab-Turkish fraternity.

Anwar Gargash, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said there was a need for Arab countries to rally around the “Arab axis” of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Did Erdogan hear that? If not, he should have heard this one: Gargash also said that “the Arab world would not be led by Turkey”. In what better plain diplomatic language could the idea have been expressed?

Meanwhile, Erdogan keeps living in his make-believe world. Last summer, as part of his futile “euphemizing Arab-Ottoman history” campaign, he claimed that “Arabs stabbed us in the back was a lie”. Not even the Arabs claim they did not revolt against the Ottomans in alliance with Western powers.

If none of that is enough to convince Erdogan he should read some credible polling results. Taha Akyol, a prominent Turkish columnist, recently noted some research conducted by the pollster Zogby in 2016. The poll found that 67% of Egyptians, 65% of Saudis, 59% of UAE citizens, and 70% of Iraqis had an unfavorable opinion of Turkey.

Do not tell Erdogan, but if “polling” had existed a century ago, the numbers might have been even worse.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

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A Strong Israeli Army is the Answer to International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 10:11

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed on January 27, is a day set aside by the UN to memorialize victims of the Holocaust, encourage educational programs about one of the darkest times in history, and prevent future acts of genocide.

To that end, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) runs a meaningful program called, “Witnesses in Uniform”. The program, funded by Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers and IFCJ, sends hundreds of IDF officers and reservists to Germany and Poland to visit concentration and death camps, the ghettos and the old communities of destroyed European Jewry.

The program, in part, demonstrates that the Nazis did not succeed in their desire to annihilate the Jewish people. Rather, the atrocities of World War II lead to the establishment of the State of Israel and a strong Jewish army. This army strives tirelessly to ensure that “never again” will the enemies of God’s chosen people succeed in murdering relentlessly His people.  

“With the passing of over seven decades since the end of the Holocaust, there are fewer and fewer witnesses and more and more people lacking knowledge of this terrible time in history,” explained Brigadier General Yehiel Gozal, CEO of Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers, told Breaking Israel News. “‘Witnesses in Uniform’ provides Israeli soldiers with a direct educational and emotional link to the Holocaust in order that they return to the Holy Land as strengthened emissaries, able to strengthen other IDF soldiers in knowing the importance of their mission in the army.”

Six million European Jews, as well as millions of others, were murdered by the Nazi regime. “That is practically the entire population of people living in Israel today,” noted Gozal. “This is difficult to imagine and crucial to remember.”

As International Holocaust Remembrance Day was established as an official opportunity to prevent Holocaust denial through education and any manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, “Witnesses in Uniform“ plays a formative role in the IDF’s educational programming.  “The Israeli army is the most moral and ethical one in the world,” continued Gozal. “Sending a delegation of our soldiers within the framework of this important project strengthens all we stand for.”

Soldiers who participate in “Witnesses in Uniform” receive a special badge which is proudly worn on their uniforms. As part of the program, IDF soldiers join the “March of the Living”  in Poland, representing the State of Israel and her army. All of the soldiers on the program state that, despite the freezing weather, they remove their coats to ensure that their IDF uniforms are visible for all to see.

“We marched proudly, with our heads held high and our backs straight knowing that we are now granted the right to protect the Jewish people and are the first Jewish army in 2,000 years,” said an IDF participant. “Many of us cried, whether outwardly or in our hearts, recognizing that, had we had an Jewish army 75 years ago, the Holocaust could never have happened. We also cried with pride that we are soldiers in Israel’s army today.”

“A strong Israeli army declares that the Jewish people are finally in charge of our own destiny,” said Gozal. “The IDF officers who participate in ‘Witnesses in Uniform’ are assigned with the task of being the voice of those murdered in the Holocaust, the voice of strength, pride and remembrance.”

Soldiers participating in the “Witnesses in Uniform” trip receive extensive study and preparation. This includes touring the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and studying Jewish history in general and specifically the Holocaust. Additionally, a Holocaust survivor travels with the soldiers, sharing their personal story and contributing their perspective on the Holocaust.

“Soldiers who participate in ‘Witnesses in Uniform’ come back to Israel more inspired and happier with their lives and their service in the army, closer to their families, and more connected and prouder of their country,” smiled Gozal. “They gain clarity that there is no other country for the Jewish people than Israel and spread that recognition to others.”

To donate towards crucial programs provided to Israel’s soldiers, please visit here.

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Isaiah’s Prophecy Appears in Sahara as Snow Falls in World’s Hottest Desert [WATCH]

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 09:43

The people of Ain Sefra were greeted by a strange sight when they woke up last Sunday: 4-12 inches of snow had fallen overnight in the northern Algerian town known as “the Gateway to the Desert”, situated between the Sahara Desert and the Atlas Mountains. This is only the third time in the last 40 years that the Sahara’s dunes have been coated with snow. The Sahara is one of the hottest places on the planet but strangely, it snowed there last year as well. Before that, it had been 37 years since Ain Sefra’s last snowfall.

The Sahara is the largest and hottest desert in the world, covering 3.5 million square miles, an area approximately the size of the continental US. In  1922, a temperature of 136° Fahrenheit,  the highest land surface temperature ever recorded, was set in the Sahara at El Azizia, Libya.

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The prophet Isaiah speaks of deserts blooming repeatedly in his description of the end-of-days.

The arid desert shall be glad, The wilderness shall rejoice And shall blossom like a rose. Isaiah 35:1

I am about to do something new; Even now it shall come to pass, Suddenly you shall perceive it: I will make a road through the wilderness And rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

 

The post Isaiah’s Prophecy Appears in Sahara as Snow Falls in World’s Hottest Desert [WATCH] appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Lazar Lloyd Country Blues Tribute to America Gone Viral

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 08:53

Orthodox Israeli Jewish blues singer/songwriter Lazar Lloyd’s heartfelt tribute to America hits the mark with millions of viewers, signifying the deep spiritual connection between the United States and Israel.

The post Lazar Lloyd Country Blues Tribute to America Gone Viral appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Kabbalist: New High-Speed Train Necessary For Third Temple

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 07:55

The new high-speed train nearing completion connecting Israel’s recently upgraded international airport directly to the Temple Mount is expected to be complete just in time for Passover, which one mystic sees as fitting since so many esoteric hints indicate the road to the Third Temple will be paved with train tracks.

Yekutiel Fish, who writes a geula and Kabbalah blog in Hebrew called Sod HaChashmal (the secret energy) related an anecdote in his blog on Thursday about Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, a leading rabbi in Jerusalem in the late 19th century. Fish related that Rabbi Diskin heard the whistle of the first train to arrive in Jerusalem in 1892, and said, “They are clearing the way for Moshiach (Messiah) and the geula (redemption) is on the way.”

Rabbi Fish sees this pre-Messiah train phenomenon being played out to an even stronger degree with the new high-speed track that will bring travelers directly from Ben Gurion International Airport to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The train is expected to begin service in April, just in time for the Passover holiday.

“A high-speed train is precisely what is needed for Passover, when all of Israel is required to bring their sacrifice to the Temple,” Fish told Breaking Israel News. “ Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’) is preparing the way for the pilgrims to arrive at the Temple.”

Fish explained that a train has special characteristics that make it the most fitting means of transport for pilgrimage.

“Practically, a train is the best means since it can carry many more people without the dangers or traffic jams associated with highways,” Fish said.

Being a student of Kabbalah, though, his practical explanations had esoteric sources.

“The Hebrew word ‘rakevet’ literally means to join things together,” Fish said. “That is the purpose of the pilgrimage feasts: to bring all of Israel together.”

Fish brought additional reasons for the special connection between trains and the Messiah.

“In Gematria (Hebrew numerology), ‘rakevet’  equals 622, precisely the same as ‘har HaBayit’ (the Temple Mount)”,” Fish said.

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Fish is not alone in this vision of a Temple train. Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson, an expert in Bible codes, found a hint to this in the 17th chapter of Genesis. Rabbi Glazerson did a search with gap of 70 between letters since Israel recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. In close proximity, he found the words Tel aviv, Jerusalem, ‘rakevet’ (train), and the Hebrew letters designating this year, 5778.

Asaf Fried, spokesman for the United Tempe Movements

“There is no doubt that the new train is part of the geula process,” Fried told Breaking Israel News. “Everyone involved in the Temple Mount movement sees it this way and even the city planners understand that they are preparing for the Third Temple. Why else would they make the train line directly from the airport to the Temple Mount? Isn’t it just another of Israel’s many tourist sites?”

Though the high-speed train will significantly improve access to the Temple Mount, Fried sees that as just a part of the practical effort required to prepare for an actual Temple.

“I am familiar with sources that estimate that the Third Temple will bring an additional 7.5 million tourists to Israel annually,” Fried said. “This will require a lot more than just a new railroad. There are not nearly enough hotel rooms to house pilgrims who come to the Holy City for the feasts.”

Fried’s statement is accurate.  Interest in Jerusalem is growing and last year set a new record for tourism with over four million visitors to the city. The government recognizes the lack of accommodations and in 2016 instituted a plan to add 27,000 more hotel rooms to Jerusalem by 2026.

But Fried is not only concerned with housing people.

“With all those pilgrims expected, they should be putting down two train lines,” Fried said. ” And they will, of course, need cattle cars to bring everyone’s sacrifice.”

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Abbas Furious: Trump Wants Palestinian Capital in Abu Dis

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 06:49

On Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Palestinian Central Council, saying that US President Donald Trump offered Abu Dis, an Arab village adjacent to east Jerusalem, as the Palestinian capital, an offer Abbas rejected outright.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine,” Abbas told the delegates at the meeting. “We are at a critical moment and our future is in danger … We are currently being offered Abu Dis as our capital.”

Abbas expressed his disappointment in the offer, suggesting the council should tear up any of the agreements they have already made with Israel.

“What would you want if Jerusalem were to be lost? Would you want to make a state with Abu Dis as its capital?” Abbas asked rhetorically. “That’s what they are offering us now. I call on the Central Council to revise all the agreements signed between the PLO and Israel because Israel has brought these agreements to a dead end,” said Abbas. “Israel has ended the Oslo agreement, so the PLO Central Council must decide where should we go from here?”

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-in_article'); }); Abbas made it clear he had already rejected the president’s plan. “We can say no to anyone… And we have now said ‘no’ to Trump and others. No, we will not accept his plan,” Abbas said. “We told him that the deal of the era is the slap of the era… We will repel it.” “I’m with the two states…according to international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative, the State of Palestine along 1967 borders,” he said. Though this statement by Abbas reflects the standard left-wing dialog justifying the two-state solution, it should be noted that the regional borders before the 1967 Six-Day War did not include any State of Palestine.

There has been no comment from the White House concerning Abbas’ statement.

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HAGGAI 1:6

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 04:24

The tenth book of the Twelve Prophets is the book of Haggai. Haggai’s central message is that people of Israel must not forget their mission having returned to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian exile. The reason the people of Israel were to dwell in the land of Israel was to proclaim the name of the God of Israel. Instead of concerning themselves with their personal needs, the people must dedicate their efforts to building a second Temple, where God’s Presence can rest and from there, emanate all over the world. Today, the children of Israel continue to work towards perfecting our society in anticipation of the rebuilding of the Temple.

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Renovated Soup-Kitchen Uplifts Struggling Patrons

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 03:23

Israel’s southern town of Dimona has one of the highest percentages of impoverished people in the country. Yet, its residents were all smiles when its well-known free restaurant-style soup kitchen, run by the charity organization Meir Panim, re-opened following an extensive refurbishment. The event was attended not only by eager and hungry patrons but also by the Mayor of the city, Benny Biton.

“I am very impressed with how the donated funds were used efficiently and to their utmost to upgrade this welcoming facility,” said Mayor Biton, who attended the ribbon cutting. “I am proud to have such an important institution in my city and honored to show the great work Meir Panim does for our struggling citizens.”

Over the years, Dimona has attracted many new immigrants from India, Russia and a group known as the Black Hebrews due to its low-cost housing. However, quality jobs are in limited supply and adults and the elderly tend to be uneducated or unable to work. That combination calls for an increased need for the availability of social and welfare services to ensure that people have food to eat.

“Over the past few years, the staff at Meir Panim noticed a steady increase in the people coming to us for assistance,” said Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim, to Breaking Israel News. “The original trickle of patrons turned into a stream, which demonstrated the need for this renovation and expansion.”

Meir Panim’s soup kitchen provides fresh, nutritious lunches as well as prepared food packages for the needy to take home as well as Meals on Wheels for the homebound. It is also an important place for marginalized people in society to come and socialize.

Meir Panim’s new soup-kitchen in Dimona (Photo courtesy of Meir Panim) Meir Panim’s soup kitchen in Dimona (Photo courtesy Meir Panim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

“With this renovation, we have improved our system for providing people with the sustenance they need,” declared Sternbuch. “Now, the building is not only more efficient, it is also beautiful, warm and welcoming.”

Meir Panim’s newly renovated soup kitchen in Dimona (Photo courtesy Meir Panim)

In order to cover the cost of the extensive renovation, Meir Panim sought a partner. “We were fortunate to have the Mayor of Dimona join us in this endeavor,” continued Sternbuch. “In addition, local businesses cooperate with Meir Panim to provide raw food products required to feed so many people.”

Meir Panim hired an interior designer to create the building’s fresh and well-organized look and feel. As the patrons entered the newly designed facility, their faces lit up with surprise and joy. “The lives of people who struggle to survive are rarely filled with warmth, color, and a homey atmosphere,” noted Sternbuch to Breaking Israel News. “Our regulars could not believe all this was done for them and they were truly touched by such a caring gesture.”

Meir Panim maintains four other restaurant-soup kitchens throughout Israel. Their goal is to refurbish each of these as donations come in. “We will renovate and upgrade the other restaurant-style soup kitchens as soon as we have the funding,” Sternbuch said. “This way, we can handle the growing number of diners and provide much-needed take-out food in greater quantities.

Meir Panim meals are regulated by Israel’s Ministry of Health to ensure quality and cleanliness.

To donate to Meir Panim, please click here.

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Curing Trump’s Quarterly Iran Headache

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 03:00

It’s that time of the year again. In accordance with the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act, by Sunday US President Donald Trump must either certify that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal his predecessor Barack Obama concluded with the Iranian regime, or he must announce that Iran is breaching the accord.

Last October, after angrily certifying compliance at his two previous deadlines, Trump decertified Iranian compliance.

Trump could have walked away from the nuclear deal by reinstating the sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas industries, its banking sector and other foundations of Iran’s economy that were lifted when the deal was implemented. Doing so would have effectively killed the nuclear accord.

But Trump opted instead to pass the burden on to Congress. He gave lawmakers 90 days to put together a new sanctions bill that he would sign that could punish Iran’s misbehavior while presumably leaving the nuclear deal intact.

Congress failed to respond. No sanctions were passed. Democrats, keen to protect Obama’s most significant foreign policy legacy, have promised to filibuster any sanctions bill.

So now it is Trump’s problem to deal with, again. And he faces the same options.

Trump can stick with the deal, or he can walk away.

Media reports from the past two days indicate that Trump has opted to stick with the deal. Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has convinced him to certify Iranian compliance.

Reportedly, Trump’s biggest problem with the nuclear deal is not that it gives Iran a clear path to the bomb inside of a decade. It is that the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act requires him to revisit the issue every 90 days.

The certification process puts Trump in a no-win situation. If he certifies Iranian compliance, he angers his supporters and the overwhelming majority of Republican lawmakers. If he refuses to certify Iranian compliance, he will face the wrath of the media, the Washington foreign policy establishment, and the European Union.

All of the deal’s defenders argue that canceling it will destabilize the international security environment while empowering Iran’s “hard-liners.”

On Wednesday The Washington Free Beacon reported that McMaster, together with Sens. Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively, are lobbying Trump to agree to a package that would amend the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act to strip him of the need to recertify Iranian compliance every 90 days. As for sanctions, the amended law would call for sanctions to be reinstated in six years, if Iran is not complying with the agreement.

The implications of McMaster’s reported proposal are enormous. Trump would lose his power to abrogate the deal, while Iran would be immune from sanctions until a really long time from now. The US would lose its leverage against the deal in respect not only to Iran but toward the Europeans, Russians, and Chinese as well.

On the face of it, McMaster is right to want to keep the Iranian nuclear issue on the back burner. After all, there is the nuclear crisis with North Korea to consider. Moreover, the Europeans are dead set on protecting the deal.

On Thursday, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Commissioner Frederica Mogherini and her French, British and German counterparts met in Brussels with Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif to pledge their allegiance to the nuclear deal and stand as one against a possible US pullout from the agreement.

The Europeans will certainly be very angry if Trump walks away from the deal they made with Obama. But then, it isn’t clear why that should matter. Aside from passive-aggressively voting against the US at the UN, as they did last month, Mogherini and her comrades don’t have much leverage. Will they prefer economic deals with Iran to their trade with the US?

THIS BRINGS us to North Korea.

Iran and North Korea are partners in nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation. They partnered in building the nuclear installation in Syria that Israel reportedly destroyed in September 2007. Iran’s ballistic missiles are based on North Korean designs. Iranians have reportedly been present during North Korea’s nuclear tests.

All of this information is public knowledge, and we can only speculate how much deeper their collaboration actually is. Given what is known and must be assumed about their collaboration, it is beyond foolish to treat the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs as unrelated to each other.

If North Korea cannot be set aside, neither can Iran.

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Then there is the fact that hundreds of thousands of Iranians have been on the streets for weeks calling for the overthrow of the regime due to its squandering of Iran’s national wealth on wars and graft.

Nuclear deal supporters insist that reinstating sanctions will only harm the protesters. The regime, they argue, is not harmed by sanctions. The regime passes the economic losses Iran incurs from sanctions onto ordinary citizens. They suffer while the regime prospers through whatever sanctions busting trades they concoct with the Turks, Qataris, Russians, and Chinese.

This claim is both morally repugnant and contradicted by the protests themselves.

If the regime were able to support itself without pilfering from the public, there wouldn’t be any protesters on the streets calling for Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to die.

Iran received more than $100 billion in sanctions relief from the nuclear deal. Obama administration officials promised the regime would not use the sanctions relief windfall to underwrite terrorism and war and develop advanced weapons. Instead, Obama and his underlings promised it would go to ordinary Iranians. Iranian prosperity, they offered, would cause the regime to become moderate and peaceful.

On Thursday Iran sanctions expert Jonathan Schanzer from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tweeted, “A US official I spoke to today believes Iranian expenditures on foreign adventures, nuclear research, and missiles, coupled with losses from graft and corruption, have cost the regime $150b.-$200b. since the signing of the [initial draft nuclear deal with Iran in late]… in 2013.”

In other words, the regime is a parasite that has lives on international welfare and the wealth of its people. Instead of developing Iranian society, Khamenei and his henchmen steal the people’s wealth and national treasure and use both to line their pockets and pay for their wars abroad.

In an interview with Lee Smith at RealClearPolitics, Iranian banking expert Saeed Ghasseminejad revealed that in addition to squandering their earnings from sanctions relief, the regime has been stealing the savings of the Iranian middle class. First, regime-controlled banks, (including those that will be barred from the international financial system if Trump reinstates the sanctions) gave large loans to regime officials who never repaid them. The losses were passed to the regular account holders.

Second, Ghasseminejad related details of a regime-licensed Ponzi scheme. Private banks offering high-interest rates appeared out of nowhere. Their high rates attracted middle-class investors who deposited their life savings.

When depositors tried to withdraw their money, the banks declared bankruptcy.

No one has been prosecuted and a large number of formerly middle-class Iranians are now impoverished.

According to Ghasseminejad, these newly impoverished Iranians are now in the streets calling for the regime to be overthrown.
If Trump decides to keep sanctions frozen, it will serve as a rebuke to the protesters. And if media reports that the protests are dissipating are to be believed, then a decision by Trump to certify regime compliance with the nuclear deal will be their death knell.

It isn’t that there is no risk of killing the nuclear deal. As The Jerusalem Post reported this week, in an interview with Iranian television Wednesday, Behrooz Kamalvandi, the deputy chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, threatened Trump that if he reinstates sanctions, “Iran is ready to increase the speed of its nuclear activities in various areas, especially enrichment, several times more than [in the] pre-nuclear deal era.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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Palestinian Vlogger Praises Rabbi Peace-Maker

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 02:55

Palestinian video blogger Nusseir Yassin whose daily-dose one-minute videos have garnered almost 30 million views released a video on Sunday about Eliyahu McLean, an apolitical peacemaker who brings together Christian, Muslims, and Jews in multi-faith prayer events intended to bring peace to the region and reestablish Jerusalem as a center for prayer.

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Iran: An Interim Assessment

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 02:00

The protests in Iran appear, for now at least, to be subsiding. The key moment was the decision to task the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps with security in the three provinces that formed the center of the unrest – Hamadan, Isfahan and Lorestan.

It is still too soon to say that the wave has entirely spent itself. Demonstrations are still taking place, despite the IRGC’s announcement on Monday of an end to the unrest. In the cities of Sanandaj, Zahedan, Meybod, Abarkuh, Kordkuy, Aqqala, Alvand and Buin Zahra, among other centers, rallies were held. But the number of those attending the demonstrations is decreasing.

The wave of unrest was the most intensive to hit the country since 2009. Its details constitute evidence of broad alienation from the regime of a significant section of Iran’s youthful population. The unrest at its height spread to over 80 cities and towns. The average age among those arrested was 25.

Demonstrators chanted anti-regime slogans and attacked facilities of the Basij paramilitaries and other regime-associated institutions.

Notably, Teheran’s costly policy of regional interference formed a focus for the protesters’ rage. Slogans such as “Leave Syria, think about us!” and “Death to Hezbollah!” were heard. More general anti-regime slogans, including “We don’t want an Islamic Republic” and “Death to the dictator” was also chanted by demonstrators.

The protests began in the pro-regime, conservative city of Mashhad. Their initial focus was new austerity measures introduced by President Hassan Rouhani. There is evidence that the initial instigators of the demonstrations were themselves from among the hard-line “principalist” opponents of Rouhani.

But these elements did not anticipate the rapid growth of the demonstrations or their intensity. The regime, clearly taken by surprise, reacted in the only way it knows – with a strong hand. Twenty-two people are dead. Hundreds more are wounded.

A number of conclusions can be drawn from the direction of events so far.

1.For those hoping for the downfall of the Islamist regime, a major absence in the Iranian context is that of a revolutionary “party.” This does not necessarily mean a formal political party but, rather, a revolutionary trend with a level of organization and popular appeal, a vision for the future and a broad strategy for defeating the Islamist regime.

At present, nothing of this type exists in the Iranian context – neither as a network inside the country nor as a widely respected focus on the outside.

Because of this absence, the 2009 protests, which were concerned with the apparently rigged reelection of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were diverted through the election of the “moderate” Rouhani.

The current protests, meanwhile, which are economic in nature, may well be similarly diverted by a combination of a strong hand, some cosmetic concessions, and probably, ironically, also by the scapegoating of the “moderate” president.

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Such diversionary moves are possible because of the dispersed and divided nature of the opposition. As long as no nucleus of political (and, probably, military) opposition to the regime emerges, it is difficult to see a way that a wave of unrest can smash the edifice of the Islamic Republic.

2. The regime has been keen, naturally, to blame the unrest on foreign agitators. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Twitter feed suggested that a “pattern activating these events” was apparent. According to the supreme leader, a “scheme by the US and Zionists” with money from a “wealthy government near the Persian Gulf” (obviously Saudi Arabia) was responsible.

Given the Iranian regime’s penchant for interference in neighboring countries – with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen chief among them – it is tempting to hope that the supreme leader’s fears are justified. There is, however, no actual evidence to support such a claim.

In US President Donald Trump’s recent speech outlining his national security strategy, he referred to Iran as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” and identified the need to “neutralize Iranian malign influence.”

One way to help the achievement of the latter goal would be to keep the Iranian home fires burning. Tehran prefers to foment unrest in neighboring countries in order to keep neighbors weak and divert unrest at home. There is now an opportunity to return the compliment. There are a variety of ways that this might be achieved – from ensuring that protesters and demonstrators remain organized and in communication with one another, to punitive means to disincentivize those countries and individuals assisting the regime in acquiring the means of repression.

3. Among the most difficult type of people to unseat from power through revolution are revolutionaries themselves – at least as long as the revolutionary elite does not begin to crumble from within. There are as yet no signs of this in Iran. Rather, the rising force within the elite is precisely that force most committed to the values of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 (and to spreading its influence into neighboring lands) – namely, the IRGC and associated hard-line figures.

The rising, militant elements within the regime were themselves participants as young men in the revolution of 1979. Even if there were a similarly determined and organized leadership seeking to make revolution against the Islamic Republic, it would find this cadre a tough nut to crack. And as we have seen above, currently there is not.

Nevertheless, the protests of the last week are significant. They point to the sharp fissures within Iranian society and the extent to which the regime is detached from large sections of the population and its wants and needs.

The guardians of the Islamic Republic of Iran have in recent years proved masters at identifying and exploiting the fissures in neighboring societies. The field is now ripe for this process to turn into a two-way street, depending on the will and the ability of Iran’s opponents to recognize the opportunity and make use of it.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Jonathan Spyer

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Recreating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 01:00

Almost 70 years after it was signed, dozens of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the original signatories of Israel’s Declaration of Independence gathered in the Knesset Sunday, in order to recreate the historical signing event.

The signing event was the official kick-off for the preparations for Israel’s first Congress on Judaism and Democracy – two fundamental values which provide the bedrock for the state and the declaration.

“The Declaration of Independence serves as a shining example of the crucial balance between Judaism and democracy, emphasizing the dual role of Israel in offering a home to Jews from around the world, while also retaining a democratically-elected government and full equality of social and political rights to all its citizens,” said Haim Tiab, Chairman of the Congress.

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Participants at the event signed and read key passages from the declaration, underscoring their significance for the modern era.

“It was very moving to take part in the event, which shed light on the beautiful principals on which the state was founded,” Noa Gefen – the granddaughter of Eliyahu Dobkin, who was a leading figure of the Labor Zionism movement, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and a founder of the Israel Museum, told Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “Sometimes, we tend to forget what our parents and grandparents dreamed of [when founding the state], and I hope events such as this would help remind us of that,” she added.

The Congress on Judaism and Democracy will convene in February and will be attended by prominent figures such as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and former Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman. The Congress will see the discussion of sensitive issues in Israeli society where the values of democracy and Judaism are sometimes at odds, such as the Sabbath in the public sphere, the treatment of minorities in the country, and the relationships between different sects of Judaism.

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Why Deportation of Asylum Seekers is Unnecessary

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 01:00

Israel has decided to deport asylum seekers to third countries. A slightly odd decision, and mostly unnecessarily.

Regardless of whether the aid organizations’ claims against this decision are right or wrong, a thorough discussion of these claims seems unnecessary in light of the fact that there are too many alternatives that are more decent and humane, and which complement each other.

To understand the alternatives, we must remember that most African asylum seekers came from Eritrea and that most of them support that country’s regime. Under Eritrean law, they must pay a 2-percent diaspora tax to the Eritrean government. In addition to this tax, a significant portion of their salary is transferred directly to their families. A 2015 study estimated that every African in the diaspora transfers $1,077 a year to his or her family members.

When it comes to Eritrea, the payments from the diaspora make up 37 percent of the gross national product. Even those who don’t support the regime are entitled to make a ransom payment at the Eritrean embassy and receive a sort of pardon.

The Israeli government has the option of returning the Eritrean asylum seekers to their country. Aid organizations say they can’t be returned, as they would be tortured there or forced to serve in the army forever and ever.

This claim may have been true in the not-so-distant past, but different reports released in recent years indicate that those who have returned or have been returned to Eritrea have not been tortured. One of the most serious reports, issued by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), denies the claims of horrors awaiting the returning Eritreans.

European courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, have decided in recent years to return Eritrean asylum seekers who were said to be deserters. So the situation has changed. There’s no need to deport them, there’s a need to return them.

The other alternative is the “deposit law,” which was passed several months ago, under which foreign workers must deposit 20 percent of their salary in a designated fund whose content would be returned to them on the day they leave Israel.

This is a fair arrangement, which allows asylum seekers to work and earn a dignified living, yet encourages them to leave voluntarily as the sum accumulated in the fund increases. Aid organizations petitioned the High Court against the law just like they have petitioned any other measure adopted by the government concerning this issue.

Considering the huge money transfers from Eritreans in the diaspora, both to the Eritrean government and to the families back home, this is clearly a case of work migration. It’s a worthwhile export industry, creating a difference between persecuted refugees and work migrants. Humane and Jewish ethics require us to consider the former’s needs a bit more than the latter’s needs.

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Combining the two options could lead to a decent arrangement. Instead of investing huge efforts and huge budgets in deportation, we could put most of our efforts into implementing the “deposit law.” This measure, coupled with serious negotiations with the Eritrean government, which has diplomatic relations with Israel, could lead to the enforcement of proper return procedures.

The Eritreans living in Israel likely won’t support any arrangement. They deserve to be treated humanely, but that doesn’t mean every claim they make is right.

The thing is that any arrangement, regardless of its nature, evokes a Pavlovian response among the aid organizations. That’s a shame. These organizations could have played a significant role in defending asylum seekers. Instead, they have created a feeling—which isn’t always wrong—that as far as they’re concerned, charity doesn’t begin at home.

When these organizations oppose every move, ignore European reports and rush to the High Court even against a reasonable and humane measure like the “deposit law,” they stop being rights organizations and turn into organizations with a radical political agenda.

Most importantly, it’s a shame that these organizations are incapable of allotting some of their empathy toward asylum seekers also toward the main victims of the tens of thousands who have settled among them.

Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News

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Netanyahu Rekindles ‘Bromance’ With Modi at Start of India Visit

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 00:30

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kicked off his state visit to India on Sunday with a warm embrace from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who unexpectedly met the Israeli leader when he landed at New Delhi’s airport on Sunday afternoon.

“Welcome to India, my friend Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Your visit to India is historic and special.  This visit will strengthen the close ties between our countries,” Modi tweeted in Hebrew.

Netanyahu quickly returned the favor, tweeting: “Thank you, my dear friend, Modi for the warm and personal reception to India. I greatly value this moving gesture.”

The warm exchange by the two leaders comes several months after Modi made a historic visit to Israel, where Netanyahu personally escorted the Indian leader throughout the Jewish state and signed several important bilateral deals.

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Netanyahu’s five-day state visit to India, the first by an Israeli prime minister since Ariel Sharon in 2003, will seek to deepen ties between the two burgeoning allies. High on Netanyahu’s list of priorities is to expand business ties with India as the Israeli leader is being accompanied by a 130-strong trade delegation – the largest ever by an Israeli leader.

On his first day, Netanyahu met with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj about expanding these ties.

“We are here in India on a historic visit. It is important for the State of Israel that one of the world’s major powers wants to develop close relations in many areas – economics, trade, security and agriculture,” he said.

Both countries are expected to sign a series of bilateral agreements during Netanyahu’s stay.

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Time to Impose Sanctions on the Palestinian Terror Authority

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 00:00

A Palestinian gunman near Nablus (Shechem) unleashed a hail of 21 bullets at an Israeli car on Tuesday – an atrocity that should prompt a thorough reassessment of how Jerusalem and Washington view the hostile entity known as the Palestinian Authority.

With the pull of a trigger, the terrorist murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, turning his wife into a widow and his six small children – all under the age of 10 – into orphans, denying them the love of a father and destroying their innocence and childhood.

Rabbi Shevach was a mohel (trained to perform circumcisions) who in his spare time served as a volunteer medic. He committed no crime nor did he pose a threat to anyone. Shevach was a resident of Havat Gilad who was simply making his way home that night to be with his family, like men and women everywhere.

His wife will surely be haunted by his final words, uttered when he called to say he had just been shot.

And his children will grow up with a void in their lives that can never be filled.

From beginning to end the incident highlights the lethal role played by the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. It underscores the need to impose punitive sanctions forthwith on the blood-stained regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

It is time to stop coddling Abbas and start treating the institution he heads in a manner befitting its promotion and encouragement of terrorist violence.

For months, as Palestinian Media Watch has documented, the PA and its official bodies have brazenly incited Palestinians to attack Israelis, hailing those who have done so as heroes and deliberately trying to heighten tensions on the ground.

With its constant stream of venom aimed at young and old alike, Palestinian television, radio, and newspapers have become platforms for advocating violence, barbarism, and brutality.

Using everything from music to visual imagery to the written word, the propagandists in Mr. Abbas’s employ continue to produce an ongoing symphony of savagery that has created an environment rife with hate.

Even more, telling is what Rabbi Shevach’s murderer chose to do after he completed his dastardly act: He fled by car to PA-controlled Nablus, knowing full well he could find safe refuge there without fear of prosecution.

NOT ONLY does the PA foster attacks, it provides sanctuary to those who carry them out as well.

As if that weren’t enough, terrorists are rewarded by the PA for spilling the blood of innocent Israelis, as recently revealed in startling new statistics.

At a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry disclosed that the PA paid out well over half a billion dollars to Palestinian terrorists and their families over the past two years. In 2016, it shelled out $320m., while in 2017 the figure rose to $347m.

Even more astonishing is that the PA relies on foreign aid from Europe and elsewhere, as well as on taxes and customs revenues transferred to it by Israel, for its financial survival.

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After cashing the checks, the PA takes its money and doles out enormous sums to terrorists and their families, thereby signaling the priority it places on providing financial incentives for Palestinians to reach for the gun.

This moral madness must be brought to an end.

Instead of indulging Abbas and those around him, serious measures must be taken without delay to punish the PA and penalize its penchant for terror.

We need to start by calling things by their true names and label the Abbas regime “the Palestinian Terrorist Authority.”

A would-be government that goads people to violence, provides terrorists with shelter and immunity and then bestows financial gifts to them cannot and must not be considered a legitimate governing body or a possible partner for peace.

Next, it is essential that the law proposed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman – which would deduct the amount the PA pays to terrorists from the taxes transferred to it by Israel – be enacted as soon as possible.

Washington should also cut off aid to the Palestinians for their obstructionism and refusal to negotiate, as President Trump threatened to do earlier this month.

There is no reason for the Jewish state or American taxpayers to send money to the PA at the same time it is funneling funds to terrorists.

There has been plenty of talk over the years about such steps, but now is the time for the US and Israel to translate that talk into action.

Abbas must understand that he can no longer act with impunity while he almost literally laughs all the way to the bank.

The Palestinians will have no one but themselves to blame for the economic fallout that will follow a cutoff of funds.

The PA had a choice to make between terror and peace. Its preference is quite clear. Our resolve must be no less decisive.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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Liberman Advances Legalization of Havat Gilad Outpost

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 00:00

Five days after the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach near Havat Gilad in Samaria, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has drafted a proposal to legalize the outpost.

While not mentioning the name of the outpost, a statement released by the Defense Ministry said “a new settlement should be advanced on private Israeli-owned land in the Samaria area.”

Havat Gilad would mostly meet the requirement as the outpost is built on land purchased by Moshe Zar after the murder of his son Gilad, the security coordinator of the Samaria Regional Council, who was shot and killed by Palestinian terrorists in 2001.  Some 42 families currently live in the outpost.

In order to accommodate parts of the outpost that may not meet that requirement, the Defense Ministry statement added that the new settlement, which would have its own independent municipal status, “would also absorb residents from the area.”

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Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council welcomed the decision, calling it “the appropriate Zionist response of a national government in the face of a despicable murder.”

“The community of Havat Gilad is a community that was built on land purchased by Moshe Zar after the murder of his son Gilad. There is no more appropriate Zionist response to these murderers than to recognize Havat Gilad,” Dagan said.

Shevach, a 35-year-old father of six, was shot to death in a drive-by shooting near Havat Gilad last week.

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II SAMUEL 8:15

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 05:43

King David was an ideal king, not only because of his military prowess and artistic creativity, but because he ruled the nation with “true justice among all his people.” King David ruled according to the “letter of the law,” but also ensured that everyone received not only that to which they were legally entitled, but whatever they needed. This commitment to the highest level of ethics epitomizes the righteous reign of King David in the eyes of God. David’s Tower stands tall in the Old City of Jerusalem as an everlasting reminder of David’s exemplary leadership.

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Israeli Hospital Sends Delegation to Zambia To Stave Off Growing Cholera Outbreak

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 05:00

A small delegation of Israeli medical specialists from the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan has flown down to help stave off the growing cholera outbreak.

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks Prior to Leaving on an Official Visit to India

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 04:00

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu comments on the IDF attack of Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip on the eve of his historic India visit, where he will meet the Indian Prime Minister and President.

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Major Jewish Organizations Back Israel’s BDS Entry ban, Barred Group Calls it ‘Bullying’

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 02:00

Leaders of several major American Jewish organizations have told JNS that they are supporting the Israeli government’s decision to prevent the entry of foreign citizens who promote boycotts of Israel.

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs on Jan. 7 released a preliminary list of 20 foreign organizations whose “central figures” will not be permitted to enter Israel because they have undertaken “significant, ongoing and consistent harm to Israel through advocating boycotts.” There are six American groups on the list, including the American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Students for Justice in Palestine and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

JVP Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson told JNS that until now, she has been traveling to Israel “approximately once a year, and those trips are usually a mix of personal visits and JVP work.” Vilkomerson said the Israeli government “has not been in touch with us in terms of how they define JVP leadership,” so it is not clear if the ban will apply only to JVP’s senior staff or also to its other arms, such as its Academic Advisory Council.

Vilkomerson said there are “over 900 people on the [council],” but she declined to provide a list of their names. In the past, JVP press releases that mentioned the council stated that “the full list is available upon request.”

A spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy told JNS that the determination regarding exactly who will be prevented from entering will be based on whether an individual engages in “ongoing, consistent, and significant action to promote the boycott, with each case being judge on its own merits.” The spokesperson said an inter-ministerial team is still in the process of “formulating the criteria for implementation of the legislation,” with a final list of banned organizations likely to be released in March.

JVP’s Vilkomerson described the Israeli ban as “bullying.” That characterization was challenged by Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who told JNS, “For JVP to complain about ‘bullying’ is the height of hypocrisy given their tactics.” He was referring to incidents in which JVP activists reportedly have harassed pro-Israel speakers.

Protesters compare President Donald Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall to Israel’s West Bank security fence at a Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) demonstration in New York City last September. Credit: JVP via Facebook.

According to a memo issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), JVP members at last year’s Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City confronted a group of pro-Israel LGBTQ marchers, “cutting their microphones and blocking them from marching.” The ADL also said JVP supported the expulsion of pro-Israel participants from last year’s Chicago Dyke March on the grounds that their rainbow flags resembled Israeli flags, which JVP said represented “racism and violence.” Also, according to the ADL, “JVP members have shouted down and interrupted campus speeches by guests whom they consider too Zionist.”

A number of leading Jewish organizations have expressed support or understanding for the Israeli government’s Jan. 7 decision.

AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman told JNS that while his organization does not take public positions on the Israeli government’s internal policy decisions, “Every state has a right to determine who enters its borders, and the government of Israel has explained that its bar is limited to those who plan ‘material action’ against the Jewish state.”

“Israel is under no obligation to hold the door open for anyone, or any organization that attempts to harm the state,” B’nai B’rith International said in a statement to JNS. “The threat posed by BDS supporters goes well beyond mere policy criticism.”

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Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress in North America, said, “The groups on Israel’s list of BDS promoters totally undermine any prospect for peace by fostering hatred, bigotry, and anti-Semitism, which leads to violence and the endangerment of Israeli citizens.”

When the Knesset last year gave preliminary approval to a law restricting the entry of foreign BDS advocates, the ADL and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) expressed disapproval. When contacted by JNS this week for their position on the new government decision—which is more limited than the Knesset bill because it specifically names 20 groups, rather than being a blanket ban—both the ADL and AJC did not respond.

Left-of-center groups, meanwhile, strongly criticized the Israeli government’s move. Americans for Peace Now asserted in a press release that “boycotts are a legitimate form of peaceful, political expression, which must be protected in any democracy.” It warned that the Israeli decision “increases the isolation of Palestinians living under occupation” and could lead to “the specter of Jews—or non-Jews—being interrogated about their political beliefs at Ben Gurion Airport.”

But the Strategic Affairs Ministry spokesperson told JNS that the new regulations “explicitly exclude political criticism of Israel as a criterion for consideration in naming an organization.”

In an interview with JNS, Paul Scham, president of Partners for Progressive Israel, argued that “calling BDS ‘economic terrorism’ is simply demagoguery,” because in his view, “there is no plausible connection between the presence of a BDS activist and Israeli security.”

Leaders of organizations representing Reform and Conservative Judaism declined to comment on the Israeli government decision, while Orthodox groups were supportive of the move. A spokesman for the Orthodox Union (OU) told JNS, “The OU’s position on this, as with a wide range of other decisions made by the Israeli leadership, is to defer to the decisions of the duly elected democratic government of the State of Israel.”

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, president of the Coalition for Jewish Values, which represents several hundred Orthodox rabbis nationwide, said, “It is routine for democratic countries to ban foreign nationals who wish to harm it. it would be irresponsible for a nation not to engage in elementary self-preservation. The goal of BDS is to destroy Israel, and it is prudent for Israel to respond as it has.”

Section 212 of the current U.S. immigration law authorizes the exclusion of foreign citizens who are suspected of intending to engage in “any activity” related to “sabotage” of the government. It also prohibits the entry of anyone who “endorses of espouses terrorist activity,” even if they are not involved in actual terrorism.

Restrictions on admission to the U.K. are even broader. Section 2 of the relevant British law states that a foreigner can be prevented from entering the country if the authorities decide that “the applicant’s character, conduct or associations” make it “undesirable” to grant entry.

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