Rooftop greenhouse in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv’s rooftop farm grows fresh food for thousands

Katherine Martinko (@feistyredhair) Living / Green Food December 19, 2016 Share on Facebook
Reprinted from  Tree Hugger

Located above the Dizengoff shopping center, this urban farm uses hydroponics to grow vegetables rapidly and organically.

The Dizengoff Center is a vast shopping mall in central Tel Aviv, Israel. Built in the 1970s, the towering concrete structure doesn’t look like much, but when you step inside, a wonderful sight will meet your eyes.

There is a vegetable stand just inside the door, built of wood and packed with bags of fresh, wet leafy greens and herbs. It is an anomaly in the midst of fast-fashion outlets and food courts, better suited for a traditional farmers’ market, but this humble little vegetable stand has become a great success. It relies on the honor system, trusting shoppers to leave the correct change and take what they want. (Eighty percent of shoppers do so.) The vegetables sell out so quickly that the stand has to be restocked four times daily.

Dizengoff vegetable stand© K Martinko — The vegetable stand inside the shopping centre’s entrance

What makes these vegetables really special, though, is that they’re grown on the roof of the Dizengoff shopping center. As part of a project called ‘Green in the City,’ or Yarok Bair in Hebrew, an urban rooftop farm has been established over the past year. It comprises two commercial greenhouses, totaling 750 square meters (over 8,000 square feet) of growing space, as well as an educational area where citizens can learn urban farming techniques and cooking skills relevant to the vegetables they grow. The organization sells hydroponics units for home use and teaches people how to use them.

hydroponics box© K Martinko — A small hydroponics box sold for personal use

Dizengoff garden 2© Shani Sadicario — A view of the rooftop garden’s education center

The rooftop farm produces 10,000 heads of lettuce per month year-round, and grows 17 different varieties of greens and herbs; there is even a banana tree. The farm uses a variety of hydroponics systems – some vertical, some horizontal – that grow food two times faster than in soil. The system does not require regular cleaning, since the sun does not access the water beneath the plastic covers that hold the plants, and the constant flow of oxygen prevents rot.

Dizengoff garden© Shani Sadicario — The roots hang into the oxygenated water.

The vegetables are grown without pesticides, although they do not qualify for official organic certification because of a line in Israeli agricultural laws that states that organic food must be grown in soil.

The founder of Green in the City, Lavi Kushelevich, is a passionate advocate for reclaiming one’s food system. He believes that this rooftop farm – only one of 15 urban farming initiatives that he’s currently overseeing in Israel – can help urban Millennials to get excited about growing their own food, without having to move to the rural farms, or kibbutzim, that attracted previous generations.

I visited on a rainy December morning, along with a group of fellow environmental writers. Lavi took us on a tour of the rooftop, pointing out other interesting sustainability initiatives started by the Dizengoff Center. These include a tree-planting program, where children from Tel Aviv come on the national holiday of Tu BishVat to plant seedlings. Later, the young trees are planted around the city and the Dizengoff Center receives carbon credits for its efforts.

Dizengoff center apartments© Shani Sadicario — The Dizengoff Center’s private apartments soar beyond the rooftop garden.

There are beehives, too, though the honey is left undisturbed, and a bat cave in the lower levels of the basement. Birds’ nests are placed on the rooftop to encourage avian visitors.

It’s really amazing to see how a shopping center – such a symbol of modern consumerism – has been converted into a farm, creating access to fresh food for thousands of urban residents. The leafy greenhouses, a refreshing counterpoint to the shops below, are proof that nutritious ingredients can be accessible to all, even in the most unexpected places. All it takes is some innovative thinking, and Israel certainly has plenty of that.

Posted in Alternative Energy, Climate Change, Education, Middle East Report, News Articles, Recent Posts, Science and Technology | Comments Off on Rooftop greenhouse in Tel Aviv

Israel supports democracy and diversity

‘The Genius of Judaism’: An Interview with Bernard-Henri Lévy

Reprinted from The Tower, December, 2016

In your new book, The Genius of Judaism, you demonstrate the depth of your Jewish identity. How has that identity guided you in your writing and advocacy on behalf of those nations and communities, particularly in the Middle East, suffering from war, religious persecution and ethnic cleansing?

My relationship to Judaism is the most important thread of my life as a committed intellectual. When I report about the most forgotten wars, as I did a few years ago in Africa and elsewhere, when I commit myself, as I do these very days with the battle for Mosul, when I commit myself, as I did 25 years ago, with the people of Sarajevo besieged by the Serbs – when I do all of that, I am faithful to this obligation, this duty, of going to the other and embracing his otherness, which is at the heart of the Jewish identity as I conceive it in my book.

How do you see Israel’s regional position today, given the tumult around it?

In the turmoil of our time, in the earthquakes which are shaking the whole area, Israel appears more than ever as a pole of stability and of democracy. I always feel, and I say this in my book, it’s a model of democracy not only for the Middle East but for the world!

Look at how we French deal with terrorism. I saw how you Americans dealt after September 11, 2001, with a state of emergency. And I compare our two attitudes – American and French – with the attitude of Israel, which is in a state of emergency not just for two years, or fifteen years, but since the very day of its birth, 69 years ago. Israel, frankly, has an exemplary attitude, which is to deal with emergencies without giving up on democratic values.

I don’t see any other example in modern history of a country that has had to face a constant state of war, a constant state of emergency, having in its own space a very strong minority who might be tempted to take the path of the adversary, and yet sticks so firmly to its principles. Never forget that you have in Israel a number of Arab parliamentarians, which we in France don’t have. Don’t forget that the Arabic language is an official language of Israel. And don’t forget that even in the moment when you have some Arab cities inside Israel demonstrating against Israeli policy, as during the Gaza war, there was never any step towards what might be called a state of exception – depriving this part or that part of society of its democratic and civil rights. It never happened. This is a fact.

Another thing. See the debate in Europe about multi-ethnicity, about minorities. Even in America, this debate about minorities and civil rights was a huge deal in the sixties and apparently the battle is not completely over, as you see with the Black Lives Matter movement. Well, see this problem of multi-ethnicity in Israel! The Hebrew State can really be considered as model of dealing with this matter of multi-ethnicity. Because, at the end of the day, what is Israel? Israel is people coming from the west, from the east, from the south. People coming from Europe, people coming from Russia, people coming from the Arab world. People of every different possible ethnicity. And all of them made so quickly, nearly overnight, a nation! I don’t see any other examples of that. So Israel has a very peculiar place in the world.

Is that one reason why Israel is demonized? How much of the assault on Israel is down to, as you put it, its “peculiar place in the world”?

Let’s talk about those who go in the streets in Europe demonstrating for the memory of 2,000 or 3,000 Palestinian dead, during the war in Gaza – which I completely understand. What I don’t understand is that I never saw them in the same streets when Bashar al-Assad kills not 2,000 or 3,000 but 300,000 or 400,000 of his own citizens. I never saw them in the streets when a Muslim leader in Sudan killed, in South Sudan, 400,000 or 500,000 people. And same for the victims of Saddam Hussein. And same for the Palestinians killed, tortured, by other Palestinians. So it’s more than strange that those who cannot accept Israel waging a defensive war don’t feel upset or uncomfortable when an Arab leader kills one hundred times more Arab women and men.

This is the situation of today. There are some people in the West, and in America also, who care about lives only when Jews and Israel are involved in the story. If that’s not the case, then they don’t give a damn, they don’t demonstrate, they don’t care. What name do you give to that? Each one of us can choose. But for me, this way of saying that the victim is interesting only if she had to deal with the Jews, this is anti-Semitism.

What is your view of the emerging Shi’a crescent in the Middle East – Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, with some Russian involvement as well?

I think it is a real concern. I’ve seen that very closely in the last few months, on the ground in Kurdistan. The Kurds, who are the best friends in the area of the democratic values and of the Western world, they have to fight on two frontlines. The first one is the Sunni ISIS, and the second one, it’s completely clear, is the Shi’a axis going from Tehran to Baghdad through Damascus and through the Hezbollah militia fighting in Syria. So for a democrat today, for someone attached to human rights and Western values, there are two dangers: ISIS under the Sunni flag, and the Shi’a totalitarians under the Iranian leadership.

How does the nuclear deal negotiated with the Iranians in 2015 influence these dangers?

My view of the deal is that, after having let the Iranians go so far in the process, there was no longer a good solution. There were only solutions a little less worse than the others. The agreement which Kerry and Obama, with the support of President Hollande, reached was the less bad, considering the situation, considering the level of danger which we were facing, considering how close the Iranians were to breakout. The agreement made by Obama was, I would not say the best, but the least bad. That’s why, without enthusiasm, without illusions, without naïveté, I supported it. At least it delays the threat. And also, it bets on the positive momentum of Iranian civil society, the virtuous contamination of democratic values. So it’s a bet. But in front of this bet, what was there? Hell. So it was hell or a bet. I prefer a bet.

It’s striking that many of the countries that have profoundly impacted your experience and thinking – Bosnia, Bangladesh, Kurdistan – are all Muslim countries that have rejected the path of Islamism. What is it that’s different about those societies?

The most important political and ideological battle of our time is inside Islam, between Islamism and democracy. If there is a clash of civilizations, it is inside the Muslim world, between the democratic civilization and the fanatical non-civilization. This is the question of today. For all of us – Americans, Europeans, people all over the world and, of course, inside the Muslim world – this battle inside Islam, between Islam and Islam, is absolutely crucial. Therefore, for the last 20, 30, 40 years, I try to deal with that. I am looking for the light in the darkness. I am looking for the sparks of democracy, for the sparks of human rights, in a world that has also a strong inclination towards fanaticism – I mean by that the Muslim world.

One of the common points of all my commitments you just quoted is to stand at the side of those who, inside the Muslim world, fight for democracy, fight for tolerance, fight for the values of civilization. They might be the minority, they might be very lonely, but they are the salt of the earth. And as a man and as a Jew, I feel the duty to extend them my hand.

When I was 20 years old, I stood with the first President of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I remember as if it were today the day when he decided to name the young ladies who had been raped by Pakistani soldiers [during the 1971 Bangladesh independence war] and who gave birth to babies, he decided to name them not cursed women, but “Daughters of the Nation,” as if to give them back their dignity.

I remember the Muslims of Sarajevo, under the bombs. Abandoned by the Western world. And refusing the help of some of the most fanatical Muslim states in the world, in spite of the fact that they needed help, they preferred to endanger themselves then to lose their dignity and identity.

And I see today the Kurds, the peshmerga. I just returned from Mosul, I saw in all the cities of the Nineveh Plain, how the Muslim peshmerga protect the Christians, how they protect the Yazidis, how they protect the traces and the remnants of the Jewish presence in that region. Again, it’s an example of enlightened Islam, an Islam of the light.

So these are three examples. In one, I was 20, the other one I was 40, today I am 68. All of my life, I have been struck by these moments of light, these moments of enlightenment, in this world of Islam which is fighting against intolerance and obscurity. I’ve always felt that, as an intellectual, my duty is to support that. All my life I stood for that. It is not the only commitment of my life. I have other commitments, of course. For my own country, France. For Israel. For human rights in general. But this fight against the third fascism of our modernity, this fight for democratic Islam and against jihadism, is more than crucial.


Bernard-Henri Lévy’s new book, The Genius of Judaism, will be published on January 10, 2017 by Random House. Tickets are now available for his January 11 discussion with Charlie Rose, “Why Judaism Matters,” at the 92nd St Y in New York City.

Banner Photo: Bernard-Henri Lévy

Posted in Education, Judaism, Middle East Report, Opinion | Comments Off on Israel supports democracy and diversity

US had wrong approach to Mideast peace

Wrong from the start: Why John Kerry failed to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace

By David Horovitz, Times of Israel, December 6, 2016

Watching John Kerry deliver his indictment of Israel’s settlement enterprise at the Saban Forum in Washington, DC, on Sunday, my strongest feeling was one of sorrow — sorrow for him, but mainly for us, at the wasted time and the wrongheaded approach that doomed the indefatigable, well-intentioned secretary of state’s approach to peacemaking.

Kerry calculated that he has spent 130 hours in formal discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his near four years as secretary of state, and visited Israel a staggering 40-plus times.

And yet for all that time and effort, as his valedictory jeremiad again made plain, he never internalized why he was unable to clear the obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. And in the one key area where Sunday’s presentation showed a belated appreciation of where he had gone wrong, clarity has arrived long after the damage was done.

The first, foundational mistake was to believe, like a long line of global statespeople before him, that he could succeed where others had failed in trying to strong-arm the two sides into an accord on a rapid timetable, when it is tragically and undeniably obvious that the deadline-based approach cannot work.

Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the Saban Forum in Washington, DC on December, 4, 2016. (Ralph Aswang, via JTA)

Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the Saban Forum in Washington, DC on December, 4, 2016. (Ralph Aswang, via JTA)

Many, perhaps most, Israelis recognize an imperative to separate from the Palestinians in order to maintain a state that is both Jewish and democratic. But In today’s treacherous Middle East, they need more persuasion than ever that relinquishing territory will bring guaranteed tranquility, rather than escalated terrorism and new efforts to paralyze, and ultimately destroy, the country.

The lesson that Kerry refused to learn, but that his successors would be wise to, is that you cannot broker peace when the people on one side of the negotiating table do not so much as acknowledge the right of the people on the other side to be there

While Kerry and President Barack Obama assured Israelis they could afford to take the risk of territorial compromise, we have watched countries all around us descend into chaos, and seen every unsavory terror group you can name, and some you can’t, gain footholds in the neighborhood — from Syria, to Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza and Egypt. We have watched Iran grow emboldened and richer, thanks to a lousy accord that did not fully dismantle its rogue nuclear program. We saw Hezbollah fill the vacuum when we left southern Lebanon. We watched Hamas take over when we left Gaza, and we have since endured rocket fire and intermittent conflict as the reward for our withdrawal, even as we have been battered internationally for fighting back. We have witnessed Mahmoud Abbas’s West Bank Palestinian hierarchy encourage hostility to Israel, lie about our plans for the Temple Mount, and rewrite the previous Muslim narrative that acknowledged the historicity of Jerusalem’s Jewish temples in favor of a revisionist creed that denies all Jewish connection to the holy city and thus delegitimates Israel’s very presence.

The lesson that Kerry refused to learn, but that his successors would be wise to, is that you cannot broker peace when the people on one side of the negotiating table do not so much as acknowledge the right of the people on the other side to be there. Or to put it more constructively, if you want to create a climate in which an accommodation might one day be possible, you have to work bottom up as well as top down, and promote education — via social media, spiritual leadership, schools and political leadership — that provides an honest narrative, encourages moderation, and marginalizes extremism. More succinctly still, when the Palestinians’ schools start teaching the Jews’ holy land history as well as their own, you might legitimately feel the beginnings of optimism about peacemaking.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) seen with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April 7, 2013. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) seen with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April 7, 2013. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Kerry, and his president, compounded that foundational error by continually underestimating Israel’s security concerns. At its narrowest point, Israel is nine miles wide. It is extremely strong and — thanks in no small part to the Obama administration — it maintains its qualitative military edge. But assuring Israel that it can dare to relinquish substantial parts of the West Bank by talking up sophisticated fencing in the Jordan Valley, or detailing provisions by which Israeli troops can be rapidly deployed to West Bank trouble spots at times of crisis, is inadequate. Over the decades, we have endured conventional war, a strategic onslaught of suicide bombings, car-rammings, stabbings and rocket attacks. And the only reason we’re not in the midst of a far more crippling terror war right now is that Israel’s security forces maintain freedom of movement throughout the West Bank. They have thus been able to prevent the reconstruction of the network of terrorism — the bomb factories and the training facilities that enabled Hamas and Fatah cells to terrorize Israel on a daily basis a decade and a half ago, after we had left the major West Bank cities under the Oslo accords.

This is not to say that Israel can never compromise its military freedom of access. But it certainly can’t, and won’t, until that previous necessity is met, and the Palestinians have credibly turned toward genuine coexistence.

Self-complicating his impossible mission still further, Kerry served in an administration that did not radiate the strength and purpose that Israel needs from its key ally in order to contemplate territorial concessions.

The Obama administration allowed Hosni Mubarak to fall in Egypt, and has not strongly backed the current Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, in his efforts to resist another descent into Muslim extremism and to encourage Islam’s clerical authorities to speak out against the death-cultists. The US administration stayed away when protesters attempted to oust the ayatollahs of Iran, and it entrenched their oppressive regime with the nuclear deal. It failed to intervene effectively in Syria, even after President Bashar Assad crossed Obama’s own red line and started gassing the Syrian people — and thus signaled to the pitiable people of Syria that nobody was going to save them, prompted millions more to flee, intensified Europe’s refugee crisis, and in turn boosted the outraged European right.

As the US administration held back, others moved to fill the vacuum — including Iran and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. For the confidence to make peace, Israel needs to see a strong, committed America in the Middle East, working to uphold the freedoms it emblemizes, partnering Israel in the battle against Islamic extremism. Not an America hesitant or absent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and US Secretary of State John Kerry speak to the press during a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, November 24, 2015. (AFP/Pool/Atef Safadi)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and US Secretary of State John Kerry speak to the press during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, November 24, 2015. (AFP/Pool/Atef Safadi)

To judge by Kerry’s bitter summation on Sunday, all those fundamental errors still seem to have gone unrecognized. Where he did appear to have just possibly internalized a major misstep, however, was when it comes to the settlement enterprise. For the first time that I can remember, the secretary publicly highlighted what he said were the 90,000 Jews who now live in settlements on the far side of the security barrier that Israel built to stop the suicide-bomber onslaught in the early years of this century. Twenty thousand of them, he said, had moved there since President Obama took office. He called that barrier an Israeli “security line,” publicly implying, to my mind at least, a greater sympathy for those Israelis living to the west of that line, in the settlement blocs and in Jerusalem’s post-1967 neighborhoods.

The failure to draw a distinction between new housing in, say, Jerusalem’s Gilo and in an isolated settlement outpost deep inside the West Bank, has been a hallmark of the Obama administration. Every new planned home over the pre-1967 lines — whether in an area Israel would never contemplate relinquishing, or in an area Israel cannot anticipate retaining if it ever wishes to separate from the Palestinians — was routinely castigated by the administration as a crime of equal gravity, discrediting the criticism in the eyes of the Israeli mainstream, and by extension discrediting the administration too. The focus should always have been on the outlying settlements, on the building that entangles Israel self-defeatingly deeper among the Palestinians, on helping save the Jewish state from its short-sighted Greater Israel ideologues.

In today’s Middle East, in the dangerous climate in which it fell to Kerry to attempt diplomacy, brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians was always going to be a long-term mission, rather than a quick fix. Kerry never accepted this, and therefore never actually began that mission. But even where he and the president rightly recognized and stressed the imperative to keep the eventual option of a two-state solution open, his administration undermined that goal by failing to distinguish between settlements in areas that Israel would need to relinquish and those in areas Israel will seek to maintain. Ironically, coming as Israel advances untenable legislation seeking to retroactively “legalize” dozens of outposts on the far side of that “security line,” realization might now have dawned upon Kerry, many years too late.

Posted in Middle East Report, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off on US had wrong approach to Mideast peace

Israel leads in clean technology

Israel’s Burgeoning Sustainable Innovation | The Huffington Post

Follow Momo Mahadav on Twitter:
December 1, 2016

From the world’s most environmentally recycled paper to cutting-edge water shortage solutions, sustainable healthcare, energy conservation and the green construction and infrastructure of the future, Israel continues to make strides in sustainable innovation, living up to its status as the world’s top innovator in the field of clean technologies by the Global Cleantech 100 Index.

Israel has a wealth of experience and expertise in fields like advanced agriculture, water technologies, drip irrigation, renewable energy and high-tech, but it is also a tiny country, with limited resources. So how has it emerged as a leader in sustainable innovation?

First and foremost, Israel’s surge within environmental innovation stemmed from a need; a need for a solution to problems like drinking water shortages or agricultural solutions in the Negev desert. It was out of this necessity to innovate that Israel has pioneered its way to the forefront of environmental sustainability.

Take Mekorot for example, the national water company of Israel and the country’s top agency for water management. In the face of one of Israel’s most significant environmental and security challenges, the organization now provides a steady flow of clean water to a rapidly growing population despite the region’s limited freshwater resources, amid climate and difficult geopolitical realities. The problem of drinking water shortages in Israel has in fact been solved and the organization is even working with companies in Southern California, India, Cyprus and Uganda to spread its desalination practices to similar climates to help them recycle water most effectively.

Or take Netafim, an Israeli pioneer of drip and micro-irrigation products for agriculture, greenhouse, landscape and mining applications. From its roots as a kibbutz company experimenting with ways to save water to its current status as a worldwide innovator in drip irrigation technology. Simply put, there was a need within Israel to innovate locally. Now we see them going global and it’s working because it is an issue many countries are dealing with.

Secondly, Israel is a small country. Counterproductive you might think, but in fact this proved to be a key component in Israel’s ability to operate efficiently, tying up the necessary knots together quickly. Size and accessibility make these companies flourish. Networks are very much beginning to materialize because of this. International perspectives and investors come and visit to learn more and look for the solutions here with us. The scale and size of Israel makes it much easier to connect all the dots.

Finally, there’s passion. This might seem strange to allude to, but similar to the necessity of producing such innovation, also comes a greater purpose in what Israeli innovators are striving towards. I recall watching a field manager at work during a visit to Mekorot. You could see in his eyes this deep sense of value and purpose to what he was doing – you don’t usually find this type of attitude at Government-owned companies. There’s an inherent passion within Israelis to create and participate in something that will not only affect the greater good around the world but also be able to see the extent of the value personally.

Israeli innovation continues to establish links with companies in developing countries themselves, but is still only at the beginning of this process. Indeed, the country has garnered a reputation for itself in recent years as the “Start-up Nation”. However, this is an identity born out of innovation in the fields of information and communications technology (ICT), defense and cyberspace. Such networks have yet to be established and collectively focused within the sustainability context.

For Israel to really reach its potential we have to invest more within sustainable innovation. We need to encourage our youth to study the industries and provide ample opportunity for them take an interest in the likes of agriculture and science, rather than seeing ICT as the only path. I remember when I was at school myself and agricultural studies were taken off the curriculum as it wasn’t viewed as attractive enough. Thanks to organizations such as Adama, one of the world’s leading crop protection companies based in southern Israel, strategic connections between the professional industry and community involvement is starting to taking place. Working with the local authorities and the Ministry of Education, the company has instigated change through multi-sector cooperation and has addressed the promotion of pupils toward personal and research excellence in the fields of science and agricultural studies. This will boost Israel’s sustainability industry from a bottom-up approach, providing the field with qualified professionals who understand the intricacies and technological implications. There needs to be more scaling up, increased collaboration between companies and across sectors. Only then will we see Israel providing sustainable solutions in developing markets around the world and making the impact it does in fields such as defense.

This week, Israel’s CSR standards-setting organization, Maala hosted its first-ever Israeli CSR Experience Conference, gathering leaders from Israel’s business community and key international opinion formers in the sustainability and CSR community. We took great pride in showcasing the innovation Israel continues to produce and hope to bring the industry together as one multidisciplinary force to continue growing and instigating change globally.

Posted in Air & Water, Alternative Energy, Health Sciences, Judaism, Monotheistic Religions, Recent Posts, Science and Technology | Comments Off on Israel leads in clean technology

PTSD for Jewish liberals

The Day the Music Died for Jewish American Liberals

Ron Jager

November 29, 2016

The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer. Prior to retiring in 2005, served as the Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psycho education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Today Ron is a strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria To contact:

For most American Jewish liberals, November 8 was not only a watershed election, but a day in which the music died. They have been left speechless and silent, unwilling to fathom the implications. These liberal Jews have become disoriented and unsure about what to do and what to say; they seem to be suffering from a bad case of PTSD (Post Trump Stress Disorder). For many of these liberal Jews, they are slowly waking up to a new reality of losing their political clout, being left out of the multiple loops of power and access to the White House; they have been demoted to the rank of irrelevancy.

Betting on the wrong horse is always a wrenching experience. Over the past 8 years liberal Jews supported and abetted a President and a Democratic Party that was overtly anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. During this period, Islamic terror attacks have spread throughout America; anti-Semitism has blossomed in America’s Universities and campuses poisoning the minds of America’s future political and business leaders. Real anti-Semitism, not the made-up anti-Semitism associated with the emerging Trump administration. In recent years, Jews have been attacked and vilified at levels never seen before in recent history. All this didn’t matter; the Democratic Party was a sure bet as far as they were concerned.

Jewish liberals became drunk with Jewish power. In a wide variety of domestic spheres: immigration and refugee policy, civil rights and affirmative action, abortion rights, church-state separation issues, Jewish liberals became major players helping to make the rules and call the shots on matters from health care to zoning. It was during these 8 years that Jewish liberals felt free to preach and moralize to us Israelis publicly about how Israel conducts itself nationally and internationally. Many Jewish liberals freely accused Israel of being non-democratic verging on Apartheid, they demanded of Israel to agree to political concessions that clearly endangered Israel’s national security; they funded and lead many of the organizations that spread the poisonous message of Jew hatred by the BDS movement. It is easy to see why a Jewish liberal never saw it coming, actually believing that the invented narrative of BlackLivesMatter/Transgenderism/ObamaCare/Unrestricted Immigration are all actually good for America. Donald Trumps’ election might very well signal the beginning of an era in which Jewish liberals refrain from preaching and moralizing to us as if they have a monopoly on social justice and truth.

This interesting parallel of how Jewish liberals have distanced themselves from mainstream America and Israel equally is also the key to undoing the trauma of the election. For starters, despite years of dismissive rhetoric and holding Israel to a double standard, never demanding a similar standard from Israel’s enemies has also spilled over to Jewish liberals’ attitude and support for movements and policies that have been rejected by the majority of the American public. Now that the liberal ideology in America has lost its grip on the White House, with right wing governments being voted in throughout the Western World, with the continuing re-election of a right wing government being repeatedly led to electoral victory by Benjamin Netanyahu, now is time for Jewish liberals to take one step back and question many of their givens.

For many years Jewish liberals have blamed Israel for the daylight between themselves and the State of Israel. It never occurs to them to question their own values and behaviors such as their decision not to engage with organized Jewish communal life, or belong to a synagogue, or never visit Israel let alone marry out of the Jewish religion being reasons that might explain less attachment or the lack of any special feelings towards the Israel and the Jewish nation. A similar blind spot surfaces when Jewish liberals deny the election results and embrace leftist progressive movements in the United States. The delegitmization of the results of Democratic elections, the arrogant use of arguments about “saving” America from itself, and about organizing “sane liberal forces” to fight the “darkness” that is creeping into America’s “soul” are all essentially two sides of the same liberal coin.

Jews rise or fall together. For Jewish liberals, the quickest path to overcoming their collective PTSD as a result of the election of Donald Trump might very well be defined by their attitude and affiliation to the State of Israel. With the Democratic Party moving left and expected to be led by a known anti-Semite and supporter of the Hamas terror group, maybe this is the needed signal to question if the Democratic liberal path is still the path needed to be taken by Jewish liberals in America.

So, rather than engaging in rhetoric that gave American Jews an excuse to distance themselves from Israel, now is time to embrace Israel and reaffirm their affiliation and sense of belonging to the Jewish nation. Likewise, embracing America, the Democratic process, and American exceptionalism is just one step away.


Posted in Judaism, Middle East, Monotheistic Religions, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off on PTSD for Jewish liberals

Palestinians forbid dialogue with Israelis

Where Talking to Israelis is Taboo

Evelyn Gordon, November 28, 2016,
Reprinted from Commentary

If you want to know why the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace are currently zero, consider Avi Issacharoff’s report in the Times of Israel last week about Fatah’s Seventh General Congress, which is slated to take place in Ramallah on Tuesday. The Congress is supposed to elect Fatah’s two main leadership organs, the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council; one candidate for the latter is Nasser Abu Baker, a reporter for Radio Falastin. “Abu Baker, who used to maintain close ties with his Israeli colleagues, has boycotted Israeli journalists since he began nurturing his political career,” Issacharoff wrote matter-of-factly.

Fatah, of course, is Israel’s official peace partner, twice over. It is the main component of the PLO, the organization that signed the Oslo Accords with Israel, and also the party headed by the “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and PLO chairman. Yet it turns out that the way to win votes among members of Israel’s “peace partner” is not by promoting peace, but by refusing even to talk to your Israeli colleagues–even if they are among the most pro-Palestinian Israelis you’re ever likely to find, as is true of most Israeli journalists.

Moreover, this practice of boycotting Israelis has actually gotten much worse under the “moderate” Abbas, as another Israeli journalist noted in an unrelated article last week. Interviewed by Haaretz about his new television series on the Arab world, Ohad Hamu, the Arab affairs reporter for Channel 2 television, recalled:

Not so long ago I could wander freely around Gaza and the West Bank and bring cultural and political stories, but today there are few places I can enter in the West Bank … The Israeli media doesn’t go into something like 70 percent of the West Bank, and even when I do go, it’ll be to film some 10-minute dialogue with someone and then we’re out of there right away, because it’s just become too dangerous. They don’t want to see us there … Israeli journalists used to serve as a bridge between Israeli and Palestinian society, but this bridge has been gradually cracking.

Nor is this problem exclusive to journalists. The “anti-normalization” campaign–a euphemism for refusing to talk to Israelis and intimidating others into doing the same–has also produced boycotts of Israeli cultural figures, businessmen, nongovernmental organizations and more.

Clearly, it’s difficult to imagine Israeli-Palestinian peace breaking out as long as even talking to Israelis is taboo, to the extent that even in the “moderate” Palestinian party, someone running for office feels obligated to start boycotting his Israeli colleagues. It’s hard to make peace with other people if you aren’t willing to talk to them.

But the fact that this problem has been getting worse rather than better over the past two decades shows that, far from advancing prospects for peace, the “peace process” has dealt them a blow from which it may take generations to recover. By creating and financing an autonomous Palestinian government without making peace education an integral part of the package, the Oslo process and its supporters–both Israeli and Western–have allowed the Palestinian Authority to spend the last two decades systematically teaching its people to hate Israel. The fact that even talking to Israelis is now seen as a major impediment to electoral office is the direct result of the way the Palestinian education system has poisoned the minds of its children, which I’ve described before:

This [PA] curriculum rejects the legitimacy of Israel’s existence (textbooks refer to “the so-called State of Israel”), justifies violence against it, defines such violence as a religious obligation and informs students that Jews and Zionists are irredeemably evil (one book, for instance, refers to “the robbing Jews”; another tells students that Israel “killed your children, split open your women’s bellies, held your revered elderly men by the beard, and led them to the death pits”). These messages are then reinforced by the “educational” programs broadcast on the PA’s official media, where Jews are described as “monkeys and pigs,” “enemies of Allah” and the “most evil of creations,” among other charming epithets.

The indoctrination effort is assisted by the fact that most Palestinians today have no firsthand knowledge to counteract the vicious incitement churned out daily by Palestinian schools and media. That’s a result of the escalating terror that followed the PA’s establishment in 1994 severely curtailed the daily interactions between Israelis and Palestinians that were commonplace until then. Those interactions made it easier for both sides to at least view the other as human beings.

Today, outside the construction industry, most Israelis never encounter a Palestinian unless they’re doing army duty, and most Palestinians never encounter any Israelis other than soldiers. In other words, the only Israeli-Palestinian interactions that take place today are the kind that reinforces each side’s view of the other as an enemy. That is precisely what the “anti-normalization” campaigners want, and why they castigate any other type of contact with Israelis as tantamount to treason.

It’s going to take a long, long time, and probably a lot of pressure from the PA’s Western donors, to reverse these decades of hate education. But until that happens, the chances of Israeli-Palestinian peace are considerably less than a snowball’s chance in hell.

Posted in Education, Islam, Middle East Report, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off on Palestinians forbid dialogue with Israelis

Arabs and Muslims are the real occupiers

Why is Europe turning a blind eye to Islamic occupation?

By ZVI MAZEL \ Jerusalem Post, November 26, 2016

IN A world beset by terrorism and humanitarian disasters, the international community remains fixated on the State of Israel.

The one and only state of the Jewish people, back in their historical homeland, is a beacon of democracy in the Muslim-Arab sphere devoid of human rights, left behind by social and economic progress and subject to frequent bouts of bloody unrest. Yet Israel is singled out, again and again, for condemnation.

The European Union, self-appointed human rights watchdog, is at the forefront of the attacks. This is a puzzling phenomenon.

Why is Europe turning a blind eye to the deadly legacy of violence, chaos and backwardness left by the Islamic occupation of the Middle East and North Africa? Why, indeed, is the old continent wooing the Arab world, forgetting its own history and past Islamic takeover attempts? Why is it so reluctant to see that Islam is threatening its future through massive immigration and terrorist attacks? And why is there no such compunction regarding Israel, branded as the last colonial power occupying a land belonging to others? After all, here the focus is on the wrong occupier. From the 7th century onward, the Middle East and North Africa have been forcibly conquered and occupied by Muslim-Arab forces that have oppressed its populations and pillaged their riches. The so-called “guilt” of Israel is having successfully fought the Arab occupiers after 1,308 years and restoring its independence, a feat only one other country, South Sudan, has been able to accomplish in modern times, but at a terrible price – more than two million dead over the 40-year fight for independence from its Islamic rulers.

Europe apparently has forgotten that Muslims once came to ravage and plunder and impose their faith. Of course, it threw them off much earlier.

France defeated a massive Islamic army at the Battle of Poitiers in 732, driving back the invaders all the way to Spain and stopping their advance into Europe. Spain would need another eight centuries to achieve its Reconquista and regain full sovereignty over all its territory.

Sicily threw the invaders back into the sea in the 11th century, after 100 years of occupation.

Ottoman Muslims were defeated in 1683 at the battle of Vienna. A number of Central European countries and the Balkan States were under Ottoman Islamic rule for 350 years, until the middle of the 19th century.

It’s always useful to go back to history and hard facts to remind ourselves how and why Islam has prevailed while all other old empires disappeared, and what the resulting disastrous consequences are to the world at present.

Muslim-Arab rulers rode roughshod over ancient civilizations. With the beginning of their conquest and expansion in 640, they encountered established centers of culture, products of centuries and even millennia- old civilizations. Populations in the land of Israel and in Mesopotamia (today Iraq and Syria) were monotheist, and lived under the rule of Byzantium and/or the Sassanian empire, with strong Greek and Roman influences.

Jews, with 3,000 years of history behind them, spoke Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek; Christians, with a past of “only” 600 years, were the descendants of Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations and spoke Aramaic and Greek. Jews and Christians thus represented highly developed cultural traditions and boasted of advanced institutions of higher learning.

In Persia, the Sassanid dynasty perpetuated the 2,000-year-old Zoroastrian religion and civilization. In Egypt, Islam fought to overcome the brilliant pharaonic and Greek cultures as well as the Coptic faith. In North Africa, Islam met Berbers, ancient Phoenician peoples, as well as Jews and Christians who had developed a thriving agriculture and had commercial ties with Europe and Africa.

Special attention should be paid to the constant attacks on Aramaic-speaking Christian populations throughout the centuries.

In the Middle East in the 1st century, Assyrians had been the first to adopt Christianity, though their claim is disputed by Copts who also claim to have been the first. Gradually, Assyrian Christian civilization disappeared from the Middle East. By the 14th century, Arabic had thoroughly replaced Aramaic in Mesopotamia, parts of present day Turkey and even the former Persian Empire, where it was introduced to the Hebrews during the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BCE. The famed Babylonian Talmud was partly written in Aramaic.

Persecution of Christians has never stopped, even in modern times. During World War I, Ottoman Turks massacred more than 1,000,000 Christian Armenians, and also killed 300,000 Assyrian Christians.

There was another massacre in the 1930s in northern Iraq, in which tens of thousands of Assyrian Christians were killed before Great Britain managed to stop the murder.

Very few speakers of Aramaic are now left in the Middle East, probably no more than half a million, living in Iraq and southern Syria. Another million have settled in the United States. In Israel, where there is a small community of some 1,500 Aramaic speakers, efforts are made to help them promote a revival of their ancient language.

Pagan empires such as Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome launched wars to demonstrate power, assert their dominance and accumulate wealth. Not so Islam: its avowed aim was, and still is, to impose the religion of Muhammad on the world, and convert infidels by persuasion or force and make them pledge allegiance to Allah.

WHILE ANCIENT empires withered and disappeared, Islam imposed its faith on conquered peoples, turning them into believers and thus also changing their culture. With time, Arabic superseded the many languages of the ancient world, and a new Muslim- Arab space was born through coercion.

The vast territories conquered by Islamic armies in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Spain were slowly turned into religious and cultural centers that were intended to be united in one vast Islamic caliphate, as had been preached by the Prophet Muhammad who used to say that all Muslims would be brothers.

It never happened. There was incessant fighting between Islamic rulers as competing caliphates were established in Damascus, Bagdad, Cairo, North Africa and Spain.

There never was one Caliphate that would have united all the peoples and let them develop and progress, affording them gender equality and basic human rights, and letting them live their lives according to their religions and traditions. On the contrary, Islam, presented today by the faithful and by many Western academics as a religion of peace, is claiming superiority over the other religions, and, in accordance with the shari’a, imposing itself forcibly – which it continues to do to this day.

There is discrimination toward non-Arab minorities everywhere, and even toward Christian Arabs. In Saudi Arabia, keeper of the two holy cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, building churches or synagogues is forbidden. Foreign nationals who are not Muslim cannot become citizens and are prohibited to enter Mecca. In short, this is a failed civilization that brought nothing but violence and lack of progress to the territories it occupied by force. For centuries, Jews were at the mercy of their Islamic rulers who afforded them a measure of protection as long as they paid a head tax and submitted to humiliating regulations. Woe to the Jew who entered into a conflict with a Muslim, as courts always found for the Muslim against the infidel.

In the 20th century, in the wake of World War I, the awakening of the colonized and oppressed peoples spread to the Ottoman Empire. The consequences were the formation, through the Sykes-Picot agreement, of Arab nation-states such as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and one Jewish state – Israel. Most of those states imploded or dissolved under the pressure of Arab- Islamic internecine conflicts dating back to the dawn of Islam and Arab tribal traditions.

National and religious minorities in the Arab region have not been given independence or autonomy.

They are still trying to overthrow their Arab-Muslim occupiers.

PROMINENT AMONG them are the Kurds.

They are not Arabs, but are indigenous to the area. Conquered and forcibly Islamized, they were disposed to ally themselves with their new rulers.

Salah al-Din ‒ Saladin – the legendary warrior who defeated the Crusaders and “freed Jerusalem” was a Kurd. Yet they steadfastly refused to relinquish their identity, their language and their customs. Today, they number an estimated 30 million to 40 million and are spread among four countries: Iran, Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

They have long fought for their independence, or at least for a large measure of autonomy. Indeed, a Kurdish autonomous zone was created with the help of the allied coalition in northern Iraq in the wake of the first Gulf war, intended to protect the Kurds from Saddam Hussein. He had led a vigorous policy of forced Arabization against them, deporting tens of thousands of peasants to other areas with a view to replacing them by “ethnic” Arabs, and even gassing a number of villages. That Kurdish zone proclaimed its right to independence in 2011, but it was not recognized by other countries.

In Syria, the civil war made it possible for the Kurds to establish several semi-autonomous zones. Recently, Turkey penetrated into northwest Syria under pretext of fighting ISIS, but they are using the opportunity to push back Syrian Kurds and declaring that it will never permit the installation of a Kurdish zone along its border. The long-running Kurdish rebellion, led by the PKK – Kurdish Workers Party ‒ in Turkey so far has claimed tens of thousands of victims on both sides. There is a legal Kurdish party authorized by Ankara that, nevertheless, refuses to discuss granting autonomy, let alone independence, to its significant Kurd minority.

In Iran, the Kurdish democratic party fought long and hard for independence in the 1970s and ’80s, but was decimated by a savage repression.

Tens of thousands died, leaving a scared and enfeebled community unwilling to fight anymore. Yet there remains a small Kurdish movement that still launches minor guerrilla actions against the regime. Ayatollahs ruling Iran with an iron hand will not hear of even limited autonomy. World media has largely ignored the plight of Kurds in Iran.

The indigenous peoples of North Africa, disparagingly called Barbarians or Berbers by Greeks and Romans because they spoke neither Greek nor Latin, were forcibly Islamized by the Arab conquest, but they kept their identity and their own language throughout the centuries.

They, too, fought alongside their conquerors, and Berbers who converted to Islam founded the Almoravid and Almoads dynasties, which adhered to a stringent brand of Islam and were among the rulers of Spain.

Today, there are some 38 million Berbers scattered between Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Their language and culture were never recognized by the Arab regimes in North Africa, which largely oppressed them. Of late they have launched a campaign to promote their independence or gain autonomous status, and have established common institutions such as the world Amazigh Congress – Amazigh being the name of their language – founded in France in 1995, and the Union of North African Peoples established in 2011, in Tangiers, as the so-called Arab Spring resonated throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

In Algeria, Berbers make up 33 percent of the population, and can be found mostly in the Kabylie region in the country’s northeast. Oppressed for centuries, they set up a government in exile in Paris in 2010.

Here again, Western media remain silent.

Although the amended Algerian constitution recognized the Amazigh language in February 2016, it did not bring about needed changes on the ground, and oppression went on unabated.

There are some 20 million Berbers in Morocco – an impressive 60 percent of the population.

Here too, as a result of the Arab Spring, Mohammed VI granted recognition to their language, and gave his approval to a more liberal constitution in order to defuse social tension in the country and avoid the fate of the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

In Libya, the Berber minority makes up 12 percent of the population. Even though it was at the forefront of the battle to topple Muammar Gaddafi, it did not receive any recognition in the new government, and undoubtedly will ask for a measure of cultural autonomy if and when the situation in the country is stable again.

The fact that Berbers are living in so many different countries with no territorial contiguity makes it difficult for them to wage a united campaign against their Arab rulers.

What Kurds and Berbers have in common is that they are both indigenous, non-Arab populations; have both been forcibly Islamized; and even participated with their new rulers in conquests fought in the name of Islam. Yet neither was treated as equals by the Arabs, who boast of their prophet and of the divine apparition of the Koran in Arabic, and look down on those who embraced their religion but remained “foreigners.”

Then there are the Copts, the indigenous population of Egypt. They converted to Christianity in the 1st century, and stubbornly refused to relinquish their faith through 1,400 years of Arab-Islamic occupation and repression. The Coptic church is Orthodox, autonomous and independent, and led by a pope. Today, Copts make up 10 percent of the population of Egypt.

They do not look for autonomy and feel an integral part of the country, but would like to be treated as equals. It is not likely to happen soon.

The first article of the 2014 constitution stipulates that Egypt is part of the Arab and Muslim nations. According to Article 2, Islam is the religion of the state and shari’a is the primary source of legislation. Article 3 recognizes the right of Copts and Jews to administer personal and religious affairs according to their faith, but Islam and Arab nationalism dominate Egypt, and Copts do not enjoy equal rights. Jews, once a vibrant part of the country’s economic and cultural life, have been forcibly driven away and only a handful are left.

In other words, the Middle East and North Africa are still under a continued repressive, illegitimate and unjust Arab-Islamic occupation, and no one in the West is ready to tackle the issue.

All those varied populations evolved into the substratum of what became known as Muslim-Arab civilization.

There had been what is dubbed now the “golden age of Islam” loosely from the 8th to 12th centuries, essentially in the 10th and the 11th centuries during the rule of Harun al-Rashid in Bagdad and Abd ar-Rahman III in Cordoba. At that time, the famous House of Wisdom in Bagdad was created, and the study of philosophy, mathematics and medicine blossomed. Arabs brought the decimal system from India, learned from the Chinese the secret to producing paper, and mainly from Christians of the East translated from Latin into Arabic the writings of Greek philosophers. However, in spite of this exceptional contribution, that civilization remained stagnant and was left behind. The shari’a overcame the budding of development.

The West, meanwhile, welcomed the age of enlightenment that ushered in industrialization and the establishment of democratic regimes.

Today, Daesh – the self-proclaimed Islamic State ‒ has taken upon itself to eliminate the last surviving minorities, focusing on the pitiful remnants of Assyrian Christianity and on the Yazidis (followers of a religion loosely based on the teachings of Zarathustra) in northern Iraq. It is also systematically smashing all remaining monuments and vestiges that testify to the past glory of cultures destroyed by Islam – churches, ancient cemeteries and monuments such as Palmyra.

AT PRESENT, Arab conquest and Islamization are not being taught in the West, and no research is being carried out since it might lead to some unwelcome conclusions that contradict prevalent trends in academic circles and the media.

Western thinkers have adopted a so-called “Post-postmodernism” approach based on political correctness and multiculturalism.

These are the tools applied by leading academics and international media to deal with Islam and the problems it presents in the form of millions of Muslim migrants coming to Europe, and the rising tide of Islamic terrorist attacks.

They deliberately ignore historical reality and the fundamental tenets of Islam as a religion.

Such willful ignorance can only lead to increasingly weakened democratic regimes unable or unwilling to fight militant Islam and its religious intolerance – including blatant anti-Semitism – aspiring to impose its rule on the whole world.

Interestingly, the Western world, and more specifically Europeans, see in Islam one of the three monotheist religions rooted in the Bible, the other two being Judaism and Christianity.

They believe, or pretend to believe, that by patiently attempting to blunt the more radical elements of Islam they can reach an understanding leading to peaceful coexistence. They do not see that there are some insuperable obstacles due to the very nature of Islam.

There are fundamental theological differences between Islam and Christianity. The very principle of the Trinity – which is at the core of Christianity – is abhorrent to Islam, where the oneness of Allah cannot be disputed, and merely adding another element is tantamount to blasphemy and punishable by death.

Regarding Judaism, Islam in the beginning was a biblical religion, and a third of the verses of the Koran deal with Jews. The direction of prayer – Kibla in Arabic – for the first faithful was Jerusalem. But since Jews – and Christians – of the Arab Peninsula refused to recognize him as a prophet coming after Moses and Jesus and superseding both, Muhammad distanced himself more and more from the Scriptures. He changed the direction of prayer to Mecca, and told his believers that it was not Isaac that Abraham was about to sacrifice on Mount Moriah but Ishmael, the son of Hagar his concubine. He also proclaimed that Adam and Noah had both been precursors of Islam. This was intended to distance Islam from the Covenant between God and the People of Israel, and later from Jesus as the Christian Messiah.

ISLAM THUS became a separate and very different religion, so there is no basis for a fruitful dialogue with Christianity and Judaism leading to some form of understanding.

Europe cannot or will not face the historical truth about the Arab-Muslim conquest and occupation of the Middle East, and the dire consequences for the peoples of the region. Israel cannot afford that luxury. It was forced to fight it in order to survive, and its efforts were crowned with success.

A small community of 650,000 men, women and children defeated the armies of five Arab states that invaded its territory in order to destroy the fledgling state in May 1948. This was a devastating blow for the Arabs, who had grown accustomed to the undisputed rule of Islam throughout the Middle East and to the inferiority of the Jews who lived as second-class citizens.

Jews who had settled for centuries in Arab countries were expelled “in retaliation,” and nearly a million of them found themselves stateless and robbed of their property. Strangely, there was no outrage and no outcry in the West.

The Arab world could not accept its defeat and still refuses to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, showing its hostility through a ceaseless diplomatic campaign and boycotts while supporting constant terrorist attacks against its citizens. What makes it even more galling for Arab minds is that in spite of all that warfare, the Jewish state has been transformed in just a few dozen years into a thriving and successful country, a world leader in the fields of agriculture, industry and hi-tech.

It was in response to the sudden and unwarranted attack by Jordanian forces upon western Jerusalem in 1967 that Israel conquered Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Since the Arab world refused again and again to agree to a comprehensive settlement, Israel, which returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in the wake of the 1979 peace agreement, and subsequently made peace with Jordan and evacuated the whole of the Gaza Strip, sees itself as the custodian of the territories until such time as real peace can be achieved.

Why should the Jewish state bow to the Arab pretension that the whole Middle East must be ruled by Arabs? What if Caliph Omar stated that a land once conquered by the armies of Islam would forever be part of the Islamic world, a thought echoed by the Muslim Brotherhood and seconded by militant Islamic terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and Daesh? Europe has apparently forgotten that they also eye Cyprus, Spain, Sicily and the south of France.

Jews never bowed to the Arab conquest and never renounced the land of Israel, which remained the lodestar of their cultural and religious aspirations. Religious and secular literature were linked to the land of Israel. The word geula – salvation or deliverance – always meant return to Israel, and that hope kept the Jewish People and preserved their identity. Some messianic Jews even made impossible attempts at coming back to the land of their forefathers, such as Dom Joseph Nasi and Shabtai Zvi.

They all failed because they were unrealistic ‒ at the time, Jews were a persecuted minority, with no political support and no military force.

YET, THERE was always a Jewish presence in the land of Israel, and it never disappeared even after the Arab conquest of 640, which dealt a blow to the Jewish community that numbered half a million at the time.

Some converted to Islam, others were killed or fled, but until the middle of the 18th century there was a substantial Jewish presence in many Galilean villages, as well as in Safed, Tiberias, Jerusalem and Jaffa. Jewish and Christian travelers attest to the fact in their accounts.

Jewish researchers found clear proof of that continuous Jewish presence in the archives of the Ottoman Empire, where there are detailed reports of taxes paid according to the religious affiliation of the taxpayers.

By the second half of the 18th century, Jews in the Galilee faced with ceaseless vexations and pogroms from their Arab neighbors could no longer resist, and had to leave. When the State of Israel was born, only a few Jewish families were left in the town of Peki’in. Nevertheless, one can still see in Arab villages a Star of David or a menorah on a door frame or a roof, ruined synagogues, and Jewish cemeteries.

Many, if not most, Arab villages in the Galilee were Jewish villages whose population had been driven away to make room for the Arabs.

Arrabe, Sakhnin, Bir’am, Mrar, Achbra, Sepphoris, Kafr Kana, Nazareth and many others were all Jewish towns mentioned in the Bible or Talmud, and some figure prominently in the New Testament.

Jewish historian Josephus Flavius mentions by name 200 Jewish villages in the Galilee.

These inconvertible facts are conveniently glossed over by Arab members of the Knesset and their supporters, who ludicrously claim that Jews have nothing to do with Palestine, “which was Arab since the dawn of time.” Yet the families of these Knesset members settled here a mere century or two ago.

Indeed Palestine is not an Arab word, and there is no Arab connotation to such a country. The word was coined by Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BCE to describe a part of Israel that was populated at the time by Philistines, members of some Greek tribes who had settled there in the second millennium BCE and were to be found on the coast until they were driven off or chose to leave.

Emperor Hadrian, having defeated the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132 CE and killed an estimated 1.5 million Judean Jews, decided to obliterate the name Judea forever and chose to resurrect the Greek appellation. Henceforth Palestine was used to describe the land of Israel – Eretz Israel – perhaps because it was easier to pronounce and never referred to an Arab entity.

In fact, European anti-Semites in the late 19th century and early 20th were wont to tell Jews, “Go back to your country, Palestine.”

There was no such thing as a Palestinian Arab entity; Palestine is not mentioned in the Koran because it was known as Jewish. Arabs arrived as conquerors and never thought to establish a country. They never settled in great numbers until the second half of the 19th century, when the Zionist movement brought progress and development, and more workers were needed.

Arabs arrived by the tens of thousands in the land of Israel, still called Palestine, from the Maghreb, Egypt, the Arab Peninsula and Syria looking for work. Such are the facts about the nonexistent history of a so-called Palestinian people, and they were well known and not disputed until the Six Day War, when Arabs suddenly began calling themselves Palestinians with “historical rights to the land.”

It was not taken seriously at first, but then Arab propaganda decided it would make an excellent weapon and adopted it. Slowly, the liberal Israeli Left came to accept this definition, in the mistaken belief that it would encourage Arabs to make peace. It turned out to be a colossal mistake that helped to distort the situation. Arab leaders now wax lyrical on an Arab presence “which began 5,000 years ago” and left no room for any Jewish claim.

SOMEHOW, THERE are Europeans who go along with that fantasy, forgetting the Bible and world history. They are convinced that Israel conquered large tracts of a ‒ wholly imaginary – Arab Palestinian state belonging to the ‒ equally imaginary ‒ ancient Palestinian people. Apparently, no one wants to remember that there is an Israeli-Arab conflict born of the Islamic conquest and Arab nationalism, and all deny any legitimacy to the Jewish state in the land of Israel.

Needless to say, this leaves no room for a solution, as can be seen from a review of the 100 years that followed the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Vainly did Israel propose one compromise after another. They were rejected, and the Arabs never made a counterproposal since doing so would have meant accepting that Israel is here to stay.

Yet one has only to turn back to the history books to realize that Arab-Islamic conquest and occupation of the Middle East and North Africa led to whole-scale destruction without bringing any hope, and that it is not Israel that is at the root of the problem.

Unfortunately, Europe is not interested in historical facts. It pursues its endless carping about Israel, isolating and weakening the Jewish state, which is confronted by an Arab-Islamic world bent on destroying it. Europe is conferring upon the Arabs the legitimacy it denies to Israel, and does not understand that by so doing it is perpetuating the conflict, sowing the seeds of more and more wars and ultimately undermining its very own existence.

Zvi Mazel, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Egypt, Romania and Sweden


Continue reading

Posted in Islam, Middle East Report, Monotheistic Religions, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off on Arabs and Muslims are the real occupiers

Coexistence gets burned

A war to coexist

 Isaac Dabush, November 27, 2016
Reprinted from YNet News

When it was announced that the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol had to evacuate, “Our neighbor called because she knew I was home with two sick kids, and told me we have to go,” said an Arab parent. “And another neighbor who works at Intel called to tell me that the fire is spreading in the valley below us.” Both of the Arabs calling to warn them were Jewish, and they all belong to the neighborhood’s bilingual Arab-Jewish community.

“It’s really hard to hear how Arabs are blamed for each and every thing that happens in this country. We’re Arabs, but we didn’t do it. Part of the Arab community was hit, too,” said the family’s matriarch. “We were evacuated just like every Jewish family. My son was traumatized to see houses in our neighborhood go up in flames just like a Jewish boy. If they discover the arsonists were Arab, they should be punished in the most severe way possible. But you shouldn’t blame all Arabs because of a few terrorists.”

Chen Raful-Natan and the girls

Chen Raful-Natan and the girls

The Raful-Natans, an Arab-Jewish family living in Haifa’s Ahuza neighborhood, were not home when the fires began encroaching on Haifa. Roba, the mother and Chen, the father, together with their four- and six-year-old daughters are part of the city’s bilingual community. “We coexist here; I love this city,” said Roba. “I’m not a politician or a fire investigator, but if these are indeed arsons, they should punish people to the full extent of the law. But it seems unbelievable to me that Arabs would want to burn down this city, I mean, Arabs live here, too.”

“If someone torched those houses, he’s a terrorist, pure and simple. This is a pastoral area, I live and breathe this place. The fires are a personal matter to me. Whoever came to torch this place doesn’t care whether there are Jews or Arabs (here). He’s looking to harm everyone.” On Friday, they were allowed to return to their home, which luckily was not damaged.

Gilad Mulian

Gilad Mulian

Gilad Mulian, his wife Yafit and their two children also belong to Haifa’s bilingual community and were similarly evacuated from their home when the fires started. “When I heard about the fire, I went home to try and salvage a few things,” said Gilad Mulian. “The fire had gotten to the building, and we were concerned that it would reach the gas tanks. It was the Palestinian workers who helped me put it out. Two buildings from us, the fire did reach the gas balloons, which exploded and caused the entire building to catch fire. If it wasn’t from their help, out building would have blown up, too.”

Mulian stressed how wrong it was to generalize when it came to blaming the entire Arab community for the fires. “I trust law-enforcement officials, and I take from the incident the huge show of solidarity that our Arab friends from the community showed us. It proves we share a common fate in this country . It warms the heart to see how families have wrapped us up, supported us and come to help. Even if it was Arabs punks who started the fire, they’re the exception to the rule,” he said. “More than the fires themselves, we’re worried about the flames of hate.”

Posted in Middle East Report, Monotheistic Religions, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off on Coexistence gets burned