Institutionalizing AntiSemitism in UK’s Labour Party

By: Melanie Phillips; Jerusalem Post – jpost.com

The real task, therefore, is to start telling the British public that virtually everything they hear about Israel from the media and intelligentsia is a lie.

BRITISH LABOUR Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to vote in local government elections in London on
BRITISH LABOUR Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to vote in local government elections in London on May 3. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Britain’s Labour Party has a major problem with rampant antisemitism. It knows it has to deal with it.

So what has it done? Dug itself so much further into this particular hole that some in the party fear it has now dug its political grave.

On Tuesday, the party’s governing National Executive Committee (NEC) redefined antisemitism in such a way that it has legitimized it within its own ranks.

In its new code of conduct on antisemitism, it adopted a definition which significantly differed from the one created by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

The IHRA definition has been recognized around the world and adopted by the British government and numerous British official bodies. Yet in its new code, Labour twisted it by excising its application to attacks on Israel.

Labour’s code says: “In general terms, the expression of even contentious views in this area will not be treated as antisemitism unless accompanied by specific antisemitic content (such as the use of antisemitic tropes) or by other evidence of antisemitic intent.”
So Labour members can continue with impunity to call Israel a “Nazi” or “apartheid” state, smear its defense forces as “child-killers” or accuse British Jews supporting Israel of dual loyalty unless there is evidence of “antisemitic intent” – very difficult to prove – or “specific antisemitic content.”

This is a circular argument of Orwellian proportions. For the code defines antisemitism solely as bigotry against Jewish people or institutions. It does not define it as bigotry against the State of Israel.

But most antisemitism on the Left takes the form of obsessive and paranoid falsehoods, distortion and double standards directed at Israel’s behavior, with much of this onslaught echoing the tropes of medieval and Nazi Jew-hatred. This targeting of Israel as the collective Jew is the new antisemitism.

As such, the extraordinary fact is that in order to tackle antisemitism in its ranks Labour has now become a party of institutionalized antisemitism.

So bad is this situation it has even managed to bring together in unprecedented unity 68 rabbis, some of whom habitually refuse to share a platform with certain other rabbis, as signatories on the same letter of protest.

The issue now threatens to tear Labour apart. On Monday evening, the parliamentary Labour Party voted overwhelmingly to endorse the full IHRA definition – only for the NEC to overturn this the following day.

This provoked the veteran Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, whose relatives were murdered in the Holocaust, to call Labour’s far-left leader Jeremy Corbyn “an antisemite” to his face when she confronted him in the House of Commons.

The Israel-Palestine conflict, she said, had been “allowed to infect the party’s approach to growing antisemitism.” In adopting its new code, the NEC had chosen “to make the party a hostile environment for Jews.”

Astoundingly, the leadership has reacted by threatening to discipline Hodge for “bringing the party into disrepute.” So get this – a party that has institutionalized antisemitism is now accusing a Jewish protester that she has brought it into disrepute! You really couldn’t make this stuff up.

YET THERE’S something odd about this crisis. It’s all just about a form of words. Does anyone really believe that if the Labour leadership were to cave in and adopt the full IHRA definition, antisemitism in the party would then be properly addressed and go away?

After all, the fact that the full definition has been widely accepted has not prevented the usual calumnies and distortions in the way the British media have been misreporting the violence from Gaza.

It has not prevented the media failing to report the hundreds of rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and weeks of incendiary airborne devices setting fire to acres of Israeli farmland, while misrepresenting Israeli air strikes in response as aggression. It did not prevent an interviewer on BBC Radio’s Today program the other day berating an Israeli spokesman for killing children in Gaza.
The key point is the refusal to acknowledge that the campaign of irrational, mendacious and obsessive incitement against Israel is the new form of antisemitism.

Yet although Israel has been attacked in this way for years, virtually no one has called this out. The Anglo-Jewish community leadership ran a mile from it.

On TV in 2002, I was accused to my face of dual loyalty. At another time during that decade, I attended a debate at which one panelist said, with virtually no push-back, that British Jews now needed to choose between supporting Israel and remaining loyal British citizens. This antisemitic trope has now been commonplace for years.

The Jewish leadership has always been nervous about linking Israel with antisemitism, believing that Israel merely “complicated” the issue. But today, it is the issue.

Now British Jews find themselves caught up in an internal Labour Party war over it. The real agony for them is that the climate in Britain has deteriorated to such a point that Labour feels licensed to treat British Jews – as Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has said – with unprecedented contempt.

They plan a continuing campaign to get Labour to adopt the full IHRA definition. But that is to continue avoid confronting the elephant in the room.

This is the fact that so many on the progressive side of politics have swallowed the Big Lies about Israel. And that includes a dismaying number of British Jews themselves, who do things like recite kaddish for Hamas terrorists killed by Israel to prevent them murdering Israelis.

These Jews for Injustice against Jews who demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel provide cover for Labour’s new antisemitism. This stretches far beyond the Corbynite hard Left; it is in fact the default position for most of liberal and left-wing society.

The real task, therefore, is not to adopt the IHRA wording. It is to start telling the British public that virtually everything they hear about Israel from the media and intelligentsia is a lie; that anyone who supports Palestinianism is endorsing the most profound and demonic kind of antisemitism; and that Israel stands unambiguously for law, justice, truth and human rights, and that those who vilify it are themselves repudiating all these things.

Will British Jews finally step up to the plate and start saying all this? Unlikely. Why? It’s not just their timidity. They first need to start believing it themselves.

 

Hezbollah’s Indefinite Presence in Syria

By: Sirwan Kajjo; Gatestone Institute – gatestoneinstitute.org

  • After more than seven years of fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria, the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah is highly unlikely to make an easy exit from the war-torn territory, no matter what supposed agreements are reached or promises made.
  • Hezbollah fighters are now in control of much of Syria’s border with Lebanon. In fact, the Shi’ite terrorist group is in charge of controlling the Lebanese side of the border, despite the presence of the Lebanese military, which is weak.
  • With no end in sight to Syria’s seven-year war, Hezbollah will undoubtedly continue its military expansion, causing more instability in an already volatile region.

After weeks of shuttle diplomacy allegedly carried out by Russia and Israel, Iranian forces and allied militias — including the so-called “military wing” of the Lebanon-based organization Hezbollah, all of which has been designated as a terrorist group by the US — reportedly began to withdraw from parts of southern Syria, near Israel’s border. According to other reports, however, many Hezbollah fighters, disguised as members of the Syrian army, have simply remained on their bases to escape being targeted by the Israel Air Force. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Israel’s air force has carried out sporadic strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah bases and convoys across its neighbor on the north. After more than seven years of fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria, the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah is highly unlikely to make an easy exit from the war-torn territory, no matter what supposed agreements are reached or promises made.

In a televised speech on “Quds Day” — which Iran has marked every year since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 — Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah addressed his supporters as follows:

“We are in Syria because we should be there. The Syrian leadership has asked us to be present there based on developments in the ground…. Gulf states and Israel must know that we will be happy when we return our men to Lebanon… we will be happy and we will feel victorious to complete our mission. So what keeps us in Syria is our duty and the Syrian leadership, but at the same time I would like to tell you even if the entire world decided to remove us from Syria, we will not leave.”

Nor does it seem that the Syrian regime is in a rush to tell Hezbollah to leave the country. In a recent interview with an Iranian state-run news channel, Syrian President Bashar Assad said, “Hezbollah is an essential element in this war — the battle is long and the need for these military forces will continue for a long time.”

Having helped defeat anti-regime rebel forces in the suburbs of Homs, Aleppo and Damascus, Hezbollah fighters are now in control of much of Syria’s border with Lebanon. In fact, the Shi’ite terrorist group is in charge of controlling the Lebanese side of the border, despite the presence of the Lebanese military, which is weak. The areas in which Hezbollah operates are of great importance to the group, which uses the mountainous terrain as a route to transport military equipment between Syria and Lebanon. So entrenched is Hezbollah in that region that it has managed to build multiple military bases within a small radius.

With those fronts of Lebanon and southern Syria already secured, Hezbollah fighters increasingly have moved to the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria to aid the Syrian military in its battle against Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists. Meanwhile, Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed militias – such as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) — are largely in control of strategic areas along Syria’s border with Iraq.

Not far from those frontiers, the U.S.-led coalition has been aiding Kurdish-led forces to push out ISIS from other parts of Deir Ezzor. The months-long campaign has liberated large strategic areas from ISIS. More than once, however, these two anti-ISIS campaigns have come head to head in Deir Ezzor, leaving the U.S. with no choice but to defend its local partners.

Once ISIS is completely defeated in these areas, Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed groups could be better positioned to wage attacks on U.S. interests there and elsewhere in Syria.

With no end in sight to Syria’s seven-year war, Hezbollah will undoubtedly continue its military expansion, causing more instability in an already volatile region.

Hezbollah soldiers on parade. (Image source: VOA video screenshot/Wikimedia Commons)

 

Islam’s Erasure of Christianity

By: Raymond Ibrahim; raymondibrahim.com

A recent article titled “Passages from the Bible discovered behind Qur’an manuscript” is a reminder that for centuries Islam has been literally and figuratively erasing Christianity.

The report tells of how an eighth century Koran was found to be written over a Christian book, possibly the Bible: “French scholar Dr Eléonore Cellard … noticed that, appearing faintly behind the Arabic script, were Coptic letters. She contacted Christie’s [an auction house], and they managed to identify the Coptic text as coming from the Old Testament’s Book of Deuteronomy—part of the Torah and the Christian Old Testament.”

What this means, and how Western scholars understand it, are two different things:  “This is a very important discovery for the history of the Qur’an and early Islam,” said Cellard.  “We have here a witness of cultural interactions between different religious communities.”   Christie’s specialist Romain Pingannaud concurs: “It shows the contact between communities in the first centuries of Islam.”

What is euphemistically referred to as “cultural interactions between different religious communities” and “the contact between communities in the first centuries of Islam” is a reference to the near cultural annihilation of Coptic Christian civilization by Islam on the former’s own homeland.  The closest the report gets to this simple fact is by saying:

Christie’s… believes that the manuscript is likely to have been produced in Egypt, which was home to the Coptic community, at the time of the Arab conquest. It said that the fragments “resonate with the historical reality of religious communities in the Near East and as such are an invaluable survival from the earliest centuries of Islam.”

For an accurate glimpse of this “historical reality,” one need only turn to John of Nikiu, a Coptic bishop and eyewitness of the seventh century Muslim invasion of his Egyptian homeland.  He recounts atrocity after atrocity perpetrated by the Muslims against the indigenous Christians, simply because the Muslim invaders deemed “the servants of Christ as enemies of Allah.”  His chronicle is so riddled with bloodshed that John simply concludes, “But let us now say no more, for it is impossible to describe the horrors the Muslims committed…”

Once the conquest was over, the “rightly guided caliphs”—Muhammad’s relatives and companions—forced the “milk camels [Egypt’s Christian population] to yield more milk” by squeezing them dry of their wealth and resources, write the Arab chroniclers.  Apocalyptic scenes permeate contemporary accounts concerning these times of wholesale extortion followed by starvation: “the dead were cast out into the streets and market-places, like fish which the water throws up on the land, because they found none to bury them; and some of the people devoured human flesh” from starvation, writes the chronicler Severus Ibn al-Muqaffa (d.987).

In short, and to quote nineteen century historian Alfred Butler, “that they [Egyptian Christians] abhorred the religion of Islam is proved by every page of their history.”

The Islamic takeover and financial bleeding of Egypt (documented in my new book, Sword and Scimitar) was always accompanied by a war on Egypt’s Christian heritage and nearly snuffed it out (as it did in other formerly Christian lands, from North Africa to Anatolia).[1] In the eleventh century, Fatimid caliph Hakim bi-amr Allah ordered the destruction of 30,000 churches, including Christendom’s most sacred church, that of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  Saladin, who overthrew the Fatimids, ordered mud smeared on Egypt’s churches, and their crosses broken off.  Then came nearly three centuries under the Mamluks, who were even more repressive than their predecessors.  Under their reign, Coptic ceased to be a living language, as the punishment for speaking it included the severing of one’s tongue.

Such is the “cultural interactions between different religious communities” that the scholars are fascinated over.

Erasing a Coptic language Bible and supplanting it with the Arabic Koran is a reminder of Islam’s enforced erasure of all Christian vestiges in Christianity’s ancient heartlands.   The more entrenched Islam became in Egypt, the more Coptic culture—from its language to its churches—slowly disappeared, or was rendered invisible through a number of edicts (commonly known as the Conditions of Omar).

Even the already circulating Christian coins that the caliphate appropriated had their crosses effaced so as not to resemble crosses.   Islam’s erasure of Christianity in its own homelands continues to this day, including in its war on churches, and in even more subtle ways—such as literally erasing Christianity from the history books.

Yet Christie’s specialist Romain Pingannaud’s claims that the recent eighth century Koran find is “quite extraordinary…  It’s fascinating, particularly because it’s the only example where you have an Arabic text on top of a non-Arabic text. And what’s even more fascinating is it is on top of passages from the Old Testament.”  The report elaborates by saying that such books (palimpsests) are “extremely rare … with only a handful having been previously recorded, none of which were copied above a Christian text.”

Erasing Christian books of their scriptures and supplanting them with the Arabic Koran was actually par for the course.  Dario Fernandez-Morera writes that one celebrated Muslim cleric held “that the sacred books of the defeated Christians must be burned to make them ‘disappear’—unless one can erase their content completely so one can then sell the blank pages to make a profit.  But if one cannot sell these erased pages, they must be burned” (The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise, 41).

Happily, and as this recent discovery of a Christian text under the Arabic Koran suggests, sooner or later, everything will be uncovered—including the eyes of Western people to Islam’s past and present.

————————–

[1] As Alfred Butler explained “[T]he burdens of the Christians grew heavier in proportion as their numbers lessened [that is, the more Christians converted to Islam, the more the burdens on the remaining few grew]. The wonder, therefore, is not that so many Copts yielded to the current which bore them with sweeping force over to Islam, but that so great a multitude of Christians stood firmly against the stream, nor have all the storms of thirteen centuries moved their faith from the rock of its foundation.”

As a teen, he boxed his way through Auschwitz…

…At, 92 he is one of the world’s oldest living journalists.

By: JTA Staff; jta.org

(JTA) — As a prisoner in Auschwitz, Noah Klieger narrowly escaped death through sheer audacity: Selected for the gas chamber on account of his pneumonia, Klieger managed to talk himself out of the sentence in a personal encounter with the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Later, he faked his way on to a boxing squad at Auschwitz that enjoyed better meal rations.

After liberation, he arrived in prestate Israel aboard the Exodus ship and fought in the 1948 War of Independence. Klieger went on to a storied career in journalism, authoring several books and a longtime column in the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot.

 

A Full 97 Percent of Israeli Jews Host or Join a Seder

Jewish News Syndicate; jns.org

The reasons have heritage at the core: “That’s how my family behaved throughout the generations,” “that’s how I express my Jewish culture,” and “it makes me feel like I am taking part in history.”

A family seen during the Passover Seder on the first night of the holiday in Tzur Hadassah, Israel, on March 25, 2013. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash 90

According to a Jewish People Policy Institute survey of 3,000 respondents, 97 percent of Israelis Jews say they either host or participate in a Passover Seder, compared to the 2013 Pew Study’s finding of 70 percent of American Jews who participated in the Seder the prior year.

Continue reading “A Full 97 Percent of Israeli Jews Host or Join a Seder”

Hopeless in Gaza

By: Clifford D. May; defenddemocracy.org (The Washington Times)

Gaza has been an unhappy place for a long time but the situation is now reportedly growing desperate. Jobs are scarce, electricity is intermittent, drinking water is unsafe, and raw sewage released into the Mediterranean is washing up on Gaza’s white sandy beaches.

How did this happen? A one-paragraph history: Ruled by the Ottomans for centuries, then ruled by the British for decades, in 1948 the territory was taken over by Egypt. The Israelis seized it in 1967, the outcome of a defensive war in which Israel also took the West Bank from Jordan. In 2005, the Israelis withdrew from Gaza, thinking that might pave the way to a resolution of their conflict with the Palestinians. Instead, the two dominant Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, went to war with one another. After two years, Hamas emerged on top.

A front-page takeout in The New York Times this month gives voice to Gaza’s suffering masses. Accompanying photos, artfully composed, show a woman begging, shopkeepers behind bars for not paying their debts and patients in a hospital looking grim.

Jerusalem bureau chief David M. Halbfinger concludes that Hamas has “few options.” He adds: “The one it has resorted to three times — going to war with Israel, in hopes of generating international sympathy and relief in the aftermath — suddenly seems least attractive.”

Did you get that? The New York Times sees nothing alarming, certainly nothing to criticize, about Palestinians contemplating “going to war” against Israelis to improve their economic situation. Would the newspaper take the same attitude toward any other peoples anywhere else in the world?

Also notice what was not mentioned: that Hamas might contemplate giving up its goal of destroying Israel; that it might, as the saying goes, “Give peace a chance!” Not only did that option not occur to Mr. Halbfinger, it also apparently didn’t cross the minds of other “Gaza experts” to whom he turned. Nathan Thrall, an analyst for International Crisis Group, tells him simply: “Hamas itself has few ways to alleviate the crisis.”

Just for grins, imagine this: Hamas stops spending hundreds of millions of dollars (mostly drawn from foreign aid) building missiles to fire at Israeli cities, and digging tunnels to infiltrate terrorists into Israeli villages where they are to spray bullets at men, women and children, and drag others, as hostages, into the holes leading back to Gaza.

Further imagine: In response to such a suspension of hostilities, Israel stops building an underground anti-tunnel system with a price tag of roughly $1 billion. Israel offers to spend those funds to assist the people of Gaza instead.

With Israel’s cutting-edge technology, Gazans soon have all the clean drinking water they need, all the electricity they want, and a sewage system unlike any in the Middle East (outside Israel).

And were another war between Hamas and Israel to be seen as unlikely rather than inevitable, do you not think Gazawould become much more attractive to job-creating investors? I wonder if there are Syrians and Yemenis who wish they had such an alternative available to them as a way to relieve their (much more intense) deprivation.

OK, enough imagining. Most “Gaza experts” no doubt do regard such ideas as crazy or at least unrealistic. The “disarmament of Hamas appears to be nonnegotiable” write David Makovsky and Lia Weiner of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in a report published last month on Gaza’s “humanitarian situation.”

I could end this column here but there’s one more layer that ought to be peeled from the onion. Mahmoud Abbas is the Palestinian Authority president but he does not rule Gaza’s two million residents. He dares not even set foot in the territory. But rest assured he is doing everything he can — to make the crisis there worse.

Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and currently Israel’s deputy public diplomacy minister, wrote last week: “Abbas recently cut the salaries of Palestinian Authority officials in the Gaza Strip by 50 percent, and fired thousands more.

He has suspended welfare benefits to families in Gaza, generally cut budgets to the coastal enclave, and is again trying to limit the power supply, despite the winter cold, thus exacerbating Gazans’ suffering. Perhaps in his cruelest move yet, he has also suspended the delivery of vital medicines to Gaza, including for infants and children, and significantly reduced the funding for medical care for Gazans in Israel.”

Why would he do such things? Because, Mr. Oren explains, he wants Hamas to start another war with Israel — one that would end with Israel soundly defeating Hamas and expelling it from Gaza once and for all.

In the aftermath, Israel would “be accused of war crimes and Abbas himself would lead the charge, in an attempt to benefit twice: He would be hailed for having dealt Hamas a final blow, and would be revered for defending the Palestinians from the Zionists.”

To prevent this scenario from playing out, and to avoid letting Mr. Abbas “fight Hamas down to the very last Israeli soldier,” Mr. Oren argues that Israel should take significant steps to alleviate the crisis in Gaza — expecting nothing in return.

Less than a decade after Israel’s founding, Golda Meir, who would go onto to become Israel’s fourth prime minister, was famously quoted as saying: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” Hamas‘ parental affections have not evolved. As for the immiserated people of Gaza, perhaps they lack the courage to challenge Hamas. That would be the hopeful explanation.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a columnist for The Washington Times. Follow him on Twitter @CliffordDMay.

Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

The IRS Campaign Against Israel—and Us

It took seven years for Z Street to learn the truth about why our tax-exempt status was delayed.

By: Lori Lowenthal Marcus; Wall Street Journal – wsj.com

ILLUSTRATION: BARBARA KELLEY

The first IRS viewpoint discrimination case to be filed, Z Street v. IRS,has been settled, with disturbing revelations about how the Internal Revenue Service treated pro-Israel organizations applying for tax-exempt status.

I founded Z Street in 2009 to educate Americans about the Middle East and Israel’s defense against terror. We applied for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code in December 2009—a process that usually takes three to six months.

Instead, the application languished. In late July 2010, an IRS agent truthfully responded to our lawyer’s query about why processing was taking so long: Z Street’s application was getting special scrutiny, the agent said, because it was related to Israel. Some applications for tax-exempt status were being sent to a special office in Washington for review of whether the applicants’ policy positions conflicted with those of the Obama administration.

So in August 2010 we sued the IRS for violating Z Street’s constitutional rights, including the First Amendment right to be free from viewpoint discrimination—government treatment that differs depending on one’s political position.

Now we know the truth, and it’s exactly as bad as we thought. IRS documents—those they didn’t “lose” or otherwise fail to produce—reveal the following:

• Our application was flagged because Z Street’s mission related to Israel, a country with terrorism. Therefore, an IRS manager in our case said in sworn testimony, the IRS needed to investigate whether Z Street was funding terror.

• Some applications for tax-exempt status were indeed being sent to IRS headquarters in Washington for more intense scrutiny. They were selected because of the applicants’ viewpoint.

• In August 2010, three other Jewish organizations applying for tax-exempt status were asked by the IRS to “explain their religious beliefs about the Land of Israel.”

Our own investigation disclosed that between 2009 and 2016, while Z Street’s application was stalled, the IRS needed no special scrutiny to grant numerous applications for tax-exempt status that explicitly proclaimed donations would be spent in Gaza—a territory formally under the jurisdiction of Hamas, which the U.S. State Department designates as a terror organization.

While claiming to be investigating Z Street’s funding of terror, the IRS never asked how or where Z Street spent its money. The IRS ultimately granted Z Street’s application, in October 2016, without asking anything about terror, or money, or anything else it hadn’t known in 2010.

As the IRS knew within six weeks of our case being filed, Z Street was sent for special scrutiny by an IRS employee using an outdated list of countries affected by terror. The new list didn’t include Israel. The IRS didn’t resume processing our application after it discovered this error, and it didn’t disclose the error for six years. Because we sued, the IRS froze Z Street’s application. It stayed on ice until August 2016, when a court held the IRS couldn’t get our case thrown out until it processed our application. Two months later we got our exemption.

The “terror” error turns out to have been a pretext. Within weeks of President Obama’s inauguration, IRS and State Department officials began considering whether they could deny or revoke tax-exempt status for organizations that provided material support to Jews living across the Green Line—the nonborder that delineates pre-1967 Israel from the territories Israel acquired in the Six Day War. The theory was that a Jewish presence in those areas is inconsistent with U.S. policy. The IRS drew up lists of such organizations based on information from anti-Israel websites such as Electronic Intifada and MondoWeiss.

The New York Times and the Washington Post ran articles that advanced the policy espoused by the Obama administration and its nonprofit ally, J Street. Unnamed “senior State Department officials” were quoted as saying that Jewish activity over the Green Line isn’t “helpful” to peace efforts.

While no formal policy was released barring U.S. tax-exempt entities from supporting Jewish activity over the Green Line, Obama IRS officials tried three times between 2009 and 2012 to create such a policy, and IRS employees made sure the effort wasn’t documented. One emailed her supervisor saying that she would answer his questions about IRS policy relating to Israeli settlements only orally. “Not doing email on this,” she explained.

Even if the IRS could legitimately institute such a policy, it should not have applied to Z Street. We believe Jews should be allowed to live beyond the Green Line, but we have never spent a penny outside the U.S.

To learn the truth, we fought in the courts for seven lonely years—defeating IRS arguments that it didn’t have to obey the First Amendment, that it was immune from the suit, and that it wasn’t obliged to produce in discovery any documents revealing why its employees did what they did. During the seven years Z Street’s application was frozen, it couldn’t raise funds. If my husband and I weren’t lawyers, able to pursue justice without getting paid, there’s no way we could have succeeded.

When Z Street’s creation was announced, thousands sought to join. Then the IRS attempted to kill us. No lawsuit can remedy that assault, as the IRS knew. The settlement gives us the truth, but we can’t get back our seven years.

 

5 Reasons Why Israel is Ready for War with Hezbollah in Lebanon

By: JTA/Ron Kampeas; jpost.com

12 years ago, Hezbollah and Israel were left gutted by a summer war that was costly for both sides.

Israeli soldiers hold an Israeli flag as they leave Lebanese territory during a second day of ceasefire during the Second Lebanon War, near the town of Menara August 15, 2006.. (photo credit: REUTERS)5 reasons why Israel is ready for war with Hezbollah in Lebanon

WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a simple, straightforward message this week when he toured Israel’s border with Syria and Lebanon with top security officials.

“Our face is turned toward peace, we are ready for any eventuality, and I don’t suggest anyone test us,” he said Tuesday in a video message he posted on Twitter, the sound of helicopter blades whirring in the background.

The mixed message signaled Israel’s ambivalence about taking on the terrorist group Hezbollah 12 years after Lebanon and Israel were left gutted by a summer war.

The 2006 war was costly for both sides: Hezbollah, the preeminent militia in Lebanon, lost political capital for inviting a devastating response to its provocations along Israel’s border. Israel’s military and political class at the time paid a price for not decisively winning a war that precipitated a mass internal movement of civilians southward.

Yet the sides are making increasingly belligerent noises. Here are five factors contributing to increasing tensions along the border.

Syria may be winding down, and Iran is winding up.

The Assad regime, along with its allies Russia, Iran and Hezbollah — Iran’s proxy in the region — have the opposition in Syria’s civil war on the run. Iran and Hezbollah are striking while the iron is hot, establishing preeminence in the region. Iranian brass recently toured southern Lebanon and Tehran, according to Israeli reports, and Iran is financing a military factory in Lebanon.

Israeli officials reject a permanent Iranian presence on its border — a message that Netanyahu delivered to Russian President Vladimir Putin when they met last month in Moscow.

“I told him that Israel views two developments with utmost gravity: First is Iran’s efforts to establish a military presence in Syria, and second is Iran’s attempt to manufacture – in Lebanon – precision weapons against the State of Israel,” he said after the meeting. “I made it clear to him that we will not agree to either one of these developments and will act according to need.”

A U.S. leadership vacuum is creating anxiety.

President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian missile base last year after it was revealed that Syria used chemical weapons against civilians, but otherwise the U.S. engagement with shaping the outcome of Syria’s civil war has been desultory. Russia is filling the vacuum, which is stoking Israeli anxieties. Despite generally good relations between the Netanyahu and Putin governments, Israel cannot rely on Russia to advance Israeli interests in the same way it has with the United States.

“As the shape of the Syrian war changes, Israel may find its working relations with Russia undermined by Moscow’s desire to exercise influence in Syria generally from afar, and by its shifting relations with Iran,” Shoshana Bryen, the senior director at the Jewish Policy Center, wrote this week in The Algemeiner.

Absent focused U.S. leadership, Israel may strike out on its own to prevent Hezbollah from becoming the preeminent force in the nations to its north.

There are signs that the Trump administration, albeit belatedly, is noticing what its absence has wrought: Last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said 2,000 U.S. troops currently in Syria to assist pro-Western rebels would remain stationed there to mitigate against a permanent Iranian presence in Syria.

New fences make restive neighbors.

Israel is building a wall on its northern border along a line demarcated by the United Nations in 2000, when Israel ended its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon. Israel is building the wall in order to prevent the deadly Hezbollah incursions that spurred the 2006 war, which claimed 1,200 Lebanese lives and more than 60 Israeli lives.

But neither Lebanon nor Hezbollah accepted the demarcation as a permanent outcome, citing disputes over small patches of land that extended back to the 1949 armistice, and the Lebanese government and Hezbollah have threatened action.

Oil and gas

Lebanon last month approved a joint bid by Italian, French and Russian oil companies to explore seas off its coast. Israel claims a portion of the waters. Israeli leaders have called for a diplomatic solution to the dispute, but the competing claims are aggravating tensions between the countries.

Hezbollah, intermittently, has also threatened to attack Israeli platforms in the Mediterranean extracting natural gas.

Gaza

The Gaza Strip also is restive, with an increase in rocket attacks from Hamas and Israeli retaliatory strikes after Trump in December recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. An Israel distracted by an engagement with Hamas and other terrorist groups in the south could be seen by Hezbollah as an opening to strike in the north.

 

False Identity: The Jewish-Israeli Reporter Who Went Undercover as a Sheikh

By: Amy Spiro; jpost.com

Journalist Zvi Yehezkeli feared for his life, tells The Jerusalem Post his biggest revelations on the Muslim Brotherhood were in the US.

Zvi Yehezkeli undercover as Sheikh Abu Hamza. (photo credit: CHANNEL 10)

Zvi Yehezkeli is a fairly well known face around Israel. For more than 15 years, the journalist and religious father of five has appeared on Channel 10 News, reporting on the Arab world.

But for a couple months over the past two years, Yehezkeli became someone else entirely: Sheikh Abu Hamza. He used this identity – and a couple of others – to film an in-depth series on the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the streets of Europe and the United States. The five-part series, titled “False Identity,” began airing last week on Channel 10.

In the first installment, Yehezkeli – or Abu Hamza, wired with secret cameras and microphones – explored the mosques, schools and bookstores of the Muslim community in Paris.

“The Western world isn’t always reporting on these things because they don’t understand their significance,” Yehezkeli said in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. “I think the job of a journalist is to report on the things we don’t understand.”

Yehezkeli set out to show the infrastructure and the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Paris.

“I think people should see their doublespeak, their approach to mosques and schools,” and attempts to control the Muslim community in France and elsewhere in Europe, he said.

The upcoming episodes, said Yehezkeli, will show additional footage from France as well as his journey posing as a Syrian refugee traveling from Turkey to Germany. The final two episodes, which the journalist said basically make up a free-standing documentary, focus on the United States.

“The biggest revelations in this series are in the United States,” said Yehezkeli. “It’s stronger than anything else in the program.”

To go undercover, Yehezkeli changed his look and dress, received lessons from locals on how to pose as a Muslim and bought fake documents with his new name and photo.

But even with his instruction and his fluent Arabic, there were moments Yehezkeli said he feared for his life while filming.

“You saw, in the first episode, that moment in the mosque in France,” he said. Yehezkeli said he thought that some people nearby had discovered his identity, “and I was given an order to get out of there.” In a future episode, Yehezkeli said, he was actually stopped and detained in Turkey along with his crew after arousing suspicion. He was eventually let go with a warning, but was left shaken.

While Yehezkeli’s family might be used to some of his more unusual and treacherous travels, this time around he was more tight-lipped.

“I would tell them at the end of each trip that everything is OK,” he said.

The journalist has received some criticism that the show serves just to fearmonger and portray everyday events as sinister.

Indeed, the fact that state-funded schools are teaching Islam and the Koran is far from alarming.

The popularity in stores of the books and recordings of Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a different story, however. An extremist cleric whose works are banned in Saudi Arabia, he has an arrest warrant out for him in Egypt and is not allowed to enter the US, UK or France.

“Islam is a legitimate faith like any other faith in the world,” said Yehezkeli, “until the moment when its politics and organizations try to force an extremist version of Islam on other Muslims. This is one of the problems of the Muslim Brotherhood… There’s a reason they’ve been thrown out of Arab countries; there’s a reason they’re operating now in the West.”

 

Majority of Knesset Backs Bill Accusing Poland of Holocaust Denial

By: Lahav Harkov; jpost.com

“The historic truth of the Jewish People is not for sale,” MK Shmuly says; Nazi hunter Zuroff: Post-communist countries have a Holocaust distortion problem.

The Knesset in session: The legislature is going to be working overtime.. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post

New legislation cosponsored by 61 members of Knesset would make a Polish bill to outlaw talk of Poles’ complicity in the Nazis’ crimes a form of illegal Holocaust denial.

The bill, formulated by MKs from the coalition and the opposition – Itzik Shmuly (Zionist Union), Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), Nurit Koren (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) – seeks to amend the Law for Defense Against Holocaust Denial to state that denying or minimizing the involvement of the Nazi’s helpers and collaborators will also be a crime.

In addition, the amended law would provide legal aid to any Holocaust survivors and educators taking students to death camps who face foreign lawsuits because they recounted what happened in the Holocaust.

The 1986 Law for Defense Against Holocaust Denial states that anyone who publishes denial and minimization of the Holocaust or other crimes against the Jewish people can get five years of jail time.

The Polish Senate was expected Wednesday to approve a bill that would make using the phrase “Polish death camps” or saying the Polish people were in any way culpable for the Nazis’ crimes against humanity an offense that carries a three-year prison sentence. The vote was set to take place even though the Polish and Israeli governments plan to negotiate a version of the bill that would be agreeable to both sides.

Shmuly said: “The Poles, and others who may want to copy them, should know that the historical truth of the Jewish people is not for sale.”

“Many Poles, and many others, heard, knew about and helped the Nazi extermination machine,” Shmuly added. “The Polish attempt to rewrite history and to shut Holocaust survivors’ mouths is audacious, shocking and despicable. We will not allow the collaborators to hide behind the Nazis and deny their historic responsibility.”

Lapid said the Polish attempt to avoid responsibility “only emphasizes the need to take action against these voices. We must use all the means we have, including the Knesset, against Holocaust denial.

“We won’t let anyone forget the Nazis or those who cooperated with them. That is our responsibility to the memory of the millions killed.

The world must know the Jews are not afraid and are not willing to be silent anymore, and are not afraid anymore,” Lapid said.

Ilatov said that the number of living Holocaust survivors is dwindling, and therefore, “Israel has the moral responsibility to commemorate their bravery and promise that no one will try to hide, whitewash or cover up those who tell the stories of the horrible crimes and the shocking testimony about the crimes committed against the Jewish people. We won’t let anyone rewrite history.”

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Nazi-hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, said that “Holocaust distortion” has been a problem for over 25 years, and until now Israel has done little to combat it.

Eastern European countries, Zuroff said, “have invested in trying to convince the world the Holocaust was only the work of Germany and maybe a few degenerates.

“Since the Soviet Union crumbled, people have been trying to say communism is the same as Nazism… They want communism to be considered genocide and [some countries] criminalized denying it. And then, if communism is genocide, and there were Jewish communists, then Jews committed genocide. This is their way of undermining the Shoah and their participation in it,” Zuroff explained.

The issue of Holocaust distortion exists “in practically every country in post-communist Eastern Europe,” he said. “Their new heroes are people who fought communists, some of whom killed Jews in the Shoah.

They name streets and schools after them.”

Still, Zuroff said he did not think that legislation is the right way for Israel to deal with the problem. Rather, Israel should use its influence in post-Soviet countries, many of which have defense ties with Israel, to convince the governments that “their behavior is unacceptable.”

“They love Israel, but hate the Jews,” Zuroff said.