JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian assailant on Sunday fatally stabbed an Israeli settler outside a busy mall in the West Bank.
The victim was identified as Ari Fuld, a U.S.-born activist who was well-known in the local settler community and an outspoken Israel advocate on social media platforms.
The military said the attacker arrived at the mall near a major junction in the southern West Bank, close to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, and stabbed Fuld before fleeing.
Video footage showed Fuld giving chase and firing at his assailant before collapsing. Other civilians shot the attacker, whom Israeli media identified as a 17-year-old from a nearby Palestinian village. He was reportedly in moderate condition.
Fuld, a 45-year-old father of four who lived in the nearby settlement of Efrat, was evacuated to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Fuld was a well-known English-language internet commenter on current affairs and the weekly Torah lesson. He was known for his hard-line nationalist ideology and strong support for the Israeli military.
Settler spokesman Josh Hasten, who said he had known Fuld for about a decade, said his friend traveled widely to showcase “the beauty and reality of life” in the country.
He delivered care packages to Israeli soldiers and would go on solidarity trips to communities near the Gaza Strip during times of fighting with the Hamas militant group, Hasten said.
“When the rockets were falling, that’s when he would get in his car and go down to Sderot,” Hasten said.
Fuld also was known for an outspoken manner that included verbal clashes with Palestinians and critics of Israel that could land him in trouble. At times, his Facebook account was suspended.
“He did not hold back on his opinions,” Hasten said. “If that meant 30 days of Facebook jail, so be it.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Fuld on Facebook for fighting his attacker “heroically” and remembered him as “an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth.”
On Twitter, David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel and a strong supporter of the settlements, called him “a passionate defender of Israel & an American patriot.”
Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British tourist in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. Israeli forces killed over 260 Palestinians in that period, of which Israel says most were attackers.
By: Raphael Ahren; The Times of Israel – timesofisrael.com
At ICJ in The Hague, Israeli delegation weighs in on territorial dispute it has nothing to do with, in apparent effort to avoid being typecast as a one-issue country
Israel this week participated in a debate at the International Court of Justice in The Hague for the first time in more than half a century, in what Israeli officials described as an effort to get the Jewish state more involved in matters of international law that have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Officials from the foreign and justice ministries took part in oral proceedings regarding an ongoing territorial dispute over an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
Israel took the UK’s side in arguing that the court did not have the jurisdiction to make pronouncements in the case.
Israel was one of 22 states that participated in this week’s oral proceedings. In February, it had provided a written statement on the matter.
“If I am not mistaken, the last time the State of Israel took part in oral proceedings for this court was almost six decades ago,” Becker told the court in The Hague’s Peace Palace Wednesday.
Becker said Israel respects both Great Britain and Mauritius but argued that their dispute is a bilateral matter that should not be discussed in The Hague. He also said Jerusalem saw the case as having wider implications beyond who controls the tropical cays.
“Israel attaches importance to the present advisory proceedings, as they touch upon matters that transcend the particular circumstances of this case and bear upon the specific settlement of international disputes, in more general terms,” he said. “My presence today here is also testimony to the importance that Israel attaches to international law more broadly.”
In June 2017, the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of asking the court to provide an advisory opinion on the decades-old dispute between the UK and Mauritius over who has sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, a group of seven atolls in the Indian Ocean.
The International Court of Justice is the UN’s principal judicial organ.
Israeli officials declined to discuss the delegation’s participation on the record. But according to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, Israel’s argument can be seen as an effort to get the Jewish state involved in international matters, and showcasing its legalists’ skills in international law on subjects that have nothing to do with the various conflicts in the Middle East.
More than before, some officials in the foreign and justice ministries have been pushing for Israel to become more engaged in matters of international law, lest it be typecast as a one-issue country, the sources said.
They also noted that Israel volunteered to offer its views on the Chagos case to support the UK’s embattled position.
In 1965 — three years before Mauritius gained independence from Great Britain — London split the Chagos Archipelago away from Mauritius, forcibly expelled some 2,000 Chagossians, and formally added the contested atolls to its British Indian Ocean Territory.
Mauritius argues that the Chagos archipelago was part of its territory since at least the 18th century and was taken unlawfully by the UK. Britain insists it has sovereignty over the archipelago.
The UK has vowed to return the archipelago as soon as it is no longer needed for “defense purposes.” It is currently leasing its largest island, Diego Garcia, to the US, which has built a large military base there.
In recent years, Mauritius has tried to internationalize the dispute, getting much of the international community’s support. Last year, the UN urged the court to give an advisory opinion on the dispute.
While most of the 22 countries sided with Mauritius in oral arguments, Israel joined the UK and US in positing that the court had no standing to rule on a bilateral territorial dispute.
Becker, the head of the Israeli delegation, delivered a nearly half-hour-long presentation Wednesday encouraging the two parties to resolve the issue between themselves rather than involve the court.
Israel’s deputy attorney general for international law, Roy Schöndorf, also addressed the court on the matter.
Israel’s position on the Chagos case does not only back the UK, but is also in line with Jerusalem’s steadfast views that bilateral conflicts need to be solved through bilateral negotiations as opposed to legal or diplomatic proceedings in international forums.
Israel has a complicated relationship with the court, especially following an advisory opinion it issued in 2004 that declared Israel’s West Bank security barrier to be illegal.
Advisory opinions are not binding, but “carry great legal weight and moral authority,” according to the court’s website.
A decision by the judges is not expected for several months.
The Pew Research Center on Wednesday published an analysis of beliefs and behaviors across denominations that identifies important traits that unite people of different religious affiliations—or divide people who share the same affiliation – producing a new and revealing classification of religion in America (The Religious Typology – A new way to categorize Americans by religion).
The survey divided the US population, represented by 4,699 respondents in late 2017, into seven groups: Sunday Stalwarts – the most religious; God-and-Country Believers – less active in church hold traditional religious beliefs and tilt right politically; Diversely Devout – believe in God “as described in the Bible” as well as in psychics, reincarnation and spiritual energy of physical things; Relaxed Religious – believe in the God of the Bible, and some of them pray daily, but few of them attend religious services; Spiritually Awake – many do not believe in the biblical God, hold some New Age beliefs such as some higher power, rarely attend religious services; Religion Resisters – believe in some higher power or spiritual force but not the God of the Bible, and consider themselves spiritual but not religious, with strongly negative views of organized religion, generally liberal and Democratic in their political views; Solidly Secular – the least religious of the seven groups, relatively affluent, highly educated, mostly white and male, reject all New Age beliefs as well as belief in the God of the Bible or any higher power at all.
We recommend you read the survey’s results, which represent a valid and as such an exciting effort to gauge the American religion using current analytical tools.
What emerges from the data, in the case of the Jews of America, is an exceptionally massive pull away from the “old-time religion” on the part of close to half of those who identify themselves as Jewish.
Close to 17% of the Jewish respondents identified themselves as Sunday Stalwarts (Shabbes stalwarts, obviously); about 8% each said they were God-and-Country Believers, Diversely Devout, Relaxed Religious, or Spiritually Awake; 17% said they are Religion Resisters, and a whopping 25% called themselves Solidly Secular.
No other religious group came even close in terms of the number of members born to the group who want to have nothing at all to do with its beliefs.
The report also clarifies something intriguing: “For the purposes of this analysis, Jews are defined as people who identify their religion as Judaism – what sociologists call “Jews by religion” – and not those who say they have no religion but identify as Jewish in other ways, such as culturally or ethnically.” Meaning, those Jewish respondents reject Judaism, God, ritual, prayer and religion, but still defined themselves as Jewish in terms of their religion.
Out of the 9 Christian groups altogether, only 3.5% said they were Religion Resisters; and 4% chose to define themselves as Solidly Secular.
Among the members of the Christian group with the least ability to retain its followers – the Catholic Church, about 7% identified themselves as Religion Resisters and another 7% as Solidly Secular.
Among Muslims, under 9% suggested they were Religion Resisters and the same percentage said they were Solidly Secular.
As we noted, not one of these groups comes even close to the percentage of Jews who have completely abandoned their tradition – a stunning 42%, or, were we to still accept the figure of 6 million American Jews as having anything to do with reality, then the past few decades have witnessed a mass migration of more than 2.5 million Jews away from their Judaism.
The decorative work is one of many that paved a luxurious Roman villa.
Excavators discovered a 1,700-year-old mosaic that once decorated a luxurious Roman villa in Lod, known in Roman times as Diospolis (City of Zeus).
The discovery was made during archaeological excavations carried out in the past month by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in preparation for the construction of a visitors center in Lod that will exhibit mosaics exposed several years ago at the site.
In 1996, road workers discovered by chance a mosaic floor at the entrance to Lod, adjacent to Ginnaton Junction. In subsequent excavations directed by the late archaeologist Dr. Miriam Avissar, the remains of a luxurious villa with exceptionally well-preserved, unique mosaic floors dating to the 4th century CE were found.
According to Dr. Amir Gorzalczany, the director of the current excavation, the excavations at the site exposed a villa that included a large luxurious mosaic-paved reception room, known as a triclinium. An internal columned courtyard, also with mosaics, and a water system were also uncovered.
“We found evidence for Mediterranean luxury that characterized the Roman Empire, including attributes such as fresco wall paintings,” said Gorzalczany.
The mosaics depict realistic and fantastic animals, complex geometric designs and marine scenes that incorporate a multitude of fish and two ships.
“The archaeological excavation that we carried out this month was relatively small, but contributed significantly to our understanding of the villa building” said Gorzalczany.
“Thankfully, the main central panel of the mosaic was preserved. The figures, many similar to the figures in the earlier mosaics, comprise fish and winged creatures. A fairly similar mosaic was found in the past in Jerusalem, on the Mount Zion slopes. The Lod mosaics, however, do not depict any human figures that are present in the Mount Zion mosaic. It is quite probable that the same artist produced both mosaics, or that two artists worked from a similar design.
This type of mosaic is better known in the western part of the Roman Empire.
“ALSO NOTEWORTHY,” continued Gorzalczany,”are the rectangular marks that may denote the placing of the couches on which the participants of the banquet or feast reclined. These marks are common in similar villas and are an indication of the use of the space in the reception halls.”
The central panel of the mosaic has been displayed at museums around the world including the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Frost Museum in Miami, Florida, the Altes Museum in Berlin, the Cini Foundation in Venice, the Field Museum in Chicago and the Art Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center project is a joint initiative of Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation, the Lod Municipality, the Lod Economic Development Corporation and the IAA. When completed, the center will display the mosaics enclosed within a modern building that relates to the plan of the ancient villa in which they were originally laid.
Gorzalczany believes that the newly discovered mosaic may have paved an additional reception room next to the reception hall which was uncovered in 1996. “If this is the case, then the villa may be much larger than we supposed. The discovery, in close proximity to the earlier hall, raises new questions: How large was the building? Did the villa comprise several reception halls? Where were the private living rooms? Was there a second story? These issues may be resolved in future excavations.”
The visitors center is scheduled to open in 2020.
Shelby White, the center’s donor, said, “The Lod Museum will be a dream come true that began when my husband Leon Levy and I first saw the magnificent mosaic more than 20 years ago. This initiative could not have materialized without the strong support of the Lod community and the Israel Antiquities Authority.”
Lod Mayor Yair Revivo remarked, “It is fascinating to learn how many centuries ago the centrality and the potential of the Lod environs was appreciated by the ancient residents.
The establishment of the center exhibiting aspects of the rich history of Lod will provide an impressive gateway to the town.”
In yet another showing of blatant antisemitism, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, declared last Friday that the Gaza Palestinians, who have been violently attempting to infiltrate the Israeli border to “kill the Jews” and “burn the Jews,” are the victims and in need of armed security.
This mind-boggling defense of terrorists is of no surprise to those of us who follow UN politics. Earlier this summer when the US walked out on the UN Human Rights Council, Nikki Haily issued a statementon the decision, calling the Council a protector of “the world’s worst human rights abusers” with a “chronic bias against Israel.”
The UN has maintained a consistent position of hatredof Israel since 1967. Why? Because the existence of a Jewish State is an affront to the 47 Muslim-majoritycountries at the UN who do not believe that Jews should have a country, let alone live side-by-side with them. It is an anti-Jewish, hateful position that is inconsistent with the word unity that crowns the title of this deceptive organization.
In 2017, Asaf Romirowsky, an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a guest lecturer for a group of students in Geneva, took the group to the United Nations on a field trip. He experienced the “chronic bias against Israel” first-hand. It was the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and every country made a statement about the war to the students. What did they say? Every single country discussed the “atrocities that the Israelis committed.” Every. Single. One. “Israeli atrocities.”
Recall that the Six Day War was necessary for Israel to stop the constant bombardment by Syria of Israeli towns, the Egyptian attacks on Israeli forces, the Egyptian militarization at the Israeli border, and the Jordanian joinder with Egypt. Israel was being threatened by every neighboring country. Not to mention the other Arab states which came to join the neighbors: Iraq, Kuwait, and Algeria, all of whom sent troops to join the Arab coalition against Israel. Within 6 days, Israel, a tiny country filled with Holocaust survivors, miraculously overcame the Arab Goliath coalition. Israelis did not commit “atrocities.” No. Instead, they defended the tiny bit of land that they had with all of their might, the land that they hoped will keep them safe from antisemitic assaults that they had experienced throughout the 2,000 years of diaspora. The Israelis were able to capture the small adjoining territories that were being used by the bordering countries to attack Israel. For this, the UN and liberals everywhere, have never forgiven Israel.
Every UN country blames Israel for defending itself, and every UN country believes that the core of Middle East problems resides with Israel. “The UN is just a mouthpiece for dictatorship regimes,” Romirowsky explains.
For this reason, instead of calling out the Gaza Palestinians for their violence, terrorism, and hate, leftists and the UN placate them.
The Palestinians also have growing support from leftist politicians and leftist newsorganizations. But why? Is the Palestinian movement overall sympathetic?
No. The Palestinian movement is a type of Islamist Jihad that is opposed to freedom— “a movement to liquidate a free society through conventional war, subversion, shootings, bombings, suicide attacks, rockets,” explains Elan Journo in his book What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The underlying goal is to overthrow Israel, he writes. The Palestinian movement has shown us time and time again that Palestinians do not want to live in peace with the Israelis. Instead, they want to destroy Israel and its free society and replace it with a totalitarian Islamic state.
But the Palestinians remain impoverished. And that is all that leftists need to know. They do not care that the Palestinians have spent BILLIONS of dollars in aid that they have received over the past two decades on terrorism instead of on infrastructure, education, and health (over $5 billion alone in US aid – that’s money taken from you and me). Leftists do not care that it is not Israel’s fault that the independent choices made by the Palestinians, like their continuous dedication to terrorism, are the sole causes of their continued struggle. Leftists simply blame Israel because Israel looks wealthy next to the Palestinians, who look impoverished. And that easy visual juxtaposition is more than sufficient for them.
“Everyone at the UN believes that the Palestinians are the victims. The UN doesn’t question that,” Asaf Romirowsky affirmed.
Moreover, the Israeli use of moderate force, which barely fights back against terrorism, appears treacherous to the left, who believe that Israel is wealthier and stronger and should just take it.
Israel is simply the recipient of anti-Jewish and anti-commerce hatred that is a collective result of Islamic and liberal ideology.
In his statement to the UN, Antonio Guterres appeared to try and separate the Gaza “civilians” from the Gaza terrorists, although he failed to mention terrorism or Hamas. But Gaza is 100% controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization, explains Romirowsky. “Hamas is a religious Islamist group. The Hamas Charter clearly states that the destruction of the Jews is their goal. They have always been consistent: they want to kill Jews. Hamas rhetoric is in the Palestinian school system and their mosques. Hamas rhetoric fuels everything in their region. Their society is a culture of incitement and indoctrination. The word Hamas itself means acting in a violent, religious, zealous way. Their name in itself has a militant, violent connotation in Arabic, it impassions violence.”
Palestinians are encouraged to commit terroristic acts from all of their leaders, not just Hamas. Even the Palestinian Authority, which is supposed to be less violent, funds and rewards Palestinians who commit acts of terrorism against Israelis. In 2017 alone, the Palestinian Authority paid over $350 million to terrorist families, declaring them Islamic martyrs for their feats of killing Jews. Which is why the response by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, that the Palestinian people actually need protection from their own leadership, is right on point. Otherwise, as it stands, the Palestinians and their terrorist government are indistinguishable, jointly engaged in terrorism for purposes of takeover, Jihad, and profit.
That terrorism reward cash, by the way, comes from American taxes.
Israel’s ambassador to Russia said Israel insisted on the full withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria.
Israel and Russia have reached an understanding to ensure the preservation of the 1974 cease-fire line on the Golan Heights, according to Israel’s Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren.
According to a TASS Russian News Agency report, Koren – who met with Russian journalists in Stavropol in southern Russia Monday – said, “we coordinated the arrangement under which Russia pledged to make sure, as it were, that the Syrian Army will not cross the cease-fire line established under the 1974 agreement. It looks like everything is functioning for the time being. I hope it will be so in the future, as well.”
Koren said Israel insisted on the full withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria.
The 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria, which followed the Yom Kippur War, separated Israel and Syrian troops and created a 235-km. buffer zone in the Golan Heights. Israel demands the buffer zone be respected, even as it is deeply concerned that Iranian or Shia forces moving south with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops may try to violate it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed during his visit to Moscow in July that respecting the Separation of Forces Agreement was a red line for Israel in Syria.
UN peacekeepers, augmented by Russian military police, returned to the border last week to carry out patrols. The day before, Alexander Lavrentiev, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s special envoy on Syria, said Iran and Shia militias have withdrawn 85 km. from the border on the Golan.
“There are no units of heavy equipment and weapons that could pose a threat to Israel at a distance of 85 km. from the line of demarcation,” Lavrentiev was quoted as saying in TASS.
Israel’s stated position remains as the removal of all Iranian forces and their proxies from Syria, although Netanyahu made clear during his Moscow talks the immediate priorities were to move these forces away from the border, to remove Iran’s long-range missiles from throughout Syria, and to ensure the separation agreement will be honored in full.
By: TOI Staff; Times of Israel – timesofisrael.com
Standard & Poor’s cites steady growth, improved fiscal outlook in decision to upgrade Jewish state’s credit score to AA-
The Standard & Poor’s credit scoring agency on Friday upgraded its credit rating for Israel, citing the Jewish state’s steady economic growth and improved debt outlook.
With the raising of its credit score from A+ to AA- with a stable outlook, Israel notched its highest ever rating from S&P and other international credit rating firms.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the upgraded rating as “a reflection of the strength of the Israeli economy.”
In announcing its decision, S&P cited Israel’s stable growth and improved fiscal position in light of the sharp reduction in net government debt.
Despite Israel’s fractious politics, S&P pointed to the passage of the 2019 budget as a sign of fiscal discipline.
“Although public debt remains relatively high, we now think that fiscal slippages leading to a significant reversal of the debt path are unlikely,” S&P said. “This is based on our belief that, absent global trade shocks, Israel’s economic growth outlook will remain solid and allow the government to accommodate pressures coming from social and infrastructure spending, as well as a potential moderate escalation of security risks.”
“Israel has demonstrated sound economic performance since the global financial crisis, with a current GDP of about $140 billion (or 50%) larger than in 2010, the current account in a sustainable surplus, and unemployment at historical lows,” it added.
The ratings agency also predicted growth of 3.3 percent a year from 2018 to 2021, which it said would be fueled by private consumption, corporate investment and exporting of services.
While noting Israel has a “prosperous, modern, and diversified economy” with high growth rates, S&P said “high exposure to external and domestic security risks weigh on the country’s creditworthiness.”
“In the last three years the Israeli economy has soared to the best macro data in its history. The confidence expressed in us by the strongest economic bodies in the world enables us to continue to grow the economy,” said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon in a statement after S&P announced the move.
Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug praised S&P for upgrading Israel to AA-, crediting the country’s steady economic growth in recent years to sound fiscal policy.
“The decision reflects the confidence of the international institutions in the policies of the government and the monetary policies the Bank of Israel has led that have contributed to the growth of the economy and the ability of the government to meet its future commitments,” she said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also praised the upgraded Israeli ranking, saying in a Saturday Facebook post that it “reflected of the strength of the Israeli economy as well as the correct and responsible economic policy that we are leading on behalf of all Israeli citizens.”
By: TOI Staff; The Times of Israel – timesofisrael.com
Spokesperson for the terror group says Palestinians will ‘challenge the Israeli war machine’ in ‘March of Return’ demonstrations on Friday
The Hamas terrorist group on Friday said the so-called “March of Return” border demonstrations would continue unimpeded later in the day, despite a cessation of hostilities with Israel clinched the night before.
The announcement came after a 12-hour lull in fighting, following two days that saw the heaviest exchange of Palestinian rocket fire and reprisal Israeli airstrikes since the 2014 Gaza war.
For the past four months there have been near-weekly, violent protests along the Israel-Gaza border organized by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassim tweeted on Friday that demonstrators would continue to “break the siege” on the Gaza Strip.
“Every time the Israeli killing machine attempts to break our people’s will to continue its struggle and marches, it fails to do so,” he wrote. “Today our people will head to the ‘Marches of Return’ to challenge the Israeli war machine.”
“Our Palestinian people has a long-lasting, struggling soul,” the Hamas spokesperson wrote. “It will continue its resistance in all of its forms until it gains its freedom, independence and right to a dignified life.”
Over the past four months the “March of Return” protests have led to deadly clashes which saw Israeli security forces facing gunfire, grenades, Molotov cocktails, and efforts — sometimes successful — to damage or cross the border fence.
At least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the weekly protests began, the Hamas ministry says. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members.
One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.
In addition to the border clashes, southern Israel has experienced hundreds of fires as a result of incendiary kites and balloons flown over the border from Gaza. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials.
By: Douglas Murray; Gatestone Institute – gatestoneinstitute.org
Translations of this item:
The painful irony of this situation should be clear to all observers. If the Israelis did not lay claim to the Golan, there would have been no means to have got the White Helmets and their families out of Syria. Had Israel not made the Golan the peaceful and thriving area it is, it would simply be another part of Syria in which different sectarian groups were slaughtering other sectarian groups.The armies of ISIS came right up to the villages on the Syrian side along the borders of the Golan. There, they were able to bring that form of peace-through-barbarism which the world has come to know well. If ISIS had triumphed in the Syrian conflict rather than suffering repeated set-backs, would the UK Foreign Office have handed them the territory by way of reparational justice, or victor’s prize?
The British Foreign Office will have to back out of its self-imposed corner regarding the Golan at some point and accept the reality on the ground. How much better it would be if it did so now in a spirit of goodwill and reciprocity, rather than later on in a spirit of inevitable and grudging defeat.
According to the British Foreign Office, the Golan Heights are ‘occupied’. They have been ‘occupied’ — according to the logic of the UK Foreign Office — since 1967, when Israel took the land from the invading forces of Syria. Ever since then, the Israelis have had the benefit of this strategic position and the Syrian regime has not. This fact, half a century on, still strikes the British Foreign Office as regrettable, and a wrong to be righted in due course.
Of course, since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the official position of the UK government has become ever-harder to justify. For example, if the Israeli government were at some point over the last seven years suddenly to have listened to the wisdom of the Foreign Office in London and handed over the strategic prize of the Golan, to whom should it have handed it? Should Israel be persuaded to hand over the territory to the Assad regime in Damascus? It is true that, throughout the course of the Syrian civil war, the one bit of territory to which the Syrian regime has laid claim and which it has not been able to barrel-bomb and otherwise immiserate the people there has been the Golan Heights. Only in the Golan has anybody in this ‘Greater Syria’ been able to live free from the constant threat of massacre and ethnic, religious or political cleansing.
Other candidates for the territory naturally presented themselves across the same time-frame. The armies of ISIS came right up to the villages on the Syrian side along the borders of the Golan. There, they were able to bring that form of peace-through-barbarism which the world has come to know well. If ISIS had triumphed in the Syrian conflict rather than suffering repeated set-backs, would the UK Foreign Office have handed them the territory by way of reparational justice, or victor’s prize? If not them, then perhaps the armies of Iran or Russia could have been the recipients of this feat of restorative diplomacy? Perhaps anyone who wished to lay claim to the Golan could have had it. So long as it was not the Israelis.
The ongoing madness of the British Foreign Office’s position has been highlighted in recent days thanks to a request which came from the British government, as well as the governments in other European capitals and in Washington. A request which also involved the Golan.
Over the weekend, it emerged that the British government was among foreign governments to have made a dramatic request of the Israelis. As the war in Syria appears to be clarifying towards its end-point, a group of around 800 members of the ‘White Helmets‘ and their families had reportedly become trapped near the southwestern border near the Golan Heights. The White Helmets only operate in ‘rebel areas’ and are despised by the Assad regime. With Syrian government forces moving in, a massacre may well have been about to occur.
At the request of these foreign governments, the Israelis just carried out an extraordinary and unprecedented mission. In recent days, a reported 422 of the intended evacuees and their family members were saved by the Israelis. The other — almost half — of the intended number appears already to have been cut off by other forces. Nevertheless, those who did make it out were transferred by Israeli forces across the Golan and have now reportedly arrived safely in Jordan where their future status will be determined. Some may stay in Jordan; others will be moved abroad to Western countries.
The painful irony of this situation should be clear to all observers. If the Israelis did not lay claim to the Golan, there would have been no means to have got the White Helmets and their families out of Syria. Had Israel not made the Golan the peaceful and thriving area it is, it would simply be another part of Syria in which different sectarian groups were slaughtering other sectarian groups.
As it is, the area is in the control of Britain’s most reliable ally in the region. An ally which — even as it is lectured by Britain — agrees to requests from the British government that takes advantage of a strategic reality, one which the British government still refuses to accept. The Israeli government has given the British government what it wanted. Perhaps now would be a good time for the British government to reciprocate in some way? There could be no better means of doing so than by admitting that the British policy of the last half a century has been a Foreign Office fantasy and a wholesale dud of ‘realist’ regional thinking. The Foreign Office will have to back out of its self-imposed corner regarding the Golan at some point and accept the reality on the ground. How much better it would be if it did so now in a spirit of goodwill and reciprocity, rather than later on in a spirit of inevitable and grudging defeat.
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.”
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.
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.