Strategic Affairs Ministry names 42 anti-Israel groups affiliated with Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, says they receive their orders from Palestinian Authority • Minister: Terrorist groups, BDS movement have never been closer.
The Strategic Affairs Ministry on Tuesday named 42 major anti-Israel organizations as having clear ties to Palestinian terrorist groups.
According to the ministry’s data, these groups – part of a network of 300 boycott, divestment and sanctions organizations operating worldwide – have traceable ties to Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and receive their orders directly from the Palestinian Authority.
This network is directed by the BDS National Committee, which is headed by the co-founder of the global BDS movement Omar Barghouti, who holds permanent Israeli residency status and lives in the northern city of Acre.
The Strategic Affairs Ministry, tasked by the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet with heading Israel’s efforts to counter the BDS movement and its efforts to delegitimize Israel, has spent the past two years mapping what it calls the “network of hatred.”
The ministry’s data shows that not only do Hamas and the PLFP support BDS activists in theory, their operatives take an active part in BDS initiatives.
The report names, for example, the Al-Haq human rights organization, Defense for Children International – Palestine, and the Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights as being headed by former PFLP operatives.
Al-Haq is chaired by Shawan Jabarin, of Ramallah, who served 13 years in an Israeli prison for being a member of the PLFP’s military wing. Jabarin is a leading figure in the BDS movement’s lawfare campaign against Israel, especially its attempts to pursue legal action against Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Other examples include groups such as the Palestinian Return Center, which the ministry says promotes Hamas interests in Europe; and members of the U.K.-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Friends of Al-Aqsa group, which the ministry says have neem with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, participated in the 2010 Navi Marmara flotilla that sought to breach the maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip, and have recently held a demonstration outside the British Prime Minister’s Office in support of Hamas so-called “March of Return” or Gaza border riot campaign.
Speaking at the biennial GC4I conference in Jerusalem Wednesday, attended by the directors of over 150 pro-Israeli groups, as well as Jewish community heads and activists from around the world dedicated to fighting the BDS movement, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said much of the anti-Israel group’s momentum is fuel by the Palestinian Authority.
Ramallah is a longtime proponent of anti-Israel boycotts and the National Palestinian Council has officially endorsed the BDS movement during its annual meeting in May.
”We have seen the attempts led by senior Palestinian Authority officials to suspend Israel from FIFA and to promote various ’blacklists‘ at the U.N. Human Rights Council. These campaigns have all been widely promoted by the network of hatred exposed by the Strategic Affairs Ministry,” he said.
Erdan noted that leading world powers such as the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Canada and others, were turning their backs on the BDS movement, adding that in recent years, 25 states in the U.S. have passed laws foiling BDS activities after their anti-Semitic and discriminatory nature was exposed.
Erdan further said that the ministry has identified a new BDS trend – calling for trade embargos against the Jewish state, especially with respect to its military industries, saying that BDS activists were lobbying among parliamentarians worldwide to boycott Israeli defense contractors.
”Terrorist organizations and the BDS movement have never been closer, ideologically and operationally. I will continue to lead a counterattack against the perpetrators of the anti-Semitic hate campaign emanating from Gaza and Ramallah.”
(JTA) — British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is under fire for having anti-Israel views allegedly born out of anti-Semitism, said in a tweet that a Labour-led government would recognize Palestine as a state.
Corbyn made his remarks Saturday on Twitter during a tour of camps in Jordan for Syrian and Palestinian refugees as part of his first international trip outside of Europe since becoming Labour leader in 2015.
“Today I’ll visit the Al-Baqa’a refugee camp which was first created in 1968, where 100,000 Palestinians live,” he tweeted. “The next Labour government will recognise Palestine as a state as one step towards a genuine two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
On Friday during a tour of Zaatari, Jordan’s largest camp for Syrian refugees, Corbyn criticized the administration of President Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and called moving the U.S. Embassy there a “catastrophic mistake.”
He also said: “I think there has to be a recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people to their own state which we as a Labour Party said we would recognize in government as a full state as part of the United Nations.” A Palestinian state would be recognized “very early on” under a Labour government, he said.
Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a hard-left politician, of tolerating and at times encouraging expressions of anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism or anti-capitalism by thousands of supporters who joined the party under him.
The party has kicked out some members caught engaging in anti-Semitic rhetoric. But under Corbyn, who in 2009 called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends” whom he said he was “honored” to host in Parliament, Labour has also readmitted or refrained from punishing others who made statements perceived as anti-Semitic.
Despite five years of ‘on the job training,’ nothing could have prepared Christian Broadcasting Network director Erin Zimmerman for her latest project.
By: Noa Amouyal; Jerusalem Post – jpost.com
Two years ago, Erin Zimmerman found herself far from home in war-torn Kurdistan hearing a harrowing story of how innocent people were subjected to the worst kind of evil.
It was there that Zimmerman heard a Kurdish man recount his experience saving kidnapped women who were held captive by ISIS.
“I just heard terrible stories,” Zimmerman recalled. “When I sat down and interviewed Abdullah he told us stories that were so bad, my translator had to leave to take a cigarette break.”
Those stories and more were featured in her latest documentary for the Christian Broadcasting Network: To Life, How Israeli Volunteers are Changing the World. Released in time for Israeli’s 70th Independence Day last May, the film showcases five of the country’s organizations that are helping repair the world.
While each organization helps people in distress, not all stories were as somber and disturbing as the ones she heard in Kurdistan – the story of IsraAID, for example, is inspirational and shows how good can triumph over evil. Off the shores of Lesbos, Greece, IsraAID volunteers healed and cared for not only strangers – but people who would be considered an enemy under any other circumstances.
That’s because the volunteers were Israeli – Christian, Jewish and Muslim – who were all united in one singular mission: to be a light unto the nations and lead by example.
“The doctors were almost all female. They got along so well and did way more than what was expected of them. If you see these girls, they were taking time to hug and comfort people,” Zimmerman said. “One of the doctors told me, ‘70 years ago, this was us. We were on a boat trying to come home and nobody would help us. So it’s our responsibility to help others.’”
Whether it be a beleaguered refugee in Greece or a Palestinian child in need of a heart transplant, the lives of the people being helped are forever transformed. For Zimmerman, it caused some introspection on her part as well.
“It shines a light on your life. [Filming the movie] made me stop and say, ‘Wow. This is pure love,’” she marveled. “If you are an Israeli, you’re technically at war with Syria and they are the enemy.”
However, the tenacity, courage and kindness of the volunteers allowed them overlook that and see these people for who they were: scared humans in desperate need for help.
Rather than focusing on an Israel engulfed in conflict, To Life tells the untold story of Israel as the beacon of innovation and humanitarian aid. It is a story not often told in the press today.
“There is not so much positive press about Israel. My boss [CBN CEO Gordon Robertson] and I have similar ideas but a different motivation. He’s very focused on combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, but my thought process isn’t that intricate. It’s more, ‘This is a great story, let’s tell it.’”
“I was really impressed by the people I met and captured on camera. It made me feel really small, i saw these great things but then I went home to comfort at night,” she said. “I met so many millennials doing amazing things and nobody told them to.”
Although Zimmerman was at the helm of three other CBN movies prior to this one, her career in directing is a rather recent one. After spending 20 years in television production, Robertson encouraged her to try her hand at directing CBN’s first movie, Made in Israel. That film, which was made for television, was so well-received that requests were made for it to be available on DVD.
Now Zimmerman directs roughly one movie every two years for the network. However, she still feels that she has much to learn and often relies on other members of the crew to steer her in the right direction.
“I’ve had a lot of on-the-job training. I’ve done a lot of reading on the Internet, learned from coworkers and my excellent production company here in Israel. If you want to succeed, hire people smarter than you,” she joked.
“I always like to tell people what they don’t know,” Zimmerman said of her film making philosophy. “With To Life, you see Israelis doing amazing work. We’ve tried to figure out why and ask questions why they do it and we get these wonderful answers. ‘We’re supposed to be.’ Or ‘God made us this way.’ From secular and religious alike, it’s amazing to hear.”
(JTA) — Prince William will soon embark on a historic visit to Israel. During the trip, which also includes stops in Jordan and the West Bank, Britain’s Duke of Cambridge will visit important sites in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
William is set to arrive Monday in Israel on a trip that is sure to be closely watched by the British and Israeli media, as well as fans of the royal family around the world, even though he will not be accompanied by his wife, Duchess Catherine of Cambridge.
Ahead of the trip, JTA compiled some interesting facts relevant to the royal visit.
William’s visit to Israel is not the first by the royal family.
In March, some media outlets reported that the visit would be the first by a member of the royal family. That is not the case, though William’s visit is being billed as the first official one. Prince Phillip, William’s grandfather, visited the country in 1994 for a ceremony honoring his mother, Princess Alice, for her sheltering of a Jewish family during World War II (more on that later). Phillip accepted the Righteous Among the Nations award on behalf of his late mother and planted a maple tree in her memory at Yad Vashem. Prince Charles, William’s father, visited Israel to attend the funerals of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and President Shimon Peres in 2016.
His schedule is already stirring up conflict.
Though Israeli leaders were quick to praise Prince William after the trip announcement in March, everyone wasn’t as happy upon the release of the official schedule, which listed Jerusalem as being in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Zeev Elkin, the Israeli Cabinet member in charge of Jerusalem and a mayoral hopeful for the city, calledon William’s staff to correct the itinerary.
“United Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years and no distortion in the tour itinerary can change that reality,” Elkin said in a statement that also was posted Monday on Facebook. “I expect the prince’s people to correct the distortion.”
William will visit his great-grandmother’s grave on the Mount of Olives.
Princess Alice of Battenberg has a special connection to the Jewish people. Alice, who was married to Prince Andrew of Greece, helped shelter three members of the family of a late Greek-Jewish politician in her palace in Athens during World War II. The Gestapo was suspicious of Alice, even questioning her, but the princess, who was deaf, pretended not to understand their questions. Alice later became a nun.
Before her death in 1969, she said she wanted to be buried at the Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, near where one of her aunts, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna, was laid to rest. Her wish wasn’t immediately realized; Alice was buried initially at Windsor Castle. However, in 1988, her remains were transferred to Jerusalem. In 1993, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel namedher a Righteous Among the Nations for her war-era bravery.
Prince William will stay at the historic King David Hotel.
Opened in 1931, the King David has played a pivotal role in Israel’s history. The hotel has hosted royalty and heads of state, including King George II of Greece, who set up his government there in 1942 when the Nazis occupied his country. During the British Mandate, the hotel’s southern wing was turned into British administrative and military headquarters. In 1946, the hotel was the target of a bombing by the Irgun Zionist paramilitary group that killed 91, including 15 Jews. Two years later the hotel became a Jewish stronghold, as Israel declared its independence.
There’s a tattoo parlor in Jerusalem’s Old City where several royals are said to have been inked.
If William has any desire to get a tattoo, Razzouk seems like the obvious choice. King Edward VII, King George V and Prince Albert are all said to have been inked there with Jerusalem crosses. The shop, run by the Razzouk family for some 500 years in the Christian Quarter, is popular among visitors to the city. The family uses wooden block stamps, some of them hundreds of years old, to stamp religious symbols onto the skin before the tattooing process begins. Tattoo artist Wassim Razzouk offered to do the tattoo should William be interested, telling Haaretz “it would be a great honor.”
NAHAL OZ, Israel (JTA) — Dani Ben David fiddles with his radio, switching between it and his cellphone as he drives through the Beeri Forest, a nature reserve located on the border of Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
As his Jeep jolts over the dirt road, he quickly and calmly jumps between multiple conversations, coordinating efforts to extinguish the multiple fires that have sprung up across his territory. As regional director for the Western Negev for Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, Ben David is responsible for maintaining the forest’s tens of thousands of acres in the face of Palestinian efforts to torch them and the surrounding farmland.
Since April, more than 450 open-air fires have been set along the border region by kites and balloons carrying incendiary materials launched from Gaza. Flying aimlessly over the kibbutzim, they have turned large swatches of what was once an oasis of green in a dry and dusty south into a charred landscape.
Many of those kites have landed in the wheat fields of farmers, causing millions of shekels in damage to the local agricultural sector as well as in the area’s vast nature reserves.
“Look over there,” Ben David says, pointing to a pillar of smoke in the distance. His finger sweeps across the horizon, noting the locations of several other fires in the distance. “We see three, four, five fires. There are eight fires now.”
“It’s like this every day,” he continues, describing how more than 4,000 dunams, or nearly 490 acres, have already gone up in smoke over the past two months. “It’s doing great damage to the forest, to the plants and animals. Everything here is burned. We don’t really see a solution, either from the government or the army, against this kite terror.”
Ben David says KKL-JNF employs 12-13 private firefighters who are responsible for the forest, a number bolstered by volunteers from local communities and Israel’s overstretched Fire and Rescue Services.
“If we had 10 more it would be good, but we don’t have 10 more,” he says. “We are doing what we can. You extinguish one and you move on to the next one.”
At another site nearby, a tractor puts out the flames by driving over them followed by a man carrying a hose attached to a small water tank on his back. It’s siren blaring, a firetruck pulls up and a regular-duty firefighter gets out and starts spraying a flaming clump of trees.
Over the course of less than an hour, Ben David visits more than five fires, one of which blazes alongside a small one-lane road, completely obscuring visibility.
“At the end of the day, we are succeeding at extinguishing everything,” he says, but adding it would help if he had access to firefighting planes. Ben David explains that such aircraft are prohibited from taking part in the battle due to the proximity to the Gaza border.
“These kites aren’t toys, they’re weapons,” he says. “If the IDF or government will understand that, I hope they will do something.”
In nearby Nahal Oz, Yael Lachyani walks along pointing out the damage done to her kibbutz’s farmlands. She points to a small patch of burnt ground on which small shoots are already beginning beginning to sprout. Lachyani, the agricultural collective’s spokeswoman, says that on the festival of Shavuot each year, a small ceremony is held here for the community’s children, but this year it was set ablaze only hours before the gathering.
“We put out the fire and held the ceremony anyway. We are proud that we didn’t let them destroy our holiday,” she says, noting that 600 dunams, or almost 150 acres, have already gone up in flames.
“We try to be optimistic. It’s all about resilience,” Lachyani says. “We don’t complain. We don’t let them run our lives. You burn and we plant. Our morale is high. There is something about tragedy that connects you more to the people you live with.”
While acknowledging that the damage has only been to vegetation, she says it is only a matter of time until someone gets hurt in the community of fewer than 500 residents next to the border fence. The Israel Defense Forces and the government have not responded to the fires in the same way in which they act in the wake of a rocket attack, she says, and this “sends a message” to Hamas.
Lachyani says that despite the rocket attacks and fires, Nahal Oz is thriving, with residency at capacity, in part due to the “new secular Zionism of living wherever it’s necessary and wherever it’s meaningful.” But while the community has grown since the last flare-up with Hamas in 2014, it does not mean the residents are totally sanguine about the situation.
“We are thriving under fire … for the moment,” she says, complaining of the feeling that “no one cares.” Citing Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi’s statement that he was “not excited by the kite terrorism” — that is, that people shouldn’t overreact to what he called a “pathetic” enemy — Lachyani asserts that the “government isn’t doing anything.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has pledged to strike back in response to the kites “when it is convenient for us.” The army is testing two types of drones for use against the kites as “part of a comprehensive response, which includes cooperation with firefighting forces and the activity of combat forces on the ground,” an IDF spokesman told JTA.
According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, bomb disposal experts have responded not only to to kites dragging alcohol-soaked rags but also explosive devices, “which is a much more serious threat to both soldiers and civilians.”
“Every day we have at least 30 firefighters with 10 fire engines to deal only with fires near the fence,” Israel Fire and Rescue Services spokesman Yoram Levy says. “In order to respond quickly we opened five temporary stations in kibbutzim. We have a volunteer unit at Kfar Aza with a fire truck and equipment, and we are about to establish two more units. When we receive intelligence that there might be mass demonstrations [like last Friday], we are reinforcing our staff as needed.”
Levy says the fire service has used airplanes twice, near Kibbutz Or Haner and Kibbutz Karmia, after receiving permission from the Israeli Air Force.
One resident of Nahal Oz sees the attacks as an opportunity to give something back. Only weeks before the fires started, Raymond Reijnen immigrated to the kibbutz with family from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. A 16-year veteran of his city’s fire brigade, Reijnen — a tall, thin blond with tattooed arms — saw no future in Europe and decided to make aliyah so his children could grow up in a Jewish state.
Assigned to the kibbutz dairy, where he tends cows, Reijnen threw himself into agricultural work and learning Hebrew. Teams of firefighters from across the country have converged on the south, taking shifts on duty before returning to their home cities. Nevertheless, each kibbutz maintains its own volunteer team and Reijnen joined the one at Nahal Oz immediately.
He says he felt good that he could “give something back to the kibbutz with my skills as a firefighter. I can pay them back for all the things they do for me here. I was kind of useless for the kibbutz and I’m not used to that.”
Kibbutz Saad, located three miles away, has had to deal with far fewer fires than Nahal Oz, and the fields that burned were already harvested, says Buki Bart, a member of the kibbutz administration. While expressing frustration, Bart says he understands that “everybody is doing the best that he can” and that the damage thus far has been minor enough that he doesn’t feel he has to report every small fire to the kibbutz members. Residents have come under fire for years, he says, especially during the last three wars in Gaza.
According to Adi Meiri, a spokeswoman for the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, whose territory includes Sderot, extinguishing the fires is not the only struggle for residents of the region. While the state has pledged reparations for farmers who have lost crops, local representatives also have been pushing hard for additional payments for those forced to harvest early, losing part of the value of their produce, as well as for those who have lost agricultural equipment.
Aside from the financial side, Meiri says the constant fires have caused stress for residents, especially children, many of whom are receiving help from psychologists at a local “resilience center.” She describes how she has gone to great lengths to shield her own children from the reality of the past two months.
Picking up on Meiri’s theme, council head Alon Schuster told JTA that it is important that the IDF, when attacking targets in the Gaza Strip, announce that the strikes are in part in retaliation for the kites. He says “it is important for the internal psychological resilience of our residents.”
The authorities have been somewhat slow “to assimilate, to integrate, the reality” of what is happening, Schuster says.
“They are concentrating now on the threat of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians entering into Israel to sabotage or kidnap people, and they underestimate the threat of fire,” he says.
While many residents have called for increased strikes against Hamas, others believe that only an improvement in conditions in Gaza will bring true peace.
“We have been relatively lucky,” Adele Raemer of Nirim says. “It hurts to see the land being ravaged by fires — the same land that those who are doing it claim to love, claim to be theirs.
“I’m hoping to hear that the government will make decisions today that will alleviate the impossible conditions in Gaza and enable the Gazans to have some hope. People who have nothing to live for only have reasons to die for.”
CEO of IMPACT-se Marcus Sheff said Palestinian textbooks hinder the development of a peaceful future for their children and hopes that the new legislation will mark the beginning of a change in education for the Palestinians.
(June 12, 2018 / JNS) U.S. lawmakers introduced new legislation last week aimed at holding the Palestinians accountable incitement in their school curriculum by increasing transparency on foreign aid.
The Palestinian Authority Educational Curriculum Transparency Act, which was introduced by Reps. David Young (R-Iowa), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) on June 7, requires the U.S. Secretary of State to submit annual reports reviewing the educational material used in schools in the West Bank and Gaza run by the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, the United Nation’s Palestinian-refugee agency.
The legislation seeks to determine whether U.S. foreign assistance is being used, directly or indirectly, to fund dissemination of such material by the P.A. and UNWRA.
The Jerusalem-based IMPACT-se, a research institute that analyzes educational materials that participated in crafting the bill, hopes the legislation will lead to a more peaceful future for Palestinians.
“Congressman Young’s vision in initiating and introducing this bill is timely, remarkable and potentially extremely significant in offering young Palestinians a peaceful vision for the future,” Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, said in a statement.
IMPACT-se, which has worked with European lawmakers to pass similar legislation to prevent aid from the European Union to the P.A. from being used to teach hate, also previously worked with Sen. Todd Young’s (R-Ind.) office to challenge UNRWA’s use of P.A. textbooks that radicalize Palestinian children.
Sheff said Palestinian textbooks hinder the development of a peaceful future for their children and hopes that the new legislation will mark the beginning of a change in education for the Palestinians.
“Ultimately, these textbooks are a major impediment to the possibility of peace,” said Sheff. “They deny young Palestinians the chance of a violence-free and peaceful future, and perpetuate eternal war. We look forward to the swift passage of the bill through the U.S. Congress.”
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). 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).
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.
 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.”
Israel thinks the time is right for the U.S. to acknowledge its sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Now that the American embassy has opened in Jerusalem, Israel seems to be turning its diplomatic attention to the Golan Heights.
The Golan, which dominates the northeastern part of Israel, was captured by the Israeli Defense Forces in the Six Day War. In 1981, Israel unilaterally annexed the territory, an act recognized by no other nation.
Israel now wants to rectify that, with the aid of the Trump administration. According to Israeli Minister of Intelligence Israel Katz, the future of the Golan Heights tops the agenda of current Israel-American bilateral discussions. Katz says he is speaking for Netanyahu, but the goal of international recognition is by no means limited to the Israeli Prime Minister and his coalition. “It is absurd to think that Israel will ever withdraw from the Golan Heights,” Yair Lapid, the head of Israel’s most important opposition party, told a group of foreign ambassadors last week.
The notion wasn’t always absurd. Between 1994 and 2007, successive Israeli governments offered Syria the lion’s share of the Golan in return for a peace agreement. The ruling Assad family flirted with the idea but ultimately rejected it.
Many Israelis regretted that. The Golan, which is smaller than Oklahoma City, lacks the emotional significance of Jerusalem and the West Bank. Sure it is a strategic asset, but if Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak — both former military chiefs of staff — said it was safe to return the Heights to Syria most civilians were not inclined to argue.
The chaotic civil war in Syria, and the entry of Iran and its proxies into the fight, have changed that calculation. The IDF’s strategic doctrine now regards the Golan Heights as the center of an integrated northern battlefield ranging from Lebanon to Tehran.
This isn’t simply theory. The Iranians have attempted to establish military bases near the Golan border and fired rockets at Israeli targets there. This has led to Israeli reprisals against Iranian anti-aircraft bases and missile storehouses in Syria. There were reports Monday of an Israeli-Russian agreement that would see Iranian forces pushed back from the Israeli border, another sign that the Golan is now the potential staging ground for a wider regional war.
“Recognizing reality” has been a fundamental tenet of the Trump administration’s foreign policy; it was invoked in the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Israel, which has long wanted U.S. recognition of its sovereignty in the Golan Heights, now wants the U.S. to agree it falls under the same category.
Katz sees a high probability that Washington will recognize Israel’s status over the Golan some time during Trump’s first term. The decision would not require Congressional approval but would enjoy wide bipartisan support anyway. It would certainly not encounter serious domestic opposition.
Such a move would not be universally popular outside Israel and the U.S., of course. But it would also not be particularly costly. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in no position to stop it. Iran might react by supporting Hezbollah rocket attacks or other acts of violence, but the success of recent Israeli strikes on their military infrastructure in Syria has made Tehran more cautious.
Further afield, the Palestinian Authority would likely try to take a “land-grab” argument to the United Nations or the International Criminal Court at The Hague. They might score some points in the public relations war, but neither the United States nor Israel accepts the jurisdiction of the court and the U.S. has a veto in the UN Security Council; so the PA’s objections are unlikely to get very far.
Arab capitals would probably voice their protest of a U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan and then go back to more pressing concerns, as they have over the embassy opening in Jerusalem. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could once again try to rally Islamic opinion against Israel, but that is a ploy with diminishing returns. Besides, Erdogan hates Assad even more than he hates Israel.
The EU would undoubtedly lobby the Trump administration to refrain from recognizing the Golan Heights as formally part of Israel. The Europeans don’t really care about the territory, but they do care about a future Palestinian state; a change in the Golan’s status would be seen by the EU as a precedent for a unilateral (and U.S.-backed) annexation of parts of the West Bank.
Still, European concerns no longer determine outcomes in the Levant. The old borders drawn by French and British statesmen are gone. The U.S. and Russia are now dividing the region into spheres of influence. Syria is a good example of this: There are U.S. troops in the Kurdish region in Syria and in Jordan, while Russian troops are deployed on the Mediterranean coast and in central Syria. This process is taking place every day, without the benefit of a formal negotiation. U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights part of a larger American project that includes removing the Iranian military presence from Syria, weakening Hezbollah in Lebanon and eventually changing the regimes in both countries.
The Russians, too, have a project. They want to remain the power behind the Assad government in Damascus, expand their Mediterranean naval bases and ports and have a say in the future of the region. These ambitions do not necessarily clash with U.S. interests. They could even be complementary. Mutually agreeing to Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would be a step in that direction.
The majority of the 15 states on the UN Security Council were “willing to blame Israel, but unwilling to blame Hamas, for violence in Gaza,” the American Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Friday after the US vetoed a Kuwait-sponsored resolution that urged the deployment of an international force to the West Bank and Gaza.
“It is now completely clear that the UN is hopelessly biased against Israel,” Haley said after the vote. “The United States will not allow such bias, which is why we did not hesitate to cast our veto.” Earlier this week – at an emergency session of the Security Council called by the US to condemn rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza against Israel – Haley remarked that the Palestinians did not require protection from an external predator, but from a Hamas leadership that cynically manipulates the civilian population into violence.
Israel’s UN Ambassador, Danny Danon, condemned the Kuwaiti draft “as a hypocritical resolution that sought to condemn Israel while failing to even mention the terrorists of Hamas as the root cause of violence and unrest in our region.”
Danon continued: “We thank the United States for vetoing the resolution and commend all the Council members who in refusing to support it, defended Israel’s right to defend our citizens.”
Of the four remaining permanent members of the Security Council, France, China and Russia all voted in favor of the resolution, while the UK abstained.
Ethiopia, The Netherlands and Poland – all non-permanent members – also abstained on the vote, while Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Peru and Sweden all voted in favor.
A bitter divide over who is to blame for scores of Palestinian deaths from Israeli fire at protests near Gaza’s border shifted Friday to the United Nations, where the United States vetoed a measure backed by Arab countries to protect Palestinians and condemn Israel.
Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, described the measure, a United Nations Security Council resolution drafted by Kuwait, as one-sided. She accused the measure’s authors of inexplicably absolving Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza and organized the protests.
The United States, a permanent Security Council member with veto power, was the sole no vote on the measure, which was enough to defeat it. Ten members voted in favor and four abstained.
A separate American resolution proposed by Ms. Haley, which would have condemned Hamas for the Gaza violence, failed to gain any support from fellow Council members.
Ms. Haley said the votes showed that the Security Council majority “was willing to blame Israel, but unwilling to blame Hamas, for violence in Gaza.”
“Further proof was not needed, but it is now completely clear that the U.N. is hopelessly biased against Israel,” she said in a statement.
While the votes were largely symbolic, they offered some insight into the challenges the United States is facing diplomatically over what critics call its unbridled support of Israel’s side in the protracted conflict with the Palestinians.
Kuwait’s draft resolution condemned the use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians” and demanded a halt to such actions. It made no mention of Hamas, which Israel, the United States and several other countries consider a terrorist organization.
In the vote for the American resolution, in which the United States was the sole yes vote, three members voted against it and 11 abstained.
A Security Council resolution requires a minimum of nine yes votes, with no vetoes by its permanent members, for passage.
About 120 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli forces along the fence that divides Israel from Gaza since the protests erupted at the end of March inside Gaza, an impoverished Mediterranean enclave where nearly two million Palestinians live.
A 21-year-old Palestinian health worker was killed on Friday, the Gaza Health Ministry said. No Israelis have been killed during the protests.
Israel has contended that its military is acting lawfully to stop the protesters from breaching the fence, and it has rejected accusations that soldiers have used deadly force needlessly. The Israelis have also accused Hamas and its militant affiliates in Gaza of using the protests as cover for sending attackers into Israel.
The United States has backed Israel completely on the Gaza issue.
The resolution by Kuwait, the only Arab member of the Security Council, called for the “consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection” of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and for a halt to “the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” by the Israeli military.
Ms. Haley, an outspoken supporter of Israel at the United Nations, called the draft a “grossly one-sided approach” that did not acknowledge any responsibility by Palestinian militants for the violence.
The diplomatic jousting after the votes at the Security Council meeting displayed the yawning divide and dual narratives of the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
Riyad H. Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, expressed thanks that the Kuwaiti resolution would have passed by a lopsided margin had it not been for the United States veto.
Addressing the measure’s supporters, Mr. Mansour said, “You have rejected the might-over-right strategy, sending a clear message that no one is exempt from the law — not even Israel.”
Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador, denounced Security Council members who he said had “stood in solidarity with the terrorists of Hamas” in supporting Kuwait’s resolution and rejecting the American one. “This double standard against Israel will not stand,” he said.
Addressing the Kuwait delegation and others who helped draft its resolution, Mr. Danon said: “You couldn’t bring yourself to mention Hamas even once. Don’t you know how to spell it?”
Under the Trump administration, the United States has become increasingly isolated at the United Nations when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
President Trump’s decision to relocate the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed holy city of Jerusalem was met with widespread international condemnation.
The Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, have been especially critical of the American Embassy relocation and have said the United States can no longer be regarded as an impartial broker of any peace negotiation.