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There’s a pro-Israel ‘BIG RIG’ coming down the highway of public opinion

August 26, 2010 Leave a comment

By Roz Rothstein and Roberta Seid

LOS ANGELES — Anti-Israel activists are now putting all their energy into their Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign (BDS). Their goal is to portray Israel and Israelis as pariahs that should be excluded from all international spheres—diplomatic, political, economic, social, and cultural.
 
Jews have been victims of such policies before.  In the millennia of anti-Semitism in Europe and the Middle East, they have been singled out, demonized, and excluded, as they were, for example, in 13th century England and 1930’s Europe. The Jewish State, too, has experienced such policies since its founding when Arab nations implemented strict exclusion and boycotts against Israel, most of which are still in place. The current global BDS campaign began in 2001 and grew after 2005, when Israel effectively defeated the terrorist campaign known as the Second Intifada. Today, hard core anti-Israel activists around the world are feverishly lobbying artists, universities, churches, retailers, unions, municipalities, and other institutions to adopt BDS.
 
Any public figures, retailers, institutions or organizations that adopt or defer to BDS policies should themselves be boycotted.

They should be boycotted because they advocate destructive rather than constructive, measures. BDS is anti-coexistence, undermines peace efforts, and does nothing to help Palestinians begin state building, improve their lives, or move toward reconciliation.
 
They should be boycotted because BDS policies are fundamentally anti-Semitic even though some of the movement’s advocates are Jews. The campaign uses the propaganda techniques and imagery of classical anti-Semitism now applied not to individual Jews, but to the world’s largest Jewish community and its only Jewish State. Boycott activists strip away all context for Israel’s actions, such as ongoing terrorism and the virulent ideology that propels it, in order to depict Israel as motivated by sheer malice in what are often simply modern blood libels. They obsessively put a microscope on Israel to detect its flaws, and expect it to live up to standards they do not expect of any other nation.  They never call for BDS against nations that do systematically commit war crimes and human rights abuses, such as Ahmadinejad’s Iran, Bashir’s Sudan, Lebanon’s apartheid practices against Palestinians, or Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus and violent repression of its Kurdish minority.
 
They should be boycotted because of their hypocrisy.  Where was the outrage of the boycotters, who claim to be champions of social justice and human rights, when the Palestinian suicide bombing campaign targeted innocent Jewish men, women, and children, and Hamas fired thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israeli communities, murdering toddlers and turning daily life into a lethal game of Russian roulette?  Where were they when Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust even as he called for genocide against Jews?  Where is their protest against the Judeophobic incitement that dominates the Middle East?  Their callous indifference and implicit support of murdering Jews is both morally perverse and anti-Semitic.
 
Above all, they should be boycotted because they endorse the agendas of the dictatorial regimes and radical Islamist groups who share their hatred of the Jewish State and who are also enemies of human rights, social justice values, tolerance, and modernity. These states and groups like Hamas oppress women, persecute religious and other minorities, and oppress their own citizens. Those who adopt BDS should be exposed and pay the price for supporting and enabling the intransigent enemies of humanitarian and liberal values.
 
Boycotting those who comply with BDS means that any university that does not unequivocally denounce campus divestment campaigns should not receive another nickel from donors who care about fairness, the survival of Israel, and modern liberal values.  Recording artists who refuse to perform in Israel should be labeled as extremists for the regressive, anti-Semitic values they endorse. Fair-minded people should stop buying their records and attending their concerts.  Consumers should boycott any retailers who refuse to stock Israeli products, and support the new StandWithUs campaign, “BIG” and “RIG,” acronyms for “Buy Israeli Goods” and “Request Israeli Goods.”
 
It is time to expose the distorted values that drive the BDS movement, and its alliance with the most repressive and dangerous forces in the world today.  It is time to unequivocally say no to this BDS movement and to all who would consider complying with it.

Roz Rothstein is CEO of StandWithUs.  Roberta Seid, PhD is Education Director, StandWithUs.  This article also appeared in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

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The British are bashing! The British are bashing!

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

By Bruce S. Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker

PHILADELPHIA –This is a tale of two David Camerons. Each of them is known as the prime minister of Britain and leader of the Conservative Party.

There is the David Cameron who proclaims himself a “Conservative Friend of Israel” on the Web site of Conservative Friends of Israel, which promotes support for Israel and conservative ideas in Britain.

Then there is the other David Cameron who bashed Israel and European leaders during his visit to Turkey on Tuesday, July 27, and met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This David Cameron uttered these words about Israel:

“The situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp…The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. I have told prime minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change.”

The Guardian, a London daily newspaper, suggests that Cameron’s hissy fit amounted to an overheated intensification of past criticisms of Israel. Cameron told the House of Commons on June 28: “Everybody knows that we are not going to sort out the problem of the Middle East peace process while there is, effectively, a giant open prison in Gaza.”

No mention of Israeli Sgt. Gilad Shalit’s four-year imprisonment in Gaza. Or Hamas’ rocket attacks, weapons smuggling and its pledge to destroy Israel. Or that Hamas murders, tortures and terrorizes its own people. Or that the flotilla committed an act of war by attempting to breach the blockade. Or that Turkish terrorists on the Mavi Marmora attacked Israeli commandos.

The Guardian also reported that he accused France and Germany of double standards for refusing Turkey membership in the European Union while expecting Turkey to guard Europe’s borders as a NATO member.

Of that situation, it turns out that Turkey operates a blockade of its own – against Cyprus.

Cameron forgets to mention that the EU has barred Turkey from membership partly because it denies ships from Cyprus entry to Turkish ports. Cyprus is an EU member and the northern part of the island is occupied by Turkey.

Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 in the wake of a power struggle with Greece; Cyprus is populated mainly by ethnic Greeks and Turks, respectively 80 percent and 20 percent.

Most of us would have noticed if past British prime ministers attacked Israel so viciously. In fact, with their English accents and refined manner, who can imagine a British prime minister behaving in such an abrasive manner? Cameron’s words were so blunt he could not even sound ironic or sarcastic.

Cameron’s style – if you can call it a style – was pure bullying. To  He is intellectually dishonest and contradicts himself in a number of areas. Worse, his rant is downright dangerous.

Past prime ministers like Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, whose ideologies were far apart from one another, conducted themselves with a measure of class and decorum. Of course, their jobs were more stable. Cameron sounds like a desperate politician who expects to be in trouble in the next election. He must understand by now that his fellow Brits did not return the Conservative Party to power out of love for it.

The Conservatives exploited a set of circumstances to oust the Labor Party from controlling Parliament a few months ago. Fresh from their defeat, Labor leaders are carefully examining what went wrong. Cameron knows that continuation of Conservative power is by no means ensured in the next election.

One would think that the leader of the Conservative Party would be more supportive of Israel, or at least more careful with his words.

The Wall Street Journal relates this explanation from Wolfango Piccoli, analyst at Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy: “Support for Turkey is nothing new, but the economy is the bottom line. One of the aims of the Cameron administration is to raise the level of exports – and Turkey is part of that.”

At Israel’s expense, no less.

Perhaps the Liberal Democrats, his coalition partner, influenced him. Or he is mining votes among British Muslims. Maybe he hopes that liberal Britons will consider voting Conservative.

After this performance, how can Cameron make any claim to credibility? He is prime minister of one of the world’s greatest powers. Does he believe that his hypocrisy will go unnoticed?

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Bruce S Ticker is a Philadelphia freelance journalist

New radiocarbon-based chronology of ancient Egypt refines scholars’ previous estimates

June 21, 2010 1 comment

HAIFA (Press Release)–An international team of scholars from Israel, the United Kingdom, France, and Austria have presented a comprehensive radiocarbon-based chronology of dynastic Egypt, spanning two thousand years. This marks the first time that high precision radiocarbon dating has been used so extensively for this specific purpose in the context of this ancient civilization.

In an article published this week by Science, the team led by Prof. Christopher B. Ramsey of the University of Oxford reports that they employed Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Radiocarbon dating of short-lived plant material from reliable contexts and interpreted them with sophisticated statistical modeling. This enabled them to confirm the validity – previously unconfirmed independently – of over a century of Egyptian chronological research.

“This new, validated chronology has far-reaching implications for Middle Eastern and eastern Mediterranean archaeology,” says Dr. Ezra Marcus of the Recanati Institute of Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa, Israel, who participated in the project alongside a team of international scientists.

Until now, chronological research largely relied on ancient astronomical observations to anchor the millennia-long list of Egyptian kings and dynasties. However, the absence of any reliable evidence for the location and quality of these observations resulted in a long-lasting scholarly debate over when precisely that anchor should be placed.

The current research, funded largely by the Leverhulme Trust, UK, involved the radiocarbon dating of over 200 radiocarbon samples, the results of which were input into a statistical sequence that relied solely on the order of kings and dynasties and the known lengths of their rule – and not on information about when this ordered sequence occurred in time. The results showed conclusively that scholarly dating of the Egyptian historical sequence has in fact been correct, with some room for minor adjustments. 

As the Egyptian historical chronology is the backbone for the archaeology of the entire eastern Mediterranean, these results have dramatic implications for research of all contemporary cultures in the Levant, Cyprus, and the Aegean. 

Dr. Marcus of the University of Haifa contributed research on the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, sampling papyri with inscribed dates and other finds from museums in Berlin and New York in a project funded by the German-Israel Foundation for Research and Development.

“Here in Israel and in neighboring countries, archaeology of the Bronze and Iron Ages relies heavily on Egyptian finds for providing an absolute or calendrical chronology for what we discover. The results my colleagues and I have presented offer an important baseline for comparison with radiocarbon analysis carried out on samples from Israel and elsewhere, particularly those from contexts that also contain Egyptian artifacts,” notes Dr. Marcus.

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Preceding provided by University of Haifa

Israel intercepts Gaza aid ship peacefully as more flotillas are being chartered

June 7, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–Israel on Saturday peacefully intercepted a Gaza-bound aid ship with 19 pro-Palestinian activists on board and towed it into the Israeli port of Ashdod. Israeli Navy forces boarded the Irish-owned ship ‘Rachel Corrie’ (pictured) from the sea, rather than by helicopters. The activists on board, including Irish Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and a Malaysian parliamentarian, all agreed to be deported, according to the Israeli Interior Ministry.

The ship was carrying hundreds of tons of concrete, as well as tons of paper and wheelchairs. Israel began calling to the ship last Friday asking that it go to the Ashdod port and allow a non-governmental agency to inspect its contacts and take its cargo, including the cement, to Gaza. Cement has been barred from Gaza by Israel’s blockade out of fear that it would be used to build bunkers for Hamas terrorists.

“Yesterday, the entire world saw the difference between a humanitarian flotilla and a hate flotilla by violent, terrorism-supporting extremists,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday at the start of the Cabinet meeting.

The German organization ‘Jewish Voice for Peace in the Middle East’ is reportedly preparing a Jewish flotilla to the Gaza Strip. “We intend to leave around July,” a member of the organization, Kate Leitrer, told the Israeli news service ‘Ynet’. “We have one small craft so far, in which there will be between 12 and 16 people, mostly Jews.”

The Iranian Red Crescent humanitarian organization, which is part of the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, has announced that it is planning to send two ships with humanitarian aid to Gaza this week. The French news agency AFP quoted an Iranian Red Crescent director as saying: “One ship will carry donations made by the people, and the other will carry relief workers. The ships will be sent to Gaza by end of this week.”

Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities turned down a request by Arab physicians to bring aid into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing. A leader of Hamas – which controls the territory since 2007 – said a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross would not be permitted to visit the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is held in Gaza since June 2006.

The foreign ministers of Britain and France, William Hague and Bernard Kouchner, suggested that Europe take responsibility for oversight of materials entering Gaza arriving by sea. They also called on Israel to conduct a credible and transparent investigation into last week’s flotilla raid, in which nine people were killed. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on Israel to accept an international probe as proposed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Otherwise it means that they have something to hide,” Davutoglu said.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, rejected an international commission. “We are discussing with the Obama administration a way in which our inquiry will take place,” he told the US television network ‘Fox News’. A formal decision by the Israeli government on an inquiry into the raid has yet to be taken.

Last week, two French activists who were aboard the Gaza-bound flotilla last week have filed legal complaints, charging Israel with “abduction”, “violence with weapons” and “rerouting a vessel” in international waters. The cases were filed in the two activists’ hometowns of Marseille and Evry, south of Paris. One of the two told journalists that filing in French courts would send a “politically significant” message and test France’s willingness to uncover what led to the deaths of nine pro-Palestinian militants on board last week’s Gaza-bound flotilla. Once a complaint is filed, French judges could then decide whether or not to seek arbitration from the International Criminal Court.

During a visit to Cyprus, Pope Benedict XVI called for “an urgent and concerted international effort to resolve the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, especially before such conflicts lead to greater bloodshed.”

Over the weekend, demonstrators in major cities across the US and other countries held rallies in support of Israel. In Los Angeles, California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attended a demonstration. He spoke on the phone to Gilad Shalit’s father Noam. Standing behind a giant banner with the words ‘LA Supports Israel’, Schwarzenegger spoke of his longtime support for Israel, “going way back into my bodybuilding and showbiz days.”

On Monday, four Palestinians were killed when Israeli naval commandos opened fire on what they said was a squad of terrorists in diving suits off the coast of Gaza. The Palestinians “were on their way to carry out an attack in Israel”, an IDF spokesman said. The Al-Aqsa Martys Brigade, a Fatah-linked terror group, said the men killed were members of its marine unit, who were training.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Attacks on Israeli soldiers were planned and executed by extremists of flotilla

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)– The tragic events aboard the Mavi Marmara on Monday  were the result of a deliberate and unnecessary provocation organized primarily by groups with ties to terrorist entities including Hamas. As information emerges regarding what really occurred, it is apparent that members of the so-called humanitarian mission planned and executed attacks on soldiers and sailors from the IDF who repeatedly requested calm and gave multiple warnings urging boats to go to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where the aid would be unloaded and shipped through legal means to Gaza.

It is now apparent that the soldiers were armed with paint ball guns and were ordered not to use pistols unless faced with a life-threatening situation. They were confronted with knives, clubs and other weapons as well as live fire from guns stolen from an Israeli soldier. Several months ago, the Egyptian government prevented an envoy with aid accompanied by many of the same people from entering Gaza.

“We urge all governments to refrain from a rush to judgment and to allow the facts to emerge. The Prime Minister is on his way back to Israel and will then be able to address this fully. There is nothing to be gained from succumbing to the pressures of those who seek an immediate condemnation of Israel,” said Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chair Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.

“The Turkish group IHH, which organized the flotilla, is a radical anti-Western group that supports Hamas and is tied to the Islamic Brotherhood. IHH sought a confrontation from the very beginning of this trip. Israel requested that the flotilla redirect its humanitarian supplies to the port of Ashdod as a peaceful and non-violent option in order to deliver the supplies to Gaza through the appropriate and legal channels. Had the IHH not rejected Israel’s repeated offers and heeded Israel’s warnings, this outbreak of violence would have been easily avoided and the goods delivered to Gaza through the appropriate channels. Video footage shows that the Israeli soldiers repeatedly asked for calm, but the activists were trained and prepared to attack and inflict injuries.

“We regret the loss of life and the injuries. But the responsibility for these tragic events lies primarily with those who organized and carried out this extremist mission and those that aided and abetted them.

“The maritime blockade of Gaza – similar to those imposed by other countries in conflict situations – was imposed to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza and to protect the citizens of Israel who are subject to ongoing rocket attacks, with 150 this year alone. In the past, such ships were also used to bring arms to those fighting Israel’s right to exist. Following Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and Hamas’ victory in the Gaza elections, Hamas took complete control, expelling Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, Europe and others and they all do not engage with Hamas.

“Israel has delivered more than 1 million tons of humanitarian aid since Operation Cast Lead last January and continues to deliver 10-15,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza per week. This is in addition to the vast amount of goods smuggled into Gaza through Egypt and other means.

“Why did we not hear the same voices of condemnation raised as thousands of rockets poured down on Israel or on behalf of Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas more than four years ago and held incommunicado ever since? We wish that other countries would have acted like Cyprus, which refused to allow the flotilla to sail from its ports,” said Solow and Hoenlein.
 
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Preceding provided by Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Gaza flotilla is a myth in the making

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment
By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM –Remember the massacre of Jenin? According to the Palestinian narrative, the IDF killed 3,000 civilians. If there was a Palestinian condemnation of the suicide bombing of a Passover Seder which provoked the operation, it was lost in the commotion. Human Rights Watch, usually unfriendly to Israel, put the death toll in Jenin at 31 Palestinian fighters and 22 civilians. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers also died.

There was another notable occasion for the Palestinians when a family of seven died in an explosion on the beach of Gaza. A video photographer filmed a young daughter finding her family dead, screaming and throwing herself on the sand. The pictures appeared time and again on television news programs. The girl appeared in repeated interviews, and received a filmed visit from the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian National Authority proclaimed three days of national mourning and lowered its flags to half-mast. In order to be sure that there would be no challenge to the Palestinian story, Authority personnel removed all traces of shrapnel from the beach. They did not respond to Israeli authorities wanting evidence for an investigation as to who was responsible.

 

 

The IDF and government authorities expressed their regret, and brought some of the wounded to Israeli hospitals. As usual, they stopped short of apologies. The beach was one of the places that Palestinians used to fire rockets at Israel. The IDF had warned Palestinians to stay away from what would be an open field of fire.

After an inquiry, the IDF concluded that it was not responsible. There was no crater in the sand of the type an artillery shell would create. The Palestinians did not get all the shrapnel in their combing of the beach. Some remained in the people taken to Israeli hospitals. Analysis of the metal found it was not the type used in Israeli munitions.

 

Another film showed Muhammad al-Durrah huddled with his father against a wall, said to be under attack by Israel. The film turned out to have been edited, and was the subject of legal actions between different French media personalities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_al-Durrah_incident

Now Palestinians are trying to exploit the deaths of 9 individuals on what they called the Freedom Flotilla, interrupted by the Israel navy on its way to Gaza. Initial responses are widespread condemnations of Israel, including demands for investigations by some of the prestigious individuals and organizations not waiting for such investigation before issuing their condemnations. 

This story may run no less than the claim of a massacre in Jenin, the Gaza beach, or the fate of Muhammad al-Durrah. Yet the condemnations may dim to little more than lip service if the officials of serious countries listen to reports from Israel. Here it appears that people claiming to be humanitarians concerned only to bring supplies to Gaza had armed  themselves with knives, rocks, sling shots, and staves, gasoline bombs and guns, and employed them all against the first wave of IDF personnel to reach the ships.

Demonstrations by Israeli Arabs and their Jewish allies, Palestinians, Turks, Jordanians and others began even before the ships were brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod. A spokesperson for the flotilla spoke with assurance from Cyprus about Israeli aggression, even though she had not been in touch with the ships since an hour before the Israelis arrived. We can expect demands for investigations, and quarrels as to who is qualified to investigate. A resolution supported by a majority of the General Assembly cannot be far behind.

And what is the truth? 

Who cares? 

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Israel intercepts Gaza flotilla; violence leaves 10 dead, 4 wounded

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment



By Judy Lash Balint

Judy Lash Balint

JERUSALEM–Four Israeli soldiers were wounded in this morning’s operation against the Gaza flotilla and ten activists reportedly were killed in the violent confrontation. Exactly the kind of escalation many of us predicted after the Rachel Corrie tragedy in 2003, when the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) sent Corrie into a military zone and she suffered the consequences.

I was not surprised to discover that one of the ISM founders, Huwaida Arraf, is now a spokesperson for the Free Gaza Movement aboard one of the ships. Yesterday, Arraf told the New York Times: “We communicated to them clearly that we are unarmed civilians. We asked them not to use violence.”

Uh-huh…

 First IDF official reports from this morning’s “humanitarian flotilla” attempting to reach Gaza give a chilling picture of ongoing pro-terrorist activities against Israel.

As the six vessels sailed from Turkey via Cyprus with 700 people aboard, Israeli diplomatic efforts to avoid a confrontation continued into the night.  All were rebuffed.  As the boats approached Israel, further warnings were given to the captains and those on board–these were relayed in English and played repeatedly on Israeli radio this morning.  The Israel navy spokesman stated clearly: Israel welcomes humanitarian aid.  Gaza waters are closed to all sea traffic. You are invited to land in Israel, deliver the material that will then be sent through the land crossings with your supervision, and then you may return to your countries on the vessels you arrived in.

The response was clear and immediate: “Negative, negative,” replied the captain of the Marmara.

At that point, Israeli navy commandos boarded the ships and encountered violent resistance.

Passengers  were armed with knives, bats and metal pipes. Israeli commandos tried to used non-lethal measures to disperse the crowd. Activists succeeded in stealing the weapon from one of the IDF’s soldiers and reportedly opened fire, leading to an escalation in violence.

 “It was like a well-planned lynch,” one IDF officer said. “These people were anything but peace activists.”

  Despite all that, the IDF said that the ships would be taken to the Ashdod Port where the cargo will be inspected and then transferred to the Gaza Strip via land crossings. Israeli Navy commander Vice-Admiral Eliezer Marom was commanding over the operation from sea.

This morning, efforts are still underway to bring the flotilla under control and into Israeli ports to deal with the “humanitarian activists.”

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Balint is a freelance writer based in Jerusalem. She blogs reuglarly on Jerusalem Diary: In Tense Times