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Roll call on Gaza flotilla portrays the values of international community

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Israel was victimized twice this week, first by terrorists hiding yet again among the civilian population (one Turkish-sponsored jihadi boat traveling with five more-or-less civilian boats) and second by a world all too ready to blame Israel for the violence engendered by those who sought a bloody death for themselves and any Jews they could take along. By the end of the week, things began to look more normal-those who are already against remained against; those who try to split the difference split it (consider the “abstain” list below); and a few stood honorably above the rest.   

1) Italy, Netherlands and the United States voted against resolution A/HRC/14/L.1, “Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy” in the UN “Human Rights” Council. It is of note that the major Italian newspapers supported Israel editorially as well. In the United States, public opinion ran strongly in Israel’s favor, as usual. 
 
After a nasty and public denunciation of Israel by President Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Kouchner, France abstained, probably reminded that in 1985 French commandos sunk a Greenpeace ship in what was called Opération Satanique. (You know what a threat those satanic environmentalists pose to Paris.) France was joined by Belgium, Burkina Faso, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Ukraine and UK.
 
Voting in favor of the commission whose conclusion is in its title were Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, and Uruguay. 
 
Surprised?
 
2) President Obama: He almost got it right in a TV interview, but missed the essential point. “You’ve got a situation in which Israel has legitimate security concerns when they’ve got missiles raining down on cities along the Israel-Gaza border. I’ve been to those towns and seen the holes that were made by missiles coming through people’s bedrooms. Israel has a legitimate concern there.  On the other hand, you’ve got a blockage up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future.”
 
The President doesn’t know, or didn’t say, that Hamas is responsible both for the attacks on Israel and for the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza. Instead, he wanted to “work with all parties concerned-the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis, the Egyptians and others-and I think Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process once we’ve worked through this tragedy. And bring everybody together…”
 
Aside from the fact that Turkey is fully complicit in the incident and thus should forfeit any seat at any future table, the Palestinian Authority has not represented Gaza Palestinians since Hamas evicted it in a bloody putsch in 2007. Instead of hoping to “bring everybody together…” the President should be working to evict Hamas from Gaza, for the sake of the Palestinians as much as anyone else.
 
3) The Czech Republic: Small countries that know what it means to disappear when others find them inconvenient stick together and we are grateful that they do. The President of the Czech Senate, Dr. Přemysl Sobotka, told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, “As a doctor, I certainly regret any loss of life, but there is no doubt that this was a planned provocation designed to drag Israel into a trap… Many in the European community feel as I do, but they are afraid to speak out publicly… I support the position that views Hamas as a terrorist organization… It is too bad that European countries present an unbalanced position on this matter. Unfortunately, the positions of the international community are not always to my taste, particularly in Europe.”
 
We are reminded that 18 months ago, the Czech foreign minister issued this statement: “I consider it unacceptable that villages in which civilians live have been shelled. Therefore, Israel has an inalienable right to defend itself against such attacks. The shelling from the Hamas side makes it impossible to consider this organization as a partner for negotiations and to lead any political dialogue with it.”
 
And finally…
 
4) Mesheberach: During the Jewish Sabbath service, there is a prayer is for those who are ill or injured.   The “Mesheberach” includes the name of the person for whom the prayer is offered and, in an unusual practice, the name of the person’s mother rather than his or her father. Whether in the synagogue or not, we hope readers will remember the six soldiers injured while protecting the people of Israel:

Dean Ben (son of) Svetlana
Roee Ben (son of) Shulamit
Daniel Lazar Ben (son of) Tina Leah
Yotam Ben (son of) Dorit
Ido Ben (son of) Ilana
Boris Ben (son of) Eelaina

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

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Israel’s high-handed Interior Ministry costs the country many friends

June 3, 2010 Leave a comment

By J. Zel Lurie

J. Zel Lurie

DELRAY BEACH, Florida — The Ministry of Interior of the State of Israel has struck again. It denied entry to Noam Chomsky, the world-famous 81-year-old Professor of Linguistics at MIT, who wanted to enter the West Bank, not Israel, from Jordan,
 
Prof. Chomsky is a Zionist iconoclast and  scholar of Hebrew and other languages, who has not said a good word about any Israel policy since his youth when he spent an enjoyable year at Kibbutz Hazorea, a Shomer Hatsair kibbutz in the Galilee.
 
The professor was on his way from Amman, the capital of Jordan to  Bir Zeit University which is near Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank. He was invited to give two lectures by Mustafa Barghouti a leader in the Palestinian movement for nonviolence and human rights.
 
He was stopped at the Allenby Bridge crossing point by a junior officer of the Ministry of Interior. The officer asked some questions like why wasn’t he lecturing in an Israeli university. He then conferred with his superiors in Jerusalem. He asked some more questions and called Jerusalem again. Then he stamped the professor’s American passport “ENTRY DENIED.”
 
His daughter Aviva (another Hebrew name) and two friends were admitted but all four decided to return to Amman. He gave his lectures by video.
 
I doubt that the Minister Eli Yishai knew or cared that the denial to Noam Chomsky would cause a stink smelled around the world. Chomsky’s fame in the academic world did not concern him. Yishai, and his Orthodox brethen, prefer yeshivas to universities.
 
Furthermore, the Ministry should have known that preventing Noam Chomsky from entering the West Bank from Jordan would cause serious problems for Israel in the proximity talks since Israel’s shin bet wants control of all border crossings. In the words of Uri Avnery, the iconoclast Israel journalist, “They spat in the face of the Palestine Authority.”
 
The Ministry  of Interior has been an Orthodox principality in both Labor and Likud governments for over 50 years with minor gaps. The Ministry does what it pleases.
 
I had a run-in with the Ministry 30 years ago. A young British girl had been living in Rosh Pina illegally for five yers with an Israeli boy. They broke up and she decided to convert to Judaism, the holidays of which she had been celebrating for five years,  and make her residence in Israel legal. The Orthodox rabbi of Rosh Pina agreed to sponsor her.
 
Strangely, the Ministry refused to accept the rabbi’s sponsorship. They were on one of their periodic campaigns to rid the country of illegal goyim. The Rosh Pina chief of police received an order to pick her up. He told her to go hide. All of the Rosh Pina officials were her friends. She moved in with a couple I knew in an adjoining moshav. I found her there and heard her incredible story. I figured that my press connections would help her. I was right.
 
 The head of the government press office told me that the Ministry would accept his recommendation.  That they would not accept the sponsorship of the Rosh Pina rabbi was unbelievable.
 
A member of the Knesset told me that there must be a security problem. The shin bet must have a file.
 
There was no file. I asked Yoram Kaniuk, the famous Israeli author who was writing a newspaper column at the time, to make inquiries at the Ministry. As soon as they heard that the press was interested, they changed their tune. She was admitted to an Orthodox kibbutz for a course for Orthodox conversion.
 
Thirty years later she  lives in a kibbutz near Rosh Pina. Last Pesah I invited her and her family to dinner at a local eatery. She is married to a British immigrant. She has a son in the Army and a teen-age daughter. She heads the volunteer border guards for the northern frontier. Altogether a model citizen whom I had rescued from the grasping claws of the Ministtry.
 
Had Noam Chomsky used his cell phone to call reporters in Jerusalem and had reporters asked the Ministry, “Why are you holding Noam Chomsky at Allenby Bridge?” the outcome might have been different.
 
The Ministry is accustomed to refusing entry to friends of Palestinians without interference by reporters. Members of the Christian Peacemakers Team who reside among Palestinians  in Hebron and At-Twani arrive in Israel on tourist visas good for three months. They leave on time but many are turned away at Ben Gurion airport when they try to return the following year.
 
 Recently, the most popular clown in Spain, who had planned a show for Palestinians, was stopped at the airport and returned to Spain. The stink in Spain gave a big boost to the growing movement to boycott Israeli universities.
 
That hardly bothers Minister Eli Yishai of the Shas Orthodox Party. Shas voters are not university graduates.
 
The Chomsky affair came on the heels of Yishai’s cruel campaign against the children of illegal immigrants, those who overstayed their visas and are usually well entrenched in their illegal  jobs as caretakers and personal maids.
 
There are over a thousand such children in Israel and last October Minister Yishai announced that he would deport all of them.
 
The brutality of attacking children and separating families aroused the press and public.  Yishai  backtracked slightly. He agreed to wait until the end of the school year and an interministerial committee was appointed to make recommendations for the future.
 
The end of the school year is approaching and no recommendations have been forthcoming. The children are in limbo.
 
Etta Prince-Gibson, editor of the Jerusalem Report, tells the story of one of them whom she calls Kimberly. It moved me to tears.
 
Kimberly was born in Tel Aviv 15 years ago to a young black maid from Ghana who became pregnant. Kimberly has never left Israel. Her first language is Hebrew. On the basis of excellent grades she was admitted to a prestigious  Tel Aviv high school.
 
 She is very active in the scouts. She is part of a scout troupe of entertainers who are going abroad this summer to raise funds for the scouts. She won’t be able to go because she has no passport. This breaks her heart.
 
Asked what she would say to Minister Yishai she replied:
 
“A few weeks ago we learned about Passover in the school. We learned that it symbolizes freedom, liberty for everyone. Everyone is happy that we have a Jewish state, a homeland. But why, just because my mother was born in Ghana, can’t I be part of it?”
 
The Israeli voter must find the answer to this black native Israeli teen. End the race-pure Orthodox monopoly on the Ministry of Interior would be my answer.

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Lurie is a freelance writer based in Delray Beach, Florida

Illegal immigration is a global problem

May 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Ira Sharkansky

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–You want to look at a conundrum? (a problem without a solution)

Immigration reform is a good example.
A NYT article describes efforts at producing some kind of amnesty along with “tougher enforcement.”
Can any country control its borders, and also preserve its morality?
Tougher enforcement will mean random deportations while pressure in the source countries will keep the migrants flowing.
And as the NYT article indicates, the ideological desire of conservatives to guard the borders comes up against another ideological principle of the same people: no national identity cards.
It may be possible to cobble together what politicians will applaud as a reform. It might clean the books of some millions presently defined as illegal, and manage to keep a bit of the continuing flow south of the border or on the other side of the barriers in international ports. Then the next generation or half-generation of observers will notice that there are millions of others who have slipped through the safeguards.
Would anyone out there prefer remaining in Mexico, where some 22,000 people have been killed in an undeclared civil war over the last four years? The people most likely at risk if they stay in Mexico are those most likely to risk a great deal in order to reach someplace better. 
European countries are no better off. Their problems are not with Hispanics but with Muslims and other Africans. Perhaps they are a tad worse, insofar as at least some of the Muslims are nastier than Hispanics.
While Hispanics may turn the American White Protestant paradise into something else, the migrants to Europe may extend the Islamic conquest throughout what had been Christian Europe.
Israel’s problems are with Africans who come through the Sinai and over the border from Egypt. Occasionally Egyptian soldiers shoot migrants before they get to the border. It is not the best solution for Israeli moralists. 
Illegal immigrants to Israel aspire to sympathy by saying that they come from Dafur. Some few may actually be Sudanese, but most are  Nigerians, Eritreans, Ghanaians, and a scattering of other Africans.
As elsewhere, the problems are what to do with them? Humanitarians do not want to send them back. Often they cannot be sent back because they come without any documents that would indicate where they should be sent, or what countries should accept them. Some come from countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel. 
Generally they are allowed to work. As in Europe and America, Israeli restaurants need dishwashers, hotels need maids, and the better neighborhoods need gardeners, house cleaners, and care providers for children and grandparents.
There are occasional sweeps by the immigration police, but random justice does not solve much of the problem. Often it puts individuals in confinement who cannot be sent any place. That keeps the unfortunate from working and supporting themselves, while it provides work for journalists and social activists who lament their treatment.
Illegal immigrants also have children, either with the help of one another or with proper Israelis. Kids born here have citizenship, and present the problem of confining or deporting a parent without the child.
Some illegal immigrants bring children with them. They retain their illegal status while going to school, learning Hebrew, and in some cases serving in the army. They identify as Israelis rather than with a place they do not remember. The messiness of the Law or Return produces situations where non-Jews who immigrated with a Jewish spouse find themselves subject to deportation after a divorce. 
Each of these oddities provides material for the media and problems for the authorities.
And let’s not forget the other significant class of illegal immigrants: Eastern European women.
Some claim to have been duped into thinking they would be waitresses or models. That excuse may have been valid for the first lot of girls leaving their villages in Moldavia or the Ukraine, but is not persuasive as the trade is well beyond its first decade.
Honesty requires one to admit that this migration is no less useful than that of African dishwashers, cleaners, gardeners, and care givers. Some  may claim that the ladies serve Arabs and sailors, but there is also a market among ultra-Orthodox men and other Jews, present company excluded. 
The NYT article suggests that immigration reform is a plaything of politicians trying to please inspired constituents. They want solutions now, without reckoning with next year, or what it might take to actually solve a problem that seems endless, with many Americans who benefit from the work done by the migrants.  
Better to enjoy those restaurant meals, neat gardens, clean houses, and well tended children and grandparents. 
No country that I know of has found an acceptable solution, and it ain’t gonna to come from the US Congress.

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University