Archive for the ‘Libya’ Category

‘Non-Aryan’ surprises found in Hitler’s family tree

August 24, 2010 1 comment

LONDON (WJC)–Nazi leader Adolf Hitler possibly had Jewish as well as African ancestors, according to a report by the British newspaper ‘Daily Express’, citing new DNA tests done in Belgium.

Samples taken from Hitler’s relatives link him to both the Jewish community and people from northern Africa. Belgian journalist Jean-Paul Mulders said he had investigated Hitler’s DNA after managing to lay his hands on a serviette dropped by the dictator’s great-nephew Alexander Stuart-Houston in New York. He said he got a second sample from an Austrian cousin of Hitler, a farmer known as Norbert H., the report said.

The DNA tests revealed a form of the Y-chromosome that is rare in Germany and the rest of Western Europe, but common among Jewish and North African groups. Experts now think that Hitler had migrant ancestors who settled in his homeland. Mulders said both the test samples had a form of genetic material known as ‘Haplopgroup E1b1b’, proving an “irrefutable link” to the Nazi leader.

“It is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, in Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised,” Mulders was quoted as saying. The link to Hitler’s ‘migrant ancestors’ could go back anything from three to 20 generations, said experts.

Ronny Decorte, a professor of Forensic Genetics and Molecular Archeology from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, told the ‘Daily Express’: “Hitler would not have been pleased about this. Race and blood was central in the world of the Nazis. Hitler’s concern over his descent was not unjustified. He was apparently not ‘pure’ or ‘Aryan’.”

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Israeli photographer freed by Libya

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

JERUSALEM (WJC) — Rafael Haddad, an Israeli citizen arrested and imprisoned in Libya in March while photographing Jewish sites, has returned to Israel after being freed in a deal reportedly engineered by Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Haddad, who has dual Israeli-Tunisian citizenship, had gone to Libya in March to photograph former Jewish community buildings in Tripoli for a Jewish heritage association. He was arrested and turned over to Libyan intelligence on suspicion of espionage, and until Sunday his whereabouts were unknown. Israeli officials now announced that he had been freed by Libyan authorities and flown to Vienna, following prolonged negotiations.

Reportedly, the case involved international efforts and was linked to Israel’s treatment of a pro-Palestinian ship sponsored by Libya that tried to run the blockade of Gaza last month. “The Foreign Ministry and the foreign minister worked for a long time to have him freed, along with other international bodies, and we thank all involved for their help,” an Israeli spokesman said, but did not provide further details. Libyan authorities have not commented.

Israeli nationals are banned from visiting the north African country. Haddad was traveling on his Tunisian passport when he was arrested.

Israeli officials said the efforts to free Haddad involved Italy, which has close ties to Libya and is home to a Libyan Jewish exile community, as well as France, Tunisia and the United States. Israeli officials quoted by AP said the final deal was arranged by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff.

Haddad was flown to Vienna on Schlaff’s private jet, the officials said, and was greeted at the airport by Lieberman. As part of the deal Israel allowed 20 prefabricated houses from the Libyan-sponsored ship, which tried to reach Gaza in July, to be delivered to the Strip. The Libyan ship was diverted to Egypt.

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Peace may be at standstill but West Bank economy on the move

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment
By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–Two recent articles is the New York Times provide an accurate picture of our surroundings.

A description of Gaza provides all we need to produce a mood of hopeless despair. There is plenty to eat, but no work, and no hope for the the growing population of young people who can neither work nor leave. The Hamas regime is strong, but not loved by the population. If there is tinder smoldering to an explosion, the damage is likely to be greatest internally. Both Egypt and Israel can protect themselves. Meanwhile, the area is a poisonous addition to the problems that keep Israel and Palestine (West Bank) from meaningful concessions.

The second article describes the hopes articulated under the influence of the Obama White House, and the reality of the distance between the parties. Going beyond what the article says, it appears that the American president is the last one to get the message. Israeli and Palestinian leaders cannot say “No” to whoever is in the White House, but the positive remarks that each makes are different enough to be  irreconcilable. 

The glass is pretty damn empty, but not entirely. Things are moving in the West Bank. Palestinian security forces are increasingly credible, and winning concessions from Israel. The economy is growing, providing jobs, new housing and roads, and attracting investment. An article in Ha’aretz describes automobile showrooms in West Bank cities now displaying really new cars, rather than vehicles stolen from Israel. 
George Mitchell continues to show up, but his arrival generates snide comments by media personalities. “Mitchell? Who’s that?” Or “Mitchell. Him again?”
President Obama has been guarded in his latest comments about the prospects for peace. However, the White House is like a supertanker. It cannot change course on a dime, or even something much larger. The apparatus includes advisors plus supporters in Congress and the public committed to existing mantras of “two-states” and “peace in the Middle East before the end of . . . ” The presidential ego can describe problems and fudge deadlines, but may not admit failure.  Political coalitions are built on the principles of reliability and stability. We all know that politicians lie, or distort, or do not tell all the truth, and change their minds. However, if there is too much waffling the process does not work. 
Stability is Washington is more important to the White House that discomfort in Jerusalem, Ramallah, or Gaza, so the Israelis and Palestinians must go along with the show. However, they, too, have their politics and principles. Netanyahu and Abbas do what they must. Both are using the device of blaming the other for the lack of progress in talks which few Palestinians or Israelis ever gave a chance of succeeding. 
Perhaps the most certain of political rules is “Never say never.” If the Germans and French could do it, the Israelis and Palestinians might do it someday. However, the time is not ripe. 
One can guess that the generation of 1948 refugees will have to die off in order to remove that thorny issue from the Palestinian agenda. And maybe the children and grandchildren of the refugees will also have to die off, insofar as there has already been 60 years of inculcating the narrative. 
Something will have to give in Gaza to make it possible for “Palestine” to be more than the mini-mini-state of the West Bank.  
It helped that the Soviet Union disappeared along with its spiritual and material support for Palestinian aggression. Still alive, however, are sources in Iran, Syria, Libya, and now Turkey.
It will take a while for the trust of Israelis for Palestinians, and Palestinians for Israelis to develop in a way to facilitate agreements that will not be so draconian and “iron clad” as to be impossible for one or another side to accept. That may take years and even decades of relative peace, continued economic progress in the West Bank, and something positive to emerge in Gaza.
By insisting on progress that is not tenable, the White House can make things worse. It already did that by flubbing the issue of construction in Jerusalem. That misstep angered Israelis and led Palestinians to increase their price for negotiations. Now is the time for Washington to desist, and admit that some future president will get the credit for peace in the Middle East. The admission will be subdued, or completely quiet and apparent only by what is not said.
Who wants to vote that a miracle is more likely to occur in Gaza, or in Washington?
 Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

Gaza-bound Libyan ship docks at Egyptian port after deal

July 15, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–A deal struck between Israel and Egypt has reportedly enabled a Libyan ship carrying aid for Gaza to change course and dock peacefully at the Egyptian port of El-Arish. An Arab newspaper in London reports that in return, Israel has agreed to let the Gadhafi Foundation begin a US$ 50 million project to rebuild damaged buildings in Gaza, together with the United Nations.

On Thursday, the Amalthea docked at El-Arish after Israel’s navy had stopped it from reaching the Gaza Strip territory. Since Hamas rose to power there, Israel maintains a sea blockade to prevent weapons smuggling.

The director of the port of El-Arish, Gamal Abdel Maqsoud, said the ship would unload its cargo and hand it over to the Red Crescent for delivery to Gaza by land. Israeli ships stopped the aid vessel from reaching Gaza.

The Gadhafi Foundation, headed by a son of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gadhafi, said the ship had left Greece on Saturday carrying 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, another Gaza-bound aid convoy left the Jordanian capital Amman on Tuesday, heading to the Red Sea port city of Aqaba. Around 150 activists traveled with the convoy, which includes 25 trucks laden with basic humanitarian aid including food and medicine, as well as an ambulance donated by Jordan Medical Association members, according to Jordanian officials.

The convoy is set to travel by boat from Aqaba to the Egyptian port of Nuweibeh and then enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

Gaza-bound Libyan ship diverted to Egyptian port after Israeli interception

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

(WJC)–Authorities in Egypt have approved a request by the captain of a Gaza-bound Libyan ship to dock at the port of El-Arish in Egypt after failing to break Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, it was reported on Wednesday. The ship’s engine broke 130 miles from al-Arish port which is ready to receive it later on the day, the Chinese news agency ‘Xinhua’ reported.

The vessel has 21 persons on board and is reportedly carrying 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid. On Tuesday, organizers said Israeli navy forces had intercepted the ship, ordering it to head to the Egyptian port.

The Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, headed by the son of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi, said in a press release later that the ship was steadily heading to its intended destination despite repeated Israeli warnings. The IDF stressed that it was continuing to shadow the ship’s movement, in order to ensure that it does not divert to the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, officials at Athens International Airport said an Israel-bound flight was delayed after protesters blocked check-in counters at the airport. Members of a Communist-backed labor union say they blocked five counters of the national airline El Al for two hours to protest against the Israeli blockade of Gaza and its treatment of the Palestinians. The protest ended without incident.


Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

ADL congratulates U.S. on censure of Syrian U.N. diplomat

June 14, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)–The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday expressed appreciation to the United States Mission in Geneva for its condemnation of a Syrian diplomat’s statement alluding to the ancient blood libel against Jews. The League voiced outrage, however, that the president of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) has yet to denounce the hateful remark, which is now part of the body’s official record.

In a June 8 speech before the HRC, Syrian representative Rania Al Rifaiy, referring to Israel, declared: “Hatred is widespread, taught to even small children, who are taught to use weapons, and who are taught to sign missiles that will be fired at Arabs…Let me quote a song that a group of children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school: ‘With my teeth I will rip your flesh, with my mouth I will suck your blood.’ ”

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva condemned the comments and called on leaders of the UN Human Rights System to do the same.

“The failure to speak out against such vicious and incendiary rhetoric – in this case, referencing a centuries-old, anti-Jewish blood libel – would be shocking if it didn’t so perfectly fit the pattern of anti-Israel bias and maltreatment in the HRC,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.

“Not surprisingly, the Human Rights Council President, Alex Van Meeuwen of Belgium – who frequently intervenes to challenge speakers – did not stop the Syrian representative from her diatribe, and has yet to condemn the reprehensible statement.

“While it is difficult to envision the HRC departing from its history of anti-Israel bashing, we are grateful that the U.S. ambassador did not allow such vitriol to go unchallenged.”

In a letter to Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council, the League said “U.S. leadership on condemning this and other anti-Semitic manifestations in the Council is significant and vital.”

Earlier this year, the Human Rights Council refused to strike from its official record a statement accusing Israel of harvesting organs of “dead, kidnapped and killed Palestinians” in a conspiracy involving “Israeli physicians, medical centers, rabbis and the Israeli Army.” The statement was submitted by EAFORD, a Libyan-funded, non-governmental organization, and was included in the Council’s website and permanent record.

Preceding provided by the Anti-Defamation League

American Jews and friends plan demonstrations today to support Israel

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Staff Roundup) –Demonstrations in support of Israel and against the pro-Hamas activists who sailed their flotilla towards Gaza are planned in various American cities today (Tuesday, June 1)

In New York, Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE) together with other American Jewish organizations will gather outside of the Israeli Consulate, located at 800 Second Avenue (42nd Street) at 6:00 PM to stand in support of Israel’s self-defense. Hundreds will gather waving American & Israeli flags, and bearing signs which read: “Peace Activists Don’t Attack Soldiers,” “Hamas & Al Qaeda Support the Flotilla”, and “We Stand with Israel.”

“We will gather to stand united with the State of Israel, and to let President Obama, and the world know that we will not sit silently as Israel is attacked by her enemies. We stand with Israel in their battle against terrorism.  Israel has the right to stop terror at its door, and we condemn the United Nations for standing with terrorists. These so-called peace activists used knives, clubs and fire from weapons stolen from soldiers, and attacked soldiers who were seeking to enforce international law.  The boats were warned to change course multiple times, and we as the American Jewish community will not stand silently as Israel is attacked,” said RAJE Chairman, Rabbi Mordechai Tokarsky.

In Los Angeles, STandWithUs announced a rally will be held at 5 p.m. today (Tuesday, June 1)  in front of the Turkish consulate,  6300 Wilshire Boulevard.

StandWithUS President and CEO Roz Rothstein made the following statement:

“”Turkey played a key role in promoting the flotilla of six ships that tried to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza on May 31st.

“The flotilla, organized by self described human rights groups, claimed it was bringing aid to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  Israel offered to deliver the goods through official channels if the activists conformed to international and Israeli law, and agreed to dock at Ashdod instead of Gaza.  They refused.

“When Israel warned the approaching ships to redirect to Ashdod, they refused to do so. Exercising its sovereign rights under international law, Israel boarded the ships and escorted them to Ashdod. Five ships complied peacefully and no one was injured.  
“The sixth ship, Mavi Marmara, flying under the Turkish flag, refused to cooperate.

“As is shown in this video, when a small group of Israeli navy personnel attempted to board the Marmara, the alleged ‘peace activists’ ambushed them with guns, knives, steel pipes, bats, and other weapons.  Seven Israelis were wounded, two critically, and nine activists were killed. Watch the video here: 

“Turkey permitted the Marmara to fly under its flag.  Turkey knew that the IHH (Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation) had organized the Flotilla, and supports the genocidal terrorist organization Hamas, several Jihadist organizations in Bosnia, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere, and has ties with Al Qaeda.  But Turkey did not prevent the Flotilla from disembarking and attacking Israel’s sovereign right to protect itself from terrorists attempting to enter Gaza. 

“Now Turkey is condemning Israel for the unfortunate casualties, and is leading the charge to condemn Israel at the U.N.   It is Turkey that should be condemned by the United Nations for its role in this brutal trap set for Israelis.

“Turkey has blood on its hands, not Israel.”

In San Diego, community activist Tami Zohar has been sending out notices that supporters of Israel are encouraged on June 20 to wear blue.

“Imagine hundreds of thousands of people, in America, Canada, Israel, Europe and the whole entire world, committing to a simple easy action that will show their support for Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state?” said a note she forwarded  on FaceBook

“What kind of message will this give in a time where many have shown interest in painting Israel as alone and without any support? Would you be willing to join this international movement and show your pride and support for the Jewish state? Well, now you can! On June 20th 2010, we will all wear a blue shirt and show our support for the State of Israel. We will show the world that Israel does still have a lot of proud supporters. This incredibly simple action – just choosing to wear a blue shirt- will enable us to give a strong message which will be heard internationally! You will be able to say proudly: “Israel has supporters and I am one of them!”.

Preceding compiled from a variety of sources

Turkey bidding for greater influence in Middle East

May 18, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Turkey and Brazil announced they have “brokered” a “deal” to bring some percentage of Iranian LEU (Low Enriched Uranium) to Turkey. The “deal” is a fraud-without knowing how much uranium Iran has, you cannot know how much it “lent” to Turkey and how much remains in its weapons program. And knowing that Iran has lied about every single stage of its nuclear program, we will assume it is lying about this stage as well.
So much for Iran.
But there is something compelling about a country that looks at its position, determines its interests, and changes course to achieve new objectives. Turkey has done that. 
Let us be clear: we don’t have to like the direction or the choices; we don’t have to support them; and we don’t think the United States should treat Turkey as if it hadn’t made those choices. That was one reason we wrote-and strongly believe-that the Congress of the United States is the wrong place to parse and judge someone else’s history. Our Armenian friends entirely misunderstood-we were neither denying nor denigrating their history. But Congress has to be about the present and, more important, about the future. Our ongoing irritation with our Congress and our Administration is that they find it easier to pronounce on a past for which they are not responsible than to deal with present circumstances. 
For the moment, it may be easier but it is shortsighted in the extreme.
After decades of resolutely secular, pro-Western economic and security policy, during which it was resolutely rejected by Europe, the Turkish government, specifically the AKP, surveyed the landscape in the absence of the Soviet Union and the apparent decline of the United States and decided to stop banging its head against a closed European door.  Turkey, in their view, didn’t have to be the stepchild of Europe; it has a strong military, a good economy in regional terms and historic interests.
Turkey certainly will not give up the benefits bestowed by NATO membership and is unlikely to do anything to hamper its economic ties to the West. It is unlikely to actually sever ties with Israel while there are still benefits to be had. It simply has added new portfolios, Muslim portfolios. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are all Turkic, all Muslim, all post-Soviet and all amenable to leadership from Ankara (although the coup in Kyrgyzstan was a setback).

New military relations with Syria and Russia, increased political relations with Iran, the hosting of Hamas leadership and increasingly strident rhetoric are signs of Turkey’s belief that it can do as it pleases, at least in the region. 
There are those who believe Turkey is aiming to re-establish the old Ottoman Empire and others who think the goal is restoration of the Caliphate. Maybe, or maybe it is just opportunistic push back. In any case, the result is likely to be inimical to American and Western interests.
We have two thoughts: Turkey’s future choices in the region will be much more important to the United States than any possible benefit of looking backwards at the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.   
Was that only one thought? Yes, it was one thought about Turkey. The second thought is about the United States. 
The Turks stopped begging Europe for entry and considered their options; the United States should do no less. The clock cannot be turned back to 1948 any more than to 1915. The Obama Administration should stop begging the Palestinians to let us force Israel to manufacture a small, kleptocratic, dictatorial, terrorist-sponsoring welfare regime wedged in between two of our regional allies. Stop trying to create “two states” where three governing bodies currently exist with no likely mergers. 
Stop blaming Israel for American difficulties in the region that have nothing to do with it. 
Face the issues of perceived American inability to deal with radical Islamic ideology and the wars it engenders and deal with them. Face the fact that radical Islamic ideology is, at its core, forward looking-not a slap at the past, but a belief in the Islamic future. Turkey and “the Stans” are in that mix. So are Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and, increasingly, the failed states of Africa. Russia and China are heavily involved, and not necessarily on our side.
As with the congressional fixation on the Ottomans to the exclusion of the Turkish future, it is easier for the Administration to keep pounding on Israel for its alleged intransigence than to accept that the “peace process” is over and serious American interests for the future lie elsewhere.  
It is equally shortsighted.

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.

Seven Nobel laureates urge Berkeley student Senate to oppose Israel divestment

April 17, 2010 1 comment

LOS ANGELES (Press Release)– As the debate on whether or not to divest from Israel discussed by the student senate at University of California, Berkeley moved toward conclusion, six Nobel Laureates connected to Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and a seventh Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel, independently wrote to the senate arguing in opposition to divestment support advocated by Desmond Tutu.

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East represent more than 55,000 academics and scholars on more than 3500 campuses world-wide.  SPME opposes boycotts and attempts to divest from Israel as they are forms of the ongoing attempt to demonize Israel.  This student legislation rather than fostering dialogue and trust that might lead the Israelis and the Palestinians toward peaceful negotiations only has created an atmosphere of division and distrust. Moreover the one sided nature of the legislation is clearly a cause for concern as pointed out by Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Stanford University.

Peter Haas, SPME’s President commented:  “The situation at UC Berkeley did not have to reach this level.  Had the university administration taken a more principled solid stance against one-sided anti-Israel activity earlier, they could have saved themselves and everyone else a lot of trouble.  We hope the lesson has been learned.”

Edward S. Beck, SPME’s Immediate Past President who coordinated the effort for SPME, added, “It was important that students hear from these Nobel Laureates on this important issue who know and believe that the situation in the Middle East is not comparable to the situation in South Africa and are aware of the real issues and history of the region.”

Sam Edelman, SPME’s Executive Director worked with UC Faculty during this effort and observed: “The one sided nature of this resolution; the ignoring of massive human rights violations on the part of both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas make it imperative that the AS President’s veto be up held.”

The full texts of the Nobel Laureates letters are as follows:

Dear Members of the University of California- Berkeley Student Senate:

May I respectfully urge that you not adopt the one-sided and unjust resolution which condemns the state of Israel and urges divestment.  The resolution ignores that Israel is a democratic state, respecting the political and civil rights of its Arab minority. Above all, it exists in an environment in which its very existence has been threatened ever since its inception.  Proposals and negotiations which would have led to Palestinian independence have always been rejected by the Palestinians from the 1968 “three nos of Khartoum” to Yasser Arafat’s refusal to accept President Clinton’s very favorable proposals, a refusal followed by a campaign of pure terrorism, directed against vulnerable civilians, called, “the second intifada.”  A withdrawal of Jewish settlers from Gaza, enforced by the authority of the state of Israel, was followed, not by renewed efforts at negotiation or even by quiescence, but by a steady barrage of rockets against unquestionably Israeli towns.

The world is full of states with abominable records on human rights, including most of Israel’s neighbors. A failure to mention Saudi Arabia, for example, must be regarded as approval for discriminatory treatment of women (they cannot even drive!) and, of course, of homosexuals.  Hamas, in Gaza, has not only consistently inflicted whatever harm it can against Israel but has bloodily suppressed Arab political opposition within its boundaries. Israel’s independent judiciary has no counterpart in the area.  

I trust you will reconsider your original vote and uphold the veto.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Kenneth J. Arrow

Stanford University

Nobel Laureate in Economic Science, 1972.

Dear Members of the University of California- Berkeley Student Senate:

We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, urge the members of the UC Berkeley student senate not to adopt an immoral resolution singling out the state of Israel, a liberal and democratic state seeking peace with the Palestinian people and neighboring Arab states, for condemnation and divestment.

We commend your idealism and desire to provide leadership to the university; but true moral leadership requires taking responsibility, accessing knowledge and making correct, not ideological and radicalized, choices. The resolution before you is wrong in many points of fact and it is unjust by intention: Israel is an imperfect democracy defending itself in a threat environment by Western standards of warfare and checking itself constantly by way of a fiercely independent judiciary committed to international standards of human rights.

A decision by the Berkeley Senate to single out Israel for condemnation, rather than any of the myriad real human rights offenders in the world – including the majority of contentious states surrounding Israel such as Iran, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon is frankly a decision of the highest moral obtuseness, which we trust you will not pursue.

It is our hope that the UC Berkeley Student Senate who represent future leadership in the world will find a more constructive and effective way – but primarily a moral and just way – to address the difficult and complex issues of Middle East peace rather than siding against one side in the conflict. In no way can your resolution advance peace, as it is an expression of the very radicalism and historical blindness that drives the conflict and blocks reconciliation.

We have faith in your ability to rise to the occasion and shed light instead of hatred on this most difficult issue. Please defeat this wrong resolution.

Roald Hoffmann

Nobel Prize-Chemistry, 1981

Cornell University

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji

Nobel Prize-Physics, 1997

College de France Paris

Dudley Herschbach

Nobel Prize-Chemistry, 1986

Harvard University

Dr. Andrew V. Schally

Miami, Florida

Nobel Prize in Medicine 1977

Steven Weinberg

University of Texas

Nobel Prize-Physics, 1979

Preceding was provided by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East

Watching Israeli reactions to Obama-Netanyahu rift

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM–Now when he’s about to get a Jewish son-in-law, Bill Clinton moves to Israel, converts to Judaism, forms a political party and is elected Prime Minister with acclamation. I cannot have the same fantasy about Barack Obama whose popularity in Israel is now in single digits. But unlike Clinton, Obama may want to be involved in internal Israeli politics to reshape Israel in his preparation for the struggle against Iran.

The speculations here about what’s likely to happen next in Israel’s relations with the United States, now when Prime Minister Netanyahu has returned from Washington with his tail between his legs, include the possibility – fear for some, hope for others – that, when he puts Obama’s demands before his ministers, the majority will say No.

The exception would be Labor which, in the face of the intransigence of the other parties, may now have no choice but to leave the government and thus deprive it of its Knesset majority. It has so far justified its membership of the Netanyahu government by saying that it has prevented a collision with the Americans and harsher treatment of Palestinians, thus promoting the prospect of peace. It won’t be able to do that now.

Breaking up the coalition and forcing an election may gain Labor a few more Knesset seats but not enough to form a government. Neither will Kadima be able to govern without Likud and Labor. Whatever dissent there currently exists in Kadima would dissipate with the prospect of joining, even if not forming, the next government.

Obama’s alleged purpose in all this is to shift Israel’s government from far right to the center, i.e., without Yishai and Lieberman but with Barak and Livni. Netanyahu would probably remain Prime Minister but now leading an improved team.

Likud strategists and those to the right of them may know all this and, in order literally to save their seats, may swallow hard and agree to the undertakings that Obama is said to demand. On the other hand, they may go for broke. The noises that are being made by government people unfortunately point to this second option.

Much of it has to be done in haste because Obama is said to have demanded forthwith clear Israeli answers in writing in the hope that this will give the Arab League meeting in Libya enough of a victory to allow Abu Mazen, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, to go ahead at least with proximity talks.

 It’s difficult to imagine how Israel can withstand this kind of pressure, especially now when several other countries seem to be ganging up against it in response to the Dubai passport fiasco. Unless Netanyahu, contrary to what he says, is so much under the spell of Lieberman and the other hawks, he seems to have little choice.

The hawks may wish to cast Obama in the role of the Pharaoh of the Exodus story as we’ll retell it on Pesach, but that kind of rhetoric won’t do any good. The song at the Seder about evil men in every generation wanting to do away with us “but the Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from them,” may be a persuasive theological reflection on Jewish history but it’s not a pragmatic political analysis of the present situation.

The best case scenario for the Israeli right has been the status quo: continue to talk about talks and continue to build in Jerusalem and the West Bank while trying to make sure that Israel is protected from terrorists and infiltrators. President Obama has shattered that picture and nobody quite knows what’ll replace it.


Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.  He now divides his time between Canada and Israel.