How to spoil a perfectly good lunch – Invite an Israeli diplomat to speak

By Jerome S. Kaufman

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, that purports to be the public affairs voice of the Jewish community here, which, of course it is not, asked the Zionist Organization of America, Michigan Region to help with an event. The ZOA was to obtain an audience and sponsor a luncheon for an Israeli diplomat the Council had brought in for a tour of the local Jewish community. The ZOA-MI did so and had a nice turnout.

Generally it has been our experience that Jewish Community Councils, Federations, the American Jewish Committee, Hillels and many other establishment Jewish organizations nationwide, have a propensity for a particular political point of view and almost invariably, a speaker is hired that not so subtly proclaims it.

We were therefore not surprised with the delivery of the diplomat who addressed us. She was Orli Gil, Israel Consul General for the Midwest based in Chicago. Ms. Gil was well spoken and had a list of diplomatic credentials attained over the years. She also had a history of appearing at gatherings sponsored by such organizations as listed above.

She assumed her post as Israeli Consul General to the Midwest region in July 2008 and is a career diplomat who has served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 22 years. Ms. Gil holds a BA in English and Hebrew Literature from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem – hardly an education, by the way, directed toward political expertise.

Ms. Gil spoke well enough. Unfortunately, the Israeli Government message that she presented was disappointing, to say the least. It was sometimes difficult to determine whose view was being presented – the Israeli or the Arab.

The terminology used by Ms. Gil was shocking. She had somehow learned to use the pro-Arab version. She spoke of Israel having “conquered” much Arab territory in 1967 and was “occupying” it to this day. She spoke of Israel “giving back” land that Israel had “conquered” and was fully prepared to “give back” more for peace.

Never did she seem to understand and certainly did not verbalize the fact that Israel had simply regained territory that should have been the Jewish Homeland in the first place. Never did she remind the audience that the Jewish claim to the land goes back over 3000 years. Never did she state that there is no genuine legitimate Arab claim to the land and that at no time was there an Arab nation on that land. In fact, the term “Palestinian” always referred to the Jews living there.

Arabs were simply designated as Arabs who had migrated into the area when the Jews began to drain the swamps, make the land habitable, utilized Jewish genius to bolster the entire economy and thus create jobs for these Arab immigrants. They streamed in from Iraq, Egypt, Syria and surrounding areas only because in Palestine and then Israel, they finally had a chance to make a decent living and to obtain the huge benefits of a democratic nation that they do not have in their own Arab countries to this very day.

If Consul General Gil and the entire Israeli diplomatic corps had read, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine published in 1984 book by Joan Peters and describing, in great detail, the origins of the Arab population of Palestine, they would learn these basic facts. These facts have been studiously ignored by an Israel government too obtuse to understand their public relations significance.

Furthermore, Judea and Samaria (not “West Bank”), Gaza and the Golan Heights never “belonged” to Arabs and certainly not Jordan, Syria and Egypt, who themselves conquered them in 1948. At that time, these bordering nations invaded the newly “reborn” Jewish nation in an attempt to immediately abort its rebirth. To be perfectly accurate, these Arab nations were the “occupiers” from 1948 until they were finally expelled in 1967 by the Israelis in the Six Day war of self-defense.

But, this is all old hat and virtually beyond repair. What was even more depressing was Orli Gil’s discourse on the so-called “peace process” It appears that the Israeli Government under PM Netanyahu and his stalwarts Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres et al, who somehow, under the pathetic Israeli political system that keeps dinosaurs in power forever, are still pursuing a “peace process” which has been an unmitigated disaster.

Not one gesture of peace or huge swath of territory given to the Arabs has been reciprocated other than as a sign of weakness and a greater opportunity to enlarge their Arab terror bases against the Israelis.

Gil had the inane idea, as does her titular boss, Bibi Netanyahu, that the Arabs will eventually come to the table and give up their self determined right of return of millions of third generation “refugees”, they will agree to a demilitarized state, they will allow Israel to control the Jordan Valley, the Egyptian border, the Lebanese border, allow the IDF to police Judea and Samaria as needed to protect Israeli citizens, allow Jerusalem to remain undivided and remain only the capitol of the Jewish state and not make it the capitol of a “Palestinian” state, etc. and to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State.

To me, this last requirement is the greatest of the abominations. How I as a Jew or Israel as a Jewish nation has to ask anyone to grant them the “right to exist” when we have over 3000 years of such an obvious existence and G-d given at that, is beyond abomination.

It is abomination enough to make me ill and to yearn desperately for the day when, G-d willing, Israel finally has political leaders with genuine self respect, genuine pride in their people and their nation and are finally able to shed off their sick dependency upon others and feel the need to plead with them to recognize Israel’s very “right to exist.” Instead, hopefully one day, we will have leaders with the confidence and strength to tell the immediate world exactly where to get off.

Jerome S. Kaufman

Joseph’s Tomb – Let’s put an end to this disgrace

Relinquishing Joseph’s Tomb was supposed to be temporary

By Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post, April 28, 2011

Earlier this week, an incident occurred that should have provoked outrage across the civilized world. In an act of wanton slaughter, Palestinian policemen opened fire at a convoy of Jewish worshipers near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus on Sunday. The men had just recited morning prayers at the Jewish holy site in honor of Pessah, and were heading home to prepare for the end of the festival. But they never made it.

At a checkpoint near the tomb, our ostensible peace partners killed Ben-Yosef Livnat, 25, and wounded four other Israelis, one of them critically. Livnat, a nephew of Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, left a wife and four young children. Even as the Israeli vehicles sought to escape, the Palestinian policemen reportedly continued to fire on them.

Although the IDF initially refrained from labeling the episode an “attack,” it’s clear that that is precisely what it was. And by Sunday evening, both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were calling the shooting an act of “murder.”

Palestinian officials were quick to point out that the Israeli worshipers had failed to coordinate their visit in advance – as though that somehow justified shooting at them. But as Barak rightly noted: “No problem of coordination can justify an incident like this and the shooting of innocent people.”

Even though the identity of the perpetrators is known, none have been detained as of this writing. And given the Palestinian Authority’s track record in punishing those who attack Israelis, there is no reason to suspect that the policemen in question will be made to pay for their crime.

Needless to say, barely a peep was heard from the international community over this brazen assault on the fundamental right of Jews to worship freely. Just imagine what the reaction would have been had Palestinian worshipers leaving a mosque been attacked by Israeli policemen.. We all know how that would have gone down. But the hypocrisy on display should hardly come as a surprise. After all, the Palestinians have been targeting Joseph’s Tomb for years with impunity.

Who can forget October 7, 2000, when Palestinian policemen and Fatah terrorists launched a coordinated assault on the Israeli soldiers guarding the site? After then-prime minister Barak ordered the army to withdraw, a Palestinian mob went on a rampage. Brandishing sledge-hammers and other tools of tolerance, they demolished the tomb – one of the most sacred sites of the Jewish people. In subsequent years, after the structure was repaired, Palestinian vandals repeatedly ransacked and desecrated it.

The Palestinian conduct vis-à-vis the tomb is a clear violation of signed commitments. The Oslo II Accords, signed on September 28, 1995, spelled out specific arrangements concerning Joseph’s Tomb in Article V(2b) of Annex I, which were designed “to ensure free, unimpeded and secure access” to the site.

So much for relying on the Palestinians to keep their word.

The murder of Ben-Yosef Livnat cannot be allowed to pass without a forceful Israeli response. It is simply intolerable that an Israeli can be gunned down in cold blood by a Palestinian policeman.To begin with, Israel should arrest the gunmen who carried out this attack and bring them to trial before an Israeli court. There cannot and must not be immunity for those who murder Israeli citizens.

Moreover, it is time to correct the error made nearly 11 years ago, when Israel forsook this holy place. After the IDF withdrew, the Israeli public was assured that the step was not permanent, but merely a tactical move dictated by the situation on the ground. Just hours after the retreat, the website of Yediot Aharonot reported: “Israel pulls out of Joseph’s Tomb – ‘Temporarily.'” But here we are, more than a decade later, and the tomb still remains “temporarily” abandoned by the Jewish state, in what has become a mark of shame for our nation.

Israel should annex the site, forever restoring it to our exclusive control. And measures should be taken to ensure that Jews can visit safely whenever they wish. As of now, Israelis are allowed to visit once or twice a month, under cover of darkness, like thieves in the night. No nation with even a modicum of dignity would allow such a situation to persist at the tomb of one of its founding fathers.

So let’s put an end to this disgrace. Doing so will send a strong message to our foes, underlining once and for all that the Jewish people will neither cower nor flee. It is time to raise the Israeli flag over Joseph’s Tomb and reclaim this site, and with it, our self-respect as well.

Obama Puts His Obvious Hostility To Israel Right On The Table!

Now how many Jews will vote for him or help the Democrats in the 2012 elections?

And, the question is, whose soul should be searched?

Obama tells Jewish Leaders that Israel bears responsibility for advancing peace!

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed concern over some of President Barack Obama’s remarks to American Jewish leaders at the White House this week, including his statement urging Jewish communal leaders to speak to their friends and colleagues in Israel and to search your souls’ over Israel’s seriousness about making peace. This strongly suggests that President Obama holds Israel, not Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority (PA), responsible for the lack of peace, as was indeed the reported impression of many attendees who said that the President stated ‘that Israel bears primary responsibility for advancing the peace process.’

We were pleased that President Obama affirmed his deep commitment to Israel’s security but troubled by his stating that Jerusalem would be divided when he reportedly said that the Jewish sections of eastern Jerusalem would remain in Israeli hands as part of any peace deal, strongly implying that the Arab sections would not.

It was also troubling that President Obama also reportedly said that the Palestinians don’t feel confident that the Netanyahu government is serious about territorial concessions. Some participants interpreted the president’s comments either as hostile, naive or unsurprising. One participant also said that many people felt that their worst fears about Obama were confirmed with respect to Israel. They felt an enormous hostility towards Israel.

President Obama also said that Israel has not sufficiently tried to make an acceptable offer to Mahmoud Abbas, a remarkable statement in view of the peace offers of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, who offered statehood to the PA on 93% and more of the territory of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, only to be rejected by Yasser Arafat and Abbas. This meeting thus suggests that President Obama’s view have changed little since the July 2009 meeting he had with selected Jewish leaders when he also said that he wants to help Israel, but that in order to do so, Israel would need to engage in serious self-reflection. Obama and his Administration repeatedly condemn, criticize and pressure Israel to make unilateral concessions and almost never condemn, criticize or pressure the PA to make concessions. The President has not even criticized the PA over its refusal to negotiate with Israel.

In a detailed interview in TIME Magazine in January 2010, President Obama also indicated that he holds Israel responsible for the failure of his peace efforts when he ignored Israel’s unprecedented concessions – a 10-month unilateral freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria and qualified endorsement of the idea of creating a Palestinian state – and said that the Israelis still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures.

This week’s meeting between President Obama and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which was attended by ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, was respectful, outwardly cordial and without any public display of tension, although some attendees strongly disagreed with some of what they heard and in fact privately acknowledged feeling strong, internal tension that was not visible to the group.

Leaders of the group thanked the President for his veto of the recent vicious anti-Israel resolution in U.N. Security Council. This occurred despite the fact that the Administration stated in casting its veto that we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity which has corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region¦ We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution, as well as the fact that the Administration sought to obtain the agreement of the Arab states to a different resolution, which it would have supported, condemning these Jewish communities as illegitimate

Also worrying was President Obama’s belief that the present time presents a great opportunity for peace – a remarkable view in light of the fact that, across the region, long-established autocrats are falling, even relatively stable states like Jordan are experiencing rumbling, and within the PA, there are calls for Salaam Fayyad to step down, while Mahmoud Abbas is threatening resignation.

In such circumstances of great uncertainty, turmoil and instability, in which Arab signatories to existing agreements might be swept away from one moment to the next, the ZOA wonders whether seeing to achieve signed agreements with such leaders is appropriate.