Buckingham Palace. Photo: Wiki Commons.
Queen Elizabeth II is marking her 66th year of reign in 2018, which by any standards is an extraordinarily long time for a single individual to be a head of state. (By comparison, King David is said to have reigned for 40 years, and Queen Victoria — comfortably overtaken now by Elizabeth –managed 64.)
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any current ruler who has remained in place throughout the Cold War and beyond. In that sense, historians will have a grand second Elizabethan era to pour through, one so lengthy that those things that were features of the first half of her reign — ration books, royal family struggles with the Church of England, a snarling punk ditty by the Sex Pistols that rhymed “queen” with “fascist regime” — were misty memories by the time it came to its close in the age of social media.
But for all the momentous historic changes that Elizabeth witnessed from her vantage points at Buckingham Palace, Windsor and Balmoral — changes that were often blessed with royal visits, high honors, state banquets and so forth — one country went stubbornly unacknowledged: Israel.
Now that Elizabeth’s grandson, Prince William, has announced a first-ever visit by a British royal to Israel, in addition to Jordan and the “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” it is perhaps time to reflect on the relationship, or absence of one, between the House of Windsor and the Jewish nation.
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Part of the delight around William’s impending visit stems from the fact that few people see the royal family as a political entity anymore; getting a visit from a Windsor, the son of the iconic Princess Diana no less, is a moment for one’s national pride to swell in the glow of royal approval. When Elizabeth visited post-Communist Lithuania in 2006, the BBC reported on the cheering crowds in the capital, Vilnius, waving their own flag alongside the Union Jack. One might imagine that Israelis, having emerged from a similar history of turbulence, would have appreciated a similar opportunity.
The point, however, is not simply that the Queen made Lithuanians feel good about themselves. In a speech to the Lithuanian parliament, she saluted all the Baltic nations in explicitly political terms. “You have emerged from the shadow of the Soviet Union and blossomed as sovereign states, taking up your rightful places in the international community and as respected members of the European Union and NATO,” she remarked. “It is a transformation — political, economic and social — for which there are few parallels in the history of Europe.”
Words like these could have been heard in the Knesset in Jerusalem. They should have been. But as far as the Queen and her close relatives were concerned — including her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, whose mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, saved Greek Jews from the Nazis and is interred on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives — Israel may as well have not existed.
To entirely pin the blame for this unsettling indifference towards Israel on the Arabists at the British Foreign Office, who have been in a state of penance ever since the Balfour Declaration of 1917, would do Elizabeth a great disservice. True, unlike her forebears, her divine right to rule has been severely tempered by the more modern rule of law. But that manifestly does not mean she is a plaything of the British government, blissfully unaware of the soft power and international legitimacy that a royal visit grants.
The bald fact remains, then, that a monarch who was crowned when the wounds of the Holocaust were still fresh, who witnessed at least three attempts by Arab states to eliminate the Jewish state and who always maintained a cordial relationship with Britain’s Jewish community, never asserted the importance of a visit to the land where Christianity was born.
Yet she made her way to Germany in 1965, at a time when most Britons could still remember the Luftwaffe’s decimation of cities like Manchester, Coventry and London. Most of the Middle East’s autocracies — Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Qatar, Iran under the Shah, Turkey — received a visit, too. There are few major democracies or Western allies that have not received one.
It beggars belief that the shrewd Elizabeth has not herself recognized this anomaly, and for whatever reason, has willingly complied with a stance of pretending that Israel doesn’t exist. Even if one could make a realist case that a visit to Israel during the mid-1970s would have been unwise in the face of the Arab oil weapon, what held the royals back in the comparatively more peaceful times of the late 1990s? When Arab leaders and the leaders of Israel’s former Communist enemies can and have made the trip, why has Elizabeth not done so?
Perhaps we shall discover the reason in a diary fragment that emerges in future years. Or perhaps it will always remain an odd secret that will be largely forgotten a decade from now. Because at that point, if all goes to plan and barring a scientific miracle, the Queen will have been replaced by King Charles III. Prince Charles, you see, and not William, is Elizabeth’s direct heir, and coincidentally, has never paid an official visit to Israel either.
William will, I am sure, say most of what needs to be said when he arrives in Israel in May. But as you listen to him, do remember that his grandmother should have said exactly the same a long time ago.
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Jeremy Corbyn leads a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London in 2014, one year before becoming Labour Party leader. Photo: File.
This marked a massive rise from the previous such survey, in which only 39% of Jews believed Corbyn was antisemitic.
British Jews also expressed an extremely low opinion of the Labour Party in general. The poll showed that 85.6% believed Labour suffered from “very high” levels of antisemitism.
Corbyn and his party have been beset with a series of high-profile antisemitism scandals for several years, which has resulted in the resignation and suspension of several prominent officials. Corbyn himself was recently caught on video saying that “Zionists” did not understand “English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”
Makuya in Jerusalem 201 (YouTube)
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the youths. I delight to sit in his shade, And his fruit is sweet to my mouth. (Song of Songs 2:3)
For ten days in late August, Israeli Rabbi Benny Lau and his wife, Rabbanit Noah Lau, traveled from Jerusalem to Japan to lead Bible study for groups of Makuya Japanese Christians. The Laus traveled to five Japanese towns and spent three days together at a weekend conference with 3,400 members of the Makuya group.
Makuya is Japanese for the Hebrew word Mishkan, the tent of meeting, where human beings come into contact with God. The Mishkan was the portable sanctuary that the Israelites used in the desert, before entering Israel and building the First Holy Temple.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Credit: Agencia O Globo)
Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil, was stabbed during a campaign rally Thursday and was undergoing surgery.
The far-right politician, whose heated rhetoric has electrified some voters and angered others – -who accuse him of racism and homophobia – in a deeply polarized electorate, was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.
Those same polls suggested that he will likely receive the most votes in next month’s presidential elections, especially if the country’s former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (‘Lula’) remains blocked from standing. He is currently in prison, but is appealing against his candidacy ban – imposed after his conviction for corruption.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look.
Nestled in the Han River in the middle of South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, Yeoui Island is hardly where one would expect to find the largest mega-church in the world. Home to the city’s business and financial district, its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, the island boasts some of the country’s most powerful institutions, such as the Korean stock exchange and the headquarters of LG, the international conglomerate.
The AfD’s opponents, who often brand the party as “far right” or “extremist,” claim that the party’s alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups pose an existential threat to Germany’s constitutional order. The AfD’s supporters counter that Germany’s politically correct establishment, afraid of losing its power and influence, is attempting to outlaw a legitimate party that has pledged to put the interests of German citizens first.
Israel’s Palestinian foes regard “martyrdom” as the supremely highest expression of Islamic sacredness. Nonetheless, there are certain conspicuously prominent disjunctions between the relevant obligations of faith and expectations of international law. Unambiguously, only the latter set of obligations can offer a suitably authoritative source for assessing Palestinian resorts to armed force.
This is the case even when the stated objective of such resorts would be “self-determination” and/or “national liberation.”
“Setting fire to the ground,” a “major catastrophe,” bringing “new instability” are the headlines that have greeted Donald Trump’s unorthodox decisions over the past year. Withdrawing from UNESCO, moving the US Embassy, leaving the Iran deal and cutting funding to UNRWA and funding for Pakistan were seen as extreme decisions in the Middle East and around the world. Insofar as there is a “Trump Doctrine,” it has been to call this bluff.
In the mind-set of Trump and his team, the time has come for the United States to move quickly to reverse decades of foreign policy norms, ending the status quo, and ripping up what the previous administrations did.
The jihadi assault on and massacre of Christians continued unabated throughout the Muslim word. According to one report titled, “Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” several Islamic terrorists “stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion…. Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.
One conflagration is the war Iran is waging against those – headed by Israel – who stand in the way of its plans to take over the entire Middle East.
Another is the Assad regime’s war to take back control of the entire country, and a third is the PLO’s battle for survival.
Much has been written about the first of these wars, and reports have claimed that from early 2017 on, Israel has launched over 200 attacks in Syria, mainly at targets connected to Iran.