I do have a message for Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen: We appreciate your offer but no thanks. Israel will pass.
Police work near the scene where French soliders were hit and injured by a vehicle in the western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, France. (photo credit:REUTERS/BENOIT TESSIER)
In November 2015, the European Union issued guidelines for labeling products made on land Europe considers occupied by Israel. This included products made in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Israel, naturally, claimed that the move was discriminatory and denounced it as a political move aimed at pressuring the country into making concessions to the Palestinian Authority. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision “hypocritical and a double standard.”
A few months later, I happened to meet the European Union’s Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen and asked him a simple question. Let’s assume, I said, that labeling products in the West Bank and east Jerusalem is understandable. Those are territories in dispute between Israel and the Palestinians and their status will need to wait to be resolved in a comprehensive peace agreement between the sides.
“But what about the Golan,” I asked. “Who exactly does the EU want Israel to give it back to?” My question referred to the ongoing civil war in Syria, which erupted in 2011 and has seen the rise of ISIS, and al-Qaida as well as the entrance of Iran and Hezbollah into the country, now the focus of Netanyahu’s most recent diplomatic efforts. I did not receive an answer but the question lingers still today as just one example of how Europe lacks a clear understanding of the Middle East.
I mention this story since on Tuesday, in a final briefing to the press before leaving the country after four years as the EU envoy, Faaborg-Andersen said that Israel can learn from Europe how to effectively combat terrorism.
“Fighting terrorism,” he said, “is an endeavor that requires the whole tool box of instruments.” One of those tools, he went on to explain, is a “strong security dimension,” which Israel uses effectively. But, he added, there are other aspects involved as well, including “de-radicalization,” working with social services, and education.
Now that is an interesting idea considering how many of the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Europe are carried out by citizens, some born and bred in their respective countries. In Israel, a small percentage of the attacks – like the recent one at the Temple Mount – are carried out by Israeli Arabs. Most are perpetrated by Palestinians.
Looking at the numbers this is an even stranger idea. According to EUROPOL, the EU agency for law enforcement cooperation, 142 people were killed in terrorist attacks in EU member states in 2016. In Israel, on the other hand, 17 people were killed. While 2017 is not yet over, the discrepancy is stark. In Israel 12 people have been killed, nine of them soldiers and policemen, while in EU member states there are already nearly 60 people who have been killed in Islamic terrorist attacks.
While the numbers don’t tell the full story, they are definitely part of it. So what exactly was Faaborg-Andersen referring to? Richard Kemp, the former British military officer and staunch defender of Israel, called Faaborg-Andersen’s statements “chutzpah,” citing the numerical discrepancy. “Not only does Israel have nothing to learn from the EU,” Kemp said, “but the EU is guilty of encouraging terrorism in Israel.”
Sadly, Kemp is right. For years, the EU has failed to articulate a clear account of who is right and wrong in this conflict. The failure to make a distinction between the Golan and Judea and Samaria is just one example of a confused moral compass.
This failure impacts not only the skewed way Israel is perceived throughout Europe but also the way countries are combating terrorism on the continent. The first step Europe can take is identifying its enemy and understanding who it is that it is up against. The enemy has a name and in this case, it is called radical Islamic terror. I am not saying that Israel is perfect. This country makes mistakes and many of them you can read in our newspaper. But I do have a message for Amb. Faaborg-Andersen: We appreciate your offer but no thanks. Israel will pass.
For years I was of the opinion that Israel’s might – its economic power and diplomatic clout – rested on three key pillars.
The first is the country’s conventional military, the IDF, one of the most powerful and technologically advanced armies in the world.
The second is the country’s purported nuclear program. Israel doesn’t admit to having nuclear weapons but also doesn’t deny that it does. This ambiguity leaves its enemies uncertain and that uncertainty bolsters deterrence.
The third pillar is Israel’s strategic alliance with the United States. This transcends administrations and presidents and has, until now, been deep and meaningful whether it is a Republican or a Democrat sitting in the White House.
There is, however, a fourth – it is education.
While Israelis tend to get caught up in the political debate surrounding issues like the settlements or our continued presence in Judea and Samaria, we need to ensure that we are instilling within our children a strong and vibrant Jewish identity. They need that basic foundation, since without it, the political debate will be shallow and lack purpose.
The fact that at their draft date a few years ago, 50% of IDF soldiers had not been to Jerusalem, is a national disaster. If their schools don’t take them there then something is wrong. If their families don’t see value in visiting the location that is the bedrock of the Jewish nation, then something is missing. How can we expect these soldiers to fight in defense of the Jewish state if they don’t under – stand why we are here to begin with? Last week, I had the opportunity to join my family at Camp Moshava in the rolling green Poconos Mountains of northern Pennsylvania. There, I saw up close the work that is being done – under the leadership of Alan Silverman and Channah Spiegelman – to entrench within American and Israeli youth a sense of Zionism, a love for Israel and strong Jewish values. (A disclaimer – my wife, Chaya, worked there this summer).
On Monday, two families, both longtime campers and staffers, left early to catch the Nefesh B’Nefesh group aliya flight to Israel. When I told a member of staff how strange I thought it was that someone would make aliya directly from camp, she looked at me and said: “That’s exactly what I did with my family a few years ago.” Apparently, this has become an annual camp tradition, marked by an emotional and moving ceremony attended by the more than 1,000 people there.
Israel has a lot to learn from the Diaspora. Research has shown how impactful summer camps can be on the formation of a Zionist Jewish identity. One of my daughters felt that she learned more about Jerusalem and its 50th anniversary during a month at Moshava than all of last year as an eighth-grader. Other camps, like the Ramah chain, and informal programs like Birthright see similar success.
As quality of life in Israel continues to rise, the need for nationalistic motivations will continue to decline. Israel is no longer a country fighting for survival. Yes, it has threats along its borders, but it also enjoys a level of security unprecedented in its almost 70 years of existence.
While the conflicts we face – whether inside our borders or the antisemitic attacks against Jews around the world – are often a reminder of Israel’s purpose, we cannot rely solely on wars to bring us together. More needs to be done to foster a strong sense of identity and peoplehood even when Jews are not being cursed by neo-Nazis marching in Virginia.
Next week approximately 2 million students will enter their school classrooms, some for the very first time. It is an opportunity to ask ourselves what type of children we want to see exiting those same classrooms next June. Are we just looking for students with good grades or should we expect something more?
Publish in the Jerusalem Post
Trump hails ‘big week’ for historic move; ‘Congratulations to all,’ he tweets ahead of May 14 opening
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gives a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on May 11, 2018, ahead of its opening on May 14 (Screenshot)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday gave a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, showing off workers erecting the official seal on the building and preparing for the opening ceremony.
“We are so excited,” Friedman said in a video posted on the embassy’s Facebook page. “We have the official seal of the United States embassy. We have the dedication plaque. They are covered right now, but on Monday they are going to be unveiled.”
‘Next time in Jerusalem,’ jubilant Barzilai yells after victory; ‘Toy’ marks Israel’s 4th win; hundreds jump in Rabin Square fountain to celebrate; PM calls her ‘best ambassador’
Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/ Francisco LEONG)
Israel won the Eurovision song contest for the first time in two decades Saturday as singer Netta Barzilai clucked and bucked her way to the top of the international song contest with women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”
Backed up by three dancers, her trademark side buns featuring stripes of pink dyed hair to match her pink-and-black outfit, Barzilai busted her way through “Toy” on stage in Lisbon, Portugal, punctuating her singing with her trademark eye rolls and chicken dance moves
Quoted by US president one day, hosted by Russia’s president the next, PM is on a high, including in the polls. But will this encourage his more divisive tendencies?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the Victory Parade marking the 73th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
JTA — On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu began his week by meeting his Cypriot and Greek counterparts to finalize the commercial export to Europe of Israeli gas that he has pushed to exploit for about a decade.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from nuclear deal with Iran was widely seen as a coup for Israel’s prime minister, a fierce opponent of the deal.
The same day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israel seized Iran’s archive of its military nuclear program in Tehran and spirited it to Israel, a video was posted of IDF soldiers singing Soltane Ghalbha, a traditional Persian love song – in Persian.
Taken together, the two events demonstrate the purpose of Netanyahu’s presentation.
Netanyahu’s detractors in the US and Israel called his presentation as a dog and pony show. “He didn’t tell us anything we haven’t known for years,” they sniffed.
Moreover, they insisted, Netanyahu’s presentation was actually counterproductive because he couldn’t show evidence that Iran is in breach of the nuclear deal it concluded in 2015 and so did nothing to persuade the Europeans to abandon the deal.
While US policy-makers are trying desperately to stabilize Afghanistan, a shift is being orchestrated by China.
The Chinese evidently see their role in Afghanistan as the “good cop” versus the U.S. role as “bad cop.” Like Pakistan, China seems to view the Taliban as the political opposition, not as a terrorist organization, and has offered itself as an intermediary to negotiate the departure of the U.S. and, thereby, be in a position to reap the economic and geopolitical benefits of Afghanistan as a client state of the China-Pakistan alliance.
Reuters/Ipsos set a new standard this week when it condemned its own polling as unreliably favorable to the president.
“This week’s Reuters/Ipsos Core Political release presents something of an outlier of our trend,” stated a paragraph that appeared before the press release on its latest polling even began.
“Every series of polls has the occasional outlier, and in our opinion, this is one. So, while we are reporting the findings in the interest of transparency, we will not be announcing the start of a new trend until we have more data to validate this pattern.”
For the sixth Friday in a row, protestors from Gaza came to Israel’s border with intentions to penetrate it. They come with scissors to cut through the fence, with burning tires, Molotov cocktails, slingshots with rocks, and kites with firebombs attached to them to destroy Israeli farmlands and villages.
This is not some peaceful demonstration akin to Selma in the 1960s when blacks were simply trying to sit together with whites at a lunch counter. The usage of the word “demonstrators” is a misnomer; these are “rioters.”
What would happen if the world took Pope Francis’ advice (via a tweet)? “Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war,” said the pontiff.
While on the surface, the disappearance of all weapons might suggest the inability to do violence, in reality, it would mean the certain annihilation of the West as a civilization.
When a Philadelphia Starbucks manager called the police after two black men refused to leave, the chain of events ended with the burnt taste of the overpriced coffee chain colluding with anti-Semitism.
Starbucks reacted to the brief arrest by blaming the police, but Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is African-American, initially said that his officers, “did absolutely nothing wrong”. But then he was forced to offer a bewildering apology to the arrested men, the officers and the entire city.
“It is me who in large part made most of the situation worse than it was,” he announced.
“Your threshing season will last until your grape harvest, and your grape harvest will last until the time you plant. You will have your fill of food, and you will dwell securely in your land” (Vayikra 26:5).
This blessing is promised to the People of Israel on condition that, as a unified nation, they observe the laws of the Torah and live by its spirit. Its promise is quite surprising. Not only will the Israelites have plenty to eat but, as the verse clearly indicates, the Jews will experience an overflow of food. The first season, when produce is brought to the threshing floor, will last until the days of the grape harvest, which in turn will continue into the planting season.