The International Preoccupation with Israel

Tishrei 20, 5777

October 22, 2016


On the Gaza border (Egyptian side)

As we sat in our sukka last night here in Ashdod eating our Shabbat dinner, the continuous “booming” from the Gaza area served as a backdrop to, and even occasionally interrupted, our conversation.

As your humble servant mentioned yesterday, the Egyptian Army is carrying out an attack on the area of Rafah on the Gaza Border. What is going on is not being publicized, but whatever it is, those on the receiving end are taking a pounding. This morning, Palestinian sources are accusing Israel of assisting Egypt by dropping bombs from drones.

Take a look at where Rafah is:

Your humble servant is currently sitting about 40 km north of the northern border of Gaza and Israel. Note that Rafah is at the southern border of Gaza with Egypt.

Your humble servant is currently sitting about 40 km north of the northern border of Gaza and Israel. Note that Rafah is at the southern border of Gaza with Egypt.

Rafah is roughly 80 kilometers from our sukka here in Ashdod. You can imagine the pounding taking place if we can feel the vibrations here.

On the Gaza border (Israeli side)

The IDF General Command informed residents of kibbutzim and moshavim along the border yesterday that when the holidays are over next week, IDF forces are being removed from their communities.

You may remember that the General Command wanted to withdraw immediately after the war two years ago, but residents raised such a hue and cry that the IDF was forced to change its plans.

The idea that the IDF General Command will leave these communities hung out to dry is shocking and once again indicative of a Command that has lost its way. After all it was the same General Command that announced a few days ago that one of the bidders to build a new underground wall between Gaza and Israel is a Turkish company–and we all know that Turkey is the biggest supporter of Hamas on the planet.

Still basking in the afterglow of the Jerusalem march . . . but

Your humble servant is still agog at the outpouring of support for Jerusalem and Israel yesterday. More than 100,000 people, mainly Christians, poured into the city to wave flags and declare their support for Israeli sovereignty over the entire city.

As I said yesterday, it was in essence a huge demonstration against the abominable UNESCO organization.

Having said that there were several aspects of the walk that I was not happy with.

First, one of the most important routes of previous marches has been discontinued. We used to love the walk that took us down from Mt. Scopus skirting the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the eastern wall of the Old City and ending up at the Dung Gate on the southern wall. Our government’s giving in to ongoing Palestinian terrorism has apparently shut down this route completely.

Second, it was astonishing to see the huge numbers of young Arab “police cadets” from eastern Jerusalem lining the route supposedly providing protection. We couldn’t help but think that at any given moment, one of those “cadets” might do something untoward. And we also thought about what signal this was giving to the marchers. Is the only way to be safe in Jerusalem to have Muslims protecting Jews?

Third, this latter point ties into what we wrote in this blog on October 15–that the Netanyahu government is complicit in the UNESCO decision. It was a point reiterated two days ago by Michael Freund in the Jerusalem Post (Oct. 20):

“But even as Israel points an accusatory finger or two at the UN group, the government would do well to consider whether perhaps its own policies may have contributed to this farce. After all, Israel bars Jews from praying on the Temple Mount, limits their access to the site and has allowed the Muslim Wakf which oversees it to destroy ancient archaeological relics there in the past. If this is how the Jewish state itself treats Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, then should it really come as a surprise when other nations seek to downplay or obfuscate our connection to it?”

Three cheers for Wonder Woman!

What great news yesterday that Wonder Woman, in the form of Israeli actress Gal Gadot, has been named as an honorary ambassador to fight for gender equality.

Gal Gadot, the current Wonder Woman (on the left), with Lynda Carter, the original Wonder Woman from the 1970s.

Gal Gadot, the current Wonder Woman (on the left), with Lynda Carter, the original Wonder Woman from the 1970s (picture YNET news).


The International Preoccupation with Israel

Your humble servant is not in the habit of quoting commentary from other journalists/bloggers, but in addition to the Freund article above another piece appeared yesterday that deserves comment here today.

It comes from Sever Plocker, a leading commentator for the left-wing Yediot Aharonot newspaper. In an opinion piece in which he alternately praises and criticizes B’Tselem for its appearance before the U.N. Security Council last week, Plocker writes of his discussion with a leading, yet unnamed “liberal Jewish leader” in the U.S., a man well-known for his harsh criticism of Israel and PM Netanyahu.

The “leader” was talking about one of the B’Tselem talking points–concerning how some Palestinians were allegedly treated at an Israeli checkpoint by two Border Guards (emphasis mine):

“You can’t ignore half a million dead in Syria, he [the leader] added, while focusing on the humiliating behavior of two Border Guard officers at a roadblock in the West Bank. And people can’t say that these things are not connected. They are, at least priority-wise: The international occupation with Israel’s conduct in the West Bank is nothing but an attempt to evade the heavy responsibility for the mass murder taking place in Syria.

As for Netanyahu, my interlocutor concluded, his worldview has won. The ‘two-state’ solution has been buried, and all that is left for Bibi to do is to manage the current complex situation, which he is attempting to treat as a permanent solution. I am not dismissing the possibility that he will succeed, at least in the medium term.

These are not unusual comments. They reflect a deep revision among liberal public opinion leaders in the US, especially the Jews among them. Quietly, in closed conversations, many of them are voicing an agreement with the official Israeli approach that “there is no one to talk to,” or at are at least saying that they understand the despair regarding the Arab leadership, any Arab leadership, as a partner for an agreement.”

While I completely agree with the gist of what this “unnamed leader” had to say, he misses the point about Syria. Of course, the United Nations Security Council’s and international community’s preoccupation with what two Border Guards do at a Israeli checkpoint is a moral evasion of responsibility for the hundreds of thousands killed in Syria.

But the preoccupation with Israel long precedes the events in Syria.

The international preoccupation with Israel is an anti-Semitic preoccupation with Jews. As the BDS movement has made abundantly clear over the last decade, its gripe is not with the so-called “occupation”; its complaint is about the Jews. When yellow labels are put on Israeli products in European supermarkets, the message is clear: Israel is the Jew who was forced to wear anti-Semitic clothing through the centuries culminating in the yellow badges forced upon Jews by the Nazis. 

As for the two-state solution, it died when the Palestinians rejected peace offer after peace offer–and in doing so embarked upon decades of terrorism targeting Israeli men, women, and children. It died because the Palestinians have never accepted a Jewish state of Israel. And no matter how much the world wants to prop up Mahmoud Abbas of the PLO, he has never accepted a Jewish state of Israel and declares repeatedly that the Palestinians will never do so.

That is the reality that we Israelis have to live with–and make no mistake about it, we choose to live.






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