Posts Tagged ‘BDS’

Team Obama’s smear machine-in-exile mobilizes to destroy Iran-deal critics — Politics of personal destruction seems Un-American

March 30, 2018
 New York Post

“John Bolton is at the nexus of Russia’s interference in our democracy and the NRA’s reckless agenda”: The sentence is so bonkers, so pristine in its conspiratorial insanity that it should one day grace a Museum of Natural History exhibit on early-21st century US politics.

Yet it wasn’t from an anonymous troll, or some Hollywood figure with tons of followers but little common sense. It was tweeted by National Security Action — an outfit run by former top Obama officials.

Described by The Washington Post as a “political strike force,” this NSA is a coterie of veterans from the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, acting as a shadow government to weaponize foreign-policy disputes. It’s a fever-swamp-in-exile.

And it exemplifies everything that’s wrong with top Democrats’ partisan madness in the Age of Trump.

The co-chairs are Ben Rhodes and Jake Sullivan. Rhodes, you’ll recall, was the reckless novice Barack Obama made a top adviser and who proceeded to create what he called an “echo chamber” of lies, distortions and spin about the Iran nuclear deal for pro-Obama reporters and think-tankers to regurgitate.

Sullivan’s presence atop a conspiracist machine is more troubling. Unlike Rhodes, he’s knowledgeable, experienced and inclined to public service. Had Clinton won the 2016 election, Sullivan would’ve been the frontrunner for national-security adviser — the post to which Bolton has just been named.

What’s up with this Bolton/Russia stuff, anyway? It’s all based on the fact that Bolton was asked in 2013 by the then-NRA president to record a pro-gun rights statement for a Russian organization. For that, Sullivan’s group accuses Bolton of being “at the nexus of Russia’s interference in our democracy”? Is Jake Sullivan really comfortable with this?

Or, for that matter, is former Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who serves on the National Security Action advisory council? What about Tom Donilon, who held Bolton’s job under Obama? Susan Rice and Samantha Power, who, like Bolton, are previous US ambassadors to the United Nations? They, too, serve on the advisory council.

If you want to understand what’s behind this rabid partisanship, two other members of the council make more sense: Joe Cirincione and Wendy Sherman. Cirincione is a key member of the “echo chamber.” He’s president of the Ploughshares Fund, a leftist group that, in the years leading up to the nuke deal, funded media (including National Public Radio) and nuclear “experts” to whom it distributed talking points on the nuke deal intended to sell the Obama administration’s party line.

Sherman was the chief negotiator of the Iran deal.

And Bolton hates the nuke deal and wants President Trump to scrap it. His opposition stems mostly from the fact that it’s a disastrous mess that legitimized Iran’s program, knifed US allies — and unchained Tehran’s terror squads with an infusion of cash and a willingness by Obama to look the other way as they bloodied up the Middle East.

It’s a national embarrassment. Rhodes, Cirincione and Sherman couldn’t be prouder of it.

And that’s really what’s going on. The smear of Bolton by Team Obama is the echo chamber reverberating to save its legacy project.

In The New York Times this week, Sherman excoriated Bolton as a warmonger for wanting to tear up the deal: “The march to military conflict will be hard to stop, especially with Mr. Bolton leading the National Security Council.” With the deal in place, Iran won’t build nukes, because . . . the mullahs pinky-swore: “Iran has committed to never obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

As absurd as this sounds, it’s a key talking point: If you don’t like the deal, you want war, and anyway Iran promised.

On Tuesday, Ernest Moniz, the Obama energy secretary also involved in nuke-deal talks, wrote in The Boston Globe: “The core of the Iran agreement is an explicit commitment from Iran that it will never seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons.”

Chiming in to Politico was Sullivan, warning, “It is very difficult to overestimate the potential danger that John Bolton could put us in.”

These former Obama advisers think they’re protecting one legacy, but really they’re creating a separate one. In their willingness to cross any line to slime public officials who differ, they are encouraging the public to reinterpret their time in office not as a highminded search for truth and security but as a series of partisan exercises soaked in the politics of personal destruction.

Twitter: @SethAMandel


Why can’t Israel make peace? Because Palestinian elites have no interest in doing so

February 21, 2018

Enjoying the good life themselves, Palestinian leaders have created a misrepresentation of their people as ‘the wretched on earth.’ It’s a recipe for endless conflict

Jordan's King Abdullah II (right) speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II (right) speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

This article is excerpted from Ben-Dror Yemini’s new book, Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab Conflict, published by ISGAP.

We must admit that there is no chance for peace in the foreseeable future.

It’s not that the solution is complicated. Despite the disagreements, despite the fantasy of mass Return, and despite the isolated settlements, there are clear parameters for peace. Bill Clinton presented them in late 2000; the Geneva plan presented a similar plan in 2002; Ehud Olmert repeated it, with semantic changes, in 2008; John Kerry introduced two versions with almost the same parameters in 2014. Even the Arab initiative, if we take away the fantasy of mass Return, could have been the basis for an agreement.

Although the parameters are known, peace cannot be achieved.

In the past century there have been many conflicts. Almost every actualization of the right to self-determination created a bloody conflict, years of struggle, and the expulsion of populations. Yet, eventually, agreements were reached. Enemies have become neighbors. Peace agreements have also been signed between Israel and two Arab states — Egypt and Jordan, and Israel maintains cooperation with many other Arab states.

So why this should not have happened in the Israeli Palestinian conflict? Because it has another dimension, which was absent in other conflicts. The Palestinian elites have reached a status that no elite had before. The Palestinian struggle is not one more struggle.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, then-US President George Bush, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in Annapolis, Maryland in 2007. (Courtesy Ian Black)

It became the most famous, most celebrated, and the most prestigious of all — the crown jewel of causes. The Palestinian refusal to accept any peace proposal is not only due to historical reasons or a sense of injustice. It is not about more or less concessions. It stems from the fact that the Palestinian elites only benefit from the continuation of the conflict. The Palestinians have become not only the ultimate global symbol of a “victim” and an “oppressed people,” who are supposedly fighting against colonialism and occupation. They have become global celebrities.

On the one hand, members of the Palestinian elite come and leave the capitals of the world dressed in the most tailored and fashionable of men’s apparel. They enjoy the good life. On the other hand, they succeed in creating a misrepresentation of “the wretched on earth.”

According to any objective measure of life expectancy, infant mortality, natural increase, education, and so forth, the Palestinians are not in the worst shape among the world’s needy populations. Just the opposite. Most people in the world live in much worse circumstances. But they are not in the headlines. No one is demonstrating for them. The claim that those who identify with the Palestinians are concerned with human rights is one of the most ridiculous claims of the present era; supporters of the Palestinian struggle are, after all, not bothered by the tens of millions who suffer from internal or external oppression.

* * *

Let’s imagine a student from northern Nigeria on an American campus. He represents one of the most miserable communities in the world, suffering from non-stop Jihadist terrorism of Boko Haram: thousands have been massacred; 1.4 million children have become refugees, 100,000 of them on the verge of starvation. But nobody cares about them. There are no demonstrations. No global protest. No conferences. Nigeria is not included in the latest buzz words about oppression. Yet, for many, Israel has become representative of all other injustices in the world, in addition to one’s own as an African-American, woman, or homosexual, as illustrated by the phenomenon of intersectionality.

An image taken from a video released on August 14, 2014 by the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram purportedly shows dozens of girls kidnapped by the group in 2014. (screen capture: YouTube)

In any case, the world stage is dominated by the Palestinians. Couple this with intersectionality, and it ensures that countless opponents of injustice half way across the world will be aligning themselves against “the oppressor Israel.” It doesn’t help that “colonialism,” one of the magic words in post modern discourse, can, through selective interpretation and a web of lies, be used to tag Israel as an oppressor. It is a little difficult to use the word “colonialist” against the Jihadists even if they have extreme imperialist ambitions.

Not only is there no worldwide protest against the Jihad affiliates, there is even support for those who champion an anti-Semitic, fascist, and murderous ideology. Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo displayed his stripes in the middle of the 2014 Gaza War, declaring “shoot those bastard Zionists,” encouraging the Europeans to buy weapons for Hamas, and arguing that “Israel is worse than the Nazis.” The feminist organization Code Pink organized no less than seven solidarity missions to Gaza, meeting with Hamas members (never mind that the mufti of Gaza tells male viewers how to beat their wives without leaving scars that would make them ugly or alert the police).

Then there are high-profile entertainers, such as the aging British rocker and lead singer from Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, who compares Israel to Nazi Germany and supports BDS, or British film director Ken Loach, who called for a cultural boycott of Israel. Even if they don’t convince their fellow artists, who keep on coming to Israel, they still encourage the Palestinian elites to keep on with the struggle against Israel instead of fighting for peace.

British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a meeting of the Party of European Socialists in Brussels, on October 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/John Thys)

There is a whole chapter in the work at hand about major producers in the industry of lies, such as academic Noam Chomsky, who made a pilgrimage to visit Hezbollah leader Nasrallah in Lebanon; UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who embraced Hamas and Hezbollah as his “friends”; Judith Butler, who turned them into progressive bodies; and Canadian writer Naomi Klein, who cuts Hamas out of the equation when attacking Israel as the aggressor in the 2014 Gaza War.

British musician Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. (AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)

There are even some academics who have turned their anti Israel positions into a career— such as Norman Finkelstein, a highly visible figure on the lecture circuit, as well as a talented and highly entertaining speaker who attracts droves of students on campuses around the world, and elsewhere.

Individual academics are not the only ones who participate in the industry of lies, and MESA (the Middle East Studies Association in the United States) presidents are not the only supporters of BDS. The same evil spirit extends to campus life — awash in anti Israel “academic gatherings.”

With all the big bucks flowing in, with no strings attached, what are the chances that Palestinian activists will give up this abundance of status, honor, prestige and jobs?

For example, at University College Cork Ireland in April 2017, a three-day academic conference was held under the heading “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy Exceptionalism and Responsibility.” Speakers pilloried Israel as an exception to the world order (as if it was the only nation state) in order to deliberate whether Israel could legitimately exist as such an exception. The keynote speaker was Richard Falk, who used the occasion to charge that the foundation of Israel was “the most successful terror campaign in history.” There was actually a conference slated to take place in the UK at the University of Southampton (but prohibited at the last-minute by campus authorities on “health and safety concerns”) devoted to the question “does Israel have the right to exist.” No such conference was contemplated to discuss England’s right to exist, of course.

UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk (photo credit: UN Watch)

Richard Falk (photo credit: UN Watch)

Some Israel bashing gatherings take place under a cloak of polite respectability such as a July 2017 two-day conference at the University of Sydney in Australia, called “BDS: Driving Global Justice for Palestine,” hosted by none other than the Department for Peace and Conflict Studies. The use of benign language is disarming: the objective of the gathering was to promote “greater public understanding of the BDS campaign,” which, the organizers stressed, would be devoted to “harness rational argument to support a more peaceful and more just world.” (One needs to understand the subtext of “a just world”: it includes a Palestinian right of return, demanded by Students for Justice in Palestine, in order to rectify Israel’s alleged ethnic cleansing.)

This intellectual disease extends to the American political arena, where anti Israel currents have gained a foothold within the Democratic Party, reflected in a one-sided amendment to the Middle East plank of the Democratic platform, suggested by Bernie Sanders’ people, that was rejected by a narrow margin of 95 to 73, as well as the rising popularity of movers and shakers with strong anti Israel orientations, such as Keith Ellison and Linda Sarsour.

The problem is that the Palestinians read such undercurrents as proof that they are on a winning streak, at least in terms of the Democratic Party, giving them no reason to rethink their positions or seek reconciliation.

The limelight as a livelihood

Palestinians are riding a wave of support from celebrities in a host of professions, including academia, with few, if any, strings attached.

It is not only the Palestinian leadership that enjoys ideological and moral support. Dozens of Palestinian or pro Palestinian organizations receive extensive financial support from dozens of celebrated foundations and political structures: the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundation (George Soros), the European Union, individual European countries, and church funds. Then, of course, there is UNRWA and other United Nations funding entities.

With all the big bucks flowing in, with no strings attached, what are the chances that Palestinian activists will give up this abundance of status, honor, prestige and jobs? Is it at all surprising that Palestinian activists of such well-funded NGOs are against reconciliation and peace?

The Palestinians’ special status as the blue-eyed boy everyone embraces creates some very strange anomalies. Palestinian activists stand shoulder to shoulder with LGBT activists, although everyone knows — or should know — that members of the LGBT community in the Palestinian territories are at severe risk, facing persecution and often mortal danger. As a result, many prefer to flee to Israel.

Too many Palestinians have a huge vested interest in intransigence and violence

These are the facts, but anti Israel demonstrations are also held under the charge of “pink washing” — the idiotic theory stating that Israel grants freedom and rights to people of different sexual orientations only as a mask to conceal the horrors of the occupation. Thus, members of the Palestinian and anti Israel elites have succeed not only in disseminating ridiculous theories, but also in obtaining an exemption from violations of basic human rights for Palestinian authorities. This is another expression of racism of low expectations.

Palestinian women chant slogans as they hold Palestinian flags during a sit-in in the Bourj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp, in Beirut, Lebanon, December 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

There are Palestinians who suffer. These are mainly those in Lebanon, who experience apartheid (subject to separate laws) with all its implications, or those in Syria who suffer, together with the rest of the Syrian population, from terrible bloodshed. They can only dream to live under Israeli rule. Yet, they do not interest anyone because they are not under Israeli control.

Under Israeli rule, on the other hand, the Palestinians in the territories enjoy the highest rate of higher education in the Arab world. In fact, the rise in the level of education has led to the emigration of tens of thousands of young Palestinians to Europe and the United States, subsequently eligible for graduate studies in the most prestigious universities (hundreds of them subsequently became faculty).

Industry of Lies, by Ben-Dror Yemini

In an era dominated by a postcolonial school of thought, the Palestinians have become the icon for struggle against colonialism. If the symbol in the 1960s was Che Guevara, the contemporary symbol is to sport a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf.

There are a thousand and one rivalries between student organizations that represent different groups, but they are united about one subject: their support for the Palestinians, with no knowledge about the conflict. Instead of focusing their efforts on the rights of African-Americans, the Black Lives Matter movement has become fixated on Israel, even accusing the Jewish state of the events in Ferguson. There will always be Jews and Israelis to tell them that Israel is the source of their troubles. In the past, it was said that Jews were the source of global evil. Today, it is said that Zionists are the source of every evil.

This is the madness consuming the free and academic world. This distortion does not support peace, reconciliation, or compromise. The common denominator of these bodies, which are supported by academia and funded by the EU and various other foreign governments, is usually their opposition to the very existence of Israel. It is doubtful whether there is one body among them that supports peace and reconciliation and that is funded by the same sources.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops following protests against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Does this encourage the Palestinian elites towards reconciliation with Israel, or does it encourage them to perpetuate the struggle? And if this is the position of the progressive elites of the free world, why would a rational Palestinian change direction and support reconciliation and compromise? Why should any of the Palestinians give up the special status they now enjoy that bundles together victimhood, prestige, legitimacy for all their actions, economic benefit and a comfortable livelihood?

A peace agreement would undermine this special status. Instead of talking about racism and colonialism, instead of being the stars of academia and the darlings of the progressive elites, and instead of enjoying generous funding as activists against oppression, the Palestinians will have to worry about welfare, sewage systems, and building a state. They will have to take responsibility for themselves and their fate. They will stop receiving tens of millions of dollars each year for political struggle. They will not be the stars of the campuses. That is the last thing they want.

They have succeeded in convincing many intellectual circles in the world that BDS is a “nonviolent movement” against racism and for equal rights. There is no greater lie than that. The BDS movement is fighting to deny the right of self-determination of one state among all the countries of the world: Israel.

What should rational and decent people do?

What can rational and decent people do against this mind-boggling phenomenon?

First, expose the absurdities. Do not give in to the thought police. Maintain independent and critical thinking, connected to reality. Make a hierarchy of global injustices. The Alice in Wonderland-like lunacy that is taking place in significant sectors of the academic and media elites is not a problem for Israel. It is a problem of the free world. This is fake knowledge that produces fake realities.

The attention, top priority, aide and grants underwrites an entire sector of the economy and society that “makes a living from the conflict” — from elite Palestinian leaders flying around the world in first class and elegant suits to academics paid to write a flood of studies on the feasibility of the right of return, to tunnel operators in Gaza, and families who depend on stipends for sons killed in terrorist attacks (shahids).

Palestinian women take part in a protest in Gaza City on January 29, 2018, against the US move to freeze funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The Palestinian public sector is gigantic, and the bonanza of cheap money as the world’s favorite humanitarian cause is reflected on the landscape in the West Bank — glass clad skyscrapers and public institutions, private villas, and virtual mansions that Westerners rarely see. The Pan-Arab paper Asharq al Awsat in London investigated the phenomenon and concluded that there are 600 millionaires in Gaza! Too many Palestinians have a huge vested interest in intransigence and violence.

There is a conflict of interest between rewarded Palestinian elites who want to perpetuate the conflict, and the Palestinian masses who suffer from the conflict. Reaching a peace agreement would lead, for example, to reducing the distress of the Palestinians in Lebanon who are legally, socially and geographically marginalized. They will not be able to return to Israel because Israel has no plans to commit demographic suicide, but they will receive new options, such as an international compensation fund, naturalization in some countries, options for returning to the Palestinian entity, and more. When the elites perpetuate the fantasy of the right of return, they perpetuate the continuation of suffering and plight.

It is possible and necessary to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The outlines are known. There is not much to innovate. For this to happen, it is permissible and, indeed, necessary to criticize Israeli policy. But this will not happen as long as a widespread and well oiled academic and political apparatus provides the Palestinian elites with honor, money and prestige that perpetuate the conflict.

This march of folly must be stopped. Not to harm the Palestinians, but to give them hope and to save them.

Ben-Dror Yemini is a senior journalist with the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth who lectures about the spread and impact of anti-Israel propaganda.

Israel to Deny Tax Breaks, Government Bids From Local Groups Calling for Boycott — Blacklists Being Compiled

February 16, 2018


Implementation would require compiling a ‘blacklist’ of Israeli boycott supporters, sources say, on top of an existing list of foreign activists and groups

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is set to approve in the coming days new regulations to prevent organizations and individuals who support a boycott of Israel from receiving various tax breaks or from participating in government bids. The new regulation will apply to Israeli citizens too.

Officials in the Strategic Affairs Ministry – which initiated and wrote the draft version of the regulations on the basis of Israel’s boycot law – expect a list of Israeli citizens and organizations who support BDS may be compiled, alongside the existing list of foreign groups that promote BDS.

Israel published in January a list of organizations whose activists will be barred from entering the country.

But Strategic Affairs Ministry officials said such a list for local groups and activists does not yet exist, and if and when the new regulations are approved, an inter-ministerial team will begin work on it under the supervision of legal advisers.

Finance Ministry officials said that anyone who is to be sanctioned under any new regulations would first be summoned for a hearing on the matter.

Israeli law does not distinguish between a call to boycott West Bank settlements and Israel proper. However it will be up to the inter-ministerial team to decide which group and activists will be included in list.

Sources in the Strategic Affairs Ministry said that the effort would focus on central groups and activists – including Israelis – and not on people who are critical of Israel and believe Israel should be boycotted.

The move would prevent them from receiving benefits from the government or government contracts and jobs, said the officials. They said a “blacklist” would be complied of Israelis that head a non-government organization or another group that advocates the boycott of Israel.

The ministry is also working to advance an amendment to the Boycott Prevention Law that would allow the filing of civil lawsuits against boycott activists and organizations, the officials added.

Last year, Kahlon said he would act to deny charitable tax deductions for Israelis who make donations to Amnesty International, according to the Boycott Prevention Law.

Kahlon decided to take action against Amnesty International for a campaign in the summer of 2017, titled, “Israel’s Occupation: 50 Years of Dispossession,” marking the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. The group called on its website to boycott West Bank settlement produce.

This was the first time the government implemented the controversial law, passed in 2011.

“We will use all the means at our disposal, including denying tax benefits against every organization that harms the State of Israel or IDF soldiers,” Kahlon said at the time.


Merkel: Ongoing need to protect Jewish institutions ‘a disgrace’

January 27, 2018

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, German leader warns of rising anti-Semitism in country, calls to create position of anti-Semitism commissioner

German chancellor Angela Merkel looks on after addressing the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 24, 2018 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI)

German chancellor Angela Merkel looks on after addressing the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 24, 2018 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of rising anti-Semitism in her country on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling the need to protect Jewish buildings “a disgrace.”

It is important to remember the millions of Holocaust victims because recently, “anti-Semitism, racism, and the hatred of others are more relevant,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday.

She said that schools, which already teach about the country’s Nazi past, need to work harder at that, especially so immigrant students from Arab countries will not “exercise anti-Semitism.”

She called it “incomprehensible and a disgrace that no Jewish institution can exist without police security —whether it is a school, a kindergarten, or a synagogue.”

The chancellor also reaffirmed her support of creating the position of anti-Semitism commissioner in the next German government, if her party can finalize tortuous negotiations to forge a coalition.

The commissioner would be appointed to counter growing hate speech against Jews and Israel in German from both its home-grown far-right and some recent migrants in the Muslim community.

Israeli flags were burned in Berlin in December to protest the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The United Nations in 2007 designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps.



Merkel warns of rising anti-Semitism on Holocaust Day — “It is inconceivable and shameful that no Jewish institution can exist without police protection”

January 27, 2018


© AFP/File | German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “it is inconceivable and shameful that no Jewish institution can exist without police protection”

BERLIN (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of rising anti-Semitism in her country on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling the need to protect Jewish buildings “shameful”.It is important to remember the millions of Holocaust victims because “anti-Semitism, racism and the hatred of others are more relevant” recently, Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday.

“It is inconceivable and shameful that no Jewish institution can exist without police protection, whether it is a school, a kindergarten or a synagogue,” she said.

The chancellor also reaffirmed her support of creating the position of anti-Semitism commissioner in the next German government, if her party can finalise tortuous negotiations to forge a coalition.

The commissioner would be appointed to counter growing hate speech against Jews and Israel in German from both its home-grown far-right and some recent migrants in the Muslim community.

Israeli flags were burnt in Berlin in December to protest the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The United Nations in 2007 designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps.

Israel’s Project To Fights Against ‘Delegitimization’

January 9, 2018

Among the shareholders are former UN ambassador Dore Gold and ex-generals Amos Yadlin and Yaakov Amidror. The new initiative will not be subject to the Freedom of Information Law

By Noa Landau Jan 09, 2018 3:26 PM

Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, during the Carmel Mountain fires

Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, during the Carmel Mountain fires Emil Salman

The Strategic Affairs Ministry has set up a public-benefit corporation to engage in what it calls “mass awareness activities” as part of “the struggle against the delegitimization campaign” against Israel internationally.

Haaretz has obtained a list of the shareholders and directors of the company, Kella Shlomo, who include former Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations.

The government recently allocated 128 million shekels ($37 million) to the initiative, in addition to the 128 million shekels it will raise from private donors around the world.

The new initiative will not be subject to the Freedom of Information Law, in accordance with the secrecy policy of the ministry, which refuses to release detailed information about its activities.

The shareholders and directors include former ministry director general Yossi Kuperwasser; former UN ambassador Dore Gold, who is also a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and former UN ambassador Ron Prosor.

Reuven Rivlin with Amos Yadlin. Mark Neiman

Reuven Rivlin with Amos Yadlin.
Reuven Rivlin with Amos Yadlin. Mark Neiman

FILE PHOTO: Protestors march behind a banner of the BDS organization in Marseille, southern France, on June 13, 2015

FILE PHOTO: Protestors march behind a banner of the BDS organization in Marseille, southern France, on June 13, 2015George Robert / AP

They also include businessman Micah Avni, whose father, Richard Lakin, was killed in a 2015 terror attack in Jerusalem; Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, who heads the Institute for National Security Studies; and Col. (res.) Miri Eisin, who served as the prime minister’s adviser on the foreign press during the Second Lebanon War.


Also on the list are a former National Security Council chief, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, and Sagi Balasha, a former CEO of the Israeli-American Council, which has casino magnate Sheldon Adelson as a major supporter.

Most refused to discuss the initiative and referred questions to the office of Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan.

The most recent data from the Companies Authority shows that the last report the company submitted to the authority came this past October. On December 28, the cabinet approved an allocation of 128 million shekels to the company over three years. The decision to provide the funding was made by the special procedure under which a government resolution is distributed to the ministers and goes into effect automatically if no one objects or demands a discussion.

According to the government resolution, the funding was granted “to implement part of the ministry’s activities related to the struggle against the phenomena of delegitimization and boycotts against the State of Israel.” It says the agency will work to raise its portion of the financing for the initiative (around half) from “philanthropic sources” or “pro-Israel organizations.” A steering committee will be appointed for the initiative to comprise government representatives and representatives of the other funding partners.

Ron Prosor at the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon oath ceremony forr his appointment as the Secretary-General of the United Nations for second term
Ron Prosor at the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon oath ceremony forr his appointment as the Secretary-General of the United Nations for second term.  Credit Shachar Ezran

Itamar Baz of the media watchdog website The Seventh Eye has been covering the Strategic Affairs Ministry, most of whose activities are concealed from the public. He reported Monday that while ministry officials have for months been advancing legislation that would exclude the company from being subject to the Freedom of Information Law, the law in any case does not apply to this new agency so its activities will be easy to hide.

He also revealed that Liat Glazer, the ministry’s legal adviser, wrote in a legal opinion that the activities conducted through the company would be “those that require ‘non-governmental’ discussions with various target audiences.”

According to a ministry document, Kella Shlomo people would work via social networks because “the enemy directs most of its awareness and motivating efforts to this area.” Similarly, the document, published by The Seventh Eye, says the organization was expected to carry out “mass awareness activities” and work to “exploit the wisdom of crowds,” an activity defined as “making new ideas accessible to decision-makers and donors in the Jewish world, and developing new tools to combat the delegitimization of Israel.”

A report in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth the day after the cabinet approved the funding described the initiative positively, saying it would “raise the level of efforts in the struggle against BDS” — the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Yedioth said the new company would “provide a speedy and coordinated response to efforts to stain Israel’s image around the world,” for example, in the event of a military operation, terror attacks or UN votes against government policies.

This would be done by launching online campaigns, lobbying, engaging organizations abroad and bringing delegations to Israel.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry declined to clarify whether the company would act in accordance with the principles of the Freedom of Information Law.

“This is a joint initiative that meets all the requirements of the law for this type of engagement and is similar to other government initiatives like Taglit [Birthright] and Masa,” the ministry said.

“In the agreement with [the company] there are distinct control procedures, as defined by the Finance Ministry and the Justice Ministry during the joint work with them on setting up the project. It will be subject to auditing by the state comptroller,” it added.

“In addition, as the ministry leading the initiative, one that attributes great importance to it as part of the campaign against the delegitimization of Israel, the ministry has allocated additional control tools and functions to what is required. Both the ministry’s legal adviser and its controller will sit on the steering committee managing the project.”

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Israel’s BDS Blacklist, the Fine Print: Who Will Actually Be Denied Entry

January 8, 2018

Activists who are not defined as ‘in the core of the organizations’ included on Israel’s boycott blacklist will not necessarily be stopped, Israeli officials say

By Noa Landau Jan 08, 2018 11:24 AM

An Egyptian shouts anti-Israeli slogans in Cairo, Egypt, April 20, 2015.

An Egyptian shouts anti-Israeli slogans in Cairo, Egypt, April 20, 2015. AP

When Israel published Sunday a list of 20 groups advocating a boycott of Israel whose members will be denied entry to the country, it did not release a list of such activists who will be denied entry – and according to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, no such list exists. However, it has made clear that leading activists or significant employees of the listed organizations will be targeted for enforcement.

“The heads and key activists in these organizations are the ones who will not be allowed to enter Israel,” the ministry said. But officials in the Interior Ministry and bureau of Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told Haaretz that names will indeed be sent to border control for enforcement purposes.

According to these officials, activists who are not defined as “in the core of the organization,” or who are not known to the ministry from public sources, will not necessarily be stopped. The Strategic Affairs Ministry said “If as part of routine questioning carried out by border control personnel, the organizational affinity of the applicant for entry comes up, denial of entry will be considered based on the criteria published on the Interior Ministry website. As well, if an announcement is published of the arrival of activists from organizations defined as banned, they will be turned down if they meet the criteria.”


According to the ministry, the list of criteria for the law, which has been posted on the Interior Ministry website, details the possibilities by which entry may still be permitted to Israel, including for humanitarian reasons. This distinction is likely to become significant, for Jewish activists in Jewish Voice for Peace with family in Israel, for example. According to the criteria, groups will be blacklisted if they support “boycotts and their promotion, actively, continuously and continually.”

The list of criteria also clarifies “the fact that an organization is anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian or has a critical agenda toward Israeli government policy, does not, in itself, constitute a reason to deny entry to Israel.”

Denial of entry for activists will be enforced whether they belong to one of the organizations or not, according to the following criteria: 1. Individuals with senior positions or significant roles in the organization, such as board chairman or board members. The definition of the offices in question will vary according to the character of each organization; 2. Key activists who take a consistent and continuous role to promote boycotts within the framework of prominent delegitimization organizations or independently; 3. Institutional officials, such as mayors, who promote such activities in an active and ongoing way; 4. People who arrive in Israel as “representatives of one of the prominent delegitimizing organizations. For example, an activist who arrives as a participant in a delegation from a prominent delegitimization organization.”

Exceptions “will be examined as cases in which the extent of damage by denying entry to an individual [because they promote boycotts] is greater than the usefulness of denying entry.” Such cases might include: 1. Political considerations; 2. Official invitations by the state; 3. Humanitarian considerations; 4. Holders of official positions.”

With regard to Jewish activists who will want to come to Israel as Birthright participants, the ministry said: “Birthright is a joint initiative of the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry intended to strengthen the relationship of young people in the Diaspora to the State of Israel. Thus, all participants in the program will be allowed to enter Israel.”

As for activists who want to move to Israel, the ministry said: “The right to move to Israel exists for every Jew. The denial of entry law will not withhold this right from any person who is entitled to it in the framework of the Law of Return.”

The Interior Ministry added that requests to move to Israel will be examined on a case by case basis. Haaretz has learned that the Foreign Ministry was not asked for its opinion on the list that was put together.

Noa Landau
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Israel names 20 banned NGOs in anti-boycott push

January 8, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on January 3, 2018. (AFP)

JERUSALEM: Israel on Sunday named 20 foreign NGOs whose representatives are barred from its territory, saying that they support a boycott of the Jewish state over its occupation of Palestinian territory.

Publication of the list of groups from Europe, the United States, Chile and South Africa follows legislation in March banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country or its settlements, which are seen as illegal under international law.
Rights groups criticized the law as “thought control” and noted that Israel also controls who enters the Palestinian territories apart from one border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
“We have moved from defense to attack. The boycott organizations need to know that the state of Israel will act against them and will not allow them to enter its territory in order to harm its citizens,” Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan wrote in a Hebrew-language statement.
Among the banned groups are the Paris-based Association France Palestine Solidarite, British charity War on Want and the American Friends Service Committee — a Nobel Peace Prize-winning US Quaker organization.
South African, French, Italian and Chilean branches of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) also featured on the blacklist.
The statement from Erdan’s office said that the proscribed NGOs were “the main boycott organizations which operate consistently and continuously against the state of Israel, while putting pressure on organizations, institutions and countries to boycott Israel.”
It said that they employed “a false propaganda campaign aimed at undermining Israel’s legitimacy in the world.”
At a meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told her that the boycott movement did nothing for the cause of peace.
“I believe that BDS leads to increasing hatred,” his office quoted him as saying in English.
“It symbolizes all that stands in the way of dialogue, debate, and progress,” he added.
The Palestine Group of Norway was among the groups named on Sunday.
In November, Israel denied entry to a US employee of Amnesty International as part of its anti-boycott offensive.
Amnesty and Israeli officials said at the time that Raed Jarrar, an advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at the rights group, was prevented from entering the occupied West Bank.
Jarrar was turned back by Israeli authorities at the land crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.
Amnesty did not appear on Sunday’s list.
Israeli authorities said Jarrar was barred at Erdan’s orders over unspecified links with BDS.
Israel sees the boycott movement as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism — a claim activists deny, saying they want only to see an end to Israel’s occupation.

Israel bars 20 activist groups from entry over calls for Israeli boycott

January 8, 2018
© Dominique Faget, AFP | Protesters hold a “Boycott Israel” banner during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris on August 2, 2014.


Latest update : 2018-01-08

Israel on Sunday identified 20 activist groups from around the world whose members will be banned from entering the country over their calls to boycott the Jewish state, stepping up its fight against a movement it views as a serious threat.

Israel last year enacted a law that would ban any activist who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.” The list made public Sunday, which includes a Nobel Peace Prize winning organization, follows up on that legislation.

A statement by the Strategic Affairs Ministry said those who have carried out “significant, ongoing and consistent harm to Israel through advocating boycotts may be considered to have their entry barred.” It said “central figures in key boycott organizations” risked being prevented entry. The 2017 law does not apply to Israeli citizens, the statement said.

“The boycott organizations must know that the state of Israel will act against them,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement. “The creation of this list is another step in our struggle against the incitement and lies of the boycott organizations.”

>> Israel, US race to prevent publication of UN settlement ‘blacklist’

The list is part of Israel’s efforts against a grassroots movement known as BDS, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians. The movement has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel and it includes thousands of volunteers around the world.

Supporters of the movement say the tactics are a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. Israel says the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of territory Palestinians claim for their state and often masks a more far-reaching aim to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state.

Israel’s list banning intl human rights organizations & advocates from entry is yet another desperate, fanatic attempt by Israel’s far-right government to silence its critics and counter the impressive growth of the nonviolent BDS movement for Palestinian rights around the world.

The listed groups, from the United States, France, South Africa and beyond, count thousands of people as members. They were chosen because they are the main ones who “operate consistently and continuously” against Israel, according to Erdan’s office.

American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group on the list, said it would continue to work for “peace and justice.” The group, together with a British Quaker organization, won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for assisting World War II refugees.

“We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations,” said Kerri Kennedy, an AFSC official responsible for international programs.

The U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace was also blacklisted.

“Israel’s decision to specifically ban JVP is disconcerting but not surprising, given the further erosion of democratic norms and rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom,” Jewish Voice for Peace wrote on Facebook in response to the decision.

© Facebook, Jewish Voice for Peace

In the years since its formation, the BDS movement has persuaded several church organizations to divest themselves of Israel-related investments and has garnered support on U.S. college campuses. Most recently, pop singer Lorde joined a number of other performers who have canceled performances in Israel amid pressure from BDS activists.

Even so, a slew of other musicians have defied boycott calls and performed. Israel has also enjoyed new economic partnerships and diplomatic ties despite calls for boycotts and it has become a top destination for international sporting and cultural events.


Palestinian Media Darling Ahed Tamimi and Her Family Aren’t the Palestinian Saints You Want Them to Be

January 4, 2018


Promote the blood libel? Check. Glorify terrorism? Check. Celebrate Israeli deaths? Check. Ahed Tamimi and her family aren’t fighting for peace, and they’re not just fighting the occupation: They’re fighting to destroy Israel, and their fight is seasoned with Jew-hatred

By Petra Marquardt-Bigman Jan 04, 2018 8:37 PM
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Screenshot of Manal Tamimi's tweet from Nov 5 2015, now deleted

Screenshot of Manal Tamimi’s tweet from Nov 5 2015, now deleted Manal Tamimi tweet @screamingtamimi

At the end of September 2017, Ahed Tamimi was one of the speakers at a conference hosted by the European Parliament in Brussels. Among Ahed’s co-panelists was ‘pioneering’ airline hijacker Leila Khaled, who told the audience: “The Nazis were tried in Nuremberg for their crimes. Today, Israel is experiencing impunity. You must bring the war criminals to justice and tell your governments that they must cease all cooperation with the Zionist state.”

Ahed Tamimi reportedly “also emphasized the importance of the boycott,” and declared: “The world must recognize the Palestinian cause. The occupation is not only the theft of land. We oppose racism, Zionism, the entire system of occupation and not only the settlements.”

The 16-year-old Ahed was faithfully echoing the views her father has expressed repeatedly. In a lengthy interview with Haaretz in February 2013, Bassem Tamimi claimed that “Israel has killed the two-state solution.”

Tamimi family in Nabi Saleh
Detail from a video showing the Tamimi family fighting to release their son Mohammed from a soldier’s grip at the weekly demonstration in the village of Nabi Saleh, August 28 2015. AP

He explained further: “My consciousness has changed and it has taken me to the one-state solution, which means the acceptance not the removal of the Other. In the past I wanted all of this land without any Israelis. Today, I also accept the Israelis. If we can all change our consciousness, we can create a just country.”

The sincerity of Bassem Tamimi’s claim that he now also accepts the Israelis is obviously doubtful – after all, he accepts only those Israelis who would be willing to give up the Zionist vision of Israel as a Jewish state. Moreover, if Bassem Tamimi just wanted peaceful co-existence, a two-state solution would arguably be more promising than the one-state solution he advocates.

There is no doubt that Bassem Tamimi and his activist relatives accept devoted anti-Zionist Israelis like Miko Peled, who can always be counted on to defend Hamas almost as ardently as he denounces Israel.

But as I have documented in considerable detail over the past two years, the social media activity of the Tamimis reveals ardent Jew-hatred and enthusiastic support for terrorism – notably including terror attacks targeting civilians and children.

In October 2015, Bassem Tamimi faced a backlash when he shared a Facebook post promoting “a viral anti-Semitic meme alleging Israelis detain Palestinian children to steal their organs, and that Zionists control the media to suppress this information.”

This post was all the more remarkable given the fact that Bassem Tamimi regularly encourages his own children to confront Israeli soldiers, and has frequently advocated the participation of children in protests and demonstrations.

The Free Ahed Tamimi poster on a bus shelter in London, December 2017.
The Free Ahed Tamimi poster on a bus shelter in London, December 2017.Screengrab from @proteststencil

Bassem Tamimi has also made clear that he appreciates the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah for fighting against Israel, and he has rewarded a post glorifying the Hamas Al Qassam brigades on his daughter’s Facebook page with a “Like.”

Since Bassem Tamimi has often emphasized how important women are for the “resistance” he advocates, it is instructive to see that two of the most prominent female activists in his family are utterly uncompromising in their support for terrorism.

Nariman Tamimi – Bassem’s wife and Ahed’s mother – hardly ever fails to take to Facebook after a terrorist attack to praise the perpetrator as a hero. The frightening depth of Nariman Tamimi’s hatred is reflected in a Facebook post she shared from a Tamimi family member in June 2016.

That post honored the teenage Palestinian terrorist who had just killed 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel in her sleep, after breaking into her home. As far as the Tamimis are concerned, the murder of the Jewish teen by a Palestinian just a few years older than her helped “to return to the homeland its awe/reverence.”

While Nariman Tamimi usually posts in Arabic on Facebook, Manal Tamimi has represented the Tamimis on social media in English for several years. Her output on Twitter, particularly, reflects intense Jew-hatred and unwavering support for terrorism.

manal tamimi
Vampire zionist celebrating their Kebore day by drinking Palestinian bloods, yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end

5:32 PM – Sep 22, 2015
7 7 Replies 3 3 Retweets 2 2 likes
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Manal Tamimi vampire tweet

For Manal Tamimi, Yom Kippur is the day when “Vampire zionist” [sic] are “celebrating by drinking Palestinian bloods” – a practice that she hopes will eventually prove deadly. When an Arab-Israeli gunman killed two and wounded seven at a pub in Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016, Manal Tamimi was jubilant: “#TelAviv under fire – There are no safe place these zionist can hide in”, she wrote in a tweet adorned with victory emojis.

But the Tamimis’ support for terrorism was already addressed – and arguably whitewashed – when the American writer Ben Ehrenreich first profiled the family in a decidedly sympathetic New York Times Magazine cover feature published in March 2013.

The family’s ambition to start a “third intifada” was prominently highlighted, and Ehrenreich tried – apparently rather successfully – to convince his readers that their refusal “to forswear bloodshed” and their “great affection” for their murderous relatives was entirely understandable. Indeed, Ehrenreich referred to “Nabi Saleh’s accomplishments” and then mentioned “one of the first military actions after Oslo, [and] the first woman to participate in a suicide attack.”

What Ehrenreich describes so tactfully as “one of the first military actions after Oslo” refers to the 1993 murder and subsequent burning of Haim Mizrahi, in which at least two close relatives of Bassem Tamimi took part. A report in The Independent published shortly after the murder concluded it was “an attack by extremists determined to disrupt the peace process by provoking Jewish anger.”

Ahlam Tamimi, deported prisoner shalit swap - 18.10.11
Jordanian Ahlam Tamimi, just released from an Israeli prison, being hugged by a relative upon her arrival at Queen Alia international airport in Amman late Oct. 18, 2011.Reuters

The ‘pioneering’ Tamimi family member who was “the first woman to participate in a suicide attack” is Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind and facilitator of the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including seven children and a pregnant woman, and injured some 130, with one young mother left in a permanent vegetative state.

In the summer of 2012, less than 20 years after the Tamimis had first tried to disrupt the peace process in 1993, Bassem Tamimi’s nephew Nizar Tamimi – who was involved in the murder of Haim Mizrahi –  married Ahlam Tamimi in Jordan. Both had been released in the deal to the free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Bassem Tamimi, his wife and his children attended the wedding. A video of the event shows Ahed on the stage with the terrorist couple, happily clapping to the music.


Ahed Tamimi Facebook live, Dec 15 2017 Nariman Tamimi Facebook page

It is thus no surprise that Ahed would now casually list “stabbings” and “martyrdom-seeking operations”, i.e. suicide bombings, as actions that further the Palestinian cause. And it is no surprise that her mother, who has always been particularly outspoken in her approval of Ahlam Tamimi – would proudly post this “message to the world” on her Facebook page.

Ahed Tamimi can obviously not be blamed for how she was brought up, but this is no reason for responsible adults to overlook the seething Jew-hatred and the enthusiastic support for terrorism espoused by Ahed’s parents and her extended family.

Even if the Tamimis were only fighting Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, their fanaticism wouldn’t bode well for any peace agreement. But the Tamimis never wanted a peace agreement. They have always wanted the elimination of the world’s only Jewish state.

Petra Marquardt-Bigman is a German-Israeli researcher and writer with a Ph.D. in contemporary history. Twitter: @WarpedMirrorPMB

Petra Marquardt-Bigman
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