Tuesday, June 30

A Year after Operation Protective Edge

A year has passed since the prelude leading up to the Gaza War of 2014. The reason for this war can be summed up in a simple, rather hackneyed statement: The inability of Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist.

This can be viewed in a number of ways. Apologists for Hamas and its supporters claim the "Palestinians' legitimate right for freedom from Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine since Israel's establishment in 1948 or "El Naqba" (The Catastrophe)". Wars waged against Israel by its Arab neighbors is very much part of Israel's history even before the Six Day War of June 1967. The June 1967 war was a war for the destruction of Israel. The constant harping on the occupation just added fuel to the non-recognition fire of Israel's Arab neighbors.
Today Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which was not the case during the June 1967 War and the October War of 1973.

The Arab States that are officially still at war with Israel are now showing signs of pragmatism as they face a very serious enemy that is common to all the players in the Middle East. 

Since the Arab Spring that is now a Middle Eastern nightmare and the fall of Syria, Libya to ISIS, parts of Lebanon to Hezbollah that is Iran's proxy, Iraq to ISIS and Jabhat al Nusra. All these Islamist terrorist groups share a common desire to establish a bloody Caliphate based on Sharia law in its strictest interpretation. Those who do not believe in their Islamist world view are killed. Their cruelty towards the infidel is unbridled anywhere in the world today. 
They are a threat to many Arab states in the area.

The UN remains silent on the genocide that ISIS and the Islamist terrorist groups commit against non-Muslims and Muslims, who do not share their cruel world view. These savages seem to have freedom to kill almost unhindered. The carnage in these countries is hardly mentioned in the UN and the condemnation of their cruelty in that pathetic world body is hardly more than an impotent squeak of displeasure.

So much energy is spent on bashing Israel for human rights abuses against the Palestinians. Now the PA and Hamas want to take Israel to the ICC in The Hague. Another flotilla made its way to Gaza to attempt to break the blockade. Fortunately they were intercepted by the IDF and taken to Ashdod port. Fortunately, no casualties on both sides were reported. The crew members will be deported to their countries of origin. Why are these so-called hypocritical human activists not going into Syria and all the other countries where ISIS is massacring innocent people in order to demonstrate? Human rights are non-existent there. They would not dare! They would be beheaded by ISIS and they know that Israel is easy meat for them as the IDF is no threat to their lives.

Hamas does not care about their people. They suffer from the usual fantasy syndrome of liberating their people from the Israeli occupation by force and this includes terror. The rhetoric coming from the Hamas leadership in Gaza is based on fantasy and they believe that the more they fantasize the closer they will reach their goal of Palestinian freedom from the Israeli Occupation. In fact, Gaza is not under Israeli occupation. There is an Israeli blockade on their coastline and this is because of security reasons which they have brought upon themselves. 

The Palestinians in Gaza are suffering because of Hamas fantasies of grandeur and their attempt to achieve their goal of trying to destroy Israel, thus fulfilling their beliefs as enshrined in the Hamas Charter.

Hamas does not care about the Palestinian people anymore than ISIS and Jabhat Al Nusra care about theirs. This is so obvious and their hypocritical human rights pundits fail to accept this. Human rights are not part of the Hamas lexicon. The suffering of the Gaza Palestinians is without a doubt the fault of Hamas who must be made accountable totally.

Meanwhile the UN Commission Report into Operation Protective Edge 2014 has found evidence of both Israel and Hamas committing war crimes. The report was unbiased and was involved in the results of the war on the population of Gaza. It never went into any depth as to who was responsible for the hostilities and terror against Israel that initiated a response. The launching of rockets into Israel from populated areas in Gaza that provoked a response was stated in a neutral fashion. Israelis, who lived on kibbutzim bordering Gaza, and who took the brunt of rocket fire were not even mentioned in the report. The evidence was based on reports about the destruction of homes and the loss of life of Palestinians. The Report accused both sides of violations of International Law and not the reason for Israel's retaliation, which is no less relevant as to the results of heavy collateral damage by the IDF.

The report itself appears balanced. It accuses both sides according to the dry letter of International Law of human rights violations. It showed no depth as far as Hamas behavior is concerned and thus lets them off the hook as to being the party that must be held responsible for the IDF response despite the unfortunate tragedy that had resulted.

Israel was reacting within its rights as any country would to defend its citizens from Hamas militant aggression, whether it was building of tunnels for terrorist infiltrators into Israel with the intention of committing terrorist acts, as well as the firing of rockets from schools and civilian population areas enveloped in human shields. It is important to note that this issue was mentioned in the report and given some emphasis. However the innuendo of the report leans more towards an anti-Israel stance rather than total objectivity. 

Saturday, June 13

BDS and Culture in Israel

When looking at the title of this article, a question that one is tempted to ask is: What is the connection?  BDS and culture have nothing to do with each other. If we examine this, we can see that BDS does affect culture freedom and democracy in Israel. How? One may ask.

Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev
The new Israeli Coalition Government is now right wing,  if not more towards extreme right wing. The Likud Election Campaign played on the feelings of many apolitical citizens, who were not motivated to vote. PM Benjamin Netanyahu is an expert at fomenting fear of Israel's Arab citizens, when he felt that his Likud Party was going to lose. His perspiring face and tactics, bordering on racism towards Israel's Arab minority citizens, worked to his advantage at the last minute.

Israel today is being threatened by BDS groups in Europe, the US and many parts of the world. This has created a "siege" mentality within the government as well as amongst many Israelis. The BDS threat against Israel is not really anti-Semitic (BDS encompasses a heterogeneous range of groups, including many anti-Semites identifying with BDS and Palestinian terrorist groups, such as Hamas that climb on to the BDS bandwagon, irrespective of the government's settlement policies in the occupied territories, supporting the destruction of Israel), but against the occupation in the West Bank and the establishment of settlements there, whose legality in international law is questionable. BDS is a negative group that has nothing to contribute in any solution to this conflict. Much of the BDS propaganda is based on many hearsay falsities concerning Israel and does not deserve support.

The lack of progress in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas's leadership is part of the problem. There are many reasons for this which I have delved on in previous articles and will not go into that here. One reason that does stand out is the failure of Israel's leadership to freeze settlements and continues to build new settlements in the West Bank. This is the official reason for the BDS movement to threaten Israel. The Israeli Government has not shown any desire to negotiate a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict because they are not even prepared to raise the issue of settlements in the West Bank, even as a preliminary for trust-building measures between the two sides. The lack of movement towards a Two-State Solution is a potential danger to peace. The instability in the Middle East with ISIS, Jabat al Nusra and a host of other Islamist terrorist groups, complicates the issue even further. The Israeli Government must be viewed as partly to blame for the strengthening of BDS movements against Israel because of their lack of vision in moving forward towards a solution of the impasse that exists. So the negotiations will be tough but at least there could be some hope in allowing the ball to fall into the Palestinian court if Israel gave some hint of concessions, even if the Palestinian negotiators view them with distrust.

How does this affect Israel's democracy? The government has developed a "siege" mentality because of the very complicated and hostile environment with its players surrounding Israel. Anybody in Israel, who does not agree with government policy and is viewed as left-wing, has the mark of Cain. Peacemakers are viewed as traitors to the siege mentality of the right wing government.  Dissent to government policy is not encouraged and is often viewed as a threat to national interests. This is a threat to democracy in Israel.

This threat seeps down to cultural activities as well. The Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev and the Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, are well known for their right wing views. They have formed a cartel  refusing to subsidize cultural activities that are not in accordance with their respective party ideology. The taxpayer's money goes to the Culture and Sport Ministry that should be non-political. After all, not all Israel's taxpayers are right wing supporters. The Regev-Bennett cartel claims that the voters have given them their support and this allows them to adopt their party line as well as their own criteria for subsidizing cultural activities. These two "paragons of culture" have made decisions on hearsay and not from being present at theatre performances of plays that they view as being anti-Israel. They have appointed themselves as the watchdogs of culture in Israel. They even decide that actors who do not wish to perform in settlements that are in the West Bank will not receive subsidies for the theatre groups to which they belong.  

The "siege" mentality of the government is a threat to Israel's democracy. This pathetic, self-righteous government is digging a trench and pulling its supporters into it out of fear.

Soon Israeli culture will be narrowed to the confines of non-controversial cultural projects in theatre, TV, literature, art and poetry. It will come as no surprise, if the government coalition will pass bills ensuring their criteria for subsidizing cultural activities. All this because of fear of open mindedness, even if it does not dovetail with their ruling, right wing ideology.

Israel will be subjected to censorship in cultural activities if this trend continues