Saturday, November 4th
The French government has done a bit of an about face on the Israeli separation barrier. According to EJP, The French Foreign Minister, M. Douste-Blazy, who is always full of surprises, said:
“Although the wall was a moral and ethical problem for me, when I realised terror attacks were reduced by 80 percent in the areas where the wall was erected, I understood I didn’t have the right to think that way.
Perhaps this statement has more to do with internal French politics then with foreign policy, since the statement was made on a Jewish television station, TFJ.
Ami Isseroff on 11.04.06 @ 09:54 PM CST [link]
Friday, November 3rd
The central tenet of Israel's diplomatic, economic and military strategy is that it is inextricably bound to the United States. This alliance has given Israel and the US many benefits, and is of central importance to both countries. Of course, it makes sense to keep on the good side of the world's foremost (and currently the only) superpower, and of course, Israel and the US are natural allies in many ways -- due to coincidence of interests as well as shared moral and political values.
However, we should have no illusions. For all the natural good will that may exist between two democracies, alliances are founded on cold strategic considerations. Yitzhak Rabin made this point when he was Israel's ambassador to the US. The United States will maintain its alliance with Israel as long as it deems it to be of strategic value. Remember the Godfather: "Business is Business." The history of world diplomacy is replete with lies and betrayals, and the US, though better than most, is no exception.
The alliance has created a potentially dangerous imbalance. Today Israel essentially has one firm ally in the world, the United States, and it has grown increasingly dependent on that ally, burning bridges or ignoring others, tying its entire defense effort to US military aid, and hitching its diplomatic efforts to the fortunes of the US in the Middle East.
During the tenure of the Bush administration, this dependence has reached new highs. Israel and the "Israel lobby" have been identified with the war in Iran and the War on Terror. Israel does not make a move without consulting the US, and the US usually consults Israel about Middle East questions. The Bush administration will not continue indefinitely however, and its own Middle East policy may be about to change.
Ami Isseroff on 11.03.06 @ 04:34 PM CST [link]
Thursday, November 2nd
Today is the anniversary of the assassination of PM Yitzhak Rabin according to the Hebrew calendar, and it is commemorated as a national day of mourning.
Eleven years after the event, many Israelis have apparently trivialized it. Polls show that 30% of the public believe that the assassin, Yigal Amir, should be pardoned. To me it is incredible. Suppose that Rabin, or another Israeli Prime Minister, had been assassinated by an Arab. What percent of Israelis would be in favor of pardoning that Arab, or freeing him in a prisoner exchange? Suppose that Itzhak Shamir had been killed by a deranged leftist, or Menachem Begin had been murdered for returning Sinai to Egypt, would anyone support pardoning the murderer? It is not so far fetched. A "Zionist" Web site in New Jersey claims that Menachem Begin was a Bolshevik dictator. Do any of these people who wish to pardon Yigal Amir, support freeing the murderer of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi? Wouldn't it be abominable if left-leaning Israelis supported freeing the murderer of Ze'evi because they disagreed with Ze'evi's political program?
Ami Isseroff on 11.02.06 @ 04:12 PM CST [link]
Monday, October 30th
I am a progressive bleeding heart type, and my progressive heart is bleeding and I am ashamed. None of the great liberal institutions, or even the not-so liberal United States State Department, are taking up the cause of Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury.
When someone speaks out for what every decent person believes, he deserves the support of every decent person. When his life is threatened for his stands, the world should stand with him. Sadly it seems that is not the case. Since I last wrote about the ordeal of Bangladesh journalist Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury, there have been no dramatic developments. Choudhury spoke out for moderation and dialogue with Israel, and warned about Islamist extremism. This earned him about 18 months in jail, an indictment for sedition, and violence perpetrated against himself, his newspaper staff and his offices.
Ami Isseroff on 10.30.06 @ 04:45 PM CST [link]
Sunday, October 29th
A meeting of the JJAC steering committee was recently held on October 22nd & 23rd in Jerusalem, Israel; to kick off the International Rights and Redress Campaign, on behalf of Jewish refugees from Arab countries; which is slated for launching in November of 2006.
The meeting was attended by representatives from 11 different countries, representing some 24 International Jewish organizations and Israel’s Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit; who pledged during his address to reestablish his ministry's unit for managing compensation claims of Jews forced out of Arab countries and to reinvigorate the effort to make their case to the world.
At the meeting it was resolved to do the following:
To support the call for an International Rights and Redress campaign with the following goals:
To advocate for rights and redress for Jewish Refugees from Arab countries
To conduct a public education programs on the history & heritage of former Mizrahi-Sephardi
communities in Arab countries
To register family narratives and catalog communal as well as personal losses, suffered by
Call upon the Government of Israel to raise the issue of rights for Jewish refugees from Arab countries in bi-lateral and multilateral meetings as well as in the Middle East Peace negotiations.
Work towards the protection and preservation of the heritage and legacy of Mizrahi communities uprooted from Arab countries with regards to historical and holy sites as well as religious artifacts that belonged to Jewish Communities no longer extant in Arab countries.
A general call was made for Diaspora Jewish communities, which once lived in Arab countries, to undertake the mission of membership educational campaigns, to mobilize advocacy efforts in support of the rights of their communities, to diligently record family narratives and testimonies and finally to support the family registry efforts of the International Rights and Redress campaign.
This call to secure rights and redress for Jews who were forced to flee Arab countries is not a campaign against Palestinian refugees; nor is it about initiating legal proceedings to seek compensation. It is a legitimate effort to ensure that the plight of all Middle East refugees be placed on the International political agenda as a quest for truth and justice and that their rights be secured as a matter of law and equity.
It would constitute an injustice, were the international community to recognize rights for one victim population – Palestinian refugees – without recognizing equal rights for other victims of that very same Middle East conflict – former Jewish, Christian and other refugees from Arab countries; so that any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees should be balanced by a similar explicit reference to Jewish and other refugees from Arab countries.
A recent article in the Jerusalem Post by Hilary Leila Krieger "Jews forced out of Arab countries seek reparations" sheds more lights on the conference and its message.
Israel Bonan on 10.29.06 @ 06:04 PM CST [link]
Daniel Pipes has rightly pointed it out: Op Eds Now More Central in War than Bullets. This is especially true of the battle for Israeli legitimacy. There are many battles, but the long term issue that is central to the war, is the existence of Israel, and that issue will be decided not on the battlefield, but in Western public opinion. If the United States and EU withdraw their support for Israel's existence and support a Palestinian state in its place, it is unlikely that Israel could survive for very long. Few people in the West have broad basic knowledge that can allow them to make an informed decision about the Middle East. 25% of Americans never heard of Hamas. Large numbers of people in USA and Europe think Israel is the size of France. Their opinions are formed from superficial and slanted coverage given in Op-Eds and television news features.
Ami Isseroff on 10.29.06 @ 04:25 PM CST [link]
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