Friday 21 October 2011

British Jewish leadership is bad for Israel.

In Britain, yet another positive pro-Israel initiative is being blocked by the leadership of British Jewry.
The Big Tent, an event being organized in Manchester, has been attacked by the very people who should be getting behind this event.  One of the excuses given for their lack of involvement is a suspected lack of pluralism, though invitations have gone to the Reform movement as well as to pro-Israel Christians and Muslims.
While they find a limp excuse for not backing this strongly pro-Israel advocacy event, they have been sponsoring another group doing research into the status of Arabs in Israel.  
By showing that Arab women are a smaller percentage of the workforce than Jewish women they attempt to highlight the inequality within Israeli society. Of course, they make no mention of the fact that a far higher number of Israeli Arab women are employed in Israel than in all other Arab countries. Neither do they highlight that Arab women are restricted in their desire to work outside the home by still-existing Arab traditions. Why should they? Doing so would reduce the intent to which the research was required. To find an angle to attack, rather than support, Israel.
Looking for angles with which to attack Israel seems popular with Britain’s Jewish leadership. Now I hear that Yachad, a new NGO in Britain even further to the left than JStreet, has the backing of British Jewish leadership. 
Yachad just made a visit to Israel and guess which place took their strongly pro-Israel attention?  East Jerusalem. 
Yes, this location, which is intended by the Palestinian leadership to become their future capital, takes preference for Yachad than all other critical issues for Israel. 
Speaking as an Israel, I can announce that Yachad does not speak in my name. Why should it speak in the name of the leadership of British Jews?  It is so clear to me that the prefix “pro” cannot be used before “Israel” by Yachad. So why is the London-based leadership getting into bed with them, while throwing out Manchester initiators?
Pluralism, it seems, is excellent if you can put an anti-Israel spin on it. Pluralism, it seems, is excellent if pluralism means lining up with Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, and left wingers. I am trying to discover if notable and real pro-Israeli personalities like Melanie Phillips or Douglas Murray have ever been invited to address an audience at one of the leadership bodies Israel events, if they have ever had any.
Maybe the bio of Vivien Wineman expresses clearly what is happening in Britain, and why London has become the hub of radical anti-Israel hatred and the delegitimisation campaign.  Wineman recently said in a report quoted in the Jewish Chronicle that the Jewish leadership “has access to the British Government but doesn’t have influence.”  I suppose we Israelis should be thankful that they are so totally ineffective. I would hate the think what influence they would employ when headed by someone who was the British chairman of Peace Now and founder of Britain’s New Israeli Fund, two virulent NGOs that have done more to hack away at the defense and security of Israelis than many pro-Palestinian groups. 
He is currently serving as President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and also the Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council.  Add to this role call his position as Vice Chairman of the European Jewish Congress and you can see how deep-rooted and influential his critical attitude to Israel really is.
Many of those following him into leadership positions echo his political leaning. Maybe that helps them get elected?
Is it any wonder why AIPAC failed to unite America and Britain behind Israel. They gave up on the British leadership after six frustrating years of trying to create a common front against the delegitimisation of Israel. They failed. They are concerned. They, like Israel, see London as the hub of the demonization and delegitimisation campaigns and the centre of radicalism against Israel. They also see a Jewish leadership that appears to line up against Israel rather than stand solidly with the Jewish state. 
They are concerned because they are experiencing blowback from England into America as the anti-Israel extremism, even the type that is disguised as “healthy criticism of Israel” make inroads onto their campuses and debating chambers, and through operators such as JStreet.
It is heartening to see the rapid growth of grassroots, young, organizations such as Stand With Us, British Israel Coalition, and Israel Connect. Hopefully, the future rests on the shoulders of these enthusiastic activists. These are the campaigners who got people onto the streets of London recently in support of Israel, and in the face of the Palestinian demonstrators.  These are the people who are fighting the hard fight on the campus and in the social media. These are the people who are using the language and words that will bring the broad middle ground back to the justice of the Israeli cause.
I strongly recommend that the rank and file Jew in Britain give their hard earned money to these people, rather than to the leadership that has let them, and Israel, down so badly in recent years.
Barry Shaw is the author of ISRAEL – RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Why Jerusalem?

WHY JERUSALEM?  by Barry Shaw.
One of the main aims of Palestinian participation at the recent United Nations Assembly was to gain widespread international recognition that statehood would begin on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital. Although it is clear that such a proposal would not succeed in achieving the official stamp of law it would, through sheer weight of numbers, resound with virtual legitimacy.

The Palestinian leadership constantly chant the mantra of Jerusalem as their capital. Why? What rights do they have for claiming Jerusalem at all, let alone their new nation’s capital?

The overriding claim they can make is based on United Nations resolutions that call on Israel to withdraw from territories it captured in a war of aggression instigated against the Jewish state by Arab nations.  These resolutions did not call on Israel to withdraw from all the territories. It did allow Israel to withdraw to secure boundaries. It can be successfully argued that removing their presence from east Jerusalem would leave Israel exposed to frightening dangers. 
Anyone familiar with the geography and demographics of the eastern section of this built up municipal area sense the impossibility of carving out a Palestinian entity. The two parts are so intimately intertwined that grafting on a Palestinian imprint would leave both bodies hemorrhaging badly.

For those not familiar with the real estate involved in Israel glibly handing over what is called east Jerusalem to a Palestinian leadership let me itemize just a few of the ancient, historic, and significant places that would, of necessity, change hands. The implications for Jews is that the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, scenes of the traditional Solomon’s Temple, would fall into Islamic hands, as would the Jewish and Christian Quarters of the Old City. The new Palestinian state, vowed to uphold Islam as their one true religion and have Shariah Law as their guiding principle, would control sensitive Christian shrines such as The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Room of the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane. The Mount of Olives, sacred to Christians and a Jewish burial ground, would also be in Palestinian hands. Other invaluable institutions such as the Rockefeller Museum, Hadassah Hospital, and access to the Hebrew University would fall to the Palestinians.

So the argument is not over a few homes in which the majority of residents are Arab. It is over the fundamental fact that the only time in history when Jerusalem has been free to all the major faiths, and has been developed for the benefit of mankind, has been since it was finally united by Israel in 1967.   Does anyone truly believe that a Palestinian entity will maintain the universal godliness and goodliness of Jerusalem as well as it has been maintained under Israeli sovereignty?  For those few deranged individuals who would answer in the affirmative I challenge them with this question. What would happen to Jerusalem in a year’s time of the Palestinians hold to their promise of new elections and Hamas again wins with a large majority? Would this radical, terrorist, Islamic organization suddenly become Mother Theresa and throw a blanket of peace and freedom to all over holy Jerusalem? Or would they begin by renaming the Hebrew University the Islamic University?

I find it strange that successive Israeli governments and Prime Ministers have not been more outspoken in rejecting the notion that Jerusalem must be the capital of a new Palestinian state. Maybe they are keeping their powder dry for direct negotiations before telling the Palestinian leadership to go find another center for their capital? I doubt it.

There is very little open space in the residential parts of east Jerusalem. The available open space, with its sharply undulating topography, is not suitable for planning a major new administrative project. If it would have been possible Jerusalem mayors and administrations would have done so long ago.  So where would a Palestinian Authority place its legislative building? 
My guess is that there will be radical voices calling for the new Palestinian Parliament to be constructed inside the Old City adjoining the Dome of the Rock to add to the religious as well as nationalistic nature of their regime. This would mean that they would locate their official governmental seat right in the center of their new capital in the heart of Jerusalem, and that location would be where the Western Wall Plaza stand today.  The Western Wall Plaza is the assembly point for thousands of worshippers, tourists, and visitors to the juncture of the most holy places on earth. It is a vast square where official ceremonies are held throughout the Israeli and Jewish calendar.  It is where any Islamic regime would wish to make a statement of intent. By placing their legislature on that spot they would be declaring victory over the infidels and non-believers. And, in such an agreed state, who would be able to stop them?

So, where should a new Palestinian capital be built, if not in Jerusalem? Well, actually, they don’t need to build a new one anywhere. They are already constructing and developing their capital. It’s called Ramallah. That is where their president sits. That is where their prime minister administers his country. That is where they have built all their legislature. That is where their courts are. That is where their founding hero, Yasser Arafat, is buried. This has been done by massive financial support from the international community. Why waste all that huge economic resource by uprooting it all and moving it anywhere?

There has been a building boom going on in Judea and Samaria, known as the West Bank, and most of that has been centered on Ramallah. The number of homes in the last four years has increased by 25%, according to figures released by the Palestinian Authority. This year, more homes will be built in Palestinian controlled areas (33,822) than in Israel. In 2010, in Israel, only 33,128 homes were built. This year’s figure is expected to fall.  Much of the Palestinian construction is taking place in or near Ramallah. Mohammad Shtayyeh, a former Palestinian minister of public works recently told the Media Line that “Because of the government and ministries and private sector and the NGO’s, Ramallah has to have public and office buildings. There are 25,000 people commuting to jobs in Ramallah every day.”

The Palestinians are currently building a new town north of Ramallah. With an estimated construction cost of $800 million, Rawabi, is projected to house 40,000 people.

With such intensive development being centered in Ramallah surely the Israeli government and media should highlight the fact that the Palestinians have already established their capital in Ramallah and there is no need to make another capital in Jerusalem as yet another precondition for peace. 

Even if Israel does not wish to make this non-starter a precondition for peace talks it should, at least, open the dialogue on this highly sensitive issue.