Thursday 13 February 2014

The European Parliament President's poor remarks in Israel may have a silver lining.

The European Parliament President’s poor remarks in Israel may have a silver lining.

Original Thoughts from Barry Shaw.

Israel’s Knesset erupted in uproar when the President of the European Parliament, Martin Shultz, stood at the podium on February 12 and told Israel’s lawmakers that they were depriving Palestinian of water.

He questioned why Israelis can use 70 liters of water while a Palestinian can only use 17. These are grossly false figures. That is not the point. The point is that someone as high as the European parliamentary president stood in the home of Israeli democracy and threw such ridiculous figures at Israeli lawmakers is an insult and an embarrassment to Europe.

Shultz made his statement even more appalling when he excused himself by explaining that he got these figures from a Palestinian boy. Has the European Union become so obsessed with accusing Israel of all the perceived crimes under the sun that their parliamentary leader now hurls an Arab boy’s lies at the Jewish state? Actually, yes. That is where we are right now.

Shultz is not the first to have jaundiced political views about Israel that are tainted with the adoption of a malevolent Palestinian narrative. We have recently witnessed similar manifestations emanating from Oxfam, the British Methodists, and various academic bodies. No doubt we will see many more such vile accusations hurled at Israel in the future for the diseased propaganda of the extremist anti-Israel activists, couched in seductive language, has, indeed, been adopted by the misguided useful idiots in Brussels and other European capitals who are only too keen to finance the festering campaigns against Israel as if they are formed in purity and truth. They are not.

Perhaps the most significant part of Shultz's absurd comments is that it exposed how susceptible the highest people in the European Union and leading politicians are to the false and blatant propaganda claims of radical groups, like BDS and other sponsored NGOs, and how easily and naively they accept ridiculous claims and adopt them as truths etched in tablets of stone brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses himself.
The Israeli voice may be missing when it comes to efficient public diplomacy, but it is truly shocking to discover the inroads that extreme anti-Israel groups have made in the highest political circles of Europe that an important and leading figure, such as Shultz, can accept patently false statements and quote them at a state event in the heart of Israel.

Europe has fallen foul to the hyper-active propaganda machine that targets Israel. Is Europe naïve, or are they really ready to use such inappropriate measures as part of their pressure to get Israel to make dangerous risks for peace?

Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the head of the EU Delegation to Israel, also came out with a troubling statement. He said “The failure of negotiations, particularly if it would be ascribed to continued settlement construction, would not make it possible for EU-Israel relations to achieve their full potential, and carries a risk of Israel becoming increasingly isolated.”

The unfairness of his remarks is both wicked and irksome. Why should Israel take the wrap for the intransigence of the Palestinians? How is it we never hear from the European how they intend to punish them when talks fail? How about the threat of isolating them and stopping their much needed funding? Why is it only Israel living under the cloud of European sanctions? Why aren't the Europeans publicly and officially calling out Palestinian crimes of incitement to violence and a world without Israel?

It is unacceptable for people like Shultz or Lars Faaborg-Andersen to hit us with a fraudulent Palestinian narrative.  On the contrary, they should censure the Palestinians for promoting a message of demonization in their apparently successful attempt to get European and other nations to sanction, boycott, and delegitimize Israel with tales of fiction and falsehood. They should also demand transparency and threaten withdrawal of funding from groups that spin their web of hate against Israel.  They should also temper their language and stop using false terms such as “illegal settlements,” and “occupied Palestinian land,” when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian issue or speaking about disputed territories.

If Schultz’s officially embarrassing faux pas make European politicians and diplomats take stock and reconsider their tactics, his foolish and insulting remarks may have a benefit to both sides.

If it does not, then Europe has no future role in negotiations or peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Barry Shaw is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at the Netanya Academic College in Israel.  He is also the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’  (Available on Amazon in ebook Kindle format)

Friday 7 February 2014

From the Land of Israel to the National Home of the Jewish People.

From the Land of Israel to the National Home of the Jewish People.

Israeli outreach advocacy.

A 3000 year journey narrated to Christian pastors by Barry Shaw, author of 'Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.'

Part One;   From the Bible to Herzl.

Part Two;  From Herzl to the Jewish State.

Sunday 2 February 2014

The peace process and the fear factor.

As negotiations with the Palestinians wind down to their inconclusive ending, panic-stricken voices are being ratcheted up to agree, or not agree, a deal. The name of the game in Israel is the Fear Factor.

There are two competing teams in this game. Team A favors accepting a geographically reduced Israel out of fear that, by not withdrawing, Israel faces isolation and international sanctions that would be diplomatically, commercially, and economically crippling. They also make the case that agreeing to massive land, and even population, withdrawals would give a major economic boost via new diplomatic and trade ties with Arab states that have, so far, distanced themselves from Israel.

Team B points to the security menace of an Israeli withdrawal to indefensible borders, what Abba Eban described as “Auschwitz lines.” They cite the enormous economic and social damage of physically removing “settlers,” people who have made Judea and Samaria their home.  They remind us of the national trauma that came with the uprooting of thousands of Jews from Gaza that resulted in Palestinian rockets, deaths, and kidnapping.  The personal sacrifice made by the settlers in Gaza on our behalf did not bring peace or added security. On the contrary, more of us experienced the shock of Palestinian terror and missiles.

Team B point to the frightening possibility of rockets fired on planes at Ben Gurion Airport, visible to the naked eye from the high ground of a new Palestinian state. Israel, unable to intrude into the sovereign Palestinian state, would have the effectiveness of obtaining human intelligence, an essential element in our fight against terror, drastically reduced.  Team A respond by claiming that such attacks could happen in today’s environment, but haven’t.

Team B have convincing arguments based on Israel’s past experiences when relinquishing territory to Palestinians. They ask why a Palestinian state would be less a terror regime than Gaza? They have a valid point with the news that Palestinian Authority figure, Jibril Rajoub, has just returned from talks in Tehran with Iranian leaders. Iran would jump at the opportunity of having a new Palestinian state become its new proxy in the area. Perhaps the national security experts at Amos Yadlin’s INSS (Institute of National Security Studies) should wrap their heads around the possibility that Iran’s Republican Guards would be invited by a sovereign Palestine to help train, arm, and supervise their domestic police and security forces. Such a security apparatus would operate without infringing any agreement that Palestine remain a demilitarized state. However, could Israel tolerate or trust Iranian commanders looking down on Israel’s exposed low-lying coastal plain that contains significant infrastructure and 70% of our population?  Tolerate or not, there would be little that Israel could do about it.

Iran could be the catalyst that would unite Fatah and Hamas in a new Palestinian state under their patronage. This was confirmed by Rajoub’s statement on his return from Tehran. “Hamas is part of the Islamic Arab social, political, and national fabric in Palestine.”  

Based on such a scenario, can Team A deny that Israel would not be under close threat from a new Palestinian sovereignty with a capital in the streets of Jerusalem?

The fear factor was on display at the recent INSS Conference in Tel Aviv with Isaac Hertzog cajoling Benjamin Netanyahu to boldly overcome his fears and agree to the Kerry parameters, and with Yair Lapid spelling out the economic costs that non-compliance would bring. Naftali Bennett and Moshe Ya’alon, on the other hand, warned of the consequences of living under (strategically and geographically) a rogue state.

There is no doubt that both camps are trying to persuade us of the damages of surrendering, or not surrendering, land to the Palestinians, rather than extoling the benefits.  The public, it seems, is ambivalent. It would like to see peace, but it is not convinced that huge territorial concessions, and a jeopardized security, will lead to Arab states standing in line to open embassies and do business in Israel.  On the other hand, economic disaster warnings of swathing sanctions, if Israel does not reach a deal with the Palestinians, outweigh the financial benefits that may come with such a peace deal. This muddles the mind of those who favor deep concessions to the Palestinians.

Naftali Bennett, unlike Yair Lapid, a successful businessman in an earlier life, downplays the harmful effects of settlement boycotts when compared to the burgeoning global desire for Israeli technology and innovation. Sectional damage, he claims, is more than offset by the success of Israel’s Start Up nation. He may have a case. Europe may be leading the sanctions campaign on Israeli products from the West Bank, but they find Israeli ingenuity increasingly irresistible. Israel is putting greater emphasis in opening up Asian markets that are impervious to BDS.

Politically, the fear factor of those calling for withdrawal is to show us the South African consequences if we don’t accede. There, internationally imposed sanctions brought about the collapse of the white regime, though some would argue that it was the emergence of Mandela, the peacemaker, meeting a receptive De Klerk, that brought about the Rainbow Nation.

The unseemly sight of a thousand NGOs descending on Durban to claim credit for a new South Africa while declaring “Zionism is racism” was appalling. Like vultures looking for another carcass to feed on, they targeted Israel. Like carrion, sustained by bloated budgets, they have attacked the Jewish state for decades with a concentration that leaves them blinded to the awful crimes and mayhem that surround us. The noises they make have affected governments to squeak their mantras. This has drawn the attention of our own politicians to take notice of the commotion.

Israeli government ministers would be better advised to provide the necessary budget to fight delegitimization, rather than run around making unseemly public noises out of fear.

Barry Shaw is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’