El director ejecutivo de la organización B´nai Brith Latinoamérica, Eduardo Kohn, se refirió en su columna semanal en Radio Jai a la visita del presidente peruano, Ollanta Humala, a Israel. Allí, el mandatario del país andino apoyó públicamente los procesos de paz y aseguró que Perú “como miembro fundador de la Alianza del Pacífico, junto con sus socios, México, Chile y Colombia, tienen como horizonte ampliar el comercio en todo el mundo”.
In American football, being charged with “piling on” by the referee can result in a team being assessed a 15-yard penalty. The website SportingCharts.com defines the transgression as “one or more players jumping on top of a player or a group of players after a tackle has been made…the action could also be considered ‘a late hit.’”
Piling on is exactly what the European Union appears to be doing to Israel. Lars Faaborg-Anderson, the EU’s ambassador in Israel told a TV interviewer that should there be a breakdown in the negotiations now underway with the Palestinians, “the blame will be put on Israel,” and that Israel will encounter “increasing isolation.” Faaborg-Anderson warned that Israel would face immense economic consequences if it continued its settlement policies.
The EU is a member of the Quartet, that group which also includes the United States., the Russians and the United Nations, which was established to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Any pretension to objectivity by all the members of this group lasted less time than it took for them to get up from their seats at the table. The United Nations, especially some of its specialized agencies, makes no bones about being a cheerleader for the Palestinian side. But rather than approach the process objectively, the EU has now joined that cheering section. It began in earnest last summer when it issued directives against awarding EU grants or funding to Israeli enterprises beyond the Green Line.
There is a history here: Since the 1980 Venice Declaration by the then-EEC (the EU’s predecessor), which was promulgated after consultations with the PLO, the EU has often posited itself as a friend in court of the Palestinian side.
Taking a cue from Brussels late last year, the Dutch company Vitens, pulled out of a working agreement with Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. And recently, the Dutch pension fund manager PGGM announced that it will sever ties with Israeli banks, citing Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank. Earlier this month, Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, also severed ties with Israel’s Bank Hapoalim.
While all of this has been happening, a global international campaign—BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions)—by non-governmental agencies (NGOs), academic associations and religious organizations has been underway, often under the banner of seeking to do to Israel what was done with apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.
The statements and actions of the EU and its representatives would be objectionable enough if it were only because there is nary a word said by them about the 20 years of incitement against Israel and Jews coming from the Palestinians since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993—an agreement in which they specifically pledged to end the flow of hatred in schoolbooks, the official media and mosques. A Palestinian baby born on the day Oslo was signed is now almost 21 years old, and he or she has been raised on nothing but hatred of the other side. One would have thought that somewhere along the way, European leaders would have been as vocal about educating for peace as they have been about raging at settlements.
But it’s worse than that: The gratuitous interviews and statements of Faaborg-Anderson and others are occurring while negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are actually in place. Let the negotiators and their interlocutors do their jobs. Why engage in self-fulfilling prophesies that say to the Palestinians, “if the talks fail, it is Israel’s fault and you’re off the hook for any responsibility?” From there it’s a short distance to rationalizing violent responses to talks that may not produce results. Why so drastically raise the temperature in the middle of all of this?
If the negotiations should fail at the end of April, and the Palestinians move their "marketing"campaign to the welcoming environs of the United Nations, will Europe be tempted to join them? Or will it produce a cascade of abstentions, signaling that it is sympathetic to Palestinian objectives, particularly on the question of a boycott of, or the labeling of Israeli products made over the Green Line?
The EU, Vitens, PGGM, Danske Bank and others who engage in this kind of talk-show rhetoric are not advancing the peace process. They know that, at least since 2004 in an earlier round of negotiations, maps have been circulating about what an Israeli-Palestinian agreement might look like. Many settlements would remain in place, and land swaps would occur. If there are objections to settlement policy, there are any number of ways, through face-to-face diplomacy or sending messages through direct or back channels, to make the point. Public finger-wagging at the Israelis, which is presumptuous enough, will not bring an agreement any closer. But it could sour a deal.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has used similar language in at least two public pronouncements, which have been at the center of intense debate and discussion both here in the U.S. and in Israel. Here, too, so many opportunities have presented themselves for him to convey his views directly to Israel’s policy makers. Indeed, it was Secretary Kerry who, at least for the first several months of the talks, imposed a “no leaks” regimen. Unfortunately, such publicly-stated language is seen as encouragement to many who have made a career of demonizing Israel. Yes, words do matter. And they have consequences.
When the Israelis have been prepared to accept a two-state solution—in 1947, 1967, 2000 and 2008—the Palestinians have said no every time. But one never hears talk from the international community about the Palestinians paying a price for their rejectionism and for their ongoing incitement; rather, there is threatening language about how “the blame will be put on Israel.” The latter phrase is a passive way of saying “We blame Israel, not the Palestinians,” regardless of what the historical facts say.
In the on-going negotiations, all issues—including boundaries, security, incitement, settlements, future governing structures—will have been put on the table, turned upside down and inside out. The task of the three other Quartet members, including the EU, should be to encourage the process, not to weigh in, real time, with loose talk that can only worsen the atmosphere at a crucial juncture in the process.
Many a football game has been lost when a piling on penalty has been assessed late in the fourth quarter. Let’s hope, in this case, life does not imitate sports.
El presidente de B'nai B'rith Latinoamérica, Eduardo Kohn, analizó, en su nueva columna en Radio Jai, los aspectos positivos de la integración de Israel como país observador en la Alianza del Pacifico y la visita del primer ministro israelí, Biniamin Netanyahu, a Colombia y México programada para abril de este año. A pesar de las críticas de los países opositores como Bolivia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba y Ecuador, la aceptación del estado judío en la Alianza “ha sido una noticia positiva”, expresó el titular de la institución...more.
Judaïca Strasbourg: "Magdi Cristiano Allam invite du Bar Des Fleurs | Radio Judaïca Strasbourg" (FRENCH)
Dimanche 9 Février à 12h00 : Le Bar des Fleurs une émission présenté par Nuno Wahnon Martins en partenariat avec le B’nai B’rith France et le B’nai B’rith International. Le Bar des Fleurs, c’est l’analyse européenne de l’actu internationale et proche-orientale.”
Pour cette émission Le Bar des Fleurs invite Magdi Cristiano Allam : journaliste et homme politique italien d’origine égyptienne, musulman converti au catholicisme, il a été un des sous-directeurs du quotidien Corriere della Sera, où il s’occupait des sujets relatifs au Proche-Orient et de ses relations avec l’Occident..
In "Applause for the academic boycott of Israel" (Perspective, Jan. 30), George Bisharat, a professor at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, is trying to have it both ways — exercising his own academic voice while silencing other voices. The American Studies Association's outrageous vote to boycott Israel is antithetical to the fundamental ideals of education. Academia thrives on talking about issues and engaging all sides. You can't do that if you choose to boycott a portion of your colleagues.
The ASA boycott vote aims to silence cooperation with scholars in the only democracy in the Middle East — one with academic freedoms that are the envy of much of the world. If the aim of academia is to debate, discuss and enlighten, a boycott has the opposite effect.
The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement comes in many forms, but its mission is the same: Organizers grasp at ways to delegitimize Israel. BDS supporters hide behind the myth that they are aiming for openness when, in fact, their methods are disingenuous.
— Allan J. Jacobs, president, B'nai B'rith International, Washington
by Rebecca Forand
South Jersey students are invited to participate in The Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge, a contest that asks high school students to write and illustrate an original book to help elementary school children celebrate tolerance and diversity.
The Challenge — sponsored by Pepco Holdings and B’nai B’rith — is open to high school students in Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, Camden, Atlantic, Burlington and Ocean counties.
Over the past seven years, 20 original children’s books have been published through the Challenge, but this is the first year it is available to South Jersey student authors...more.
by Alina Dain Sharon
With the Winter Olympics gearing up for their Feb. 7 start in Sochi, Russia, the Jewish debate on the games mirrors the discourse taking place in the broader international and athletic communities.
While some Jews say they view the games purely as sport—with social or political issues not factoring into their evaluation—not all can ignore Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda” legislation, political detentions, allegations of Olympic corruption, and the recent terrorist threats against the games.
“The Olympic Games have the potential to mark a new direction in which there is no discrimination based on race, gender, handicaps or sexual orientation,” B’nai B’rith International said in a statement provided to JNS.org. “The Olympics are a microcosm. While we expect athletes from every nation to have the right to compete fairly, a societal commitment to tolerance and acceptance should be applied to every aspect of society...more.