Monday, September 18, 2017

Bahrain King Denounces Arab Boycott Of Israel

Well, well, well. - things are changing in the Middle East
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa has denounced the Arab boycott of Israel and said his subjects are free to visit the Jewish state. The statement by the head of the Persian Gulf country, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, was revealed at a multi-national event last week in Los Angeles, hosted by the city's Simon Wiesenthal Center. 

At the event, Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, who head the Wiesenthal Center, revealed the king's pronouncements made to them during their visit to Manama, Bahrain's capital city, in early 2017.

A walk through the city, at that time was an eye-opener, Cooper said. There was a church, with a huge cross, next to a Hindu temple, and 90 meters on an impressive mosque. Even a small synagogue, the only one in the Persian Gulf region, still stands in an older part of the city.


When Hier and Cooper met with King Hamad, they also discussed the ruler’s plan to establish a Museum of Religious Tolerance in the capital city by the end of this year.

At the Los Angeles event last week, delegations of Buddhists in saffron robes, Sikhs in turbans, and Muslims with keffiyehs and hijabs [Muslim head-covers for men and veils for women], mingled with Jews with kippot [skullcaps] and Christians in business suits.


Some 400 members of these diverse groups witnessed the declaration to support full freedom of religious choice, government protection of minorities and to ensure that religious faith “serves as a blessing to all mankind and as the foundation of peace in the world.”

The evening’s guests included officials from such predominantly Muslim nations as Kuwait, Egypt, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan, Cooper noted.

Like all others present, the Arab officials stood in respect as the colorful Bahrain National Orchestra played “Hatikva” preceded by the Bahraini and US national anthems, sung by Sumaya Meer and Cantor Arik Wolheim.

The key speaker was Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa, son of the king and a formidable endurance athlete, who led the Bahraini delegations, toured the Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance and met with Jewish students.

As the evening’s climax, a group of distinguished “dais guests” formally signed the Bahrain Declaration. Among them were the speakers, visiting Arab officials, clergymen of various faiths,  television personality Mary Hart,  the evening’s master of ceremonies UCLA Prof. Judea Pearl and Betsy Bennett Mathieson, president of This Is Bahrain.

The latter government-supported booster organization presented each guest with a lapel pin featuring symbols of the country’s seven religions, with a Jewish menorah adjoining a Christian cross and a Muslim crescent.

Bahrain has some 1,423,000 inhabitants and large parts of the Jewish population left the country following riots in 1947 and 1967, but Jewish, Muslim and British sources agree that the riots were triggered by pro-Palestinian outsiders and that resident Arabs went out of their way to protect their Jewish neighbors.

But with the ascendancy of King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa to the throne in 2002, domestic and foreign observers see an almost utopian state of relationships among Bahrain’s religious groups.

The monarch, who has an impressive collection of Frank Sinatra records, has enshrined religious tolerance both in the country’s law and by personal example. For instance, since 2015, he has celebrated Hanukka with both Jews and Muslims in attendance.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a reporter asked Cooper whether the evening’s upbeat tone and hopeful notes were warranted in the light of the Middle East’s apparently endless conflicts.

Cooper responded that Bahrain, like Israel, “Lives in a tough neighborhood. But if there is to be any hope for the future, it will have to be realized by voices of religious moderation.”

Friday, September 15, 2017

African Christian Leaders Hold Jerusalem Start-Up Summit

Ilanit Chernick August 30, 2017

About 70 delegates from countries including Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Tanzania and Kenya took part in a four-day event in Jerusalem.

Christian leaders from several African countries concluded meetings recently with Israeli start-ups, politicians and businesses during the African Leadership Summit hosted by the Institute for Christian Leadership Development.

“Africa Celebrates Jerusalem” is this year’s theme for the summit, which aims to strengthen ties between Israel and Africa. The main goal is for African Christian leaders to connect with the different sectors of the country including agriculture, economic and technology.

Pastor Segun Olanipekun, summit coordinator and chief executive officer of the Institute for Christian Leadership Development, said what encouraged the organization to call the summit was the leadership crisis in Africa.

“There’s not a lot of leaders that the youngsters can look up to because of the poor and inept leadership. Israel has united and strong leadership and we are looking to it for help,” he said.

Olanipekun explained that Israel’s leadership and the Jewish people have a purpose, to build a nation. “Israel has empowering start-ups... it grows and exports [fruits and vegetables] from the desert – Africa has good, fertile land but we are begging for food. As Africans we desire all of this and we want to learn from Israel,” he said. “We want to reconnect with the covenant of Abraham – the land, the people and the culture.”

Talking about the summit’s theme, “Africa Celebrates Jerusalem,” Nigerian-born Olanipekun (he also lived in Kenya and now resides in South Africa) said he is encouraging all African countries to show support for Israel and the Jews. “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish and Christian faiths. If the Jews lose Jerusalem, Christianity loses its roots and foundation.

“Jerusalem must remain the capital. It belongs to the Jewish and Christian faiths and drives millions of people,” Olanipekun added. “The ultimate goal is to have a generation of African leaders who support Israel and to increase the presence of Israel in Africa and Africa in Israel.”

“We want Israeli farms in Africa that employ local people – Africa has land, Israel has good technology – our partnership can only do good for the world,” Olanipekun said.

Pastor Ben Naude from Johannesburg said that if “we’re going to counter organizations like BDS,” it was important to give Israel positive exposure and to educate people about the truth.

“There are so many cultures and groups who live here and they live together peacefully – South Africa can learn a lot from this,” he said.

“At the end of the day, Israel has incredible technology and agriculture – you can’t argue with this, the technology in cellphone in your hand was created here – minds and opinions [of Israel] must change.”

“Israel and the Jews have a zest for life and focus on the positive; in South Africa we need to learn from this, come together and go forward instead of focusing on the bad,” Naude said.

Nigerian Pastor John Adejolrooluwa, who is the leader of the Plummet Mission, a Missionary House that trains missionaries and sends them mostly to African countries, said education was the only way to combat the negative rhetoric on Israel.

“We have to reach out to as many people [as possible] and make them question this negative narrative and work with the Israeli government – make an effort to show that part of the problem is Israel’s neighbors and their connections and influence with bodies like the UN who are making certain [negative] proclamations about Israel,” he said.

“We are committing to Israel and we will not believe this negative, man-made bias,” Adejolrooluwa said.

Addressing the delegates, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky spoke of his journey at the agency and of his life in Russia, also emphasizing the values and ideals that went into creating “the Holy Land.”

The summit has taken place in Jerusalem biennially since 2013.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hundreds of Terror Attacks Thwarted This Year

 The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) has thwarted some 200 terrorist attacks since the beginning of the year, 70 of them in the last two months alone, reported the head of the Shin Bet, Among those thwarted were suicide attacks, kidnappings and shooting incidents. 

The report stated that despite the relative calm, the security situation in the West bank is “fragile” and is characterized by heightened sensitivity over religious issues, such as the al-Aksa mosque.

There is a high level of threat posed both by established terrorist organizations, as well as by “independent actors.”

Hamas, both from its headquarters in the Gaza Strip as well as from abroad, continues to try and carry out attacks in the West Bank and inside the Green Line, in order to undermine overall stability, he said.

“It is thanks to the quality intelligence, the advanced technology, and the excellent human capital that the Shin Bet this year thwarted more than 400 significant attacks, this year, You saw everything that we saw, but you thought what no one else thought before,”
Earlier last week the Shin Bet said it had foiled a plan by Arab Israelis to attack soldiers in the southern Negev desert, apparently in retaliation for Israel’s decision earlier this year to outlaw the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.

Two of the suspects are accused of plotting to attack soldiers at three possible locations, Dimona, Arad, and the Nevatim air force base in the Negev Desert, the security service said in a statement.
The security establishment was bracing and preparing for an increase in terrorist activity expected for the upcoming holiday season, as is the case every year.

Regarding Gaza, the Strip is now characterized by a “deceptive calm” – security stability alongside an accelerated military buildup.    

The three years since 
Operation Protective Edge have been the quietest period in Gaza for three decades with Hamas having difficulty presenting any political achievement for Gaza or providing any effective solutions to the civilian problems there.

Nevertheless, Hamas continues to invest considerable resources for the next battle with Israel, “even at the expense of the well-being of the civilians. The movement is already ready for another confrontation with Israel.” As a result, Hamas is deepening its strategic ties with the region's Shia axis, led by Iran, and is establishing an outpost in Lebanon. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Israel’s recent activities in Africa


In early July 2016, Prime Minister Netanyahu became the first Israeli premier in decades to travel to Africa when he visited four East African nations: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Since then the frequency of talks, exchanges and bilateral visits has increased. Israeli entrepreneurial spirit and innovation can play a crucial role in the development of Africa. Israel can prove to be a great partner for the young African entrepreneurs who are harnessing the power of technology. The approach of Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) in Africa is integrated and sustainable, with a focus on food security, water safety, sanitation, healthcare, economic growth, community building, women’s empowerment and education.

MASHAV is working to reduce neonatal and maternal mortality in Ghana and has established the mother-and-baby neonatal unit in that country. In Ethiopia, MASHAV is involved in horticulture, healthcare, clean energy and other sustainable development programs through its Centers of Excellence. Last year, MASHAV and USAID launched the IV Phase of the Joint Cooperation Program in Smallholder Horticulture in Ethiopia. In 2016 MASHAV also launched the first Israel-Kenya Steering Committee on Water Cooperation.

Israel is also cooperating technically and financially in the Galana/ Kulalu food security project, which is one of the largest irrigation projects in Kenya. The goal of this project is to provide water for sustainable farming through development, rehabilitation and modernization of irrigation and drainage. The cooperating parties in this project are the Kenyan government, MASHAV through CINADCO, and the Israeli company Green Arava. Initiatives such as “Training the Trainers,” Project TEN, the “Kangaroo System” introduced by Israeli medical trainers, and other Israeli organizations’ projects on solar energy, drip irrigation, water and food safety, etc., have received a good response in Africa.

Last year MASHAV and ECOWAS hosted a conference related to sustainable agricultural productivity in arid and semi-arid regions. Ministers and many other top officials from a number of Western African countries participated in this conference. An Africa-Israel summit is scheduled for the coming October, too. Over 100 Israeli companies are expected to participate.




Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Africa has 60% of the world’s arable land reserves. The combination of Israeli innovation/conceptual abilities and India’s “collective effort, inclusive growth” approach can provide the right direction to sustainable development efforts in Africa. Clean and renewable energy, healthcare, agriculture and rural development, vocational/technical education, and entrepreneurship promotion are some of the key areas where India and Israel need to collaborate for a better future for Africa.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The True Palestinian ‘Nakba’

 Philip Carl Salzman  Sept 3, 2017 

 


Seventy years ago today, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) introduced a detailed proposal to the UN General Assembly for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, approved less than three months later by a vote of 33 to 13. Not for the last time, however, a concerted international effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict foundered on the shoals of Arab rejectionism.

Arab Muslims roundly condemned UN partition — and more broadly the very principle of a Jewish state anywhere in Palestine — striving instead for complete victory. 

The Arabs acted according to their tradition, refusing compromise with inferiors. For over a millennium, Islamic empires had spread by the sword from Arabia across the Middle East and North Africa to much of Europe and as far east as India. God bestowed upon Muslims a right — no, a duty — to dominate Dar al-Islam (the house of Islam) forevermore. Not only did Jews, long a subservient and despised minority in Dar al-Islam, lack the right to have an independent state in Palestine, but the Arab residents of Palestine had no right to concede it to them.

The Arabs in Palestine thought that the Jews could not and would not stand up to them, and they acted on that well-established cultural principle. However, the thousand-year-old conditions were  not achieved this time around. The Jews they faced were not a dhimma, and they did not cower. Against the odds, and with little outside help, they fought and won. Again and again.

While maintaining their uncompromising rejection of any Jewish state in the Holy Land, the Arabs eventually abandoned their triumphalist rhetoric in favor of a more useful narrative. In this retelling, Israel is responsible for seven decades of mayhem, not the victim of unremitting hostility. That role would now be played by the Arab residents of Palestine, now called “Palestinians” — indeed, they would be forced to play it by the refusal of Arab states to naturalize, or even provide humane accommodations, to the so-called “refugees.”

Arab states marshalled their collective influence to sell this narrative to the rest of the world, with much success. Most Europeans and their governments, including the European Union, and many Americans risk apoplexy in their violent denunciations of Israel, while tripping over themselves offering sympathy and money to the Palestinians. The United Nations has established a complex bureaucracy devoted solely to their needs.

This narrative has received a particularly warm reception in the academic world, where Western imperialism, rationalized by disparaging “Orientalist” stereotypes of Middle Easterners, is seen as the single greatest cause of the region’s ills.

Of course, blaming all Palestinian problems on Israel makes even less sense than attributing the Arab-Islamic world’s economic, political, and cultural decline in recent centuries to relatively brief and limited Western interventions.

Though the narrative has grown more and more fantastical over the years, its acceptance remains disturbingly widespread. In the end, of course, the Palestinian victimization narrative hurts Palestinians by obscuring the actual sources of their misery — their failed supremacist ideology, despotic and corrupt leaders, and irrational hate of Jews — preventing the emergence of genuine solutions to a tragic, festering problem.