“Schlaglicht Israel” offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press.
Main topics covered in this publication:
- Terror in Paris
- Terror in Israel
- EU-Guidelines for Labeling Products of Settlements
Our world: Radical Islam – the invisible enemy
(…) it is easy to understand what motivates Islamic terrorists. (…) They want the world to be run by an Islamic empire. When they are in charge, they will kill, subjugate, convert or enslave all non-Muslims, except Jews. The Jews will be obliterated. (…) The operational consequences of the West’s refusal to acknowledge the nature of the forces waging war against it have been disastrous. Radical Islam is an ideology that serves both as an organizing principle for civil societies and a military doctrine. By ignoring it, the US and the rest of the free nations of the world have made it impossible to conceptualize or implement a strategy for either discrediting it or defeating its adherents. Rather than develop comprehensive plans for dealing with this enemy, the Americans, the Europeans and others have opted for a mix of policies running the spectrum from appeasement to whack-a-mole operations. (…) To defeat these groups, the US and its allies need to adopt a strategy that is rooted in an acknowledgment of the nature of our true enemy: radical Islam. (…)
Caroline B. Glick, JPO, 16.11.15
France’s miserable intelligence failure
(…) the French got a wakeup call in January, but kept sleeping. (…) In spite of whatever steps were taken, the attacks were not prevented. (…) After January, the French took a number of minor steps, but avoided a comprehensive reform. The French should have trained additional, massive manpower to deal with situations of terror; to train legal personnel to file charges against terror elements and perform constitutional changes; to purchase a lot of equipment, mainly intelligence machines, which would allow an advanced infiltration of social media, and to get assistance from other countries that have dealt with such situations in the past. That didn’t happen as well. (…) Israel offered different types of aid (…), and received a polite refusal. A key failure is the hesitation to join international systems coordinating the war on terror. (…) Cooperation could have generated, for example, a list of suspects who would be banned entry by all countries, including France. (…) In the past, the terror’s operational power numbered only several hundred people, most of whom were untrained. Today there are tens of thousands of potential suspects. (…) Without a new intelligence-police-operational-legal infrastructure in France, terror will win.
Ronen Bergman, JED, 16.11.15
World War IV
The world has been at war for sixty-eight of the past hundred years. World War I lasted four years, World War II six years, the Cold War 44 years, and the war with radical is now fourteen years old and counting.(…) The West is at war with radical Islam and has been since September 2001. (…) If you cannot or will not identify your enemy, you cannot combat him. (…) The president of the United States declared that Islamic State, which he refuses to mention by name, has been contained (…). The European Union, having nothing better to do, decrees that goods produced by Jewish settlements in the West Bank be labeled so they can be boycotted by consumers. In short, the fellow travelers and useful idiots are in full cry, as they were in 1914, 1939 and 1947. As Pogo was famous for saying: “We have met the enemy and he is us”. (…) If we are unable or unwilling to confront the fools, cowards and traitors in our midst, we will be forced eventually to confront an enemy vastly more powerful and dangerous. (…) In the West today the fifth column numbers in the hundreds of thousands, including thousands of actual agents of the enemy. (…)
Norman Bailey, GLO, 19.11.15
A note from Jerusalem to Paris: Sharing lessons of hope and resilience
(…) In Jerusalem, we are unfortunately intimately familiar with terrorism that indiscriminately targets innocent civilians going about their daily lives. (…) Immediately following terror attacks in Jerusalem, my first instruction to the professional team is to reinstate routine in the city as quickly as possible. We continue with our daily lives. (…) In the face of increasing global terrorism, cities must encourage and instruct residents to be alert and on guard; teach citizens how to act quickly and proactively in the face of threats or attacks to help prevent tragedy. (…) Make a very clear distinction between residents peacefully going about their day-to-day lives and coexisting alongside the diverse populations in the city and those who aim to wreak havoc and bloodshed. (…) In Jerusalem, we have set a goal of enabling security forces to arrive at any location in the city within two minutes. Mere minutes after an incident is reported, our security teams are already on site. This ability to swiftly and effectively engage with terrorists dramatically decreases the human toll in emergency situations. (…) Terrorism in Paris, Jerusalem and around the globe is fueled by the same murderous hatred and extremist ideology that aims to abolish our civilization and our values. (…) When we stand united and strong, we are invincible.
Nir Barkat, TOI, 16.11.15
Can Europe embark on war and remain pluralistic?
(…) The terror attacks of “black Friday” are no longer an isolated event, they are the beginning of an era with a bitter beginning, whose end is wrapped in gloomy uncertainty. (…) the world in which the French and their neighbors live is so different from our world in Israel that we are incapable of understanding the depth of the humiliation that comes on top of the anger and the horror and the pain at the loss. Europe (…) has been mired for a long time in a profound crisis, whose signs are particularly grave in France. (…) The “crise” is reflected in every area: serious unemployment among young people, a decline in health and welfare services, a reduction in support for cultural institutions, including publishers and writers, cutbacks in academia and more. All these are having a very negative effect on the national mood and are eroding social solidarity. And when social solidarity erodes, France’s old monsters raise their heads: ultranationalism and racism. (…) It’s happening all over Europe. (…) Now it seems that terror is managing to confuse Europe and to sell it the crude lie that it and the refugees emerge from the same dark hole and constitute the same danger. (…) If this is war, it’s possible to fight and to win. The leader of the British Labor Party, Jeremy Corbin, was the only one this week who spoke logically about the simplest means of weakening the Islamic State: by stopping its funding by the large banks in Europe, and drying up the movement’s ability to acquire weapons. (…)
Avirama Golan, HAA, 24.11.15
Obama needs to show ‘how to take out those ISIS bastards’
(…) At a time when American and global public opinion is anxious and alarmed by the massacre in Paris, Obama stayed cerebral and, as usual, somewhat aloof. The masses may yearn for bluster and bombast but Obama (…) insists it’s a complex issue that needs to be carefully considered. (…) Obama may be sparking impatience and frustration far beyond the usual circles of his knee-jerk critics. (…) Obama finds himself hampered by his self-made web of unfortunate statements about ISIS, which seem hasty if not arrogant in retrospect. (…) Obama disdains the kind of politician, all too prevalent in Israel, who thrives on the public’s fear and thus makes sure to feed it regularly by themselves. His otherwise admirable calm under fire is in line with Rudyard Kipling’s elementary motto: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” As a politician, however, Obama surely knows there are times when public opinion needs to be reassured and emboldened by leaders who speak loudly and seem to be putting their foot down, even if it’s all false bravado and their policies don’t really change. If ISIS strikes again in the near future, God forbid, and Obama carries on with his semi-detached didactic tone of words, he may endanger not only his own legacy but his party’s chances of retaking the White House as well.
Chemi Shalev, HAA, 16.11.15
Terror, terrorism and terrorists
(…) Drawing a straight line between events in Europe and those closer to home is a public disservice of the highest order. It not only constitutes a conceptual distortion, but in an effort to demonstrate that Israel and the West are in the same boat, implies that the solutions to terrorism are identical. (…) It falsely assumes that contemporary acts of terrorism are prompted by the same motives (…). terrorism is a political tool (…). It comes in many forms and springs up from many different sources. This is the reason that the objectives of terrorism today are so diverse. (…) ISIS is not Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda is not Hamas, and the Jabhat Al-Nusra in Syria is not the same as the Al-Mourabitoun, which carried out the recent carnage in Mali. (…) The refusal to differentiate between the particular attributes of each act of terrorism makes it even harder to deal with the complexities of the phenomenon. (…) Eliminating the roots of specific acts of terrorism requires, above all, political solutions (…). In Israel, further avoidance of political accommodation with the Palestinians will only lead to more violence. (…) Israel stands to gain nothing from placing all acts of terrorism together in the same basket. (…) No amount of political manipulation should defer what is now needed. Israel must quickly and efficiently deal with its own terrorism by coming to terms with the Palestinians and let the West to address its terrorists through its own political means. This, ultimately, is the only way to quash the terror of terrorism.
Naomi Chazan, TOI, 23.11.15
The Palestinians are not ISIS
(…) there is a clear difference between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the battle between ISIS and the West. While we in Israel are also victims of murderous, extremist Islam, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is ultimately resolvable. It is not a clash of civilizations, as the confrontation with ISIS has been framed, not least by ISIS itself; it is a turf war over territory, control of that territory and the possible division of that territory. (…) Palestinian terror is not exclusively linked to Islam, and never has been. (…) For more than two decades, the Palestinians themselves, and the Israeli, Palestinian and American or European partners to our intermittent negotiations, have told us that settlements, along with the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, have been the major obstacles to peace. (…) With ISIS on our northern and southern borders, Hamas running Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel is surrounded by Islamic extremists who would like to destroy the Jewish state. But neither Hamas nor Hezbollah is ISIS. We may abhor them but we negotiate with them. While we are attacked by Islamic extremists, and while ISIS may be making inroads among desperate young Palestinians, Palestinian society is still predominantly Western and deeply ambivalent about jihadi ideology, with large sectors opposing it. (…) Without justifying terror or absolving terrorists of their absolute responsibility, we know Israeli policy contributes to the conditions in which Palestinian children answer the sickening call to murder Jews and martyr themselves; witness the Netanyahu-led chorus telling Palestinians that they will never have their own state, or the increasingly frequent closures of the Temple Mount, and pilgrimages by Jewish nutcases who want to build the Third Temple in the company of government officials and Knesset members, not to mention the daily abuses of the Occupation. (…) No friend of Israel should adopt this apocalyptic and suicidal worldview, and certainly not to advance the settlement enterprise.
Don Futterman, HAA, 30.11.15
Netanyahu-Bennett government has no solution for this intifada
It has already become a routine. The question is not whether there will be a terror attack today, but how many and where. We have gotten used to it. (…) it’s an intifada, and there is no reason not to adopt the term which is repeating itself for the third time. (…) how can you deal with two 14-year-old and 16-year-old girls who instead of shopping for clothes, as their mother said, choose to pick up scissors and deal with death, knowing that it could also lead to their own death? This is an uprising in the full sense of the word, an intifada which includes everything, and we have yet to see it all. (…) The Netanyahu-Ya’alon-Bennett government has no security response, period, and we should internalize that. (…) the proof that there is no solution is the way the Right is trying to link the terror attacks in Europe to the Palestinian uprising. Because if it’s part f a global uprising, we shouldn’t do anything. We can keep managing the crisis until the next time. (…) There is no common ground between the Palestinians and the Islamic State organization. And contrary to what is happening in Brussels and Paris, if we had a peace process going on here, or at least sincere attempts to emerge from the stalemate, it’s possible that this uprising, this intifada, this wave of terror, wouldn’t have broken out.
Sima Kadmon, JED, 25.11.15
Netanyahu must talk directly to the Palestinians
(…) Even in the darkest days, when the Arab states and Palestinians completely rejected our existence and waged an all-out war against us, Israel’s leaders did not despair and appealed to our toughest and most radical enemies (…), offering a dialogue, a compromise and clear words of peace which were not just lip service. (…) Desperation and indiscriminate killing and a quick, desperate retaliation without a trial are the most lethal combination possible between individuals from the two people, which should – according to one scenario – live in a joint bi-national state or – according to a second scenario – in two neighboring states with a long, shared border. A leader (…) should realize that his words count. Beyond the battalions – and in the future perhaps the brigades too – which he sends and will send to every junction, beyond the demolition of houses, closures and additional roadblocks, he must also tell the young Palestinians that there is still hope for coexistence in peace and that they must therefore not lose it completely and only choose revenge and suicide. (…) If Netanyahu announced to the cameras at the British prime minister’s residence that he is willing to meet with the Palestinian Authority president in Ramallah without preconditions, he must repeat this statement every day in order to wake Mahmoud Abbas up from his drowsy and passive fatalism, so that both of them can try to outline together a significant joint plan in order to stop the fatal desperation raging between the two people. (…)
A.B. Yehoshua, JED, 29.11.15
The IDF cannot win this time
(…) Good listeners will notice the embarrassment in the leaders’ voices and questions. Observant people will notice almost immediately the anger reflected in their faces. The security forces – in other words, the IDF and Shin Bet – are incapable of “delivering the goods.” In other words, the political echelon is usually furious at the security forces for being unable to suppress the Palestinians’ acts of terror and bring peace to the land. (…) The great IDF (…) is incapable of dealing with several dozen boys and girls with knives and penknives and screwdrivers? The answer is: No (…). This kind of terror cannot be defeated, because like in the Yom Kippur War, it is taking advantage of the breaches left behind by the IDF for lack of any other option. (…) How can an army, no matter how big and strong it is, prevent a 13-year-old boy from stabbing an innocent civilian on the street? (…) The knife cannot win, but it holds the Palestinian problem “in a picture” and is making the world believe that all its troubles are concealed in it. For the Palestinians, that’s enough. (…)
Eitan Haber, JED, 28.11.15
If Europe is sinking, let’s make sure Israel drowns first
(…) At a time when the EU is buckling under the pressure of existential crises – the terror threats, (…) the refugee and illegal migrant crisis, the undermined democracy crisis – the only issue which succeeds in creating almost complete unity is the obsessive need to pressure Israel (…). If Europe is sinking, let’s make sure Israel drowns before us. (…) The supporters of the migration multiculturalism see the EU as a successful formula for overcoming tribalism, nationalism and borders, but reality is hitting them in the face: The more the bureaucratic establishment in Brussels tries to force Europe’s nations to let go of their national identity, they are turning their back on it and becoming even more nationalist. And as the EU’s foreign policy deteriorates, there is a growth in the obsessive urge in Brussels to punish Israel – the EU’s only neighbor, which is interested in good and balanced relations with Europe and which can contribute a lot to the EU in different areas. (…) Through the funneling of a significant amount of funds to different bodies and initiatives in Israel, the EU has created a situation of economic dependence, which now allows to try to impose political solutions on Israel which Israel doesn’t approve of. Too many Israeli governments have contributed to this situation, out of neglect or premeditatedly, but Israel can decide not to go down together with Europe.
Eldad Beck, JED. 25.11.15
The logic of Israel’s anti-European propaganda
There are two basic conditions necessary for public brainwashing. The first is the continued feeding of the public with baseless information (…). The second is the blocking of credible alternative information. (…) These two conditions clearly exist in the way Europe’s relations with Israel are been presented here, as a result of the decision on labeling products of the settlements. (…) A unified chorus has sounded the hysterical cry, free of all doubt, which none can challenge. European anti-Semitism has once again arisen. (…) lies were showered on the public with such intensity, until between the huge headlines about the poor, mistreated prima donna, there was no room left for the basic facts that would have refuted them. Citizens who were nonetheless interested in formulating their own opinions on the basis of facts were forced to conduct an independent investigation on the Internet. What can we discover through such an inquiry? For example, that the Europeans (those anti-Semites) gave nearly 2 billion shekels (…) in support to projects in Israeli industry and academia just in the last year. We could learn that to the credit of the free trade agreement with the Europe Union, which very few countries outside the continent enjoy, trade with Israel will reach 200 billion shekels a year – a third of Israel’s foreign trade. The European Union donates millions of shekels a year toward making Israeli government ministries more professional in their fields. (…) Whoever bothered to check certainly found that the reason why the Europeans do not label the products of occupied Northern Cyprus is that they are simply boycotting it completely, and do not buy its goods, labeled or not. (…) It’s a shame that what gets lost along the way is truth and reality, which could offer people a somewhat more normal life in this country.
Roy Peled, HAA, 30.11.15
The Boycott Israel movement scores another victory
The motion in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) was passed in Denver. (…) The strategy is to call, as a preliminary step, for “monitoring” Israeli actions for hindering the right of Palestinians to an education, often citing freedom of movement and interventions of Israel security forces. They (…) ignore the reality that Palestinian universities were created only after 1967 during Israeli control and continue to develop and function while enjoying large numbers of visiting faculty and students from abroad, including the US. (…) The fact is many thousands of Israeli Palestinians study and teach at Israeli institutions (…). Similarly, Palestinians from the PA collaborate with Israelis in education and research projects in health, agriculture and environmental problems as well as in attempts at political and historical dialogue. (…) Many Palestinians demand more of Israeli higher education and scientific expertise, not less, and certainly not boycott. Remarkably, all this cooperation is taking place at a time when hostilities are not merely verbal. (…) BDS resolutions still the voices of those genuinely interested in resolving this conflict and inhibit its unbiased examination. Academic boycotts are an instrument for silencing and intimidation. (…)
Ilan Troen, JPO, 22.11.15
Is product labeling really an anti-Semitic move?
(…) Israeli spokespeople found the decisive proof that the Europeans are driven by anti-Semitism in the uniqueness of the move. They argued that there were other countries which have taken over disputed territories, but that such sanctions had not been imposed on any of them. The most frequently mentioned country in this context is Morocco, whose actions can be compared to Israel’s actions. (…) The weakness of the “Moroccan argument” stems from the fact that there is already a movement demanding to right the wrong. Parliaments and courts in several European countries are discussing claims to segregate products imported from Western Sahara and to forbid Morocco to label them as its products. (…) Sooner or later, Morocco will be forced to label products imported from Western Sahara. (…) many countries have committed more serious wrongs. China took over Tibet, settled millions of Chinese there and annihilated its culture. Russia occupied Abkhazia from Georgia and encouraged a transfer of tens of thousands of its Georgian residents. The United States abused Cuba, organized an invasion of its territory and holds a military base on Cuban soil. The world did not punish them. Israel is being punished not because its sins are the most serious, but because it can be punished – while world powers are immune. One could argue that junior criminals should not be punished as long as the major hooligans are not tormented, and one could argue that any criminal who can be punished should be. The first approach guarantees complete injustice, and the second approach guarantees little justice. It’s outrageous, but the reason for discrimination is not the Europeans’ loathing of the Jews. (…)
Yaron London, JED, 19.11.15
Who will prevent the boycott? Not Israel’s government
(…) Boycotts of Israel are becoming routine occurrences that require a solution. (…) The Israeli government’s working assumption is that it makes no difference what its policies are, and that the reason for the boycotts isn’t the occupation, but the hypocrisy of the boycotters, who are obviously tainted by innate anti-Semitism. (…) This same anti-Semitic world, as epitomized by the European Union, bought settlement products for almost five decades. But now these Western countries, who set the standards for progress and liberalism, are finding it harder and harder to be friends with an Israel that, in their view, undermines the fundamental humanistic principles that created the European Union. In their eyes, a country that belongs to the OECD yet occupies conquered territory and oppresses its people is simply unacceptable. The Israeli government, which continues to double down on its claims of a hypocritical and anti-Semitic world, ought to be causing Israel’s business and academic circles great concern. These dumbstruck communities, which have thus far refrained from even expressing political opinions, much less protesting, must wake up. Their leaders surely see the approaching tsunami. They must leave their ivory towers and glass-paneled offices at once and stop the erosion.
Editorial, HAA, 24.11.15
The man Israel left under the table
(…) Pollard wasn’t innocent. (…) He was largely a walking mishap, but the moment he transferred material to Israel, he was our mishap. We closed the embassy doors in his face, although he was one of our own. (…) We tried to get everyone to forget this unflattering episode, although it was written for our intelligence. There were two reasons for this disregard. The first was the Jews of the United States, and the second was the Jews of Israel. (…) Pollard was a stain which landed on white pants, and all that was left was to conceal and wash it off. (…) Pollard was not released prematurely. (…) I believe it wasn’t because of the things that were written and because of the petitions, but because of the Jews’ fear. Yes, Pollard was a stain and a bad choice made by Israeli intelligence officials. Yes, he was a strategic mishap, a mishap which we failed to do everything we could to solve from the very first moment until last Friday.
Yoaz Hendel, JED, 23.11.15
Israel’s natural gas industry is breaking the monopolist’s hold
(…) Kahlon could have been the lead player in the gas deal. He could have improved it; he’s the finance minister. (…) But immediately after the election he made a surprising announcement that he wouldn’t intervene in any way. (…) We expect politicians to set aside their personal interests and even to sever friendships if they interfere with their jobs. (…) the only cabinet member who opposes the deal is Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, Kahlon’s Sancho Panza. (…) Meanwhile, other politicians are spouting lies about the deal (…). Lie No. 1: “The framework strengthens and perpetuates the natural gas monopoly.” Really? After 50 years during which the state searched and failed to find gas, tycoon Yitzhak Tshuva persuaded Noble Energy and together they found gas. That’s the reason for the monopoly: Simply nobody else found gas. Then came the government’s so-called framework deal, which stemmed from long, arduous negotiations. The deal weakens the monopoly. It forces Tshuva and Noble Energy to sell the Karish and Tanin fields, forces Tshuva to sell his stake in Tamar in a few years and even reduces Noble Energy’s stake and power in Tamar. Leviathan remains under the ownership of Tshuva and Noble Energy. We’re thus going from an absolute monopoly to competition among a few companies. It’s not sophisticated competition, but it’s far better than the existing situation. (…)
Nehemia Shtrasler, HAA, 23.11.15
(…) Turkey is a NATO member and this is the first downing of a Russian plane since the 1950s by the alliance. NATO is keen on keeping all eyes on Islamic State, which it views as a common enemy. (…) ever since Russia intervened in the Syrian war in October it has carved out an imposing stature in the region. This has had an affect on sovereign airspace in the region as well. (…) Tension in the region relating to Russia’s air campaign in Syria must be addressed so that more escalations do not occur. NATO must see to it that the airspace of countries like Iraq are not constantly violated, so that the Kurdish areas, which are a key ally in the war against IS, can function normally.
Editorial, JPO, 25.11.15
(…) Despite all the throat-clearing accompanying the move, which is par for the course due to internal Arab politics, the opening of any type of Israeli mission in an Arab country has significance, especially at a time when a unique confluence of interests exists between Israel and moderate Arab states. Behind-the-scenes cooperation between Israel and the UAE, which Dr. Yoel Guzansky of the Institute for National Security Studies refers to as “a tacit alliance,” is nothing new. (…) Opposition to Iran is one of the foundations of this alliance. (…) the Gulf States would be more than pleased if Iran’s nuclear capability were destroyed. (…) Israel and the Gulf States also share common enemies in Iran’s proxies fighting in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. But the UAE has other things to gain from ties with Israel, including in the field of renewable energy, which is the official reason for Israel’s presence in Abu Dhabi. Although it has some of the largest oil reserves on the globe, the UAE is intent on diversifying its mix of energy sources, which are currently almost entirely based on fossil fuels. Energy consumption in the UAE has skyrocketed in recent years due to the need for additional desalination plants (which can benefit from Israeli know-how), transportation development, and greater investments in infrastructure. (…) Falling oil prices have pushed the UAE to search for alternative energy sources for domestic use while the nation’s natural resources can be used for exports. The Gulf states have only a limited ability to raise taxes or cut subsidies on cheap domestic oil consumption. (…) UAE and other Arab states have much to gain from cooperation with Israel. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 29.11.15
Israel’s hidden aim with asylum seekers: to break their spirit
(…) The memorandum on a new bill (…) shows that the government is once again trying to get around the High Court ruling. The bill (…) allows asylum seekers who are here with children to be sent to Holot. It invalidates temporary legal steps meant to delay or prevent being sent to Holot, and allows greater use of the punishment of imprisonment at Saharonim prison for those who don’t report to Holot as ordered or who leave the facility without permission. Once again we have a bill that seeks to mistreat asylum seekers; once again the state is trying to evade its legal obligations; once again the absurdity of the Anti-Infiltration Law amendments is there for all to see. (…) The bill shows that the state wants to use those asylum seekers sent to Holot to deter others, an objective the High Court has already ruled illegitimate. It’s also clear that a hidden aim of the bill is to break the spirit of the asylum seekers so that they leave Israel of their own accord. (…)
Editorial, HAA, 30.11.15
HAA = Haaretz
JED = JediothAhronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: December 2015
Dr. Werner Puschra, Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel