“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:
- Trump and Israel
- UN-Security Council adopts a Resolution against Settlements
- War in Syria
- Selection of Articles
The U.S. is finally out of the closet
(…) With David Friedman’s appointment (…), the United States has finally come out of the closet. From now on, it officially supports the establishment of an Israeli apartheid state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Friedman is (…) the first declared friend of the settlements in this position. (…) From now on, we have an ambassador who will feel the pain of the Amona outpost’s evacuation and take part in cornerstone-laying ceremonies in every new settlement. This means the United States will no longer be able to claim that it is an honest broker. It never was one, but now the mask is off. In those terms, Friedman’s appointment is right and good. The Palestinians, Europeans and the rest of the world should know: America is for the occupation. No more pretense. Friedman is anti-Israeli, like anyone else who urges Israel to deepen the occupation. Friedman is a racist, like anyone else who pushes for an apartheid state. (…)
Gideon Levy, HAA, 18.12.16
Trump’s Israel envoy should be persona non grata
(…) More than anything, Friedman is an extreme right-winger and an avid supporter of the settlements and annexation to Israel of West Bank territories. (…) His worldview is simplistic and befits a propagandist and a preacher, not a diplomat. (…) Friedman, according to his qualifications and statements, is not made of the stuff that produced outstanding ambassadors to Israel (…). He is one-dimensional and one-sided. If the settlers had a state of their own in the West Bank, he might be suitable to serve as ambassador there, and maybe not even that, because his basic identification must be with overall American interests. He must also understand the security and diplomatic interests of Israel in general, not just the settler tail that wags the dog. (…) Friedman’s appointment shows that Trump does not accept this approach. He openly ignores aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, give jobs to those loyal to him and courts the minority of American Jewish extremists.
Editorial, HAA, 18.12.16
Embassy relocation as a litmus test
(…) Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is (…) a litmus test of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intent to leverage the nonconventional Trump/Pence worldview, which (…) recognizes Israel as a unique ally in the battle against the ayatollahs and Islamic terrorism, and is aware that U.S. national security interests transcend the Palestinian issue. The decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will usher in the Trump era, (…) setting his worldview apart from that of the U.N., while reflecting the state of mind of most Americans. (…) The relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, will implement U.S. law, the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which enjoys massive support on Capitol Hill and beyond, but was not implemented by presidents who used national security as an excuse for noncompliance. (…) Jerusalem was central to the agenda of Israel’s Founding Father and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. (…) Netanyahu will not sacrifice the unique potential of the Trump/Pence team on the altar of political correctness, but will follow in the footsteps of Ben-Gurion, realizing the critical geostrategic impact of his attitude toward Jerusalem on Israel’s power projection, deterrence of Israel’s enemies and cooperation with the newly elected, politically incorrect American president.
Yoram Ettinger, IHY, 18.12.16
David Friedman’s appointment must be fought
A disaster, a real calamity! David Friedman, an enthusiastic supporter of annexing the occupied territories, has been appointed the United States ambassador to Israel. He (…) was, no less, the head of the American Friends of the Bet El Yeshiva Center in the U.S. (…) Hats off to those few individuals who had the courage to declare him persona non grata. (…) In order to convince the U.S. Senate to turn down the appointment, the opposition of additional groups supporting the end of the occupation is required, such as the Zionist Union and other left-center groups. (…) Under pressure from the settlers (…), Friedman will focus on transferring the embassy to Jerusalem. (…) Yes, a fanatic ambassador, manipulated by fanatics, may set fire, here and in the entire region, to a conflagration that even the supertankers at the State Department and the White House won’t be able to extinguish. His deep belief, expressed on many occasions, is that the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel. This primitive notion will coax him to pressure his friend the president to reiterate his support for Israel’s right to continue settling as it sees fit. Then the right-wing government will flood the area with settlers and annex Area C, as a first step in annexing the entire West Bank. Friedman will see to it that the U.S., through its veto at the United Nations Security Council, will neutralize any opposition to this annexation. (…) A U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and a significant upgrading of Washington’s political and economic support of Israel could extend for many years – and that, let’s face it, is the greatest calamity befalling the left: the sojourn of Netanyahu in Balfour Street. Against such a risk, the perpetuation of the rule of the right, it is imperative to take to the streets.
Israel Harel, HAA, 23.12.16
So is a honeymoon in US-Israel relations good or bad?
(…) Now, at the start of the “Trump era,” it seems that among those who claimed that Netanyahu was jeopardizing our relations with the United States there are actually people who are increasingly concerned by the fact that America is moving “too close” to Israel. Can this logical contradiction be settled? (…) Obama made a great contribution to the feeling of alienation and distrust between him and Netanyahu. (…) It’s hard to predict where Trump will lead to. (…) But if we do accept the idea that the US is the key to Israel’s security, we should wonder why Netanyahu’s critics, who see the strength of the alliance with the US before their eyes, are now complaining about the danger of “excessive closeness” between israel and America? If the assumption that we are at the start of a “honeymoon” in the relationship between the two countries is true, they must welcome it. (…) If up until now many people in Israel hoped that the international community, led by the US, would push Israel to the two-state solution, it’s pretty clear right now that salvation—at least during Trump’s years in office—will not come from that direction.
Those fearing a bi-national state must, therefore, find other ways, at home, and stop counting on an externally-imposed solution. The US will not be the one to pull Israel’s chestnuts out of the fire.
Prof. Yossi Shain, JED, 28.12.16
Who’s afraid of the right-wing US ambassador?
(…) Friedman is expected to implement the White House policy, not his own desires. (…) he will find himself meeting audiences he was unfamiliar with, connecting with people he did not agree with, being torn between Jews from there and Jews from here. (…) Friedman will arrive with wings rather than weights. Trump, and Friedman as his representative in the elections, promised that Israel would be a leading partner and not just another consideration. He promised that Jerusalem would be recognized as Israel’s capital and that the anti-Israel resolutions in the United Nations would be automatically vetoed. It seems that the Israeli Left should have embraced the new ambassador with all its might. These promises don’t include anything that the Israeli Left should not support, and they don’t include anything that would disrupt a scenario in which a different prime minister would rise to power. On the contrary, it should be a convenient start for any term and government in Israel. (…) This is the first time that Israel can deal with fundamental questions about its future and desired vision without any pressure from Washington. (…) Israel will be able to build settlements and expand wherever it decides, to determine the future of the E1 zone, but it will require the Netanyahu government to tell the American administration what it wants. (…)There is a new administration in America, and in Israel we need people who are not afraid.
Yoaz Hendel, JED, 29.12.16
Obama, we won’t miss you
(…) The resolution is infuriating, and beyond the fact that it calls Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria illegal, it also blames the lack of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the settlement enterprise. (…) when it comes to international forums, there’s a hitch in the big, hypocritical and corrupt machine known as the U.N., which passes resolutions that only strengthen anti-Semitism in the world and encourage the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. (…) They are quick to propose a resolution against Israel, because why disappoint the Palestinians? Why disappoint the world? (…) The rest of the world, fine. But what Obama, the leader of our greatest friend (…), did (…) was an intentional blow to Israel. (…) Obama made a sneaky, pathetic move by a president poised to leave the White House on Jan. 20, a move that will not change the course of history, but which sketches out the post-presidential path in places in the world where we aren’t the most popular kid on the block. (…) Obama wanted to (…) stick a knife in our back just as he was taking his suitcases to the door. (…) Thank you, President Obama(…) but don’t be mad if we don’t miss you.
Boaz Bismuth, IHY, 25.12.16
UN resolution is a breath of hope in sea of darkness and despair
(…) Just when it seemed that everything was going downhill (…) along came a Hanukkah resolution that lights a thin candle. (…) We of course must ask U.S. President Barack Obama in fury: Now you’re doing something? And we must ask the world in frustration: What about actions? But it’s impossible to ignore the Security Council decision that rules that all the settlements are illegal by nature. (…) there isn’t a person in the world with a conscience who won’t rejoice over the resolution. There also isn’t a decent Israeli who ought to fall for the propaganda that calls the resolution “anti-Israeli,” a definition that the Israeli media rushed to adopt – with its characteristic slavishness, of course. This decision has brought Israel back to the solid ground of reality. All the settlements (…) are a crime. No country in the world thinks otherwise. (…) True, the world doesn’t lift a finger to have the settlements removed, but maybe one day this will happen. Still, it will be too late by then, too late. (…)
Gideon Levy, HAA, 26.12.16.
The UN abandons the world
The U.N. has demonstrated shocking disrespect for its own charter and contempt for the main reason why it was established: to save future generations from the violence of war and to bring peace and security to the world. (…) I accuse the Security Council, one of the U.N.’s six main branches, for being too ineffectual to impose peace or security in the world, as it is entrusted to do. (…) Throughout the five-plus years of the Syrian civil war — during which almost 500,000 people have been killed, about 2 million wounded and some 6 million turned into refugees (…) the Security Council hasn’t passed a single operative resolution to check the killing of civilians or the suffering of the besieged residents of the cities under attack. (…) I accuse the U.N. organization of giving legitimacy to the new anti-Semitism (…) and by supporting the dehumanization of Israel as the state of the Jews and opposition to Zionism, and in effect to the very existence of the state of Israel. (…) I accuse the U.N. organization of wasting precious time passing baseless condemnations of Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, at the expense of properly handling all the other serious problems on the face of the earth. (…) I hold the U.N. organization responsible for abandoning the world and for the current global chaos. Its obsessive focus on Israel allows the forces of evil to carry out a Holocaust on the rest of humanity.
Smadar Bat Adam, IHY, 26.12.16
Netanyahu is out of control
(…) From now on, every Senegalese mother who benefits from Israeli drip irrigation will know that you don’t mess with the Zionists. The enlightened states of Europe will know that from now on, they’ll have to beg for visits by the ministers of tourism and regional cooperation, the ministers of transportation and science, and especially the strategic affairs minister. The era of indulgence is over. (…) From now on, it’s us against the world. (…)The “Oom Shmoom,” as former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion derisively dubbed the UN, the body whose decisions Israel traditionally crumpled into paper balls, has been magnified by Netanyahu to such an extent that it has ballooned into the greatest strategic threat facing Israel, while the United States is now a bunch of gangsters led by a black Muslim. (…) the UN, the institution that gave Israel its international legitimacy, is more than the sum of its parts. (…) When it imposes sanctions, leaders are put on trial and countries are liable to collapse. (…) Therefore, a country that declares war on members of the Security Council is either a superpower or a joke. And Israel, despite the fancy dress, isn’t a superpower. Its prime minister has gone out of control, and it has become a country that shoots wildly in all directions, thereby destroying any chance of mobilizing an international coalition to deal with its real threats. Israel is telling itself a story of heroism against the UN while acting as if this were a second Masada. (…)
Zvi Bar´el, HAA, 28.12.16
Why UN Security Council resolution will have zero effect on Israeli settlements
(…) nothing much happened at all when the Security Council backed a resolution declaring Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal. The settlements will keep being built. No one will really do much about it and the peace process will remain in deep freeze. The Palestinians’ situation is as hopeless as it’s ever been. (…) True, the international consensus is that the settlements are illegal, but it’s a consensus akin to the ones like “women are entitled equal rights” and that “elections should be free and fair.” In the international forums of the great and good, that’s what everyone says because it’s politically correct, but anyone observing the real world can see that democracy is in retreat and that no country has ever gone to war or declared a boycott of another country for the treatment of its female population. (…) There’s no “international community” in the first place. (…) Obama tried to get Israel to see the light and failed, and was repeatedly dissed by Netanyahu. It’s not a shock that at the end of it all, the president decided to give the prime minister a symbolic slap in the face. There are not a few of us who don’t fantasize about doing the same and we’re not all anti-Semites.
David Rosenberg, HAA, 28.12.16
An Un-American decision
(…) the American abstention on UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (…) demonstrates a loss of the moral clarity and sense of justice that had always filled me (…) with pride. (…) The resolution essentially calls for Israel’s physical and spiritual destruction with its demand for a return to the indefensible 1967 borders, and its claim that the heart and soul of the Jewish people, its eternal spiritual (and physical) capital, its holiest city, doesn’t belong to Israel. This is a complete abandonment of justice. (…) how could America remain quiet and not object to a resolution that “calls upon all states… to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967?” This clause supports boycotts of Israel since the distinction between official Israel and the territories is quickly blurred, and even a boycott of just the territories hurts Palestinians who are employed by Israeli companies in that region. Lending a hand to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is the exact opposite of the classic American value of liberty.
Dov Lipman, JPO, 29.12.16
End the delusion over settlements
Representatives of the Israeli government would have us believe that the UN resolution passed on 23 December was a conspiracy by an implacably hostile US administration backed by a world that is biased against Israel. (…) who these voices think they are kidding. (…) it’s time to end the delusions. The UN resolution passed because the Israeli government has no credibility. If you tell the world on Monday that you want a two state solution, then you announce on Tuesday you are building in areas that you cannot hope to keep in a future agreement, then it doesn’t much matter what you say on Wednesday. (…) This game has been going on a long, long time. We should not treat them as though they are stupid. It is true that Palestinian inflexibility, dysfunctionality and violence, has prevented progress when Israeli leaders have shown readiness to compromise. But this argument has little force from an Israeli government which ranges from ambivalence to hostility towards a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, continued settlement building in areas Israel cannot hope to keep has made it extremely easy for the Palestinians to shift the blame back to Israel. (…) In short, the Israeli government gave the US and others plenty of reasons to vote for the resolution, and few reasons to vote it down. (…) Our leaders need to act, not for the sake of the Palestinians, nor for the sake of international opinion, but because the future of the Jewish state depends on separation from the Palestinians. (…)
Toby Greene, TOI, 31.12.16
Golan Heights: From annexation to recognition
(…) The Syrian state has collapsed, and at the same time there appears to be a strategic change in the geopolitical perception of the United States in terms of the Middle East. For the first time in nearly 50 years, an historic window of opportunity has been created to change the formula of the future arrangement in the Golan Heights from yesterday’s formula, which focused on an Israeli withdrawal in exchange for an agreement with Syria, to tomorrow’s formula, which should and can include an international agreement for long-lasting Israeli control of the Golan Heights as a core component of the region’s stabilization. (…) Israel, which has been in desperate need for recognition of the need to change borders for nearly half a century, finds itself at an optimal point in time and in a place for historic achievements. (…) Syria, if it even continues to exist as one state, will never be the same. The human rights discourse is irrelevant for the Golan. In a reality in which 25,000 of its Druze residents are entitled to citizenship in the only democracy in the Middle East, the Syrian alternative has never seemed more delusional to them. (…) There is no other horizon in the Middle East apart from the Israeli horizon. (…)We should advance a coordination of interests between the US, Russia and Israel regarding an arrangement for “the day after” the war in Syria and work in every way to include Israel’s needs in the discourse between the world powers on the future of Syria and the Assad regime. (…) The Israeli government, particularly in its current coalition makeup, must not miss out on this opportunity. It must adopt a wide historical Ben-Gurion view and speed up the settlement of the Golan Heights through financial incentives, developing modern employment centers and relocating and developing national facilities and infrastructures, which will together establish facts on the ground and determine that the Golan Heights is in practice an inseparable part of the State of Israel.
Zvi Hauser, JED, 18.12.16
On my mind: Bashar’s world
(…) In Bashar’s fanciful world Syria has two enemies – the “terrorists” and Israel.(…) Syrians who have directly suffered the brutality of the Assad regime would disagree with the perspectives of president and Mrs. Assad, from whose Damascus sanctuary have come the directives that, so far, have left more than 500,000 Syrians dead, and half the country’s population dispersed as refugees inside and outside Syria. Survivors of the Aleppo siege await, along with other Syrians – the inevitable next targets of Assad and his eager Iranian and Russia partners in evil. Precious few have called out the perpetrators of the massacres by name. (…) Words uttered with clarity in the sanctuary of UN headquarters, however, are no match for the countries that have disregarded the appeals of so many around the world to end their willful destruction of apartments, schools, hospitals and lives. (…) The fantasy that infuses Assad has proven deadly for Syria, the region and the world. The need to stand up to him is clearer than ever. (…) The world mostly ignores the plight of the Syrian people, and in Assad’s world of evil incarnate, that may be the ultimate punishment.
Kenneth Bandler, JPO, 19.12.16
I hope Assad wins
All the organizations – Islamic State, Ahrar al-Sham, the Nusra Front – are essentially the same terror that is being supported by the American-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish axis.(…) When it started out, the Islamic State, which even (…) Israel deems a terrorist organization, murdered tens of thousands of people. (…) And what did those champions of freedom and human rights – the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel – do then? They directly supported it by buying oil from it. (…) mass graves are still being discovered – they included wholesale rape and trafficking in women. This didn’t stop the enlightened West from sending it supplies (…), expanding trade with it and enabling it to publish propaganda about its atrocities. (…) on one hand, Israel is supporting those fighting against the Syrian regime in every possible way, but on the other, it punishes that same regime for the actions of its enemies. This is exactly why I wish the Syrian army victory over all the terrorist organizations that have been fighting it since 2011. (…) My support for the Syrian regime stems from the fact that it is the lesser of very (…) great evils (…) all its opponents are worse than it is. (…) Syria was the last dam blocking the spread of Israeli-Saudi-American imperialism over the entire Arab world. Had it not been for Syrian resistance to this imperialism, Saudi Arabia and the other “moderate Sunni countries” would have fallen in line with U.S. dictates, and all the Arab nations would be living today under Israeli hegemony. (…)The West’s great fear is that the heroic “freedom fighters” will return to or flee to Europe and America after their defeat. And once there, they won’t make do with collecting unemployment; they’re already addicted to beheadings and mass rapes. It’s not hard to guess who their next victims will be.
Abed L. Azab, HAA, 19.12.16
Hypocrisy has no shame
(…) President Bashar Assad can starve and massacre hundreds of people a day, yet the issue doesn’t rate much more than a diffident frown from spokesmen in Washington, Berlin, Paris or London. (…) Assad can deliberately launch massive artillery barrages into civilian areas day after day for five years, yet the story has not really been front-page news in world newspapers for more than a few milliseconds. (…) Syrian guns can obliterate a field hospital, leave the wounded bleeding in the streets, and rampage through hospitals shooting rebel troops — yet the world merely and barely clicks its tongue in disapproval. (…) Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Syrians have been killed by Assad’s barrel bombs and chemical weapons, and by the Hezbollah killing squads he imported from Lebanon, yet the world cannot agree to intervene or investigate. (…) After five years of violence, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was roused last week — on one of his final days in office — to comment on the situation in Syria, and expressed mild dismay at Syrian cruelty. (…) In 2011, when Assad cut off electricity to residents of Homs and set up military bases and sniper posts in schools, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay actually declared the situation “deplorable,” although she could not convince the General Assembly to convene an emergency special session on Syria. Neither was an emergency session convened when Assad subsequently killed thousands in Homs. There won’t be an emergency session now either — even as the U.N. humanitarian adviser on Syria Jan Egeland accuses Assad of “atrocities” in Aleppo. That’s because emergency special sessions at the U.N. are reserved mainly for Israel. (…) Hypocrisy has no shame, and the demonization of Israel has no limits.
David M. Weinberg, IHY, 23.12.16
West’s strategic failure, Muslims’ moral failure
The terror attack in Berlin, which ISIS claimed responsibility for, doesn’t seem like an act carried out by an organized terror network, but rather as an act of a lone wolf terrorist. (…) How do we prevent lone terrorists from embarking on a murderous mission (…) The West’s biggest failure hides in comments repeated by US President George W. Bush, followed by President Barack Obama: Islam is not the problem. The problem is terrorism and the radicals leaning on it. (…) The statement itself is accurate, of course, but it failed to bring along the most effective communal tool against radicalism—social rejection. (…) The West tried to convince, its leaders said the right words, but the European Muslims are not rejecting radicalism. Their leaders will condemn it, but they don’t persecute and remove the radicals from their midst. (…) The West failed strategically, but the moral failure belongs to many Muslim communities in Europe. (…) When there is no homogenous community, it’s hard to create effective ostracism mechanisms, and on the edges it’s easier for radicalism to spread. As long as this remains the situation, more and more young people will hear radicalizing messages and carry out sacrifice attacks. The security forces can do an excellent job trying to prevent them (…), but the disease and the medication can only be found in the community.
Nadav Eyal, JED, 25.12.16
The fragile year of coexistence
A miracle has happened here. In complete contrast to our surrounding environment, which has been splintering and disintegrating at a dizzying rate, we live on an island of coexistence. Twenty percent of Israel’s population (…) one-fifth (…) makes a choice, every day, to try once again to belong. To play by the rules. To be part of society rather than oppose it. (…) Evidently our leadership does not believe in miracles, or else takes them for granted. (…) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his captive cronies on Dizengoff Street in the aftermath of Nasha’at Melhem’s killing spree (…) was already talking about a state within a state, about “us and them.” (…) As if the entire Arab population were guilty. (…) The following morning, throughout hospitals, universities, call centers, pharmacies stores and offices, Jews and Arabs went about their work, side by side, as if nothing had happened. This miracle is a stubborn one. It remains stubborn (…) Against all odds and despite Middle Eastern karma. (…) And it seems that this year a special effort was made to sabotage one of the most wondrous things we have here: the fact that despite everything, we succeed in living together. Against the evil winds of the region, against a leadership that plays with fire. Against the efforts of extremists on both sides to destroy any hope for a better future. This year has been especially challenging. Sadly, next year does not bode well. What a waste.
Dana Weiss, JPO, 19.12.16
Codes of behavior
(…) Just what, exactly, is the difference between “business casual” and “sport elegant”? (…) to enforce a dress code turned into farce (…) as parliamentary assistants deliberately flouted its ban on short skirts and were refused entry into the building. (…) A too close interest in the length of a woman’s skirt, or whether (…) she’s baring her shoulders, tends to be the hallmark of repressive religious regimes along the lines of Iran and Saudi Arabia, or the haredi (…) communities in our midst, and reflects a deliberate subjugation of women. It therefore goes without saying that the parliamentary assistants were totally right to protest this unnecessary and discriminatory infringement on their choice of clothing. At the same time, given the average Israeli’s lack of sartorial elegance there is a certain logic in the Knesset feeling the need to issue guidelines on what is, and what is not, suitable attire for working inside or visiting the country’s parliament. (…) Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein made the right decision to scrap the present discriminatory dress rules and establish a committee (…) to put together a new set of guidelines with which everyone can feel comfortable. (…). Now that Nissan Slomiansky has admitted he is the Bayit Yehudi Knesset member accused of sexual harassment by eight different women, he should follow speaker Edelstein’s call and at the very least suspend himself from the Knesset until the validity or not of the accusations has been established. Slomiansky’s refusal to stand down and the weak reaction of Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett to the revelations surrounding Slomiansky, reflect much more badly on the Knesset’s image than the length of parliamentary assistants’ skirts. (…) Of course Slomiansky has every right, until proven otherwise, to claim his innocence, but given the weight of the charges against him, he needs to do so outside of the Knesset. (…) Perhaps Slomiansky thinks he can brazen this out a la Donald Trump and the many sexual harassment allegations the US president-elect faced. But, as in so many different areas, Trump is not the role model our politicians should aspire to mimic.
Jeff Barak, JPO, 18.12.16
HAA = Haaretz
JED = JediothAhronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published in: January 2017
Dr. Werner Puschra,
Leiter der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel