Abraham H. Foxman » ADL Blogs
August 1, 2014 0

Gaza’s Future: It’s Up to the International Community

by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in The Jerusalem Post

The “bar­baric vio­la­tion of the cease-fire agree­ment,” in the words of the White House spokesman, by Hamas when they attacked Israeli sol­diers, killing two and tak­ing one hostage, sums up the chal­lenge fac­ing Israel and the West in this vital conflict.

An orga­ni­za­tion that launches rock­ets at civil­ians, uses its own civil­ians as human shields, that has in its char­ter repeated calls for the destruc­tion of the Jew­ish state is, not sur­pris­ingly, an orga­ni­za­tion to whom an agree­ment on a cease­fire is just another tac­ti­cal oppor­tu­nity in its ongo­ing war and is there merely to be vio­lated to achieve their evil ends.

This bla­tant action high­lights the need for stronger solu­tions to the prob­lem of Hamas in Gaza. Make no mis­take about it. If this con­flict ends leav­ing Hamas stand­ing with­out a clear path toward pre­vent­ing its rear­ma­ment in the years ahead, the vio­lence to come will make what we have seen so far look pale in comparison.

Some would argue that what Israel has to do is expand its oper­a­tion to destroy the Hamas infra­struc­ture and lead­er­ship so that it is no longer a threat and can no longer dom­i­nate Gaza. Such a deci­sion lies, of course, with the Israeli gov­ern­ment, but clearly there has been a hes­i­ta­tion to go in that direc­tion because of the poten­tial for sig­nif­i­cant IDF casu­al­ties, the inevitable dra­matic rise of Pales­tin­ian civil­ian casu­al­ties, and the impact on it would have on inter­na­tional, and specif­i­cally U.S. opin­ion toward Israel.

Short of such an expan­sion of the war, the goals need to focus on two things: pre­vent­ing Hamas from rearm­ing after this con­flict and the need for a Secu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion estab­lish­ing a super­vi­sory mech­a­nism and force to imple­ment the ban­ning of new weapons to Hamas.

The his­tory of such efforts is not good, as for exam­ple, the U.N. res­o­lu­tion about Lebanon after the 2006 war which banned weapons going to Hezbol­lah. It is believed that Hezbol­lah now has as many as 60,000 rock­ets, not to men­tion other advanced weaponry.

A com­mit­ment to pre­vent the rearm­ing of Hamas, how­ever, can be far more suc­cess­ful. In the case of Hezbol­lah, Iran was the main sup­plier of weapons and Syria the main conduit.

In the case of Hamas, all of its neigh­bors under­stand that Hamas is not only a threat to peace and sta­bil­ity but it rep­re­sents the larger threat of Islamic extrem­ism that is a dan­ger to mod­er­ate forces through­out the region. There­fore, Egypt, Jor­dan, Saudi Ara­bia, and the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity all would have an inter­est in ensur­ing that a Secu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion of this sort would work and that a super­vi­sory body would have enough author­ity and means to make sure that it does work.

And here is the cru­cially impor­tant upside: only through such an agency could con­di­tions be ripe to improve the qual­ity of life for the res­i­dents of Gaza and for the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity to return to gov­ern­ing Gaza.

One of the dis­may­ing aspects of this con­flict is the lament about civil­ian casu­al­ties in Gaza with­out suf­fi­cient recog­ni­tion of why they have occurred and what has to take place to pre­vent them from recurring.

The com­bustible com­bi­na­tion of an extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tion hav­ing access to rock­ets, mor­tars, machines and mate­r­ial to dig and build tun­nels for mas­sive acts of ter­ror, made this war inevitable.  Future wars are like­wise inevitable unless a new dynamic is created.

The Israel Defense Forces will do their part. It is now time for the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity, led by the U.S., to do its part. The viciously cal­cu­lated vio­la­tion by Hamas of the 72-hour cease­fire agree­ment must serve as a reminder: with­out an over­see­ing body man­dated to pre­vent Hamas from rearm­ing, we will find our­selves in a worse sit­u­a­tion down the road.

The time to act is now.

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July 30, 2014 0

Erdogan’s ‘Reassuring’ Words to Turkey’s Jews Are Anything But

foxman1by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in The Huff­in­g­ton Post.

When it comes to the safety of the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in Turkey, Prime Min­is­ter Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan seems to think he can have it both ways.

On one hand, he makes clear that the Jew­ish com­mu­nity should feel safe in their own coun­try as pas­sions have erupted into street demon­stra­tions and vio­lence over the Gaza con­flict. “Jews in Turkey are our cit­i­zens,” he told the Turk­ish daily news­pa­per Sabah recently. “We are respon­si­ble for their secu­rity of life and property.”

On the other hand, Erdo­gan believes the Turk­ish Jew­ish com­mu­nity has an oblig­a­tion to toe the government’s hos­tile line toward Israel, and has urged them to issue a state­ment con­demn­ing the Jew­ish state’s mil­i­tary action in Gaza.

“I talked to our Jew­ish cit­i­zens’ lead­ers on Thurs­day, and I stated that they should adopt a firm stance and release a state­ment against the Israeli gov­ern­ment. I will con­tact them again, but whether or not they release a state­ment, we will never let Jew­ish peo­ple in Turkey get hurt,” he said.

Implied in his words, and those of other gov­ern­ment lead­ers, is that the Jew­ish com­mu­nity would be bet­ter off — and safer in their own coun­try — if they con­demned Israel’s actions outright.

This is where things get dicey. Ask­ing the Jew­ish com­mu­nity to speak up about Israel reeks of anti-Semitism.

Erdogan’s recent com­ments about the Jew­ish com­mu­nity of Turkey con­veyed a dan­ger­ous dou­ble mes­sage. First he reit­er­ated the his­tor­i­cal stance of Turkey’s respon­si­bil­ity for their safety and secu­rity. But in call­ing on them to pub­licly stand against Israel at a time when that is Turkey’s pol­icy, he con­veyed to the peo­ple of Turkey that if the Jews in Turkey do not do this, they are not being “good Turks.” The result, iron­i­cally, is to sig­nal yet another long­stand­ing anti-Semitic stereo­type that “Jews are not loyal” to the coun­tries where they live. And it puts the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in a ter­ri­ble posi­tion of hav­ing to choose between the offi­cial hos­tile anti-Israel pos­ture of their coun­try and their own per­sonal feel­ings on a dif­fi­cult situation.

So, we do not believe Prime Min­is­ter Erdo­gan has pro­vided much reas­sur­ance to the Turk­ish Jew­ish com­mu­nity in these try­ing times.

His com­ments sug­gest, among other things, that the Jew­ish com­mu­nity is a mono­lith when it comes to Israel, when in fact there is a diver­sity of views within the com­mu­nity, includ­ing some who do, and some who do not, sup­port the mil­i­tary cam­paign to root out Hamas rock­ets and terrorism.

No Jew­ish com­mu­nity any­where should be asked to pick sides in this polit­i­cal con­flict. Ask­ing them to do so, in an envi­ron­ment where pas­sions are already inflamed over the con­flict in Gaza and where street protests have turned vio­lent, with expres­sions of anti-Semitism and attacks on Israeli embassy and con­sulate build­ings, is enough to sug­gest to some that the com­mu­nity itself is another poten­tial tar­get. In Turkey, there are his­tor­i­cal prece­dents for such beliefs tak­ing hold among the pop­u­lace, and they have not ended well.

Mak­ing mat­ters worse, Mr. Erdogan’s hos­tile views of Israel and Israelis, and his sup­port for the Hamas ter­ror orga­ni­za­tion in Gaza, are well known and shocking.

By pro­vid­ing finan­cial and diplo­matic to sup­port to Hamas, a ter­ror orga­ni­za­tion com­mit­ted to the elim­i­na­tion of Israel’s exis­tence and whose essen­tial polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy actions are deeply anti-Semitic, Erdo­gan has placed Turkey squarely on the side of ter­ror and violence.

Mr. Erdogan’s aid and com­fort to Hamas ter­ror­ists serves to pro­long the hos­til­i­ties and is coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to the efforts of oth­ers seek­ing to end the cur­rent round of fighting.

In recent years expres­sions of anti-Semitism in Turkey have sig­nif­i­cantly increased. This is par­tic­u­larly trou­bling and dan­ger­ous because we know, based on the results of ADL polling on anti-Semitism in Turkey, that anti-Jewish atti­tudes and beliefs are, sadly, held by fully 69 per­cent of the adult Turk­ish population.

This increase is fueled, in part, by harsh com­ments about Jews and Israel made by Erdo­gan, other offi­cials in his gov­ern­ment and influ­en­tial jour­nal­ists. ADL has pub­licly crit­i­cized those com­ments and called on the prime min­is­ter to refrain from mak­ing ref­er­ences invok­ing anti-Semitic con­spir­a­cies and state­ments, which amount to scape­goat­ing the Jews of Turkey by sug­gest­ing they have some respon­si­bil­ity for actions of Israel which Mr. Erdo­gan opposes.

Such com­ments legit­imize anti-Jewish stereo­types and rein­force prej­u­diced beliefs about Jews held by so many peo­ple in Turkey. This is a truly sad turn of events for a coun­try that has in fact served as a safe haven for Jews flee­ing per­se­cu­tion through the cen­turies, includ­ing the Span­ish and Por­tuguese Jews expelled from Spain who were wel­comed into the Ottoman Empire in the late 15th century.

In 2005, ADL bestowed its Courage to Care Award rec­og­niz­ing the efforts of var­i­ous Turk­ish diplo­mats to pro­tect and save the lives of Jews from per­se­cu­tion and death at the hands of the Nazis. The award was pre­sented on behalf of the coura­geous Turk­ish diplo­mats to Prime Min­is­ter Erdo­gan dur­ing his visit to New York.

It was their courage, their human­ity, their dis­play of the best the Turk­ish peo­ple are capa­ble of doing that we hon­ored. At the time the award was pre­sented, Mr. Erdo­gan spoke out force­fully against anti-Semitism and clearly stated anti-Semitism had no place in Turkey.

The more recent com­ments from Mr. Erdo­gan do not change the fact that, dur­ing World War II, Jew­ish lives were saved by Turk­ish diplo­mats who were not infected with the virus of anti-Jewish prej­u­dice, who saw peo­ple in need of pro­tec­tion and acted to save them.

Recently there have been calls by some for us to rescind the honor based on Erdogan’s recent posi­tions toward Israel and his Jew­ish com­mu­nity. But we believe it would be wrong for ADL to with­draw its recog­ni­tion of those diplo­mats today because the cur­rent leader of Turkey is fan­ning the flames of anti-Semitism and sup­port­ing a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion whose essen­tial ide­ol­ogy is anti-Semitic and which seeks to elim­i­nate Israel, the national home­land of the Jew­ish people.

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July 3, 2014 0

Naftali, Eyal, Gilad & the Palestinian Culture of Hate

foxman1by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in The Huff­in­g­ton Post and Jerusalem Post.

The bar­baric kid­nap­ping and mur­der of Naf­tali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar sent shock­waves of hor­ror across the world. For eigh­teen long days, decent peo­ple around the globe joined with Israelis and Jews anx­iously await­ing infor­ma­tion about the teens’ fate, hop­ing and pray­ing for their safe and quick return. When it was revealed ear­lier this week that the three young men would not be com­ing home, there was an out­pour­ing of grief and con­do­lences. Sym­pa­thies to the fam­i­lies were issued from the White House, the Vat­i­can, 10 Down­ing Street and other world cap­i­tals, while many held vig­ils and mil­lions took to social media to express their grief and sup­port dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time. The UN Secu­rity Coun­cil also issued an unusu­ally strong state­ment, intro­duced by the US, express­ing con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies and con­demn­ing the killings as a “heinous act.”

Yet, sadly and per­haps unsur­pris­ingly, there were also those who cel­e­brated the kid­nap­ping and glo­ri­fied the murderer’s actions. In the days fol­low­ing the kid­nap­ping, social media was also abuzz with the “Three Fin­gers” cam­paign, with images depict­ing adults and chil­dren glee­fully per­form­ing a three-finger salute in sol­i­dar­ity with the kid­nap­pers’ actions. A related, ugly social media cam­paign, “Three Shal­its,” a ref­er­ence to the for­mer Israeli solider Gilad Shalit who was kid­napped by Hamas and exchanged for the release of over 1000 Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists, encour­aged the pub­lic to share three-finger pho­tos in sup­port of a sim­i­lar exchange of Pales­tini­ans for the kid­napped teens.

In a prac­tice all too famil­iar among Pales­tini­ans, some Gazans took to the streets to cel­e­brate the kid­nap­ping, express­ing sup­port for the kid­nap­pers while hand­ing out sweets to locals. Hamas offi­cials, while deny­ing Israel’s accu­sa­tions that they were behind the kid­nap­ping, praised the abduc­tion as a form of “resis­tance” against Israel, and, despite the recent unity deal with Fatah, denounced the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity for pro­vid­ing assis­tance in help­ing locate the teens.

And across the Pales­tin­ian ter­ri­to­ries, many asserted the kid­nap­ping had been a ruse man­u­fac­tured by the Mossad and IDF to jus­tify Israeli mil­i­tary actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, when Israel released the names of the two sus­pected kid­nap­pers, the mother of one praised her son’s actions say­ing “If he truly did it, I’ll be proud of him until my final day.” There were even reports that the Israeli ambu­lance car­ry­ing the dead teens’ bod­ies was stoned by Pales­tini­ans as it trans­ported their remains to a foren­sics cen­ter for identification.

The truth is the jubi­la­tion exhib­ited towards the kid­nap­ping is not a new phe­nom­e­non. While the major­ity of Pales­tini­ans did not cel­e­brate the teens’ abduc­tion or sup­port the kid­nap­pers, includ­ing Pales­tin­ian Pres­i­dent Abbas who issued a pub­lic state­ment con­demn­ing the kid­nap­ping, it is hard to ignore that a cul­ture of hatred has long existed among ele­ments within Pales­tin­ian society.

It is one that espouses pure hatred of Israelis, and often Jews, regard­less of their actions, and is wholly unin­ter­ested in liv­ing at peace with its neigh­bors. This hatred is implanted at a young age, fer­mented in extremist-run Pales­tin­ian schools which preach intol­er­ance and rejec­tion of Israel, cul­ti­vated in Hamas’ “sum­mer camps” where young boys are trained in military-style com­bat, and brought to action through active sup­port for and glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of ter­ror­ism and martyrdom.

Some jus­tify this ani­mos­ity, say­ing it is a nat­ural result of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, and of Israel’s “occu­pa­tion” of the West Bank. Oth­ers point to extrem­ists within Israeli soci­ety, who pro­mote hatred and even vio­lence towards Mus­lims and Arabs.

Cer­tainly, the con­flict has a daily impact on the qual­ity of Pales­tin­ian life, both phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal, and, to be sure, there are extrem­ists within Israeli soci­ety. Indeed, in the hours fol­low­ing the funer­als of the three Israeli teens, extrem­ist Jews staged protests and riots in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, where of “Death to the Arabs” could be heard.

There were also reports of anti-Arab “Price Tag” attacks in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, as well as numer­ous social media post­ings con­tain­ing hate-filled and venge­ful mes­sages about Arabs and Pales­tini­ans. And, as of this writ­ing, there is the ter­ri­ble news of an abduc­tion and killing of a 16 year-old Pales­tin­ian boy from East Jerusalem, pos­si­bly a “revenge” act car­ried out by extrem­ist Jews, which has been widely con­demned by senior Israeli gov­ern­ment offi­cials and civil soci­ety lead­ers.

Unlike in Israel, where there is wide­spread rejec­tion of anti-Arab incite­ment and vio­lent activ­i­ties by extrem­ist Jews, a small group of indi­vid­u­als con­stantly mon­i­tored and pur­sued by Israeli law enforce­ment, the dis­con­tent within Pales­tin­ian soci­ety is fanned and incited into hatred by a wide­spread, unfet­tered sup­port for vio­lence against Jews and Israel.

While this cul­ture of hate is lim­ited to small seg­ments of Pales­tin­ian soci­ety in the West Bank and much more gen­er­ally in Gaza, its exis­tence is rou­tinely ignored by Pales­tin­ian lead­ers and oth­ers in the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity who fail to appre­ci­ate its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict and, even excuse it.

As world lead­ers issue calls for Israel to restrain itself in respond­ing to this hor­rific tragedy, they must also rec­og­nize the nature of the enemy Israel is con­fronting, and actively pres­sure the Pales­tini­ans to coun­ter­act the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of bru­tal vio­lence against inno­cent Israeli cit­i­zens. Israel has a right and oblig­a­tion to defend its cit­i­zens against ter­ror­ism and extrem­ism of all kinds, and should be held in that regard to the same stan­dard as every other civ­i­lized nation.

Those in the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity who are truly con­cerned about end­ing the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict can­not ignore or excuse the cul­ture of hatred among Pales­tini­ans. Those sup­port­ing the new Hamas-Fatah unity gov­ern­ment should hold its lead­ers, includ­ing Pales­tin­ian Pres­i­dent Abbas and other senior Pales­tin­ian Author­ity offi­cials, account­able for Pales­tin­ian enti­ties pro­mot­ing a cul­ture of hatred in schools and sum­mer camps, be they in Ramal­lah or Gaza.

Despite claims to the con­trary, the mur­ders of Naf­tali, Eyal and Gilad were not due to Israel’s pres­ence in the West Bank, the neg­li­gence of the Israeli police, or the actions of aver­age Pales­tini­ans. These three young men were killed by hate­ful peo­ple who had no regard for human­ity or the val­ues of life trea­sured by most. Until the world truly under­stands this evil and acts to com­bat it, cul­tures of hate like those respon­si­ble for tak­ing the lives of Naf­tali, Eyal and Gilad will sadly con­tinue to flourish.