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July 8, 2014

Reflections from ADL’s Jerusalem Office

By: Phyllis Gerably, Director, ADL Israel Office

I’m writing these words as sirens are heard all around the country. The rockets that Hamas just sent fell very close to my apartment in Jerusalem.

For the last few weeks, as tensions have grown, it’s very hard not to look at the pictures of the five young people who were murdered out of fanatic hate.  The common denominator, their youth, makes it all the more shocking.  The country seems to have had a wake-up call of how fragile our life is here.  Community leaders have called for restraint, but it seems that no one can embrace the dignity and compassion of Rachel Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali (of blessed memory), who said when speaking of the murdered Arab youth, Mohammed Abu Khdeir,  “There is no difference between blood and blood.”

IronDome246We’ve barely had a chance to mourn the loss of the young people and rockets are being fired at several cities in Israel.  Pictures come to mind:  the bride in Ashdod who wasn’t sure that her wedding would take place tomorrow; efforts to take the children from Sderot to the North for a respite; the call today from Carole, our colleague and friend who, on her way back from a conference, had to leave her car as the siren was heard; and scenes from “the safe center” of Tel Aviv whose residents today experienced what citizens of Sderot have been going through for years.

My grandson didn’t sleep last night. He keeps crying and asking his mother if the house will be strong enough if a bomb falls. He is only five years old.

Addressing a recent ADL mission to Israel, Udi Segal, a journalist and commentator for Israel Channel 2, shared what the Israelis really want:  “Israelis just want quiet” he said, “with us here and the Palestinians there.”  Just quiet.

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January 3, 2014

WhatsApp Hezbollah?

Hezbollah’s media arm, Al Manar TV, which is listed as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity” is exploiting yet another American technology company to reach and interact with audiences around the world.whatsapp-hezbollah

Al Manar is using the services of a California-based instant messaging service called WhatsApp to deliver “breaking news” via text and to allow its supporters to interact with the station.

Al-Manar broadcasts Hezbollah’s messages of hate and violence, disseminates anti-Semitic and anti-American propaganda and glorifies suicide bombings to millions of viewers in the Arab world, Europe and South East Asia for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Al Manar website has already published selected messages submitted by users of WhatsApp from around the world; some of the messages include statements expressing loyalty and allegiance to Hezbollah Chief, Hassan Nasrallah.Hezbollah, a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, has increased its presence on various internet platforms including social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, in recent years. This exploitation of modern technology has enabled Hezbollah to disseminate its messages more broadly and quickly than ever before.

In July of 2012, ADL exposed Al Manar’s efforts to create free applications for smartphones available through iTunes and other online stores. The application was removed from the iTunes store and Hezbollah issued a statement blaming ADL for the removal of its applications.

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April 15, 2013

Anti-Israel Organizations Attack Israel with Tax Day-Themed Campaigns

Today, April 15, is “Tax Day,” the date by which all Americans are required to submit their tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). While it is an appropriate day to spend a few minutes thinking about what our government spends our tax dollars on, there are several anti-Israel organizations that are capitalizing on today’s deadline to initiate campaigns about what the U.S. government should not spend its money on: aid to Israel.

In the past week, two prominent anti-Israel organizations have launched a new website and a new report calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel. Although a priority that has long been at the forefront of the domestic anti-Israel movement’s agenda, it has picked up steam in recent years due to economic concerns caused by the Great Recession, sequestration and budget deficits.

The first campaign, titled “Demand a Refund,” was initiated by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in coordination with American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and CODEPINK. The campaign’s website features a petition from taxpayers to President Obama which reads, in part, “As a taxpayer, I am outraged that your administration is reportedly opening negotiations to give Israel up to $40 billion in U.S. taxpayer-financed weapons,” an apparent reference to defense weaponry and technology that the U.S. sells to Israel.

The petition claims that Israel uses American weapons to “commit systematic human rights abuses” and “oppress Palestinians.” It also criticizes President Obama for increasing the amount of aid to Israel during his administration. The organizers of the petition hoped to gain 10,000 signatures by today (the campaign was launched last week). At present there are a little more than 3,000 signatories.

And just last week, the anti-Israel organization If Americans Knew (IAK) released a new report titled “The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans” to coincide with Tax Day. Originally published in 1998, the new version of the report was written by Pamela Olson, a new analyst for IAK.

Although the report makes similar allegations to the anti-aid petition highlighted above – noting, for example, that “it is critical to examine why we lavish so much aid on Israel” – the language cited in this report is far more egregious. It claims that U.S. aid to Israel is a result of the “Israel lobby” and insists that the U.S.-Israel relationship harms the U.S. because Israel causes “rage and resentment among billions of people… and sells America’s military secrets to its enemies.”

In its mention of the “Israel lobby,” the report goes so far as to allege that the U.S. and Israel do not enjoy a strong relationship because of shared values or interests but because “Congressmen receive payments and support from the lobby in exchange for their loyalty.” The report also asserts that U.S. aid to Israel makes the possibility for peace between Israel and the Palestinians “even more distant.”

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