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January 25, 2016 2

Terrorism in Israel in Perspective

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared in The Jerusalem Post

Beit Horon Terror Attack

The news the past few days has been hor­ri­fy­ing. A mother of six chil­dren, a nurse, fatally stabbed in the door­way of her own home. Another woman, 18 weeks preg­nant, knifed.

And these ter­ror attacks fol­low scores of more shoot­ings, car ram­mings and stab­bings over the past four months at bus stops, in bars, and on street cor­ners in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Afula, and elsewhere.

I would not assert that the world peren­ni­ally ignores Israeli vic­tims and down­plays ter­ror­ism directed at Israelis. Just this week, react­ing to the heinous mur­der of Dafna Meir and the attack on Michal Fro­man, U.S. offi­cials called the attacks “bar­baric” and said they were “appalled’ by these acts of terror.

Yet, one can’t deny that this ongo­ing wave of ter­ror­ism tar­get­ing Israeli civil­ians has got­ten short shrift inter­na­tion­ally. Recent media overviews of ter­ror­ist attacks appro­pri­ately list inci­dents in Paris, Burk­ina Faso, San Bernardino, Bagh­dad, Istan­bul, and Nige­ria. But it’s impos­si­ble not to notice that almost all such lists omit men­tion of those in Israel. This tol­er­ance of ter­ror­ism against Israelis risks mak­ing it accept­able, and it must end.

Let’s put this vio­lence into per­spec­tive. Accord­ing to the IDF, since Sep­tem­ber 13, 2015, there have been 110 stab­bings, 38 shoot­ings and 22 car ram­mings, for a total of 167 ter­ror­ist attacks.  That’s an aver­age of 1.2 attacks every day for the last 19 weeks. Even more hor­ri­fy­ing, accord­ing to sta­tis­tics from Magen David Adom, 29 peo­ple have been killed in ter­ror attacks. With a per-capita adjust­ment, that’s the equiv­a­lent of 1,131 Amer­i­cans killed by ter­ror­ists in the last four months. While there have been some new sto­ries on the vio­lence, there have been numer­ous head­lines pro­claim­ing “Pales­tin­ian killed” while only not­ing below that the indi­vid­ual had been killed in an effort lit­er­ally to pre­vent them from stab­bing Israelis on a street corner.

Can you imag­ine the out­rage if that many Amer­i­cans were killed by ter­ror, or if Swedes were attacked by ter­ror­ists every sin­gle day for months?

To what can this muted response be attrib­uted?  Cer­tainly, there are some dif­fer­ences between the cur­rent ter­ror­ism afflict­ing Israel and the nature of the attacks in Paris or Nige­ria. The per­pe­tra­tors attack­ing Israeli civil­ians appear to be tar­get­ing Israelis alone, killing them sim­ply for the fact that they are Israeli. In con­trast, ter­ror­ists in Paris or San Bernardino appear to have been moti­vated to kill ran­dom indi­vid­u­als with the goal of expand­ing the threat and impact of the Islamic State.

But there’s more there. The real­ity is that, after decades of a pro­longed Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, the world has become accus­tomed to Israeli vic­tims of ter­ror­ist vio­lence in a way that sim­ply is not the case when it comes to inno­cents in Paris or Lon­don or New York. The world sees itself as uncon­nected and fun­da­men­tally un-threatened when the vic­tim is an Israeli and the per­pe­tra­tor a Palestinian.

More­over, while nearly all observers abhor such vio­lence, they don’t react with the same emo­tion induced by other acts of ter­ror­ism because of an under­ly­ing sense that the vio­lence is caused and even pro­voked by Israeli actions such as the ongo­ing occu­pa­tion of the West Bank. Observers seem to believe that this is not a black and white sit­u­a­tion that can be reduced to vic­tim and perpetrator.

But that is exactly what it is.

A benign tol­er­ance of vio­lence against Israelis is intol­er­a­ble. Ter­ror­ism is never jus­ti­fied, no mat­ter the rea­son. Sim­ply put, one can seek to right a wrong, but mur­der­ing peo­ple because of their nation­al­ity is always wrong. More­over, the fail­ure to con­demn such atroc­ity inevitably haunts those who stand idly by.

The secu­rity cri­sis in Israel has gone on too long with too lit­tle out­rage.  We owe it to all of them — Dafna and Michal, along with Naama and Eitam Henkin; Richard Lakin, Yaakov Lit­man and his son Netanel, and Ezra Schwartz, and many, many, more.

For them and for our­selves, it is our respon­si­bil­ity to ensure that there is vocal out­rage at ter­ror­ism of any sort and strong sup­port for the Israeli civil­ians who face this never-ending threat.

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January 22, 2016 2

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Still…..A Jew

Saud Al Shureem anti-semitic Tweet

Saud al-Shuraim’s anti-Semitic tweet about the Jewish-Iranian alliance

Over the past month, esca­lat­ing ten­sion in the Mid­dle East between Iran and the Arab Gulf States helped fuel a resur­gence of anti-Semitic state­ments and con­spir­acy the­o­ries about a sup­posed link between Israel and Jews to Iran.

Angered by Iran’s increas­ing influ­ence in the region, promi­nent Arab fig­ures includ­ing politi­cians, reli­gious lead­ers and jour­nal­ists have accused Jews and Israel of secretly sup­port­ing Iran and Shi’a Mus­lims in their war against the Sunni Mus­lim world.

Just last week, promi­nent Saudi scholar, Saud al-Shuraim, an Imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca wrote the fol­low­ing state­ment on his Twit­ter account: “It is no won­der the Safavids [Ira­ni­ans] ally with Jews and Chris­tians against Mus­lims because his­tory tes­ti­fies that this is the case. What is strange are the minds which took too long to under­stand this fact.”

Some went as far as accus­ing “the Jews” of orches­trat­ing Iran’s war against the Sunni Mus­lim world. Jor­dan­ian online news agency Ammon News pub­lished an arti­cle on Jan­u­ary 19, titled “Iran started its holy war on the Sun­nis with the bless­ing of the Jews.”

The online pub­li­ca­tion, Al Khaleej Affairs, which spe­cial­izes in Arab Gulf States’ Affairs, inter­viewed Iraqi Sunni activist Falih Al Shi­bly on Jan­u­ary 21 to talk about the Iran­ian involve­ment in Iraq. In the inter­view Al Shi­bly claimed, “Unfor­tu­nately, there is igno­rance in the region about the Jew­ish sup­ported Per­sian plot.” He added that “This plot is against all Arab coun­tries from the Ara­bian West to the ‘Ara­bian’ Gulf.”

Other anti-Semitic accu­sa­tions included con­spir­acy the­o­ries that the Jew­ish lobby in the U.S. is respon­si­ble for dri­ving America’s pol­icy in Iran’s best inter­ests. Dubai Police Chief, Dahi Khal­fan, whose bizarre state­ments in the past included accus­ing the Jews of being linked to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, claimed on Jan­u­ary 18 that Pres­i­dent Obama is of Shi’a roots and “the sons of Zion” [the Jews] helped him  reach pres­i­dency to “bring Iran and Amer­ica closer.” Khalfan’s state­ments were widely cir­cu­lated in the Arab world.

Such a claim about Jew­ish sup­port for Iran was the sub­ject of sev­eral tweets by for­mer Man­ager of the Dubai Gov­ern­ment Media Office, Dherar Bel­houl Al Falasi, on Jan­u­ary 11. He claimed that Jews revere Iran because it is con­sid­ered a “holy” coun­try in Judaism. He wrote “Jews revere Iran more than ‘Palestine.’”

The ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion ISIS is cap­i­tal­iz­ing on this anti-Semitic trend as well. The fea­tured arti­cle in their most recent English-language mag­a­zine Dabiq issue included a 14-page screed link­ing Jews and Shi’as. The back cover of the mag­a­zine also fea­tured a full page image of Jews pray­ing in a syn­a­gogue with a clear ref­er­ence to the Jews of Isfa­han in Iran.

This anti-Semitic rhetoric is more than just a delu­sional per­spec­tive. It is a tool that has been used time and again to gal­va­nize Arab pub­lic opinion.

These con­spir­acy the­o­ries also fail to rec­og­nize both the very real threat Iran rep­re­sents to the Jew­ish state and the cen­tral­ity of anti-Semitic pro­pa­ganda in the ide­ol­ogy embraced by Iran’s rul­ing regime. It is ironic that such accu­sa­tions emerge while Iran is orga­niz­ing  an inter­na­tional car­toon contest–on the Holocaust.

Ten­sion between Iran and the Arab world has a long his­tory, but it has esca­lated notably over the past few months as a result of the Iran nuclear agree­ment and grow­ing con­cern among Arab Gulf States about Iran’s expand­ing regional influ­ence and its involve­ment in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Arab world. Both sides have used the media to prop­a­gate anti-Semitic accu­sa­tions against the other through the lens of their own agen­das. It seems that  Shi’as  and Sun­nis can agree on one thing: blam­ing the Jews for their problems.

In the past, ADL doc­u­mented a num­ber of sim­i­lar con­spir­acy the­o­ries in the Arab world includ­ing that ISIS has Jew­ish roots and that Israel and Jews are linked to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood.

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January 11, 2016 3

Five Things We Hope to Hear in the President’s State of the Union Speech

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Pres­i­dent Obama has said that his final State of the Union address on Tues­day, Jan. 12 will be framed around “the big things” he sees as being pri­or­i­ties in the years to come, rather than tak­ing a policy-centric approach to the speech.  He has said that there is more work that needs to be done, and we agree.

In the run-up to the president’s address, we at the Anti-Defamation League asked mem­bers of our staff and some of our offices across the coun­try for some insights on which issues deserve pri­or­ity treat­ment dur­ing the president’s address. Our com­pleted list fol­lows.  ADL’s pri­or­i­ties for the pres­i­dent include: 1) Fight­ing prej­u­dice and dis­crim­i­na­tion 2) wel­com­ing asy­lum seek­ers and refugees while pro­tect­ing national secu­rity 3) safe­guard­ing reli­gious free­dom 4) Rein­forc­ing a com­mit­ment to Iran sanc­tions, and 5) Sup­port­ing a strength­ened Israel-U.S. relationship.

One caveat:  I should note that while we have num­bered these, they are each sep­a­rate and dis­tinct issues and not ordered by impor­tance. We believe each of these issues deserves pri­or­ity treat­ment by the admin­is­tra­tion at this unique time in Amer­i­can his­tory when we are faced with myr­iad chal­lenges and opportunities.

Let’s hope the pres­i­dent takes on some of these issues as he heads into his final year in office.

Fight­ing Prej­u­dice, Extrem­ism and Dis­crim­i­na­tion  

Last week’s reaf­fir­ma­tion of fed­eral edu­ca­tion anti-discrimination laws,   com­ing at a time of esca­lat­ing prej­u­dice and vio­lence against spe­cific pop­u­la­tions–  refugees, immi­grants, and the Mus­lim com­mu­nity –  was a needed, wel­come reminder for schools.  The Depart­ment of Jus­tice also has used its author­ity under the 2009 Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Pre­ven­tion Act of 2009 very effec­tively, but much more train­ing and out­reach for local police is needed. A 21st cen­tury polic­ing model should include incen­tives for depart­ments   to ensure they are report­ing cred­i­ble hate crime data to the FBI.  Crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, includ­ing leg­is­la­tion now mov­ing through Con­gress, must pro­mote ini­tia­tives to inter­rupt the school to prison pipeline and efforts to build police-community rela­tions.  And the Pres­i­dent should use SOTU to fur­ther explain his new gun vio­lence pre­ven­tion ini­tia­tives, which were announced the same day ADL released a new report doc­u­ment­ing that 2015 was the dead­liest year for domes­tic extrem­ist vio­lence in the past 20 years, with firearms, over­whelm­ingly, the  extrem­ist weapon of choice in 2015 – as in vir­tu­ally every year.  Finally, we hope the Pres­i­dent will press for essen­tial leg­is­la­tion to restore cru­cial vot­ing rights pro­tec­tions elim­i­nated by the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder deci­sion.  If Con­gress fails to act, the Novem­ber elec­tions will be the first Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 50 years with­out the robust pro­tec­tions of the Vot­ing Rights Act.

Wel­com­ing Asylum-Seekers and Refugees AND Pro­tect­ing National Security

Some Mem­bers of Con­gress have recently called for block­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s plan to reset­tle up to 10,000 Syr­ian refugees. This is unfor­tu­nate on so many lev­els and incon­sis­tent with our prin­ci­ples as a coun­try whose ori­gins and evo­lu­tion are so bound up with gen­er­a­tions of immi­grants and refugees. The SOTU is an oppor­tu­nity for the Pres­i­dent to urge Con­gress to oppose efforts to halt U.S. refugee reset­tle­ment or to restrict fund­ing for refugees, includ­ing Syr­ian refugees. We hope that the Pres­i­dent will reit­er­ate that Amer­ica can keep its bor­ders safe and, at the same time, wel­come refugees that are flee­ing the bru­tal­ity of ISIS. The Amer­i­can screen­ing process for refugees works – it is the sin­gle most dif­fi­cult way to enter the United States.  Amer­ica must not turn its back on its fun­da­men­tal com­mit­ment to refugee protections.

As thou­sands of men, woman, and chil­dren have fled hor­rific real­i­ties of bru­tal vio­lence and extreme poverty and hunger in El Sal­vador, Guatemala, Hon­duras, and Mex­ico, we also have seri­ous con­cerns about the Administration’s recent cam­paign of home raids to round up and deport these fam­i­lies and adult asylum-seekers. We hope to hear Pres­i­dent Obama speak out and direct the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity to stop these raids and depor­ta­tions.  More­over, chil­dren and fam­i­lies flee­ing for their lives must be pro­tected and have access to legal coun­sel so that they can apply for asy­lum and pro­tec­tion in the United States.

 The Pres­i­dent should also use the SOTU to encour­age Con­gress to recom­mit to advanc­ing com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform that pro­vides for a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for immi­grants, sound bor­der secu­rity, safe­guards against bias and dis­crim­i­na­tion, and fam­ily reunification.

 Pro­tect­ing Reli­gious Free­dom, LGBT Equal­ity and Repro­duc­tive Rights 

The Pres­i­dent should com­mit to con­tin­u­ing his administration’s sup­port for vig­or­ous reli­gious free­dom advo­cacy on the fed­eral, state and local lev­els, includ­ing oppos­ing orga­nized prayer.  At the same time, the admin­is­tra­tion should con­tinue to demon­strate lead­er­ship on issues of impor­tance to the LGBT com­mu­nity – which have resulted in pos­i­tive, sys­temic changes in pro­tec­tions and equal rights for LGBT peo­ple – by mak­ing it clear that mea­sures couched as sup­port­ing reli­gious free­dom that per­mit busi­nesses to evade anti-discrimination laws and refuse ser­vice to peo­ple based on their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity are not accept­able.  On the issue of repro­duc­tive rights, we under­stand that all eyes will be on the United States Supreme Court this year as it con­sid­ers restric­tions on Texas women’s clin­ics that we think are unnec­es­sary and uncon­sti­tu­tional, but we hope the Pres­i­dent will under­score his oppo­si­tion to the Texas leg­is­la­tion and other sim­i­lar initiatives.

 

Rein­forc­ing America’s Com­mit­ment to Enforce­ment of Iran Sanc­tions 

Iran con­tin­ues to take actions pro­mot­ing poli­cies and human right vio­la­tions that pro­foundly con­flict with core Amer­i­can val­ues.  As we move closer to “imple­men­ta­tion day,” when the IAEA would cer­tify that Iran has met the require­ments under the nuclear agree­ment to lift inter­na­tional sanc­tions, Iran’s ongo­ing human rights vio­la­tions and its exter­nal aggres­sions must be taken into account when con­sid­er­ing the prospect of nor­mal­ized rela­tions. The United States can­not look away from the insti­tu­tion­al­ized dis­crim­i­na­tion fac­ing eth­nic and reli­gious minori­ties in Iran, includ­ing Baha’is, Chris­tians, Jews, and Sunni Arabs. Their treat­ment ranges from quiet intim­i­da­tion to sys­tem­atic impris­on­ment. LGBT cit­i­zens fare far worse. The Iran­ian regime con­tin­ues its decades-long sup­port of ter­ror­ism against Israel and other coun­tries, and rou­tinely pro­motes fan­tas­ti­cal anti-Israel and anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries, includ­ing mock­ing the Holo­caust and accus­ing Israel of cre­at­ing ISIS. It also has lent finan­cial and mil­i­tary sup­port to the mur­der­ous cam­paign of the Syr­ian government.

The U.S. should be vig­i­lant in using exist­ing sanc­tions tar­get­ing these prac­tices and explore new tools that might be needed to tar­get both human rights vio­la­tions and JCPOA violations.

We hope the Pres­i­dent will send a strong mes­sage Tues­day night to Tehran that there will be con­se­quences to test­ing both the bound­aries of the nuclear agree­ment and con­tin­u­ing its nefar­i­ous behav­ior in the region, and repres­sive poli­cies toward its own people.

 Sup­port­ing a Renewed U.S.-Israel Relationship

Con­gress and the Admin­is­tra­tion rec­og­nize the unique secu­rity threats and chal­lenges fac­ing Israel and the Pres­i­dent should reaf­firm the unshake­able U.S. com­mit­ment to Israel and its secu­rity in the SOTU. Nego­ti­a­tions between the U.S. and Israel are under­way for a new Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing (MOU) to ensure Israel is able to main­tain its qual­i­ta­tive mil­i­tary edge over its adver­saries. The cur­rent MOU pro­vides $30 bil­lion in assis­tance to Israel over a 10-year period and is set to expire in 2017.

 As he enters his last full year in office, Pres­i­dent Obama clearly has a full plate.  He also has the oppor­tu­nity to work with Con­gress to insti­tu­tion­al­ize changes, alter­ing the land­scape – domes­ti­cally and inter­na­tion­ally – in ways that will endure well beyond his pres­i­dency.  We and the nation will be pay­ing close attention.

Fol­low us live @ADL_National dur­ing the State of the Union Tues­day night at 9 PM EST for our take on the speech.

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