israeli-palestinian conflict » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘israeli-palestinian conflict’
April 23, 2015 0

Israel’s Independence at 67: Living Up to the Ideals of its Founders

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

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Israel Flag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Israel cel­e­brates its 67th Inde­pen­dence Day, it is easy to fall into one or two cat­e­gories in reaction.

One entails an “oy gevalt syn­drome” — the sky is falling.  Just look at Israel, its rela­tions with its main ally, the United States.  An Israeli gov­ern­ment is on the verge of being formed after national elec­tions that looks like it will be more right-wing than its pre­de­ces­sor which may inevitably exac­er­bate rela­tions with the U.S., pos­si­bly fur­ther iso­late Israel from the Euro­pean Union, and spur expanded BDS activ­ity on cam­puses and else­where.  And Israel’s demo­c­ra­tic val­ues may be under assault from a Haredi and right-wing politi­cians who will seek hyper-nationalist leg­is­la­tion lim­it­ing rights to those who express oppo­si­tion to Israeli policies.

The other per­spec­tive is one that says, despite all the com­plaints and crit­i­cisms, Israel has never been doing as well nor in a bet­ter place. U.S.-Israel rela­tions remain strong in spite of the spats between Pres­i­dent Obama and Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu. Ter­ror against Israeli cit­i­zens is way down.  The regional chaos actu­ally ben­e­fits Israel in two ways:  Dis­tract­ing Israel’s ene­mies from focus­ing on the Jew­ish State, and mov­ing the Saudis and the Gulf States into a tacit alliance with Israel based on the shared inter­est of com­bat­ting Iran­ian expan­sion and aggres­sion.  And Israel’s econ­omy remains strong led by the vital high-tech sec­tor which con­tin­ues to enhance Israel’s busi­ness sta­tus in the world.

I pre­fer to look at this moment through a lens that can both enjoy the mir­a­cle of what Israel has become and still, even on a day of cel­e­bra­tion, be aware of the many chal­lenges fac­ing the Jew­ish State as it heads into its 67th year. Para­phras­ing the old Ben Gurion line, I will rap­tur­ously cel­e­brate the won­der that is mod­ern day Israel as if there were no neg­a­tive real­i­ties sur­round­ing its exis­tence, and I will see clearly and worry a great deal about the strug­gles ahead for Israel as if the mir­a­cle of Israel’s very exis­tence and its devel­op­ment were not relevant.

Another way of putting it is that I am as deter­mined as ever, on the occa­sion of this anniver­sary to com­bat the egre­giously dis­torted image of Israel that exists in too many places in the world and on too many cam­puses and main­stream protes­tant churches in the United States.  Israel is far from per­fect as a soci­ety, in its treat­ment of its Arab com­mu­nity and of the Pales­tini­ans.  But it has always been and still is the only true democ­racy and respec­tor of human rights in the region and would have made peace with the Pales­tini­ans on many an occa­sion had it not been for ongo­ing Pales­tin­ian rejec­tion­ism.

I will con­tinue to fight the BDS folks and all those who demo­nize Israel because they are deal­ing in lies about the Jew­ish State.

At the same time, and hav­ing noth­ing to do with the dis­tor­tions from out­side, I worry about some of the direc­tions Israel is going in as an activist Jew who has spent all of his adult life fight­ing for Israel and car­ing about its future.

How will Israel remain both Jew­ish and demo­c­ra­tic if it can­not find a way out of the cur­rent stale­mate?  With all the legit­i­mate con­cerns about secu­rity, par­tic­u­larly regard­ing an expan­sion­ist and poten­tially nuclear Iran, what is going to be done about the severe domes­tic chal­lenges?  I think of three that demand imme­di­ate atten­tion:  Income inequal­ity, the need for afford­able hous­ing, and the quest for reli­gious pluralism.

So on this impor­tant day, I can live with these dual feel­ings:  An immense pride as a Jew in the glo­ries of the Jew­ish State, and a real­iza­tion that the chal­lenges fac­ing Israel are pro­found and require new initiatives.

Of course, my bot­tom line as a life­long and proud Zion­ist is a belief that Israel will emerge tri­umphant and that what­ever the obsta­cles it will face will be overcome.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

January 13, 2015 1

Arab Cartoonists Reflect on the Charlie Hebdo Attack

In a show of sol­i­dar­ity with their col­leagues, Arab car­toon­ists in news­pa­pers across the Mid­dle East con­demned the ter­ror­ist attack on the French mag­a­zine, Char­lie Hebdo, which left 12 jour­nal­ists and car­toon­ists dead.

Almost all edi­to­r­ial car­toon­ists addressed the attack through their car­i­ca­tures.  Among the themes was the out­cry over the cross­ing of lim­its; the con­dem­na­tion of extreme Islam and the feel­ing that mod­er­ate Islam has also been unjustly attacked.

And just as the attack was referred to in some west­ern media out­lets as “France’s 9/11″, so did some Arab car­toon­ists use two pen­cils in place of the World Trade Center.

Some car­toon­ists also politi­cized the tragedy and used the meme from last week’s attack as another oppor­tu­nity to crit­i­cize Israel.  For exam­ple, a car­toon in the Pales­tin­ian Al-Ayyam, depicted an Israeli sol­dier aim­ing a rifle at two Pales­tini­ans in front of an olive tree hold­ing a sign on which is writ­ten “Je Suis Char­lie” (“I am Char­lie”) – imply­ing that Pales­tini­ans are tar­geted in the same way the Char­lie Hebdo staff were.

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

August 5, 2014 1

The Foreign Media Fails to Cover Hamas

With a shaky cease fire in place, for­eign jour­nal­ists are begin­ning to leave Gaza, some of them reveal­ing for the first time on-the-ground photo and video evi­dence of Hamas oper­a­tions in civil­ian areas.

Dur­ing the four weeks of Israel’s Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge, there has been plenty of video and pho­tos taken by for­eign jour­nal­ists in Gaza, most of it depict­ing the civil­ian human­i­tar­ian toll. To the con­ster­na­tion of many, there were vir­tu­ally no videos of Hamas oper­a­tives launch­ing one of the over 3,000 rock­ets sent against Israel, no pho­tos of armed Hamas oper­a­tives on the streets, few descrip­tions of Hamas oper­a­tions cen­ters or safe houses.

On August 5, the Indian net­work NDTV fea­tured an “exclu­sive” video of a rocket being pre­pared and fired from a loca­tion just out­side their hotel, in an area of civil­ian homes and com­mer­cial businesses.

Why have these pho­tos and videos been lack­ing until now?   There have been alle­ga­tions that jour­nal­ists in Gaza were bul­lied into silence, reports that those who reported on or pho­tographed Hamas oper­at­ing in civil­ian areas were forcibly removed from Gaza.   In explain­ing why news sto­ries haven’t men­tioned the well-known fact that Hamas has an oper­a­tion cen­ter in a bunker directly under­neath one of Gaza’s main hos­pi­tals, Tablet Mag­a­zine explained:

“What Hamas has done, there­fore, is to turn Shifa Hos­pi­tal into a Hol­ly­wood sound-stage filled with real, live war vic­tims who are used to score pro­pa­ganda points, while the ter­ror­ists inside the hos­pi­tal itself are erased from pho­tographs and news accounts through a com­bi­na­tion of pres­sure and threats, in order to pro­duce the sto­ries that Hamas wants.”

Oth­ers claim that such pho­tos were just not avail­able to be taken.  In an inter­view for The New York Times’ The Lens Blog, pho­tog­ra­pher Tyler Hicks explained why among the hun­dreds of pho­tos he took over a two week period in Gaza, almost none were of Hamas rock­ets, weapons or operatives:

Q: We have many pho­tos of the casu­al­ties and destruc­tion in Gaza. Why don’t we have many pho­tos of Hamas fight­ers or mis­siles? A: This is a war fought largely behind the scenes. Hamas fight­ers are not able to expose them­selves. If they were to even step a foot on the street they would be spot­ted by an Israeli drone and imme­di­ately blown up. We don’t see those fight­ers. They are oper­at­ing out of build­ings and homes and at night. They are mov­ing around very care­fully. You don’t see any signs of author­ity on the streets. If you can imag­ine every police offi­cer, every per­son of author­ity in Amer­ica gone, this is what that would look like.  If we had access to them, we would be pho­tograph­ing them. I never saw a sin­gle device for launch­ing the rock­ets to Israel. It’s as if they don’t exist.  Some­times peo­ple assume that you can have access to every­thing, that you can see every­thing. But the fight­ers are vir­tu­ally invis­i­ble to us. What we do as pho­tog­ra­phers is doc­u­ment what we can to show that side of the war. There are funer­als, there are peo­ple being rushed to the hos­pi­tal, but you can’t dif­fer­en­ti­ate the fight­ers from the civil­ians. They are not wear­ing uni­forms. If there is some­one com­ing into the hos­pi­tal injured, you can’t tell if that’s just a shop­keeper or if this is some­one who just fired a rocket towards Israel. It’s impos­si­ble to know who’s who. We tried to cover this as objec­tively as possible.

Other news crews have inad­ver­tently filmed rock­ets.  For exam­ple, this France24 reporter was sur­prised when a rocket was fired right behind him dur­ing his July 31 live report. Upon post­ing the video of the rocket launch­ing, NDTV explained that it was being made pub­lic because the news team respon­si­ble for the clip had left Gaza:

This report is being aired on NDTV and pub­lished on ndtv.com after our team left the Gaza strip — Hamas has not taken very kindly to any report­ing of its rock­ets being fired. But just as we reported the dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences of Israel’s offen­sive on Gaza’s civil­ians, it is equally impor­tant to report on how Hamas places those very civil­ians at risk by fir­ing rock­ets deep from the heart of civil­ian zones.

As jour­nal­ists begin to stream out of Gaza  to cover other crises around the world, it is likely we will be see­ing more and more of these “exclu­sive” videos and pho­tos of Hamas oper­a­tions sud­denly revealed.

Tags: , , , ,