For me, undoubtedly the most important event of 2017 was the recognition by Pres. Trump of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Although this was actually recognising reality, it was nevertheless a brave and surprising thing to do.  Yes, he had promised to do this in his election campaign, but so had Barack Obama and several other previous Presidential candidates.  But, when they actually became President they did not do so, exercising the biannual waiver included in the law of 1995 by Congress.

Perhaps the second most important thing was the total and extreme rejection of this recognition by the Palestinian movement.  They have shown no sign of willingness to compromise and have continued to resort to violence and terrorism.  In a way they are playing into Israeli and American hands, by their anti-American rhetoric and rejection.

The defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, almost complete by the end of 2017, is another important event that will be continued into 2018.  Connected to that is not only the survival of Pres. Assad of Syria, but also the entrenchment of foreign forces in Syria, notably Russia, Iran and Hizbollah (from Lebanon).  The future of the Middle East looks dire with the expansion of Iran,   But, widespread rioting in Iran over economic issues  has currently expanded into anti-clerical sentiment, and even if these manifestations are suppressed, they cannot be defeated altogether.

The question in 2018 is can these anti-clerical riots undermine Iran’s expansionism before they actually start to attack Israel, which could lead to a significant war.  I remind readers that one of Ayatollah Khomeini’s main aims when he came to power in 1979 was to capture Jerusalem, and to this end a main slogan of the revolution was “The road to Jerusalem leads through Baghdad.”  They failed in their attempt to take over Iraq, with its Shia majority, by force.  But they  have now extended their grasp to pro-Shia Syria instead.

The situation of North Korea cannot remain dormant in 2018.  The provocations of Kim Jong-Un must be countered by the US, and since Pres. Trump has been touting the diplomatic solution, it is fair to assume that he is planning a military solution.  As he has said several times, he will not reveal his future plans (as Pres. Obama did).

Finally, one of the biggest stories of the year 2017 has been the US stock market rally, up nearly 25%.  The tax and jobs Bill passed by Congress and signed by Pres. Trump just before the New Year, should have significant economic benefits in 2018.  With an improved financial situation, the US will be in a position to implement those policies that are needed, including immigration (“the wall”), anti-terrorism and an increased defense budget.



The Forsaken Promise

Much has been written about the Balfour Declaration on the centenary of its publication (Nov 2, 1917).  But, relatively little has been written about the way in which the British Government abdicated its responsibility under the Declaration and the League of Nations Mandate of 1922, which was based on it, that was given to Britain in order to establish a National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine.  This subject was focused on in a video presentation with the same title put out by Hatikvah Film Trust (info@cfi.org.uk).

In fact, in 1938, just prior to the outbreak of WWII, when the Jews were literally about to be slaughtered in Europe, the British Government published its notorious “White Paper” reversing itself and restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine to a ridiculous 15,000 permits per year.  Further, after millions of Jews had been murdered in Europe, it was found that only half of these legal permits had been given to Jewish immigrants.  Hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives could have been saved if the British Government had allowed open Jewish immigration from Europe to Palestine as they were bound to do.  In effect, the British Government cooperated in the Nazi Final Solution to the “Jewish problem” by denying Jews any way of escape.

They not only closed the doors to Palestine (and allowed only 10,000 Jewish children into England on the so-called “kindertransport”), but brought pressure on other governments not to allow Jews to emigrate to Palestine.  An example was the intervention of the British Ambassador with the Turkish Government to refuse entry and provisioning of the ship Patria with nearly 700 Jewish refugees aboard.  The Turks towed it out to sea where it was torpedoed by an unknown submarine. Only one person survived.

Not only did the British Government reverse itself, but in 1938, just as they had done with the Jews during WWI, the British decided that it was in their interest to have the cooperation of the Arabs, and so obviously made a deal with them to restrict Jewish immigration into Palestine to keep the Jews as a permanent minority in order in return to have access to oil and Arab cooperation.  But, nevertheless, the Arabs sided with the Nazis and the Jews sided with the British, but it did not help them.

After the British Declaration of War on Germany on Sept 3, 1939, it was the Palestinian Jews, some 30,000 of them, who joined the British Army and fought in N. Africa against the forces of Gen. Rommel.   They were given a shoulder pad with the name “Palestine” on it, but the few hundred Arabs who had joined the British Army refused to wear it because they said they were not Palestinian, they were Arab!  Eventually the Jews were given their own regiment called the Jewish Legion (part of the Royal Fusiliers).

There is no doubt that the British Government (and others) knew by 1942 that the Germans had by then murdered 2 million Jews.  But, they refused to bomb the concentration camps and the railway lines, even though they could have done so without significant dislocation to the war effort.  As far as they were concerned the Jews were disposable, let Hitler do their dirty work, and then after the War the British intended to retain Palestine as a result of a deal with the Arabs.

The British did not expect the Jews to come back so strongly.  They treated the Jews almost as badly as the Nazis, but without the organized killing.  Jews who made it to Palestine were considered illegal immigrants, even though before the White Paper they would have been legal.  They were either put in the concentration camp at Atlit, where they were enclosed in barbed wire, separated men from women, forced to wear camp clothing and given meager rations (the camp is still there and can be visited today). Or they  were shipped to Cyprus, Mauritius or the Seychelles.  Although many lived to tell the tale of their up to 5 year incarceration by the British, about 10% of those sent into exile died due to the appalling conditions.

In 1948, the ship “Exodus,” filled with over 4,500 Jewish survivors of the Shoah in Europe, was intercepted and boarded with force by the British Navy, during which 3 Jews were killed.   Let me remind you that this was after WWII.  But, Ernest Bevin, the British FM, a real thug and openly anti-Semitic, decided to give the Jews a lesson.  So he had these Jews shipped back to Europe in metal cages, like animals, and returned to the concentration camps.  This so shocked the conscience of the world it resulted in massive loss of prestige for Britain, and with Jewish resistance increased, it led to the eventual end of the sad story of the British occupation of the Jewish land of Eretz Israel.

This period was a stain on the history of Britain, and it explains why there is always a strong element of anti-Semitism in Britain, and why I am here in Israel.



Black freedom

When I see you hanging around on street corners, or taking drugs in run-down hovels, or walking down the street at night in gangs, I am frightened, and disappointed.  What has become of you, the black men who were freed from the shackles of slavery and blatant persecution and exclusion.  My people, the Jews, believed in civil rights, not only because it benefited us, but because it was the right thing to do.  Many people, including mostly white people, combined to help overcome the barriers to your freedom.

When I hear jazz and the music of Benny Goodman (who had the first integrated band), it is joyous music.  When I hear the melodic voice of Ella Fitzgerald I am happy.  But, where are the many Black scientists and leaders we expected.  Yes, it takes effort and competition, yes, it is hard, as we Jews well know.  But, it is necessary and it is worth it.  Don’t use excuses like it’s a “white man’s world” or it’s “white culture” to explain the lack of success.  Science and technology are international and objective.

Through the 70’s and 80’s I had a lab in a major institution in the US.  I waited for the Black students to come, but they never did.  There were plenty of Europeans, Japanese, Chinese, but no Blacks.  When I worked at a major grant-giving scientific institution we were ordered to give minorities (Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans) special consideration, but they never came up to the standard required.

Yet, when movements like “Black Lives Matter” develop, what is one of their major themes, anti-Israel rhetoric and anti-Semitism.  Without really understanding the background to the situation, without knowing that Jews were the indigenous people of the region and the Arabs were the imperialists, without taking into account that we had to fight for nearly 100 years against incredible odds to make a place for ourselves in the world, these Black activists are against us.  They buy the crude bias of the BDS movement, they become our enemies.

Yet, I suppose if we had to do it all over again we would still support the civil rights movement, because it was the right thing to do.  But, spare me your sniveling and leftist propaganda, we have made a successful start-up nation here by our own efforts.  When you have achieved something like this, then you can deign to give us advice.

Messianic Jews?

This blog post was initiated because of an article that appeared in The Jerusalem Post on  “Will Israel Ever Accept Messianic Jews?” by Tamara Zieve (Dec 16) and the many letters that appeared responding to it.  The question posed was are “Messianic Jews” really Jews?   Can they be considered Jews under the Law of Return to become Israelis, can they be accepted as halachically Jewish?

The answers to these questions are complicated by the fact that the use of the word “Jew” is ambiguous.  It refers both to someone of Jewish nationality and someone who believes in the Jewish religion.  The Jewish religion happens to be the characteristic belief system of the people defined as the Jewish people, that became in time a nation and ultimately returned as a people to their own State of Israel.

Halachically there is no question that a person born of a Jewish mother, whatever he or she believes, is a Jew in the national sense.  This is in effect a racial definition, like someone being born Italian, but not necessarily being Catholic.   But, when it comes to belief, that is a different matter.  Because of three reasons, someone who believes in the Christian religion, i.e. accepts the divinity of Jesus and his teachings, cannot be considered a Jew; 1. Such a belief system is unacceptable to any person who claims to be a believer in Judaism; 2. Some members of these cults, such as Jews for Jesus, are not halachically Jewish and it is important for such a  person to prove that he or she is born Jewish to be accepted as such; 3. These Christian sects that call themselves “Jews” are in fact proselytizing and seek to convert Jews, and this is illegal in Israel.

So for these reasons it is certain that the Rabbinate would not accept someone as halachically Jewish, unless they can prove that they are born of a Jewish mother, do not accept non-Judaic  beliefs (such as that Jesus is the son of God) and that they are not intending to attempt to convert other Jews to their beliefs.  Likewise, the Jewish State of Israel has the sovereign right to reject the entry of anyone they choose for whatever reason and these three reasons are acceptable reasons.

Someone who is a so-called Messianic Jew, who fails to realize the depth of feeling among real Jews, that this insidious compromise, that someone who is born Jewish is in fact attempting to subvert Jews and Judaism, after our bloody history with Christianity, and Islam, should ask for forgiveness.

A New Alignment?

Things usually get worse before they get better.  The number of votes against the USA and Israel at the UN (128) are perhaps not surprising, given the standard alignment of forces in the world.  The Muslim world (57 nations) plus Russia, China, Venezuela, S. Africa, as well as most of the western European nations, all voted against the decision by the US to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  But, unusually the number of countries that abstained or failed to vote, plus those who voted with the US, amounted to a total of 66 member states, an unusually large proportion of the total, over one-third! Perhaps the tide is beginning to turn.

For a long time there have been reports of a clandestine alignment of anti-Iranian countries in the Middle East.  This has included meetings between Israeli and Saudi representatives, a positive article about Israel in a Saudi newspaper, a visit by a group of Bahrainis to Israel and the latest is a video of a Kuwaiti academic stating positive opinions about Israel on TV.  He said the Arabs should finally recognise Israel as a sovereign nation and a member in the UN.  Further, although the moderate Sunni Arabs states voted against the US and Israel at the UN, they have been conspicuously absent in all current manifestations of extremism against Israel, no demonstrations, no riots.

The Saudis and the Gulf States are very nervous about Iran, and yet they are incapable to standing up to Iran by themselves.  The war in Yemen pitting the Saudis against the Houthis, who are Shia proxies of Iran, has been escalating.  There have been two or more missiles fired at Riyadh.  Although they were intercepted, the Saudis know they need US and Israeli support if they are to survive a true conflict with Iran. When it comes to survival of their regime, they know that the Palestinians can’t help them and indeed that the Palestinian conflict is a distraction from the really serious threat they face from Iran.

That’s why when Pres. Abbas of the PA visited Riyadh recently he was rebuffed by King Salman of Saudi Arabia.  The harbingers are there, expect a new situation within a year.  Other nations will follow the US in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (Australia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Philippines, etc.) and the Saudis will come out and show that they prefer dealing with Israel than the Palestinians.

Who is the real victim?

Have you ever noticed that people and groups usually identify their own faults in their enemies.  Thus, bullies usually consider themselves victims, they are often under-achievers, and in order to explain their inability to deal with their reality, they blame it on others and attack them for it.  This is known as scape-goating, based on the Biblical tradition of transferring your sins to an animal, usually a goat, and casting it out into the desert (I joke with my wife that she is my scape-wife).

Of course, the classic case of group scape-goating is anti-Semitism.  The Jews were a convenient and defenceless minority which it was easy to blame for the inadequacies of the Germans and other peoples of Europe and the Middle East.  Thus, all the bad characteristics that the German Nazis ascribed to the Jews were in fact their own faults, mirrored in their hatred of the Jews.  For example, Jews were supposed to be planning to take over the earth, a ludicrous idea for such a weak minority, when in fact the German Nazis were actually planning to do so and nearly did and at one point at the beginning of WWII they actually conquered a huge area from France to Russia.

Jews were supposedly obsessed with money and controlled the banks and were stealing money from the non-Jews.  Whereas in fact the Germans were obsessed with money and took every opportunity to steal money from the Jews, and to make it easier they murdered them in a very efficient and abhorrent manner (they were not the only ones to do this, the Spanish Inquisition enriched the Catholic Church in the same way).   The anti-Semites claimed that the Jews were “clannish” and kept to themselves, while in fact the Germans were notoriously racist, believed they were a “pure” “Aryan” white race and in fact did not allow any “inferior races” such as Slavs (Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Serbs, Russians) and Hungarians and Jews to become German citizens before WWI (with some exceptions).  Jews were also criticized for being God’s “chosen people” when in fact the Germans were arrogant and believed they were superior to others.

The same effect is used in the Middle East conflict between Arabs and Jews.  Jews were historically a small minority and were the indigenous people of the region (in fact from Judah or Judea), and were for centuries the victims of Arab oppression, reduced to inferior “dhimmi” status (like Native Americans in the US).  Now the Arabs, masquerading as Palestinians, have usurped that minority status and institutionalized their supposed victim-hood.  Note that the Arabs came from Arabia and conquered the surrounding regions (including Israel) starting soon after the death of Mohammed.  They are not indigenous to the area of Israel. Further, after the break-up of the Turkish Empire after WWI, as ratified in treaties and Mandates of the League of Nations, the Arabs established 6 States (now Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Arabia) and the Jews one (Israel).

The EU and the Europeans in general criticize Israel for being “colonialist” “imperialist” etc. etc., when in fact Israel is the victim of Muslim and Arab imperial power, expressed in the obsession of the UN against Israel,   This is a victimizing of Israel by the majority of the nations of the world, in which supposedly liberal-leftist Europeans gladly participate (as a form of anti-Semitism).  Countries such as South Africa, that  were victimized by white supremacy (apartheid) now turn around and victimize Israel.  What hypocrisy, what ignorance (it was the Arab-Muslim countries that supplied S. Africa with oil in the apartheid era without which they could not have survived to suppress the Blacks).

Such dangerous forms of self-deception and blame unfortunately form the basis of international relations as practised today.  Perhaps Pres. Trump’s in his recent speech on the national security and international relations of the USA might up-turn this apple cart. Perhaps the incredible over-reaction to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the de facto capital of Israel might be the trigger to start to reform this ludicrous state of affairs.

UN Votes Against US

The vote in the UN Security Council (13 to 1, the US used its veto) and in the General Assembly (128) against the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital are, make no mistake, votes against the US.  These votes violate the remit of the UN, that is not supposed to interfere in the internal affairs of a member country.  In effect it violates the sovereignty of the US Government to make its own independent decisions based on its own interests.

Pres. Trump is right, the US gives millions, even billions, of dollars in foreign aid to all these countries, and at every turn they are anti-American.  Certainly they are anti-Israel too, and that is a basic prejudiced animus that motivates them, but they have shown themselves in this respect to be not only anti-American but also anti-Trump.  It is time to re-think the largesse of American aid to countries that consistently vote against American interests and seek to insult American rights and actions.

In this respect, the PA, not even a country, is orchestrating this anti-American drive.  They receive tens of millions of dollars a year in US aid, that is money in effect thrown down the drain, since most of it goes into t he pockets of the Palestinian leaders (these terrorists now wear expensive suits courtesy of the American tax-payer) and also funds their terrorist activities (paying terrorists to murder Jews).  It has to stop!

It is noteworthy that 35 countries abstained and 22 were absent for the vote, a much larger number than usual.  No doubt these countries have begun to realize that there is a price to pay for their anti-American stance.  But, they don’t have the courage to openly defy the lock the Muslim and other anti-American nations have on the whole UN apparatus.  The US should stop paying for 25% of the UN budget, supporting an organization that is totally anti-American.  Maybe a totally new approach is needed, a new international organization that brings together those countries that support democracy and human rights, and excludes all the third world dictatorships (including  China, Russia and Venezuela) and a lot of the European countries that are already bought out subsidiaries of the Muslim world.   We could start with those that supported the US in this situation, only 8 others, Israel, Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guatemala and Honduras.  These countries should receive increased US aid.