Review: Demonizing Israel and the Jews

September 16th, 2013 by ilyameyer

Demonizing Israel and the Jews” is a new book published in 2013 by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld.

No commentary on the Middle East, Israel, Zionism or Jews is ever really up-to-date.

For the simple reason that events in the Middle East have a tendency to take place at such a fast pace that yesterday’s clinical analysis is today’s outdated report.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, former Chairman of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is therefore to be commended. He does not claim to have produced a definitive analysis of the situation facing Israel and world Jewry. Rather, he offers a penetrating insight into how local events, regional attitudes and global perceptions impact our understanding of the Jewish state and of Jews in general.

All seen through the eyes of individuals in various countries and walks of life throughout the world.

The views expressed present Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives. They are secular, religious and anywhere in between. They span Asia, Europe and the Americas. They discuss legal niceties, ethical dilemmas and psychological analysis. They deal with the taboo subject of Muslims driving out Christians from the birthplace of Christianity in territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority – a practice known as ethnic cleansing. They touch down on media distortion and the role of purportedly non-governmental organizations that somehow seem to have considerable governmental funding from certain EU (and other) member states. Anti-Semitism, terrorism and the Holocaust all figure.

This highly interesting work is presented in the form of 57 short interviews with detailed references, each presentation two to four pages long and each providing a clear snapshot of a country, a culture, an attitude.

As recent events in the Middle East relegate US President Barack Hussein Obama to the sidelines and catapult Russian President Vladimir Putin to the political and strategic forefront, the future of the Middle East is front and center in everyone’s mind. It is difficult to overstate the case – President Obama appears to have squandered the USA’s moral, economic and strategic might and has succeeded in elevating a crushed former rival, Russia, to the pinnacle of power. As always, Israel is the sole stable political entity in the Middle East. The Jewish state consistently remains a morally driven democracy, a multicultural and diverse melting-pot of ethnicities, religions, political credos and not just a regional but indeed a global economic powerhouse.

Not least thanks to its massive recent natural-gas finds and discussions on an intermodal ship-rail link from the Red Sea port of Eilat to the Mediterranean coast port of Ashdod, should talks with the Chinese on its construction reach fruition. Such a link would virtually bypass the increasingly troubled Egypt and its Suez Canal. All in all, there is a very real prospect of a major regional, economic, strategic and political realignment, should the US continue to lose ground and major powers such as Russia, China and India continue their surge into prominence. The lynchpin, as so often, seems to be Israel. And where Israel is concerned, so too are Jews.

Dr Gerstenfeld’s book is all the more remarkable for taking a step back from these and other unfolding current events, focusing instead on the cultures and perspectives that are shaping attitudes to the Jewish state of Israel and Jews in general.

Demonizing Israel and the Jews” ought to be compulsory reading in every embassy the world over. A complementary copy ought to be sent to the White House. The Kremlin already appears to have internalized the contents of the book and the frightening glimpses it affords.


The Middle East Gamble

September 3rd, 2013 by ilyameyer

There’s a whole lot of head-scratching going on right now following US President Obama’s abrupt, some might say erratic, about-turn after discovery of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Some analysts allege cold feet, others suggest that Obama allows his craving for personal popularity to dictate his politics, while still others field various conspiracy theories ranging from the barely plausible to the downright bizarre.

What we can say with a degree of certainty, however, is that the focus of media attention is wrong. Yes, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator. Yes, Assad’s military has been battling Syrian citizens for many months now, and yes, that battle has been joined by various extremist Jihadi organisations whose brutality and agenda make Assad’s abuses pale into insignificance.

Read the entire article in the Times of Israel, where it was published as an op-ed on Tuesday 3 September 2013.

Gibraltar is British – but Judea and Samaria cannot be Israeli

August 18th, 2013 by ilyameyer
This business of keeping territory after winning it in war: where do we draw the line?
Well, read Bret Stephens on the issue of Gibraltar, and it appears that no issue regarding territory taken in war is ever going to go to the UN for debate: not Gibraltar in Spain, not Tibet, not Ceuta and Melilla in Africa, not Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, not the Malvinas off the coast of Argentina, not Western Sahara, not the vast tracts of Algeria from which the pieds noir were unceremoniously ejected, not New Caledonia, not French Guyana, not Alsace, not Greenland.
There is only one territory won in a defensive war that occupies the minds, resources and time of the UN tsars and indeed the world community: that part of the Jewish homeland known as Judea and Samara from which Jews were “successfully” ethnically cleansed between 1948 and 1967.
The UN argues that because that ethnic cleansing was total and absolute and not one single Jew remained in those territories during that period after being forcibly evicted, the area is to be de facto declared as belonging to the nascent state of Arab Palestine.
A Palestine from which all Jews will be banned – by decree of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. Abbas is the man with whom Israel is currently engaged in “peace negotiations”, following Abbas’s insistence that Israel first free 104 convicted mass-murderers and terrorists guilty of killing Israeli civilians for reasons of pan-Arab political ideology. This as a precondition for even sitting at the same table as Jews for the purpose of the US-demanded “peace talks”.
Against that background, now read Bret Stephens’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the subject of territorial claims, wars and occupation, and see if you agree that there should be one law for the Jews (well, against the Jews actually) and another entirely different law for everyone else.