Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Netanyahu’s Glee at French Anti-Semitism

Over a hundred years ago, at the time of the Dreyfuss Affair, the founder of Political Zionism, Theodore Herzl wrote in his Diaries (p.6) that:
Netanyahu in a happy mood waves to the crowd -  every bit of anti-Semitism helps
Far right anti-Semite and Zionist, Michal Kaminski MEP at Yad Vashem
In Paris..., I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' anti-Semitism.
Tony Greenstein on Big Questions 19.11.2009, Jewish Chronicle - Board of Deputies are Deliberately Encouraging anti-Semitism by saying Jews support Israel
Herzl was of course wrong.  The anti-Semites, who Herzl mixed with and befriended, including Edouard Drumont, the Editor of La Libre Parole, were comprehensively defeated in their attempt to frame a Jewish Captain, Alfred Dreyfuss, for treason.  Its repercussions were felt over 40 years later when the Nazis occupied France.  Despite the abandonment of refugee Jews, 75% of Jews in France survived the Occupation with 30,000 living openly in Paris.
 Short video of Netanyahu elbowing his way to the front of the demonstration
When Netanyahu came to France after the attack of a lone anti-Semitic wingnut Amedy Coulibaly, on a kosher supermarket in Paris, he came not to offer his support to the French Jewish community but to complete the work of the anti-Semites. 
The Nazis struck a coin with the Swastika on one side and the Star of David on the Other to Celebrate the Visit of the Head of the Gestapo's Jewish Desk - Baron von Mildenstein - to Palestine
Herzl laid down the policy that the Zionist movement has historically had towards anti-Semitism.  Without anti-Semitism there is no Zionism and therefore anti-Semitism is something to be welcomed.  When a gleeful Netanyahu waved to people in the crowd it was clear that, for him, the attacks in France were something to enjoy and savour.  Again Herzl anticipated this in his Diaries (p.84) when he wrote that:  ‘the anti-Semites will be our most dependable friends... our allies.”
Netanyahu looks worried as the other leaders abandon him
For Zionism Jews living outside Israel do so in ‘exile’ (Galut).  It is a unnatural state.  That was why so much heat was devoted to the argument, that led to Israel’s next General Election, about whether Israel should legally call itself a Jewish State.   Unlike for example Britain, which is nominally a Christian state, being a Jew in Israel gives you real privileges such as the right to lease 93% of national land, higher welfare benefits, a Jewish local authority that receives 3+ higher per capita grant than its equivalent Arab authority.
Palestinians protesting against the Occupation are being 'anti-Semitic' according to Netanyahu
Israel is of course the most dangerous place on Earth for Jews.  However French and all other Jews make good immigration fodder in  the project to build one Jewish nation/race in Israel.  The lesson of France is that anti-Semitism  must be fought wherever it is found.  There will always be a few people who are taken in by the proclamation of Jewish communal bodies, such as the British Board of Deputies of Jews, that British Jews stand with Israel in its attacks on Israel.  Such people are, wittingly or otherwise, fostering anti-Semitism.  Our  job is to break the connection.

Netanyahu, who was asked to keep away last week, managed to make a complete fool of himself and Israel – from shoving aside other leaders to get into the front  row to missing the bus to the rally and finding himself isolated and angry.  But this apart there was a serious political message.

Tony Greenstein 

By Asher Schechter Ha'aretz, Jan. 12, 2015 

The Paris trip was supposed to be good for Benjamin Netanyahu. The anti-terrorism march, held on Sunday in Paris in the wake of last week’s gruesome attacks and which broke attendance records,alongside solidarity marches across France, with an estimated 3.7 million participants, was supposed to provide the Israeli prime minister with plenty of opportunities to present himself at his diplomatic best: marching shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, holding hands with leaders of the free world, positioning himself as one of the leaders in the battle against global terrorism. This was all supposed to remind the world of Netanyahu as powerful, authoritative, internationally-renowned.

That was not at all what happened. Netanyahu’s trip to Paris turned into a series of unfortunate humiliations. First, there was the fact that he had been asked, by French President Francois Hollande, not to attend the march in an effort to keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of Europe’s show of unity. Netanyahu initially planned not to go, but he changed his mind after learning that his two main competitors in the upcoming election for the votes of the Israeli right-wing, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennet, would be attending.

Then there was the matter of the march itself, which supplied Netanyahu’s political rivals with a enough images, videos, gifs and memes for four election campaigns, not one.
Netanyahu was captured by news cameras elbowing his way into the front row, gently pushing aside the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The French weekly Paris Match later reported that Netanyahu’s place in the front row (alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) was in fact determined by the organizers of the rally, but by that point the videos showing Netanyahu’s break into the first row were already out. The damage was done.

During the march Netanyahu was caught off-guard again, waving to the crowd in response to a pro-Israel shout from the audience, looking rather cheerful in comparison to his grim and somber compatriots, who kept their cool and did not respond to the crowd. 

Netanyahu waving at the Paris rally. AFP

Of course, Netanyahu’s biggest humiliation was a video that has since gone viral, in which he is seen waiting for a bus to take him to the rally, after missing the bus that ferried other world leaders to the march.

The footage, captured by a French TV station, is remarkable: The prime minister of Israel looks nervous, dejected, beaten down, surrounded by his security detail yet still standing in the middle of the street, looking exposed to danger in a way world leaders should never be. Netanyahu appears furious, annoyed, confused, trying to busy himself with talking on his phone or fixing his hair, constantly looking over his shoulder to check whether his bodyguards are still there. Even the French news anchors had to sympathize with his distress. 

Screenshot captured from BFMTV

In no time, Netanyah’s anguish over the bus like was memefied and joked about. His gauche waving became the subject of scorn and derision, his apparent shoving the subject of intense criticism.

“Such behavior as cutting in line, sneaking onto the bus by pushing and shoving, using elbows to get to the front at some event is so Israeli, so us, so Likud Party Central Committee, that I want to shout: "Je suis Bibi!” wrote my Haaretz colleague columnist Yossi Verter.

Netanyahu’s Paris disaster could be seen as a campaign stunt that backfired. Lieberman and Bennett had visits that were far more productive, devoid of PR disasters. Or one could see it as something more sinister: a disturbing glimpse into the level of isolation Israel has reached under Netanyahu, and an even more disturbing glimpse at its possible future.

Netanyahu, after all, is not a private person. He is an elected official, the elected leader of the State of Israel. Gauche manners aside, the way that world leaders treat him is a reflection of what the world thinks of Israel. It wasn’t just Netanyahu who was excluded from the bus — it was Israel itself. Or, more accurately, its current policies — its constant building in West Bank settlements, its disregard for human rights, its unwillingness to negotiate with the Palestinians, its narrowing democracy — of which Netanyahu is the chief representative.

The France that left Netanyahu out in the cold is, after all, the same France that has repeatedly condemned Israel in the past 12 months, over its construction in East Jerusalem and its conduct during this summer’s Gaza war. It was only a month ago that Netanyahu himself called Hollande and beseeched him to halt the French initiative to have the UN Security Council set a two-year timetable for reaching a permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, including a Palestinian state. (France eventually sided with the Palestinians). The Palestinians’ Security Council bid ultimately failed, but the animosity toward Netanyahu among European nations (and the Obama administration) remained.

Even if what happened to Netanyahu in Paris was not deliberate — and given the obvious security hazards, it is more plausible that it was not — it is still a stunning metaphor for the depths of isolation Israel has reached in recent years. One video of Israel’s prime minister, waiting in the cold for a bus that’s not coming, speaks more loudly than a hundred resolutions recognizing a Palestinian state.

Israel begins 2015 with its international status at a record low, its supporters dwindling. It is a liability, a burden. Netanyahu, as prime minister, put it there.
Unfortunately, the joke isn’t just on Netanyahu. It’s on the country that elected him and that might soon reelect him.

Netanyahu defies French pleas to push Zionist agenda

Jonathan Cook's Blog, 12 January 2015

The Israeli prime minister was asked to avoid Sunday’s march in Paris, out of a fear he would use the occasion to exploit divisions in French society
Al-Araby – 12 January 2015

It was hardly surprising that France’s president, Francois Hollande, is understood to have implored Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to participate in Sunday’s mass march in solidarity with the victims of last week’s killings in Paris.

Netanyahu was probably the least welcome of the 40 world leaders who participated in the rally in the French capital to demonstrate their outrage at an attack that left 17 people dead, including four French Jews.

According to Israeli media, Hollande’s advisers had urged Netanyahu not to come, concerned that he would exploit the visit – and the deaths – to increase divisions in French society.

They had good grounds for concern. Shortly before he set off for Paris, Netanyahu issued a statement saying Israel would welcome with “open arms” any French or European Jews choosing to move to Israel.

Earlier, he tweeted: “To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home.”

Netanyahu also declared on Saturday that he would be convening a special ministerial committee this week to investigate ways to encourage Jewish migration from France and from other European countries.

Meanwhile, in a coup for the Israeli prime minister, it was announced that four Jewish men killed at the HyperCacher supermarket in Paris on Friday were being flown to Israel for burial in Jerusalem on Tuesday. None of them were Israeli citizens.

The four will be officially recognised as “terror victims”, possibly entitling their relatives to large payments from the Israeli government.

Zionist anthem

Hollande’s concerns were doubtlessly fuelled by Netanyahu’s behaviour at a ceremony for the victims of an attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012.

On that occasion, Netanyahu called on Jews to leave France for Israel and then burst into a rendition of the Zionist anthem “Am Yisrael Chai”, or “The people of Israel live”. Hollande was reportedly incensed, saying Netanyahu had used the event “as an election rally”.
This time, presumably in response to Hollande’s rebuke, Netanyahu did slightly temper his language during his speech at the Great Synagogue in Paris. Conceding that Jews had a right to live in France, he also averred: “Jews today have been blessed with another right, a right that didn’t exist for previous generations: The right to join their Jewish brothers in our historic homeland – the land of Israel.” Hollande had, by then, left the building.

The clear implication of Netanyahu’s statements has been that France and other western states are not doing enough to protect their Jewish populations from violent extremism, and that Israel is the only safe haven for Jews.

But it would be wrong to view this as some kind of ideological aberration on Netanyahu’s part. Most other Israeli politicians joined him in urging French Jews to move to Israel.

Yair Lapid, seen as a centrist politician, said: “I don’t want to speak in terms of Holocaust, but … European Jewry must understand that there is just one place for Jews, and that is the State of Israel.”
In fact, the effort to bring Jews to Israel is at the core of Zionist thinking, and widely supported by the Israeli Jewish population. Aliyah, or “ascension”, the Hebrew word for Jewish immigration, connotes an almost-divine obligation on Jews to live in Israel.

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, it should be remembered, used even more inflammatory language in 2004, warning that France was in the grip of “the wildest anti-semitism”, and calling on Jews to flee France.

“If I have to advise our brothers in France, I’ll tell them one thing – move to Israel, as early as possible. I say that to Jews all around the world, but there [in France] I think it’s a must and they have to move immediately.”

Financial inducements
Similarly, Israel has tried to exploit economic crises in countries with significant Jewish populations to encourage them to emigrate. In 2001, when the Argentinian financial system collapsed, Israel offered each Jew there a $20,000 cheque – should they make a new life in Israel.

That was in addition to the inducements Israel offers as standard to Jewish immigrants: large sums of cash, tax breaks, subsidies, as well as special access to grants and loans.

The extraordinary lengths Israel is prepared to go to encourage Jews to come to Israel – including, it seems, even actions designed to fuel anti-semitism – were suggested by Raanan Rein, a history professor at Tel Aviv University, in a book on Israel’s relations with Argentina.

According to Rein, in 1960, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s prime minister, welcomed the possibility that Israel’s kidnapping of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann – in violation of an extradition agreement with Buenos Aires – might fuel hatred of the country’s Jews.

“If there is anti-Semitism,” he told a journalist, “they [Argentina’s Jews] can immigrate to Israel.”
Analysts and observers have pointed out that Netanyahu, Israeli politicians more generally and organisations such as the Jewish Agency, which oversees immigration to Israel, may equally be provoking hatred – inadvertently or otherwise – that strengthens Jewish immigration.
Few deny a connection between Israel’s intensifying belligerency, especially its repeated attacks on Gaza, and verbal and physical attacks on Jews in Europe.

More specifically in France, reports of attacks on Jews over the past decade have been well-publicised, including by the Jewish Agency, even though a significant proportion have turned out to be false.

Weakening Jewish communities

France, with half a million Jews, has the largest Jewish population outside the US and Israel. According to figures from the Jewish Agency, 7,000 immigrants arrived from France in 2014, triple the number in 2012. Israel’s minister for immigrant absorption, Sofa Landver, has predicted that more than 10,000 will immigrate this year.

In hailing her ministry’s successes last month, Landver said the government would continue “to promote the ingathering of the exiles, a vision that has accompanied the people of Israel since the state’s establishment”.

In contrast, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, noted that Netanyahu’s efforts risked “severely weakening and damaging Jewish communities that have the right to live securely wherever they are”.

In more graphic terms, Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev argued: “By encouraging mass emigration, Israeli politicians could very well be helping terrorist fanatics finish the job started by the Nazis and their Vichy collaborators: making France Judenrein.”

Netanyahu’s assumptions, he added, “can only invigorate jihadists and spur them to adopt similar tactics in other European countries”.

So why is Jewish immigration so important to Israel that it is prepared to endanger the very Jews it claims to protect?

The reason is illustrated in the efforts of Netanyahu and the Israeli right to pass a basic law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

Goals of Zionism

The aims of such legislation, echoing the major goals of Zionism, are several and related:

* To consolidate Israel’s long-standing efforts to claim it is the state of all Jews around the world, conflating Judaism with Zionism and helping to silence critics of Israeli policy as anti-Semites.

* To implicate all Jews in Israeli actions to Judaise territory that was seized from Palestinians, as part of Israel’s efforts to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian state.

* To recruit more Jews to counter the so-called “demographic threat” posed by the Palestinians’ 
higher natural growth rate, which threatens to create a Palestinian majority in the combined area of Israel and the occupied territories.

* To bolster a self-serving narrative of Israel as being on the frontlines of the clash of civilisations, in which the future of the Judeo-Christian west is threatened by a bloodthirsty Islamic east.

It was therefore entirely predictable that Netanyahu used his speech in Paris on Sunday to again characterise the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, and Lebanon’s Hizballah as being no different from militant jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State that were implicated in last week’s attack.

They all, he said, wanted to “impose a dark tyranny on the world”.
“Those who slaughtered Jews in the synagogue in Jerusalem [in November] and those who slaughtered Jews and journalists in Paris belong to the same murderous terror organisation,” Netanyahu claimed.
An analyst on Israel’s Channel 2 news described last week’s attacks in Paris as “France’s 9/11″.
It is worth recalling that Netanyahu let slip in the immediate wake of the attack on the World Trade Centre his real view of that event – it was “very good” for Israel because it would generate sympathy for its war against the Palestinians.

Fallacy of safe haven

Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer noted this narrative worked to Netanyahu’s benefit, allowing him to refuse “to make meaningful concessions to the Palestinians since Israel is on the frontline facing the onslaught of radical Islam, and any ground given will immediately be used to launch further attacks”.

Another Israeli analyst, Orly Noy, took the same view: “This helps Netanyahu promote a worldview in which there is no national conflict, no occupation, no Palestinian people and no blatant disregard  for human rights.”

But as Pfeffer further observed, Netanyahu’s narrative that all Jews should come to Israel depends on a central fallacy: that Israel is a safe haven. In fact, statistically Jews are far safer in France than in conflict-plagued Israel.

It also forgets that at least some of Israel’s power on the international stage has depended on the influence of international Jewish lobbies to pressure politicians and the media through their activism.
This was a point Rabbi Margolin alluded to. “The Israeli government must recognise this reality and also remember the strategic importance of the Jewish communities as supporters of Israel in the countries in which they live.”

It might be worth Netanyahu pondering that a United States and a Europe without organised Jewish lobbies aggressively promoting Israel’s interests would be less reliable allies than they have been until now.

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