Hamas’ Line of Defence to Goldstone Report
Posted Tue, Feb 9, 2010

Israel has recently delivered to the United Nations Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon its official response to the UN’s fact finding mission to Operation Cast Lead, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone. Hamas’ government is also preparing to submit its official response before the grace period of six months set to the parties by the Goldstone committee is over. Read more »

Defunding UNRWA
Posted Tue, Feb 2, 2010

Last week, the government of Canada quietly announced it would discontinue its long-standing financial contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and redirect the monies to strengthen the judicial system of the Palestinian Authority and other food assistance programs. Read more »

Israeli and Jewish Pride in Haiti
Posted Thu, Jan 21, 2010

As soon as the reports about the terrible tragedy in Haiti started pouring in, Israel began to organize its delegation, which includes rescue teams, medical teams and a team responsible for clearing bodies. The Jewish community in Toronto also did its share by raising funds for the purpose of assisting the medical teams. The Israeli delegation is working around the clock and in a short time has managed to rescue a few civilians who were trapped under the rubbles, to provide life-saving treatment to the injured, and to help as much as possible to restore order in the disaster-stricken country, which is also the poorest country in South America.

The Israeli delegation to Haiti is a source of pride to every Israeli. Actually, maybe not to everyone. I happened to be in Israel on the day that discussions started about the forming of the Israeli delegation. I was watching the reports on the morning show on Israeli TV, where the “objective” host did not give the interviewee a chance to explain all the details, and accused him of organizing an operation simply for the purpose of earning PR for Israel. Similar criticisms were published in Haaretz newspaper and on important websites such as Ynet and Walla. Professor Yoel Donchin, head of the patient safety unit at Haddasah Ein Kerem, also criticized the Israeli operation and said that in Israel’s point of view, “a minute on television is more important than anything else, and Israel uses such tragedies as a means to train its forces on medical rescuing and providing treatments”.

It is important to listen to criticism and no one is immune from it. However, it is very hard to comprehend the motive behind the venomous tone which accompanied the criticism from the beginning. Even if the Israeli delegation was lacking in the way it operated, what purpose is there in publicly blackening its image? Even if Israel indeed went out to Haiti in order to improve its PR, why judge it so harshly and not praise it? Any help to Haiti these days is considered a blessing, no matter what the motives behind it. It is much better to help others who need it than to find endless reasons as to why one should join hands and do nothing and click one’s tongue. It is a well-known fact that this is not the first time that Israel has sent a delegation to disaster-stricken areas, and the idea of helping the needy is deeply rooted in Jewish and Israeli culture and tradition. It is permitted to look at the half empty glass, but the obsession in not taking our eyes off it, teaches more about the thought process of the beholder.

The Palestinian Leadership’s Double Standard
Posted Thu, Jan 14, 2010

Knesset member Dr. Jamal Zahalka, head of the Balad party, recently published an article bemoaning the increase in the number of murders committed in the Israeli Arab sector, 64 of the 121 murders committed in Israel in 2009. He said they were the result of feuds, gang wars, “honor killings” and fights. As for a solution, he said that “the most urgent need is to exert political and popular pressure on the police to make them carry out their duty to prevent crime. In the present situation, there is no deterrence, and criminals know their chances of being caught…and punished in accordance with the law are, in many cases, almost nil.”[1]

Zahalka gave prominence to the role of political and societal leaders in the fight against crime, violence and murder, including the heads of the local councils, clerics, educators, academics and members of NGOs.

He regards the murder of Arabs, adults and children alike, as the most immoral and illegal act, and claimed that the police are responsible because they are helpless to deter murderers, who are neither arrested nor receive the punishment they deserve.

His position on other murders, however, is different. He calls the Arab Israeli female terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis or of involvement in terrorist attacks “prisoners of freedom.” He demands their immediate release, along with all the other Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted of murdering Israelis, including children. To show solidarity and support, from time to time Zahalka visits prisons to meet with  Arab Israeli and Palestinian security prisoners.[2] After one such visit, during which he met with two Palestinians, one of whom had been convicted of involvement in the murder of five Israelis, he said that “a new local and international campaign should be initiated to release [the two] and all the other prisoners of freedom.”[3]

Zahalka does not speak only for himself. He faithfully represents the mindset of the Israeli Arab leadership, which refers to itself as “Palestinian,” as stated in a document written by Higher [Israeli-] Arab Monitoring Committee. The document refers to the security prisoners who are citizens of the State of Israel as “prisoners of freedom” and “political prisoners,” with no relation to the severity of their crimes, even when they are guilty of murdering children. The Committee, of which Zahalka is a member, completely supports all the “prisoners of freedom,” including the murderers, and opposed the attempt of the Israeli establishment “to present solidarity with the prisoners of freedom as support for terrorism.” Rather, the “prisoners of freedom” should be part of any agreement to release Palestinian prisoners, such as the deal to release abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, because they belong to the “national Palestinian struggle.”[4]

When it is a question of Israelis killed by Israeli Arabs or Palestinians, Zahalka does not appeal to the Israel Police to be vigorous in apprehending and punishing murderers, nor is he of the opinion that public, religious and intellectual Arab figures have an important role to play in combating terrorism and murder. The issue of deterrence through punishment for murders committed by Israeli Arabs is completely abandoned when those being murdered are Jews. Quite the opposite, according to Zahalka, when it comes to killing Jews the concept of deterrence should be discarded and murderers should be released without punishment.






Palestinian Lies Proliferate – Why Does Israeli Public Diplomacy Remain Silent?
Posted Mon, Jan 11, 2010

The Palestinian human rights organization, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, in its weekly summary of December 23-29, 2009, reported the deaths of three Palestinians killed by IDF fire, as follows:

“Saturday, 26 December 2009

At approximately 00:30, Israeli troops stationed at observation towards along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the north of Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at a number of Palestinians who got close to the border.  The Israeli gunfire lasted for approximately 20 minutes, after which an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the Palestinians.  As a result, 3 Palestinians were killed:

1. Basheer Suleiman Mousa Abu Duhail, 20;

2. Mahmoud Jom’a Ibrahim al-Sharat’ha, 19; and

3. Hani Salem Mohammed Abu Ghazal, 20.

The victims are all from al-Nasser village (the Bedouin Village) to the north of Beit Lahia.  They were unarmed and were apparently attempting to infiltrate into Israel to search for jobs.  A fourth Palestinian survived the attack. Israeli occupation forces did not allow medical crews to enter the area to evacuate the bodies until approximately 15:00.  Eventually, medical crews were allowed to enter the area and evacuate the bodies at approximately 16:15.”

The PCHR accused the IDF of killing three innocent Palestinian civilians. To aggravate the so-called Israeli “crime,” the organization added propaganda about the financial straits of the Gazans, claiming that the possibility of finding work in Israel was apparently what motivated the group to try to cross the border. Similar urban legends about young Palestinians killed crossing the border for the same reason abound in Palestinian human rights organization reports and in B’Tselem reports about Palestinians killed.

The current instance provides a number of insights into how the terrorist organizations operate and how Palestinian propaganda works (occasionally supported by Israeli human rights organizations) and illustrates Israeli cluelessness when it comes to public diplomacy. No Palestinian terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the incident. Does that mean that the three were simple Palestinian civilians? Not necessarily.

According to the IDF Spokesman’s report on December 29, 2009, “On Monday morning (Dec. 28), IDF engineering personnel detonated three explosive devices, that were discovered late Friday night (Dec. 25) when four Palestinian suspects were identified crawling near the northern Gaza security fence in a suspected attempt to enter Israel and execute a terror attack. The explosives were found along with a rope ladder during searches that followed the incident, firmly supporting the suspicion that the suspects intended to cross into Israel and execute a terror attack.”

The IDF report is radically different from that of the PCHR. Four young Gazans, three of whom were killed by IDF fire, were not looking for work in Israel. They had been sent by one of the terrorist organizations or by the security forces of the de facto Hamas administration to plant IEDs on the border, either to attack Israeli vehicles driving along the border or to prepare the way for an attack which would channel IDF forces to a mined area near the border. The terrorist organizations’ penchant for using young Palestinians to carry out terrorist attacks without identifying them as operatives is familiar from the past and makes it necessary to use extreme caution when dealing with Palestinian claims of civilians killed by the IDF.

The routine of Israeli public diplomacy failure continues unabated.

The PCHR has caused Israel enormous damage in the international arena. Its reports are considered reliable by UN agencies, which use them to attack Israel, and they were used extensively by the Goldstone Report and influenced its findings. In addition, in recent years the PCHR has waged an international legal battle against senior Israeli political and military figures, and it has initiated suits against IDF officers in Britain, Spain, Switzerland and Australia, to name a few.

So far, Israeli public diplomacy has not challenged PCHR reports or shown them to be at variance with the facts in the hands of the IDF, although to do so would make it possible to damage the organization’s credibility in its slandering of Israel. The affair of the four young Gazans has all the elements necessary for a public diplomacy action, and the IDF report indicates it has photographic evidence of the weapons found.

Why does Israel not exploit its opportunities and attack one of the organizations responsible for so much damage to its image and standing? The answer is simple and distressing: Israel has neither public diplomacy nor public diplomacy strategy. Government after government neglects the issue and sabotages interests vital to the State of Israel.

Daniel Seaman, head of the Israel Government Press Office, recently proposed a new concept, which challenges the very existence of public diplomacy. On December 17, at a conference for law and communications at the Ariel University Center, he said that “we should not deal with public diplomacy, we should simply present our position whether it is accepted or not. It is out of the question to make the world like us, and I say this as a resident of Ashqelon, civilians should be neglected for eight years…We have to strengthen the country and the people, and the rest will take care of itself…Even if we can’t reinvent the Israeli trademark, we have to remember that the world does not like Jews, and that we are here because they wouldn’t accept us there.”

Seaman’s remarks expressed his despair and frustration. The other side of the coin is waging an advanced, systematic information war based on documentation and data bases, because the public diplomacy struggle has become the struggle for the legitimacy of the State of Israel. The continued lack of public diplomacy will not only seriously damage Israel, but it will undermine the support of the Jewish community abroad. Israel is facing a national emergency, and needs real leadership to make the necessary changes.

Where is the Israeli Community?
Posted Mon, Dec 28, 2009

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has once again arrived at 180 Bloor Street in Toronto. Outside the offices of the Israeli Consulate stood two groups of protesters opposite one another, one supporting the Palestinians and the other supporting Israel. The demonstration took place on Sunday, December 27 to mark the first anniversary of the war in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead). Hundreds of protesters arrived in buses organized by Palestine House in Mississauga, and others were recruited through contact groups on the Internet, who outlined the details about the protest and provided detailed instructions on which actions to take. The protesters who carried Palestinian flags shouted against “racist” Israel and its apartheid policy in Palestinian territories, and called to lift the siege on Gaza, to support Palestinian freedom, and to support an Intifada. “Viva Palestina, Viva Intifida” shouted the protesters, some of which were a part of left-wing extremist Jewish groups who identify with the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel. Next to Palestinian, Chinese and USSR flags, one protester was seen proudly carrying the Hizbollah flag, which is listed as a terrorist organization in Canada.
A heated debate occurred when a group of protesters identified with the Palestinians approached a group supporting Israel and a “battle” of words ensued, with one group condemning Israel and the other condemning Palestinian terrorism. A large number of RCMP officers and cavalry were on scene in order to secure the event and avoid friction between protesters. Traffic on Bloor Street continued smoothly. After approximately one hour, the anti-Israeli group left the lawn of the ROM and continued to march eastward along Bloor Street, all the while inflaming the crowd by shouting calls against Israel.

The pro-Israeli group was relatively small. Prominent among them were activists of the Jewish Defence League (JDL). The protesters carried Israeli and Canadian flags as well as posters supporting Israel, and emphasizing that the IDF is the most ethical army in the world while condemning Palestinian terrorism. One of the protesters, a 40 year-old woman, told Shalom Life that she decided to participate in the protest after she heard about the anti-Israel protest. She arrived on the scene in order to show that the Jewish community does not remain silent against the false propaganda against Israel. “As far as I’m concerned this is a mission, and I plan on arriving at more protests, rain or shine. We cannot be quiet against those who ignore or identify with terrorism. It’s not just an Israeli issue, it’s a national Canadian interest,” said the woman who preferred to remain anonymous.

Gloomy thoughts about the Israeli “community” and “hasbara”

Disappointment. This word summarizes my feelings about the coverage of the protests outside the Israeli Consulate. The anti-Israel campaign is taking root and becoming stronger, and opposite it were only a handful of pro-Israel activists. The presence of the Israeli Canadian community was especially poor and stands in complete opposite to the “recruitment” of large numbers of people when they are called upon to participate in a ski day for the entire family, while being promised free entry to the ski lodge. The priorities are clear and this is not the first time that the Israeli “community” has disappointed. Palestine House was properly prepared for the protest, and the response was impressive, but the Israeli side chose to be absent. The question is where are the organizations who are supposed to lead the Israeli community? What is their purpose? What is their role and how do they contribute to the unification of the community? Does the Israeli community even exist? Where has Israeli PR (hasbara) disappeared?

The pro-Israeli protest was archaic in the messages it tried to pass. Waving Israeli flags was a mistake. Israeli flags can be waved in Israel. As Canadian citizens, our stance against Palestinian propaganda should be based on a Canadian viewpoint and on Canadian interests. Opposite the Palestinian protesters should stand Jewish and non-Jewish protesters who are carrying only Canadian flags, singing the Canadian national anthem and calling the Canadian government to continue its determined policy against terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah. Surrendering to terrorism or siding with terrorist groups does not serve Canada’s interests and stands in contradition to its basic values. This is the basis for the friendship and close relations between Israel and Canada. The foreign agenda should be left to those pro-Palestinian groups who are waving flags of Palestine and Hizbollah.

Peace Now
Posted Fri, Dec 18, 2009

Canada commemorated (December 6, 2009) the 20th anniversary of the carnage in the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal

Read more »

The Bear Hug
Posted Mon, Nov 30, 2009

Some people will find it an important achievement that Canada’s two largest political parties are arguing over Jewish votes and trying to portray themselves as enthusiastic supporters of Israel, following the pamphlets that were distributed by the Conservative Party, in areas of large Jewish populations. However, the said pamphlet is actually problematic to say the least, and the Liberals’ criticism against its initiators is quite justified.

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Blocking the Truth of the Gaza War
Posted Mon, Sep 21, 2009

Was the UN commission’s approach one-sided against Israel, or unbiased and objective as commission chairman Richard Goldstone contended? Statements of Palestinians recorded by the commission and posted on the UN website provide authentic evidence of the commission’s methodology and raise serious questions about its intentions to discover the truth.

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Jonathan Dahoh-Halevi
Fellow and senior researcher at the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs , head of research of the Orient Research Group Ltd., investigative journalist and an activist in the Jewish and Israeli communities.