Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Wednesday 30 October 2019

David Singer: Balfour Declaration and Mandate for Palestine Still Keys to Peace

The Balfour Declaration (“Declaration) issued on 2 November 1917 and the Mandate for Palestine (“Mandate”) issued on 24 July 1922 still remain the keys to resolving the Jewish-Arab conflict.

The Declaration’s call to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine was historic:
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Yours sincerely,
Arthur James Balfour
Whilst not binding in international law – that was to be reversed when the Declaration was included in the Mandate’s preamble and unanimously adopted by the League of Nations:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the administration of the territory of Palestine, which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire, within such boundaries as may be fixed by them; and
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country;
Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have selected His Britannic Majesty as the Mandatory for Palestine;
The Principal Allied Powers were The British Empire, France, Italy and Japan.

The boundaries of Palestine fixed by them encompassed what is today called Israel, Gaza, Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Jordan (then called Transjordan).

Under article 25 of the Mandate - the Mandatory was entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of the Mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions.

On 23 September 1922 the League of Nations Secretary-General communicated for the information of the Members of the League, a memorandum relating to Article 25 of the Palestine Mandate presented by the British Government to the Council of the League on September 16th, 1922 (“Memorandum”) and approved by the Council.

The Memorandum excluded Transjordan (78% of the territory of Palestine) as a future potential area in Palestine for reconstitution of the Jewish National Home.

The United Nations continuing failure to faithfully implement these League of Nations decisions remains the biggest stumbling block to ending the Jewish-Arab conflict.

The two-state solution contemplated by the League of Nations in 1922 – Israel and Jordan within such final borders as they agree – remains the only viable two-state solution in 2019.

Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Yes, Virginia, There is a Famous Belgian ...

... Or, rather, an infamous one.

His name's Christoph D'Haese.  He's Burgomeester (mayor) of the Belgian city of Aalst in old East Flanders, and a member of the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, which, being translated, means New Flemish Alliance.

Once upon a time, in another city in what is now Belgium, live cats were thrown from a belfry tower to their deaths on a carnival day held during Lent.  That vile barbarism, a product of the Middle Ages, apparently persisted until 1817.

In Aalst during Lent there is also a carnival day.  

No, they don't sacrifice cats. 

But they do sacrifice all pretensions to human decency by (would you believe this, post-Shoah!?) including hideous depictions of Jews in the carnival parade, depictions that would do credit to Julius Streicher and the rest of the Nazi fiends were those monsters still alive. 

Here's how a senior American academic, Eliot A, Cohen, calling it out for the antisemitism that it is, described the obnoxious spectacle from last year:
"On Sunday, a float rolled down the streets of Aalst, a Belgian town, for carnival. It featured two grotesque caricatures of Hasidic Jews, hooked noses, hands reaching out for money, and a rat sitting on money bags. That’s 2019. A second float ... —in Marburg, Germany, in 1936—featured celebrants dressed as Orthodox Jews. The only real difference is that the former was more elaborately and professionally executed, and if anything more grotesque."
[Photos of the two floats at source]

 To quote The Independent newspaper at the time:
 'A carnival parade which featured Jewish caricatures standing amid piles of money has been compared to Nazi antisemitic propaganda and provoked fierce criticism in Belgium. One float in the city of Aalst’s annual feast on Sunday was decorated with two huge figures of men with large sideburns, crooked noses and wearing shtreimels, a fur hat worn by some Orthodox Jews. One had a rat on his shoulder.
It was followed by several trucks on which dozens of dancing people wore similar outfits....
“The caricatures, like those of Der Stürmer, of Jews with a crooked nose and suitcases, are typical of the Nazism of 1939,” a spokesperson for Belgium’s Forum of Jewish Organisations said. ”This has no place in 2019, carnival or not. The Jewish community naturally accepts humour is very important in a society, but there are limits that cannot be exceeded.” ....
[T]he Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organizations in Belgium called on organisers to condemn the float. 
“At best it is a lack of discernment, especially given the rising context of antisemitism in our country and in the world,” a spokesperson said. “At worst, it is the reproduction of antisemitic caricatures worthy of the Nazi era.“We will contact the organisers and the competent authorities to join our denunciation of these acts for the coming years.”
The European Commission, meanwhile – which is headquartered just 20 miles from Aalst in Brussels – called on the Belgian authorities to take action....'
As reported there, and more fully here,  the group responsible for the antisemitic depictions were unapologetic, and Christoph D’Haese was quoted as saying the group “had no offensive intentions”.

Now, ahead of next year's Aalst carnival, as reported here, the group
'have published 150 caricatures mocking Jews ahead of the 2020 event.The caricatures, some featuring Orthodox Jews with red, hooked noses and golden teeth, were printed on ribbons intended for participants in the annual event, which was added in 2010 to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO....
One caricature shows a red-headed Orthodox Jew with golden teeth and is captioned: “UNESCO, what a joke.”
Hans Knoop, spokesperson for the Forum on Jewish Organizations of Belgium’s Flemish Region, called the 2020 caricatures “pure provocation” and a “manifestation of anti-Semitism.” ...'
And the Burgomeester?  Well, his fame, or rather his infamy, for tolerating, may, for not only tilerating but excusing these antisemitic manifestations, is spreading.  Is it any wonder, Virginia, that on social media he is attracting such robust condemnations as these?

Sunday 27 October 2019

The Danger & Derangement of Social Justice Warriorism & "Intersectionality"

 As the conservative columnist Janet Albrechtsen remarks at the beginning of an article in the current issue of The Weekend Australian
"There is growing concern across the West that a new form of totalitarianism is on the march.  Not the jackboot, storm-trooping, Stasi-interrogating kind from the communist era. Ours is softer totalitarianism. It stifles speech, no-platforms people with different views, disfigures great works of literature to meet modern sensibilities, kills comedy to protect feelings, restrains writers from stepping into the shoes of others, thinks diversity in public broadcasting means putting people with different skin colour on TV, rejects an exquisite painting from past centuries because an artist lived by different norms, shames dissenters, sacks scientists, and depicts Western civilisation as a shameful story of colonial aggression, white privilege and rotten patriarchy.  This new, poorly named “progressive” project premised on the virtues of diversity, tolerance and justice is proving anything but diverse, tolerant and just..."
In the following video there are so many pearls of wisdom that I soon gave up attempting to itemise them.

Please listen to the wonderfully courageous and prescient Brexiteer Douglas Murray giving, this past June, a fascinating long interview to the admirable Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution on the whacky and worrying political and societal developments that prompted his books The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (2017) and the more recent The Madness of Crowds.

Friday 25 October 2019

When Stuart Met Anne-Marie

Much anger and indignation by Aussie feministas about a nasty misogynistic chant by teenage students from a prestigious Catholic boys' school last week as they travelled to an athletics event on public transport.  Yes, the boys' behaviour on the tram was intimidatory and despicable, and, yes, it's deserved all the adverse publicity and condemnation it has garnered.

The school's head was swift to issue a robust denunciation of the boys and to suspend the miscreants (not robust enough for some critics). Among those outraged women (and some men) baying for the closure of boys' private schools on the grounds they produce the next generation of male-privileged captains of industry who discriminate against women in the workplace and, more generally, harbour contempt for and violence against women, are leftist ABC and class warfare types who studiously avoid mentioning, far less condemning, Islamic and ethnic minority misogyny.

In the Australian conservative magazine Quadrant online, meanwhile, a retired Australian judge, Stuart Lindsay,  who lunched with her in London recently avows his admiration for the feisty Dublin-born British political activist Anne-Marie Waters, founder of Sharia Watch UK, who made a failed bid fir the UKIP leadership and is much maligned by the politically correct and the lily-livered.

Not for Anne-Marie the double standards of the Sistahood, whether here or in America.

Having spent an afternoon in her company, the judge, invoking a line from the famous speech before Agincourt in Shakespeare's Henry V, reflected that "She shouldn’t be doing this on her own. Englishmen must really hold their manhoods cheap after all."

Inter alia, in the judge's own words [emphasis added]:
'.... The charge whispered against Anne Marie during that UKIP election, and which [Nigel]Farage repeated publicly many times, was that she was a “racist”. The evidence for this was her relentlessly articulated belief that Islam constituted the gravest threat to the survival of Britain. But telling the truth can never be racist. And Islam is an ideology, not a race....
 " Stuart, I spent years being a Labour activist in London, standing for elections, writing their speeches and campaigning for them. I know who these people are. I know they have no principles. I know how corrupt they are,” Anne Marie explains. “They ignore violence and suppression of women by Islam because they depend on Muslim community leaders backing them.”
The apotheosis of this corruption for her was the capitulation by regulatory authorities to halal butchery of animals in the UK....
“It’s the power that this religion has in our country now. The government won’t challenge them. There are too many votes. And people are scared. They are terrified of what will happen to them if they speak up and insist that our laws are enforced.”....
[A] socialist EU has directly facilitated Islam’s rapid expansion within the nation-state. Women and girls are measurably much less safe in Britain because of it. Islam in concert with other identitarian impulses is responsible for the invention of “hate speech” and other gross disfigurements of our heritage of free expression. Her confrontation with Islam was natural and inevitable and would have been so for millions of other liberals in the West but for the ravages of political correctness. 
.... I liked her and found myself telling her I liked her. I also told her that I thought British men should feel ashamed that it was a woman, and an Irish woman at that, who was putting up the most effective fight against the enemies within.
She accepted that comradely remark in the spirit in which it was made. I could see hers was not a feminism of the modern kind, obsessed with chivalry-policing. I seem to remember that over the afternoon she used the word feminist about herself but it doesn’t matter if she did or didn’t. She cares that women are being harmed and that we are permitting medievalist mistreatment of them in our heartlands and she has determined to put it to an end....'
Read it all here

Tuesday 22 October 2019

"What’s Wrong with anti-Zionism is anti-Zionism itself"

"Long ago, August Bebel gave a name to left-wing anti-Semitism: “the socialism of fools.” , Emeritus Professor Michael Walzer, of Princeton, reminded us back in March, adding,  "Now the fools are in Congress".

His focus, no prizes for guessing, was on Representative Ilhan Omar, and he wrote, inter alia:

"A congressional resolution condemning all forms of bigotry is no doubt commendable, but it doesn’t serve our political purpose. What is necessary is a fierce and detailed expose of all the lies about the Jews. And it is important that the word be used: lies. Many of Omar’s critics prefer to be offended, hurt, and distressed by her repetition of anti-Semitic tropes rather than outraged by the dishonesty of the tropes.
 And they are, in turn, afraid to offend Omar’s supporters, who seem to think that the lies Omar repeats are simply her opinions; they are just like everyone else’s opinions. Indeed, Omar is entitled to her falsehoods; it is, as we say, a free country. But the falsehoods have to be given their proper name. If Jewish Democrats don’t get tough about this, they will soon find themselves unable to be tough about anything. They will be pushed out of the Democratic Party just as Jews are being pushed out of the Labour Party in the U.K."
That article was in The Tablet here.

Now, in the Fall 2019 issue of Dissent magazine, Professor Walzer wows with an article entitled "Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism".  A taster, in his summing up:
 "Why not Zionism? Because the Jews aren’t a people; because they should be more cosmopolitan than anyone else; because the Zionist state has had some terrible governments; because no one should have a state (even if almost everyone does). Each of these claims can be made and reasons given, but the way they are made in the world today is bound to arouse suspicion. It is at least possible, and sometimes it seems likely, that the people making them also believe that Jews ran the slave trade, that the Zionist lobby controls U.S. foreign policy (as Representative Ilhan Omar has said), that Jews are disloyal to every country in which they live except Israel, and that Jewish bankers control the international financial system.
 There are too many men and women who believe these things—on the left as well as on the right. They are anti-Semites or fellow travelers of anti-Semites, and their anti-Zionism is probably tightly connected to their anti-Semitism (though there are now pro-Israel anti-Semites among, for example, American evangelicals and Eastern European right-wing nationalists).
Men and women on the left need to be sharply critical, especially critical, of other leftists who hold these views. It is obviously easier to condemn right-wing anti-Semites and pretend that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist on the left. But it does ...  It may well be true that right-wing anti-Semitism poses the greater danger to Jewish well-being, but the leftist version should not be underestimated.
Still, I am sure that a lot of anti-Zionists and many leftist anti-Zionists don’t believe any of the anti-Semitic fables. Maybe they are willfully ignorant about the Jewish people, maybe they are peculiarly focused on the Jewish state; maybe they just don’t like Jews (as George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said about Jeremy Corbyn). Maybe. But when it comes to leftist debates about Israel, Zionism is the issue, and it is Zionism that we should talk about. For all the reasons I’ve given, what’s wrong with anti-Zionism is anti-Zionism itself..."
Read the entire article here

Sunday 20 October 2019

David Singer: Vote Recount Could Possibly End Israel’s Electoral Morass

Here's the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.

He writes:

Israel’s President Rivlin is due to make a decision on October 24 on whether to extend for another 14 days the mandate he granted to Benjamin Netanyahu to form Israel’s next Government.

Reports that Rivlin will not give Netanyahu that 14 days extension – even if requested by Netanyahu – seems counterproductive to doing everything possible to avoid a third election within 12 months.

The President should also take advantage of that 14 day period to order a recount of votes to answer a query that the September election results have thrown up – which is encapsulated in this email I sent to the Central Elections Committee on 29 September:
“I would be pleased if you could give me an explanation to my following comment relating to the final count in the September 2019 elections:
  •  There was an increase of 127,536 in the number of eligible votes cast from 4,309,270 in April 2019 to 4,436,806 in September. Yet there was an increase of 133,103 alone just in the Joint List vote (470211) over the Hadash-Tal and Ram-Balad vote (337108) in April.
Thank you for helping me to understand how this could occur.”
The April election results were mired in confusion due to a bug in the Central Elections Committee website.  The displayed data indicated for several hours that the New Right party was just above the threshold with 3.26%, but officials said that was a mistake.

The officials said the bug on the site meant that it was not showing accurate numbers for total votes counted, and was thus displaying inaccurate figures for all parties. This was rectified.

Could this same mistake have happened again in September and not have been rectified?

I have not yet received a reply to my request.

The distribution of Knesset seats is very complicated and the summary issued by the Central Committee needs to be amplified and explained.

Allowing Netanyahu another 14 days would, therefore, seem to be in the national interest from everyone’s standpoint – especially if Netanyahu requests it. 

Calling on Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to try and form a Government can wait another 14 days – given that Netanyahu’s bloc has a clear electoral majority over the Ganz bloc – 1,973,246 votes to 1,556,491 votes.

President Trump – like bemused Israeli voters – is frustrated by an electoral system that has failed to produce a new Government following elections in April and September.

After April’s fiasco – Trump opined:
“Well, it’s too bad what happened in Israel. It looked like a total win for Netanyahu, who’s a great guy, he’s a great guy,” said the president. “And now they’re back… in the election stage. That is too bad. Because they don’t need this. I mean they’ve got enough turmoil over there, it’s a tough place.”
That turmoil continued in September and could be repeated following any third election.

Trump’s deal of the century – years in the making and designed to end the 100 years Jewish-Arab conflict – will not be released until a new Israeli Government has been formed. 

Liberman’s failure to sign up his 8 seats with the 55 seats aligned with Netanyahu continues to confound the democratic electoral process – when a party not securing a majority of seats in its own right can usually form a Government with a small party’s support – in return for granting that small party some of its political demands. 

A full recount of the votes cast in the September 17 elections – if still legally available – could be just the miracle Israel needs to get out of its current predicament.

Clutching at straws maybe – but certainly well worth pursuing.

Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones” one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog

Friday 18 October 2019

A Doctor Down Under on the Virus of Antisemitism

At an anti-Israel demo in Dusseldorf
Declares  Dr David Adler, chairman of the (politically incorrect, and all the better for that) Australian Jewish Association (AJA):
"It’s the world’s oldest bigotry and it’s on the rise again. Antisemitism is associated with the darkest chapters of human history when humanity abandons civilised moral codes. Societies and ideologies which embrace it typically suffer a major decline if not complete destruction. Examples span the latter years of the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, the suppression and pogroms of the old USSR, to the Nazi implemented Holocaust of the second world war....
Antisemitism in some ways has the characteristics of a virus which morphs. During the Inquisition it was hatred of the Jewish religion with forced conversions by torture. Under the USSR it was Jewish culture such as circumcision or teaching Torah which was banned. The Nazis took a racial approach with the objective to eliminate the Jewish race. In more recent years, it is hatred of the world’s only Jewish state, Israel, which has become the principal focus for antisemites. Yes, anti-Zionism is antisemitism."
And to combat this virulent virus in all its strains, clearly identified by Dr Adler in his diagnosis here, a strong antidote is required:
"All these components need to be vigorously called out and condemned. The most widely accepted definition of antisemitism is that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which includes working examples of what is unacceptable. Australia became a full member on 4 June 2019. At a minimum, all federal and state bodies, including schools and universities, should formally adopt the working definition of the IHRA. The Australian Jewish Association will be proposing that leadership commence with the federal parliament and we are asking the government to pass a resolution to that effect. While this does not solve antisemitism, it would be a powerful signal that Australia stands united against antisemitism".
Meanwhile, AJA director Michael Burd secured an exclusive and special interview/discussion with that supreme realist and staunch friend of Israel Colonel Richard Kemp.

As the AJA states: "Absolutely compelling listening ..." with one of the world's experts on such matters:  On AJA YouTube channel:

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Stop the Torture! (video)

Stop the Torture!

The torture to Londoners' eardrums and the putting truth to the wrack as this obsessive little band of raucous Israel-haters representing the Muslim-run Inminds group takes its anti-Shin Bet fantasies to the London HQ of the Red Cross earlier this month.

A Seymour Alexander/Alex Seymour video (warning: no catchy background music to this footage, just a hopefully non-catching cacophony of hate).

Interesting article on BDS here

Sunday 13 October 2019

David Singer: Rivlin Must Cook Up a US$220 Million Netanyahu-Liberman Omelette

Here's the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.

He writes:

An opening to ending Israel’s election deadlock has come after Yisrael Beiteinu faction chairman Oded Forer sent a formal letter to the head of the Likud’s coalition negotiating team, Yariv Levin, on 11 October, asking for negotiations on the policy guidelines for the next government.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin should exploit this opening to try and save Israel going to a third election in twelve months - by summoning Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitienu head Avigdor Liberman to the President’s residence for negotiations on forming a Netanyahu-Liberman coalition Government.

Rivlin’s attempt to get Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form a Government of National Unity failed quite spectacularly and in a very short time.

Rivlin’s failure was quickly followed by:
· Netanyahu and Gantz failing to reach any agreement in further negotiations
· Netanyahu and Liberman holding a meeting for only one hour that reportedly went nowhere
· Netanyahu and Gantz both rejecting a proposal by Liberman very shortly after he proposed it. A third election at an estimated cost of US$220 million – and the possibility it could also end in deadlock – constitutes political suicide.
President Rivlin would be shirking his responsibility as President if he allowed a third election to take place without having made this last ditch attempt to stop Israel’s descent into another bout of electoral madness.

The best prospects of forming a new Government involve a coalition between the Right Wing parties holding 55 votes and Yisrael Beiteinu holding 8 votes – enough to create the 61 votes needed to form Government for the next four years.

Avoiding a third election has increased exponentially following these recent international developments that have occurred since Israel’s second indecisive election on 17 September:
· Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria
· The Kurds in Syria becoming exposed to being massacred by the invading Turkish forces
· The Kurds in Turkey being caught up in any ensuing conflict
· President Trump showing no inclination to intervene to prevent the Turkish invasion of northern Syria
· The explosion of an Iranian state oil company tanker near the Saudi port city of Jeddah,
· President Trump ordering 3000 troops and weapons to Saudi Arabia in a message of deterrence to Iran
· The further postponement of the release of President Trump’s deal of the century
· The Democrats headlong rush to impeach President Trump
Any deterioration in these potentially disastrous situations could have serious implications for Israel’s safety and security. Israel must have a government in place ready to deal with their consequences.

Liberman's conditions for joining a Netanyahu-led government containing ultra-orthodox religious parties have been publicly announced by Liberman.

Israeli voters have clearly expressed their preference for a right wing coalition Government led by Netanyahu – 1,973,246 votes – over a left wing coalition Government led by Gantz – 1,556,491 votes.

Rivlin – armed with Forer’s letter to Levin and Israeli voters clearly-expressed wishes – has been given sufficient justification to get Netanyahu and Liberman – for whom 310154 Israelis voted – to sit down and negotiate Liberman’s list of demands for forming a new Netanyahu-Liberman Government before Netanyahu’s mandate to do so expires on 24 October.

Neither Netanyahu nor Liberman should have any expectation that they are going to emerge from the President’s residence with a complete victory for the positions they might initially take when they first sit down with the President.

Rivlin’s prestige and canny political skills could just get them to an agreed compromise.

Rivlin will have earned three stars from the Michelin Guide – and the gratitude of Israeli voters – if he succeeds in cooking-up a Netanyahu-Liberman omelette using a recipe whose ingredients are acceptable to both of them.

Saturday 12 October 2019

Cardinal Pell on Jewish-Christian Understanding — & on Islam

Above and below are photos of Cardinal George Pell, then Archbishop of Sydney, when leading a large group of Catholic pilgrims bound for Europe via Egypt and the Holy Land; in the second one he is entering Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, which according to local folklore rests on the site where Pharoah's daughter found the infant Moses. In the years since that pilgrimage, Cardinal Pell has entered a figurative version of what a famous "negro spiritual" of course dubs "Egypt Land", seen as a place of exile and woe.  And, with good reason, for many people in this country and outside it believe Australian "justice" should be in the dock.

He has been long loathed by leftists and secularists, mercilessly targeted by journalists with childish insults aimed at his person and his faith and with obsessive character assassination that has rightly left many people, Catholic and non-Catholic, doubting that he could ever have got a fair trial; indeed, his conviction on the uncorroborated testimony of a single witness has dangerous implications for all Australians.

Here, in order to dispel the impression fostered in some quarters that Cardinal Pell, who has been vilified perhaps more than any other public figure in Australian history, lacks sympathy for the Jewish People, let's remind ourselves of a speech he gave in Sydney on 14 May 2001, on the topic"Christians and Jews: The way ahead":

'Last night Rabbi David quoted the Jewish saying that after the destruction of the 2nd Temple, the gift of prophecy is dead; so that those who claim to prophesy are either babes or fools. Despite this, both of us have been condemned tonight, to talk on "the way ahead", but my ambitions are very limited for a number of good reasons. A bishop has to be planning for tomorrow, although Jesus himself told us not to worry too much. Tomorrow can take care of itself, we have worries enough today! And in the Catholic community there are scattered individuals who are so busy preparing for the future that they ignore and neglect today's responsibilities.

I speak too as one less wise; my normal condition, but in this case without extensive experience of ongoing dialogue, deep theological or sociological discussion on this vexed area of Jewish a Christian relations. 

However I pray the psalms every day, with all other Catholic priests; and I love them. I don't know how many priests, especially those suffering or in trouble, who have told me how much the psalms have helped them.

In Rome 35 or 36 years ago our lecturer on the Psalms told us they were unique in any literature. 

These were the years of Vatican II and all such claims were greeted sceptically by many students.

I reserved my judgement and during the later years I have read something of the other great religions and found nothing to equal the Psalms as a body of prayerful literature.

I have come to know and love much more deeply the writings of the great prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah and especially Ezekiel, the strangest of them all. And I have come lately to study Elijah much more closely. For a long time I didn't understand his top billing among Jews and Christians and with Jesus himself! Now I believe he is particularly important, and for us now, because monotheism was nearly wiped out then by Jezebel and the prophets of Baal.

It was as a seminarian in the early '60s that I first heard a rabbi speak, my friend Rabbi John Levi, and I was upset by his energy and honesty. Then I probably considered him aggressive. I had grown up in a family which was strongly pro-Jewish, especially my father, and I even wondered whether Rabbi Levi's claims about Christian ill treatment were accurate. Further study showed me, only too sadly, that he was basically correct.

Many years ago I wrote a doctorate in history, Christian Church history. I have a respect for the past -  but know how messy and disconcerting and discomforting it can be. I recognise too the difficulty of adequately and accurately presenting the past, but we must face up to what is there, for good or ill. Then we can decide how to deal with it appropriately.

Occasionally people will say to me that the Jews complain too much about their sufferings in the past. Shouldn't we all look more to the future? Usually I reply that if we had lost five or six million of our co-religionists only sixty years ago, after many centuries of intermittent oppression of our minority status, then our sensitivities would be quite different too. I have visited Dachau and Auschwitz; terrible reminders of an unspeakable evil that must never be repeated. It is sobering to think that similar sufferings continued in the Soviet Gulags until fairly recently. In this life evil is never eliminated permanently. 

These different sensitivities were brought home to me recently in trying to develop my views on the proposed anti-discrimination legislation in Victoria. My principal legal adviser was a brilliant young Jewish lawyer, a partner in his firm. While we weren't exactly of one mind when I did take a public position, I was forced to modify my position and certainly came to understand more adequately the attitudes of a smaller minority in a culture which still has a Christian majority and a good deal of Christian instinct, sometimes for ill as well as good, about it. 

I know there are significant differences in the Jewish community too about how effective legislation can be in battling prejudice and discrimination as there are in every section of the community. But I am not opposed to limited, tight legislation outlawing incitement to racial or religious hatred. 

It has been remarked that the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel both changed public opinion in the Western world towards the Jewish People. These were powerful influences on Catholics too; but a particular catalyst for improved relations on the Catholic side came from Pope John Paul XXIII and the Second Vatican Council (1962-5). 

John XXIII unleashed forces that he never dreamed of; he had no developed programme for where he wanted the Council to go; but he had realised, and truly, that the Catholic Church was caught in a suit of defensive armour, which was heavy, and sometimes a hindrance and ineffective in defence as well as attack. The Council provoked a cultural revolution in the Catholic community in the Western world, led by middle order functionaries more than the masses (unlike Mao's cultural revolution), which has sparked great losses in some countries a but there is no doubt that its encouragement of ecumenism among Christians by legitimate Catholic participation, and encouraging inter-faith dialogue and co-operation has been a blessing in every sense.   

As Pope John Paul II said at Assisi in 1986: "Either we learn to walk together in peace and harmony, or we drift apart and ruin ourselves and others". 

I have participated in some of these multi-faith celebrations, as recently as last Monday in the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings for the Centenary of Federation. Afterwards I turned to Rabbi John Levi, who was sitting immediately behind me, and said "Well, the Jewish contribution was the best".  And my communications adviser said to me after: "Yes, and the Christian contribution was probably the weakest". 

For the Jubilee last year we had a memorial service for the victims of the Holocaust in St. Patrick's Cathedral and a number of Jews who were present claimed it was among the most beautiful they had attended.

We need to keep talking together; something that will remain a minority activity. But the attitudes of leaders, official or unofficial, are important in shaping the underlying attitudes of many others, community members and fellow travellers.

We need to keep speaking together, so that we respectfully listen to one another. This is not a ploy to get a message across; nor does it mean that we must agree. Nor does it mean that religious discussion has to abandon claims to truth. We are not condemned to relativism through speaking together; nor are we tacitly recognising that one religion is as good as another; not even claiming that religion is like musical taste, something that is quite difficult to validate!

Recently a man called Ulrich Schoen listed five aims in such a dialogue or conversation:
1) to dissolve [sic; resolve?] misunderstandings;
2) to improve relationships and know we are then better;
3) to lessen fear and suspicion;
4) to deepen faith in one's own religion;
5) to create greater unity and co-operation;
All of these seem to me to be worthwhile for present purposes.

Let me now list a few areas where we might be able to co-operate effectively:
a) to defend and promote belief in the one true God, the unutterable mystery of love. The growth of irreligion in Australia is most significant religious change over the last fifty years, and is part of the modern spread of secularism.
Catholics are not one people like Jews, but a great Church does have a cultural and historical momentum and modern bureaucracies can keep a shell performing efficiently, or seeming to do so. 

The denunciation of prophets bears on this challenge.

Psalm 24 peaks of a "man with clean hands and pure heart standing on the mountain of the Lord". 

In an age devoted to money and sometimes to sexual irresponsibility, the capacity to believe can atrophy. A significant challenge here!
b) Another important area of common effort could be the defence of the family. Patterns of divorce and remarriage; living in partnerships, of children affected by divorce; of increasing numbers of homeless children.
Not difficult to list the challenges, but more difficult to devise effective strategies.

Often not realised is that no country in the Western world is producing a sufficient number of children to keep the population stable. Countries like Russia and Romania, Italy and Spain have started on a process of dramatic population decline.  

Jews and Christians might cooperate together to stress the blessings that children are the continuing importance of motherhood. A bit politically incorrect to do this, but it will be increasingly necessary.
c) Last night Rabbi David mentioned the dialogue between a Rabbi and the King of the Khazars, who pointed out that at that time Jews did not have political power and so were not exposed to the temptations of that power.
That is no longer the case in Israel. I am completely supportive of Israel's right to exist peacefully and regret that the recent initiative for peace has been squandered.

I am not going to comment particularly on developments there; I do not know the scene well enough and my area of responsibility is the Sydney Archdiocese.

But Jewish conduct of that necessary struggle will impinge on the situation of Jews throughout the world; the battle for world opinion is mightily important and racists will try to exploit every ambiguity and especially any explicit injustice.

Christians too regret the steady exodus of fellow Christians from so many parts of the Middle East, forced to migrate because of constant hostile pressures.

During the last 30 or 40 years there has been a significant reduction in the amount of Christian antisemitism.  We thank God for that. To adapt to our circumstances the word of Martin Luther King "we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly". Our fortunes, as brothers, are inextricably linked.

The present Pope, John Paul II, has also contributed significantly to the progress and consolidation of Jewish-Christian relations. His visit to the synagogue in Rome, his successful visit to Israel last year; the 1994 Vatican recognition of the State of Israel. By coincidence I was in Rome and present at Castel Gandolfo when the Israeli ambassador first presented his credentials. All these things have helped.

There is no doubt that his years at Wadowice at school with the local Jewish boys and girls; playing together in the same soccer team; seeing their dispersion and execution played an essential role in his leadership in this area.

A particularly poignant moment was when the Pope prayed at the Temple Wall and I will conclude with the written prayer he left in a crevice in this wall:
"God of our fathers, You chose Abraham and his descendants to bring Your Name to the nations. We are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those, who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the People of the Covenant."
 And what, if anything, has this noted Australian intellectual to say on Islam (a creed, incidentally, which has seen a marked increase in child marriages recently, but which evaded scrutiny by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which spent years probing .
'Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witnesses and obscure cults — along with sporting groups and the entertainment industry'.)

Well, in a talk some years ago entitled “Can Islam and the Western democracies live together peacefully?” (full text here) he
indicated that “Views on this question range from näive optimism to bleakest pessimism,” but that with a far better understanding of Islam and current developments by Christians and world leaders a peaceful co-existence might be achieved.
Pell notes that the optimists “point to the roots Islam has in common with Judaism and Christianity and the worship the three great monotheistic religions offer to the one true God. There is also the common commitment that Muslims and Christians have to the family and to the defence of life, and the record of co-operation in recent decades between Muslim countries, the Holy See, and countries such as the United States in defending life and the family at the international level, particularly at the United Nations.”
However, Pell continues, “On the pessimistic side of the equation, concern begins with the Koran itself. In my own reading of the Koran, I began to note down invocations to violence. There are so many of them, however, that I abandoned this exercise after 50 or 60 or 70 pages”.
The senior Catholic Cardinal warns that the claims of Muslim tolerance of religious minorities are “largely mythical.” He emphasizes history has clearly shown that, “Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited.” However, Pell adds that the human factor of many Muslims being uncomfortable with the violence and harsh intolerance of traditional Islamic practices provides hope for positive change as has occurred in more moderate Muslim nations.
The secularists in the West, indicates Pell, are the mostly poorly equipped to comprehend and respond to today’s explosion of Islamic violence and power. That is because the issue is predominantly one of religion which the secularists do not understand. Pell says, “one example of the secular incomprehension of religion is the blithe encouragement of large scale Islamic migration into Western nations, particularly in Europe.”
Pell emphasizes that the issue is one of religion and can ultimately only be satisfactorily addressed by religion, rather than politics or material power. The vacuum created by the collapse of religious faith in the West has made it especially vulnerable to conquest by a large, strongly committed religious movement.
“Radicalism,” says Pell, “whether of religious or non-religious inspiration, has always had a way of filling emptiness” and if we are going to help moderate forces within Islam the personal consequences of religious faith need to be taken more seriously. Secularism, and the emptiness and despair that it spawns, is “no match for Islam,” warns the Cardinal.
The “disastrous fall in fertility rates,” adds Pell, is “The most telling sign that Western democracy suffers a crisis of confidence”. He provides startling statistics indicating how Islam is easily taking over the West simply by having more children and the West is dying from its suicidal abortion and contraceptive practices.
Pell warns that the issues must be discussed and that participants in “useful dialogue” must “grapple with the truth and in this issue of Islam and the West the stakes are too high for fundamental misunderstandings.”

Thursday 10 October 2019

How to Find Favour With Antisemites

Judging by the number of plaudits and shares this sickening propaganda (by Na'amod: British Jews Against Occupation) has attracted from many of the usual suspects on social media, one way appears to be to invent alternate words to the Vidui (Confession) prayer, a key part of the liturgy of the holiest day of the Jewish calendar:

"ASHAMNU: We are guilty – There is a segregated justice system in the West Bank, with Palestinians tried in military courts which have a near-100% conviction rate.
BAGADNU: We have betrayed – The aspirations of freedom, equality and justice held by Palestinians and Israelis have been betrayed by those with the power to end the occupation.
GAZALNU: We have stolen – Land legally owned by Palestinians has been seized for the construction of settlements, and homes legally constructed by Palestinians have been demolished under the false pretense of security.
DIBARNU DOFI: We have slandered – Israelis who have the courage to speak out against the occupation, such as the veterans in Breaking the Silence, are falsely accused of lying by some of the most powerful voices in the land.
HE’EVINU: We have caused others to sin – Every day young Israelis are forced to spend their military service in the occupied territories, upholding a system of violence and discrimination against their neighbours.
VE-HIRSHANU: We have caused wickedness – By sustaining diaspora support for Israeli occupation and the consistent policies of division, dispossession and denial of basic rights.
ZADNU: We have sinned wilfully – The facts and reality of occupation are unequivocal, yet human rights activists like Omar Shakir have faced deportation from Israel instead of being listened to.
CHAMASNU: We have extorted – Those who uphold the occupation have made false promises and engaged in gross corruption in order to retain their positions of power.
TAFALNU SHEKER: We have become attached to lying – Falsely slurring members of our community, failing to address the concerns of countless British Jews, presenting arguments based on fear rather than justice.
YA’ATZNU RA: We have given harmful advice – Hasbara programmes enter schools, universities and synagogues around the world, presenting disingenuous arguments to justify continued military control of Palestinian lives.
KIZAVNU: We have deceived – Palestinians are constantly maligned as terrorists bent on the destruction of Israel, while the violent rhetoric of many Israeli leaders is overlooked.
LATZNU: We have mocked – The aspirations of Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity are heartlessly dismissed by the political leaders who would rather expand the occupation than bring it to an end.

MARADNU: We have rebelled - Against the universal principle of 'B'tselem Elokim' (divine likeness) by prioritising one narrative and rejecting another, yet so similar to our own.
NIATZNU: We have provoked – Israeli politicians outlined plans to annex the Jordan Valley, promising endless occupation to the Palestinians who live there.
SARARNU: We have turned away – Attempts to bring about a resolution to the occupation have been abandoned by Israeli political leaders, who have no concern for the Palestinians and Israelis who are harmed by it.
AVINU: We have been perverse – The romanticisation of military might and the use of the language of security in order to justify injustices has become a feature of dialogue around Israel.
PASHANU: We have been negligent – Children are regularly subjected to harsh and immoral conditions when processed through the military courts, being denied contact with their families and subjected to unnecessary practices such as blindfolding.
TZARARNU: We have caused grief – There have been over 3500 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces in the past 10 years.
KISHINU OREF: We have been stubborn – Calls for peace and justice fall have been roundly ignored by those in power, and the occupation continues with no end in sight; this year we will let calls for change and transformation ring loud throughout our community.
RASHANU: We have been wicked – The occupation has raised immeasurable hands to strike and has caused division in our own community.
SHICHATNU: We have corrupted – By venerating nationalist passions we compromise our morality for the sake of upholding occupation; this year we will listen to the voices that have too long been trampled; we will hear the stories that must be told of racial profiling, of imprisonment, of nighttime break-ins.
TIAVNU: We have been despondent [literally, loathsome] – Yet we can be courageous and unafraid in the ways we create a movement for Jews who confront support for occupation, in the communal spaces closest to our heart.
TAINU: We have strayed – From our rich tradition of resistance to tyranny; this year we will return to our deepest commitment to freedom (cheirut) from slavery.
TITANU: You have let us go astray – We have grown up in the British Jewish community that is so dear to us. Yet we have not felt able to express ourselves and our commitments fully when it comes to fighting against the occupation."

Meanwhile, my spies tell me that some of our old friends in the anti-Israel movement are advocating the tactic of refuting (or trying to!) the points made in this important report pictured above, released last month.

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Antisemitism in Australia (video)

In the wake of the recently revealed antisemitic bullying of Jewish schoolchildren, and the supine response of the schools involved, here's the head of the right-of-centre Australian Jewish Association, Sydney medico Dr David Adler, on that topic:

Sunday 6 October 2019

Netanyahu and Liberman Must Stop Israel's Third Election This Year

Here's the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.

He writes:

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman have finally met – albeit for just one hour – to discuss the possibility of the 63 votes they controlbeing converted into Israel’s next Government.

It is hard to believe that having made that long-awaited breakthrough – they would be so foolish and obstinate to refuse to compromise their differences to prevent the Israeli electorate going through a third election within twelve months

The direct cost to the Israeli government for new elections, including a budget for the central elections committee and state funding for parties running in the elections, is estimated at NIS 800 million ($220 million).

The greatest loss, however, arises due to the fact that election day is an official vacation day in Israel. The country’s daily GDP is approximately NIS 5 billion ($1.4 billion). Accordingto conservative estimates, election day represents a loss to the Israeli economy of some NIS 1.5 billion ($410 million).

Liberman has publicly laid out his demands for joining the Right-Wing bloc headed by Netanyahu:
• Passage of the ultra-orthodoxmilitary service law, as drafted byLiberman;•civil marriage; [permitting] conversions by local rabbis;
• re-approving egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall;•requiring ultra-orthodox schools to teach secular subjects•public transportation and the opening of mini-marketson the Sabbath.
 These two issues would be left up to local authorities in every municipality, based on who lives in any given town.

 Liberman warned:  
“We won’t accept anything less than this, even if it means sitting in the opposition.”
 Crunch time has arrived.

Liberman has to adopt a more flexible approach and accept less than the ”all or nothing “ stance he has adopted. Netanyahu is now in a much stronger position politically to accept Liberman’s major demand for passage of Liberman’s ultra-orthodox military service draft law – which was the deal-breaker in April.

Liberman voters increased by136684 in September whilst religious parties only increased their votes by 91188 and Likud’s vote decreased by 28835.

Civil marriage and conversions by local rabbis is a curly problem that could be sent to a Committee to consider and come up with recommendations.

Re-approving the Western Wall arrangements should be a formality.

Teaching secular subjects in ultra-orthodox schools could begin with pilot projects in specified schools in particular areas where the ultra-orthodox community do not constitute the majority of the population – perhaps with majority parental approval.

Liberman’s proposals for transport and mini markets on Shabbat happen in many areas now.

There is a pathway t oagreement on these issues that can be achieved with goodwill and a readiness to compromise in recognition of a greater objective – sparing the Israeli electorate anothe relection and the possibility that another deadlock could result.

Israel is surrounded by enemies–especially Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and  Syria and Hamas in Gaza that could be tempted to exploit the fractured nature of Israel’s current political circumstances.

There are pressing political issues awaiting Israel’s next Government –most notably negotiations on President Trump’s deal of the century and Netanyahu’s election promise to annex large parts of the West Bank.

Ending this state of suspended uncertainty has now been thrust on the shoulders of Netanyahu and Liberman – following the failure of Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to achieve a deal they could both live with.

Netanyahu and Liberman would do well to heed the sage advice contained in the Ethics of the Fathers: 
“Do not seek greatness for yourself, and do not lust for honor” 
Achieving greatness and honor togetherby compromising their political expectations will secure Netanyahu and Liberman a special place in the annals of Israel.

Author’s  note:  The  cartoon—commissioned  exclusively  for  this  article—is  by  Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones” —one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators—whosecartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog

Thursday 3 October 2019

In the Lucky Country, Jewish Schoolkid Forced to Kiss a Muslim Schoolkid's Feet

Back in 2012, I drew attention on this blog to a disturbing trend identified at schools in north-west England.

The repellent state of affairs had been revealed by the noted Anglo-Jewish historian Professor Geoffrey Alderman:
 'Last November, in my capacity as a visiting professor at York St John University, I had the privilege of hearing a presentation by doctoral student Joy Schmack. Mrs Schmack, an extremely experienced teacher and inspector of secondary-school religious education, is researching the use of the word "Jew" in teenage classrooms in the north-west of England. She presented chilling evidence of the unmistakeable revival of the word "Jew" as a common term of abuse amongst teenagers, who apparently habitually use it as a synonym for "cheat" or "swindler", or "snitch". "Don't you dare Jew me", one Merseyside youngster might say to another - perhaps hardly realising the significance of these words.
Scarcely four months after hearing this presentation I received a communication from a retired gentleman whose family escaped from Nazi Germany in 1934 and who now devotes his retirement to talking about antisemitism to youngsters in schools in Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire. He had been moved to write to me because of his experience at one such school, where his presentation was discourteously received and where a teacher confessed to him that the word "Jew" had now replaced the word "gay" as a playground term of abuse. The teacher said: "If kids wish to insult each other, they now use (the word) Jew" [Emphasis added]....'
 Now, the Australian Jewish News, in a scoop, reveals the antisemitic targeting that Jewish schoolkids at non-Jewish day schools in Melbourne have been enduring, causing them extreme anxiety and distress, and of the craven, odious response of the school authorities when the abused kids' parents (having tardily learned of the abuse from their persecuted offspring).  That response was basically: "It's not antisemitism, it's bullying, and your kids should learn to toughen up".

They refused one set of parents' request to teach the school body about the realities and consequences of antisemitism.

One of the two kids on whom the Australian Jewish News's spotlight falls is a five-year-old boy who showed every sign of wanting to avoid school, to his parents' puzzlement, until, unable to cope any longer, he collapsed onto the floor one breakfast time telling his mother that she shouldn't love him because
"I'm a worthless Jewish rodent.  I'm vermin."
 The other is a  twelve-year-old keen footballer who was constantly picked on by a pack of bullies who called him such charming things as
 "Jewish ape ... Jewish nigger ... Jewish gimp ... a cooked up Jewish c**t"
They also made his life a misery outside the school grounds, and on one occasion forced him to bow down and kiss a Muslim student's feet, eagerly capturing the incident with their mobile phones (see above).

Jewish daycare education is prohibitively expensive in Melbourne for many Jewish families, but it is heart-warming to learn that this unfortunate young person, who left his school as the result of threats from the principal antisemitic bully's older brother, has with the help of a sympathetic communal leader now found a place at one, as his now-deceased Holocaust survivor grandfather always envisioned.

As for those  despicable school authorities, they might at least have pointed out to their students, assembled together, that Australia's greatest soldier, First World War hero Sir John Monash, was a Jew.

I wonder what the antisemites would have made of that.

Read the schoolkids' sorry saga here