We’re All Jews

January 12, 2015

by Izzy Lemberg

Watching the images of the terrified hostages released from hiding in the freezer at the Hyper Cacher market on the television last week, I could not help but feel that French Jews must be having terrible flashbacks of the Holocaust and that they could not help but think of Anne Frank, hiding in her attic.

The whole world is watching how France will react to the horrible terrorist acts in Paris, to the war against freedom of expression and the war against the Jews. A rally of over one million marchers took place in Paris in response, with thousands holding Je Suis Charlie, Je Suis Juif and Je Suis Achmed signs.

Over seventeen people died in the attacks, starting with the massacre at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, on January 7th, which took the lives of twelve, the shooting death of a French policewoman the next day, a siege in Dammartin and a hostage situation in east Paris the following day, in which four were murdered in a kosher market. The terrible events are a wake up call for Europe: there is a problem with radical Islam in Europe, which has, deeply embedded in its ideology, a hatred of Jews.

When Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist who killed four and held fifteen others hostage at the Hyper Cacher market in Paris spoke to a journalist, “He explained why he did this: to defend oppressed Muslims…notably in Palestine…and finally he explained his target, why this kosher store: because he was targeting Jews.”

When France voted to recognize the Palestinian state in their recent failed UN statehood bid, they did not care that their ‘yes’ vote would endanger Israel and leave it exposed. Palestinian rejectionists have a long track record of using terrorism to achieve their ends. In a legal maneuver in December, the EU removed Hamas from its terror list only months after it fought a war with Israel, firing over 4,500 missiles at Israeli civilians. These decisions to seem to have come back to haunt the French.

The lesson that the Europeans must take away from these terrible events is that the anti-Semitism that has taken hold in Europe in recent years must be exposed and expunged. Europeans who support economic sanctions and divestment from Israel have to realize that there’s a strong connection between anti-Israel policies and rhetoric and anti-Semitic attacks and murders.

70 years ago, French police rounded up the Jews and sent them to Auschwitz, on Nazi orders. Following the attacks last week, for the first time since the Holocaust, the Great Synagogue in Paris was closed for Sabbath services. The Jews of France in other words, have a tenuous history and they do not feel safe in France right now. A record number emigrated to Israel in 2014 and more are on the way. France now faces a pivotal moment in its relationship with the Jews. This is the deciding moment.

Lassana Bathily, a heroic Muslim employee at Hyper Cacher was the one who hid the Jews in the freezer during the siege, and saved their lives. He was not indifferent, he was exceptional. Ahmed Merabet, also a Muslim, was the first policeman at the scene at the Hedbo offices. He was shot in cold blood.

Maybe this is the watershed – the opportunity in France, which is once again in the spotlight vis a vis the Jews and freedom. The question for the French is whether the Jews will be defended as passionately as free speech.

As I’m watching the rally in Paris on the television, and I see signs in support of Charlie Hebdo, free speech and Jews. There seems to be a resolve that anti-Semitism cannot be swept under the rug anymore in France. Muslims are also holding the Je suis Juif signs and I can’t help feeling a sense of hope that Jews and Muslims in France may be able to come together. When I see Benjamin Netanyahu walking with Mahmoud Abbas in solidarity with France, I wonder if I am dreaming that maybe one day the Muslim world will recognize Israel’s right to exist.

This article was originally published by the Times of Israel

Comfortably numb?

February 26, 2015

by Izzy Lemberg

Last week, 100 British artists joined a so-called “cultural boycott” of Israel, pledging that they would not accept any invitations or funding from the Jewish State until Israel “ends its colonial oppression of the Palestinians.” The artists, who include musicians Brian Eno and Richard Ashcroft, film director Ken Loach, along with perennial Israel hater Roger Waters, the former front man for progressive rockers Pink Floyd – join a list of 600 others calling themselves “Artists for Palestine UK.”

These artists aren’t concerned about Israel’s “best interests,” though. The BDS movement, of which they are a sad but willing part, won’t be satisfied until Israel no longer exists as a Jewish state. As such they are actually contributing to a dangerous, incendiary movement that is as much anti-Semitic as anti-Israeli and that, if left unchecked, could bring the violence against Jews that has been spreading in Europe – from Brussels to Paris to Copenhagen – to the United Kingdom as well.

The prime minister of France, Manuel Valls, speaking a day after the terrorist attacks in Paris, made this link clear. There is now a “new anti-Semitism born in our neighborhoods against a backdrop of the Internet satellite dishes, abject poverty, and hatred of the State of Israel, advocating hatred of the Jew and of all Jews. We must say this! We must utter the words to combat this unacceptable anti-Semitism.

Public figures like Artists for Palestine UK can’t have it both ways. They can’t make a distinction between people killing Jews and being anti-Israel. It’s all part of the same thing. Artists for Palestine UK – and the BDS movement in general – seek to further ingrain the insidious myth that saying you’re against “Israeli policies” doesn’t mean you have anything against the Jews.

The data shows that’s just not the case. During last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in the UK during the monthly of July – 302 – was the highest in 30 years. The previous record of 289 incidents was recorded in January 2009, which also coincided with military conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

During the height of the fighting last year, in August 2014, another poll found that Britons feel more “unfavorable” to Israel than towards any other country in the world except for North Korea. Thirty five percent said they “feel especially unfavorable towards” Israel, which was greater than the number who felt the same way towards Iran, which was only 33 percent.

The conflation between being anti-Israel and anti-Semitism came up during an interview by BBC reporter Tim Willcox following the terrorist attacks in Paris. Willcox shocked a Jewish woman – the child of Holocaust survivors – who expressed grave concern for Jewish safety in Europe. “We have to not be afraid to say that the Jews, they are the target now,” the woman told Willcox who then interrupted her. “Many critics of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well,” he interjected.

The BBC has launched an investigation and Willcox subsequently apologized (albeit via Twitter) for a “poorly phrased question.” The pro-Israel website Honest Reporting says this is nowhere near enough. “Tim Willcox must be held accountable for his latest outrageous interview. The BBC needs to openly acknowledge the seriousness of this incident at a time of growing anti-Semitism and physical attacks on Jews,” it wrote.

That wasn’t all at the BBC. Last month, as part of International Holocaust Remembrance Day programming, the BBC One show “The Big Questions” had the audacity to ask “is it time for the world to stop talking about the Holocaust?”

Is it any wonder then that, in a poll of British Jews taken just a few weeks before the Paris terror attack by the group Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, some 45 percent of the 2,230 people surveyed said they are “concerned that Jews may not have a long-term future in Britain.” The figure rises to 58 percent when asked if there is a future for Jews in Europe. Moreover, 56 percent said that the current situation showed some echoes of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s, and 37 percent indicated they tried to avoid wearing any public symbols of their Judaism.

Danny Cohen, the director of BBC Television sadly concurs. In a conversation with Israel Channel 2’s Yonit Levi, he said that, with rising anti-Semitism, “I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months.”

Britain is still one of Israel’s best friends on the world stage, and its recent prime ministers, from Tony Blair to David Cameron, have been very pro-Israel. But the same can’t be said about the British elite and its arts communities, and it’s this group that often leads public opinion. Indeed, at a Roger Waters concert last year, a deliberately provocative balloon of a pig sporting a Star of David floated over the crowd.

It’s not too late for Britain to stop the rise of anti-Semitism on its shores. The country’s leaders – in particular its elites and the media that has been so hostile towards Israel – must engage in some profound soul searching. They have to start thinking about how demonizing Israel is putting the Jewish community in England under threat; how this same kind of anti-Israel hysteria in Europe is leading to people getting killed. They must look deep inside and ask if Israel, one of the most liberal democracies in the world, is really worse than Syria and Iran?

To Roger Waters and the 700 artists who have called for a boycott on Israel: take an honest look at the world around you. Now is not the time to get comfortably numb.

This article was originally published by the Times of Israel

The Missing Gene of Empathy for Murdered Jews

January 28, 2016

by Izzy Lemberg

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, the ‘conscience’ of human rights was addressing the UN when he told the world that he understood that killing innocent Jews was a result of Palestinian “frustration from the occupation.” The Secretary General said, “The full force of the law must be brought to bear on all those committing crimes –- with a system of justice applied equally for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

This outrageous statement has now become the new normal in contemporary anti-Semitic discourse and media coverage.

A day earlier a young girl, Shlomit Krigman, 23, was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian murderer. The week before Dafna Meir, 38, a nurse and a mother of six was brutally slain by a fifteen year old Palestinian murderer.

In Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery the two women now lie side by side.

Also, one week earlier, America’s Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro spoke at a conference in Tel Aviv where he too made references about Israel’s justice system, saying, “there seems to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law – one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.” Alluding to the fact that he thought Israel was discriminating against the Palestinians. He spoke about the terrorist attack the day before briefly in his opening remarks, but he did not feel it was inappropriate to condemn Israel.

The fact that both Ban Ki Moon and Ambassador Shapiro thought there was nothing wrong with condemning Israel on the same day that Palestinians were butchering women shows the apparent missing gene of empathy for murdered Jews.

I remember in my many years working in the international media, especially during the second intifada, when I witnessed countless times how there was no sympathy at all for Israelis who were murdered by Palestinians. Palestinian suicide bombers and other Palestinians who died during the conflict had names that the media reported. More often than not, names of Israeli victims were overlooked and I often wondered why that was.

The overwhelming majority of the media coverage of Palestinian deaths at the hands of the Israeli army far outstripped any sympathetic attention given to Jews.

Last week, the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, a Holocaust denier was given a reception by the Holy See, Pope Francis. Iran is now holding its third annual, Holocaust denial cartoon competition and the regime continues to be the world’s biggest Holocaust denial industry. Rouhani is no different to his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, although the world continues to pretend that he is a moderate.

There is something fundamentally wrong when the head of a religion with one billion adherents globally has an audience with the world’s biggest sponsor of Islamist terrorism, where many of the victims are Christians worldwide.

Before leaving Italy, Rouhani was speaking on the same day as the international Holocaust Memorial Day when he was being anti-Semitic by blaming the “Zionist lobby” for the strained relations between Iran and the United States. In truth, the majority of Americans are against the nuclear deal that was struck between the P5+1 and Iran.

It did not matter to President Barack Obama that the Iran deal still left Iran on record calling for the destruction of Israel and it continues its policy of denying the Holocaust. The European Union and especially Germany had no problem in ignoring the genocidal ambitions of Iran and promotion of lies about the Holocaust. Germany should know better. This betrayal of Holocaust memory and betrayal of Israel’s right to exist is the original sin of the Iran deal.

As the world recoils in horror at the crimes of ISIS and radical Islamist ideology exported from Syria to Europe, when it comes to Islamist’s butchering Jews in Jerusalem, the UN Secretary General makes excuses for murder, when he said, ”it is human nature to react to occupation.” Perhaps human nature does not extend sympathy to victims when they are Jews.

I ask myself whether people just don’t get it or is it deliberate?

This article was originally published by the Times of Israel

The Butchering Intifada and the Season of Misinformation


The use of knives as the weapon of choice for butchering Jews can be traced to the Har Nof Massacre in November, 2014. The western media has been complicit and instrumental in advancing this religiously inspired campaign of hate, through its “mistakes” and “errors” in its reporting of terror attacks. Most notably last year when CNN “mistakenly” reported a synagogue as a mosque. CNN was not alone, many other western news agencies too made this error on the same story. Others claiming that Har Nof, which is located in West Jerusalem, well within Israel’s pre 1967 borders, was in ‘disputed’ territory. This can only be due to the media breathing the air that Israel is always wrong and the Palestinians are always right. Such fundamental errors in representing the facts are not found by the same news channels when reporting elsewhere.

Continue reading “The Butchering Intifada and the Season of Misinformation”

Anti-Semitic incidents rise sharply in 2009, study says

By Izzy Lemberg, CNNstory-netanyahu-gi April 12, 2010 — Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)

Jerusalem (CNN) — The number of anti-Semitic incidents around the world more than doubled from 2008 to 2009, according to a Tel Aviv University study.

In 2009, 1,129 such incidents were recorded — an increase of more than 100 percent from the 559 incidents noted in 2008, according to the study, released Sunday by the university’s Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism.

“In addition, many more hundreds of threats, insults, graffiti signs and slogans and demonstrations featuring virulently anti-Semitic content were registered, sometimes resulting in violence,” the study said.

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Magnanimity in victory

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during his victory speech at Likud headquarters

Benjamin Netanyahu won a decisive victory in the Israeli elections last week but he must not allow the win to go to his head. Netanyahu must face the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran, a de-legitimized Israel and a very angry President Barack Obama, who, with two years left in his presidency, is engaged in an intense cold war with Netanyahu.

Although Netanyahu benefited from the numbers that he got from the rightwing nationalists and the ultra-Orthodox community, he needs to include the rest of Israel, even those who didn’t vote for him. Netanyahu has a lot of responsibilities now and many of them may require compromise. In the past two or three days before the election when it looked like Netanyahu was going to lose, he pulled out all the stops, proclaiming that there will not be a Palestinian state on his watch.

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Man of peace

Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama takes the stage to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, February 5, 2015. Flanking Obama are Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey (L) and Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker. (photo credit:REUTERS)

When House Speaker John Boehner and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out-maneuvered President Barack Obama by planning for Netanyahu to address the US Congress this March, they did something risky. For AIPAC, bipartisanship is the holy grail of the American-Israeli relationship and this move may now cause a split along party lines. There is also the danger that the planned speech may raise the specter of anti-Semitism in America where there are already have been minority voices that have said in the past that Israel is conducting its foreign policy at the expense of American foreign policy.

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