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

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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Obama’s ambush of Israel

August 14, 2014

by Izzy Lemberg

In the midst of a perfect storm of shoddy “journalism”, an alarming number of increasingly violent anti-Semitic acts worldwide, and a global outcry indicting Israel of genocide as it responded to Hamas’s barrage of rockets into Israel, President Obama, together with the UK, has launched an ambush on Israel that endorses terrorism and sabotages Israel’s self defense.

Shortly after Obama and Kerry offered their support for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas unity government, three Israeli boys were kidnapped and Hamas began firing on Israel. And why not? Hamas has no reason to do anything but continue fighting Israel with that kind of official endorsement. Obama is enabling the terrorists and he is preventing Israel from fighting them.

During the war, Kerry wanted Turkey and Qatar, rather than Egypt, as Netanyahu had preferred, to play key roles in ceasefire negotiations that favored Hamas. Qatar gives money to Hamas and sponsors Al Jazeera and Turkey’s Prime Minister Erogdan said Israel was showing “barbarism worse than Hitler” and asked Turkish Jews denounce Israel, which makes him a bonafide anti-Semite.

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