The landmark vote at the United Nations General Assembly on November 29, where member-states overwhelmingly endorsed an upgrade of Palestine’s status at the UN to that of non-member observer, has caused much discussion and disagreement in the Jewish world and beyond. Whether this event is being used as a shortcut to statehood which undermines a negotiated settlement to the conflict, a largely Israeli take, or an opportunity to breathe new life into the peace process, the view of the Palestinian Authority, remains to be seen.
Africa, which makes up over a quarter of the UN’s membership, gave its overwhelming backing to the resolution. 46 African states voted for it; whilst five abstained (Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Rwanda, and Togo) and three (Equatorial Guinea, Liberia and Madagascar) were not present. Analysts, including Pan African scholar Sitinga Kachipande, have noted that this display of support is even more remarkable in light of the significant economic and political ties most of these countries have to the United States.
Israel faced elections on the 22 January, and as encouraging this is as a reminder of the State’s unique democratic tradition in a region plagued by tyrants and autocracies, there is unfortunately also the need to despair. The current political discourse indicates that although Israel does not lack for leaders, there is an acute lack of uniting and sensible leadership to guide the State through its current challenges. On the right, Likud has no shortage of scapegoats to explain the lack of progress in the negotiations with the Palestinians or in creating hard-hitting social reforms to support the weaker segments as well as to prevent a further brain drain of Israel’s young and brightest. The feasibility of Prime Minister Netanyahu implementing his Bar Ilan vision for a two-state solution is eroding with the same pace that centre-right Likud politicians are being replaced with hawkish hardliners on the party’s Knesset list. Religious sectorial interests determined to secure funding to bolster their own political position of power, notwithstanding potential detrimental effects on State finances and security. Finally, on the rapidly rising far right, the winning argument is that the State should be free to act as it wants no matter how the world evaluates its actions. The standard seems to be that anyone that criticises Israel’s policies from the outside can be ignored as he, she or it probably hates Israel anyway.
Anti-Israel activists have been sponsoring intense campaigns of intimidation, emotional blackmail and misinformation to encourage prominent musicians to boycott Israel by not performing there, as reported in this paper on June 4 ("Stars under fire for concerts in Israel"). These activists claim that they are acting in the name of peace, but in reality what they are actually doing is precisely the opposite. They are participating in a new version of a decades-old effort to reject any co-existence with Israel.
What’s even more ludicrous and hypocritical about efforts to culturally boycott Israel is that they ignore a compelling reality of today’s Middle East. Even as activists in Western states demand that artists refuse to have any association with Israel, the opposite is actually happening in the Middle East. There, despite decades of boycotts, people from Turkey to Iran are embracing the works of Israeli musicians in increasing numbers, often at great personal risk.
BDS-ers attempted to impose a boycott of Israeli products (BDS) at my trendy, hipster food coop in Brooklyn, New York. All of FIVE products to protest Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians! Absurd on one hand that a political debate should take place at a food coop (see Jon Stewart “Daily Show’ www.jewlicious.com/...bdsfail-park-slope-food-coop-on-votes-on-boycott-of-Israeli-goods/-91k )
Scary: Many members of the aggressive BDS faction are Jewish. Of course! Jews are leaders in supporting human rights for all. Our strength as Jews is our ability to argue and disagree amongst each other. Yet, we ARE Jews, and this we must remember.
Every now and then I am really happy that my opinions and decisions are not influential. The pressure on the leaders of nations, heads of the armies and other significant individuals must be overwhelming in many cases. The matters of peace and war seem to be, from my point of view, the hardest ones to analyze. The decision is not a theoretical question in an academic debate but a choice that will end in the survival or death of real people.
The recent days have shown that the narration for the need for bombing Iran is not the only one in the Israeli society. The photos of Israelis declaring love towards Iranians and promising NEVER to bomb their country went viral in the social media and were responded by mutual feelings and declarations among some Iranians. Peace is good, war is evil. The ones who declare war are unjust; the justice is always for the peace. If only this could be so simple.
When discussing Polish attitudes towards potential Iranian nuclear capabilities, it is important to distinguish between two components: official diplomatic responses and the nature of public opinion. Diplomatically, Poland maintains a strong relationship with Israel and, as a member of the EU, generally advocates a position in concert with other EU members such as Germany and France. Additionally, the Polish government strives to cultivate a close diplomatic relationship with the United States, and has actually been accused in the past of being overly deferential to US interests as opposed to the interests of fellow EU members. In tandem, both of these factors would indicate the Polish government has a strong interest in joining efforts to prevent Iranian nuclear development.
If Iran were to attack Israel today, the Polish Jewish community would be deeply saddened. Most of us have family and friends currently living in Israel, and have been fortunate enough to develop a strong appreciation for Israel over the course of our lives. Moreover, for my age group, this would be the first war of our lifetimes in which we felt emotionally involved, adding to the potential impact of this war.
Jon Schweitzer, a Jewish young professional in Chicago, blogged from the Chicago Young Atlanticist Summit, the premier public diplomacy event that took place alongside the NATO summit. The Young Atlanticist Summit was organized by the Atlantic Council and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In total, over 60 young professionals from 35 nations gathered for three days to hear from NATO officials, Presidents and Ministers of NATO nations and leading foreign policy analysts.
It seems to me that some of the keys to becoming a successful businessman are optimism, perseverance and ingenuity. If life hands you lemons, start a lemonade stand. If your pipes leak, then you’ve got yourself the makings of a drip-system irrigation business. And if all you’ve got is manure, well then, start selling fertilizer. You know how it is, take what you’ve got and make the best of it.
So what do you do when you’ve got a regime in possession of an arsenal of long-range weapons, making no effort to hide their malintent towards you, hard-charging toward nuclear weapons capabilities? This is the current dilemma facing Israel.
Israel's survival depends on its military hegemony in the Middle East to keep it safe. A nuclear Iran changes that calculus, and not necessarily by threatening Israel with nuclear annihilation. It is the prospect of an Iran that is emboldened, emboldened to use its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza to terrorize Israeli civilians in the North and South and an Iran that is emboldened to threaten America's Arab allies in the Gulf, which will lead them to pursue their own atomic weapons. The prospect of a power shift in the Middle East and the arms race that might ensue in the Arab world has the international community most frightened.