Monday, April 27, 2009


State of Israel's 61st Independence Day

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Message to Diaspora Communities
|April 2009

Today, Israel celebrates its 61st birthday. Each year that we mark the rebirth of the Jewish state after long centuries of exile is a great cause for celebration.

After centuries of powerlessness, the Jewish people returned to the stage of history and to their rightful place among the nations. With the rebirth of Israel, we were once again able to chart our own destiny and determine our own future.

The past 61 years show just what a free and independent Jewish nation can achieve. With scarce resources, we brought a barren land back to life and absorbed millions of immigrants. Through innovation and determination, the genius of our people has made us a leader in agriculture, medicine and science, while our creativity spawned a high-tech industry that continues to amaze the world. We have achieved peace with Egypt and Jordan and we will continue to seek peace with all our neighbors.

All this has been achieved even though Israel has lived under constant threat for 61 years. Unfortunately, Israel remains under threat. An Iranian regime that is feverishly pursuing nuclear weapons brazenly calls for our destruction. Terror organizations on our southern and northern borders grow stronger by the day. And a rising tide of anti-Semitism is sweeping the civilized world.

To address these challenges in the years ahead, unity among our people, both inside and outside Israel, will be more important than ever. That is why it is vital that we continue to strengthen the bonds between Israel and the Diaspora. These bonds are a source of mutual strength and a powerful reminder of the unique role that Israel plays in the world and in the history of our people.

On this Independence Day, let us take pride in all we have accomplished and let us look forward to a time of security, prosperity and peace. If we stand together as brothers and sisters, if we stand together with courage and conviction, that time will surely come.

Chag Sameach!


Benjamin Netanyahu


By Barry Rubin*
April 25, 2009

Ring! Ring! The Israeli prime minister's alarm clock went off. He quickly sat up in bed and immediately shouted out: "Yes! I'm for a two-state solution!"
At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, during his talks and all his meetings, in greeting his staff as he walked down the corridor to the office, endless he repeated that phrase.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the world seems to want from Israeli policy.
But the fact is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the two-state solution back in 1997 when he took over in the midst of the Oslo agreement peace process and committed himself to all preceding agreements.
This is not the real issue. The real issue is this: much of the world wants Israel to agree in advance to give the Palestinian Authority (PA) what they think it wants without any concessions or demonstration of serious intent on its part.
The first problem is that the demand is totally one-sided. Does the PA truly accept a two-state solution? That isn't what it tells its own people in officials' speeches, documents of the ruling Fatah group, schools, the sermons of PA-appointed clerics, and the PA-controlled media.
The second problem is that PA compliance with its earlier commitments is pretty miserable, though this is a point that almost always goes unmentioned in Western diplomatic declarations and media.
More often than not the PA's performance could be called one of anti-confidence-building measures. In other words, what it does makes Israel and Israelis less certain that it is ever going to make a stable and lasting peace.
The third problem is that this leaves no room for asking the question: what does Israel want in exchange for accepting a Palestinian state, leaving West Bank territory, or even agreeing to a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem.
How about recognizing Israel as a Jewish state since, after all, the PA Constitution defines its country-to-be as an Arab Muslim state and the PA makes clear that all Jews who have come to live there since 1967 must leave. These stances don't bother me in principle only the hypocrisy of doing one thing and demanding Israel do another.
How about agreeing-which any nationalist movement should be eager to do-that all Palestinian refugees be resettled in the state of Palestine.
How about accepting that a two-state solution would permanently end the conflict?
How about stopping daily incitement to kill Israelis and destroy Israel in PA institutions?
How about being open to border modifications or security guarantees like not bringing foreign troops onto Palestinian soil?
Aid to the PA is conditioned on absolutely nothing of the sort. These points aren't even mentioned and Western diplomats and journalists don't wax indignant about the PA's intransigence.
In short, Israel is asked to give without getting in return.
The foreign policy of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni often consisted of ritual confirmations that yes indeed they favored a two-state solution and couldn't wait until a Palestinian state came into existence.
That behavior didn't bother me, though they should have raised Israeli demands more often as well. Still, the problem is-and every Israeli saw this-that it brought little benefit. Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip, criticism of Israel in defending itself against Hizballah attacks in2006, and the general growing hostility of the Western intelligentsia all took place during the era of "We-favor-a-two-state-solution" repetition.
In the longer-term, the growing demonization of Israel has taken place after it pulled out of the Sinai Peninsula, south Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and large parts of the West Bank; offered to accept a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem; let the PLO come in to govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip (including bringing 200,000 Palestinians with it); and provided or permitted the arming of its security forces.

Remember that recent history the next time you hear someone say that more Israeli concessions will bring it peace, security, and a good image.
In recent weeks we have still another myth born, that supposedly the Netanyahu government said  progress with the Palestinians depends on action against Iran's nuclear program. This never happened. As Deputy Foreign Ministry Danny Ayalon made clear, this government policy has three themes: negotiations with the PA, stopping Iran's nuclear program, and improving relations with moderate Arab states. 
There's also a third myth regarding the Arab peace plan. Israeli governments welcomed the plan as a step forward but pointed out two problems preventing them from accepting it. Most important is the demand that any Palestinian who lived or whose ancestors ever lived on what is now Israeli territory can come and live in Israel. This is correctly seen as a ploy to destroy Israel. The other is that borders must be precisely those of 1967. If there's room for discussion t Israel will discuss this plan; if it's take-it-or-leave-it, there's no alternative but the latter.
Finally, the fact that Hamas rules the Gaza Strip is no Israeli rationale for refusing concessions but a huge fact of life. How can Israel make peace with "the Palestinians" when the PA has no such mandate? And how could Israel make peace with a Fatah-Hamas PA regime when such a coalition's effect would not be to moderate Hamas but to make Fatah even more radical.
It's silly to assure Israel that peace will bring it greater security when it's unclear whether the Palestinian government would be taken over by Hamas; wage another round of warfare; fire missiles and be "unable to stop" cross-border attacks; and invite in Iranian or Syrian troops. That king of two-state solution would be far worse than the status quo.
So let's say it again: If the PA shows itself ready to make and keep a reasonable two-state peace agreement there can be a deal. Let them get two dozen billion dollars of international "compensation" Let the Palestinian people live happily ever after in their Arab, Muslim state with rising living standards.
OK, now what's in it for Israel?

*  Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to His blog, Rubin Reports is at

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Chaverim, shalom –

Yom Ha'atzmaut is always a cause for celebration, but this year, with the holiday coming in the wake of the "Durban II" debacle in Geneva, the day takes on added significance. It is hard to believe that 61 years after its establishment, the very legitimacy of a Jewish state is still being challenged - and not only in the Arab world but also among some in the West. On the one hand, it is gratifying that so many protested the travesty of a conference that perpetuated the very racism, genocide, prejudice, intolerance and violation of human rights that it was intended to condemn. On the other hand, it is frightening that those who deny the Holocaust and are prepared to step into the shoes of those who perpetuated it, could be given any stage at all some 65 years it came to an end.

As on every Yom Ha'atzmaut, we pray that the day will soon come when we will be able to concentrate all of our efforts on the positive aspects of the Zionist endeavor, striving to fashion Israel as an idyllic society and through it - and by its achievements - making the world as a whole a better and more humane place. Unfortunately, however, the reminders that we must also continue investing in our security and the well-being of the Jewish people everywhere continue to be as frequent and as compelling as ever.

As a member of the Zionist Executive and as Head of the Department for Zionist Activities of the World Zionist Organization, I want to say that it is a privilege to be serving in a capacity that allows me to be involved in both aspects of an undertaking that is so important to us all, and that also provides me with the opportunity to be working with so many others for whom there is no cause more dear.

With great appreciation for all of your efforts on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I remain


Dr. David Breakstone
Head of the Department for Zionist Activities
World Zionist Organization

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The ZF welcomes the walkout of the UK Ambassador at the UN Durban Review Conference in Geneva after Iran's president started his antisemitic rant against Jews and Israel.
The ZF believes that the applause give to Ahmadinejad by many of the delegates indicates that the Conference is a lost cause and therefore reiterates its call (17 March) for the UK to withdraw from the Conference. The ZF notes that the following 11 countries have all now withdrawn: Israel, Canada, Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, US, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand.
The fact that five EU countries including the Presidency have withdrawn makes a unified EU stance impossible, thereby removing one of the reported obstacles to a UK withdrawal.
The ZF can be contacted on 020 8343 9756

Sunday, April 19, 2009


BBC Israel coverage: Findings of the BBC Trust’s ESC

Attached are decisions by the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) in response to complaints made by Jonathan Turner (a ZF member) about the coverage of Israel by Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East Editor. Please respect the BBC’s embargo of 11am on 16 April.

The decisions will be included in the March/April edition of the BBC Trust’s monthly bulletin “Editorial Standards Findings” published at the following address:

1: “How 1967 Defined the Middle East” – BBC Website, 4 June 2007

An article “How 1967 Defined the Middle East” by Jeremy Bowen was posted on the BBC Website on 4 June 2007 (it is still there) :

The ESC found that the article breaches the BBC’s guideline on impartiality.

It found that the article breaches the BBC’s guideline on accuracy in three respects:

· It wrongly says of the settlements that Israel is “in defiance of everyone’s interpretation of international law except its own.”

· In the imprecise use of the phrase “unfinished business” in the statement “The Israeli generals, hugely self-confident, mainly sabras (native-born Israeli Jews) in their late 30s and early 40s, had been training to finish the unfinished business of Israel's independence war of 1948 for most of their careers”;

· It wrongly refers to Zionism’s “innate instinct to push out the frontier”.

A similar decision in response to a complaint by a representative of the ‘Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America’ will be published at the same time.

2: BBC Radio 4 “From Our Own Correspondent” – 12 January 2008

The ESC found that the statement that the Har Homa settlement was considered illegal by the United States breached the BBC’s guideline on accuracy.
The finding that Mr Bowen's article on the Six Day War breaches the guideline on impartiality is particularly significant, since he has written a book about this episode (“Six Days: How the 1967 War Shaped the Middle East”), which he regards as fundamental to understanding the Middle East. Indeed, that book is frequently cited by the BBC as a defence against complaints about Mr Bowen’s reporting, even though it had already given rise to questions about Mr Bowen’s objectivity - in his submission to the BBC, Mr Turner noted that in July 2005, Professor Efraim Karsh (Head of Mediterranean Studies at Kings College, London) described the book as "rife with standard anti-Israel prejudice, namely, the portrayal of Israel as the source of the ME conflict and the whitewashing of Arab-Palestinian rejection of Israel’s legitimacy and decades of relentless violence against the Jewish state.”

Mr Bowen’s position as Middle East Editor of a public service broadcaster is untenable in the light of the ESC’s findings.

Mr Bowen's submissions in the complaints procedure only add to concerns. For example, he said: "if Zionism didn’t have ‘an innate instinct to push out the frontier’ it’s hard to make sense of how the yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine) grew from a handful of immigrants on a few patches of land into the powerful and rich regional superpower Israel has become". In fact, the yishuv included, inter alia, a very longstanding Jewish majority of the capital city, Jerusalem. And it is difficult to see why Mr Bowen referred in this connection to Israel being "rich", if not out of prejudice. Israel's economic success in recent years has been largely based on its high-tech industries which cover only a very small area of the country. In contrast Mr Bowen seems to think that Jews can only become rich by taking other people's land.

The BBC Trust took an inordinate length of time to address these complaints. The complaint about the Six Day War article was first made by Mr Turner in June 2007, over 1¾ years ago. The complaint about the Har Homa report was made in January 2008, nearly 1¼ years ago. Even now the BBC Trust has not recommended any remedial action in the light of its findings, despite the fact that Mr Bowen's article has been on the BBC website throughout the investigation period and was advertised for months by a prominent button on the main Middle East News Page.

These delays have allowed Mr Bowen and his colleagues to continue their biased coverage of Israel. The ZF believes this has been a significant contributor to the recent rise in antisemitic incidents in the UK to record levels. The ZF also regrets the BBC Trust’s refusal to consider a more general complaint that Mr Bowen is biased (on the grounds that Mr Turner’s Appeal was 3½ weeks out of time). The ZF calls on the government to bring the BBC under the full regulation of OFCOM, like all other broadcasting media.

The ZF calls on the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee to hold the BBC to account in this matter and in others relating to its coverage of the Middle East, for example its continuing refusal to publish the Balen Report despite a recent Law Lords decision. In the view of the ZF, the Committee also needs to examine in the light of this case whether the BBC’s complaints procedure is fair and meets contemporary standards in public sector governance.

Jonathan Turner can be contacted for further information, at any time on Skype (JonathanDCTurner) or by email ( or

Until 15 April Mr Turner can be contacted on 00 972 54 261 5149 or 020 3286 6624.

From 16 April Mr Turner can be contacted on 020 7831 4445 (office) or 07801 337157 (mobile).

The ZF can be contacted on 020 8343 9756 except on 13thApril, the afternoon of 14th and 15th and 16th (the 7th and 8th days of Passover). However in Israel Passover finishes on 15th and on 16th the ZF office there can be contacted on Israel mobile number 00 972 544 48 50 74 or (Vonage) 0208 455 8610.


·         BBC News tried to minimise the seriousness of the Trust’s findings by saying that the Six Day War happened over 40 years ago. But as Jeremy Bowen himself wrote “To understand what is happening between Israel and the Palestinians now, you have to understand what happened in the Middle East war of 1967."
·         BBC News says “Clearly there is no consensus view of history and it is self evident that there are others who have different analysis - which of course they are entitled to.”  Precisely. It was Jeremy Bowen’s failure to refer to the existence of “different analyses” which led the Trust ESC to find him in breach of impartiality.
·         BBC News refers to the Thomas Report which gave its Middle East coverage a clean bill of health. But the Israel coverage during the assessment period for the Thomas Report was distorted in favour of a ‘no bias’ result, because the BBC announced the review in advance and journalists, editors and managers bent over backwards to avoid anti-Israel bias during the assessment period.
·         Why does the BBC continue to resist publishing the Balen Report – even after the House of Lords decision?

The website article 1 has been changed. But not in accord with the Trust’s findings:

·         The article now contains the phrase “the tendency within Zionism to push out the frontier”. The Trust said that the earlier phrasing (“Zionism’s innate instinct”) should have been qualified - but instead BBC News has simply replaced it by “tendency within Zionism”.
·         The article states that the settlements are “in defiance of almost all countries’ interpretation of international law except its [ie Israel’s] own”. The Trust noted that the US (for one) does not hold that the settlements are illegal and several other countries have not adopted an official stance.
·         Pre-change Jeremy Bowen’s introduction read “To understand what is happening between Israel and the Palestinians now, you have to understand what happened in the Middle East war of 1967".  That text has now been downgraded in importance: “To understand what is happening between Israel and the Palestinians now, it is important to understand what happened in the Middle East war of 1967.” (Our underlining). Why has this statement been downgraded in importance?
The ZF again asks the BBC what action it intends to take to restore public confidence, following the Trust’s very serious findings. It is no wonder that the BBC receives so many complaints about anti-Israel bias.
The ZF can be contacted on 020 8343 9756