Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Following is a passage on the Israel/Palestinian Arab conflict, from President Barack Obama's UN speech.

Amidst this upheaval, we have also been persistent in our pursuit of peace. Last year, I pledged my best efforts to support the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as part of a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbors. We have travelled a winding road over the last 12 months, with few peaks and many valleys. But this month, I am pleased that we have pursued direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington, Sharm el Sheikh and Jerusalem.

Now I recognize many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs and with gunfire. Some say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure, peace is simply not possible.

I hear those voices of skepticism. But I ask you to consider the alternative. If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own state. Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbors who are committed to coexistence. The hard realities of demography will take hold. More blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity.

I refuse to accept that future. And we all have a choice to make. Each of us must choose the path of peace. Of course, that responsibility begins with the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history. Earlier this month at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I came here today to find a historic compromise that will enable both people to live in peace, security, and dignity.” And President Abbas said, “We will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure these negotiations achieve their cause.”

These words must now be followed by action and I believe that both leaders have the courage to do so. But the road that they have to travel is exceedingly difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians -- and the world -- to rally behind the goal that these leaders now share. We know that there will be tests along the way and that one test is fast approaching. Israel’s settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground and improved the atmosphere for talks.

And our position on this issue is well known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also believe that talks should press on until completed. Now is the time for the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle. Now is the time to build the trust -- and provide the time -- for substantial progress to be made. Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it does not slip away.

Now, peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a responsibility to do our part as well. Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires an independent Palestine -- one that allows the Palestinian people to live with dignity and opportunity. And those of us who are friends of the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian people will be won only through peaceful means -- including genuine reconciliation with a secure Israel.

I know many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But these pledges of friendship must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by taking tangible steps towards the normalization that it promises Israel.

And those who speak on behalf of Palestinian self-government should help the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and in doing so help the Palestinians build the institutions of their state.

Those who long to see an independent Palestine must also stop trying to tear down Israel. After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange land. After 60 years in the community of nations, Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate.

Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people. The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance -- it’s injustice. And make no mistake: The courage of a man like President Abbas, who stands up for his people in front of the world under very difficult circumstances, is far greater than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.

The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as this institution. And we can come back here next year, as we have for the last 60 years, and make long speeches about it. We can read familiar lists of grievances. We can table the same resolutions. We can further empower the forces of rejectionism and hate. And we can waste more time by carrying forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian child achieve a better life. We can do that.

Or, we can say that this time will be different -- that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way. This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire.

This time, we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem’s soil as sacred. This time we should reach for what’s best within ourselves. If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations -- an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel. (Applause.)

You can read his full speech here:

Thursday, September 16, 2010


From the beginning of this new year, polls have been published by the Central Bureau of
Statistics and by research institutes concerning the demographic, sociological and spiritual trends
taking place amongst the Jewish people; and concerning the composition of the population of the
State of Israel – including the trends, changes and developments that are taking place in all spheres
of Israeli society.
On the basis of these polls and studies and the information we receive throughout the year, we
hereby present the main findings which can be of assistance in appreciating the map of the Jewish
people worldwide.
World Organization of Orthodox
Synagogues and Communities

The Composition of the Population of the State of Israel
On the eve of Rosh Hashana 5771 (September 2010) the total population of the
State of Israel was 7,645,501 (over 7 million, 645 thousand), composed as
follows: Jews: approximately 5,770,900; Arabs: approximately 1,559,100;
Others (including non-Arab Christians and unclassified): approx. 315,000.
In 2009, 14,572 olim (immigrants) arrived in Israel, including: 3,245 from Russia; 2,474
from the U.S.A.; 1,602 from the Ukraine; 1,558 from France and 708 from Great
Born in Israel
71.7% of all the Jews in the State of Israel were born in Israel, including
161,042 children who were born in 2009.
Note: this information originates with the Central Bureau of Statistics in
The Jews of the Diaspora (in the large communities):
In the U.S.A.: 5.3 million. In France: 485,000. In Canada: 375,000. In Great Britain:
292,000. In the Russian Republic: 205,000. In Argentina: 182,000. In Germany:
According to this data, 43% of World Jewry live today in the State of Israel.
Note: these findings are based on studies conducted by the demographer Prof. Sergio Della Pergola
of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
Self-definitions of those responding to the study carried out by
the Central Bureau of Statistics
8% Ultra-orthodox. 12% Religious. 13% Traditional/Religious. 25%
Traditional (not so religious). 42% Secular.
Observance of Jewish Tradition
25% Very observant. 38% Quite observant. 31% somewhat observant. 6% not observant at all.
21% report that they are more observant today than in the past. 14% report that they are less
observant today than in the past.
Observance of Jewish Tradition in the Secular community
 24% of all secularists attended synagogue on Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur last
 82% of the secularists always take part in the Passover Seder.
 67% always light Hanukka candles.
 29% always light Shabbat candles.
 26% always fast on Yom Kippur.
 22% strictly observe eating Kosher for Passover food on Passover.
 10% strictly observe eating Kosher food.
Note: 86% of all the secularists who took part in the study testify that they observe tradition to some degree.
Participation in Synagogue Prayer Services
 72% of all Jews (aged 20 and over) attended synagogue during the past year.
 23% of the men visit the synagogue every day.
 25% take part in the prayer services in synagogues only on Shabbat and Holidays.
 11% go to synagogue only on Rosh Hashana and/or on Yom Kippur.
 16% go to synagogue only on special occasions, such as celebrations or memorial
 24% do not attend synagogue at all.
Synagogues and Communities in Israel
In the State of Israel there are about 10,000 Orthodox synagogues where
about a million and a half persons (ultra-orthodox, religious and
traditional) worship, and about 55 Conservative synagogues and 25 Reform
In about 800 traditional-religious synagogues in Israel some community activity takes place at
various levels.
Note: the number of young secular men putting on tefillin (phylacteries) in synagogue is gradually growing


The ZF totally condemns the British Trade Union Congress' approval of a discriminatory boycott of Israeli goods, yesterday.
Jonathan Sacerdoti, Director of Public Affairs of the Zionist Federation, said "the TUC Congress calls for an immediate end to the military blockade on Gaza. This can only happen when there is no remaining threat of terrorist rocket attacks emanating from the Gaza strip. Rockets are currently still being launched towards Israeli civilian areas. In recent months Israel lifted many of the restrictions on what is allowed to pass into the Gaza strip, but it remains clear to all who are open minded enough to see it that until a better method for ensuring Israel's security from terrorist attacks exists, restrictions must stay in place. This is simply common sense.
"The TUC should concentrate on representing the interests of its members at a time when cuts are affecting ever more of them. There is no legitimate reason for the TUC to be targeting Israel (and no other country in the world) according the dubious desires of a group of its members who take few (if any) proactive actions to foster peace in the Middle East. The PSC continually seeks to hijack Trade Unions to promote their anti-Israel and anti-peace agenda. It is a divisive and disruptive organization.“
The ZF encourages its supporters to fight back, by getting involved in Trade Unions and speaking out as well as buying Israeli goods. We call on trade union members to protest to their union executives and we call for increased cooperation between the TUC and the Histadrut, for the benefit of peace in the interests of both Palestinian and Israeli workers.
Israel remains committed to the existence of two states: one for the Jewish people and one for the Palestinian people. To that end, negotiations are underway between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to a secure two state solution.
Note on TUC's actions:
The TUC Congress claims to be concerned for the welfare of Palestinians, yet made no mention of the Jordanian government's failure to provide refugees of the 1948 war with basic human rights such as citizenship and voting. Nor did they condemn Lebanon for its refusal to allow Palestinian refugees the right to work or vote. They issued no condemnation of Syria for its terrible treatment of Palestinians in its care, no condemnation of Hamas for its continued assault on the freedoms of residents of Gaza including the burning of UNRWA children's camps, human trafficking, regular executions and use of torture, and the continued murders of Israeli civilians. Furthermore, the TUC issued no condemnation of Iran for its systematic use of rape and torture of political dissidents, executions by stoning, or persecution of homosexuals and women. Nor did they condemn Yemen for its brutal and deadly attacks against civilians in the north (with Saudi collusion). 
In fact, the TUC Congress issued no condemnations of anyone apart from Israel, the one country in the region that shares Western values and constantly strives to improve itself and the lives of its citizens and workers.
Notes on boycotts:
- A boycott will not help to bring peace to the region. Boycotts are divisive and deliberately discriminatory. Those truly interested in promoting and encouraging peace in Israel and the Middle East concentrate on cooperation, not on strengthening and creating divisions.
- A boycott harms everyone: Palestinian workers will suffer directly as a result of any boycott, as many rely on Israel for work. The Palestinian economy is growing rapidly in a challenging global climate, largely owing to collaborative efforts involving Israel to improve the lives of Palestinians. The UK may also suffer increased isolation and counter-boycott from countries who recognise the negative and counter-productive nature of anti-Israel actions such as this boycott. Of course, such a boycott is directly intended to damage Israel, for no constructive reason.
Notes on settlements:
- The TUC statement contains numerous factual inaccuracies and distortions. There is no legal decision on the status of the settlements so they cannot be termed ‘illegal’. The US government for one does not hold that they are illegal. The territories of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) are disputed, and their status can only be practically determined as part of direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. Boycotts here or anywhere else in the world will not assist in creating a workable and fair solution.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Last night Jonathan Sacerdoti, Director of Public Affairs of the Zionist Federation, appeared on BBC News at 8pm. 
This can be viewed here

On Thursday morning, 2 September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas launched direct negotiations in Washington, in the presence of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Zionist Federation welcomes the United States’ invitation to resume direct talks with the Palestinian Authority, without pre-conditions, and acknowledges that Israel has called for direct negotiations since the formation of the current Israeli government a year and a half ago.
Israel remains deeply committed to peace and aspires to achieve a stable, sustainable agreement that will ensure peace, security and prosperity for both peoples. Obtaining peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a very difficult task, but it remains an achievable goal and an aspiration for Jews around the world. However, Israel needs a courageous partner on the Palestinian side in order to reach a peace agreement. Peace requires a bold Palestinian partner who will stand before his people and declare that, in order to reach a peace agreement, each side must make painful compromises. He must also publicly strengthen and legitimise a Palestinian aspiration for a peaceful end of the conflict (by ending incitement via media, schools and religious outlets, end the glorification of terrorists and murderers, and create a leading voice in Palestinian society that positions the PA and the Palestinians as partners for peace, not as opponents of israel), create a domestic solution to the refugee problem, and recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. President Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan demonstrated this brave leadership in their day. We hope that President Abbas will choose to walk in their footsteps.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


In a letter to Salil Shetty, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, the Zionist Federation has responded to the derogatory remarks by the head of Amnesty Finland, who described Israel as a "scum state". The full text of the letter is as follows:
To: Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International
25th August 2010
Dear Mr Shetty,
I am writing on behalf of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland to express our outrage at the comments of Frank Johansson, the head of Amnesty Finland, who branded Israel a “scum state,” as reported in the Jerusalem Post.
Writing in his blog, Johansson wrote on Monday that “a friend of mine who works in Israel was visiting [and] while piling wood in the shed, we got to [talking about] his favourite topic. [After] several years of residence in the Holy Land, he has come to the conclusion that ‘Israel is a scum state.’ Based on my own visit[s], which occurred during the 1970s and for the last time in the 1990s, I agree.”
The precise phrase that he used is apparently a highly derogatory term in Finnish, and is frequently translated as “scum,” “scum bag” or “douche bag.” The blog clearly provides readers with Johansson’s title, “director of the Finnish branch of Amnesty International”, thus associating his deplorable comments with Amnesty. For him to claim that this is a personal view is not acceptable. It is no less appalling whether he said it in his official capacity or otherwise. That Amnesty is represented by someone with such a view is disgraceful.
Quite apart from openly displaying prejudice against the world’s only Jewish state, Johansson’s statement is at odds with the facts. Newsweek this week rated Israel the 22nd best country in the world, and the best in the Middle East. A recently released Gallup poll published in Forbes magazine contended that Israel is the world's eighth happiest country.
We call on you to condemn Johansson’s statement, and to freeze links to Amnesty Finland until Johansson resigns. We further call on you to end all of Amnesty’s actions in demonising Israel.
Yours sincerely,
Jonathan Sacerdoti
Director of Public Affairs
Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland


The Zionist Federation of Great Britain & Ireland deplores yesterdays shooting of four Israeli civilians (one of whom was pregnant) near Hebron and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims. The ZF believes that this shooting underlines the need as suggested by United Nations Resolution 242 for the Israel Defense Forces to remain in the West Bank until civil security can be guaranteed.