Thursday, January 31, 2013



Richard Falk, a Special Rapporteur to the United Nations, recently compared Hamas to the French Resistance. Falk has previously called Israel an apartheid state.

Falk wrote: "Resistance fighters were uniformly perceived in the liberal West as unconditional heroes, and no critical attention was given as to whether the tactics used unduly imperilled innocent civilian lives. Those who lost their lives in such a resistance were honoured as martyrs. [Khaled] Meshaal and other Hamas leaders have made similar arguments on several occasions, in effect asking what are Palestinians supposed to do in the exercise of resistance given their circumstances, which have persisted for so long, given the failures of traditional diplomacy and the UN to secure their rights under international law."
It is morally reprehensible to compare the French Resistance which was fighting for freedom from Nazi Germany to Hamas, a terrorist organisation committed to the destruction of the one truly free country in the Middle East, Israel. Hamas is also virulently antisemitic, homophobic and misogynist. In its attitude towards the Jews it shares the same goals as the Nazis. Falk’s statement is completely unacceptable for a UN official.

Paul Charney, Chairman of The Zionist Federation said “I call on the UN to demand that Richard Falk withdraw his ridiculous statement, which glorifies the terrorist and antisemitic Hamas, an organisation committed to the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013



The Zionist Federation was horrified to see the Gerald Scarfe cartoon drawn in yesterday's Sunday Times. The cartoon invoked a modern blood libel against the Jewish people.

It depicted the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, as an evil Quasimodo hunchback figure building a wall over Palestinian bodies with cement made of blood. This cartoon in its use of blood invokes the blood libels of the Middle Ages, where the Jews were accused of drinking the blood of Christian children. This modern day version is just as antisemitic and has no place in any publication let alone the Sunday Times. Moreover, the use of antisemitic imagery to attack Israel for defending itself represents demonisation of Israel simply for being a Jewish state.

It is even more offensive, as it was printed on Holocaust Memorial Day, where we commemorate the mass murder of the Jews during World War 2. We call on the Sunday Times and Gerald Scarfe to apologise for the offence caused by this despicable cartoon.

Paul Charney, Chairman of The Zionist Federation said, “To print this vile cartoon on Holocaust Memorial Day, where we remember the mass slaughter of Jews caused by antisemitism is completely unacceptable. This is yet another example of extreme critics of Israel revealing their antisemitic tendencies.”

The Zionist Federation and all its members will always speak out against those who criticise Israel in antisemitic ways.  

Monday, January 28, 2013



In a statement released on Friday 25th January, the MP for Bradford East, David Ward, conflated Israel’s action to the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Upon signing the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, he stated “having visited Auschwitz twice-one with my family and one with local schools- I am saddened that the Jews who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.

Ward’s comments incites antisemitism and many believe are antisemitic, as it conflates Israel’s defence of itself against those who seek to destroy it with the persecution and terrible mass slaughter of the Jews of Europe during World War two. To compare the two is crass, wrong and trivialises the suffering of Jews in World War 2.

He worsened his initial transgression by stating It appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated." Whilst Mr Ward has apologised for any offence caused by his remarks, the damage has already been done and his demonisation of Israel continues.

Paul Charney, Chairman of the Zionist Federation said, Mr Ward’s comments demonises Jews and Israel in a manner that is insensitive and factually incorrect. With HMD (Holocaust Memorial Day)taking place yesterday, he should realise the dangers of antisemitism, not encourage it.

The Zionist Federation and all its UK members will always condemn strongly criticism of Israel, which is done in a way that is antisemitic.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Guide to the Parties

Likud Beiteinu: Likud is the major conservative political party in Israel. Likud currently leads the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2012, Likud joined with Yisrael Beiteinu to form a united bloc for the 2013 elections, with Netanyahu number one on their list. It supports increased settlement in Jerusalem and the West Bank, although it is not opposed to negotiations with the Palestinians and has not ruled out the possibility of a Palestinian state. It generally supports a free market agenda to the economy. It supports the status quo when it comes to religion and the state.

Labour: The Israeli Labor Party is a social-democratic and labor Zionist political party with Shelly Yachimovich number 1 on their list. Under Yachimovch it has concentrated on socio-economic issues, calling on the cost of living to be reduced. It supports the two state solution and is against the building of new settlements. It is committed to supporting religious pluralism and opposes legislation that reduces the power of non-Orthodox Jewish groups.

The Jewish Home: The Jewish Home is a new right wing national religious Zionist political party, founded in 2008 with Naftali Bennett number one on their list. The party is founded on the values of modern Orthodoxy and religious Zionism. The Jewish Home calls on the cost of living to be decreased through decreasing the power of trade unions and state monopolies. It opposes the formation of a Palestinian State, instead calling for Israel to officially annex the Israeli controlled Areas of the West Bank

Shas: Shas, an acronym for Shomrei Sfarad, or Sfarad’s gurads of the Torah, is an ultra-orthodox religious political party in Israel with Eli Yishai number one on their list. It primarily represents the interests of religiously observant Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. They call for Israel to be run by Halakah (Jewish Law). In the past, it has shown a moderate approach to the peace process, though recently they have been more hardline, for instance being against the freezing of settlement building. It calls for a compensation package for those Jews who were forced out of Arab Lands, due to the creaton of Israel.

Meretz: Meretz is a left-wing Zionist, social democratic political party in Israel with Zahava Galon number one on their list. The party emphasizes peace with the Palestinians, human rights for ethnic and sexual minorities, religious freedom, and environmentalism. It sees itself as the representative of the Israeli peace movement in the Knesset and in this role calls for the dismantling of most settlements in the West Bank. It also speaks out strongly against the demonisation of foreign workers. It calls for the separation of religion and state.

United Torah Judaism:  Formed from an alliance of Degel Ha Torah and Agudat Israel, it has been in existence since 1992 with Yaakov Litzman number one on their list.  It represents the interests of the Ultra Orthodox in Israel and calls for more inclusion of Jewish law within the state. It is opposed to civil marriage. It has no opinion when it comes to increasing settlements in the West Bank, as it sees the religious and social issues as more important.

Hatnua: This is a party created by Tsipi Livnin in November 2012, from dissidents of Labour and Kadima with Tzipi Livni as number one on their list. It is centrist in outlook. Hatnua is committed to the two state solution and calls for peace negotiations with the Palestinians to continue. It calls for a law to protect the environment. It calls for action to be taken to reduce social inequality in Israel through increasing the minimum wage and initiating a new public housing programme, paid for by canceling subsidies to the West Bank and the Ultra-Orthodox. It supports religious pluralism and says for this to happen the Orthodox Hegemony of society has to stop.

Otzma LeYisrael: Far Right Nationalist and religious party with Ariel Eldad number one on their list. It opposes the formation of a Palestinian State and any territorial concessions to the Palestinians or any talks with the Palestinians and calls for the nullification of the Oslo accords and the dismantling of the PLO’s police force, which they see as a terrorist faction. It also calls for Jewish sovereignty over Temple Mount and to make Hebrew the sole language of Israel, not having Arabic as a national language as well. It has a tough line when it comes to illegal immigrants and foreign workers, saying they should be removed. It calls for the power of monopolies to be reduced in Israel, to reduce the cost of living.

Yesh Atid: Yesh Atid is a political party founded by Yair Lapid in 2012 with Yair Lapid number one on their list. Lapid wanted to ensure all Israelis, in particular the ultra orthodox would be conscripted into the army. It calls for more focus on education, healthcare, transport and policing, as well as improving the standard of living of the middle class. It also wants to tackle political corruption, which they see as a major problem in Israel. It is supportive of a free market economic system and calls for more to be done to reduce regulatory costs and help for small businesses. It supports the two state solution, but calls for the major settlement blocks to remain in Israel.

Hadash: Hadash is a Jewish and Arab socialist front of organizations defined as Non-Zionist and Marxist that runs for the Israeli partliament with Mohammad Barakeh number one on their list. The party supports evacuation of all Israeli settlements, a complete withdrawal by Israel from all territories occupied as a result of the Six Day war, and the establishment of a Palestinian state in those territories. It also supports the right of return or compensation for Palestinian refugees. In addition to issues of peace and security, Hadash is also known for being active on social and environmental issues.

Ra’am-Tal:  Generally represented and supported by Israeli Arabs, enjoying particular popularity among the Bedouin population..  In 2006, Ra'am joined with another Arab party, Ta'al, and bolstered its support base.  It supports Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and the creation of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  It also advocates dismantling all Israeli settlements, including those in the Golan Heights, Right of return” to Israel for Palestinian refugees and their descendants and separation of religion and state.  They believe that Arabs should not be recruited to serve in the IDF. 

Balad: An Israeli-Arab political party with Jamal Zalhalka number one on their list. It wants to change Israel into a democratic state of all its citizens and is thus opposed to the concept of a Jewish state. It calls for the state to recognise what they call ‘Palestinian Arabs’ as a national minority entitled to all the rights that come with this. It opposes the state budget, which it believes discriminates against Arab citizens. It supports the two state solution and the implementation of UN resolution 194 in regards of Palestinian refugees.

Kadima: Kadima is a centrist and liberal political party in Israel with Shaul Mofaz number one on their list. It calls for the power of the Ultra Orthodox to be reduced and supports a free market economy with adequate safety nets for the poorest. It supports the two state solution and negotiations with the Palestinians.

Am Shalem: This party was established in April 2011 by Knesset member Haim Amsalem who was expelled from Shas five months before with Haim Amsalem number one on their list. It calls for the bridge between secular and religious communities in Israel to be bridged, which it sees as one of the biggest social divides in Israeli society. It calls for more to be done to get Haredis into the workforce and the army. It is also committed to helping the poorest in society, who they feel have been left behind.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Is There an Opportunity?
 By Kirill Pashkov

The Knesset elections were supposed to commence on 22 of October 2013, but by the decision of Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, they have been scheduled earlier to 22 of January 2013.
These will be the nineteenth Knesset elections within the sixty-five years of Israel's existence.
The social and political situation in the country is quite problematic, issues of which include taxes, cost of products, education, and medical care. A number of everyday Israelis have voiced their particular concerns and perspectives on the upcoming elections, giving voice to the problems that worry them most.

Daniel, a student of Tel Aviv University studying in sociology and history faculty,
Doesn’t see any reason to believe what politicians say.
"The only thing that they are actually worried about is their career and place in Knesset. All the rest is meaningless."

He continues, "Bibi wants to keep us frightened; they press us by always talking about war and outside aggression, so we can forget about country's inner problems, like the harsh confrontation between the Haredim and the secularized society, taxes, failure of educational system, and so on.
These elections can be easily predicted. Bibi will win, everything will stay the same. And this same will destroy our country from the inside.
Daniel recognizes that it is his civic duty to vote, yet his lack of faith in the system prevents him from fulfilling this right as an Israeli citizen.

Tomer, a man who works in the cafeteria in central Tel Aviv, has a different perspective on this question. He addresses the difficulty of everyday life in Israel, being that it is a very expensive country, taxes are too high, and it is very problematic to find a suitable place to live and still be able to save money for some personal needs. He is also sure that nothing is going to change in inner economical and social politics, but he will vote for Netanyahu, vowing that now ⌠is not the right time for new faces. Our country is in a serious danger and we need a man with experience, who can rule our country with confidence, like Bibi. Yes, lots of people hate him, but he is the best option for now. The Arab countries won't deal with us and take us seriously if there would be a new Israeli leader. I want to be sure in my safety, and that is why I am voting for Netanyahu. And this is what many others think as well. The social sphere can wait a little."

One man, who preferred to stay anonymous, owns a small network of sandwich bars. As a businessman, he judges the situation from a completely different angle, as he deals with taxes and city administration on a higher level than other people.
He finds elections as a simple act of wasting words. "Waiting for changes to come from elections and politicians is as foolish and naive, as to wait for the Messiah to appear in Jerusalem and go through the Golden Gates. The only thing that can affect our society and to keep our state alive is revolution like last year, but more serious and productive. Last year we've almost made it, but we stopped protesting when government promised us changes. We believed and this was a big mistake. We forced them to give us a promise, but we didn't force them to accomplish it the right away. He feels that it will only be a short while until Israeli citizens lose their democratic rights, likening an outcome akin to the status of Russia.
⌠I am not going to vote, because we simply don't have a rational option and a candidate to support. Left-wing, right-wing: they all promise to stabilize taxes, but in the end they do nothing at all, minding their place in Knesset. And the corruption┘ It's worse here compared to Russia, because there politicians don't hide the fact that they are stealing. In Israel everyone is hiding their goods and they never stop lying to us about it.
He ends his criticism by re-evaluating the concept of national pride: I love my country, I am proud of it, but the real patriot is the one who can see both positive and negative sides in his country."

In all, the one and a half million people who had been protesting last year in the sake of their lives and rights comprise the most serious political power in the country. The biggest problem is that they are not integrated, do not have a unifying leader, and there is still a hesitation of the masses between satisfying needs of social and economical life versus questions of security and defence. Haredim lean toward Benjamin Netanyahu since his government supports Yeshivas and religious inner politics, including support of Settlers. Russian electorate in Israel is also up to Netanyahu. The rest, ranging between one and a half to two million people, either don't vote at all due to political apathy, or vote almost surely for Bibi, since it is the easiest decision among other unfavourable options given the Israeli political climate.

Monday, January 7, 2013


The Importance of Lobbying

Throughout the year whether it is on our TV screens, on the radio, in Parliament or in newspapers or blogs, we are subject to tirades against Israel. Indeed if you were an alien from outer space, you would be under the impression that Israel is the devil. It’s not about Israel making mistakes and there is nothing wrong with criticising Israeli Government policy, but the tirades often question Israel’s right to exist, demonise it and don’t give it a fair hearing or the right to self-defence. However, it is no use carping from the sidelines, because things can be done to make Israel’s voice heard and to ensure that those who are in important political positions are at least exposed to Israel’s point of view or – even better – sympathise with it.
It is important to recognise that Israel’s supporters come from far and wide, from those of all different races, religions and creeds. It is why the Zionist Federation works closely with Christian Friends of Israel, who do fantastic work in defending Israel in many areas, especially within the Christian church. Their work makes a real difference when it comes to standing up for Israel and is done with the best of intentions. The message from all of this is that those who advocate for Israel, should not be afraid of working with different organisations, they should do all they can to work with other organisations to stand up as a united voice against those who challenge Israel’s very existence. If this happens, those who want to speak out in support of Israel will stand united.
Every year the Zionist Federation holds a lobby of Parliament in partnership with Christian Friends of Israel. In the past this has attracted many attendees and has been an extremely effective way of making Israel’s voice heard in Parliament. The lobby day of January 23rd 2013 should be no different.
During the morning, from 10am those who attend will be given amasterclass on how to lobby their MP effectively, as well as given an update on the latest situation in the Middle East and Israel. This is crucial, because in order to be effective lobbyists you need to be armed with the facts at your disposal, as well as a way of effectively communicating the facts. After all, we shouldn’t be afraid to use the facts and expose the many lies told by those who are blinded by an irrational hatred of Israel. No less important though is the afternoon of the lobby. It is at this time those attending the lobby get the chance to hear from numerous MPs and Lords from across the political spectrum in support of Israel. It is a reminder that there are many Parliamentarians who, despite the hostility they may receive for it, are prepared to defend Israel. It also shows the effectiveness of the lobby, as a way of increasing the support for Israel’s right to exist and self defence in Parliament. Of course, those attending the lobby are not simply passive bystanders. It is their chance throughout the day to make Israel’s case  to their local MP and to ask questions of those speaking. Through this long-lasting bonds can be created between MPs and Israel.
So if you are passionate about standing up for Israel then take part in the Zionist Federation and Christian Friends of Israel lobby day on the 23rdJanuary 2013. All you need to do is email me at stephenatzfukdotorg.