Activism

Netanyahu announces ‘seminar on Jewish history’ in his office– for European diplomats

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High Israeli officials have lectured Europeans in recent days over their supposedly false understanding of Jewish history, especially as that history applies to the Israeli claim to have annexed Jerusalem.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday announced a “seminar on Jewish history” in his office for French, Russian, Spanish and Swedish diplomats– among others– who described Jerusalem as “occupied.”

The Prime Minister issued four tweets yesterday:

PM Netanyahu: Two weeks ago I was shocked to hear @UNESCO adopted a decision denying Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site
It is hard to believe anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link which spans thousands of years
Therefore, I am announcing a seminar on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel. I will personally host the lecture at the PM’s Office
The seminar by a leading Jewish history scholar will be free to UN staff and diplomats, including of countries which voted for this decision

That UNESCO resolution is titled “Occupied Palestine.” Proposed by seven Arab countries, and then approved by UNESCO members, it focuses on Israeli government actions as the “occupying power” to deny Muslim access to their holy site, the Haram-al-Sharif, and Israeli archaeological efforts throughout the Old City that are damaging Muslim sites.

RT notes that the decision was obnoxious to the Israeli government for what it left out: “never calling [the site] the Temple Mount, as the Jews call it.” The Jerusalem Post also reflects that anger:

The decision refers to the plaza fronting the Western Wall only in quotation marks, except when using one of its Arabic names, Al-Buraq, a reference to the Prophet Mohammed’s ascent to heaven.

The decision cites earlier UNESCO resolutions on protecting the “cultural heritage” of occupied Jerusalem and singles out such Israel government actions as:

banning Muslims from burying their dead in some spaces and by planting Jewish fake graves in other spaces of the Muslim cemeteries, in addition to the dramatic change of the status and distinctive character of the Umayyad Palaces, in particular the violation of the continued conversion of many Islamic and Byzantine remains into the so-called Jewish ritual baths or into Jewish prayer places.

RT coverage emphasizes the highly-political character of the decision, as it denies the legitimacy of Israel’s claimed sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The resolution was approved by 33 nations, among them France, Russia, Spain and Sweden. Seventeen countries abstained, two were absent and six countries voted against the resolution, namely the US, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

In a recently issued protest letter to all the countries that supported the UNESCO decision, Israeli Foreign Ministry’s director Dore Gold lashed out at the document and stressed that Jerusalem is a 3,000-year-old capital of the Jewish people.

“While the UNESCO decision has no practical validity, we will not allow international sources to blur the connection of the Jewish nation to its eternal capital,” Gold said.

In response to the backlash from Israeli officials, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova later called for “respect and dialogue.”

Next, here is an even more flagrant use of Jewish history in the justification of Zionist claims. Dore Gold gave a speech at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp three days ago saying that “there is a new anti-Semitic wind blowing across Europe, reviving memories of what transpired on this continent decades ago.” Gold is surely referring to growing international efforts to criticize Israel and boycott and divest and sanction Israel (BDS).

And he says in so many words that Israel should be immune from such measures because Jews, including his own relatives, are “survivors of the greatest crime in human history” and have resolved never again to be helpless.

Some excerpts from Gold’s Holocaust remembrance day speech that justify Israeli actions:

Five days after the British army liberated Bergen-Belsen on April 15, 1945 a BBC reporter, Richard Dimbleby, entered the camp and made a tape recording of the former Jewish prisoners congregating on a Friday night, rising up with their frail bodies, and breaking into a Hebrew song, “Hatikvah”, which means “the Hope.” It was to become Israel’s national anthem.

That very moment in time forged a link between the horrors of the concentration camps and the restoration of Israel just a few years later. By choosing Hatikva, the Jews at Bergen-Belsen were also reminding the world that theirs was a 2,000 year old hope that dated back to when the Jews lived as a free people in their own land. They were also saying that it was time to go back home.

What has the modern state of Israel learned from the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, and the Holocaust, more generally? Chaim Herzog served as an officer in the British forces that entered Bergen-Belsen in 1945.  In April 1987 he came back, as Israel’s sixth president, and directed his words to the victims in their graves. He declared that they bequeathed a responsibility to later generations to ensure that the Jewish people would never again be helpless. That meant, first, that we will never allow anyone to do this to us again.

In present times, there is a new anti-Semitic wind blowing across Europe, reviving memories of what transpired on this continent decades ago. And even the physical threat to the Jewish people remains, emanating most recently from the Islamic Republic of Iran. It parades nearly every year a missile in Tehran, called the Shahab-3, and fastens to its launcher the words, “Israel must be wiped off the map.” Iran’s leaders do not leave a shred to doubt as to what their missiles are intended for. The reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 2011 have added that Iran aspires to remove the conventional warhead from the very same Shahab-3 and replace it with a “spherical nuclear payload.”

Iranian intentions have not changed. The same slogan calling for wiping Israel out was also brazenly written in Farsi and in Hebrew on a more advanced Qadr-H missile, when it was test-fired this year on March 9, 2016.  This despite the agreement recently signed between Iran and the Western powers. It is therefore no wonder that Israel feels it must do everything in its power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. This is not an obsession but a sacred trust handed to us by the people buried here.

The Jerusalem Post tied Gold’s speech on Wednesday into his diplomatic activities in the country the same day: telling Germany not to even think of criticizing Israel’s settlement policy.

Foreign Ministry Director- General Dore Gold, who has spent the last two days in talks with his counterparts in Germany, told The Jerusalem Post there is no basis to reports that Germany wants to reassess the nature of its ties with Israel.

Gold met with Merkel’s chief foreign policy adviser, Christoph Heusgen, as well as with senior Foreign Ministry officials, and said he found no evidence to support a report in Der Spiegel Saturday that influential voices in the German foreign policy establishment were calling for a reassessment of that country’s traditional support for Israel because of the Jerusalem’s settlement policy and what is perceived as Netanyahu’s disinclination to move on the Palestinian issue….

Two months ago in South Africa, Gold linked BDS with anti-Semitism, saying that Zionism is the “liberation movement of the Jewish people,” and BDS is part of an international effort to delegitimize Israel. BDS’s leaders’ “goal is the elimination of Israel, which is why the delegitimization of Israel is so important to them…. they want a Jewish state to be removed.”

Thanks to Scott Roth

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