Sudan to Sign Abraham Accords in Coming Days
- Danny Zaken (Globes
Sudan is expected to become a signatory of the Abraham Accords in the coming days, sources familiar with the matter say.
In recent weeks there have been talks between Israeli and Sudanese officials at the highest levels with mediation from the U.S. that has led to a diplomatic breakthrough.
Palestinians Protest U.S. Diplomat's Visit
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to the West Bank prompted outrage among many Palestinians, who demonstrated on Tuesday to express their opposition to the U.S. diplomat's presence in Palestinian territory.
The protesters, both in the West Bank and Gaza, chanted anti-U.S. slogans.
"We came here to deliver our message to Blinken that he is not welcome in our country," said Issam Baker, coordinator of the national and Islamic forces in Ramallah.
Egyptian Tycoon Says Palestinian Jerusalem Attacker Is a "Terrorist"
Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, Egypt's second richest man,
has sparked controversy after calling the Palestinian man who killed seven Israelis near a synagogue in Jerusalem last week a "terrorist."
He first said Israeli soldiers operating in Jenin were terrorists. Then, referring to the Palestinian shooter, said, "This young man, may God have mercy on him, is also a terrorist, because whoever kills innocent civilians according to all religions is a terrorist."
100 Dead in Mosque Bombing by Pakistani Taliban
- Christina Goldbaum (New York Times
A Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber devastated a mosque in Peshawar on Monday, killing 101 and wounding 217 others. Many of the casualties were police officers and government employees.
The attack adds to recent evidence that the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility, is regaining strength from safe havens in neighboring Afghanistan under that country's new Taliban government.
Israel Transfers Bulletproof Ambulances to Ukraine
Israel's Defense Ministry on Monday transferred three bulletproof ambulances to Ukrainian rescue forces.
The Israeli Plasan Re'em company armored the ambulances and equipped them with life-saving medical gear.
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The IDF Strategy for Reducing Palestinian Attacks
- Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post
The IDF approach to recent security threats is to complete portions of the West Bank barrier wall and continue preemptive raids, expecting that these moves will succeed over time.
The speed of the new wall additions has been unprecedented, occurring in multiple spots simultaneously, using a more sophisticated set of specialized construction machines than in the past.
Even if someone manages to break through all of the additions in the wall, it will take them longer. New sensors will have gone off earlier, and it will be much easier to catch the intruders.
The IDF estimates that Palestinians who have been illegally crossing into Israel know that the rules of engagement have become tougher.
It will take about 12 to 18 months to finish the barrier. That means there are still plenty of holes. This is where the regular night raids come into play.
The current strategy of IDF commanders is to bring the fight to the terrorists' home turf, rather than wait for them to bring it into Israel.
IDF and Israel Security Agency intelligence units have reached new highs for locating terrorists before they are fully ready to carry out an attack.
Israeli Forces Eliminate Islamic Jihad Terror Cell Planning Major Attacks
(Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Israeli special forces conducted an unusually complex raid in Jenin last Thursday on a safe house where a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) planning meeting was taking place, eliminating a cell planning major attacks.
"The Jenin operation shows that...Israel retains its tactical skills in the face of dogged Palestinian attempts to pull off a terrorist outrage. There is additional psychological value to the blow delivered so deep within Jenin where Islamic Jihad had clearly thought it was sufficiently protected to hatch a new plot unmolested," said Mark Dubowitz, CEO of FDD.
For all the talk of a Palestinian national struggle, the gunmen of Jenin and other West Bank trouble spots are, for all intents and purposes, armed criminal gangs who pose as much danger to Palestinian civilians as they do to Israel.
The Myth of "Lone Wolf" Palestinian Terrorists
- Baruch Yedid (Tazpit Press Service
Recent Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem are generally viewed as "lone wolf" attacks. That's a mistake.
Alqam Khayri, who killed six Israelis and one Ukrainian national on Friday night outside a Jerusalem synagogue, was not affiliated with any terror groups. Neither was Muhammad Aliyat, 13, who shot and injured two Israelis outside Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday.
Rather, the two were encouraged by media messages from the Palestinian Authority and by several Islamist groups operating in eastern Jerusalem.
These groups include Hamas and the Islamic Movement's Northern Faction, both branches of the Muslim Brotherhood. They also include the Mourabitoun,
Tahrir, and Turkish charity groups.
These organizations whip up eastern Jerusalem, then stand back and watch the fallout.
Foreign Bodies Funding Antisemitic Palestinian Textbooks Must Be Held Accountable
- Editorial (Jerusalem Post
The recent wave of Palestinian terror attacks reveals the degree to which education and propaganda have led to a level of hatred that it is the main driver behind the attacks.
Palestinian schools demonize Israel and teach students to be martyrs.
Every country has educational systems that celebrate national heroes. But Palestinian education and society at-large are unique in how they celebrate those who murder civilians.
The impact of being raised for decades with a worldview of celebrating the killing of civilians, encouraging martyrdom and pledging allegiance to erase a state and people who are their neighbors can't be underestimated.
Those foreign bodies that fund Palestinian textbooks must demand accountability.
More Interviews from Gaza: Recalling a Better Time, at Peace with Israel
(Times of Israel
The Center for Peace Communications has produced a series of short, animated interviews with residents of Gaza conducted in 2022.
Khalil's grandparents raised him on stories of a better time. In their generation, "we used to attend [Israelis'] celebrations, and they would come to ours." Palestinians were free to travel from Gaza to Jaffa or Jerusalem, and work alongside Israelis.
"When you work with Israelis, and they trust you, you can live the life you've always wished for," his grandparents told him.
The two decades between 1967 and 1987 saw rapid material improvement in living conditions in Gaza. Nearly 40% of the workforce worked in Israel and accounted for an enormous share of Palestinian GDP.
In the years since Hamas took power in 2007, Gaza's GDP growth has averaged 1% per year, 1/6 the rate of growth in the West Bank.
In periods of relative calm, such as 1997-1999 and 2003-2005, Gaza enjoyed growth rates as high as 17% per year.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
- Israeli Drone Strike Hit Iranian Advanced Weapons Facility - Dov Lieber
An Israeli drone strike inside Iran on Sunday hit an advanced weapons-production facility in an attack that Israel believes achieved its goals, according to people familiar with discussions about the operation. The operation was executed by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and targeted a Ministry of Defense site in Isfahan, hitting a building in four different areas with precision strikes. The facility stands across the street from a site belonging to the Iran Space Research Center.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Why Iran's Missile Program Alarms Its Rivals - Cora Engelbrecht
Isfahan is a hub for Iran's production, research and development of missiles, including the assembly of Shahab medium-range ballistic missiles, which can reach Israel and beyond. Iran has steadily been ramping up its long-range missile capabilities in recent years and Israel fears that those missiles could one day be used to deliver a potential nuclear warhead.
Danny Yatom, a former head of the Mossad, told Army Radio in Israel on Monday that the attack targeted a facility developing hypersonic missiles - long-range munitions capable of traveling up to 15 times the speed of sound with terrifying accuracy and which could be enabled to carry a nuclear warhead.
Iran's missile arsenal is the largest in the Middle East. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., who retired recently as head of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last year: "They have over 3,000 ballistic missiles of various types, some of which can reach Tel Aviv. Over the last five to seven years, they have invested heavily in the ballistic missile program. Their missiles have significantly greater range and significantly enhanced accuracy." (New York Times)
- Chad Opens Embassy in Israel
Chadian President Mahamat Deby inaugurated Chad's embassy in Israel on Thursday, five years after bilateral relations were established, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said. Israel and Chad resumed ties in 2018 following a visit to Jerusalem by then-President Idriss Deby, Mahamat's father, who died in 2021.
Netanyahu sees the upgrade of relations with Chad as part of his outreach to Arab and Muslim countries.
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- PA Leader Assures CIA Director Security Ties with Israel only Partially Cut - Jacob Magid
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told CIA Director William Burns Sunday that parts of a security coordination apparatus with Israel have remained in place, despite announcing a total freeze on cooperation last week, as the Biden administration pressed the PA to rethink the move. Abbas told Burns that intelligence sharing with Israel has continued. Abbas assured Burns that PA security forces will continue arresting terror suspects and that the security coordination would be fully reinstated once calm is restored.
(Times of Israel)
- U.S. Pushing to Boost PA Security Presence in Northern West Bank - Jacob Magid
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday to boost the Palestinian Authority's security presence in the northern West Bank, U.S. and Palestinian officials said. The PA has seen its control over growing swaths of the West Bank slip away, particularly in Jenin and Nablus. Israel says that as a result, it has been forced to send its own troops into those areas to carry out arrests of security suspects.
The plan would see the establishment of PA Civil Police SWAT teams in Jenin and Nablus in order to re-establish PA control. PA officials have given a chilly response to the proposal thus far, saying it would be difficult to recruit such a force.
(Times of Israel)
- After Netanyahu-King Abdullah Meeting, Israel and Jordan to Speed Up Water for Electricity Deal - Danny Zaken
Diplomatic sources in Israel and Jordan familiar with the recent meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah say Jordan showed a willingness not to condition progress on economic and political issues with Israel on the Palestinian issue. It was also agreed that the Green and Blue Prosperity Agreement signed between Israel, UAE and Jordan in 2021 would be speeded up.
According to the agreement, Jordan would build huge solar fields to supply electricity to Israel, Israel will build a large desalination plant on the Mediterranean to supply water to Jordan, and the UAE will finance the projects.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
- U.S.-Israel Military Exercises Will Not Deter Iran without Changes in Washington's Policy - Michael Eisenstadt
On January 23-26, the U.S. and Israel held their largest-ever bilateral military exercise.
Yet no series of military exercises - no matter how impressive - will assure friends and deter adversaries without changes to Washington's flawed policy toward Iran.
The Juniper Oak exercise aimed in part to demonstrate America's power projection capabilities and its capacity to focus on the Middle East while managing a war in Europe and tensions in the Indo-Pacific region. Washington's friends and adversaries do not doubt its demonstrated ability to project power. They doubt its commitment and resolve.
U.S. credibility has been undermined by a failure to respond more assertively to attacks on U.S. targets and partners in the region. President Biden's administration has responded overtly only three times to scores of drone, rocket, and improvised explosive device attacks on U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq and Syria.
In the nuclear domain, Washington needs to draw a red line to halt Tehran's ongoing fissile material buildup. Specifically, it should ramp up sanctions enforcement and signal that uranium enrichment beyond 60% will cause the U.S. to disrupt these activities and impose heavy costs on Iran.
The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- The U.S. and Israel Remind Us that the Iran Threat Still Looms - David Ignatius
The U.S. and Israel last week staged a massive military exercise in the Mediterranean clearly meant to simulate a strike against Iran. It involved all the weapons systems that would be needed for a U.S.-Israeli assault against Iran's nuclear facilities. The simulated operations included electronic attack, suppression of enemy air defenses, strike coordination and reconnaissance, and air interdiction, and included three successive waves of attacks by B-52 bombers. (Washington Post)
- Joint Military Exercise Showcases Capabilities Needed to Strike Iran's Nuclear Sites - Jared Szuba
Last week, U.S. Air Force F-35s launched from the USS George H.W. Bush flew several hundred miles over the Mediterranean and linked up with Israeli F-35s to simulate a combined attack on surface-to-air missile batteries in the Negev desert.
As they neared the target, accompanying F-16s and F-15s peeled away to attack ten aircraft posing as the defenders of imagined enemy airspace. The first wave successfully cleared the skies, enabling three nuclear-capable U.S. B-52 bombers that had taken off from the U.S. 16 hours prior to drop 100,000 pounds of live munitions on mock strategic targets.
Buoyed by USAF KC-46 refueling tankers operating out of Israel's Nevatim Airbase, the long-range strikes marked a new apex for the U.S. and Israeli militaries, said Air Force Lt.-Gen. Gregory M. Guillot, deputy commander of CENTCOM.
Many of the capabilities showcased last week were strikingly similar to those Israel would need to carry out long-range strikes on Iran's nuclear sites, former U.S. officials say.
Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration, said, "They're preparing for a new phase in dealing with Iran outside of the nuclear agreement....An exercise like this is deterrent, and hopefully it has a restraining effect on certain Iranian decisions."
One former administration official said the Biden administration has long been sympathetic to Israel's clandestine actions against Iran, and even saw some Israeli operations as benefitting U.S. leverage when JCPOA talks were ongoing.
- Israel Goes into Jenin Because the PA Doesn't Do Its Job - Lazar Berman
Former Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat told the Times of Israel on Sunday: "Terror can't be a lever to pressure Israel. If we give them [the PA] what they want, they'll fight terror; if not, they'll leave us to deal with terrorism - [that line of thinking is] a total mistake. That cannot be in the PA's toolbox."
"The PA simply doesn't do its part. It doesn't want to be in conflict with anyone, so it lets the thugs in Nablus establish the Lions' Den terror group, it lets the thugs in Jenin store weapons and take over the refugee camp. And it leaves Israel to deal with the results....Why does Israel go into Jenin? Because the PA doesn't do its job."
Ben-Shabbat argued that the main context for the overall rise in violence was the fact that Operation Defensive Shield, when IDF forces retook West Bank cities in 2002 to stop a series of suicide bombings, is now 21 years in the past. "The [Palestinian] public that experienced Operation Defensive Shield really does not want to go back to those days, but the youth knows those experiences less." (Times of Israel)
- Overwhelming Evidence of Ties between Palestinian NGOs and the PFLP Terror Group
On Oct. 22, 2021, Israel designated six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist entities due to their links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP itself is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., EU, Israel, and Canada. Since then, critics have claimed they have not seen anything to justify the designations.
The evidence presented in this report - compiled exclusively from open source materials - documents the ties these NGOs and their leadership have to the PFLP. Three NGO officials on trial for a bombing that killed an Israeli teenager have been claimed by the PFLP as members. Nine other NGO officials have been convicted for their involvement in planning or executing other terrorist attacks. 37 additional NGO officials are shown to be affiliated with the PFLP.
In 2022, the Dutch government announced the results of an audit conducted by a Dutch firm that identified 34 individuals who held positions in one of the NGOs and the PFLP in 2007-2020. (NGO Monitor)
See also Clear and Convincing: The Links between the PFLP and the European Government-Funded
NGO Network (NGO Monitor)
- The Tragic Palestinian Children's Crusade - Jonathan D. Halevi
On December 12, 2022, 15-year-old Jana Majdi Zakharna was killed during an IDF operation in Jenin.
The IDF's investigation revealed that the girl was shot to death on a rooftop as she stood in proximity to a Palestinian gunman who had opened fire at Israeli troops below and that she assisted the gunmen by observing the soldiers' movements.
The Telegram channel "Jenin Al-Qassam," which serves armed Palestinian groups in the Jenin region, has published instructions for "Jihad fighters" that deal with the use of children "to conduct visual observation and information gathering." The Telegram channel also noted that Jenin has a network of observation units staffed by "young people" assisting terrorist groups by documenting on video and delivering reports about the activities of IDF forces.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has written that under international humanitarian law, "Individuals whose continuous function involves the preparation, execution, or command of acts or operations amounting to direct participation in hostilities are assuming a continuous combat function." (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Why Do Some Palestinians Celebrate Violence Against Israel? - Stephen Daisley
On Friday night, in Jenin, Ramallah, Nablus and eastern Jerusalem, Palestinians gathered to celebrate the synagogue murders in Jerusalem. Crowds fired their weapons into the air, honked car horns and chanted. In Hebron they handed out sweets to children, while in Gaza cries of "Allahu akbar" boomed from mosque loudspeakers. Such festivities are part and parcel of every Palestinian terrorist attack.
Someone somewhere must be able to explain why anyone would pass this bloodlust onto children. Hand out enough candies and pastries every time an Israeli is murdered and you will teach your children that killing is sweet.
It's not a cycle of violence. It's a choice of violence Palestinians keep making - a veneration of violence within sections of Palestinian society. When Jerusalem assures foreign audiences there is "no partner for peace," it is not easily rebutted. The Palestinian Authority operates a Martyrs' Fund that pays stipends to the families of Palestinians captured or killed while carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis. In 2020, the fund disbursed $170 million in such payments. Sweets for the children, dollars for their widowed mothers.
Where does this get the Palestinians? Nowhere near a state, nowhere even close to the conditions necessary to achieving one. Grieve at the national self-sabotage that takes so many lives. (Spectator-UK)
- U.S. Mideast Diplomacy Isn't Advancing Peace or Democracy - Jonathan S. Tobin
During U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Jerusalem this week, he demanded "calm" from both Israel and the Palestinians - with a moral equivalence inherent in his call.
This conveyed a bad message vis-a-vis Washington's stance on the Palestinian Authority's "pay for slay" policy - of providing salaries and pensions to terrorists and their families - and inability to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state. Blinken failed to hold PA leader Mahmoud Abbas responsible for the uptick in terrorism, which he wrongly attributed to the lack of a viable peace process.
The assumption of the foreign-policy establishment and international media that recent events are another example of a "cycle of violence" is false. The lack of peace and upsurge in terror are solely the fault of a Palestinian leadership incapable of envisioning an identity for its people that isn't linked to its century-old war on Zionism and the Jews. This is why PA rhetoric, media reportage and school curricula are filled with incitement to violence and glorification of "martyrs" killed in the process of murdering Jews.
No less outrageous were Blinken's lectures to Netanyahu about preserving democracy, treating the government that garnered a majority of Knesset seats on Nov. 1 as essentially illegitimate.
But even Biden and Blinken understand that the Palestinians are no more willing to negotiate seriously with Israel than they were during the Obama administration.
- Unhinged Anti-Israel Sentiment Has Become Dangerous - Brendan O'Neill
For all the talk of racist Israel gunning down Palestinian families, the events in Jenin last Thursday were a fairly straightforward military clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants who were plotting attacks. Seven of the people killed were gunmen who had opened fire. Palestinian militants themselves have said it was mostly their people who died.
Yet instead of this being a conflict between a state and those who oppose the existence of that state, it all comes to be seen as a cosmic showdown between evil and good, between Israeli wickedness and Palestinian victimhood.
Every shade of grey is ruthlessly chased out when Israel is demonized and the Palestinians are infantilized in order to weave a simplistic black-and-white narrative that does little to shed light on the truth.
Have we really lost the ability to morally differentiate between an armed confrontation between soldiers and militants and the mass murder of unarmed civilians in their place of worship? These are not the same thing. "Explaining" the synagogue massacre as if it were an understandable expression of broader tensions shows just how unhinged anti-Israel sentiment has become. Nothing makes the mass murder of Jews for being Jews a comprehensible thing.
- Israel Is Capable of Handling Its Own Internal Affairs - Boaz Golany
In a recent New York Times column, Thomas Friedman called on President Joe Biden to "save Israel from itself," referring to the planned reform of the judicial system.
Friedman's approach is wrong, paternalistic, and heavily biased. For the most part, the U.S. and Israel have honored an informal, mutual understanding to refrain from meddling in each other's internal affairs. After nearly 75 years of independence, Israel is quite capable of handling its own internal affairs without the need for others to intervene.
Friedman's call implies that Israeli society and its institutions are not mature or strong enough to overcome internal strife, hence some "responsible grown-up" should come to help. The reality is, of course, quite different. Israel's parliament is functioning on a par with its counterparts in other developed countries; the Israeli press is independent, strong and "biting"; Israelis take to the streets, demonstrate, and express their opinions freely; Israeli academic institutions are independent and chart their own course; its judicial system is also independent and strong, and the people of Israel will ensure that it remains so in the future.
The writer is a professor at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, where he served until recently as the executive vice president and director-general. (Jerusalem Post)
- Rise in Anti-Semitism Cannot Be Blamed on Israel - Michael O'Loughlin
"You will find Jews engaged in practically every movement against Our Divine Lord and His Church....[Jews] have chosen Satan for their head." The speaker went on to claim that the international press and Hollywood were controlled by the "Jew-enemy." These words were spoken by the future ruler of Catholic Ireland, Archbishop John McQuaid,
in 1932. Anti-Semitism as a political doctrine makes little sense in the Irish context, but this is the irrational power of anti-Semitism: it never needs an actual cause - except the mere existence of the Jews.
It seems irrational. And that is the problem with anti-Semitism, which is so deeply ingrained in Western societies that it can be difficult to identify. Even if Israel didn't exist, anti-Semitism would continue its merry way.
- Report: Most Online Antisemitism Stems from Palestinians and Pro-Palestinian Circles - Zvika Klein
68% of online antisemitism originates in Palestinian or pro-Palestinian circles, according to a new report by Israel's Diaspora Affairs Ministry. (Jerusalem Post)
- UN Headquarters Unveils Exhibit Listing 4,800,000 Holocaust Victims - Haley Cohen
Israel's Mission to the UN and Yad Vashem on Thursday inaugurated the "Book of Names" at UN headquarters in New York City listing the names of 4,800,000 people who were murdered in the Holocaust. The book, compiled by Yad Vashem over the past 70 years, features the alphabetically arranged names of the Holocaust victims along with their birthdates, hometowns, and circumstances and places of death if known.
Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan shared the story of his grandfather, whose "wife Bracha and seven of their children were murdered for the sole reason of being Jewish." Their names "are eternally enshrined in the Book of Names."
Erdan continued, "There are those working to erase the memory and lessons that must be learned from our horrific atrocity. They question the right of the Jewish people and Jewish state to protect ourselves. Even here at the UN such bigots can be found....We must not allow evil to prevail. I expect the international community to stand behind the Jewish people as we defend ourselves. This is the fundamental lesson of the Holocaust." (Jerusalem Post)
- How the OSS War Crimes Film Unit Helped Convict Top Nazis - Renee Ghert-Zand
The War Crimes Film Unit of the OSS, commanded by Hollywood film director John Ford, was tasked with locating Nazi-made footage showing the commission of crimes against humanity against Jews and others during the recently-ended war in Europe.
Two films were shown in the Nuremberg courtroom, "The Nazi Plan" and "Nazi Concentration Camps."
The fascinating story of how this special team tracked down incriminating Nazi films and turned them into evidence is told in "Filmmakers for the Prosecution," a documentary that opened in New York on Jan. 27. (Times of Israel)
See also Filmmakers for the Prosecution (Nuremberg Films)
- The Jewish Underground in Hungary Saved Thousands - Alon Bernstein
Just before Nazi Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944, Jewish youth leaders there formed an underground network that in the coming months would save tens of thousands of fellow Jews from the gas chambers. Hungary was home to 900,000 Jews before the Nazi invasion. In the 10 months after the Nazi invasion, 568,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis and their allies in Hungary.
David Gur, now 97, oversaw a massive forgery operation that provided false documents for Jews and non-Jewish members of the Hungarian resistance. "I was an 18-year-old adolescent when the heavy responsibility fell upon me," he said. In December 1944, he was arrested at the forgery workshop and brutally interrogated and imprisoned. The Jewish underground broke him out of prison later that month.
The forged papers were used by Jewish youth movements to operate a smuggling network and run Red Cross houses that saved thousands.
At least 7,000 Jews were smuggled out of Hungary, through Romania, to ships that would bring them to British-controlled Palestine. At least 10,000 forged passes offering protection were distributed to Budapest's Jews, and 6,000 Jewish children and accompanying adults were saved in houses ostensibly under the protection of the International Red Cross. Robert Rozett, a senior historian at Yad Vashem, called this "the largest rescue operation" of European Jews during the Holocaust. (AP)
- Many Americans are claiming that Israeli democracy is doomed. No democracy is problem-free, but it is self-defeating to hear every governmental initiative you dislike as liberty's death knell. While there is much to debate about Israel's judicial system, reports of the death of Israeli democracy are highly exaggerated.
- Israel is doing just about as well as can be expected on the democracy front. Israel's ever-expanding unwritten constitution, guaranteeing more and more rights to more and more people while sustaining a strong sense of national community, is stronger than ever.
- The anti-Netanyahu assault began after his Nov. 1 victory with hysterical cries that a democratic election result threatened democracy. Shouting repeatedly that democracy is in danger stresses the body politic - and individual citizens. It drives people nuts. Such polarization makes it harder to achieve the kind of compromise that Israel requires, and that all healthy democracies seek.
- The educational philosopher Parker Palmer, in his 2011 book, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit,
teaches that a healthy democracy needs five interlocked habits. Citizens must understand "that we are all in this together." We need to appreciate "the value of 'otherness,'" respecting genuine diversity of thought, of behavior, of political philosophy - as well as of tribe, or color, or heritage.
- We need to be able to juggle contradictions and cope with the messiness of life. Leveraging our rights, we need "a sense of personal voice and agency" - Natan Sharansky and Ron Dermer call this the Town Square Test: Namely, can you denounce the government in public freely, without being punished? Finally, Palmer notes, healthy citizens need the "capacity to create community."
- Israelis still live in a small, intimate society that runs on trust. Israel has held five free and fair elections in three years, followed repeatedly by peaceful transitions. The ethereal threads keeping Israelis more or less together are a national treasure that should be actively nurtured, not sabotaged.
The writer is a Distinguished Scholar of North American History at McGill University.
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