Like the long-running Australian soap opera, this week’s local and overseas events contained a kaleidoscope of drama, villains and recurring themes.
With election fever now ratcheting up, it seems evident that increasing numbers of potential voters are switching off and out. The good news is that from a record forty-seven parties last April vying for a Knesset seat this time around there are “only” thirty-two who believe that they alone possess the solution to all our challenges. Nearer election day it will perhaps be clearer as to who will go up and who will go under. In the meantime, I will refrain from commenting other than to say that the amount of hot air generated is definitely contributing to climate change.
Without a doubt, the latest mass gun massacres perpetrated in the United States have once again confirmed to most Israelis that there is something seriously awry in what was once touted as the “goldene medina.” Reports surfacing this week indicated that many American Jews may now be avoiding places where either religious services are taking place or communal events are being held. This hammers more nails into the fabric of Jewish life which already suffers from a large amount of “switching off” especially amongst Millenials and those estranged for various reasons from anything that is meaningfully Jewish or Israel orientated.
I believe that maybe the time has arrived when Israel needs to issue a travel advisory warning intending visitors that they travel to the United States at their own peril and that certain cities and areas are definitely to be avoided. At the drop of a hat and usually totally disconnected from reality on the ground, the US State Department issues warnings telling tourists to avoid Jerusalem and other “problematic” places. The irony is that adults and children are generally safer walking the streets of our Capital at all hours than doing the same in any major US city these days.
Summer may have kicked in with soaring record-breaking temperatures and students on their long vacation but one thing which has certainly not taken a break is the world’s obsessive fetish with anti-Israel activities.
The latter-day aspiring Ottoman ruler of Turkey proclaimed for all to hear that “whoever is on the side of Israel – we are against them.” I doubt that many Israelis will lose any sleep over such demented ranting. Hopefully, it will deter all those who have been flocking to Turkey for cheap holidays to detour to other countries in the area which are just as cheap and which are certainly friendlier. It remains to be seen how soon Turkish Jews wake up to the fact that under the current regime they have a bleak future. Unfortunately, the lessons of history are often ignored until it is too late.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to thumb its nose at the rest of the democratic world safe in the knowledge that with the possible exception of the UK no other country will help the USA to protect oil tankers or even participate in punitive sanctions. This glaring spinelessness and refusal to challenge a rogue regime is even more evident when one considers the deafening silence following the Iranian announcement that “an axis of resistance against Israel has been forged between Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza for co-operation in any future military confrontation.” The fact that hundreds of thousands of missiles are targeting Israel seems to be of no concern to either the UN or most of its members.
It apparently also does not appear to have concerned the newly appointed UK Defence Minister who is on record as having stated in the past that “Iranian calls for the elimination of Israel are merely rhetoric.” This ostrich-like attitude is an exact replica of all those politicians in the 1930’s who dismissed the intentions of Nazi Germany’s leaders as scaremongering, mere rhetoric and disinformation spread by Jews. One has to wonder why Boris Johnson, a self-proclaimed friend of Israel, appointed this minister in the first place.
In yet another display of judicial folly, the Canadian Federal Court has ruled that wines grown and produced in Judea, Samaria, the Golan and presumably Jerusalem cannot be labelled as products of Israel. Interestingly, no such ruling has been issued for products from illegally occupied Tibet or illegally annexed parts of Eastern Ukraine and other such territories which again highlight the double standards and hypocrisy prevailing these days. The irony is that wines from Judea, Samaria and the Golan were produced in Biblical times by Jews. This historical reality it seems is ignored.
On the home front, two news items may have escaped the attention of your local media. They are however both worthy of mention because they illustrate the reasons why genuine peace is unattainable at the moment and also how those who still chase after illusory pots of gold at the end of imaginary rainbows are doomed to disappointment.
A group of Israelis recently visited the Tomb of Aaron near Petra in Jordan in order to pray there. What followed is a classic example of how the Hashemite Kingdom defines religious freedom and what we can expect if ever we are crazy enough to hand back Jewish Holy sites to Islamic control. The group of tourists described being subjected to humiliating treatment by Jordanian authorities. “They just stripped down all of us. They took off the women’s headscarves. All the boys’ yarmulkes were taken off. They took off everyone’s shirts to see if they had tzitzit (religious fringes) under their clothes and took [the tzitzit] off them. They confiscated any religious symbols they found on us.”
“If there was this kind of humiliation of an Arab on our side who wanted to enter Jerusalem and they would dare to tell him to take off his shirt or confiscate his Koran, there would be a world war. All the Arabs would jump up. But they can do whatever they want to us.”
The group was forbidden from praying while travelling in Jordan, even in their hotel room. A former tourism minister also accused Israeli tourists, who she called “the most miserable tourists who make trouble,” of attempting to bury items at various sites in Jordan to “confirm” their claims of their history in the area.
“There is a Zionist scheme to claim ownership of any part of our Arab homeland, especially in archaeological sites,” she stated.
In yet another display of how futile it is to chase after continuing peace mirages, the President for life of the Palestinian Arab Authority announced for the umpteenth time that he was convening a committee to decide how to abrogate all agreements with Israel. The supreme irony is that the PA has flouted almost each and every commitment since disastrous Oslo. If he is really serious about cutting off all contact with Israel then he should go ahead and do so. I can guarantee that neither he and his partners in crime nor his kleptocracy would last more than one day. That would certainly result in a “deal of the century” worth considering.
If viewer ratings for the TV soap opera “home and away” ever plummeted, TV bosses would swiftly pull the plug.
Likewise one of these days the rest of the world will wake up to the fraud being perpetrated by those who distort history, deny Jewish legitimacy and lay false claim to our ancient homeland. Then it will be time to also pull the plug. Until that day arrives however we need to stand strong.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.