CATHERINE ASHTON – A SYMBOL OF EUROPEAN FOLLY

Catherine Ashton represents everything that is wrong with the European Union. Chosen for the role of EU foreign policy chief in 2009, she has never been elected and even now she is unknown to the vast majority of ordinary Europeans. Her political experience is paltry, unless you count her role as national treasurer in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a Soviet-funded anti-war group which was at its height in Britain during the 1980s.

Since her appointment in 2009, Ashton has repeatedly shown that she has no understanding of the conflict between Israel and the Arab world. Her latest effort to introduce separate labeling for products made by Jews in Judea and Samaria demonstrates her contempt for the people of Israel. Ashton is going to great lengths to secure support from the seven EU commissioners who are responsible for justice, industry, taxation, agriculture, consumer protection, trade and internal markets. Her ultimate aim is to issue guidelines on the labeling of Jewish settlement products that would apply to all 28 EU member states. She clearly hopes to isolate and embarrass Israel, with the added effect of damaging its economy in the process.

Unfortunately, Ashton’s legendary incompetence and foolishness is symbolic of the EU’s inept relationship with Israel. Although there are strong legal and economic ties between the EU and the Jewish state, relations are constantly under strain because of the former’s condescending attitude towards settlers in Judea and Samaria. Since the late 1990s, both sides have been in dispute over the legal treatment of products exported to the EU from the so-called West Bank. Ashton, who is bereft of original thinking at the best of times, is simply regurgitating the EU’s tiresome anti-settler stance.

The EU’s outmoded approach to Israel and the settlers ought to be challenged. But it is difficult to do so when the EU is economically and politically committed to the complete dismantling of the Jewish settlements in order to make way for an independent Palestinian state. The EU has squandered around 5 billion euros in development aid to the Palestinians over the past 20 years. At the start of 2012, the EU contributed another 1.1 million euros to the PA’s so-called “Private Sector Reconstruction in Gaza” program, which provided financial support to businesses destroyed or damaged by Operation Cast Lead – a war that was started by Hamas.

The money flowing out of Europe into the hands of the Palestinians is a core component of the unimaginatively-titled Action Plan, which is designed to “create the conditions for developing an increasingly close relationship in preparation for a future Palestinian State, going beyond co-operation, to involve a significant measure of economic integration and deepening of political cooperation.” But the Action Plan goes further than just establishing economic ties. It aims to establish a nation state based on the European model. But given the Palestinians’ history of flouting even the most basic of human rights, this is an absurd expectation.

Oblivious to the Palestinians’ real goal of destroying Israel, the EU is acting under the illusion that it can persuade the Palestinians to create a democratic country, where the rule of law is upheld and the rights of minorities are protected (presumably this doesn’t include the rights of Jewish settlers). Remarkably, the EU also expects the Palestinians to co-operate in the international fight against terrorism, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. I am not joking.

The EU’s utopian vision of a democratic Palestine would be laughable if wasn’t so devious. The EU is pre-empting final status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians by urging the latter to carry out construction projects in Area C and east Jerusalem without Israel’s cooperation. The EU also wants the Palestinians to become more politically active in east Jerusalem in order to create conditions for a future Palestinian capital. In effect, Europe has dispensed with the Oslo Accords and is urging the Palestinians to act unilaterally.

What is also lamentable is the fact that the EU sees nothing wrong in spending European taxpayers’ money to help build roads, utilities and hospitals for a bunch of people who have committed several acts of terror on European soil, most notably the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, the 1981 Antwerp bombing, and the Rome and Vienna airport attacks of 1985. European money is also being used to pay for anti-Semitic and anti-Western propaganda and to finance terrorist acts against Israelis. In truth, there is little control over how European money is spent by the Palestinians. And I suspect the European political establishment isn’t particularly interested if it is used to finance attacks on Jewish settlers.

Why is the EU acting in such an irresponsible fashion? Perhaps its behavior (as exemplified by Catherine Ashton) can be explained by the ambition to carve out an anti-American niche in world affairs. By superseding the Soviet Union as the dominant left-wing force in the Western hemisphere, the EU has inherited Moscow’s political, economic and diplomatic ties to the Arab world. Furthermore, the EU uses the Palestinian issue to ingratiate itself with the growing Muslim community inside Europe’s borders. And it is a community which is virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

Indeed, this new influx of Islamic anti-Semitism has rekindled old prejudices in Europe. The fetishization of the Palestinian issue in the corridors of European power has effectively legitimized the actions of anti-Semitic thugs who firebomb synagogues and desecrate Jewish cemeteries. The anti-Semitic cartoon in a German left-wing newspaper, the glorification of Palestinian terrorism in a French art gallery and the recurring physical attacks on Jews are just a few examples of the depressing decline in moral and intellectual standards in Europe.

It seems there is no reversing of the trend, either. And there won’t be – not until Catherine Ashton and her EU cohorts stop their irresponsible anti-Zionist and anti-American posturing and start to treat the Jewish people with the respect and dignity they deserve.

TEMPLE MOUNT BELONGS TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE

The traditional Tisha B’Av walk around the Temple Mount will be held next week on the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av to commemorate the destruction of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem. This year, the walk will depart later than usual (11:30pm) so that Muslims worshippers can complete their Ramadan celebrations on the Temple Mount.

The decision has been made by police who cite security concerns. But organizers of the walk have described it as a “disgrace.” Nadia Mataro, co-director of grassroots Zionist organization Women in Green, told Arutz Sheva that “the Arabs ascend the Temple Mount but the Jews can only pray at the Western Wall. In a sovereign state, the Jews’ events will only be held after the Arabs’ events are finished. Why? Why can’t they start their events later, so that we can march earlier?”

Israel should never have relinquished control of the Temple Mount. During the Six-Day War, the Jewish state captured the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem from Jordan. Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol assured that “no harm whatsoever shall come to the places sacred to all religions.” Israel passed the Preservation of the Holy Places Law and agreed to leave administration of the site in the hands of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, an Islamic trust that has controlled the area since the 12th century.

This was a massive mistake. Yes, it was a magnanimous gesture designed to demonstrate Israel’s goodwill and religious tolerance. But it has allowed the Muslim authorities to rob the Jewish people of their cultural inheritance and delegitimize Israel’s historic right to Jerusalem.

As well as turning a blind eye to vandalism, the Waqf allows illegal digging to take place. Palestinian excavations of Temple Mount have damaged its structural integrity, and valuable artifacts and important historical remnants have literally been thrown away into rubbish dumps.

Among finds uncovered in rubble removed from the Temple Mount are: the imprint of a seal belonging to a priestly Jewish family mentioned in the Tanakh; more than 4,300 coins from various periods, many of which are from the Jewish revolt that preceded the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE; and arrowheads shot by Babylonian invaders 2,500 years ago.

The throwing away of evidence is a central tenet of Palestinian nationalism, which denies there was ever a Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The phenomenon known as “Temple denial” started when Yasser Arafat used the Camp David Summit in 2000 to insist that a Jewish Temple had never existed in Jerusalem. The idea immediately caught on and has become a mainstay of anti-Zionist discourse.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Jews who visit the Temple Mount are pelted with rocks and hassled by hostile Muslims. At other times, Israeli police have clashed with Arabs rioters after being attacked with stones and firebombs. There is also institutional harassment of Jews. In 2012, a young British Jewish student was accosted by the Waqf who demanded that he remove his “offensive” yarmulke. The student later told reporters that while he has experienced anti-Semitism in England, he “never thought that in Judaism’s holiest site I would be subjugated to such discrimination.”

It is plain to see that Islamic control of the Temple Mount is motivated by politics, not religion. If the site is so important to Muslims, why didn’t a single foreign Arab leader come to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque during the two decades of Jordanian occupation? And why do Muslims pray with their backsides towards the Temple Mount? And why is Jerusalem not mentioned once in the Koran?

In contrast, the Temple Mount is Judaism’s most holy and revered site. Judaism regards the Temple Mount as the place where God chose the Divine Presence to rest. According to the Talmud, it was from the Temple Mount that God gathered the dust used to create Adam. The site is also the location of Abraham’s binding of Isaac, and of two Jewish Temples, both of which were destroyed by foreign invaders. Many Israelis believe there should be a third Jewish Temple. In 2010, a public opinion poll conducted by Channel 99 showed that 50 per cent of Israelis want the Temple to be rebuilt.

This is the aim of The Temple Institute, a Jerusalem-based religious organization that has started to restore and construct the sacred vessels for the service of the Holy Temple. According to the institute, “Jewish history has a trajectory, which began when the patriarch Abraham smashed his father’s idols. That trajectory has spanned the millennia, and it is obvious that we are rapidly approaching climactic times, in which the Holy Temple will once again become the focal point for mankind’s spiritual focus.”

It is time for Israel to once again make history and recapture the Temple Mount, thereby rescinding the authority of the Waqf. The symbolic importance of taking control should not be underestimated. It would send a clear message to the Palestinians and to the world that Jerusalem is a Jewish city and will never be divided. Reclaiming the Temple Mount will also make it abundantly clear that the State of Israel is an eternal fact on the ground.

B’nai Noach, climate change and the resurrected world

The World Meteorological Organization has just announced that the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest decade recorded since modern measurements began around 1850. Nine out of ten years between 2001 and 2010 were among the ten warmest in recorded history and the warmest year to date was 2010, according to the organization’s latest report.

I have to admit that I am skeptical about some of the science surrounding global warming and I am suspicious when vested interests like Greenpeace use the data to legitimize their eco-socialist agendas. Science aside, it does seem that humanity’s fascination with rising sea levels, bizarre weather and the planet’s destruction arises from a very real and primal fear. Movies such as The Day After Tomorrow and novels like The Burning World by J.G. Ballard are among the plethora of eco-apocalyptic offerings dished up to audiences who have a deep fascination with disaster and destruction.

Perhaps this fear can be traced back to the Flood, which is the first recorded account of global devastation. It plays a major role in the Torah and is recorded in other ancient texts such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Perhaps fear of the Flood is somehow ingrained in our collective unconscious or maybe it’s because of the telling and retelling of Bible stories during our childhoods. What is beyond doubt is the fact that the Flood was a catastrophic time for humanity. Not only did the majority of people lose HaShem’s protection during the deluge, the entire environment was submerged by an unprecedented watery chaos.

What is sometimes overlooked is the fact that the Flood was the first time that HaShem removed the boundaries separating land from water, thereby reversing the Genesis command to “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” The deluge was so catastrophic that the universal created order so carefully laid out in the first chapter of Genesis was put in jeopardy and only restored after several months.

The upside to the Flood (once the waters had receded) was that it enabled HaShem to cut a deal with humanity. The main component of the covenant with Noah was a promise. “Never again,” says HaShem “will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And in Psalm 104:9, the psalmist observes how G-d “set a boundary” so that the waters “might not again cover the earth.”

The covenant between G-d and Noah is of great concern to gentiles who call themselves B’nai Noach or Noahides. B’nai Noach believe that non-Jews are bound by a universal code of morality called the Seven Noahide Laws, which include the injunctions to affirm G-d’s oneness and to establish courts of justice. Both these laws – along with the prohibitions against murder, theft, adultery etc – are a foreshadowing of the messianic age and ultimately the Olam HaTechiyah or World of Resurrection when Creation is restored. (Non-Jews who live according to these laws are assured of a place in the afterlife. Some rabbinical commentaries, such as Yefei Toar, go further and affirm that righteous gentiles have a place in the World of Resurrection.)

While not wishing to diminish the importance of the Noahide code, it is obvious that while the Flood wiped out most of the created world, it did not cleanse the world of immorality. The uncovering of Noah’s nakedness and the subsequent cursing of Canaan were the first signs that something was amiss. Indeed, as the Tanakh graphically demonstrates, bloodshed, disaster and heartache continue to befall Jew and non-Jew alike.

The inherent brokenness of the world is something that is of immense interest to Jews who use it as an opportunity to repair the world by performing mitzvot. B’nai Noach, too, believe that by following the Noahide laws, they are involved in the refinement of ourselves and our surroundings. Nonetheless, the Noahide code is not an end in itself but a journey towards the much-anticipated messianic age, which will culminate in the World of Resurrection. More spectacularly, HaShem will change the laws of nature and restore the created world to its Edenic glory. Indeed, the prophetic books are packed with visions of a future time when man and nature are no longer estranged from each other:

“The leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9).

This is a beatific vision of the distant future, but if the current science is correct, the immediate future will be much less glorious. In a report to the UN Convention on Climate Change, the State of Israel said it faced drought, crop destruction and devastated beaches as a result of global warming. The rest of the world, say the scientists, will also be in for a bad ride – with rising tides, scorching summers and permanent winters cited as possible scenarios.

Whether or not climate change proves to be true or yet another example of science being misused for political purposes, Jews and Noahides will continue to believe that there is a better and happier time ahead – first, with the coming of the Messiah, the ingathering of the exiles and the rebuilding of the Temple, and then the ultimate realization of HaShem’s creation as a world in which perfected man delights in the radiance of the Divine Presence.

GERMANY’S ANTI-SEMITIC CARTOON AND HOLOCAUST RESENTMENT

The anti-Semitic cartoon in a Munich-based left-wing newspaper is yet another example of the rapid legitimization of anti-Semitism in the European media.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, which has a daily readership of 1.1 million people, has been slammed by several Jewish organizations for publishing a cartoon depicting Israel as a ravenous beast.

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The caption beneath the cartoon translates as: “Germany is serving. For decades now, Israel has been given weapons, and partly free of charge. Israel’s enemies think it is a ravenous Moloch. Peter Beinart deplores this situation.”

Beinart is an American Jewish journalist who has authored a book entitled The Crisis of Zionism.Moloch was a Canaanite idol which burnt its children to death as a sacrifice.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre said that the depiction of Israel as a monster “deploys a classic tool of dehumanization – animalization”.

The fact that a respected broadsheet in Germany feels able to publish an anti-Semitic cartoon is indicative of a depressing decline in moral and intellectual standards in Europe.

On a deeper level, the cartoon can be interpreted as a public expression of German resentment of the Holocaust.

This resentment is hardly new. A survey conducted in 1989 found that nearly half of all West Germans believed reparations paid to Israel and/or Jews were too high or should stop altogether.

The compilers of the survey concluded in their report that present-day anti-Semitism “is essentially tied to memories of Nazism, feelings of guilt, and the desire to end discussion of the past and return to normalcy.”

Unfortunately, this return to normalcy may also mean a return to the atmosphere of the 1870s and 1880s when Germany was a breeding ground for anti-Semitic sentiment and a seedbed for the ideas that guaranteed Nazism’s ideological survival in late 1920s onwards.

Joe Hyams, the boss of media watchdog Honest Reporting, has expressed his outrage that Germany has not learned from its Judeophobic past:

“For a German newspaper, of all European publications, to portray Israel as a child sacrificing monster, demonstrates that the lessons of the past have clearly not been learned. Instead of claiming a misunderstanding, the Süddeutsche Zeitung should immediately apologize and acknowledge that the use of this image in the context of this article is completely unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, the newspaper maintains that the cartoon is not anti-Semitic. Many Jews and non-Jews beg to differ.