Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Foreign Ministry Haughtiness

These past three days I have been attending the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem.

It was impressive and ultimately important.  Although I caught two spelling errors in the titles on the opening evening's movie (its, not it's and hatred, not hatered), those were  minor things to what did, however, cause me to be critical of some other elements of the program.

Under the ministership of Binyamin Netanyahu and his deputy, Tzipi Hotovely, the first session had three persons: Dan Meridor, someone who fled the Likud, returned but is quite an opponent of Netanyahu, Shlomo Avineri, a veteran Mapainik who founded Chug 77 to oppose the Menachem Begin government that won the elections in 1977 as well as redirect Labour Party's political agenda and a relatively politically non-descript European Jewish establishment figure. And they brought in Israel's government's behavior towards Hungary in quite a critical fashion with no one to offer a different voice.

In another session on intersectionality on the campuses, again, the panel was imbalanced. Entitled "Antisemitism in the Far Left - Intersectionality as a Cover for Hate Speech in Current Progressive Activism", it was chaired by Jonathan Arkush, President, Board of Deputies of British Jews with David Bernstein, President and CEO, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a Bill Clintonite, Dave Rich, Associate at the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, an organization that is quite problematic politically in England, 
Nadine Epstein, Editor-in-Chief, Moment Magazine, the periodical founded by Leonard Fein, a radical leftist and Sohrab Ahmari, Senior writer, Commentary Magazine, an Iranian Catholic who, oddly enough, was the staunchest defending Zionism, Israel and facing down forcefully anti-semitism.

The third day I was bestirred at a session entitled "The Denial of Jewish History in International Organizations: The case of Jerusalem in the United Nations and UNESCO" chaired by Dan Mariaschin, CEO and Executive Vice President, Bnai Brith. 

The keynoter was Irina Bokova, former UNESCO Secretary General and she was fine. Of the respondents, Peta Jones Pellach, Director of Educational Activities, The Elijah Interfaith Institute, Ivo Goldstein, former Croatian Ambassador to UNESCO, Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations, Simon Wiesenthal Centre, it was David Roet, Former Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations who, for me, highlighted a background problem I discerned: biased planning.

Samuels had discussed how the Palestinians were, year-by-year, turning UNESCO into a forum for anti-semitism by the theft of national cultural locations, stripping them of their Jewishness. One was the Western Wall which was exclusively called Al-Buraq in UN documents with "western" simply being a direction rather than referring to the Temple. He was upset at such blatant identity theft and rearranging history.

At question time, and Josh Wander caught my question and the reply, I noted that Yasser Arafat, right after Oslo, had always referred to the Wall as Al-Buraq and he did so purposely based on the findings of the 1930 International Commission whose

aim and object...have been to inquire into and to pronounce a verdict upon the disputes that have arisen between Arabs and Jews in connection with the practice of the Jews to resort to the Western or Wailing Wall (by the Arabs called Al Buraq) for the purpose of devotion.

and which decided

To the Moslems belong the sole ownership of, and the sole proprietary right to, the Western Wall, seeing that it forms an integral part of the Haram-esh-Sherif area, which is a Waqf property.

To the Moslems there also belongs the ownership of the Pavement in front of the Wall and of the adjacent so-called Moghrabi (Moroccan) Quarter opposite the Wall, inasmuch as the last-mentioned property was made Waqf under Moslem Sharia Law, it being dedicated to charitable purposes.

I have blogged about it several times, for example see here from 2007.

My question was: why did the Foreign Ministry fail in seeing already 20 years ago where this was heading with Samuels now bemoaning the situation.

Roet, at the far left,

Credit: Yisrael Medad

first replies by making fun of the suggestion that was made to refer to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria.

Odd. That was the whole point of Samuels complaint: the Arabs are stealing our national legacy, our geography and our place names.  

Perhaps if 20 years ago or even 50 years ago the genuine and historically correct terminology had been used, the world today would not be voting for UNESCO resolutions that erase our past.  Roet displayed not only institutional failure but haughtiness. He was deriding both the truth and a political view that promotes standing up for rights.

If Roet can't stand up for the rights of Israel's national heritage sites, how can we trust him for other matters? A lousy Israeli diplomat, I'd say.

He then continues with hubris and suggests that it is I who am harming the situation of anti-Semitism as instead of targeting those who do Israel and Jews harm, I am attacking the Foreign Ministry.

But I had just proven then his policy was the harmful one.  

He ignored the Foreign Ministry failure and sought to blame me.

Is he not smart? Too "smart"? Coovering up decades of Foreign Ministry failure and wrongheadedness?

All this reminds me of something the prophet Tzefaniah composed in Chapter 3 of his book:

Woe to her [Jerusalem] that is filthy and polluted...Her prophets are wanton and treacherous persons; her priests have profaned that which is holy, they have done violence to the law...For then will I [God] turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent...In that day thou shall not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against Me; for then I will take away out of the midst of thee thy proudly exulting ones, and thou shalt no more be haughty in My holy mountain...The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth...

I hope Ambassador Danny Danon takes note.

P.S.  After a night's sleep, I improved on this.

And here is Israellycool.

And the JPost report leaves out the tiff, although she was there taking notes.

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