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David Harris-Gershon
David Harris-Gershon
David Harris-Gershon is the author of What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? His work has appeared in The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and elsewhere. You can follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.



Massive anti-Netanyahu rally draws over 50,000 to the streets of Tel Aviv as elections loom

Mar7

by: on March 7th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Days after Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, claimed to be speaking for “the entire Jewish people” in his speech before Congress, tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets, rejecting such a ridiculous notion by calling for his ouster.

The explicitly anti-Netanyahu rally, which organizers say drew 80,000 people, comes just 10 days before Israel’s elections, with most polls showing Netanyahu’s Likud vulnerable to being defeated by a center-left coalition.

At the rally, former Mossad Chief, Meir Dagan, blasted Netanyahu as more dangerous than any perceived enemy and the greatest obstacle to peace:

“Israel is a country surrounded by enemies, but the enemies are not scaring us. I am afraid of our leadership.”

[...]

“Benjamin Netanyahu has served as prime minister for six years straight, six years in which he has not led a single genuine process of change to the face of the region or the creation of a better future. On his watch, Israel conducted the longest [military] campaign since the War of Independence.”

aDagan’s voice is representative of those in Israel’s security establishment who both rejected Netanyahu’s speech before Congress and his attempts to derail President Obama’s Iran diplomacy. Indeed, Netanyahu organized the speech behind the back of his own National Security Advisor, knowing it would be rejected as dangerous and damaging to U.S.-Israel relations.

This week, Netanyahu defended himself from attacks on the right by claiming to be the greatest supporter of Israel’s settlement enterprise in Israel’s history, the only claim he’s made recently which rings true. In response to this and Israel’s continued occupation, multiple speakers at the Tel Aviv rally charged Netanyahu with pushing Israel toward full apartheid, including Dagan.

It remains difficult to determine whether Netanyahu’s foreign policy push and speech before Congress, one of the most elaborate election stunts in recent history, will end up helping or hurting his election chances.


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Jon Stewart on Netanyahu: “I speak for ALL Jews, including the ones who don’t want me to!”

Mar5

by: on March 5th, 2015 | 4 Comments »

On Tuesday, Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, used the U.S. Congress to stage a most elaborate campaign commercial in the run-up to Israel’s elections in two weeks. He did so at the behest of GOP leaders, and damaged every conceivable metric he claims to be invested in save one: his own suddenly-rising poll numbers back home.

With his speech, Netanyahu damaged U.S.-Israel relations by turning Israel into a political football. He caused the collapse of Democratic support for the Iran bill in Congress he claimed to support. And he was abandoned as ‘dangerous’ by his own security establishment.

Additionally, by claiming to represent “the entire Jewish people” before Congress, Netanyahu fed into a dangerous anti-Semitic trope, conflating Israel and all Jews. It’s a conflation many American Jews rejected, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, who had this to say:

“He doesn’t speak for me on this. I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly.”

Jon Stewart added his voice to the growing number of American Jews upset by Netanyahu’s proclamation by mocking the Prime Minister’s conflation:

Stewart

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Senator Feinstein on “arrogant” Netanyahu’s claim to represent all Jews: “He doesn’t speak for me.”

Mar1

by: on March 1st, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Senator Dianne Feinstein today blasted Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, for claiming that he will be speaking on behalf of “the entire Jewish people” before Congress on March 3, calling Netanyahu “arrogant.”

On Sunday, Netanyahu called his trip to Washington “a fateful, even historic mission” that he is undertaking as “the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish people.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) knocked Netanyahu for suggesting that he represents all Jewish people on the topic of Iran.

“He doesn’t speak for me on this,” Feinstein said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed, as Israel’s Prime Minister, to speak on behalf of all Jews. And it’s a claim he’s been articulating with troubling frequency as he prepares to attack President Obama’s Iran diplomacy before Congress. However, not only is his claim both preposterous and dangerous, it’s not even true with regard to the issue of Iran. Indeed, 52 percent of American Jews embrace Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran, the same efforts Netanyahu is coming here on Tuesday to undermine.


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NYT cartoon shows Netanyahu turning Congress into an Israeli settlement

Feb27

by: on February 27th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Patrick Chappatte in The New York Times has destroyed Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in his latest political cartoon. The piece, entitled “Mr. Netanyahu Goes to Washington,” plays upon Netanyahu’s continued expansion of Israel’s West Bank settlements in critiquing his upcoming speech before Congress on March 3.

Witness:

a

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Netanyahu Hid Speech to Congress from His Own National Security Advisor

Feb23

by: on February 23rd, 2015 | Comments Off

It appears that President Obama was not the only one whom Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, kept in the dark about his plans to address Congress on March 3. An Israeli outlet is now reporting that Netanyahu also concealed secret negotiations with John Boehner from his own National Security Advisor, Yossi Cohen.

This merely confirms what most observers have suspected: Netanyahu’s speech is not about security, but rather the two-fold chance to embarrass Obama while creating valuable political optics in advance of Israel’s March 17 elections.

Via i24news:

President Barack Obama and his top aides were not the only ones kept in the dark about the invitation extended by House Speaker John Boehner to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on Iran’s nuclear program.

i24news has learned that Netanyahu’s decision to address Congress on March 3 was made without consulting his own National Security Advisor, Yossi Cohen.

The invitation was orchestrated by Boehner and the Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, but was not discussed thoroughly by a broader forum in Jerusalem. According to well-informed sources, just like the US administration, Cohen learned about Netanyahu’s plans only a short while before Boehner’s public announcement of the scheduled speech.

Cohen, a 30-year veteran of the Mossad spy agency, was appointed to his post by Netanyahu in 2013. According to the law governing the responsibilities of the National Security Council and its head, Cohen’s job includes providing advice to the prime minister and his government on Israel’s strategic relationships.


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Over 1,000 Muslims form ‘ring of peace’ around Oslo synagogue, chanting “No to anti-Semitism.”

Feb21

by: on February 21st, 2015 | 3 Comments »

a An anti-hate campaign launched by Norway’s Muslim community last week, after a tragic attack on a Denmark synagogue, culminated tonight with over 1,000 Muslims forming a ‘ring of peace’ around an Oslo synagogue. Citizens linked hands, chanted anti-hate slogans and offered a show of solidarity with Norway’s Jewish community, one of the smallest in Europe.

Via Reuters:

Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.

“Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that,” Zeeshan Abdullah, one of the protest’s organizers told a crowd of Muslim immigrants and ethnic Norwegians who filled the small street around Oslo’s only functioning synagogue.

“There are many more peace mongers than warmongers,” Abdullah said as organizers and Jewish community leaders stood side by side. “There’s still hope for humanity, for peace and love, across religious differences and backgrounds.”


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White House to Snub AIPAC Conference Over Netanyahu Speech Before Congress

Feb21

by: on February 21st, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A significant development in the ongoing rift between the Obama administration and Israel’s government: it appears White House plans to snub AIPAC’s upcoming policy conference are intensifying over Binyamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address before Congress.

AIPAC officials have known for weeks that neither President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, or Secretary of State John Kerry would likely attend, already a notable and unprecedented snub. Now, the Associated Press is reporting that the Obama administration may not even send a Cabinet-level representative to the conference:

The White House is mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world in what has become a nasty grudge match.

[...]

Among them … a pointed snub of America’s leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington.

The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel’s March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said.


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Netanyahu Suggests Leaking U.S.-Iran Negotiations After White House “Limits” Information Sharing with Israel

Feb16

by: on February 16th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

The Obama administration has begun to limit the information it shares with Israel regarding America’s ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. The reason? White House officials fear that Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, may leak details both for his own political gain and to railroad delicate talks.

Barak Ravid at Haaretz reports:

As a result of the recent tension between the United States and Israel, the White House has begun to limit the scope, quality and depth of the information it shares with Jerusalem about the progress of the talks with Iran about its nuclear program, senior Israeli officials involved in the issue have told Haaretz.

The administration apparently believes that Israel and the U.S. now have a conflict of interests regarding the Iranian issue, the source said. While U.S. President Barack Obama wants to make every effort to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, Netanyahu is doing everything he can to block one.

One of the main reasons for the decision to limit the information the U.S. shares with Israel on the nuclear talks is a fear of leaks. The Americans fear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make use of the information given to Israel for his own political needs, and will try to undermine the talks between Iran and the big powers.

Now, in a thinly-veiled message directed at Washington, Netanyahu is suggesting exactly what Obama administration officials fear: his leaking of such information for all the world to see. Again, via Barak Ravid:


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Obama’s stunning & growing silence on shooting of Muslim-Americans in Chapel Hill

Feb12

by: on February 12th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

 

There’s no specific reaction from the White House.”

These stand as the only words which have been uttered by the White House after the murder of three Muslim-Americans in what seems to be a hate crime (if not a lone-wolf terrorist attack). There’s no specific reaction from the White House.

We are now approaching 48 hours since that heinous crime. The innocent victims’ bodies have already been laid to rest before thousands of mourners. Muslim-Americans I know are shaken, scared and enraged, part of a vulnerable minority community made all the more vulnerable since American Sniper hit theaters, setting off a spate of Islamophobic attacks.

Yet, these are the number of words uttered by President Obama: zero.

The White House’s apparent excuse for not saying anything about the shooting – not even to express words of sympathy or sadness for the victims – is that there is an ongoing investigation, and that the results must be in before Obama speaks.

However, this excuse holds absolutely no value. Indeed, President Obama (rightly) made immediate statements of sympathy and support in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the shooting at the Kansas City Jewish Community Center (to name just a few). All of these statements were made well before any investigations had been concluded or clear information had been determined regarding motivations or even perpetrators.

To amplify this, consider: this summer Obama immediately condemned the killing of three kidnapped teenagers in Israel before anyone knew who or why they had been killed.

Why then has Obama not made a simple statement of support for the families of what by all accounts were three incredible Americans in Chapel Hill? Why has he not uttered a single word of condolence? Of sadness? Of support for a Muslim-American community feeling the reverberations of bigotry and fear in the wake of this crime?


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No, you will NOT be speaking for me or “the entire Jewish people” before Congress, Netanyahu.

Feb9

by: on February 9th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said yesterday that he will be speaking for “the entire Jewish people” in his controversial speech before Congress on March 3, anointing himself as leader and representative of all Jews – including the majority of American Jews who oppose his politics on Iran.

Witness the chutzpah:

“I went to Paris not just as the prime minister of Israel but as a representative of the entire Jewish people,” Netanyahu said, during a conference for French-speaking Likud activists. “Just as I went to Paris, so I will go anyplace I’m invited to convey the Israeli position against those who want to kill us.”

There is much to unpack here, and I will attempt to do so in a point-by-point response below:

1) From a purely political perspective, Netanyahu’s claim to be the voice for world Jewry, by virtue of being Israel’s leader, is preposterous. In Israel alone, only 23 percent of the 6.1 million Jews who live there voted for Netanyanu (Likud), while the world’s remaining 7.7 million Jews did not cast a ballot for the man as citizens of other nations. For those keeping score, that’s 1.3 million Jews out of the world’s 13.8 million who voted for Netanyahu.

On the issue of Iran – the issue Netanyahu will speak upon before Congress on behalf of “the entire Jewish people” – 52 percent of American Jews embrace President Obama’s diplomacy with Iran and reject Netanyahu’s approach, including those Jewish members of Congress who will be boycotting Netanyahu’s address. Not only that, more global Jews (4.6 million) voted for President Obama than global Jews (1.3 million) who voted for Netanyahu.

In other words, this (via Occupy Judaism) if you’re feeling snarky:

a


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