Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Letter from Netanya: Jan Gaines' "Greetings From a Beleagered Little Country"

(TBE member Jan Gaines often sends emails from Netanya, where she lives for much of the year. See my response in the next entry above)

"Greetings from a Beleagered Little Country"

by Jan Gaines

Or so it feels, after weeks of reading and hearing about the massive deligitimization and demonizing movements all around the world. I know you don't really have any idea how bad it is because you just don't get the same news that I do. Unless you read the JPost or other English news sources on line.

Just today I picked up the Post to read about hecklers stopping Michael Oren's speech at UC Irvine, hecklers at Oxford shouting "Kill the Jews" at Danny Ayalon giving a speech there, and the cancelling of Benny Morris lecture at Cambridge because it might "inflame" people (cancelled by the Israeli group sponsoring him) but including a hate monger sponsored by the Islamist Student Organ who had no such problems bringing this guy to the campus.

Of course we've been hearing this stuff for years, especially in England, but the tempo and the frequency have grown enormously since the Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) war which has fomented an anti-Israeli, "apartheid" movement around the world, stoked by the Goldstone Report.

And now the New Israel Fund has joined the fracas. Why? It seems that a Zionist Israeli student group did a study of all the NGO's which furnished info and testimony to the Goldstone investigators and it turned out that a large majority (they claim 90%) were Israeli and funded by NIF. Some of these groups are well known like "Betzelem", "Up Against the Wall", and Human Rights Watch, among lots of others. But this has enraged the Knesset, even the moderate Kadima faction, which is calling for an investigation of NIF. It has all come to a head because of the proliferation of European human rights groups actively protesting against Israel both in Gaza and in the West Bank, many of them funded by European governments. Finally, it is all just too much for the Israeli public!!!

NIF has been drifting left for some years. I myself stopped supporting them almost 15 years ago, but then I've been accused of being right wing (but only in the U.,S.). However, previously well respected groups like ACRI, Association of Civil Rights in Israel, has moved from defending right and left alike, to strictly left wing activities, even going so far as to take part in violent protests in Bi'ilin and other places where the security fence is being constructed. These protests have been held on a weekly basis, every Friday, attended by Europeans as well as Palestinians and some Israelis. This in my book is just going too far for ACRI; it loses its legal impartiality and therefore other Israeli's respect. Its as if the ACLU took part in the Skokie demonstrations in addition to their legal defense.

All this tends to circle the wagons, dilute the influence of Meretz and other left wing political groups, give much more support to Likue and the right wing, and breed defiance among ordinary Israelis. Wouldn't you react the same way if you saw your people under constant attack world wide for"crimes against humanity"? And wouldn't you turn inward to defend your country in the face of the massive untruths of Goldstone?

Other than this,local politics is quiet. Bibi is enjoying pretty good ratings and Likud even better. The press (especially foreign) tries to paint Lieberman as a McCarthyist but he's just striking back for a change where foreign ministers used to be quiet and "work behind the scenes." He still has alot of support from the public who are tired of being vilified by Turkey or Syria. The economy is sound and growing, tourism is on the rise, we're getting rain (hallejuiah), the electric car is being launched next month, the Arava Power Company is starting to build its huge solar panels at Kibbutz Ketura with a hearty contract from Siemens, and the great book about Israeli start-ups called "Start Up Nation" is Amazon's best selling book about Israel. (Read it if you haven't already.)

So yes, we are kind of beleagured but the country is still charging ahead, thumbing its economic and cultural nose at those who love to demonize us. The best defense is success.

And yet, and yet, what to do about our university campuses? Maybe you have an answer for me.

From my view of the beautiful green sea, the sunny skies and temps in the 70's, here's wishing you all a bit of warm weather.

Shalom, Jan

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