March 30, 2018

The Canary in the Coalmine

‘Jews are the canary in the coalmine of civilisation’.
Few maxims have as much truth and proven history. What starts with the Jews ends with the rest. Countries that don’t look after their Jews always wind up paying a heavy toll in the end.
This week, events on two sides of the English Channel showed how the European candle is being burned away from both ends.
On the British side we saw the true face of Jeremy Corbyn and his followers, brazening-out charges of anti-Semitism which had now reached boiling point within the Anglo-Jewish community.
On the French side we were shocked by the murder of an 85-year-old Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, stabbed 11 times and then set on fire by her Islamist neighbours.
For all the brouhaha about Corbyn, he is merely a symptom of the much deeper malaise of anti-Semitism that permeates the chattering classes of Britain. We’re under no illusions about what they say behind our backs – the late French ambassador’s “shitty little country”’ jibe still stings.
The difference with Corbyn is that he doesn’t hide his prejudice behind ‘legitimate criticism of Israel’. He seems to wear his prejudice like a badge of honour and has enough political savvy to know that it will get him votes. And he also has helpers like Jon Lansman - founder of his Momentum support group among many other useful Jewish idiots.
These idiots will soon wake up to what Golda Meir realised in 1973. A lifelong labour party worker and member of the Socialist International club, she regarded British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and German Chancellor Willy Brandt as comrades in the worthy struggle for workers’ rights. That was until her tiny Jewish state was attacked on Yom Kippur 1973 and almost ran out of ammunition. US president Richard Nixon agreed to airlift assistance, but not a single European country would allow the American transports to land and refuel on their soil. Golda’s comrades seemed content to see Israel overrun and its citizens massacred.
So, in Britain, we see not just a resurgence of anti-Semitism but a manifestation of brazen and unapologetic anti-Semitism. This is the kind that welcomed Hitler to all those European countries whose people became accomplices in the roundup of millions of Jews to be sent to their deaths.
And, just as racism threatens to take Britain back to the dark ages, Sharia is well on the march in Europe. The ritual murders of Mireille Knoll - and another Jewish grandmother Sarah Halimi who not long before was attacked by an Islamist neighbour and thrown out of her apartment window - are further examples of ‘what starts with the Jews’.
The alarm bells ringing in the Jewish diaspora would be a lot louder by now were it not for the precious treasure we now have in the State of Israel. Unlike 75 years ago, we now have someplace to go.
But where will the good people of Europe go?
A joyful Pesach to all.
Next year in Jerusalem !

March 22, 2018

ERIC GRAUS, 1927-2018

ERIC GRAUS, 1927-2018
[This obit first appeared in the Jerusalem Post]
There’s many a spy story with a scene in a London street where the proprietor of an antiques shop is involved in a lot more than meets the eye. Eric Graus, who died last week at the age of 90, might have fitted well into such a scene.
President of Likud-Herut UK and the proud holder of the State of Israel Fighters Medal, his was an important life in Zionist history.
Eric was born in the Slovakian town of Bratislava.

His family emigrated to England in 1939 where he soon became active in Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionist Movement. In 1947, he joined the Lehi underground branch set up by Yaakov Heruti. As a result of the special role that was assigned to him in the critical months before independence, he developed subsequently a strong fealty to both Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, both future prime ministers of Israel.

As a young man Eric was introduced to the London antiques market and by 1952, he met and married Suzy Adler, a refugee from Budapest. While raising a family he acquired an impeccable reputation for fairness and honesty in the antiques trade, from London to the Far East, and soon moved up to a Bond Street address.

In April 1970, during a UK visit by Moshe Arens, Eric formed the British Herut Movement, with a manifesto to advocate for the settlement movement in Judea and Samaria and take the lead in activism on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Two years later he invited Begin, then leader of the opposition, for his first visit to London.

This provoked universal outrage, with Jewish MP Gerald Kaufman loudest in the calls to deny an entry visa to this “terrorist.”

While Eric’s people managed to enlist the help of Hendon MP Peter Thomas to help clear the visa application, the Jewish establishment was not so easy. No United Synagogue or other communal organization was willing to provide its premises for Begin’s welcoming dinner.

It took a caterer with an Auschwitz tattoo, Mrs Lisser, to come forward and offer her ultra-Orthodox Kedassia Restaurant in New Oxford Street in honor of Begin.

And so it was, as Eric fondly recalled so many times, that when Begin later returned to London as prime minister, he turned down all offers to cater him at Downing Street and insisted that only Mrs Lisser should have that honor.

In the 1970s Eric and his comrades, Joe Gellert and Malvyn Benjamin, were at the forefront of activism against the Soviet Union for its imprisonment of Jews wanting to emigrate to Israel.

From loudspeaker vans blasting protests outside the embassy, to mice being released at the Bolshoi Ballet and the picketing of Russian tourist offices, there was no peace for the Soviets in London.

Eric was one of many protesters arrested for disorderly conduct, and Malvyn’s lawyering skills were regularly called upon to get people bailed out. In 1975, Eric succeeded in revitalizing the Betar youth movement in England which had existed there before Israel was established.

Eric’s greatest joy was Likud’s surprise victory in the 1977 elections, bringing Menachem Begin to power after 30 years in opposition.

He renamed his movement Likud-Herut and, as its president, staged annual celebrations of Jerusalem Day, which was his favorite holiday.

It was especially sweet that Eric lived just long enough to witness the historic and outspoken recognition of our eternal Jewish capital by the president of the United States.

Eric is survived by his dear wife, Suzy, son Jeremy, who resides in Israel, and two daughters Aviva and Nomy.

He now rests in the land he loved and among the people he fought for in a very special way.

March 19, 2018

We have nothing to fear but our own people

As we emerge from the week of Shiva for our dear friend and esteemed LH-UK president Eric Graus ז'ל, I reflect on the battles he fought for the freedom of Soviet Jewry as compared with the battles we now have to fight in the present day.

This was brought home to me last week in two ways.

First was my visit to the University of Nottingham for a debate on the Two State Solution (see video here and here). 

Hosted by their JSOC it was very well attended by around 100 students including around 20 members of the Jordanian Society who made a grand entrance at the last minute, some in full regalia with red keffiyehs and others sporting Arafat scarves. Still, they were good-natured both during the debate and as I was leaving, when they buttonholed me with questions ranging from refugees to white phosphorous.

The significant thing for me was that my debating opponent was not one of them, but one of us. A young Jewish spokesman for the pro-Palestine group Yachad, he was a former JFS boy who became co-chairman of the Zionist Youth Movement. I shudder to think what kind of mentoring that was about.
Our young Jewish warrior delivered his talking points with aplomb and total mastery of all the self-hating propaganda that is spewed out by the likes of B’tslem, Machsom Watch, Breaking the Silence and the star op-ed writers of Haaretz to eager audiences of anti-Semites all over the world.
It’s almost impossible to find such erudite speakers on the Palestinian side – so here are our people stepping in to do their best. Or their worst.

The other example of the battles we now wage was in last week’s TV interview with disgraced prime minister Ehud Olmert; his first since being released from prison for bribery and obstruction of justice. I won’t dwell on the man’s sickening hubris, you can see it for yourself online. But this prime minister was ready and willing to surrender the Golan to Assad, hand over 95 percent of the West Bank to a PLO state and give away Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. The idea that such a corrupt person had the power to do such things, or at least put them in motion, chills me to the core. Just imagine the Golan Heights today, in the hands of Putin and Khamenei. Or Trump coming to power and saying: “I’d have recognised Jerusalem – if only you hadn’t given it away so soon.”

Why are some of our people so eager to give up our birthright?
As the good book says:
וַיִּבֶז עֵשָׂו אֶת הַבְּכֹרָה (Genesis 25:34)

Some years ago I was visiting the Knesset – it was at the height of Iranian threats to wipe Israel off the map. There was a film crew in the atrium and, realising I was English, they asked whether I felt Iran was a threat to my existence as a Jew. I replied: “I don’t lose sleep over what is being plotted in Tehran. What does keep me awake at night is what goes on in this very building – the Knesset”.

Within Israel’s crazy coalition politics and wafer-thin majorities, I have always feared the prospect of a casting vote on the surrender of parts of the homeland falling into the hands of the Arab parties. We will have committed national suicide – but we did it democratically! Cue the world for applause.

In 3,000 years of Jewish history, the only forces that have ever come close to destroying us have been from within. The most famous witness to the destruction of the Second Temple, Josephus Flavius, chronicled how Jews were killing each other within, even as the Romans prepared to scale the walls from without.

The IDF is more than ready to confront and defeat all external threats. But in the war of ideas it seems that our enemies are totally dependent on Jewish collaborators, who see such betrayal as a fast-track to social acceptance and personal career advancement at a time when openly supporting the Jewish state and its right to self-defence brings opprobrium and social isolation.

So, from the Soviet Jewry campaigns of the 60s and 70s, we now have to focus on a new kind of Jewish refusenik – one who refuses to accept that helping the enemy has never saved our people from any threat, and it never will.

March 11, 2018

Lapid: State's Witness and Candidate

Last week I speculated that Netanyahu might use the current coalition crisis over Haredi draft-dodgers to call a snap election, which might freeze the indictment process and return Likud with a strong win as predicted by the latest polls.

Now the opposition parties are all over the election issue, threatening to slow down the process to 6 months.

Why? Because they know the truth – that despite all the police leaks, media bias and Saturday night demos, Netanyahu’s base will solidly support him, as will the many floating voters who see no other party leader better suited and connected to deal with the issues of the day.

Last month it emerged that Netanyahu’s closest election contender, Yair Lapid, was a key police witness in Case 1000. Lapid said at the time that his party was the “last barrier against government corruption” adding further: “Even if the letter of the law doesn’t obligate the prime minister to resign, in a proper country a person accused of such serious allegations… cannot continue to serve as prime minister.”

Now, with elections possibly imminent, Lapid’s party say that they would share power with Likud even if Netanyahu is indicted. The hypocrisy is stunning.

So far there is no breakthrough with the Haredi parties who are refusing to pass the budget without a draft exemption law for their yeshiva students. 

You may well ask: what has draft exemption got to do with finance?

The answer is: nothing. But perhaps they could be connected in terms of a solution. Let’s give them their precious exemption, but – with the other hand - withdraw all government funding to yeshivas opposed to army service.

This would be a spur to the further growth of the Hesder yeshivas, which combine Torah study with preparation for army service, and later life as productive working citizens of the state.
It would also punish those Haredi yeshivas whose Rabbis consistently turn a blind eye to their students’ attacks on religious soldiers in uniform. 

Such a disgrace and Chillul Hashem.

We Are Iran's Human Shields

I have often wondered why it is that Iran is so obsessed with the destruction of Israel. After all, most states of war are created by territorial disputes or aggressive action by one party on the other. Or of course religious wars where one asserts supremacy over the other.

But in the case of Iran – can you name a single sin the Jewish state committed against Iran before the ayatollahs declared war and threatened to wipe Israel off the map? Do they really care a damn about the Palestinians – the overwhelming majority of which are Sunnis? Do they care about ANY of Israel’s Arab neighbours? That’s hardly credible when they are using Syrian civilians to test their chemical weapons and have turned the whole of Lebanon into a doomsday target for Israel.

It seems to be the oldest of reasons – our very existence offends them.

Lebanon is a doomsday target because something like 100,000 rockets have been embedded in its civilian areas for some years now, pointed at Israel. It’s obvious that any volley of 1,000 or more rockets launched against Israeli cities will overwhelm any Iron Dome batteries and such a threat can only provoke one response: nuclear or neutron pre-emption with mass civilian casualties. This is how the Teheran regime operates – exporting terror by proxies in countries where it couldn’t give a damn for the local consequences.

So, what are Iran’s 100,000 rockets really for?

The answer lies in the deep blue sea.

At every hour of every day, nuclear submarines of the major powers – America, Russia, China, Britain, France, India – hide deep in the trenches of the world’s oceans awaiting doomsday orders to devastate any power that presumed to launch a surprise attack on their countries. These are the lurking instruments of mutually assured destruction.

As things stand, there is no likelihood of any of those 6 nuclear powers launching a surprise attack on one another. Today there are only two countries most eligible for a pre-emptive strike by the United States: North Korea and Iran.

North Korea is reported to have deployed some sort of nuclear strike submarine out there, but Iran is not there yet.

So, what does Iran have to deter an American first strike?
The answer:  100,000 missiles pointed at Israel.

That’s what those rockets are all about.

Which means that the citizens of Israel are Iran’s human shields.

March 05, 2018

Will Bibi Go For Broke ?

As PM Netanyahu heads to Washington for the AIPAC conference and a meeting with President Trump, his government partners are again threatening to bolt the coalition.
Kulanu’s Moshe Kachlon says he will force elections if the budget is not passed, whilst the Haredi parties are stalling the budget until they get their draft dodgers a free pass.
Such showdowns are all too common in Israel, and always end with one side blinking at the loss of power and privilege they risk with any election. A bird in the chauffeured Volvo is worth two in the ballot box.

Nobody knows this better than Netanyahu who has survived innumerable coalition crises in his four prime-ministerial terms, and he would almost certainly be able to resolve this one too.
But, should he?
I am thinking this may be the opportunity for a masterstroke for him and the Likud party.
Recent opinion polls have shown a surge in support for Likud, suggesting that it might gain up to 6 more seats than presently. More significantly, Netanyahu’s own support as prime minister has surged to 37% in a March 1st poll, 17 points clear of his nearest rival, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid.
As I have often written, the knives out for Bibi have always been rooted in personal grudges and jealousy of his success in almost equalling Ben Gurion’s term as leader of the Jewish state. But these polls aren’t about the political elites and media chiefs, but are the voice of the ordinary people who will be going to the ballot box. They are unhappy with the hounding of their prime minister in a trial by media and incessant police leaks. Israel’s taxi drivers are clearly standing by their man.
I am thinking that Bibi, boosted by his latest Washington barnstorm, should capitalize on this by allowing his squabbling coalition partners to go to the brink and force an election as soon as possible. Not yet indicted and with a trial unlikely for a year at least, Netanyahu is entitled to fight an election without hindrance and to let the ordinary people speak. Let them choose who is best placed to negotiate with Trump and the US congress on removing Iran from Syria and Lebanon or whether cigars and champagne are more important.
Rather than taint the political process, one would expect the attorney general to defer any decision to press charges until the election is over. If Likud is returned as the ruling party it will have four more years to work with the Trump administration, keep a PLO state at bay, and arrange its own succession after Netanyahu decides or finds it appropriate to retire.
Sweetest of all will be to thank Yediot, Channel 10 and their all their ‘anonymous' police sources for helping re-elect Bibi and Likud to a record fifth term.
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