Thursday, 5 April 2018

Israel: Don't Deport Migrants Back to Danger in Africa. Why Not Send Them to Canada?

Israel has quite a moral dilemma on its hands as its leaders decide what to do with tens of thousands of migrants from Africa who have entered the country illegally over the past few years. Our government wants to get rid of these people, as do many Israelis, describing them as "infiltrators", because many of them come from countries that are hostile to Israel. Not all Israelis, however, share the view that these people represent a threat to the country and should be deported as soon as possible. I am one of them.

Yes, many of these migrants are from countries hostile to Israel. Yes, some recent criminal activity in Israel has been attributed to these people. Yes, many of them are probably not genuine asylum seekers and have made their way out of their home countries and into Israel for economic reasons. And yes, Israel must ensure secure borders, meaning that no one can be allowed to cross the border illegally. After all, a porous border is a threat to the security of Israeli citizens. But I still think that Israel needs to be more compassionate to these people. Not to the extent of allowing all of them to remain in the country, but by allowing them to keep their dignity and their lives. Simply deporting these people back to Africa, to third countries like Rwanda or Uganda, is wrong and contravenes both Jewish and universal morals. Our Bible teaches us to treat the foreigners among us with compassion, reminding us of our bitter bondage in Egypt. Our most recent history also teaches us that we should treat people looking for a better life with dignity and tolerance, lest we forget that when the Nazis were slaughtering us by the millions, those of us trying to escape the Holocaust were turned away by most countries. We as Jews cannot show the same disrespect and intolerance shown to us in the past, otherwise we are no better than those who closed their borders to us and let millions of us perish in the concentration camps. In fact, for this reason, some Holocaust survivors have publicly discouraged Israel from deporting the African migrants.

Now just to be fair, Israel has already shown these people a lot more compassion than some of its neighbours. In fact, if these people had been caught in Egypt trying to cross the border into Israel, they may not be alive today. They may have been shot and killed as soon as they came within sight of Egyptian authorities, as has happened in the past. Yet the world's media makes Israel look like the villain for wanting to deport the migrants. At least in Israel, these people have a roof over their heads and food to eat. They are not tortured and killed as they are in the Arab world simply because they have darker skin and non-Arab heritage.

So what should Israel do with these people? Well, a few days ago, it appeared that a solution had been found when the Israeli government reached an agreement with the United Nations to deport half of the migrants to Western countries that would be willing to take them, including Canada. The remaining migrants would be allowed to stay in Israel. But under pressure from members of his coalition government and his own party, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly reneged on the deal. Now we're back to square one.

In his heart, I think Bibi knows that deporting the migrants back to Africa is wrong. But of course, he's a politician and most politicians want to stay in power above all else. He still has a chance, however, to remove the migrants from Israel and still be humanitarian and compassionate while doing so. The deal with the U.N. may be dead, but I think the idea of Western countries taking in some or all of the African migrants. Now of course, immigration of any kind is very unpopular in Europe and the U.S. right now. But Canada is still welcoming immigrants with open arms. Indeed, Canada represents the other extreme of immigration policy. That policy being to open the borders to anyone who wants to come, with little regard for whether or not potential newcomers will be a benefit or a burden to the country. In light of this, I think that Israel should approach the Canadian government about taking some or all of the African migrants, and should do so as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Another Israeli lost to Palestinian terrorism. Enough is enough!

Today, Israel lost another one of its sons to terrorism. Raziel Shevah, a 35 year old father of six, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in a drive-by shooting. The terrorist has yet to be caught. We've heard this kind of story over and over again. Israelis being shot, stabbed, run over by cars, or killed in any other way that Palestinian terrorist minds can think of.

So how do we put an end to this crap, because clearly what we're doing right now isn't working. We put terrorists in jail, we destroy their houses and still the attacks continue. I think it's time we tried something new. One idea that's been bandied about lately is giving death sentences to terrorists. I honestly don't think that's going to work. In fact, it might even encourage more attacks as many would-be terrorists seek martyrdom. So why give them what they want?

I think the ultimate solution to preventing more terrorist attacks and more Israeli deaths lies in curtailing the promotion of extremism and terrorism. This starts, above all, with Palestinian children. Each and every day, young Palestinians are taught to hate Israel and the Jewish people. They are told that Israel and its people need to be destroyed and that they should sacrifice their lives to achieve this objective. It makes me wonder why, after being in control of Judea and Samaria for more than five decades, has Israel not taken control of what Palestinian youth are taught. Indeed, it is my contention that in order to reduce the incidence of terrorism against our citizens, Israel must assume control over Palestinian education. We've let the likes of UNRWA, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority pollute the minds of young Palestinians for far too long and it's time to put a stop to it.

But of course, re-shaping the minds of young Palestinians will take time. I would say, at least a generation, if not longer. So what about the here and now? I think a good short-term solution would be to convince the Palestinians that killing Israelis will not drive us from Judea and Samaria, but will do just the opposite. To do this, I suggest that each time one of our people is killed by a Palestinian terrorist, we respond by formally annexing one of the communities that we have built in Judea and Samaria. So for example, since a Palestinian terrorist has just murdered a very upstanding Israeli citizen in Raziel Shevah, leaving his six children fatherless, including an eight-month old baby, Israel should respond by passing a law formally annexing, say, Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion, or one of the other thriving communities we've built in our Biblical homeland.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Will Iran's Islamist dictators launch a war against Israel to save their skins?

Today, I read a summary of Israel's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Strategic Assessment for this year. Among other things, the assessment talks about the possibility of another war breaking out on Israel's northern front, which would involve Hezbollah and possibly Syria and Iran. The worst case scenario involves a conflict involving all of the aforementioned three. I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think that this assessment was done in time to take into consideration the popular uprising now taking place in Iran. I mention the assessment and the Iran protests in the same context because I think those protests could increase the chances of the worst case scenario taking place.

History teaches us that ruling regimes often use foreign wars in order to deflect their people's attention away from domestic problems. Remember the period between George W. Bush's inauguration as U.S. President and the September 11th attacks? Bush had won what was arguably the most controversial election in American history, ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court voting along party lines and handing him the presidency. As Michael Moore noted in his film Fahrenheit 911, Bush struggled to get any of his agenda carried out and looked like a lame duck president. I was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto at the time, and I still remember one of my professors predicting that Bush would be a lame duck president because of the way he got elected. But then 9/11 happened. After that, Americans rallied around the flag and their president in the war on terror. And the rest is history.

Right now, Iran's Islamist regime is facing a full-scale revolt by the Iranian people. It's not surprising that they're accusing their enemies of sowing the seeds of dissent in the Islamic Republic. I think there is a real possibility that Iran's Islamist rulers will try and instigate a conflict with Israel in order to refocus their people's attention. Just think about it for a moment. If Iran attacked Israel, the Jewish state would certainly retaliate and the Islamists could use the destruction that such retaliation would bring in order to rally Iran's people behind the flag and end the uprising, just as U.S. President George W. Bush used the 9/11 attacks to deflect attention from his unpopularity. It's a frightening thought, but unfortunately it's quite possible for such a scenario to play out.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

World must support Iran protests

Citizens throughout Iran are taking to the streets to protest against the brutal, despotic Islamist regime that has ruled the country for nearly four decades. What started as protests over bread and butter issues, such as prices for food and gas, is quickly turning into a full-scale revolt against the country's rulers. The plain and simple truth is that despite sanctions relief as a result of the deal Iran made with the U.S. and other world powers to curb its nuclear program, the lives of ordinary Iranians have not improved. Why? Because the Islamist cabal that rules Iran is using any extra revenues that sanctions relief has provided, not to provide better lives for the Iranian people, but to support their terrorist friends and continue building the country's missile arsenal to threaten its neighbours. Yes, more money for Hezbollah and Hamas, more money to support Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad as he slaughters his own people, and more money for missiles to strike Israel or anyone else Iran's mullahs don't like. But for the Iranian people? Squat. 

Far from lauding their Islamist rulers' support for terrorists in the Middle East and beyond, Iranians are now calling for an end to support for groups like Hezbollah. They're also making it clear to their oppressors that they want their country's resources to go towards solving problems at home rather than fueling conflict elsewhere in the Middle East. Above all, Iranians want freedom. The question is, will they get it this time? It was just under a decade ago, in 2009, that Iranians took to the streets to protest the re-election of then president Mahmoud Ahmedinidjad. Hopes were high that perhaps the Iranian people would overthrow their despotic rulers. But unfortunately, that popular uprising fizzled out and the Islamists prevailed. If the masses in Iran are going to succeed this time, they need all the support from the international community that they can get. So I hope that other world leaders will follow U.S. President Donald Trump's lead and declare that they stand behind the Iranian people in their quest for freedom.

An end to the Islamic Republic would be a giant step towards peace in the Middle East, because it would bring an end to terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, who depend on Iran for the resources they need to carry out their terrorist activities. Just think of the Middle East without Iranian-backed terrorists. No more Hezbollah to hold the people of Lebanon hostage or assist Syria's Assad in the killing of his own people. No more Hamas to rule over the Gaza Strip and use it as a base from which to attack Israel. But none of this will be possible unless Iran's Islamist rulers are toppled. So in essence, the Iranian people are not just fighting for their own freedom. They're fighting for the peace of the region. I hope they succeed.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Arab attitudes towards Israel changing for the better

There's been an awakening. Have you felt it? Yes, this is a quote from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But in this case, I'm not talking about an awakening in the force. No, I'm referring to an awakening in the Arab world. To put it simply, some Arabs are awakening to the realization that Israel is not the threat that they have always perceived it to be. Quite the contrary. Israel is slowly being seen by a growing number of Arabs as a valuable ally against what really threatens the Arab world: The Islamic Republic of Iran.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people on the Arab street still see Israel as their most hated enemy. But a growing number of notable figures in the Arab world are singing a different tune about the Jewish state. For example, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia recently issued a ruling saying that it was forbidden to make war on Jews, even going so far as to call the Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group, Hamas, a terror organization. I've been following Middle Eastern politics since I was a teenager and I never thought I'd hear anyone in Saudi Arabia, let alone its chief cleric, say something like this. And he isn't the only one sounding off on a more amicable attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people. A prominent Saudi academic went so far as to defend U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In addition, an Egyptian writer argued that Jerusalem had no religious significance for Muslims and called for greater cooperation between Jews and Muslims. Another writer from Kuwait praised Israel and called on Arab leaders to recognize the legitimacy of the state.

Some political leaders have also made favorable comments about Israel. The king of Bahrain, for instance, condemned the Arab boycott of Israel and said that he would allow his subjects to travel there freely. He made these comments at an event hosted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in which Bahrain National Orchestra actually played "Hatikvah", Israel's national anthem. In Lebanon, the Prime Minister was recently recorded saying that Lebanon does not reject the Jewish state's existence and in fact respects Israel's right to safety.

One still has to be brave when saying anything positive about Israel in the Arab world. Anyone who does is almost immediately subject to condemnation and harassment on social media. Hell, they're lucky if they don't get death threats. But the fact a growing number of people in different sectors of the Arab public are willing to give Israel a chance is very significant. Now of course, I really don't think anyone in the Arab world has a love affair with Israel. Indeed, at this point, the increasing number of positive statements by notable figures in the Arab world pertaining to Israel may simply be a byproduct of the emerging Israeli-Arab alliance against Iran. In other words, it may simply be because of the old adage, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Movie-going experience ruined by commercials

I saw the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, today. Don't worry, I won't spoil it for anyone. Instead, I'm going to talk about what's really bugged me about going to the movies over the last few years, besides the exorbitant ticket prices and overpriced snacks. What really drives me nuts at the movies these days is those damn annoying commercials.

If you're my age or older, you'll remember going to the movies and not having to sit through a seemingly endless series of ads. When I went to the movies as a kid, you saw some coming attractions and then the movie. I wish this was still the case, but unfortunately it isn't. Now, you're inundated with commercials while you wait for the movie to start. Then the lights in the theater dim and guess what? More commercials! By the time you finally get to the coming attractions, you may have sat through up to ten minutes of ads, or more depending on when you entered the theater. 

Nowadays, ever time I go see a film, I can't help but say in my head, "Enough is enough. Just show us the f*cking movie already!" 

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A U.S. President Will Finally Declare: Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel. It's About Time!

I was elated when I heard the news. U.S. President Donald Trump will declare that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and begin the process of moving the American embassy there from Tel Aviv. Israel is unique in many facets, some positive, some negative. One of the negatives is that Israel is the only country that is recognized by most other nation-states in the world, but whose capital is not recognized. Could you imagine a country refusing to put its embassy in Washington D.C.? It would be unheard of, because a country refusing to put its embassy in the capital of the nation-state with whom it intends to have full diplomatic relations would be a grave insult and would not be tolerated - except in Israel.

I'm not going to go into detail about why Jerusalem should be recognized by all as Israel's capital. I think people know the facts, whether they choose to accept them or not. Predictably, Israel's opponents all over the world are calling for an international outcry over President Trump's impending declaration. There has been talk of demonstrations, summits, violence, you name it. As far as I'm concerned, the enemies of Israel can whine and cry all they want. Jerusalem has been, is, and always will be the eternal capital of the nation of Israel. To deny this is to deny the facts. But of course, facts rarely matter to Israel's enemies.