Category Archives: War against Israel

Christians Unite as More than Five Thousand Come out for Israel

As has happened since 2006, the largest pro-Israel American gathering comprised largely of non-Jews has once again taken place in the Washington DC Convention Center. Dynamic Christian Evangelist Pastor John Hagee and his million-plus strong organization Christians United for Israel opened the three-day conference on July 22 to an audience that surpassed 5000 supporters.  On the heels of Secretary of State John Kerry’s most recent Middle East stint, having been shuttling between DC and Tel Aviv many times over the past four months, CUFI’s founder believes that “Israel’s security establishment is in a state of emergency.  Israel is surrounded with enemies like never before.” Read more ..

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It’s the real thing: The one sided right of return

In 2001, Hussam Khader, a Fatah leader, said of Yasser Arafat’s last negotiations with then President Bill Clinton, “If Yasser Arafat or any other Palestinian leader were to relinquish the right of return, I would lead the revolt against him.” This supposed right, one sided as it might be, is the stated reason why the Oslo Accords failed, and is something that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert amazingly offered in a rejected last ditch effort to hand over 97% of Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights in exchange for peace.

The Arabs claim that the the right of return is an individual right, enshrined in international law, which no international or national leader can sign away. This right, however seems only enshrined on a one-way street for Palestinians. For Jews, there is no such right, nor any major calls for justice to be served on the behalf of Jews who were forcibly kicked out of Arab lands after the British and French Mandates created the Arab states of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and so on, following the end of World War I.

Syrian Jews, Iranian Jews, and Iraqi Jews all lost property, assets and other valuables, but no one cries for them. There are no movements or United Nations discussions, and in fact, there is no justice in the American courts either, leading one to believe that the right of return is more of a Palestinian ploy than a real international issue applicable to all.

More recently than the end of WWI, General Abdul Nasser came to power in Egypt and ordered the arrests of Jews and confiscated their property, both personal and commercial. He deported thousands, confiscating all their assets. Most of the deportees were limited to one suitcase apiece. Being so bold, in 1964, Nasser declared that Egypt believed in the Nazi cause, saying, “Our sympathy… was with the Germans.”

Fast forward to today, for a case that few are even paying attention to; it is one that reeks of the hypocrisy of the “treasured” right of return law that Arabs so audaciously cling to. It is the illegal trespass of America’s Coca-Cola on property outside Cairo that was taken from a Jewish family by Nasser in 1962. Coca-Cola built a bottling plant in Egypt in the 1940s when it leased land and buildings from the Egyptian Jewish Bigio family, land it owned since 1929. The Bigios were later expelled from Egypt in 1965, after their property was confiscated. Egypt nationalized their property. After the Begin-Sadat talks and the 1978 Camp David Accords brought a treaty, Bigio returned in 1979 and managed to obtain a decree from the Ministry of Finance that the property “had never been legally sequestered or nationalized and accordingly remained” Bigio property.

Yet, a series of back handed deals between Egyptian insurance companies and the government caused the land to fall into the possession of the Misr Insurance Co., a government-owned entity that refused to turn it over to the family. Then, in 1993, Egypt announced the privatization of the bottling facility and Bigio notified Coca-Cola of his family’s interest in the property, but Coca-Cola closed on a deal to acquire ownership interest in the property anyway. Egypt was not going to offer justice or any right of return to the Jewish Bigio family.

Even so, there was hope that the matter could be settled by the American court system, as Coca-Cola is an American operation. Now, 14 years later and after the United States Court of Appeals has reversed dismissals of the case twice, it was shot down again on the argument that the theft was committed by Coca Cola Egypt and not by the American defendants. Fourteen years through the system; the initial suit was dismissed under the Alien Tort Statute stating that there was no jurisdiction and that the act of state doctrine barred the exercise of jurisdiction. The 2nd Circuit reversed it on appeal. The Bigios filed again in 2009, claiming “unlawful taking and exclusion of plaintiffs,” citing the trespass and civil conspiracy as well as unjust enrichment. However, the case was dismissed indicating that Egyptian law prevails. Remarkably, it also said the Bigios “have not plausibly alleged that defendants enriched themselves without just cause.” This was the same Coca-Cola Company that knowingly entered into a lease with the Bigios in the 1930s then ran to buy the land after it was confiscated from them–which they were well aware of.

This past March, the court found that Coca-Cola and its subsidiary occupied the property under a legitimate claim of right for Egyptian law and therefore their possession is not illegal. Then, in what seemed to be an act of kicking a man when he’s down, Coca-Cola filed a “Bill of Costs” to collect the printing costs of its brief from the truly impoverished Bigios. They took the land and now asked for blood.

Fortunately, Coke’s lawyers attached a bill for a completely different brief that was longer than the one Coca-Cola filed. In addition, it never filed a “Supplemental Appendix,” that they also demanded reimbursement for. Diet Coke — obviously embarrassed — withdrew its request for costs once it was revealed. Minor justice served, while the major offense remains intact.

The family now has until May 2 to request a rehearing.  Their attorney, Nathan Lewin, intends to continue the pursuit of justice all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The final outcome of the case will be interesting, because it speaks volumes of the fraudulent nature of the right of return. What cuts for Arabs, does not appear to cut the same for Jews. If Jews demanded their rights of property, assets and land from Arab countries that threw them out, and the United Nations and world leaders joined in the call for Justice for Jews, how lopsided would this world seem on that day? Perhaps a court can decide once and for all that Israeli Law applies for cases involving Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR
This article appeared in the Jewish Star

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Jews Must Pass Over their Search for World Approval

Edge of Reality

Tom Lehrer
Tom Lehrer

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics, And the Catholics hate the Protestants,

And the Hindus hate the Moslems,

And everybody hates the Jews.

More apt lyrics have yet to be found on the matter than these which comedian, mathematician and lecturer Tom Lehrer wrote in his satirical “National Brotherhood Week” in 1965.

That was before the Six Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, before Israel was attacked from all sides by its peace-seeking neighbors, and before Israel seized the land near its borders to protect its population and keep her enemies even further away from its larger cities.

Even though Lehrer was being sardonic, his “joke” is only funny because it rings with some truth. Comedy is often inspired by the truths that we have a harder time coping with on a serious level.  Lehrer knew something back then that so many fail to recognize today, and it is that intentional disregard for the facts that help some Jews cope with their guilt for being who they are; it helps the cause of those who would see Israel fall. Read more ..

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR

A version of this article also appeared in the Jewish Star

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Syria: A Watched Pot Boiling Over

Mid-East Turmoil

Juda Engelmayer

Disturbing video images from Syria show civilians being used as shields for Syrian troops. They are first seen standing, then lying in front, serving the purpose of the advancing Syrian guards. This, as documents leaked from President Bashar Al-Assad’s office reveal that Iran has been helping Syria circumvent sanctions by handing over $1 billion to continue slaughtering its civilians.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the ferocity of the Syrian assault, saying “I fear that the appalling brutality we are witnessing in Homs, with heavy weapons firing into civilian neighborhoods, is a grim harbinger of things to come.” He sees the inevitable end to this too.

The U.N. is frozen, unable to do anything about the slaughter of some 6000 people. Security Council mainstays like China and Russia have vetoed any attempts at intervention. Notwithstanding how easy it is for both to act fast when condemning the State of Israel for defending itself – even when it first drops leaflets warning civilians of its intent to strike, the Syrian government has little to worry about from the world body.

While the war against the Syrian people rages on, Iran’s fingerprints were found in some failed attempts to kill Israeli diplomats around the world; in India, Thailand and Georgia. Although they deny it, the Iranian plot was exposed when the terrorists were caught in Thailand with Iranian passports in hand. That one blew his leg off trying to lob a grenade at Thai police only proves incompetence, not detachment.

Now there are heightened threats of Iranian attacks on Jewish and Israeli interests in the U.S. It would seem that Iran is provoking Israeli or American action to create a worldwide calamity. Controlled by the promise of power, oil and financial interests and not the mandate of actually bridging the world of nations, the U.N. remains powerless.

Once again, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to block a passageway for a fifth of the world’s oil supply. If Iran does this, it would also make countries that are holding up action in the U.N. against Syria more dependent on Iran’s oil and more prone to do its bidding.

Oil plays a critical role in setting policy and policing human rights or abuses around the world, and it begs the question as to why the United States does not act faster to develop better alternative energy solutions, or why we allow politics to interfere with matters like the Keystone pipeline that could replace a significant quantity of Middle East oil with Canadian crude. We allow issues like electioneering and foreign threats to oppose one another and defeat rational thinking.

The Iranian threat has been brewing for a long time. As it is a very dangerous and difficult situation to manage, leaders of rational countries quietly hope that someone else will strike at the problem first and remove their burden. Some are actually being less quiet while trying to play down their encouragement of a preemptive strike.

Leon Panetta, the U.S. Defense Secretary made no secret in his declaration that he believed Israel would strike Iran. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote on February 2, “Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June – before Iran enters what Israelis described as a ‘zone of immunity’ to commence building a nuclear bomb.” This week, however, Panetta backed off and refused to confirm that he said it at all.

Then on February 9th, after Iranian state television reported on evidence that the U.S. was behind the assassinations of its scientists, NBC News cited Obama administration insiders suggesting that Israel’s Mossad had trained the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) to assassinate Iran’s nuclear scientists.

If true, why would it benefit the U.S. to reveal this and possibly provoke Iranian action, which it may have done with the attempts on the lives of Israel’s diplomats this week?

For a nation like the U.S. to pawn off the responsibility of Iran to Israel, through implied acceptance of an inevitable action as Panetta did, or through actual provocation, as the unnamed White House sources did, is confrontational. Yet, it creates enough mayhem should an Israeli first strike occur, and enables U.S. actions under the guise of protecting an ally or an interest rather than the more frowned upon act of actually launching a first strike.

This is a public relations strategy for America to insulate itself from blame of a strike on Iran. Partly for the sake of ultimate anemic approval from the inept U.N., but more to quell the opposition stemming from the American left who does not support military activity.

Syria’s boiling over with Iran’s money, and Iran itself is reaching a standoff with Israel and the west – which is facing a global economic crisis that cannot withstand any oil flow interruptions – something’s got to give. The groundwork is being laid for action. Whether or not the U.S. is making Israel a scapegoat for preemptive action is more about domestic policy and electioneering than real objection to that action.

As President Obama has been buttressing Israel’s military arsenal lately, we would be naïve to assume that Israel and United States are not lockstep on the final course. The posturing is for constituency consumption and not critically indicative of true foreign policy.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR

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Syria Slaughters, Hamas Terrorizes: Public Relations Firms Advance their Cause

Asam Al-Assad in VogueIn recent days, we have seen an intensification of the Syrian regime’s attacks on its own people. If reports are correct, more than 5,000 Syrian civilians have been slaughtered on President Bashar al-Assad’s command since the effort to bring the so-called Arab spring to Syria began late last spring. The dead include hundreds of women and children, people who just wanted freedom from a tyrannical regime. Supply lines have been cut; medical supplies are running out, and the United Nations admits that it can neither provide a reliable accounting of the number of dead, nor stop the killing.

This regime is the extension of one begun in 1970, when Hafez al-Assad seized power and which was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrian, including one of the most gruesome massacres in Middle East history, the destruction of the Sunni rebel stronghold of Hama, in which between 10,000 and 20,000 people were killed by government forces. Bashir al-Assad has ruled since his father’s death on 2000 and has been able to maintain his stranglehold on Syria’s people largely because of world indifference, lack of commercial resources, and because of its proximity to Israel.

Read the rest in The Cutting Edge News

 

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The End of Days in Palestine

Palestine the Book, by Jonathan Bloomfield

What would we do if we lived in a flood plain with no egress at all, or along a hurricane evacuation zone that just prolonged the inevitable without taking you out of the path? It is probably something few really consider until the storm is bearing down on them and reality is about hit hard. Living in the New York metropolitan area, having experienced hurricanes, nor’easters and blizzards that destroyed property, wiped out beaches, killed people and devastated lives and families, many of us can imagine the sense of urgency when an emergency is near.

Most recently, last April and May we watched the 24 hour news channels as large regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi were hit by the largest storms since the early 1900s, and the Morganza Spillway was intentionally opened, destroying nearly 5000 square miles of inhabited land to spare total destruction of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, on the heels of the 2005 hurricane that nearly wiped out the whole Gulf region. What if the people who lived there or were visiting the area then had no way to escape?

The prospect is frightening and for just about all of us, unimaginable. Now imagine the threat is not a tidal wave, rushing floodwaters, a violent tornado or some other natural disaster, and something that can wipe out life as we know it for years to come, destroying not just property, but everyone and everything in its wake. Imagine the threat is a nuclear explosion, the mushroom cloud in the distance, the flash of light and the torrent effect of the ripple that tears through everything in its path, leaving death and darkness then nothingness.

This is a fear that we face living in a nuclear world, but one that we here in the United States feel is either so remote or could hit elsewhere, but not in my backyard. However, in Israel, the fear is real. With the entire country being just 8,019 square miles; extending about 200 mi north to south and just 70 miles east to west; with its narrowest point being only 12 miles across, there is nowhere to go to outrun a nuclear attack, nowhere to hide and nothing to do but watch the end of the world take hold.

A recently released short film captures the gripping moments of Israel’s hypothetical destruction. Israeli filmmaker Ronen Barany, who has a knack for creating bizarre short films, just released a five-minute film on Youtube called, The Last Day, or Yom Ha’Acharon. It is made in the style of an amateur video shot on the future date of February 23, 2013, just about one year from now. The home video is the remnant of a flash drive recovered by a United Nations reconnaissance team after an Iranian first strike with nuclear warheads.

It was taken by a couple desperately trying to flee Jerusalem as missiles are seen flying overhead. They are driving on “Highway 1” and capture on camera explosions from conventional warheads along the way, while listening to an emergency radio broadcast advising that there is no more contact with Haifa or the southern regions in what appears to be a concerted surprise attack on Israel. All the while you can hear the couple’s exasperated a voice speaking to one another in Hebrew wondering what is happening, where is Israel’s army and expressing concern that they cannot raise their parents by telephone. The announcer reports that the communications network across the country is failing.

A flash of light appears and the radio goes dead. The couple stops the car to help stranded drivers and runs to the aid of a young boy who stared at the flash and is blinded. As the camera pans the distance they see a huge pillar of smoke begin to expand and more people appear wounded alongside the road. A man recites “Shemah Yisroel”, the Jewish prayer recited by one who senses death is near – “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one,” as Israeli war planes rush overhead and more explosions seem to level a mountain up ahead. Suddenly an almost dull sound begins to rumble and the sky lights up in shades of orange and yellow with black clouds rising from the ground.

All you hear is the explosion and a large ripple drawing near, then the image appears to become pixilated; then blackness and nothing at all. The film ends.

This is hard to watch and seems as real as if it had happened, and the fear sent a shiver down my back. In Mr. Barany’s film, Israel is presumably attacked by its neighbors, and destroyed in a final act of aggression by Iran. The people had nowhere to run, but watched as the end of days consumed them.

As the war of words heats up between Iran and the west and as Israel grapples with just what to do, artists such as Ronen Barany are not alone capturing the fears of the people. A new author, Jonathan Bloomfield, published a book last summer aptly named Palestine. That book depicts a very similar scene of Tel Aviv residents escaping the city as conventional weapons destroy buildings, bridges and roadways.

The threat of an Iranian nuclear launch has been eliminated by a per-emptive Israeli strike using Saudi airspace with permission. What remains is the threat of localized nuclear detonations from Iranian bombs that were smuggled into Israeli cities. That chilling tale ends with Israel’s ultimate victory, and is told in an almost Tom Clancy-like manner where Israeli agents find the plot and the bombs before the timer finishes its count-down.

These are both works of fantasy, and the hope is that it remains as such, even as the genuine possibility exists and is a very real threat for Israel. Some say these are scare tactics to get people worked up enough to force leaders into some unknown action. Others, however, believe it is an imminent reality and must be dealt with. Yet there are those who just chalk these up to entertainment and have no real meaning at all.

As the Republican primaries rage on, and candidates try to emphasize just how much each supports Israel and Jewish communities, Israel’s safety and very existence is a common theme. While stumping in Florida this week, Newt Gingrich sent out a robo-call to Jews accusing Mitt Romney of going cheap on kosher meals for seniors in Massachusetts, and it raised enough concern to make it onto the daily news reports. Just imagine what the threat of Israel’s annihilation can do.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR This article was reprinted from The Cutting Edge News

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Iron clad isn’t necessarily rock solid: How Israel fares to America

January 26, 2012
By Juda Engelmayer

Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.” — President Barack Obama

This 19 word sentence contained within the 6992 word State of the Union address, President Barack Obama practically singled out Israel as if to highlight to his Jewish supporters and detractors alike, that he is the best friend the Jews have had. Other nations, or nation’s capitals were mentioned as allies, but only Israel was assured such an “Iron-clad commitment”.

For all the accolades and loud cheers in the House Chamber, however, the words that the President chose were quite careful and maybe even telling. Unlike Europe and Asia, which he called America’s “oldest alliances,” and the “Americas”, with which he said our ties “are deeper,” America, he said, is committed to Israel’s security. We accept that and know it, and have seen the “closest military cooperation between” Israel and the United States in history take shape in the iron-clad Iron Dome mobile missile defense system that the U.S. has helped build in Israel.

The President’s security and military assurances might imply a harsh acceptance of the present and future. Is it easier to arm a nation and prepare it for a battle than it is to resolve the root cause of the threat in the first place? Not to make a perfect comparison, , but when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani saw some of New York City’s more dangerous neighborhoods, he did not put guns in the hands of the decent people living there, but eliminated the dangers, locked up the criminals and took the streets back. The same strategies are being deployed in cities like Newark, Compton and others across the country, where law enforcement and public leaders seek to eradicate crime and eliminate the root causes of the danger.

Of course crime is not the same as ideology, and the issues that affect dangerous cities and those that drive the forces in the Middle East are not the same, but the essence of the argument is no different. Sure Israel needs better weaponry for the time being, as she needs to have a strong deterrent for her enemies, but wouldn’t the prudent course be to help clean up the neighborhood rather than, or in the case, along with, arming the decent people who are stuck in the middle. Israel is indeed in the middle of a world of nations seeking to destroy it.

The right thing to do is for the President to call the issues as they are and boldly condemn those who would seek to harm Israel. He should pound the point of the unyielding cries within the “governments” of Hamas and Hezbollah to destroy Israel. He should decry the hypocritical comments by people like Maen Areikat, the PLO “Ambassador” to the United States who said Jews would not be allowed in the Palestinian State, while Palestinians demand access to all of Israel. He should acknowledge that the divide separating Jews and Moslems in the Middle East is not about land, but about a true and deep seeded belief among many in positions of influence that the G-d of Islam wants his adherents to stamp out the Jews and erase all traces of Israel. Only then can we begin to discuss the terms of any “peace,” and try to find land agreements that would keep the distance sufficiently

Instead, this President and his administration have chosen to ignore the true cause of the problems in the region; the ideological hatred that will not be negotiated away. In his third State of the Union the President declared that “a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli,” but left out the inconvenient truth that the fundamental Islamists are winning the hearts and minds of the people and miring those lands deeper into trends of intolerance, violence and hatred. Liberty is not coming; tyranny is rising, and that will not bode well for Israel or the United States.

On May 19th, 2011, President Obama said that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines.” This sentiment is nothing new; those words have been spoken by many before – Jews and Israelis alike.. However, it seemed to have belied what many thought the President had learned to appreciate – the need for defensible borders. Four month later, when he stood before the U.N. General Assembly on September 21, he said,

Let us be honest with ourselves:  Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses.  Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them.  Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map.  The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are.  Those are facts.  They cannot be denied.

Then in November, the administration was so harsh with Israel over building in Jerusalem and the West Bank, it was as if the President’s words to the U.N. – only two months prior- were delivered to placate Jews after the May 19th debacle.

As soon as the pressure was off, he went back to the old routine of chastising the Jews and making moral equivalences to the plights of the two peoples living alongside each other. One people are the startup nation who built a burgeoning society that has contributed so much knowledge and value to the world, and the other is a people hell-bent seeing the former destroyed.

The President, in his speech, devoted most of his attention to the economy, jobs, taxes and government reform and he spent very little time on foreign affairs. That’s actually a good thing. Yet, in that small allotment of time, he gave Israel a shout-out and emphasized how the U.S. cares for her security. For his supporters, they will say that proves what a friend he is, but a real friend cares enough to help make sure that the use of the war machines are the very last resort.

Juda Engelmayer is President and Partner with the NY PR agency, HeraldPR

This article was written for the Jewish Star

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