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FROM PROSOR AT THE UN TO BAIRD IN JERUSALEM, HERZL’S LEGACY ENDURES, & POLLARD IS NOT FORGOTTEN

WARM SUPPORT FROM THE CHILLY NORTH
Herb Keinon

Jerusalem Post, February 3, 2012

The Hill Times, a Canadian weekly newspaper that covers that country’s politics, recently came out with its annual edition of the country’s 100 most influential people in government and politics. John Baird, Canada’s Conservative 42-year-old foreign minister, was listed as number three.

“If you weren’t in politics, what would you want to be doing,” Baird was asked in the magazine interview. “Likely working on a kibbutz in Israel,” was his reply. Anyone who heard Baird either in private conversation or public appearances this week—he was in Israel for diplomatic meetings and to take part in the Herzliya Conference—would not be surprised by his answer. The man, appointed Canada’s foreign minister in May 2011, likes Israel—a lot.

And Baird is not the only one. Since Stephen Harper became the country’s prime minister in 2006, Canada went from being a middle-of-the-road friend of Israel…to setting the gold standard for support of the Jewish state. There is not a government on the planet today more supportive of Israel than Harper’s Canada. And the love runs both ways. According to…Baird…“The amount of warmth and love for Canada here in Israel is just unbelievable.…”

What follows are excerpts of the [Jerusalem Post’s] interview with Baird.

You said in your speech this week at the Herzliya Conference that Israel has no better friend in the world than Canada. Where is that coming from?… Because it hasn’t always been this way.

First and foremost it is some of the prime minister’s leadership. There is no moral ambiguity; he’s not one who believes in moral relativism. The prime minister’s leadership is very strong on this. There are a number of ministers—I’m one—who feel very passionately about Israel.

I can recall being here once [a number of years ago] and talking to the Canadian ambassador and asking why Canada is so against Israel. “What do you mean,” he said. I said, “all these resolutions at the UN.” When he said they don’t mean anything, my response was, “Well if they don’t mean anything why do we vote for them?” And his reply was, “Oh that just happens every year.…”

But Mr. Harper has said this, and I have said it many times too, that too often in the past Canada’s [foreign policy] is just “go along to get along.” And it is easier to do that. If someone asked in the past about Canada’s foreign policy, the working assumption would be that it is whatever…the international consensus is among our allies. But now we base it on values and principles.

Is this coming from a religious place for the prime minister? Is this religious-based support?

No, I don’t think so. It is very similar to me. After the Holocaust it is tremendously important for there to be a Jewish homeland, a Jewish state that can be a place of refuge. In this region today there is only one liberal democracy, only one place that values and respects democracy, human rights and the rule of law. And that is our ally.

My grandfather went to war in 1942—the big struggle of his generation was fascism and then communism. The great struggle of my generation, of our generation, is terrorism. Too often Israel is on the front line of that struggle, and it is tremendously important that we take a principled stand and support our friend and ally.

How well does that resonate in Canada?

We certainly don’t do it for electoral advantage. It is not an electoral winner.… There are 2,800 Jews in my constituency in Ottawa. I have 11,500 Muslims and Arabs. The Arab and Muslim population is much larger. So I don’t think we do it for electoral reasons. We’ve gotten great support from the Jewish community in Canada, which we value, but it is not done with an electoral calculation in mind.

Has it, or could it, hurt you politically?

When you stand up for your values and you do something that is basically right, you are never hurt.

How about around the world? Is Canada’s stature diminished…because of your support for Israel?

If, as the minister of foreign affairs, my job was to wake up in the morning and ask how to be popular, this probably wouldn’t be the way to do it. But at the same time it is not an albatross by any stretch.… I was in the [Persian] Gulf for five days in late November and one of the Canadian reporters said, “Baird is going to the Gulf and this [Canada’s support for Israel] will be the elephant in the room for the entire five days.” No one brought it up. No one. People may disagree with our position, but they respect that we have differences.…

How about with Europe?

Certainly Prime Minister Harper fought very hard for a balanced statement on the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict at the G-8 [last may in France, when Canada was instrumental in softening a statement on the Middle East and keeping out any mention of the pre-1967 lines as a precondition for negotiations]. Of course it would just be easier if Canada would just shut up, sit in the corner and not cause any problems.…

But isn’t it harming your stature in the world? Didn’t you lose a 2010 vote to join the Security Council because of it?

There is no doubt that it was unhelpful in the Security Council. I don’t think you could say there was one particular reason [why Canada lost to Portugal for a temporary seat on the Security Council]. But that was certainly one of the reasons.…

You said that Canada is Israel’s greatest friend in the world. Where is the US in this?

I think the US is a good friend, too. I like to think we are better.… A stronger friend.

How does that manifest itself?

Take the G-8 communiqué. It made reference to [US] President [Barack] Obama’s speech.… But if you want to talk about 1967 borders with land swaps, let’s talk about Israel as a Jewish state. If you want to talk about the [‘67 borders] , we can talk about a future Palestinian state being demilitarized.… If you want to be specific, we would want some of those more favorable comments toward Israel included in the communiqué.…

In your speech at Herzliya you quoted Winston Churchill about the dangers of appeasing fascism. Is the west today appeasing terrorism?

I think terrorism is a scourge and it requires leadership to confront it. There is no room for moral ambiguity. It is the great struggle of our generation.

I was down in Sderot earlier today. Terror is not exclusively the death count, or those who are injured. What does a mother say to a child who can’t go to sleep at night because he is so scared? There are teachers teaching games to their students on what to do when they have 15 seconds [to get to a bomb shelter]. There is culture of fear that results from terrorism and the threat of terrorism. It is hard to quantify it. We can say “x number of people were killed in this or that incident” but there is a culture of fear that has gripped far too many people around the world.

Has the West adequately stepped up to the plate to deal with it?

I think Canada has. We have been very clear. We listed Hamas as a terror entity and won’t have any contact with them. I think that is the right thing to do.…

What would Canada’s policy be if [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] formed a government with Hamas?

We don’t support terrorism. That is our policy and it is crystal clear.… We just will not work with terrorists.…

Turning to Iran, [what] do we know about what is going on there?

What we know is that this is a regime that is enriching uranium and that has a clear nuclear arms program underway. That is undisputable. We know that Iran’s support of international terrorist organizations in the region—whether it is Hamas, Hezbollah or Palestinian Jihad—is an absolute disgrace and causing more problems. Iran supports a lot of evil and violence.…

We don’t just fear that Iran would like to acquire nuclear weapons and we don’t just fear that this would lead to an arms race by others trying to counterbalance them. I fear that they would use them.… I used to look at Iran through the prism of Israel. But the fear of much of the Arab world on Iran is palpable. It is a threat to Canada. It is a threat to entire international peace and security.…

[What are your views on anti-semitism?]

I think we have seen a new anti-Semitism emerge around the world—delegitimizing the state of Israel. We see it popping up in Canada: Israeli Apartheid Week on universities. It is all to delegitimize Israel.… The most horrifying thing at [the] Yad Vashem [Holocaust memorial] in many respects is not the end of your tour, but the beginning.…

Yesterday at Yad Vashem the rabbi said it was the 79th anniversary of Adolf Hitler becoming chancellor. He wrote Mein Kampf 12 years before that. None of this was a surprise or a secret. So if you have the president of Iran making these outrageous statements and then trying to acquire nuclear weapons—I mean, what more do you need to inspire fear of the potential consequences? It would be easier to just shut up and hope for the best, but that’s not the best way to conduct foreign policy.…

THE DREYFUS REVIVAL
David Breakstone

Jerusalem Magazine, January 20, 2012

When Theodor Herzl began covering the trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in 1893 as Paris correspondent of the Neue Freie Presse, he suspected that the French army officer charged with treason was guilty of the crime for which he’d been arrested. A devotee of the promises of Enlightenment and Emancipation, it was difficult for him to accept that the French republic—born of the belief in liberté, égalité and fraternité—was capable of fabricating the web of lies that would result in the public humiliation and imprisonment of a loyal French officer. Ultimately, however, the affair would have a dramatic effect in propelling him toward the conclusion that the Jews could never be at home anywhere in the world until they had a home in a land of their own.

Herzl wasn’t so much shaken by his discovery that the authorities had conspired to frame an innocent Jew, but rather by the response of the masses to Dreyfus’s conviction, culminating in the cry of the mob that continues to reverberate to this very day. “Death to Dreyfus” he might have been able to swallow, but “death to the Jews” was a different matter altogether, giving expression, in Herzl’s words, to “the wish of the overwhelming majority in France to damn a Jew, and in this one Jew, all Jews.”

Enter Rotem Singer. Hustled into a Punta Arenas courtroom last month on charges of igniting the fire that would consume 28,300 hectares (69,900 acres) of pristine Chilean forestland, the Israeli backpacker was accosted by spectators who decried him as a “stinking Jew,” unleashing a pandemic of anti-Semitism in this otherwise civilized society. Local newspapers, blogs and social networks are abuzz with the most outrageous conspiracy theories accusing Jews in general and Israelis in particular of a plot to establish a second Jewish state in southern Chile.…

Making reference to the possibility Herzl raised in his Zionist manifesto, The Jewish State, that the Jewish people might consider establishing their homeland in Argentina, an alarming and baffling number of personalities are now reviving talk of the century-old Andinia Plan, the South American equivalent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Though no such program ever existed (Herzl himself nixed the idea of Argentina two months after publishing his book), those who swear by it maintain that there is an international Jewish conspiracy to colonize southern Argentina and Chile, in the precise area of Patagonia where the conflagration was burning out of control.

Fanning these flames of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, [well-known Chilean journalist] Andres Figueroa Cornejo published a diatribe against Israel in El Ciudadano that is shocking to read, even in an age when we have become accustomed to the virulent lies and vituperative distortions that characterize the campaign to delegitimize the very idea of a Jewish state. In it he accuses Israel of crimes against the Palestinian people that, he notes, are ironically similar to those perpetrated against the Jews by Nazi Germany. What else is new? In this instance, the insinuations included in his tirade that Singer, “a militaristic Israeli” trained in the ways of occupation and domination by one of the strongest armies on the planet, was sent by the imperialist Israeli government to further its strategic geo-military objective of taking over the territory that was ravaged.

I wish we could simply dismiss this absolute hogwash as the inane gibberish of a mentally unbalanced fanatic. Unfortunately, that would be dangerous to do. Figueroa Cornejo’s rantings are based in part on a statement attributed to a member of the Chilean senate and chairman of its Foreign Affairs Committee, Eugenio Tuma of the Party for Democracy. Tuma said that “it is not normal that the Israeli government send a military team to tour Patagonia. The free transit of tourists is completely different from having a state financing and organizing its former soldiers,” who, he suggested, are being sent to the area in order to help them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder developed as a consequence of their role in oppressing the Palestinian people. These remarks were echoed by another Chilean senator, Fuad Chachin, vice president of the Christian Democratic Party, who raised questions as to whether Rotem Singer was really a tourist at all, or perhaps, as he suggested, someone sent by Israel for other reasons “after killing Palestinian children.”

Laudably, the heads of the Christian Democratic Party and the Party for Democracy have condemned these statements and distanced themselves from the anti-Semitism they reflect.… It now remains to be seen how the rest of Chilean society will react to such outrageous outbursts of anti-Semitism and whether this response will echo or rebuff Herzl’s observation of more than a century ago. “We have honestly tried everywhere to merge ourselves into the social life of surrounding communities,” he wrote. “We are not permitted to do so.… In countries where we have lived for centuries we are still cried down as strangers.…”

Hopefully [the local Zionist Federation’s] efforts and those of others in this well-organized Jewish community will mean that the negative impact of the last few weeks will be minimal. But while Singer is certainly no Dreyfus, this disagreeable episode is nevertheless an unpleasant reminder that anti-Semitism did not disappear with the advent of Zionism, as Herzl predicted it would, and that the uncomfortable question as to just how much the Jewish people can ever really be at home outside of a Jewish state remains unanswered.

(David Breakstone is deputy chairman of the World Zionist Organization
and a member of The Jewish Agency Executive.)

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH FOR POLLARD!
Dennis Deconcini

Jerusalem Post, January 24, 2012

It’s been more than 15 years since I first publicly advocated for Jonathan Pollard to be released from prison. I did so less than two years after I had completed my term as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. In reiterating that plea today, I find that a number of other high-ranking government officials have come to share my view. The time is long overdue.

In the past 18 months I have been publicly joined in that view by many noteworthy veterans of government service—including the former head of the CIA James Woolsey, the former deputy attorney-general Philip Heymann, and the former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum—all of whom have reviewed the classified information of the Pollard case.

A good deal of momentum in the push for clemency has come from people who dealt with the case from the highest positions of government, from the time Pollard was arrested on November 21, 1985. Then-secretary of state George Shultz has now publicly called for his release. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, Sen. David Durenberger, recently sent a letter to the president that I co-signed with 16 other former senators advocating Pollard’s immediate release. The fact is that the classified information I reviewed nine years after Pollard’s arrest does not justify his continued confinement.

Federal prosecutors in the Pollard case sent the court a victim-impact statement which accurately reflected the extent of his crime. In summary, the statement said that Pollard gave Israel US information on the weaponry of the Arab countries and this information deprived the US of its bargaining leverage with Israel on intelligence sharing and assisted Israel in its balance of power with the Arab countries. The statement concluded that “In short, Mr. Pollard’s activities have adversely affected US relations with both its Middle East Arab allies and the government of Israel.” This statement is also consistent with the fact that Pollard was not charged with intending to harm the US.

I am encouraged by the recent meeting between Vice President Biden and Jewish leaders to discuss Pollard’s plight. This was the highest-level meeting ever held with an administration official concerning Pollard. It is obvious that across the Jewish community there is widespread support for Pollard’s release and this view is shared by major American figures from both sides of the political aisle.…

With a presidential election coming up in less than a year it is interesting to note that the Republican candidate for president three years ago and one of his main Republican rivals for the nomination—Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mike Huckabee—have both publicly called for clemency. But I do not believe this is, or should be, a political decision. Simply put, Pollard broke the law—no matter how you slice it or dice it, he was convicted. Period. However, 27 years is far more than a sufficient sentence for the offense he committed. The president should grant him clemency.

(Dennis Deconcini is a former US senator from Arizona.)

AM YISRAEL CHAI!
Ron Prosor

Jerusalem Post, January 30, 2012

[The following speech, marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was delivered
Friday, January 27, by Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor.—
Ed.]

I, Ron Prosor, stand before you today as the child of Uri Prosor, who fled Nazi Germany when a Jewish state was still a dream—and the father of Lior, Tomer and Oren Prosor, for whom that dream is a vivid reality.

I see many from my father’s generation here today, some who survived death camps and death marches; who saw the unimaginable and still had the hope to imagine a brighter future; who endured the unspeakable and still had the courage to speak out for others. I am honored—truly honored—to be in your presence.

I see some from my children’s generation here. Today is about you. It is to you, and your children, that we extend a sacred promise during this week of [Holocaust] commemoration at the United Nations.

Today I hear the voice of a 12-year-old girl named Donia Rosen, who hid in the forests of Poland after the Nazis murdered her entire family. She wrote in her diary on June 23, 1943: “I ask you not to forget the dead. Establish a memorial to us…a statue not of marble and not of stone, but of good deeds.”

Donia’s words echo in these halls of the United Nations, which were built in the wake of the Holocaust. On this day of commemoration, I say to my UN colleagues and to all the distinguished people gathered here: the commitment of “Never Again” must be universal. It extends to each and every one of you. And ladies and gentleman, we have much work to do.

In our world today, state-sponsored anti-Semitism persists, hate fills children’s textbooks, and spiritual and religious leaders incite violence and racism. We live in a world that saw the atrocities of Auschwitz and Birkenau, only to have then witnessed the killing fields of Cambodia, the genocide in Rwanda and the ongoing massacres in Darfur. In this hall of the General Assembly—at the very podium where I stand today—Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stands every year and shamelessly denies the Holocaust, while his government threatens to carry out another one.

Our duty is clear. It is not enough to be good. We must know what to do when we face evil.…

This week we have heard many powerful stories of children who lived during the Holocaust. One of those children is Petr Ginz—a brilliant writer and an artist. He yearned to explore the universe and discover its truths, drawing a landscape of the moon well before man had laid eyes on it. I have a copy of the picture that he drew in Terezín with me today. Let me hold it up for all of you to see.

Today I ask you to think of all the works of art that were never made, all the ideas that were never known, and all the cures that were never found. The scale of destruction is incomprehensible. Look at one child, and multiply by a million and a half. Look at a member of your own family and multiply by six million. Just try to imagine!

Yet, there is something even greater than that unbearable loss: the Jewish people’s determination to endure and rebuild. We are a nation of survivors. The State of Israel is a living, breathing symbol of survival.

And although Petr’s life was cut short in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, his dreams have never died. A copy of his picture traveled with the first Israeli astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, on his journey into space on the Colombia shuttle—a mission that ended in tragedy.

From the depths of Auschwitz, to the outer reaches of space, to the halls of the United Nations, the journey of Petr’s drawing embodies the resilience of our people. It lives on. And on this day of commemoration, as a representative of the Jewish state among the nations of the world, I am so proud to say: Am Yisrael Chai! The People of Israel will live on.

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