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    Author: Miriam Elman

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    Miriam Elman

    Miriam F. Elman is an associate professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, where she is a research director in the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration.

    Since 1967 — when Israel liberated the Jewish holy sites in eastern Jerusalem — the Temple Mount has been administered by agreement through the Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian-funded trust which oversees the site’s day-to-day religious functions. The Temple Mount is the most sacred site in Judaism, sanctified as the place where the Jewish Temples existed in biblical times. It’s a place where Jews should have basic rights, including the freedom of movement and worship. But as we’ve noted in several prior posts (see here, here, here) because of the profoundly discriminatory “status quo arrangement” set in place in 1967 and subsequently upheld by Israel’s courts, Jews are prohibited from praying there for fear of potentially upsetting Muslim worshippers, stirring up tensions, and triggering violent Muslim backlashes.

    Several media watch dog groups (see here and here) have blasted reports published in The Independent, International Business Times, Times of London, and other news outlets for falsely accusing Israel of cutting off drinking water to Palestinians in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Each of these news outlets picked up a blatantly incorrect Al Jazeera report that initially included no response from Israel. They ran their own stories with it, accompanied by headlines denunciating Israel for maliciously working to deprive Palestinians of water. https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/742968004686778368

    This past Sunday Omar Barghouti blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 157 which directs NY state agencies to counter-boycott those companies that engage in discriminatory pro-BDS business activities. Barghouti (52) is one of the biggest names in BDS. He’s writes prolifically in support of the BDS agenda, goes on frequent speaking tours where he delivers vehemently anti-Israel propaganda to captive audiences on American college campuses and at mainline church events, and is featured prominently on BDS materials and in outlets that are sympathetic to the cause. In the mainstream media, he’s the go-to spokesperson of the movement and has been featured in a number of editorials in prominent newspapers (see here and here).

    Tomorrow (June 5) is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). The newest addition to the Jewish calendar, it’s held on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar—six weeks after the Passover seder and one week before the eve of the holiday of Shavuot. In June 1967, 28 Iyar was the third day of the Six Day War. As I discussed in a post for last year’s Yom Yerushalayim, the day celebrates the reunification of Israel’s capital city, when Jewish forces brought Jerusalem “back to Jewish sovereignty”. There’s a huge amount of information and research on the two-day (June 6-7, 1967) Battle for Jerusalem, when the 55th Paratroopers Brigade retook the Old City and liberated Jewish holy places from an illegal Jordanian occupation.

    Scheduled from May 25th through June 3rd, Tel Aviv Pride is a week-long series of events that celebrate gay life. For over nearly two decades, it’s become one of the city’s most popular annual festivals. Tens of thousands of gay Israelis and LGBTQ tourists from around the world enjoy the extravaganza, which seems to get bigger and better each year with new events added and more people taking part. But for anti-Israel gay activists, Tel Aviv Pride is a means for discrediting the one state in the Middle East which actually treats its gay community with dignity and respect. Below I highlight the latest campaign to put Tel Aviv Pride Week into service for BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions).

    This past Sunday more than 1,500 people—along with dozens of members of the media and press—attended The Jerusalem Post’s 5th Annual Conference in New York City. The one-day event, themed “Israel, the U.S. and the Free World Facing Global Terror,” was held at the Marriot Marquis Hotel in the heart of Times Square and Manhattan’s theater district. JPost annual conference 2016 logo According to the pre-conference publicity, the annual conference—which in the past has proved to be “both newsworthy and dazzling”—was predicted to be the “best and biggest yet”. It was indeed.

    In an unexpected move, the United Methodists decided on Tuesday to call on the church’s mission agency to withdraw its membership in the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO). Based in Washington, D.C. the USCEIO is a vehemently anti-Israel umbrella organization for the boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) movement. Its main goal is to end “all U.S. support and aid” for Israel. USCEIO logo The plenary vote on Petition 60198 (End Coalition Support) came during the church’s leading policy-making event.

    Every four years the United Methodist Church General Conference (UMCGC) meets to make policy decisions and set the direction for the denomination. From May 10th through May 20th, 864 delegates (half of them clergy) are convening at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland to consider over 1,000 resolutions. https://twitter.com/markdtooley/status/728246671138689024

    The Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism (Yom Ha’zikaron) began yesterday when a memorial siren at 8:00 p.m. brought Israel to a standstill. It marked the start of the commemoration day nationwide, with an official state candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall (the Kotel) in Jerusalem also taking place at that time. https://twitter.com/Hilajes81/status/730323383284604929 Another two-minute siren wailed this morning across Israel.

    In the saturated market of U.S. anti-Israel activism, the political organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) plays a starring role. In many posts (see a partial list here), we’ve highlighted how JVP provides the façade of American Jewish support for pro-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) organizations arrayed against the Jewish state. By presenting itself as the Jewish justification for BDS, the group gives “cover” to political and economic war on Israel, insulating BDS from allegations of anti-Semitism and providing it with a veneer of legitimacy. On its website, JVP boasts over 60 member-led chapters across the United States and more than 200,000 online supporters. These days it also has increased access to funding, which it uses to promote and publicize its “high profile” anti-Israel activism.

    This past week during Passover, Palestinians rioted and assaulted several Jews on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Judaism’s most sacred site. As we highlighted in an earlier post, the mere sight of Jews at their holiest place was seen by Muslims there as an affront. Two Jewish men who dared to pray were beaten up. Other Jewish visitors were harassed with verbal taunts and Israeli police and border patrol units also came under attack. But the Temple Mount wasn’t the only place where Muslims rioted against Jewish worshippers this Passover. On April 27, Jews making a pilgrimage to Joseph’s Tomb, located near the biblical city of Shechem, were also set upon by Muslim rioters.

    This past week, during the intermediate days of Passover (Chol Hamoed), nearly 900 Israeli Jews, roughly 100 to 300 per day, ascended Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Thousands of tourists also visited the sacred place over the course of the week. The site is the place of the two Jewish Temples in antiquity. It’s considered Judaism’s “holiest of holies” and is treasured by Jews across the planet. [caption id="attachment_136001" align="alignnone" width="600"]The Jewish Temple, replica The Jewish Temple, replica[/caption]

    Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a non-Jewish organization that gives cover to the anti-Israel boycott movement (BDS) and its political war on Israel by washing away the stains of anti-Semitism that are central to the BDS movement’s founding, actions and identity. As we noted in a prior post, JVP operates in multiple arenas to exploit Jewish culture and traditions, putting them into service for a vehemently anti-Israel propaganda campaign:
    In its written materials and presentations, JVP reinforces that its anti-Israel positions are consistent with Jewish values. Toward this end, it usurps the Jewish life cycle and religious holidays by incorporating anti-Israel themes into traditional celebratory and commemorative events”.
    This JVP identity theft of Jewish heritage and narrative is particularly visible at Passover, which begins April 22 this year.

    Twelve years ago President George W. Bush delivered a two-page letter to the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The exchange took place at a White House press conference on April 14, 2004. [caption id="attachment_168208" align="alignnone" width="595"]President George W. Bush and PM Ariel Sharon, Cross Hall, White House press conference, April 14, 2004 | credit: White House archives President George W. Bush and PM Ariel Sharon, Cross Hall, White House press conference, April 14, 2004 | credit: White House archives[/caption]

    In a recent post, we highlighted how Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) is being promoted in America’s liberal Protestant churches. As we discussed, a malicious strain of anti-Israelism has taken root in these progressive churches largely because of a deep-seated organizational dysfunction:
    A vocal and strong minority within the church have led the charge, aided and abetted by a host of venomously anti-Israel Palestinians and their useful fools—a coterie of Jewish enablers. Together, they’ve pushed hard for divestment and boycott initiatives against Israel, gaining an institutional footing by exploiting the language of human rights, monopolizing the discourse, and drowning out dissenting voices”.
    UCEIO, Huge News on church divestment Our focus in the prior post was on three U.S. mainline churches—the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Unitarian Universalist Association (Church) (UUA). All three will feature a number of anti-Israel resolutions at their annual meetings this spring. "Officials" of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) recently decided to divest from three companies in its portfolio that do business in Israel and allegedly assist in the violation of Palestinian rights. That investment decision is not the end of the story, however.

    In a post last December we highlighted the history of Israel’s prisoner exchanges with various Palestinian armed factions. As we noted:
    For the past three decades, Israel has been forced to exchange scores of incarcerated terrorists for a mere handful of its POWs. In the majority of these lopsided prisoner swaps the Israeli soldiers had already been killed and came home in body bags. And in many cases the freed terrorists have gone on to perpetrate further terror attacks”.
    Israeli soldiers, either dead or alive, have proven to be valuable bargaining chips. So basically, as we discussed, Palestinian terror organizations have been running a prisoner-exchange extortion racket. Now it looks like Israel may again be forced to pay a steep price for several of its civilians too. On Friday, Hamas publicly claimed for the first time that it was holding two Israeli men in captivity.

    The Republican candidates made a lot of pledges to the record-breaking pro-Israel crowd at last week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, D.C. Among them was the promise that they’ll move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, if he becomes President, will Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or John Kasich move the American Embassy to Israel’s capital city? Don’t count on it.

    Promises, promises

    Moving the embassy would break with over two decades of bipartisan White House policy to circumvent the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, a law which mandates its relocation. [caption id="attachment_128948" align="alignnone" width="600"]U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv Beach Satellite [U.S. Embassy location on Tel Aviv Beach][/caption]

    At a 9:00am press conference this morning, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Islamic State’s actions perpetrated against ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians, are “genocidal” and constitute crimes against humanity. In the brief (10 minute) statement, Kerry refers throughout to the Islamic State (ISIS) as Daesh, its Arabic acronym. https://twitter.com/Malinowski/status/710456022247280640
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