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Polish-Israeli relations thaw with appointment of Israel’s new foreign minister – The First News

Posted By on June 5, 2020

A recent telephone conversation between the countries foreign ministers has been interpreted as the sign of a reset in relations between Israel and Poland. Jan Karwowski/PAP

Polands Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz spoke to his new Israeli counterpart this week, in what has been heralded a reset between the two countries.

Poland and Israel are united by many ties, from economic to cultural cooperation. However, relations came under strain over history last year, with previous Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz saying that Poles suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers milk. Polands ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski responded by condemning the remark as shameful and racist.

Israels new foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi initiated the call following his appointment last month.Michal Fattal/PAP/EPA

Now Israel has a new foreign minister: military leader Gabi Ashkenazi, whose previous posts include chief of general staff of the Israel Defence Forces. Katz was appointed minister of finance.

Since Ashkenazi took office on 17 May, he has checked in with counterparts in other countries, including Poland. On 3 June, he held a telephone conversation with Polands Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz, which was initiated by the Israeli side.

Czaputowicz emphasised Polands interest in developing cooperation with Israel, especially in science, technology, security and youth exchange.Piotr Nowak/PAP

Ashkenazi and Czaputowiczs conversation included bilateral relations. Czaputowicz emphasised Polands interest in developing cooperation with Israel, especially in science, technology, security and youth exchange. Ashkenazi said that he sees great potential for collaboration in various areas, including the fight against the coronavirus.

They also spoke about the situation in the Middle East, including in the context of the Warsaw Process, which aims to bring security to the region and enhance cooperation there.Ashkenazi thanked Polands for its role in international efforts to increase the regions stability.

Relations between the two countries came under strain over history last year, with the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz saying that Poles suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers milk.Abir Sultan/PAP/EPA

The countries plan to remain in contact and continue developing cooperation once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

The conversation between Ashkenazi and Czaputowicz has been interpreted as the sign of a reset in relations between Israel and Poland. Writing in the Jerusalem Post, senior contributing editor Herb Keinon called Ashkenazis appointment a reset.

Gabi Ashkenazi was previously chief of general staff of the Israel Defence Forces.Public domain

The Ashkenazi outreach shows that Jerusalem realizes Poland is a large and significant country in Central Europe, and one with whom Israel wants to resume normal ties despite the differences, he wrote.

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Polish-Israeli relations thaw with appointment of Israel's new foreign minister - The First News

Jews with white privilege must work to make change – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

Posted By on June 5, 2020

In the beginning of the 20th century, not too long after my maternal great-grandfather arrived in New York from Eastern Europe, the police commissioner of New York City, Theodore Bingham, published a treatise titled Foreign Criminals in New York, in which he described the inherent criminality of two groups that were perceived as a non-white menace at the time: Jews and Italians.

The Russian Hebrews, as he called Ashkenazi immigrants, are burglars, firebugs, pickpockets and highway robbers when they have the courage; but, though all crime is their province, pocket-picking is the one to which they seem to take most naturally.

Bingham described the threat of young Jewish boys who are being brought up to lives of crime, he wrote. Many of them are old offenders at the age of 10. The juvenile Hebrew emulates the adult in the matter of crime percentages, 40 percent of the boys at the House of Refuge and 27 percent of those arraigned in the Childrens Court being of that race. The percentage of Hebrew children in the truant schools is also higher than that of any others.

This insistence on seeing Jews as criminals even when they were children was nothing new by the time Bingham published his paper in 1908, and persisted for years afterward, as historian Aaron Welt wrote in a recent paper in the journal American Jewish History.

Life in New York exacerbated the distrust many Jewish immigrants had of state agents, especially following experiences of police brutality or corruption, Welt wrote. And Bingham did not improve matters: [His] approach to law enforcement represented a 19th century tradition that progressive reformers increasingly viewed as archaic and counterproductive.

Trained in the military, Bingham implemented martial hierarchy in the NYPD he expressed admiration for the strict surveillance and draconian tactics of authoritarian police departments of Europe, especially the Italian carabinieri. Unsurprisingly, the commissioner often called for loosening the rules over policemens use of nightsticks.

How things have changed.

Today, most white Jews do not reflexively fear the police. We are not regularly stopped and challenged to account for ourselves; we are not mistaken for each other after an APB goes out; we are not shot during traffic stops. If I approach a police officer for help, I know I will be treated decently, albeit with characteristic Philadelphia brusqueness. When I explained to an officer last year during a traffic stop that I didnt know my headlight was out, he apologized for the inconvenience and explained why he had to give me a ticket though he wished he didnt have to.

When I was regularly reporting on real estate, and trespassed on building sites in the course of my work, a cop would occasionally call to me, Miss! You cant be there! without getting out of his cruiser. Id make some friendly remark and hed smile and wave and off wed both go.

Yet had I been born when my grandmother was, in 1910 in New York, I would have grown up as a vision of criminality and threat to the police; I would have lived in a community where I had to be corralled and controlled. I cant imagine the physical tension my relatives must have felt in their shoulders every day when police officers came to the neighborhood, how exhausted they must have been from trying to behave well despite knowing that behavior had nothing to do with it. It wasnt about what they did; it was about who they were.

And thats what its like for black Americans today, who are saddled with the perception of inherent racial traits of criminality, as Welt wrote of the Jews. A black man cant be unaware of a broken headlight, as I was, because getting pulled over can be life-threatening. He cant throw on a hoodie and pop out to the ATM without watching his back.

If hes drinking coffee, birdwatching, going for a jog or talking on the phone, he has to be vigilant, always, because he is being watched and assessed, his danger manifest simply in the color of his skin. When I look on neighborhood listservs or on NextDoor and see a post, Saw someone suspicious today I know that someone will be a black male. Unfailingly. Had I lived in New York in 1910, Im quite sure I would have been seen as suspicious, and shooed off a stoop with a broom like a rat before I even had a chance to knock. But now I can knock on any door and be granted entry a small white woman like me, so harmless. Meanwhile black people are arrested trying to enter their own homes and killed while eating ice cream on their couches and sleeping in their beds.

Something happened over the years to transform white Jews into people who are no longer physically feared by the rest of society. Our whiteness, which could not be seen 100 years ago, is now all thats seen unless we wear clothing or jewelry to indicate who we are. In my college years, during a semester abroad in Spain, I was the subject of vicious anti-Semitism until I stopped wearing my Star of David necklace. African Americans in the U.S. cannot remove their blackness.

While race may be a social construct, white Jews have the possibility to pass through society at its highest levels without being harassed or arrested. This is a kind privilege that black people can never experience. Our entire culture has to change if we want black Americans to undergo the kind of transformation white ethnic groups did. Which is to say: from suspect to citizen.

And Jews with white privilege have to be dogged in support of this change for black Americans, just as we would have wanted others to support us in the earlier years of our struggle with American identity. We must summon the experience of our relatives who feared the police with good reason, who were unable to walk a street with the lightness of being and anonymity many of us though not all enjoy today.

We must empathize with our brothers and sisters of color, Jewish and otherwise. We must understand how oppression can turn to rage, how poverty engenders desperation, how feeling undermined and second-guessed and unseen every single day can bring people to the brink when their hearts are broken.

My heart is broken too. Its broken for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others. Its broken for the independent business owners whose livelihood is compromised when their stores are looted. Its broken by the white supremacist groups fomenting violence by posing online as protesters and skewing the narrative. Its broken by our division, our tragic rupture.

Growing up, I was taught to celebrate Jewish resistance and uprising. At 21, I stood at Masada and breathed in the spirit of my ancestors determination. Each year I celebrate the might of the Maccabees and our freedom from slavery at Passover. We Jews know how it feels to be raging, to be broken, to live in terror of our fellow human beings. We know how it feels to want to fight back. Now we must not only respect that fight in others but join in to fix what's broken. I hope we can all hold hope in our hearts for each other and move forward to live together without fear.

We have to find a way. JN

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Jews with white privilege must work to make change - Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

I helped coin the term ‘Jews of color.’ It’s time for a history lesson. – JTA News

Posted By on June 5, 2020

This story originally appeared on Alma.

Last week, eJewish Philanthropy, an independent publication serving the professional Jewish community, published an op-ed titled How Many Jews of Color Are There? The article argued that current estimates of the number of Jews of Color in the United States, which have been recently estimated at 12-15% of the larger Jewish community, are too high. It also criticized the use of the term Jews of Color, arguing that it doesnt accurately describe the people to whom it refers.

I am one of the originators of the term Jews of Color, and I think its time for a history lesson. We havent done enough to tell the story of what the term meant to its early adopters, and why it is in continuous use today.

In 2001, Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends published an issue titled Writing and Art by and for Jewish Women of Color. The issues international team of contributors and editors were Jewish women of diverse heritages and identities, including Indigenous, African-American, Chinese American, Ethiopian, Puerto Rican, Arab, Indian, Peruvian, Yemenite, Mizrahi, Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Mixed Heritage and Jews by choice.

I wrote the introduction for that Bridges issue. This collection of writings and artwork by Jewish women of color Jewish women of African, Asian, Latin, and Native American heritages offers readers a chance to think about racism within the Jewish community, I began.

How we name ourselves and our experiences is a place to begin, I continued, arguing for use of a new term: Jews of Color. It was the first time, to our knowledge, that the term had been used in print in a national publication.

Over the next 20 years, a range of initiatives, networks, and organizations have been organized using the Jews of Color framing. We even became an acronym: JOCs! Our work has focused on acknowledging and lifting up the racial and ethnic diversity in our communities, and finding ways to end the exclusion we experience as racial and ethnic minorities within U.S. Jewish spaces.

Some examples of this exclusion mirror racial and ethnic exclusion in the wider U.S. society; for example, the lack of images of people who look like us in educational materials, and the lack of diversity among staff and leaders in our institutions. Other examples are specific to U.S. Jewish spaces, such as the general dearth of acknowledgement of non-Ashkenazi histories, melodies, or nusach (prayer services), and the experience of being mistaken for a waiter or custodian at our own synagogues.

But recently, I have been troubled by what seems to be a growing amount of confusion surrounding this term and how it has been applied in our work to create more welcoming and inclusive Jewish communities.

The idea for the Bridges issue came into being in the late 1990s, when progressives placed great value on multicultural coalitions. [The term] people of color created a basis to do coalition-building among all people targeted by racism as nonwhites, I wrote. Using the phrase Jews of color can help people think about how some Jews have been targeted by racism because they are of backgrounds other than, or in addition to, European[and] mindful use of the term Jews of Color can be a political act.

The term was indeed used mindfully by its early adopters it was our call for a new coalition. It was a tool that we used to crack open the door to conversations about racial and ethnic minority within a minority experiences in Jewish communities. It was a nod to the idea that we simply cannot totally disentangle the Eurocentrism in our U.S. Jewish communities from the Eurocentrism in the wider world, nor the various varieties of contemporary American xenophobia from the eternal specter of American racism.

Its important to note that Jews of Color is a term that was created by women. And it has been in continuous use over decades of women-led organizing. When placed in this historical context, any criticism by men of the term Jews of Color, such as that which was employed in the recent eJewish Philanthropy article, is also a gendered criticism.

In 2004, Sarah Tauber, current professor at the Jewish Theological Seminarys Graduate School of Education, wrote a beautiful review of our Bridges issue. In it, she made a bold statement: These women-speakers and subjects claim a voice, a place, and a role in how Jewishness as an identity will be imagined, and thus defined, in the twenty-first century. She was right. It is no exaggeration that many of the women who were doing early work in this area have had an outsize impact on Jewish life in 2020. As our communities and our work have grown over time, so has the experience of naming ourselves. But one thing has remained constant: The work continues to be led by mostly women.

Twenty years ago, I couldnt have imagined the incredible work of then-future generations of Jewish diversity leaders, or their own journeys of self-naming. I now understand better that the act of naming ourselves is an ongoing process that happens through shared experience like a river that, as it flows, will continuously change its surroundings as well as be changed by them. Today there are folks mobilizing as Jews of Color, Jewish People of Color, Jewish Women of Color, Jews Targeted by Racism, Jews of the Global Majority, Jews of Color Indigenous Sephardim and Mizrahim, Black Indigenous Jews of Color Sephardim and Mizrahim, and each of these terms has been generated through shared experiences of people doing the work. And the list will continue to grow, as long as there is a need to name the marginalization we experience.

I dont know that any of us early adopters of the term Jews of Color foresaw the way that the uses and understandings of the term would evolve. I certainly did not anticipate how the term would become essentialized and even weaponized by those who think they know better than we do about the names we have chosen for ourselves and our own damn lives.

Africana scholar Wade W. Nobles has written about self-naming as an act of cultural resistance, essential to psychological protection and well-being. He describes such cultural resistance as a tool for being family and being awesome in a hostile, toxicreality that would deny Black people our humanness. In our continued work to eliminate the ways that racism impacts our Jewish communities, let us lift up the act of Jews of Color naming ourselves, as a way of being family and as a way of being awesome in the face of the hostility and toxicity of racism.

Header image design by Emily Burack. Friend group via Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images and background via beastfromeast/Getty Images.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.


I helped coin the term 'Jews of color.' It's time for a history lesson. - JTA News

Do Azerbaijan and Israel possess the secrets of a long life? – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on June 5, 2020

As coronavirus-induced mortality rates feature persistently in the nightly news, life feels more fleeting and fragile than before. Yet Israeli and Azerbaijani researchers are among those investigating the secrets behind longevity.High in the mountain forests of Eurasias Caucasus region and down in the leafy lowlands of Azerbaijan, clusters of superagers generally those age 90 and above have inspired generations of documentarians and scientists alike to plumb the mysteries of living a long life.Storytellers long have circulated tales of groups of Azerbaijanis living to be more than 120; a museum in the city of Lankaran honors the countrys long livers. Since the 1970s, Azerbaijans overall life expectancy has settled into the global-average range of 71. Still, an unusual number of Azerbaijanis, primarily in remote areas, have overwhelmingly defied the average.What exactly affords Azerbaijans superagers the ability to keep on living?ClustersWhy have clusters of superagers not just isolated superagers appeared in Azerbaijan and elsewhere in the world? Genes and family history come into play. Looking at the clusters in Azerbaijan may add to the body of knowledge of medical factors and family patterns that proactively contribute to longevity.A growing number of scientists consider aging to be a preventable condition that can be addressed by gene therapy. Such an approach contrasts with the medical communitys traditional focus on the risk factors that pose impediments to long life. Lessons to be learned from Azerbaijan and elsewhere may contribute to our ability to prolong life.GeneticsThe New York-based Albert Einstein College of Medicines Dr. Nir Barzilai, an eminent leader in longevity research, has not personally examined the Azerbaijani case but points to his long-term research on Ashkenazi Jews in discussing the issue of clusters.Israeli-born Barzilai, founding director of the colleges Institute for Aging Studies and scientific director of the American Federation for Aging Research, has identified or corroborated longevity-associated gene markers that include the cholesteryl ester transfer protein gene (CETP). In one form, CETP correlates with slower memory decline, lower dementia risk, and significant protection against heart disease. CETPs appearance is affiliated with higher good cholesterol (HDL). Scientists and pharmaceutical companies such as Merck have looked to CETP and other identifying markers as means to interrupt age-related diseases.Barzilais study of the largely homogeneous Ashkenazi Jewish population has revealed shared genetic elements resulting in patterns. The research has helped Barzilai and others develop mitochondria-based therapeutics for diseases associated with aging.LifestyleLifestyle matters, scientists and laypeople generally agree. Whether it be taking daily walks or turning off the news, people who live a life focused (but not overly focused) on healthy habits tend to live longer.Dr. Anatoly Khaimovich Rafailov, a surgeon with more than 40 years of experience who leads the Azerbaijan-Israel Inter-Parliamentary Work Group in the Azerbaijani Parliament, attributes the high life expectancy in some regions of Azerbaijan to two factors. First: the residents of those regions widely use Berberis (Barberry) in their everyday meal. The anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other healing properties of Berberis are well-known since ancient times, he says. The second factor is that people there are very active physically daily, they walk about 18-20 kilometers (11-12 miles). And motion is life.Many Azerbaijanis cite a diet centered on unprocessed, organic foods and a lack of involvement in harried debate as keys to long life. Dr. Tahir Amiraslanov, president of the Azerbaijan National Culinary Association and editor-in-chief of the Kulina scientific journal, says, People eat what they grow, use clean water and fresh air, live in a house with a large, multigenerational family, and overall live a natural life and try to do good things.Professor Ulduz Hashimova, director of the Institute of Physiology at the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences in the countrys capital of Baku, shares that her institute has made understanding superaging an institutional priority for several years. The institutes comprehensive research has spanned disciplines, from genealogy to ecology, neurology, biochemistry, and beyond. Most published works deriving from this effort are written in Russian, which may partially explain the Wests general lack of familiarity with this research.From the pandemic to the futureAzerbaijan has fostered significant partnerships in the humanities and other disciplines, and the West is building an understanding of Azerbaijani culture and contributions. Amid the pandemic and in the coming years, the US scientific community may look to Israel and Azerbaijan who are partners in technical and other arenas for breakthroughs in the understanding of aging.The Azerbaijani superaging phenomenon may also be of particular interest to social scientists, given major societal changes during the past century. Consider this: Someone over the age of 100 might have witnessed what is now the Republic of Azerbaijan as a portion of the Russian Empire, a part of the early Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, and as an S.S.R. of the Soviet Union.As societies become increasingly heterogeneous, we can learn from families and communities with shared characteristics. We may unlock more life-extending therapies. Meanwhile, as research progresses, we can make the lifestyle changes already identified as keys to longevity.Diana Cohen Altman, principal of Cultural Diplomacy Associates, L.L.C., and former executive director of the US cultural non-profit Karabakh Foundation, writes extensively about Azerbaijani cultural and civil-society topics.

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Do Azerbaijan and Israel possess the secrets of a long life? - The Jerusalem Post

Can Israels friends save it from the EUs wrath? – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on June 5, 2020

It seems like every few days theres news of another European leader commenting on the possibility that Israel will apply its laws to parts of the West Bank. Unsurprisingly, theyre almost always against it.But within this dj-vu-inducing news cycle, theres one specific recurring event: European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell releases a statement calling for Israel to adhere to international law, sometimes with the more threatening addition that the EU will take action in response to unilateral moves.Then, we hear about the behind-the-scenes debate. Hungary, Czech Republic and Austria, but sometimes others, have misgivings, and each EU member state has veto power over foreign policy. Most are fine with the statements. Certain countries, usually Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland and Sweden, lead the pack, but often others as well, like France of late, even push for harsher, more specific threats, like sanctions of some form.Instead of working out something everyone can agree on, Borrell releases the statement as his own. Many of the countries that are more aggressive on the Israel front then release their own statements or have their UN ambassadors make comments similar to Borrells in the Security Council.In all the times this has happened in recent months, the largest number of countries to say no to a Borrell statement was eight out of 27, and it was because of the timing he warned the new government off of annexation before the government was officially sworn in. The core team breaking from the rest of the EU pack is three countries deep.This raises the question: Is the small group defending Israel in the EU enough to save it from the wrath of the rest, if Israel moves forward with sovereignty in the West Bank?After hours of discussions in recent months with European diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity so they could say less-than-diplomatic things, the conclusion seems to be yes... and no. THE MAJOR objectors to Borrells statements point to the timing. Hungarys current government views itself as aligned with US President Donald Trump in many ways, and has enthusiastically backed the American peace plan, including annexation, and in that way is unique even among the more pro-American EU member states. Austria and the Czech Republic are both deeply pro-Israel with almost no political opposition to their governments policies toward the Jewish state. In the Czech Republic, this has gone back decades, and in Austria, its a more recent development. Still, both countries foreign ministers spoke out against annexation recently, though in the Czech case, there was significant pushback from the prime minister and president. All three of the major Israel supporters opposed the Borrell statements based on the argument that they dont criticize something that didnt happen, as one diplomat said. Another said we dont know the timeline. Yet another pointed out that there is no map yet for where Israel wants sovereignty, and that the US seems to be cooling on the idea, anyway.But they also tend to oppose the tenor of the statements, which one diplomat called politics by proclamation. They called for a more constructive approach.If you want to accomplish something, sit down and talk, the source suggested.Another colorfully described the EU as shadowboxing, as in, it is in denial about not really being a player in this matter.Even if Israel moves forward with sovereignty, at least one, if not all, of the friendlier countries is likely to veto economic sanctions. Hungarian Foreign Minister Pter Szijjrt promised to stand up for Israel in the EU, UN and International Criminal Court in his first conversation with new Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.It would not be a comfortable position for Israel to be in, if the vast majority of Israels biggest trading partner were to oppose trade, but one countrys objection is enough to salvage the situation. Individual countries cannot ban trade. Trade policy is set by the EU as a whole and not by individual or subgroups of member states.However, next year the EU will launch Horizon Europe, a 100 billion scientific research initiative, on which Israeli science and innovation are very dependent. One country can veto Israels participation in the program. Or individual countries can ban research cooperation with Israel.There has also been some talk of withdrawal from the 2013 Open Skies Agreement, which allows for direct flights between Israel and any airport in the EU. ANY DISCUSSION of EU policy toward Israel needs, to some extent, to be taken more broadly in the context of EU politics.The Czech Republic and Hungary are half of the tight-knit Visegrad Group of countries, along with Poland and Slovakia, which works to represent shared Central European interests within the framework of the EU.Its important to point out that they are not Euroskeptic; the EU is important to all of these countries economies, and there are no serious discussions of a departure, nor is the idea popular among their citizens. However, they work together to push back against the dominance of some of their larger neighbors to their west and make sure that their views are heard. Theyre not willing to be dismissed as post-communist and therefore somehow less developed or democratic, with less of a say than others. Theyre Euro-realist and critical of Brussels excesses, one diplomat said. Another said they seek to balance not wanting to be Mr. No with having our own say. Foreign policy generally and Israel specifically are just one issue on which these countries tend to buck the European trend.Austria is not a Visegrad country, but in the same interview in which Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said he would oppose Israel unilaterally annexing parts of the West Bank, he said Vienna wants a greater role in shaping EU policy, and that the government under Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is being more assertive in making its positions known. And like the Visegrad states, theyre not happy with the Franco-German EU budget proposal that spends a lot on bailing out the mostly Southern European countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.With coronavirus, plus the EU budget debate roiling in Brussels, Israel is not anyones top priority right now. Even the US, which proposed the peace plan, has made that amply clear to Israel, and in Europe, its even more so.A busy agenda with little time to examine new issues makes for superficial, knee-jerk responses, and when it comes to Israel, countries repeat their dogma and revert to their usual positions.More than one diplomatic source lamented that some of the comments made in EU foreign ministers meetings sound woefully out of touch and ignoring realities. For example, many seem to be unaware of the significance of Blue and White being a major coalition partner and Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Ashkenazi being much less enthusiastic about annexation than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is. This all goes back to the issue of condemning and threatening Israel before anything has actually happened yet.Diplomats also pointed to the political needs and positions of officials in Brussels and around the EU, with one going so far as to dismiss Borrell as a socialist, and another shrugging and saying that leftists love Palestinians and citing a growing Muslim population in Western Europe.One source cited a philosophic reason for some countries favoring Israels and others singling Israel out for opprobrium, which is their views on nationality. He pointed to post-nationalism and dogmatic multiculturalism as increasingly popular views in the EU and said that countries with weaker national cohesion tend to be less supportive of Israel an explanation that could work for Belgium or Spain, but makes somewhat less sense for much of Scandinavia.In any case, his idea was that some Europeans dont understand the point of Israel being a nation-state and view the whole concept as backward and needing to be kept at bay.MOVING FORWARD, if Israel wants to strengthen its position in the EU and not just be dependent on one, two or three countries, one European diplomat recommended that Israel work harder to foster closer ties with other pro-American EU member states. The eastern Baltic states are particularly vulnerable to Russian intervention and have been victims of repeated cyberattacks, and thus tend to be more aligned with the US, and could use Israels cybersecurity expertises.Poland is one of the most pro-American and pro-Trump countries in Europe. A Pew poll from earlier this year showed that Israel was the country in which Trump had the highest approval rate for his foreign policy, with Poland in second place.A diplomat suggested Israel work to repair the ties between Israel and Poland that have been frayed since Warsaw outlawed blaming the Polish people for any part of the Holocaust. The subsequent war of words between officials included former foreign minister Israel Katz, who on his first day on the job quoted prime minister Yitzhak Shamirs claim that Poles get antisemitism in their mothers milk. A positive conversation between Ashkenazi and his Polish counterpart this week seems to be a step toward bringing ties back to what they were.Regardless of whether those ideas pan out, Israel has some reliable friends in the EU that can block major sanctions. But its worth keeping in mind that theyre in the minority and cant promise Israel and Europes material ties will remain unscathed.

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Can Israels friends save it from the EUs wrath? - The Jerusalem Post

Analysis: Israeli annexation will harm everyone and please nobody – Middle East Eye

Posted By on June 5, 2020

If you meet an Israeli and wonder if they are rightor left, just listen to the terminology they use.

If they insist on referring to theplanned process of Israel appropriating the Jordan Valley and other large parts of the occupied West Bank as applying sovereignty, they are certainly a right-winger. If they use the term annexation, chances are thisIsraeli leans to the left, as the term is used to refer to a violation of international law.

The thought process is simple: right-wing logic says you cannot annex something that is yours to begin with.

Israel's planned annexation of the Jordan Valley: Why it matters

The annexation of the Jordan Valleycould effectively kill whatever hopes remain for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict as it would render completely impossible the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.

In April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement with his rival Benny Gantz to form a unity government that seek to impose Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. Legislature could be discussed from 1 July.

The Jordan Valley accounts for around one-third of the occupied West Bank (almost 2,400 square kilometres), where 30 Israeli agriculturalsettlements housearound 11,000 settlers.

Some 56,000 Palestinians also reside in the Jordan Valley, including in the city of Jericho, where their daily lives are deeply impacted by Israeli occupation policies.

The area is rich in minerals and agricultural soil and is a highly strategic area, as it lies along the Jordanian border.

Jordan, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and senior officials in the European Union openly oppose the annexation plan, while the administration ofUS President Donald Trump has encouraged such moves.

It is not just the linguistics that divide Israelis into two almost equal halves.

According to a new opinion poll published by Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI) on 3 June, over half of Israelis support applying Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, by which they mean annexing the West Bank.

The level of support is surprising given most Israelis do not really know what it is all about.

Though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still aiming for 1 July as his D-Day to launch the project, no roadmap has yet been presented.

What is more surprising is the fact that 58 percent of Israelis, according to the same poll, believe such a move will be followed by the outbreak of a third Intifada, or Palestinian uprising - meaning many of those supportive of annexation are very much aware of thecost ofsuch a life-changing step.

'Palestinian riots cannot be defined as a price to pay for annexation... We can deal with it'

-Uzi Dayan, LikudMP

Uzi Dayan, an MP of Netanyahu's Likud party and retired major-general, is not just any clueless Israeli. He was the commander of an elite military unit and headed the Israeli National Security Council.

Dayan sounds honestly surprised when asked about the price.

Palestinian riots cannot be defined as a price to pay for annexation, he tells Middle East Eye. We can deal with it.

Despite being openly secular, Dayan echoed beliefs of many right-wing religious Israelisby citing Biblical reasoning for a very modern issue.

The Jordan River has been the national border of Israel since Joshua crossed it opposite Jericho on his way to conquer the land of Canaan. It is back then that the Jordan River became the border of our kingdom, he says.

And, of course, it is a security border as well, that provides the strategic depth for the effective fight against terrorism.

Not all senior security officials think like Dayan. In fact, a growing number talk openly against what they perceive as nothing less than a looming disaster.

This is the underlying sentiment among generations of heads of security branches, says Colonel (reserve) Gilead Sher, who served as chief of staff to Ehud Barak and chief negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinian leadership.

They refer to annexation as a disaster. One thing is for sure: this is a nationally and internationally formative step not based on national interest, but rather on the political interest of the ruling government, Sher, who is now a senior research fellow at theInstitute for National Security Studies (INSS) and the Baker Institute in Houston, tells MEE.

In a Radio 103FM interview, theformer head of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency,Yoram Cohen, described the timing of annexation as a big mistake.

Why are we doing it, he wondered.Out of ideology?

He left the question unanswered, insinuating other motivations.

Just as Israel plunges into the most significant event since the 1967 Middle East war - which ended 53 years ago on Friday - confusion prevails.

On the one hand, the worldwide coronavirus pandemic provides what might be a convenient smokescreen.

World leaders are immersed in their own struggles against the plague. The United States is struggling with both Covid-19 and a soaring racial crisis.

Netanyahu and Abbas are making promises they hope to break

On the other hand, this temporary distraction may in the future become a double-edged sword.

Politicians, defence officials and bewildered citizens ask themselves a long series of questions:

Does Netanyahu really want annexation - or is he waiting for a last-minute obstacle to pop up and allow him, at least for the time being, a graceful exit and way to save face at the same time?

What do Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, the defence and foreign ministers from the Blue and White party, really want?

In the coalition agreement they signed with Netanyahu, they committed to support annexation pending international and regional conditions. If you fail to understand this intricate phrasing, you are not alone. Many in both the political and security arena ask themselves the very same question.

After all, both Gantz and Ashkenazi served as military chiefs of staff, and are very much aware of the long history of debates over annexation, a move that was rejected even by hawkish Ariel Sharon.

So far, they keep silent. Sources close to both insinuate they are acting behind the scenes to either postpone or minimise the scope and the significance of the act.

At this point, this tacit policy - if real - is certainly not sufficient.

Any unilateral annexation - regardless of the percentage annexed - is strategically wrong for Israel. Politically wrong, diplomatically wrong, economically wrong. It is certainly wrong for the security of Israel, Sher tells MEE.

Framing annexation under the title of applying sovereignty and security interest is plain manipulative.

According to Sher, there is no upside to annexation, nor any advantage other than satisfying the messianic needs of Israeli religious-nationalists and Evangelists in the US, which form the support base of President Donald Trump, a staunch ally of Netanyahu.

What it really means for Israel is the end of the Zionist vision and self-determination of Israel as a legitimate and moral entity. A certain level of ambiguity is deliberately preserved so that no one really knows the intentions and the possible outcome, Sher adds.

On the practical level, it takes us back to pre-Oslo (Accords) days and worsens Israels situation in all possible aspects, Sher continues, adding that the policy is being pursued just because of the whim ofTrump, who allows this messianic pyromania, not understanding - or not caring - about its ramifications.

When asked about other unilateral steps taken by Israel he deems successful, like the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 and disengagement from Gaza, Sher points out there is a big difference:

In the two cases you mention, Israel actually left. The plan now is to move in, create a 1,400 km-long border and resume control over the lives of 250,000 Palestinians.

Israeli annexation: How will Jordan respond?

An argument for annexation of the Jordan Valley often raised by Israelis is the mantra this is what the Jordanians really want, which has been repeated as if common wisdom. It is the belief that Jordan would rather have Israelis at its border, not Palestinians.

This is worse than just patronising, Oded Eran, former Israeli ambassador to Jordan, tells MEE, calling the attitude wishful thinking.

It is true that Israel and Jordan may share a mutual interest in not having a Palestinian state, or at least a weakened one. But we have to bear in mind that east of Jordan River is the mirror image of everything happening on the west side, he says. When unrest or riots erupt in the West Bank, it has immediate implications on the situation in Jordan.

The Jordanian governments preference is actually moot, Eran argues.

It really does not matter what Abdullah, king of Jordan, thinks deep in his heart. What matters is the official line that has not changed since 1967. It is integrated into the Arab Peace Initiative: a Palestinian state on occupied Palestinian territories with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. Thats it, he says.

Therefore, all this guesswork as to what the king really thinks is irrelevant. Any riots or uprising on this side of the Jordan River will be reflected in what happens on the other side.

A short time before the outbreak of coronavirus, Eran, now senior research fellow at theINSS, visited Amman and met with a senior official.

Eran refuses to get into the details of what he heard, saying only half jokingly: I did not even bother to ask the person I met what he really thinks. I would have been thrown down the stairs.

Over the years, Eran served as a negotiator in many talks with the Palestinians, and was deeply involved in the ins and outs of all failed peace plans and offered solutions. He notes that in all the years of his premiership, Netanyahu never mentioned annexation - until Trump came.

That major turning point does not serve any real Israeli interest, he notes.

Netanyahu says Palestinians in annexed land will not be offered Israeli citizenship

Politics make for strange bedfellows. The debate over annexation certainly takes this common knowledge one step further. The more radical settlers, the cohort of Israelis expected to rejoice at the prospect of annexation, have instead turned against their supposed benefactor.

They left unhappy from the meeting they held with Netanyahu this week. He talked annexation and sovereignty, they heard Palestinian state.

For them, the annexation of 30 percent of the West Bank is not enough. David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council and chair of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria - the Israeli term for the West Bank -declared on Wednesday: Trump is not a friend of Israel.

It might be - just a thought - that when Trump finds himself in a national crisis at home and abroad, dealing with Israeli opposition on the left and on the right,it might in the end be too much. Even for a president who just a year ago called himself a stable genius.

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Analysis: Israeli annexation will harm everyone and please nobody - Middle East Eye

When we do nothing in the face of racism and brutality, we represent Amy Cooper and Derek Chauvin. We are complicit. – PublicSource

Posted By on June 5, 2020

In the past two weeks, we watched police officers snuff George Floyds breath and life away and a white woman report Christian Cooper to the police simply for asking her to put her dog on a leash in an area where dogs were required to be on leashes. Just weeks before these most recent events, Ahmaud Arberys murder by two vigilantes while jogging in plain daylight rose to national awareness. Nearly two years ago in my beloved hometown, 17-year-old Antwon Rose II was murdered, shot in the back by police as he ran away.

Has racism by white people against Black people in this country hit a crescendo? Or is it simply a perpetuation albeit now publicly consumable of the same white supremacy we have seen in the United States for more than 400 years?

I have been taken aback by the number of people in my orbit who, when questioned about their own comments, mindsets, roles, actions or inactions, become defensive and unable to reflect on their privilege, bias and commitment to anti-racism and allyship, all of which are necessary to combat generations of white supremacy. I am equally challenged by what feels like resonant silence among fellow white people who hesitate or refuse to openly decry white supremacist systems and actions.

In the past week, I have seen comments within articles and social media posts from members of my own community that exemplify these problematic issues. Some individuals ask seemingly benign questions, and Im paraphrasing here: Do they think that looting a grocery store will cause the police to be less violent toward them? Or does violence and rioting beget less violence?

When asked, who are they and them, to whom the speaker refers in those statements, they often double down, becoming defensive, emphatic that they cannot possibly be a racist. In one such memorable thread, the author contends they cannot be racist because they are a Jew, a member of a minority group that has been ridiculed, harassed and condemned since the origin of our peoplehood. Does being a Jew make it impossible to simultaneously hold and express racist, biased or bigoted views?

The words of Martin Luther King Jr. make clear, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? ... It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity. That, my friends, is my response to such seemingly benign questions.

Zack Block is senior director of communities for Repair the World, based in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

What strikes me about these exchanges is that they personify privilege, white fragility and an unwillingness to look beyond ones own lived experience. Indeed, it is our very status as white Ashkenazi Jews that makes it incumbent upon us to do more and to be more.

Authentic allyship and the commitment to anti-racism is very hard work, but it is the work we must do to help usher in the change that our society so desperately needs. Whats more, this hard work must be incorporated into all of the other work we do as professionals, parents, partners, children, community members and friends. For those of us who are entrusted to represent others through our work, the task feels that much more difficult. We cannot back away from this work, especially now.

To begin to truly understand what it means to be anti-racist, we must first understand that it is OK to feel uncomfortable. It is OK to make mistakes. We will say something wrong or post something inappropriate. And when we do, we must be open to the possibility that we have more work to do to understand how to get it right. We must recognize the error of our ways, make amends and try again to do and be better.

If, instead, we choose to say nothing, to do nothing, in the face of these injustices, then we are complicit in this moment of racism, bias and brutality. I will not be Derek Chauvin, and I will not be Michael Rosfeld. I will not be Amy Cooper. I will speak out to condemn their behavior and I will call it by its name: racism. Its important that we do not just call out the murderers but the Amy Coopers, too. White people cannot call the police on Black people for birdwatching, asking dogs to be put on leashes or having barbecues. In fact, take a look at this guide from Aaron Rose to find alternatives to calling the police on people of color.

As for me, I make a lot of mistakes as I grow to understand how to be an ally to our communities of color, including Jews of color. My work is not close to being done, and I commit to keep working. As author and civil rights activist James Baldwin stated, Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

Will you take this journey to face racism with me? I urge us to call on our legislators to arrest and prosecute all people, including police officers, responsible for crimes against Black people. I urge all of us to donate to bail funds in our communities. I urge us to work toward criminal justice reform. I urge us to work to build authentic relationships with people who have different identities than we do. Please do not settle for the status quo. Join me in facing racism and making the changes we need to become an equitable society.

Zack Block is senior director of communities for Repair the World, a national organization focused on service whose mission is to mobilize Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world. He can be reached at

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When we do nothing in the face of racism and brutality, we represent Amy Cooper and Derek Chauvin. We are complicit. - PublicSource

As Middle East tensions mount, he may be the last one left with any shot at brokering peace – Laredo Morning Times

Posted By on June 5, 2020

JERUSALEM - Nikolay Mladenov might just be the last person left with any shot at advancing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Political relations between Israel and the Palestinians are stalled. The Palestinian leadership refuses to meet with U.S. officials. Israelis are suspicious of European motives, and other potential intermediaries, like the Russians, are focused elsewhere.

So it is the lone figure of Mladenov who is often seen shuttling between the sides.

As the United Nations' envoy for the "Middle East Peace Process," however, the Bulgarian-born diplomat acknowledges that the process he is responsible for may be nothing more than a fading memory.

"The title on my business card is completely wrong," Mladenov joked during an interview inside the United Nations' expansive Jerusalem headquarters. "I mean, there is no Middle East peace process. Most of our work now is preventive diplomacy, preventing war."

Last month, when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he was suspending all peace agreements signed with Israel and the United States, Mladenov traveled to Ramallah to urge the authority's prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, not to jeopardize the security cooperation between the sides.

On Monday, Mladenov held his first meeting with Israel's new foreign minister, Gabi Ashkenazi, in an attempt to understand Israel's plans for annexing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which could occur as soon as July 1.

Mladenov, 48, is a former Bulgarian foreign minister and Middle East veteran. He was raised for part of his childhood in Syria and more recently served as the head of the U.N. mission in Iraq. An imposing figure, he tries to strike a balance between lighthearted and serious tones. And after five years as the U.N. peace envoy, he still appears passionate about the apparently hopeless task he has been given.

These days, he says he is deeply concerned that any unilateral action taken by either side could lead to catastrophe. He also worries that the diminishing hope for peace and Palestinian statehood, coupled with a coronavirus epidemic that has hit the Palestinian economy particularly hard, could trigger another round of regional violence.

"We need to get everybody to stop for a second, to talk and hear each other out," he said, his voice soothing. "We need to bring the Palestinians and Israelis back to the table. We need to bring the Americans back to the table, and we need to keep the Russians and the Europeans at the table. It's a hard task."

He seeks to be realistic about the gulf between the sides and to be pragmatic about addressing the challenges each one faces. He says it is important to remain a fair and honest broker.

"Sometimes it gets us into trouble, but I think we have to recognize the suffering and the great difficulties faced by the Palestinian people and also not be blind to what Israelis face, too," he said.

Arriving in Jerusalem at the start of 2015, just six months after Israel fought a devastating 50-day war in Gaza against the militant Islamist group Hamas, Mladenov quickly found himself immersed in calming tensions. With each flare-up, he managed to keep Hamas and Israel from escalating further, convincing both sides that more bloodshed was not in their interest.

He also turned his mediating skills toward tensions between Hamas and the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. And he sought to engage Egypt and Qatar, which had strained relations with one another, to invest in improving daily life for the 2 million Palestinians in the coastal strip.

Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, said Mladenov has shown competence in improving conditions in Gaza, "standing out from those who have filled this position in the past." But Zalzberg said he was skeptical about whether the U.N. envoy could avoid a further breach between Israel and the Palestinians.

"To Israelis, he has not been antagonistic or anti-Israel, and by default he is accepted by the Palestinians," he said. "But I am not sure that he is in the best position to lead efforts to curb annexation. The Trump administration has already given a green light to annexation, and Mladenov can't be expected to rein that in through his office here."

Mladenov is clearly worried about the prospect of annexation. His recent brief to the U.N. Security Council emphasized the harm that Israel would do by applying sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The move, he said, would undermine Palestinian hopes for a state and undercut broader efforts to advance regional peace and security.

In the interview, he said Israel's move to annex territory not only contravened international law and could spark a violent response, but also would send a "basic political message to the Palestinians that you are not going to get a state through negotiations." That message, he said, is extremely dangerous.

Mladenov also said there is growing concern about the move across the region. He dismissed Israeli claims that some Arab countries such as Egypt and Jordan - the only two that have peace treaties with Israel - and Saudi Arabia would not express strong opposition.

Diana Buttu, a Palestinian analyst who was once involved in peace negotiations with Israel, said Mladenov's success in stopping Israel's annexation plans depends on whether he can break free from the confines of the United Nations' official position and "hold Israel accountable for its illegal actions."

If not, she said, the role of the United Nations, and Mladenov, will change drastically. "It will have to act as a liaison for Palestinian civilian issues, and no one wants that," she said.


As Middle East tensions mount, he may be the last one left with any shot at brokering peace - Laredo Morning Times

Wise Sons goes Middle Eastern; Saul’s Deli owners will give it another go – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on June 5, 2020

In March, Sauls Restaurant and Jewish Delicatessen co-owners Peter Levitt and Karen Adelman had sold their restaurant after more than 30 years and were looking forward to retirement. But when the sale fell through because of the pandemic, they closed their doors and took some time to reassess. Now they have decided to regroup and invest in Sauls future.

Construction is underway for a takeout window and improvements inside, including a new floor and counter where customers eventually will sit. They hope to reopen for takeout and delivery in July with a smaller menu and, like everyone, are waiting to make any further decisions until the city of Berkeley issues its rules on reopening.

The decision to invest in Sauls was not an easy one, in light of the fact that 30 to 40 percent of restaurants wont survive the economic side of the pandemic, Levitt said.

They based their decision on the fact that Sauls was doing some of its best business right before the pandemic hit, and that Jewish food is experiencing a resurgence of interest. They also believe that, while rough times are still ahead, eventually things will return to normal.

Obviously a lot of people think restaurants are worth nothing today, and theyre right temporarily, Levitt said. Maybe Im being overly optimistic, but hopefully within a year there will be a vaccine, and six months after that there will be a repeat of the Roaring 20s, as people will be desperate to go out to eat.

Something else new theyre planning: bagels made on-site. For many years theyve been carrying Baron Bagels, made by Dan Graf, and now they are working with him to boil and bake the bagels at Sauls when it fully reopens.

We think that would be a neat addition for early morning, Levitt said.

As much as Evan Bloom loves pastrami, he cant eat it every day. And listening to his customers over the years, he knows hes not alone.

Thats why the co-founder of Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen has decided to add Middle Eastern food to the offerings, until recently a catering-only option.

This, I can eat every day, he said.

Called Lev (heart in Hebrew), the special menu actually was introduced a few years ago. Wise Sons was catering at the offices of Square, the payment platform, and workers asked for some lighter, healthier fare. The menu was a success, and last fall it was added to the general catering menu. Now, its available for delivery on Caviar and DoorDash, as well.

The Lev menu, which is separate from the deli menu, has just two proteins: a chicken shwarma and a kofta made from Impossible Burger. Both can be served over turmeric rice, in a salad with zaatar lemon dressing or in a whole-grain flatbread. Fries come with two dipping sauces, a harissa and herby yogurt, and there are tahini chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Everything can be ordered individually or in family-size meals for four, which also come with black tea and pomegranate lemonade.

Bloom said the desire for this type of food was often expressed by customers, who saw no reason a Jewish restaurant couldnt offer Middle Eastern food, too.

Healthy cuisine isnt exactly the theme at Wise Sons, where the standard Ashkenazi deli fare includes pastrami cheese fries and a Big Macher burger. That doesnt always fit the bill.

We do a lot of catering, especially at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and theres a limit to what we can offer on the Ashkenazi side, said Bloom. People arent accustomed to brisket and latkes at a happy hour.

While executing the Lev menu doesnt require a Middle Eastern chef, it doesnt hurt that Wise Sons head of culinary operations for the past seven years is Israeli American chef Joey Boujo, someone Bloom grew up with.

Bloom said right now he is trying to strike a balance between expanding menu offerings based on customer demand, and keeping the staff employed.

Its a tenuous time, and were open because our people want to work and we want to serve people, and we feel we can do it safely as well, Bloom said. However, were not making money. Weve reduced as many costs as we can, but were just trying to keep going. Having to restart what weve built in however many months would be a real challenge.

Inspired by last months online Great Big Jewish Food Fest, local chef Shelley Handler decided to host her own online happy hour. She called the one-time event Meine Yiddishe Madeleine and asked participants to share their own memories of Jewish foods that are comparable to Prousts madeleine nostalgia in Remembrance of Things Past.

Which dish, smell, taste or tradition binds you most vividly to your sense of being a Jew? she asked. Whether youre observant, secular, or merely gastronomic, how does this specific food, meal or sense memory make you one of the tribe?

Handler was the inaugural chef at the Chez Panisse Caf and is a veteran in the food business. She was joined by friends, colleagues and culinary professionals, such as Harvey Steiman, editor emeritus of Wine Spectator, who spoke of finding a blintz just like his mothers at Barney Greengrass, and Jesse Cool, chef at Menlo Parks Flea Street, whose father was a butcher.

We ate tongue and sweetbreads and liver and every part of the animal, and until I went out into the world, I thought this was normal, said Cool.

For Handler, her answer was the smell of onions frying.

Its one of the most evocative smells for me, she said. Its a particular smell that sends me right into my grandmothers kitchen.

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Wise Sons goes Middle Eastern; Saul's Deli owners will give it another go - The Jewish News of Northern California

Jordanian FM says annexation will lead to ‘confrontation and anarchy’ – The Times of Israel

Posted By on June 5, 2020

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Thursday warned against Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, saying the move would lead to confrontation, anarchy and hopelessness.

Safadi made the statements to an international summit discussing the Islamic State, Channel 13 reported.

As part of the war on terror, we must act quickly to prevent Israel from annexing one-third of occupied Palestine and the consequences of this decision, Safadi said. Instead, negotiations must be resumed in order to achieve piece on the basis of a two-state solution.

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Meanwhile, United Arab Emirates envoy to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, in recent weeks warned senior White House officials against allowing annexation to go forward.

The response by the UAE and the Gulf states to Israeli annexation in the West Bank will not be restrained like after the American embassy was transferred to Jerusalem. This is a fundamentally different case, he said, according to Channel 13. Israeli annexation will lead to an escalation in the Middle East.

Amid the warnings and protestations from his international counterparts, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told Foreign Ministry employees Thursday that the ministrys most central role was to strengthen Israels national security, including by fostering relations with friendly regional countries and the US.

The statements come amid a wave of regional and international criticism of the planned Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank under the peace plan being advanced by the Trump administration in the US.

Sergey Lavrov and Sameh Shoukry, the foreign ministers of Russia and Egypt, respectively, warned Israel against annexation on Wednesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Lavrov and Sameh made the announcement after a call they said addressedregional issues. Lavrovs office said that the call had been planned at Shoukrys initiative.

The ministers noted annexing sections of Palestinian land on the West Bank of the Jordan River will threaten the prospects for the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem and could provoke a new and dangerous round of violence in the region, Lavrovs office saidin a statement.

Russia recently announced its willingness to host Israeli-Palestinian talks in Moscow in a bid to prevent annexation and restart the peace process. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki said in a statement on Tuesday that he would be willing to attend bilateral talks in Moscow under Russian auspices.

Shoukry cautioned against unilateral annexation, saying that it would lead to an increasingly complex situation and affect security and stability.

Both parties affirmed their commitment to a two-state solution.

Jordanian officials, including the kingdoms prime minister and foreign minister, have threatened to reconsider their treaties and agreements with Israel in the event of annexation.

We will not accept unilateral Israeli moves to annex Palestinian lands and we would be forced to review all aspects of our relations with Israel, Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz told Jordanian state news agency Petra in late May.

Razzaz made his statement mere days after Jordans King Abdullah II warned in an interview with Der Spiegel that if Israel really annexes the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Despite the steady drumbeat of Jordanian statements against annexation, Cairo has remained relatively quiet. Shoukrys statement did not indicate if Egypt would consider reviewing its own treaty with Israel.

Egypt and Israel have had a peace treaty since 1978, when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Accords.

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Jordanian FM says annexation will lead to 'confrontation and anarchy' - The Times of Israel

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