NETANYAHU HAILS DONALD TRUMP AS A TRUE FRIEND OF ISRAEL
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has congratulated Donald Trump on his election victory, saying the Republican is “a true friend of the State of Israel.” Netanyahu’s remarks were released a few hours after Trump proclaimed victory over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in a surprise electoral coup. “We will work together to advance security, stability and peace in our region,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “The bond between the US and Israel is based on shared values, shared interests and a shared future. I am sure that President-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the special alliance between Israel and the US and we will bring them to new heights,” he added.
The prime minister’s statement came on the heels of statements expressing a mix of optimism and wariness by Israeli politicians, many of whom joined Netanyahu in stressing the continued strengthening of the US-Israel ties. President Reuven Rivlin congratulated Trump on his victory, which he said demonstrated that the US is the “greatest democracy.” “There are many challenges that lie before you as president, at home and around the world. Israel, your greatest ally, stands by you as your friend and partner in turning those challenges into opportunities,” he said in a statement. Education Minister Naftali Bennett was among the first Israeli leaders to congratulate Trump, saying the Republican’s victory was “an opportunity” to do away once and for all with the pursuit of a two-state solution.
“Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the centre of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause,” Bennett said in a statement. “This is the position of the president-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple,” he said. “The era of a Palestinian state is over. We are sure the special relationship between the United States and Israel will continue, and even grow stronger.” Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman said he promised “to safeguard and strengthen the special relationship and courageous friendship between the countries and work to strengthen the shared values of Israel and the United States.”
Other right-wing politicians hailed Trump’s victory, saying they hoped it would translate into closer ties between Israel and the US. Opposition MKs, in contrast, voiced greater circumspection, with Joint (Arab) List MK Dov Khenin saying, “Trump won not on the merit of the racist minority but on the merit of the angry majority.” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, leader of the Kulanu party, said that “Israel, as the only democracy in the Middle East, salutes the US, the oldest democracy in the world, on a democratic election process that expresses the will of the voter. “We look forward to working jointly with the new American government to strengthen the strategic and economic ties between our countries.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Union, extended “warm congratulations to the president of the strongest and most powerful nation in the world: Donald J. Trump,” in a Facebook post published shortly after Trump celebrated his victory. “The American democracy today chose to place at its forefront an American leader who taught the analysts and doubters that we are in a new era of change and a replacement of the old ruling elites! You did the unexpected against all the odds, the polls, and the research, and the prophets of the old era,” he said. “I am sure that the defence and economic cooperation with our strongest and most important ally will continue even more so during your presidency.”
NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL PASSES RESOLUTION CODEMNING ANTI-ISRAEL BOYCOTTS
The New York City Council has overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The resolution, which rejected “all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the people of Israel,” passed by a vote of 40 to four with six abstentions, the New York Daily News reported. While the symbolic resolution does not have the force of law, Councilman Andy Cohen (Democrat – Bronx), one of the 35 sponsors of the measure, said, “We must take a stand as the home of the largest population of Jews outside the State of Israel and as a people who support the only true democracy in the Middle East, and the United States’ strongest ally in the region.”
The resolution passed following a prolonged debate that saw dozens of anti-Israel protesters ejected from the council chambers for continually disrupting the proceedings, including with shouts of “Zionism is racism and “Free Palestine.” Zenobia Ravji, the Associate Director of Coalitions at The Israel Project, testified before the council about the resolution. Ravji, a Zoroastrian who spent two years in Israel, said during her testimony “that Israel was the only country in the Middle East, where Zoroastrians and other religious minorities could peacefully and openly practice their religion.” Another witness at the hearing was Brooke Goldstein, director of the Lawfare Project, who observed:
While BDS proponents typically claim they are acting to demonstrate disagreement with the Israeli government, these claims are disingenuous and transparent. BDS proponents are free to criticize Israeli policies, as Israelis do every day in one of the world’s most active and dynamic democracies. However, targeting or discriminating against a person or company because of their ethnicity or national origin is entirely unacceptable. One would not boycott a restaurant owned by a Chinese man to protest the Chinese government’s policy, nor would one refuse to purchase from an African American retailer to declare condemnation of the government of Sudan. That is discrimination and it is illegal in New York State, pure and simple.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order in June barring the state from contracting with entities that boycott Israel. Many leaders of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, which was launched by Palestinian groups in 2005, have publicly affirmed that they seek Israel’s destruction. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, an opponent of the two-state solution, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” while leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil acknowledged in 2012 that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the State of Israel.”
OUTPOURING OF CHRISTIAN SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL DECRYING UNESCO RESOLUTION
An outpouring of Christian support for Israel and the decrying of the recent UNESCO vote, began during Sukkot, a Jewish holiday prophesied to have multi-national relevance. The resolution passed on the day after Yom Kippur, and was ratified by UNESCO’s Executive Committee. It referred to the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, in Arabic terms, erasing any Jewish or Christian connection to the sites. It also solely blamed Israel (referred to as an “occupying nation”) for the violence in the past year, destructive construction on the Temple Mount by the Muslim Authority, and for its self-defensive blockade against shipping into Gaza.
The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) issued a statement decrying UNESCO’s “scandalous resolution”. “This is tantamount to rewriting history and stripping these sites of their 4,000 years of Jewish and 2,000 years of Christian connection,” ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Jurgen Buhler wrote. “This represents a calculated insult against the Jewish people as well as an affront to over two billion Christians worldwide who know full well that as a faithful Jew, Jesus regularly visited the holy Jewish Temple on this site, taught there, and was zealous for its calling as a ‘house of prayer for all nations’.”The ICEJ recently hosted its 37th annual Feast of Tabernacles conference which brought over 5,000 Christian representatives to Jerusalem from all over the world in support of Israel.
In an open act of defiance, 15 Christian parliamentarians from Europe, Africa and Latin America visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs and other parts of Jewish Hebron. They are in Israel to participate in the annual Israel Allies Foundation conference, which is co-sponsored by the World Jewish Congress. This annual conference held during Sukkot brings Christian and Jewish pro-Israeli lawmakers from various countries. The tour of Hebron, organized by the Council of Judea and Samaria (Yesha), was the first time a group of foreign parliamentarians visited the Jewish community of Hebron. The UNESCO resolution establishing an Islamic religious monopoly over the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron clearly rejects the Bible which states that Abraham purchased the site.
The participants included Members of Parliament from Denmark, Finland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland, Uruguay, Costa Rica, South Africa, and Malawi. In addition 19 parliamentarians from 17 countries participating in the conference signed a declaration against UNESCO’ resolution, presenting it to Deputy Minister Michael Oren. In addition to the visiting diplomats, over 30,000 Israelis visited the Biblical city in a call to protest the UNESCO resolution. It has been 50 years since Israel conquered Hebron and the Temple Mount in the Six Day War.