Iran’s elections on Friday reinforced the power of Iranian hardliners, which was ensured by the disqualification of the vast majority of candidates by the country’s conservative, unelected Guardian Council. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board concluded on Sunday, “The political reality in Iran is that the Ayatollahs, backed by the Revolutionary Guards, remain firmly in control.” The elections were for the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, and the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body responsible for selecting the next supreme leader. The Journal explained, “Like all Iranian elections, the vote was a carefully stage-managed process. Iranians picked from among candidates prescreened for ideological orthodoxy by the unelected Guardian Council and various security agencies.” In the run-up to the elections, hardliners ensured a mathematical inevitability that they would maintain their hold on power. In January, Iran’s Guardian Council, the 12-member body that vetted the candidates, disqualified nearly 50% of all those who registered to run for a seat in the parliament. The Council disqualified 80% of those seeking election to the Assembly of Experts. Out of the 800 candidates seeking election, only 166 were allowed to run. Some of those disqualifications were later overturned but the exact figures have not been made public.
In the end, due to the number of candidates disqualified, many hardliners were added to so-called reformist lists. Both Bloomberg View columnist Eli Lake and The Journal’s Editorial Board listed some of the hardline candidates who are projected to win in both the Majlis and the Assembly of Experts that ended up on other lists. Lake named Kazem Jalali, a hardliner, who was endorsed by so-called reformists. Yet, he “called for sentencing to death” two leaders of Iran’s 2009 Green Movement, a movement that advocated for more significant political and social changes. Those two leaders remain under house arrest. Mostafa Kavakebian, who also appears on a so-called reformist list and is projected to win a seat in the Majlis, is the General Secretary of Iran’s Democratic Party. According to The Journal, in 2008 he said, “The people who currently reside in Israel aren’t humans, and this region is comprised of a group of soldiers and occupiers who openly wage war on the people.”
Bipartisan American support for Israel remains at historically high levels, according to the latest Gallup poll released on Monday.
The survey found that 62% of Americans had sympathy for Israel, while only 15% sympathized more with the Palestinians. The remaining 23% were sympathetic to neither or both sides, or had no opinion.
While majorities in both the Democratic and Republican parties have long sympathized with Israel, Gallup noted that overall sympathy for the Jewish state sharply increased after the terrorist group Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. (Hamas’ victory followed Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip a few months earlier.) Support for Israel has since grown among members of both parties, though less dramatically among Democrats. Notably, Democratic sympathies for Israel increased by 4% since 2015, and grew by 18% since 2000.
A separate Gallup poll also found that 71% of all Americans have a favorable view of Israel, showing “increased favorability toward Israel compared with 2000.” In contrast, only 19% of Americans regard the Palestinian Authority positively.
These attitudes are consistent with the results of a study published in The Washington Post in November, which also found growing bipartisan support for Israel. Dina Smeltz, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which conducted the surveys cited in the report, noted that 53% of Americans would support U.S. military intervention if Israel were to be attacked by an enemy, a figure that “is currently at the highest level recorded among […] Republicans, Democrats and Independents.”
A poll commissioned by The Israel Project in 2014 revealed that American voters overwhelmingly held the Palestinian Authority responsible for a breakdown in peace talks, with over two-thirds of respondents agreeing that Jerusalem couldn’t be expected to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that includes the designated terror group Hamas. Another survey commissioned by The Israel Project later that year, during Operation Protective Edge, found that 65% Americans agreed that Hamas is a terrorist organization and must be stopped. The Israel Project publishes The Tower. (via TheTower.org)
Israeli archaeologists are celebrating the discovery of a 3,400-year-old statue, recently uncovered by a seven-year-old boy on an archaeological mound at Tel Rehov in the Beit She’an Valley. The clay figurine portrays a naked standing woman, which was prepared by pressing soft clay into a mold. “It is typical of the Canaanite culture of the 15th–13th centuries BCE. Some researchers think the figure depicted here is that of a real flesh-and-blood woman, and others view her as the fertility goddess Astarte, known from Canaanite sources and from the Bible,” said Amihai Mazar, professor emeritus at Hebrew University and expedition director of the archaeological excavations at Tel Rehov. “It is highly likely that the term trafim mentioned in the Bible indeed refers to figurines of this kind,” said Mazar, after examining the figurine. “Evidently the figurine belonged to one of the residents of the city of Rehov, which was then ruled by the central government of the Egyptian pharaohs.” The young Indiana Jones to find this statue is Ori Greenhut, from the communal settlement of Tel Te’omim, and who went out on a trip earlier this week with friends, accompanied by the father of one of the children. While they were climbing up the archaeological mound at Tel Rehov, Ori came across a stone that had shifted and suddenly saw an image of a person covered with soil. (via Israel21c)
The enemies of Israel—the enemies, effectively, of the Jews, let’s make no bones about it—stop at no distortion of history or corruption of the mind to achieve their goal of demonizing the Jewish state. The whole “washing” concept, which attempts to turn, via alchemies of linguistic play and theoretical inversion, virtues into villainies, exemplifies this intellectual corruption: Israel’s proud history of gay rights, for example, is denounced as “pinkwashing,” while other “washings” attempt to make every liberal good of Israeli society, its belief in freedom and tolerance, into a covert form of oppression. And like so many who have done so much ill before them, these demonizers of the Israeli state and traducers of Judaism think that what they do is good. They imagine they improve the world. They are soldiers for “peace and justice.” And in modern American history, there is no soldier for peace and justice—no Christian soldier—greater than Martin Luther King, Jr. So King, in just one more in a parade of historical distortions, must be posthumously turned against Israel.
In fairness to “critics” of Israel (which one offers out of regard not to them, but to oneself), where King very narrowly is concerned, they do not appear to have initiated the debate. However, contention over just what King’s relationship was to Jews and Israel, his stance in regard to Zionism, and what might be his position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today, does not arise out of a vacuum. It is one aspect of the modern history of the relationship between Jews and African-Americans, as well as more contemporary ideological contentions.
Many Jews rightly feel a special connection to black Americans and their struggle for civil rights. Jews were prominent in the founding and—for decades—the leadership of the NAACP, and were substantial supporters of many other black-led civil rights organizations. Their participation in the civil rights movement was greater than any group except African-Americans themselves. From there, the relationship becomes more complex, from black accusations of Depression-era ghetto exploitation and growing post-‘60s Jewish middle-class racism to Jewish grievances over African-American anti-Semitism among more radicalized Afro-centric organizations, as well as the mainstream post-King leadership, and in academia and the arts. As good and balanced an article-length overview of all these issues as one is likely to find can be read at the Jewish Virtual Library.
One can divide this dispute into two separate but related conflicts. One is the presence of two minority and historically oppressed cultures located in adjacent social spaces. This proximity produces social alliance, but also competition. A disparity in progress produces tension and conflict. This is a phenomenon seen all over the world. If the social alliance has been profound, the historical oppression intense, long, and enduring for both, and the contact continual, as is the case between African-Americans and Jews, the relationship can easily become contentious.
The second conflict has origins of its own, but is fed by the former, and that is post-colonialism—not just the theory, but the historical reality that gave rise to the theory.
These developments, particularly the latter, have led to a decrease in African-American support for Israel among those far-Left progressives most influenced by post-colonialism. This alienation is promoted by far-Left organizations—including some Jews—such as Students for Justice in Palestine, who attempt to tie campaigns like the current Black Lives Matter movement and anti-Israel agitation to the legacy of the Civil Rights movement. One defensive response to this among some Jews has been to grasp at the mantle of King and his documented support for Israel, his condemnations of anti-Semitism, and even his warning against attempting to mask anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. The public record of King’s opposition to anti-Zionism, however, is slight. Thus, every year at the time of King’s birthday, controversy over the issue erupts anew.
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