Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday that Israel and Turkey reached an agreement to restore relations, following six years of strained ties. In his press conference in Rome, Netanyahu explained that his goal is to “create centers of stability in this unstable and stormy region.” He continued, “We are doing so with our close neighbors, Arab countries. We are doing so with Greece and Cyprus. We are doing so with Russia. We are also doing so with Turkey.” Ege Seckin, a senior analyst at IHS Country Risk, said, “The reconciliation deal between Turkey and Israel is motivated partly by the increasing prominence in the region of their common rival, Iran,” according to The Washington Post. The Post also reported that Yoav Galant, Israel’s minister of construction and housing and a former senior military commander, told Army Radio that “[t]he agreement would further isolate Israel’s archrival, Iran, which also shares a border with Turkey.”
Relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated in 2010 following the IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara, a ship carrying Turkish activists who were leading a flotilla trying to reach Gaza. The ship refused to listen to IDF commands to dock at the port of Ashdod, and the passengers on the Marmara attacked the Israeli commandos sent to intercept the boats, forcing the IDF to respond. The incident resulted in the deaths of ten Turkish activists. Several IDF soldiers were also injured.
Under the new agreement, Israel and Turkey will restore full diplomatic relations. Israel will establish a fund worth $20 million for the families of those killed in the Marmara incident, and Turkey agreed to pass legislation that offers legal protection for IDF soldiers from criminal and civilian claims. Israel will still maintain its restrictions on the imports and exports going to and from the Gaza Strip, a measure that Israel uses to prevent the smuggling of weapons and illicit materials into the Strip. Turkey will send humanitarian assistance to Gaza via the Israeli port of Ashdod. Turkish officials also agreed not to block Israeli involvement in international forums, such as NATO. Additionally, according to Israeli officials, Turkey committed to preventing Hamas operatives from orchestrating attacks on Israelis from Turkey.
Netanyahu heralded the economic opportunities that normalization with Turkey could offer, stating, “This agreement opens the way to cooperation on economic and energy matters, including the gas issue. Gas is so important and contains the possibility of strengthening the Israeli economy and state coffers with vast capital.” On Israel’s large, offshore natural gas field, Leviathan, Netanyahu stated that it “could supply both the Egyptian market that we intend to work with and also the Turkish market as well as the supply of gas through Turkey to Europe, and this is a strategic issue for the State of Israel.” In a conference call with The Israel Project, former Israeli National Security Advisor Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror similarly explained that the agreement could also open up more opportunities for trade. Between the Marmara incident and today, he said trade with Turkey has “more than doubled” and that “people are speaking about gas and there are other issues that might emerge.”
Democrats approved a draft platform that affirms their party’s support for Israel on Saturday, rejecting an amendment that would have included language critical of the Jewish state, The Times of Israel reported.
A third of those on the platform’s drafting committee were appointed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (D – Vt.), who has tacitly acknowledged his loss in the presidential primaries but said he will not end his campaign until the Democratic convention. Among Sanders’ appointees was Arab American Institute President James Zogby, who spearheaded the charge to push the party’s platform to align more closely with Sanders’ views on Israel. The failed amendment, which Zogby said Sanders helped draft, would have called for “an end to occupation and illegal settlements,” as well as international efforts to rebuild the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
It also would have scrapped a description of Jerusalem as “an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths” and removed criticism of the United Nations and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, which Zogby supports, the Jewish Journal reported. (Leaders of the BDS campaign, including co-founder Omar Barghouti, have repeatedly affirmed that BDS aims to eliminate Israel.)
The draft instead aligns with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s positions, and calls for a “two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict” that ensures Israel’s security “and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”
Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s top foreign policy advisor, told JTA via email earlier this week that “Hillary Clinton’s steadfast support for Israel, and the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, are well known. As we have said previously, she remains confident that the party platform will reflect her views.”
A PEW Research poll published in May found that “by a wide margin (47% to 27%), Clinton supporters say they sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians in their dispute.”
A Gallup poll released in late February found that bipartisan American support for Israel remains at historically high levels, with 62% of Americans sympathetic towards Israel while only 15% favor the Palestinians. (via TheTower.org)
Six Israeli companies were handpicked by the US State Department and White House to take part in the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University in California, June 22-24. Two additional Israeli enterprises were chosen to present as part of GES+, focusing on youth and women entrepreneurs: Loop Organization, founded in Nazareth by lawyer and computer engineer Wasim Abu Salem to teach computer science and coding to Israeli Arab children ages 7-16; and Toya-Play a Difference from Anat Shperling and Yifat Anzelevich, which uses mobile games to tell children the life stories of remarkable women. Hosted by President Barack Obama, GES attracted more than 1,000 global delegates. Each of the world’s six regions was represented by 100 entrepreneurs chosen from about 5,000 applications from more than 150 countries. The six Israeli companies included: BwareIT, whose BrighTap home water meter will enable households to monitor water quality and consumption. Jerusalem-based BwareIT reached the top five in the summit’s World Positive competition. Sonorapy, which is working on a technology to replace standard blood tests for disease with noninvasive soundwave diagnostics. This paradigm shift in the $46 billion medical testing sector (in the United States alone) would also have a major positive impact on the problem of medical waste. Mercu-Removal of Netanya, which develops novel processes for removing toxic mercury from gas streams based on an invention by Hebrew University Prof. Yoel Sasson, formerly vice president of R&D at Beersheva-based Makhteshim-Agan Industries, one of the largest global manufacturers of crop-protection chemicals. Sensilize of Haifa, whose drone-mounted sensor equipped with analytic software is revolutionizing precision agriculture by providing ultra-high-resolution multispectral images of growing fields, automatic image analysis and interpreted maps to enable decision-making. Sesame Enable, developer of the first completely touch-free smartphone, powered by voice control and head-tracking for people with severely limited use of their hands. SolCold, a Herzliya-based startup developing a breakthrough technology for cooling activated solely by sunlight — without electricity, CO2 emissions or moving parts. The technology, devised in a Hebrew University lab, would be implemented as a coating for everything from buildings and vehicles to clothing and tents. (via Israel21c)
On November 29, 1947, Brazilian diplomat Oswaldo Aranha presided over the General Assembly of the United Nations during the vote over resolution 181, which called for the establishment of two states, one Jewish and one Arab, in Palestine. Brazil voted “yes,” thus taking an active role in the establishment of the State of Israel.
Today, however, relations between Brazil and the Jewish state are less than stellar, reaching a new low last year, when the Brazilian government informally rejected Israel’s newly appointed ambassador, Dani Dayan, based on his positions regarding the two-state solution.
This hostility toward Israel has largely been the result of political changes in Brazil itself. In 2002, the left-wing Workers’ Party rose to power. The economy grew considerably, with the party’s policies helping millions of people rise from poverty and enter the working class. But like much of the Latin American Left, it has also been greatly influenced by radical Palestinians and their supporters. And it is not alone. Anti-Israel groups have managed to find an intellectual, academic, and political home within many left-wing social and political movements in Brazil.
According to the narrative embraced by many on the Brazilian Left, Israel is an oppressor, an illegitimate country, and the occupier of a Palestine that encompasses all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It is not a coincidence that in the 2010 presidential elections, Brazilians living in the Palestinian territories voted for Workers’ Party candidate Dilma Rousseff, while those living in Israel voted for her opponent.
This is, of course, a reflection of international trends, particularly in Western Europe. But there is a major difference: Due to the party’s political success, individuals and groups who embrace the anti-Israel narrative have become influential activists, academics, intellectuals, and government officials, particularly in the educational system. Taking advantage of universities and institutions with high social visibility and the capacity to mold public opinion, they regularly engage in anti-Israel propaganda. The result is catastrophic for Israel’s image.
Salem Nasser, for example, is a professor of international law at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a leading university in São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest and most important city. Nasser is regularly consulted by GloboNews, the main Brazilian news channel, for commentary on terrorism and Israeli affairs. He is also president of the Brazilian Arabic Culture Institute, for which he often pontificates about Israel and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in articles like “68 Years of Nakba” and “BDS against Apartheid in Palestine.”
Another prominent anti-Israel academic is Reginaldo Nasser (no relation), a well-known and influential professor of political science at PUC University in São Paulo who has helped promote “Israel Apartheid Week.”
Perhaps the most vicious and openly racist anti-Israel activist in Brazil is Carlos Latuff, a globally-known cartoonist who was ranked second on a list of influential anti-Semites by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He is well-known for pushing his anti-Zionist, anti-American, anti-capitalist, and anti-war beliefs through his work. His anti-Israel cartoons made headlines during the last Gaza war due to their explicit images and hysterical rhetoric. He also won second place in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Competition.
These figures are, of course, just a few examples. But they express views held by a great many involved in Brazil’s countless social activist and leftist groups, as well as the Workers’ Party itself. But why has anti-Israel sentiment proved so popular?
In some ways, the answer is simple: It is at least partially based on economics. Throughout its history, Brazil has fostered massive economic inequality, with a poverty-stricken majority and a super-wealthy elite. This has led many to see the world as a Manichean struggle between the evil rich and the virtuous poor. Due to the stereotype of the Jews as wealthy, this can quickly lead to viewing the Jews as a force for evil. This ideology of class struggle also has an international aspect: The identification of the United States with the evil rich. Since Israel is a strong ally of the U.S., this can lead to the conclusion that “the best friend of my enemy is my enemy as well.”
This has inevitably resulted in the rise of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement in Brazil.
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