The Cape Town water crisis — proudly brought to you by BDS

Cape Town 2018 is what happens when a city is more concerned about politics than people. Cape Town 2018 is what happens when national government wants to demonstrate to local government who is boss. Cape Town 2018 is what happens when local government is not equipped to deal with a real crisis. And Cape Town 2018 is what happens when communication falls apart to the point that the noise is so deafening, that no message can be heard.

Cape Town 2018 is also what happens when relevant lifesaving solutions are discarded because of BDS and anti-Semitism.

Cape Town is set to be the first major city to run out of water. The city is experiencing its worst drought in history. Residents are being asked to utilize less than 50 liters (13 gallons) per day and it is unlikely that it will avoid “Day Zero.” The day the taps run dry. It is unimaginable what contingencies can be put in place to deal with the series of events that will follow this day.

We all have that friend. Mine often sends me a WhatsApp simply saying “ITYS!” At first, I had no idea what he meant, until I realized he was saying “I told you so” (but was too busy to type out the sentence). It’s annoying and frustrating and infuriating. Especially when he is right. And maybe sometimes it’s not bad to hear it.

There is no satisfaction in the fact the residents of Cape Town are on the brink of a humanitarian crisis that could have and should have been avoided. Even if we saw it coming.

February 18, 2016, I wrote a blogpost for The Times Of Israel. The column was an angry one and followed the “success” of BDS when they managed to scupper the Mail & Guardian Water Conference. They did so because Israel was on the panel. And they were thrilled to have cancelled it. It was a feather in their bow. It was a gold medal in their media war against the Jewish state and they couldn’t wait to share their good tidings with anyone who would listen.

In the article I said as follows:

“Amidst one of the worst droughts in Southern Africa’s living memory, a water conference was to be hosted by the Mail & Guardian Africa. On the list of delegates was Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk. During his assignment to the country, Lenk has spent considerable effort in educating and assisting the region whenever possible.

“As a result of Israel’s participation, as well as the entrance fee, another delegate, Prof Lorenzo Fioramonti of the University of Pretoria, withdrew his participation. And although the conference was still set to go ahead, it has subsequently been canned. Needless to say promises of rescheduling have been made, but there is little chance of getting the whole program together on a new date.

“Radio Islam in South Africa celebrated the announcement by interviewing a Prof Patrick Bond, who stuck very closely to the hater’s handbook. Apparently what Israel has achieved in this area can be done by any child and all that Israel has done is practice “Water Apartheid” and steal Palestinian water. That is hardly an achievement at all. He spoke with authority and played to his interviewer who had as much interest in the plight of the local Africans as did the professor. His narrative dripped with hatred and the thin veneer of pretense of academic objectivity did little to mask his agenda. A lesson that the prof might learn is that just by conceding something positive about Israel’s achievement, he would have made the rest of his fiction more believable. He of course made no mention of desalination or the fact that Israeli cities recycle around 85% of their water. Nor did he mention any other achievement in Israel that has changed the ecology of the country for the better.

“The fact that Southern Africa is experiencing one of the worst droughts in living memory, and that the situation is critical, is not a concern for those who hate Israel. And this comes as no shock to those familiar with BDS standard operating procedure. What does come as a shock is the celebration and joy of the BDS at the cancellation of a conference designed for one purpose in might. To assist the suffering of the African people. And if that doesn’t send a message, then I don’t know what does.”

Former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk, current Ambassador Lior Keinan, and Israel’s economic attaches to South Africa have all made repeated overtures to the relevant bodies to assist with the Cape Town water crisis. Although they have not been formally rejected, no one has engaged on any real level.

Lord Peter Hein, known to South Africans for his fight against corruption, recently tweeted as follows: “The best desalination construction companies are Israeli and regardless of their government policies, they should be in my view; this is Cape Town withering or remaining the most beautiful city in the world.”

The people of Cape Town deserve better. They are facing a probable total collapse of their economy, infrastructure and daily life. They don’t deserve to be denied solutions because of a group of BDS supporters who have intimidated weak politicians into submission.

No one wants to say ITYS.

The Article was published on The Times of Israel


DEPUTY MAYOR OF FRANKFURT SEEKS TO BAN ‘DEEPLY ANTISEMITIC’ BDS

The boycott movement targeting Israel is “deeply antisemitic and should have no place in Frankfurt,” the deputy mayor of Frankfurt said.

The deputy mayor of Frankfurt, Uwe Becker, submitted a bill on Wednesday that would ban municipal funds and space being used for activities that aim to boycott Israel.

Becker, a leading German political voice against antisemitism, said, “The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement with its messages uses the same language the National Socialists once used to express: ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’”

The boycott movement targeting Israel is “deeply antisemitic and should have no place in Frankfurt,” he said.

The proposed law would outlaw all public funding and space for the support of “antisemitic BDS activities.” The bill in Frankfurt, which has a population of nearly 733,000, would also urge private companies to refrain from commerce with BDS groups.

The deputy mayor spearheaded his Christian Democratic Union’s adoption of its anti-BDS platform at the party’s congress in 2016.

Becker said on Wednesday, “Frankfurt maintains, with its partnership with Tel Aviv, a special closeness to Israel and has continued to expand over the previous years this special relationship.”

The municipality said in a statement that Becker announced Frankfurt’s clear position against BDS in light of anti-boycott measures taken by other national and regional legislatures, including Munich’s.

Becker said BDS, at its core, is a movement that “delegitimizes the State of Israel and uses the method of a boycott to defame [Israel].” He cited BDS actions to intimidate artists who want to appear in Israel.

He also noted the boycott activities of “department store police” who stigmatize Israeli products in order to pressure stores to turn against the Jewish state.

Anti-Israel activists have over the years marched into stores in Bremen, Bonn and other German cities to single out Israeli goods for opprobrium.

Becker said his city is engaged for a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Last week, Becker wrote on his Facebook page: “With the rising terrorism in Europe, more and more people start to understand the situation that Israel has been facing since David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independence of Israel on May 14, 1948. This rising awareness should also open the eyes of the people in Europe to see that it is up to us to support Israel, as it is the only democratic country under the rule of law in the Middle East. Israel is the democratic bridge between Occident and Orient and is linked closely to our European values and virtues and way of life.”

He continued, “This year marks a decade of suffering for the people in Gaza. No, not from Israeli policy, as many people in Europe might think. No, people in Gaza suffer from a lack of freedom, from a lack of democracy, from the brutal rule of Hamas, which is betraying its own people and has been governing Gaza since Israel withdrew in 2005 and Hamas took over power in 2007 after fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The corrupt leadership of Hamas has received hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade, but the money has not gone to the people, but to the accounts of corrupt Hamas leaders and to the funding of terrorism and terrorist infrastructure in their fight against Israel.”

Becker further said that “there should not be any European tax-money funding terrorism. And as long as it is not possible to track where our tax money meant for the humanitarian aid in Gaza goes, we should freeze our financial support.”


EU-Israel relations: Trojan horses, snakes, ladders and boycotts

Why the European Parliament, and other EU institutions, need to take a strong position on the movement calling for a boycott of the State of Israel.

Brussels took upon itself the Snakes and Ladders task of building a common European position on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by pushing in the last five years for a hands-on approach designed to ensure a return on the European political and economic investment in the region.

This policy of “differentiation,” in Brussels jargon, reflects the European Union’s self-professed determination “to take any action to preserve the two-state solution on the ground” by making a distinction in its bilateral agreements with Israel between Green Line Israel and Palestinian territories. So far, the policy has yielded two sets of EU Guidelines, on Israeli participation to Horizon 2020 in July 2013 and on indication of origin of products, respectively EU labeling of settlement products, in November 2015.

Doves in Israel, and around the world, anticipated that the EU’s new policy would expose the allegedly pro-Palestinian grassroots movement for what it is, an umbrella of organizations and individuals that deliberately question the legitimacy of the State of Israel and that represent a hotbed for anti-Semitism.

There was hope that once there was a clear EU policy distinction between the State of Israel and its settlements in the territories, the voices calling for a boycott of Israel would change their tune and start lobbying Brussels to instead begin exerting its economic leverage to foster a vibrant Palestinian civil society and an accountable Palestinian political leadership.

Instead, the EU’s policy is becoming the thin end of the wedge that BDS activists use to access EU institutions, employing Trojan horse tactics that seek nothing less than a complete severance of economic, cultural, scientific ties with Israel.

High Representative Federica Mogherini has repeatedly reassured Prime Minister Netanyahu of “the EU’s opposition of boycotts against Israel”. And in all other bilateral forums, committees and subcommittees with Israel, EU officials are all singing from the same sheet: The policy of differentiation does not constitute a boycott of the State of Israel, but merely an implementation of existing EU legislation.

I could question the good will and intention of the EU diplomats, who selectively isolate one of the core issues of the conflict, as if it exists in a vacuum, or the zealous use of “existing EU legislation” for a still in progress European foreign policy. It is not the purpose of this piece, however.

I would like to draw attention to the fact that the line between diplomatic pressure put on the government of Israel on the issue of settlements and a fully-fledged boycott of the Israel is getting more and more blurred as BDS activists are offered shelter under the EU’s freedom of speech. Europe cannot afford itself to go down that path,regardless of the stalemate in the peace process.

BDS leader Omar Barghouti is frequently invited to address members of the European Parliament, the Delegation for relations for Palestine (DPAL), and other forums, and offered the public space to openly call for the boycott of Israeli products, academic exchanges and other types of sanctions.

His crude tactic of trying to “make the occupation unbearable” comes at the cost of demonizing and entire population and infringing on their civil liberties by seeking their isolation in trade, cultural exchanges, academic cooperation and security.

Mirroring the institutions’ impulse for “a continued, full and effective implementation of EU legislation,” one cannot but wonder why does EU shy away from substantiating its rejection of BDS. This position has been articulated on multiple occasions, including in MEP Martina Anderson’s answer on the question of the legitimacy of the BDS movement: “The EU rejects the BDS campaign attempts to isolate Israel and is opposed to any boycott of Israel.”

Similarly, European Council President Donald Tusk, in his first visit to Israel in August 2015, ahead of the publication of EU guidelines on labelling, reassured Prime Minister Netanyahu that “we have to avoid words like boycott because for sure this is not the intention of Europe. No country in Europe wants to boycott Israel.”

Concrete action needs to be taken by Brussels. The EU’s guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities participation to Horizon 2020 from July 2013 did not dissuade BDS activists who are lobbying members of the European Parliament from continuing to question, three years later, the participation and allocation of funds to the Israel Ministry of Public Security through LAW-TRAIN, an EU-funded project on drug trafficking.

Similarly, another European legislator addressing the European Commission on its Patronage of WATEC Italy 2016, questions the participation in the fair of Mekorot, Israel’s national water company. Furthermore, an entire political group finds it “balanced” to call for an end to all cooperation between Israel and the European Defence Agency, and to allow no funding to Israeli entities through Horizon 2020.

Unmistakably, Europe is going through a period of social disorder marked by disenchantment with mainstream politics, and one does not need further proof following Sunday’s results in the French presidential elections.

As such, for the sake of preventing further scapegoating tendencies and radicalization, I would like to make the following recommendations:

  1. Allocate resources and establish a task force within the European Commission that would monitor and investigate the impact of BDS on the European communities, possibly under Commissioner Vera Jurova (Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality);
  2. Issue a notice to all member states, asking them to monitor the activities of BDS supporters and take further legal action in line with the Council Framework decision from November 2008 that “racism and xenophobia are direct violations of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and rule of law” and to take measures to punish the following intentional conduct: Publicly inciting to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by race, color, religion descent or ethnic origin;
  3. Prevent EU taxpayers’ money to fund any entity that calls for the boycott of the State of Israel;
  4. Issue a notice on BDS supporters’ access to the EU institutions and a disclaimer for any organizations or entities that call for a boycott of Israel.

European political leadership, as well as EU policy makers, should indeed “take further action in order to protect the viability of the two-state solution.” They should not allow, under any circumstances, their policy to be misused and ultimately abused by BDS activists operating under the pretext of freedom of speech and association.

The above recommendations would ensure that the EU’s stated aim of getting a meaningful return on its investment would encounter many more ladders than snakes going forward.

This article was written by Teodora Coptil,  a consultant specializing on the EU’s policy for MENA region and head of institutional relations at Europe Israel Public Affairs, a Brussels-based NGO advocating for a strategic EU-Israel bilateral relation and accountability of EU aid going to the Palestinian Authority. it was also published on Ynet


How UK labour moderates played the Jewish card, and why they used us to do it.

0.41%. I want you to keep that number in mind. It’s important in the context of the current UK Labour Party woes over Anti-semitism.

That’s the percentage that British Jews make of the entire UK population. Or for those of you who prefer real numbers, we Jews are 263,000 people out of 64.1 million in the UK as a whole.

Let’s put that into an even bigger context, there are more members of the labour party (388,000), than there are Jews.

So anyone looking at these numbers is probably thinking the exact same thing I am. How on earth has such a tiny minority managed to exert such a strong influence on British politics? And how on earth have such a tiny minority managed to effectively bring about one of biggest crises in the opposition labour party since the early 1980’s?

Well the short answer is that we haven’t and we don’t. We have simply been used as the latest pawn in the game of thrones by moderates in the parliamentary Labour Party who desperately want to unseat the radical head of Labour, Mr Jeremy Corbyn and his far left leaning acolytes.

Of course, we are quite right to feel indignant at the recent comments from some in the Labour Party about Israel, Hitler and Zionism. But they came from people that we shouldn’t be in the least bit surprised about.

‘Red Ken’ Livingstone has a history longer than my arm on being rabidly hostile to Israel and being supportive of the Palestinians. Jeremy Corbyn regards the IRA, Hamas and the PLO as legitimate friends and people to be negotiated with, and Naz Shah – who was suspended from the Labour Party last week – is the MP who dethroned George Galloway, the Saddam loving anti-semite, in Bradford: a town with the largest Muslim population in the UK, where race riots took place and where anti-Israel hostility is commonplace.

The only difference between these people from the last election is that they were marginalised, on the periphery, and not representative of the party as a whole. Like the embarrassing drunk uncle at the dinner table they were tolerated and derided in equal measure.

Now they sit at the top table, advising Corbyn and able to articulate their wacko views with impunity. Or so it seemed until last week.

You see, up until the moderates pulled out the Jew/Anti-semite card and put it on the table, they were out of options to get rid of Corbyn. They had tried throwing everything at him: Trident (the UK’s nuclear deterrent that Corbyn opposes), his desire to get rid of the Army, his poor performances at Prime Minister’s question time, his views on minimum wage and taxing the rich to the hilt, etc, etc, etc…

None of it worked, none of it stuck. For the moderates it was like one of those nightmares where you are trying to fight someone off and the punches you land, seemingly with all your force, feel soft and have no effect.

So somewhere, in a corner office in the House of Commons, a researcher was put to work on the Jewish/anti-semitism card. They sifted through tweets, facebook posts, old statements, speeches, you name it, to find the necessary dirt on the wacko faction. They didn’t have to look too hard.

They then picked the two weeks before the London Mayoral, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Assembly elections, not to say regional elections to launch their attack.

The idea was to create such a furore that the effect on Corbyn would be shattering. As it stands, Labour look set for their worst regional council elections since 1982.

Their Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has already said the row was costing him electorally.

The outworking of all this is that post-elections, the moderates can legitimately start sharpening their knives and inflict their badly wanted death blow on Corbyn and reclaim labour, putting it back on the centre ground.

And we helped them do it. We responded exactly as we were supposed to. Ambassador Mark Regev, Israeli politicians, Rabbis from every denomination, all appeared on TV. We, this tiny minority, got huge airtime and acres of newspaper coverage.

Ask any British Jew what they want most, and most will tell you to live peacefully, quietly, and to live a Jewish life without fuss and attention.

That’s why it sits so badly with me that we have been manipulated like this. Used and I would say, abused in this inter-Labour warfare.

We have been used in the past as pawns across the Political spectrum. We need to be more careful in future before falling into the same trap again.

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The piece was written by EIPA executive director, Alex Benjamin.