U.S. Ambassador Power excoriates anti-Israel bias; Merkel calls on Iran to recognize Israel

 

In a sign of solidarity with Israel, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power on Monday blasted the anti-Israel bias often displayed at the UN. Addressing students of the Model UN at a school in Even Yehuda, a town near Netanya, Power said, “Bias has extended well beyond Israel as a country, Israel as an idea.” She continued, “Israel is just not treated like other countries.” While in Israel, Power met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. Rivlin asked her to “transfer once again a message to [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas, that he must understand the conflict between us — the tragedy between us — can only be solved through direct negotiations. No solution can be imposed on either side, and we must negotiate to come to an understanding.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meeting with Netanyahu in Berlin on Tuesday, expressed her country’s strong support for the State of Israel. She declared at a joint press conference, “[T]here cannot be a normal, friendly relationship with Iran so long as the existence of Israel is not recognized.” Merkel said, “We agree that Israel, Europe and Germany are facing the same challenges, and we had our talks in this spirit, and discussed how to fight Islamic State and how it is possible to stop the terrorist threat.” She said that, while she acknowledged “this is not the time for progress” on negotiations toward a two-state solution, nonetheless, it would be possible to “improve things in certain areas.”  Merkel’s position is aligned with  that of Isaac Herzog, the leader of the opposition in the Knesset and head of the Zionist Union party, who said last month that should he be elected prime minister, his government would work to “implement security measures,” referring to unilateral actions that separate Israel from the Palestinians, rather than immediately jump into bilateral negotiations. In a recent op-ed in the German daily Bild, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the ongoing wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis “despicable terror.”

 

Hany Baransi has been serving authentic hummus and falafel in his central Ohio eatery for 27 years, proudly giving diners a taste of his Israeli Christian Arab heritage between bites of rich Mediterranean fare.A sign bearing an Arabic greeting—“Ahlan Wa Sahalan”— hangs prominently near the glass doors of his Nazareth Restaurant & Deli in Columbus, through which passersby can also spot an Israeli flag. Baransi says he has always been outspoken about his Israeli identity, and so when his restaurant was attacked on Thursday evening by a machete-wielding man, he believed it was no coincidence.

The assailant, identified by police as 30-year-old Mohamed Barry, “came in and asked where I was from,” Baransi told The Tower. While Baransi was at home nursing a headache at the time, one of his employees– a young waitress– told Barry that the owner is from Israel. The man left after he determined that Baransi wasn’t at the restaurant, only to return around 30 minutes later with a machete and start hacking people.

“He came to each table and just started hitting them,” Karen Bass, who was in the restaurant at the time, told WBNS. “There were tables and chairs overturned, there was a man on the floor bleeding, there was blood on the floor.”

According to authorities, Nazareth’s employees and patrons fought back and threw chairs at Barry, who fled the eatery after injuring four diners. He led cops on a five-mile chase before his vehicle spun off the road and, armed with his machete and another knife, he lunged at the officers.

“He yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’ and then he attacked them with the machete and that’s when they shot him and killed him,” Baransi said.

No cops were wounded during the attack, and the four victims who were injured inside the restaurant are expected to recover.

While Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said shortly after the assault that she believed Nazareth’s diners “were just randomly attacked, spontaneously, without warning,” Baransi wasn’t so certain.

“Is it a random attack? Yes, but it wasn’t a random attack like you’re walking in the street and there are 10 shops and you pick one,” he said. “It was a random attack [insofar] that I was one of the Israelis [picked] between all of the Israelis that are around here. It was a terrorist attack.”

“I am a very outspoken Israeli, and I have an Israeli flag in my restaurant,” added Baransi, who moved to the United States from Haifa in 1983 and said he tries to visit Israel as often as he can. “When people [from the Arab community] ask me where I am from, I tell them I am Israeli, I am an Israeli Christian Arab, it’s not like I am Palestinian, and then they start arguing and fighting with me.”

Baransi noted that the FBI, which has since joined the investigation and is probing whether the assault was an instance of homegrown extremism, has yet to share any conclusions. He mentioned that he is hoping to hear from them by Monday. For now, he is focusing on helping his staff cope with the traumatic experience they underwent.

“You know, we are Israelis, used to this in our lives, people attacking us and wanting to kill us,” he observed. “But Americans — I have young ladies, 19, 20-years-old, they probably never heard people yelling and screaming. It was a huge experience for them. And some of them are very devastated. All of us communicate on a daily basis, and some of us, a couple of people, are still having a really hard time.”

He said that he is only willing to reopen his restaurant once his staff assures him that they are ready. “Even though I am hurting financially badly, if this time is needed for the well-being of my employees, I am okay with that,” he stressed. “God will provide for us.”

When asked whether he would consider removing the Israeli flag seen from his restaurant’s entryway as a precaution, Baransi swiftly rejected the idea.

“Actually I have another flag, and I am going to get a bigger flag, and I am going to get a Star of David necklace and put it on my chest, and I am going to get a tattoo,” he declared. “Honest to God, I am not kidding. They don’t scare me. We are Israelis. We are Israelis. We are resilient, we fight back.”

“We are used to these bastards,” he added. “We are used to these kinds of attacks, that they hate us just for what we are. They don’t know us, they don’t know anything about us, and they do that. You know, I don’t care if I was an Arab or not, because I am an Israeli, and if you don’t like Israelis you don’t like me.”

Baransi said he spends 12 to 14 hours each day working in his restaurant and has never experienced such an incident before, but indicated that as an Israeli Christian Arab, he feels “very discriminated against in the way the Arabs look at me.” Despite this, he emphasized that these were barriers that could be overcome. His best friend in Haifa, who graduated high school at his side, is Muslim. And he has made Arab Muslim friends in America, too.

“I have a Muslim friend who is from Jordan. He is my best friend. We talk politics, we talk religion, and we are completely different people. We can yell at each other and fight,” he chuckled. “But I know I love him, I know he loves me, we would die for each other.”

Still, he suggested that sometimes, he feels like he doesn’t quite fit in with anybody. “Even with the Israelis, I still feel different because of the Jewish community. But then even with the Israeli Arabs. It’s just a weird kind of feeling.”

“But I am very happy in my life,” he quickly added. “I feel okay. I love my country Israel, and I will defend it until the day I die.” (via TheTower.org)

 

“Next to Tel Aviv, New York is the second place I wouldn’t want to gossip about anyone in Hebrew,” jokes Yali Saar, the 26-year-old CEO of Tailor Brands, an online platform for creating logos, branding materials and presentations. Saar is one of a growing number of Israeli entrepreneurs establishing a presence in Manhattan for easier access to a large pool of customers, employees, mentors and investors. “They are coming here and finding a supportive ecosystem,” says Inbar Haham of the New York office of Magma Ventures Partners, a venture capital firm based in Tel Aviv. “New York has always been a place for companies to raise capital, but historically there weren’t a lot of early-stage VCs. Now we see more VCs and angels expressing interest in early-stage companies,” she says. “Specifically for Israeli companies, the market in Israel is too small and they have to think of a global strategy. They can either go to the West Coast or to New York; New York is a better option because the time difference isn’t as big and you can take a direct flight overnight.” (via Israel21c)

 

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are very big business in Israel. Various NGOs—most of them from the Left and claiming to promote human rights and democracy—are very active in the Knesset, in filing lawsuits with the Supreme Court that seek to overturn government policies, and in the media. They receive hundreds of millions of shekels from large foundations and foreign governments—primarily European. While the activities of these NGOs are criticized by the Israeli Right, much of the mainstream Israeli media supports them. As a result, the “halo effect” that protects these NGOs from independent investigation is particularly strong.But that halo was shattered recently when the popular Israeli television news program Uvda featured a hidden-camera expose of a little-known “peace group” known as Ta’ayush, led by activist Ezra Nawi. The footage showed Nawi, along with Nasser Nawaja, a Palestinian employee of the NGO B’Tselem, plotting against an Arab who was negotiating to sell private land in the West Bank to Jews. They were trying to lure the Palestinian into a trap where he would be captured by the Palestinian Authority’s security services. As Nawi coldly noted in the video, under PA law, the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death.

The broadcast became headline news and the fallout continued for weeks. Nawi was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport when he tried to flee the country. A few days later, a follow-up program aired more hidden-camera footage, this time showing Nawi with officials from two other prominent “human rights” NGOs—Breaking the Silence (BtS) and Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR). Both groups were shown giving money to Nawi, who then handed out checks to Palestinians, apparently for taking part in violent demonstrations. RHR claimed that Nawi was paid for providing transportation services. BtS denounced everyone involved in the program as “Stasi,” a reference to the notorious East German intelligence service.

The report was particularly explosive because Nawi had been an iconic hero to the far-Left in Israel and beyond—a gay Sephardi peace activist and pacifist who embodied Western orientalist myths. Prominent leftists like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein described him as “one of Israel’s most courageous human rights activists.” David Shulman, who writes highly critical articles on Israel in The New York Review of Books and happens to be a member of Ta’ayush, referred to Nawi as an Israeli Gandhi. In 2009, after Nawi was convicted of assault following a demonstration, he became the focus of an international campaign, including a sympathetic portrayal inTime magazine. The fiercely anti-Zionist Jewish Voice for Peace claimed to have collected 20,000 signatures on a petition to save him from jail. But in 37 minutes, the Channel 2 program destroyed Nawi’s image.

To continue reading this article in The Tower Magazine, click here.


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