Yesterday was the Zionist Federation‘s Israel Advocacy Training Conference where activists learnt skills and discussed the situation both here and in Israel.
After giving a session on blogging I went to Jonathan Hoffman and Keith Fraser’s How to make the most of limited knowledge session, where they performed a mock Press TV show with Jonathan playing an under pressure pro-Israel guest and Keith doing a hilarious impression of Ken Livingstone before transmogrifying into a ranting Islamist who accused the Zionists of, inter alia, “stealing our land”.
Jonathan answered the Islamist’s rants well but, as ever, the much harder questions came from the audience. Some blamed “the settlements” for angering the Palestinians while others were concerned that Israel used white phosphorus during Operation Cast Lead.
Jonathan answered that there were no “settlements” in 1929 when Jews were massacred in Hebron by Arabs and that the use of white phosporus is legal; it being used by Britain and America also.
I then went to see the impressive Lior Student who gave her session Powerful and Persuasive Presentations three times during the conference. She had some sound advice including never to scratch your nose or face when presenting as this is associated with lying; we have itching cells around our nose which are activated when we tell a porky.
In between sessions there was ample time to chat and shed crocodile tears about the anti-Israel lobby’s infighting over the anti-Jewish writings of Gilad Atzmon; the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is trying to distance itself from Atzmon while anti-Israel activist Lauren Booth has accused the PSC on her blog of being willing accomplices of the friends of Zionism.
It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people. The more Israel’s enemies continue to tear themselves apart the better.
Few give a better analysis of the current situation in Israel than David Horovitz, who edited the Jerusalem Post for seven years, and he closed the conference with another highly informative talk.
He highlighted how narrow Israel is; go north, he said, from Tel Aviv and turn left near the West Bank town of Tulkarem and it is a mere 15 minute drive across Israel to the coast.
He said no one had predicted the Arab Spring and no one could predict how it will end and that even some of Israel’s military hierarchy had, until recently, been urging Israel to negotiate peace with Syria’s Assad in return for handing back the Golan Heights as this would have weakened Iran.
However, in hindsight, with the Arab Spring in full flow handing back the strategically crucial Golan could have had dangerous consequences for Israel should Islamists accede to power in Syria, which illustrates the problem Israel has in knowing who it can negotiate with.
On the Palestinian front Horovitz quoted last year’s front page Time headline Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace, which he said was ridiculous considering that Israelis put their children on the front line.
He said if you exclude the one-state solutionists on the extreme left and those on the extreme right who think Israel should annex Judea and Samaria there is a middle ground of at least 60% of Israelis who desire a two-state solution.
He said that in 1999 the electorate threw out Netanyahu in favour of Ehud Barak after three years of relative calm on the terrorism front in the hope of a peace deal with Arafat, but Israelis eventually blamed Arafat for wrecking the prospects for peace.
And while he felt that Abbas is more moderate than Arafat Horovitz found it disturbing that Abbas’ Palestinian statehood speech at the UN highlighted Muslim and Christian claims to the Holy Land while denying Jewish ones.
Then Horovitz turned to Iran. He called Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, a “maverick” and he reckoned that the Stuxnet computer virus attack on Iran’s nuclear programme and the assassination of crucial Iranian scientists had Barak’s fingerprints on them.
He said that taking out Iran’s nuclear sites would be much harder than the 1981 attack on Osirak in Iraq (has Iran ever thanked Israel for that?), especially as the Iraqis used to turn their radars off when they went for dinner, which is why Israel attacked in the early evening.
But he warned that should Israel need to attack Iran’s nuclear sites to beware western hypocrisy as politicians will condemn Israel, like they did in 1981, while being secretly relieved.
On hearing about Osirak President Raegan responded “boys will be boys” before being forced into an explicit condemnation of Israel.
Not wishing to end downbeat Horovitz mentioned Israel’s successful economy evidenced by its ever-strengthening Shekel as well as its recent Nobel Prize for Chemistry, the third such prize in seven years.
And, finally, he said it is accepted by most of the political establishment on both the left and right in America that President Obama will get re-elected, and while this might not seem good for Israel Obama has vetoed anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and America has not reneged on its military commitments.