The world will mark International Holocaust Day on Wednesday. Monday will see President Shimon Peres fly to Berlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leave for a visit to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. They will be joined by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Budapest and Information Minister Yuli Edelstein in New York.
Before meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Edelstein referred to the report accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza, calling it “anti-Semitic”.
Israel’s political echelon plans to slam then distortions in the Goldstone Report on International Holocaust Day of all days, in order to point to an anti-Semitic trend which blames the victims of Palestinian rockets. [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — 2009 saw a record number of anti-Semitic attacks – especially after the release of the Goldstone Report… well, no, it was actually in the three months immediately after the war on Gaza. I guess Judge Goldstone just got swept up in the rise in anti-Semitism.
The war on Gaza couldn’t possibly have driven the rise in anti-Semitism. Or could it? I wonder…
The Israeli prime minister has taken part in tree-planting ceremonies in the West Bank while declaring Israel will never leave those areas.
Benjamin Netanyahu said the Jewish settlements blocs would always remain part of the state of Israel.
His remarks came hours after a visit by US envoy George Mitchell who is trying to reopen peace talks between Israel and Palestinians.
A Palestinian spokesman said the comments undermined peace negotiations.
“Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here. This place will be an inseparable part of Israel for eternity”, the prime minister said. [continued…]
TThe presence of a large, non-Jewish population [of foreign workers] in the Jewish state stirs great unease. In November, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz blamed foreign workers for a rise in unemployment and a “widening of social gaps”; the mayor of Eilat, Meir Yitzhak Halevi, recently called them a “burden on the welfare authorities.” He added: “They consume alcohol and have introduced cases of severe violence.” The situation is routinely described in the media as a ticking social time bomb. The military estimates that as many as 1 million Africans could try to cross into Israel (though the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees puts the number at 45,000).
Responding to such concerns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Jan. 10 that Israel will build two fences along the Egyptian border — one around Eilat, the other near Gaza — in the hope of staunching the flow of “infiltrators and terrorists.” Construction is expected to take several years, and the fence will be entirely on Israeli territory. Netanyahu also directed the Justice Ministry to formulate a plan to sanction businesses that hire illegal immigrants. “This is a strategic decision to ensure the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Israel will remain open to war refugees but we cannot allow thousands of illegal workers to infiltrate into Israel via the southern border and flood our country.” There is reason to be skeptical. For two decades, Israeli policy toward foreign workers and refugees, has been widely regarded as a complete failure.
Foreign workers first arrived in Israel in the late 1980s to address a sudden labor shortage caused by the outbreak of the first Intifada. Following the Six Day War in 1967, Israel issued work permits to Palestinians for menial, low-wage jobs, primarily in construction and agriculture. By 1987, the year the Intifada began, Palestinians comprised nearly 8 percent of the Israeli labor force. The uprising, which prevented Palestinians from traveling back and forth to jobs inside Israel, threw the economy into crisis. In response, the Israeli government began to import workers from abroad. By 2000, foreign workers comprised 12 percent of the Israeli workforce. [continued…]