ECI & CFI Young Leaders Study Tour
Christian Friends of Israel 6th of February 2013
This August Christian Friends of Israel (CFI-UK) and European Coalition for Israel (ECI) are teaming up to bring you a study tour of Israel and the Palestinian Territories exclusively for young adults (18-30s)
If you're free from 21st-31st August and want to see amazing sights and hear incredible speakers then check out the full itenerary here.
To book in, please visit this site and fill out the online form.
The Magic of Jerusalem
Stand With Us 6th of February 2013
Israel's General Election Result
BICOM 24th of January 2013
Israelis went to the polls in a General Election (the 19th since independence) on Tuesday, once again demonstrating the health of Israel’s democracy and its status as the only country in the Middle East to hold completely free and fair elections.
The results were a surprise and confounded pundits and pollsters who had mainly predicted a sharp move towards the nationalist right.
In fact, there was a swing towards the centre-left. Overall, of the 120 seats in the Knesset, the rightwing block of parties got 42 seats, down by 7 compared to the last election in 2009, the centre-left got 48 (up 4), the Ultra-Orthodox religious parties got 18 (up 2) and the Arab parties got 12 (up 1). This is an exact 60-60 split between the right/religious blocks and the centre-left/Arab blocks.
The main developments were as follows:
· Turnout was up and this seems to have helped the centre-left.
· Netanyahu’s decision to merge Likud’s election list with the more rightwing Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party backfired and the combined list lost votes both to its left and right.
· The hard right Jewish Home party, which is associated with the settler movement and wants to annex Area C of the West Bank was the focus of much media attention but in the end only came joint fourth, with 4 more MKs than its predecessor parties.
· The collapse of the centrist Kadima party left space for the rise of two new centrist parties, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid which is focused on secular Israeli concerns about the privileges accorded to the Ultra-Orthodox community, and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua, which is explicitly committed to the peace process with the Palestinians.
· There was a limited recovery by the traditional parties of the Israeli left, with 2 extra seats for Labor, which had focused on social and economic issues, and 3 more for the more leftwing Meretz party, which wants Israel to withdraw from the West Bank.
There will now be a period of coalition negotiation to form a new government which could take several weeks:
· Netanyahu is almost certain to stay as Prime Minister.
· He cannot form a working majority with just the right and the religious parties as this would only give him 60 seats, when 61 are required for a majority.
· He therefore needs to bring in one or more of the centre-left parties into government. The most likely is Yesh Atid but this would create an immediate tension with the religious parties around the issue of whether the Ultra-Orthodox community should have to take part in military service.
Comparing Gaza & Mali
David Soakell 24th of January 2013
According to reports by the BBC, the UK government is to discuss offering more help to French forces fighting Islamist rebels in Mali. Two military aircraft have already been sent and David Cameron has said there could be further assistance with transport and surveillance. But the Ministry of Defence says there are no plans for a ground combat role. Following British deaths in an attack on a gas plant in Algeria by Islamist militants, Mr Cameron said North Africa was becoming a "magnet for jihadists". The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa. Mali is bordered by Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire on the south. However, what is the difference between Mali and Gaza? This is something Stuart Palmer of International Citizens Action Network (ICAN) would like to know.
In his latest blog, Stuart Palmer states that France is behaving in a hypocritical way by attacking Mali. Palmer writes, “It would appear that Mali is France’s equivalent of Israel’s Gaza. France is now going to war in Mali because it says “we cannot have a terrorist state at the door of Europe,” but when Israel launches a defensive operation to protect its citizens from missile attacks from terrorists in Gaza, all the French newspapers and television commentators scream about Israeli aggression. The distance between Bamako and Paris: 6266 km. The distance between Gaza and Israel: 1km. This situation starkly exposes the hypocrisy of the Europeans in their attitudes toward Israel.” To read more, go to his site at www.haifadiarist.blogspot.com .
Kuwaitis have held a demonstration outside the French embassy in Kuwait City to protest against the French war in Mali. On Monday, dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the embassy, located on the outskirts of Kuwait City, and shouted anti-war slogans. They carried banners calling on France to end its war against the people of Mali, condemning "the bloodshed of Muslims" in the West African country.
What The Palestinians Don't Want You To Know
Flame 17th of January 2013
The truth sometimes hurts; that is why the Palestinian Authority has been working hard to prevent the outside world from hearing about many occurrences that reflect negatively on its leaders or people.
In recent years, the Palestinian Authority leadership, often with the help of the mainstream media in the US and EU, has been successful in its effort to divert all attention only toward Israel.
Following are examples of some of the inconvenient truths that the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank do not want others to know about:
- Over 100 senior PLO and Fatah officials hold Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them various privileges denied to most Palestinians. Among these privileges is the freedom to enter Israel and travel abroad at any time they wish. This privileging has existed since the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993.
- Out of the 600 Christians from the Gaza Strip who arrived in the West Bank in the past two weeks to celebrate Christmas, dozens have asked to move to Israel because they no longer feel comfortable living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
- Dozens of Christian families from east Jerusalem have moved to Jewish neighborhoods in the the city because they too no longer feel comfortable living among Muslims.
- Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank continue to summon and arrest political opponents, journalists and bloggers who dare to criticize the Palestinian leadership.
- The Palestinian Authority government, which has been complaining about a severe financial crisis for the past few months, just cancelled outstanding electricity debts for Palestinians in the West Bank. Palestinians pay their bills to the Arab Jerusalem Electric Company, which buys electricity from the Israeli Electric Company; the Palestinians have not been paying their electricity bills and many have been stealing electricity from their Arab company.
- Tens of thousands of Palestinian Authority civil servants in the Gaza Strip receive salaries to stay at home and not work. The practice has been in effect since Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. According to Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf, the Palestinian Authority, which is funded mostly by American and European taxpayer money, spends around $120 million each month on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
- Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction has allocated more than one million dollars for celebrations marking the 48th anniversary of the "launching of the revolution" -- a reference to the first armed attack carried out by Fatah against Israel.
- Despite the calls for an economic boycott of Israel, more than 40,000 Palestinians have received permits to work in Israel. Moreover, another 15,000 Palestinians continue to work in Jewish settlements in spite of an official ban.
- Top PLO and Fatah officials continue to do their shopping in Israeli-owned businesses both in the West Bank and Israel. Last week, for example, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and his family were spotted shopping in Jerusalem's Malha mall. Of course, the PLO official did not forget to bring along his private driver and maid.
- The wife of a senior PLO official recently spent $20,000 for dental treatment in Tel Aviv at a time when there is no shortage of renowned Palestinian dentists in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus.
These are only some of the inconvenient truths that the Palestinian Authority does not want the outside world to know. Palestinian journalists often avoid reporting about such issues out of concern for their safety or for "ideological" reasons. These journalists have been taught that it is forbidden to hang out the dirty laundry.
Western journalists, funders and decision-makers who deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict need to know that there are many truths being completely ignored or hidden from their eyes and ears.
Friends of tolerance and democracy are Friends of Israel
Friends of Israel Initiative 20th of November 2012
Self-defence is a right of people and nations that is enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. The war we are witnessing right now over Gaza was not initiated by Israel but by Hamas, well before the killing of its military commander, the well-known terrorist, Ahmed al-Jaabari.
After a quiet period following Operation Cast Lead at the end of 2008, rocket attacks from Gaza have been steadily reassumed with increasing ferocity: 150 rockets hit Israel in 2010; 680 last year; and more than 800 were launched this year before al-Jaabari’s death. Hamas was not sending flowers to schools and homes in southern Israel, but destruction and terror.
Hamas has indeed provoked the Israeli reaction because its leadership prefers war to peace despite the suffering violence bring to its people. It may have chosen to do so for reasons we can only speculate upon — to further undermine the authority of Mahmoud Abbas as the President of the Palestinian Authority; to increase its standing in the eyes of Sunni radicals at a time when Hamas has been expelled from Damascus; or to force a rapprochement with the Muslin Brotherhood now ruling in neighbouring Egypt. The reasons really don’t matter. The fact is that Hamas has once again taken the path of confrontation over peace.
No country has like Israel sustained the continuous bombardment of its people year after year. No leader of any nation may rest quiet and passive before thousands of attacks against its citizens. The military activities we now see are just the logical counter-reaction against an unbearable situation. The ferocity reported by some is not coming from the Israeli forces which take great risks to avoid civilian casualties. This is precisely the opposite of the Palestinian rockets whose only targets are civilians — men, women and children.
The Friends of Israel Initiative stands by Israel and its right to self-defence. We deplore war but we understand that Israeli leaders have the legitimacy to act against Israel enemies. Make no mistake, Hamas is a terrorist organization whose goal is to put an end to the existence of the State of Israel and to impose a fanatical regime based upon religion. Hamas, by its nature, is the enemy of what we, democratic, open and tolerant people, are and believe in.
We want to see peace in the region, but we have to make a clear distinction between those who want to prevail through terror and those who defend themselves from terrorist attacks. We make a call that we should stand by Israel in such difficult moments.
José María Aznar is Chairman of the Friends of Israel Initiative and was Prime of Minister of Spain, 1996-2004
Your Questions on Hamas Answered
Stand With Us 18th of December 2012
Why Should Christians Be Friends of Israel?
Christian Friends of Israel 25th of October 2011
15 Seconds in Sderot
Sderot Media Center 20th of November 2012