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April 6, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 6, 2018 PAGE 5A By Jonathan S. Tobin (JNS)--At this year'sAIPAC conference, a great deal of attention was given to organizational efforts to present Israel as an attractive cause for Democrats and liberals to continue to embrace. As I noted earlier this month, while perils are associated with any attempt to "rebrand" the Jewish state without addressing the core issues of the conflict, the group got generally good reviews for working hard to address major concerns for the pro-Israel community. Fueling those worries was a recent Pew ResearchCenter poll that highlighted the growing gap between how Republicans and Democrats view Israel. While the GOP seems to be leaning more pro- Israel, the Democrats seem to be heading in the opposite direction. Those numbers were easily explained by a Republican base dominated by Christian conservatives who are passionate about Israel, and a Democratic base whose activists are vulnerable to specious intersectional arguments that portray the Palestinians as the moral equivalent to blacks in the Jim Crow Deep South. The fact that the leadership of the Women's March--the engine of the increasingly important anti-Trump "resistance"--is dominated by sympathizers of Louis Farrakhan, and Israel opponents like Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, has only highlighted this problem. But for all of the fears of the growing polarization between the parties, the predictions of the death of the bipartisan consensus on Israel are, to paraphrase Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated. As a new Gallup poll shows, support for Israel in the United States hit record levels. Americans of every age, ethnicity, religious group and political stripe like Israel, and back it against the Palestinians. Those who question why U.S. foreign policy remains so pro-Israel need to reckon with the fact that mostAmericans just love the Jewish state. The basic numbers are impressive. The percentage of Americans who favor Israel over the Palestinians scores 64 percent. That ties an all- time high that has only been reached twice before in 1991 and 2003. What's so fascinating about that number is that Israel should be so popular at this particular time. Those two previous years came in moments of crisis. In 1991, Israel was under attack from Iraqi SCUD missiles during the Persian Gulf War. In 2003, the second intifada was raging. It's easy to understand why images of Israelis suffering missile attacks as a form of revenge against America's effort to rescue Kuwait or being blown up in buses and cafes by Palestinian terrorists would engender sympathy. But Israel is not currently being attacked. The assumption has been that President Donald Trump's tilt towards Israel would alienate both centrists and liberals who see anything associated with him in a negative light. The unpopularity of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also supposed to be a drag on Israel's popularity, as is the mainstream media's continuedassertions thatWest Bank settlements, rather than Palestinian intransigence, remains the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. But the numbers don't back up those assumptions. Gallup's survey is useful because researchers have been asking these same questions of the public for decades. That makes the fact that Israel's favorability ratings come in at an all-time high is something for both its friends and its critics to ponder. Indeed, in the last 12 months, which coincide with Trump's first year in the White House, the already positive numbers increased again. In 2017, Israel was viewed positively by 71 percent of Americans and negatively by 27 percent. In 2018, the totals are 74 percent positive and only 23 percent negative--a net gain of nine points. To put that in perspective, there are no U.S. politicians and few foreign places or people viewed as positively by Americans as Israel's net plus 51 percent favorability rating. It's true that a huge gap exists between the two parties. A staggering 87 percent of Republicans sympathize with Israel, as opposed to 49 percent of Democrats. That still means that fully half of the Democrats stand on the side of the Jewish state. We're also told that young people are rejecting Israel. It's true that many college campuses have seen a rise in support for the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement. But Gallup also tells us that 65 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 back Israel. While that's admittedly lower than the 80 percent of support Israel gets from those 55 and older, it still reflects a solid consensus. Nor is there anything in the poll to encourage Israel's foes. Only 27 percent of Democrats view the Palestinians favorably, as opposed to a mere 13 percent of Republicans. AIPAC on page 15A @ By Monim Harun JERUSALEM (JTA)--Israel, don't shut the door in our faces. My name is Monim Harun, an asylum seeker from Sudan. I was born in a small village nested between mountains and forests, where we lived together as one big family. At a young age I was separated from my family and the people I loved most in the world when the militia forces attacked our village. They went through the village killing every man and boy in sight, but by a miracle I survived. My mother wanted me to live in a safer place and have the opportunity to study, so in 2001, at the age of 12, she sent me to the other side of the country, to the Blue Nile region of the Republic of Sudan. When I left the village it felt bittersweet--leaving behind my mother and sisters, and the people I loved. But I knew that in doing so, I would be able to acquire new skills that would help me rebuild my community on my return. In the Blue Nile region I completed elementary through high school, and was accepted to Blue Nile University. I spent three years there studying toward a degree in electrical engineering--five years are required for the program. During those years I joined a student organization that fights against the rule of radical Islam in Sudan, and calls for a democratic, secular and liberal system of government. My involvement in social and political advocacy wound up placing my life in great danger, all the more so because my Fur ethnicity is one against which the Sudanese government has been perpetrating genocide. In 2011, the Sudanese dictatorship decided to attack the area in which I was studying, I was forced to flee the Blue Nile region when the security forces began searching for me in order to arrest me. After trying many times to return and finish my studies, I finally realized in 2012 that I would not be able to remain in the country. The security forces continued searching for me and arrested some of my friends, one of whom was held in captivity for three years and only released in 2014. I fled to Egypt but was unable to remain there because the Muslim Brotherhood, who were in power at that time, were sympathetic to Sudan's Islamist government. I made my way to Israel, arriving in June 2012. Upon arrival I was sent to prison for three years and later was told that I would be deported to the country from which I fled, despite my request for asylum and my statement that my life would be in danger if I were sent back. I was imprisoned for a year and a half in Saharonim prison and then was held in the Holot detention center until January 2015. Israel's current deportation plan is the final stage in its established policy of pressuring us, the African asylum seekers, to leave the country. Israel has already been taking some of the money that we earn from our work in the lowliest jobs available (asylum seekers must put aside 20 percent of their salaries until they leave Israel) by refusing all of our asylum requests and imprisoning many of us indefinitely in Saharonim. All of these policies, and many others, stem from the state's approach to us as "infiltrators" rather than refugees. The economic punishments inflicted upon us have indeed made our lives difficult, but that is certainly not what bothers us the most, nor is it what stands at the head of our struggle as asylum seekers. Our struggle is to be seen, and treated, as human beings. What is incredibly frightening to me is how the Israeli government has succeeded in disconnecting itself from the history and values of the Jewish people. How can the Jewish people forget the meaning of the word "refugee"? How can a people who were forced again and again to flee their homes decide not to give temporary refuge to those who are fleeing their homes today? It is obvious to me that the majority of the Israeli public does not know why the Sudanese and Eritreans arrive in Israel. They do not see us as "refugees." This raises the question: How would you define a refugee? A person who suffered force labor, violence, rape and torture in his own country-- is he not a refugee? Someone who was persecuted only because of her religion and ethnic background--is she not a refugee? A person forced to flee his home only because of his skin color--is he not a refugee? Someone whose village was burned and her family members killed in front of her eyes--is she not a refugee? And he who survived a genocide--is he not a refugee? Asylum on page 14A he By Sarah N. Stern (JNS)--For a quarter of a century, the Palestinian Authority has cynically wrapped itself inside a fig leaf dubbed as the "Peace Process." The naked truth, however, is that it has been using every means available to incite for, incentivize and reward terrorism. With Friday's passage of the Taylor Force Act, which aims to deduct payments to Palestinian prisoners and martyrs, fissures are finally emerging in its iron wall of deception. The phrase "Peace Process" served as an ingenious linguistic sedative, lulling the international community into the dream of a peaceful P.A. The harsh reality is that the objective of the P.A. has never been peace, but the gradual, staged elimination of the State of Israel. The P.A. has been consistently teaching their children that Jews and Israelis are odious, detestable creatures, and their final elimination would be of huge benefit to the Palestinian people, the Arab world and all of humanity. The Palestinian National Covenant was adopted on May 28, 1963, in which most of the 33 articles invoke an "armed struggle" until "the Zionist entity is totally wiped out and Palestine is liberated." Note that this happened four years before the 1967 Six-Day War, so it had nothing to do with the disputed territories that followed that war, and everything to do with the 1948 War of Independence and the sheer existence of Israel. In April 1996, amid the euphoria of the signing of the Oslo Accords and under much political pressure from the Clinton administration, the Palestinian National Council had a well-publicized vote to discuss whether to "revoke the covenant." Despite the fanfare, they voted simply to extend the period of time to decide on what to do. P.A. spokesperson Marwan Kanfani emerged from the meeting, saying: "This is not an amendment. It is a license to start anew, to found a new resolution, a new charter. This is really a vote to form a committee to look into it." The committee never was formed; the members never appointed; no meetings were subsequently announced. Yet the international media was ablaze with headlines of how the P.A. had renounced the charter. Peter Jennings, the anchor of "World News Tonight" began his broadcast with: "They said it couldn't be done. The P.A. has revoked its charter calling for the destruction of Israel." The PNC didn't convene until 2009, in which Fatah spokesman Nabil Shaath said that "the covenant cannot be changed." Azaam al Ahmed, another P.A. spokesman said"it [the covenant] will remainas is. It won't be subject to change. We have the right to practice all forms of national struggle." Nevertheless, for decades the world convinced themselves that the P.A. was actually a peaceful entity, the moderate alternative to Hamas. The P.A. has been playing a dubious game. It had used all means available to systematically indoctrinate their people to despise and murder Israelis and Jews, using textbooks, children's television shows, sporting and cultural events to demonize Jews, to praise the shahid, ("martyr") and to encourage their youth to follow in this "glorious path." As Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch writes, "P.A. libels claim that Israel conspires to infect PalestinianswithAIDS, spread drug addiction, conspired and successfully murderedArafat, and more. The P.A.'s goal has been to inculcate hatred to the degree that fighting and murdering Jews and Israelis will be glorified as heroic self-defense." After so many years of this systematic indoctrination, it's no wonder that murdering Jews and Israelis is seen as a heroic act in the eyes of many Palestinians, and a regnant value of the P.A. In 2015, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said: "We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood." In defiance of the United States, the P.A.justannounced that itwill now directly pay the prisoners and the families of "martyrs" to the tune of $355 million a year. Does this not constitute materialsupport for terrorism? At least, however, so far as the U.S. Congress is concerned, the gig is finally up. Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment of Middle East Truth, EMET, an unabashedly pro -Israel and pro-American think tank and policy shop in Washington, D.C. Unbefr'endedl;I !