From:                              Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedfor

Sent:                               Friday, January 09, 2015 1:01 AM

To:                                   'Amir Cohen'

Subject:                          The Bulletin - A Community Update for January 9, 2014

The Bulletin - A Community Update for January 9, 2014




Palestinian Strategy & Israeli Elections


Having failed to get the nine minimum votes from the United Nations Security Council on December 30 that would have recognized Palestinian statehood, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas vowed to resubmit the Security Council resolution “again and again” despite the risk that sanctions could lead to his government’s collapse. 

Following the failed Security Council vote, Abbas then joined the International Criminal Court (ICC), a provocative move.  Israel retaliated by withholding tax revenue dollars it collects for the Palestinian Authority.  Washington threatened to cut $400 million in aid to the Authority if the ICC bid is not reversed.

Abbas is gambling on global sympathy.  His strategy may also bolster Benjamin Netanyahu and other conservatives in the upcoming elections.  With Bibi in power, Israel has been increasingly reactive to Palestinian actions with punitive measures.  Bibi’s center-left opponents, who seem to be gaining some strength in recent polls, may be more committed to a two-state solution.

“Frustrated after decades of failed bilateral negotiations, the Palestinians have adopted a global strategy, successfully lobbying European parliaments to recognize them as a state, joining more than 30 international conventions, and pressing for a United Nations Security Council resolution setting a 2017 deadline for ending Israel’s occupation,” wrote Jodi Rudoren in this New York Times article.

If the provisional government created as part of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s were to collapse, forcing Israel to provide services and maintain order across the West Bank without Palestinian security forces, the resulting chaos would only attract a greater international audience.  Abbas and the PLO are betting on it.  For the record, I am not.




Corruption Probe & Israeli Elections


“Yisrael Beitenu’s imbroglio is Bibi’s good news,” political analyst Hanan Kristal said when speaking about the corruption allegations the powerful, hard-line party is facing ahead of the March 17 elections in Israel.  Led by foreign minister (an immigrant from the former Soviet Union) Avigdor Lieberman, Yisrael Beitenu has been a central player in Israel’s coalition politics for over a decade.  The current probe focuses on accusations of nepotism and illegally transferred funds meant to buy votes from settlers for party primaries.

Damage from corruption allegations would likely benefit Netanyahu’s Likud party and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett’s The Jewish Home party, both of which have a similar ideology.

To learn more about Avigdor Lieberman and the cult of personality as it plays out politically prior to the elections, read more in this article from the Guardian.



Terror in Paris:  Free Speech and Charlie

While my former colleague Jeffrey Goldberg and I don’t always agree, his commentary in the Atlantic is always a must-read for me.  I agree with his Europe Under Siege column’s position that while tragic, the attack on Charlie Hebdo was not at all surprising.  He reminds us that the firebombing of Charlie Hebdo in 2011 was like the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.  He reminds us that the writing was on the wall of the Jewish Museum in Brussels last May.

Goldberg suggests that the Charlie Hebdo massacre is the most direct attack on Western ideals by jihadists yet, that this is simply the latest chapter in an organized Islamist terror campaign that will not end with Jews and cartoonists.  I agree. 

In a solidarity response to the attack, “I am Charlie”/”Je suis Charlie” signs and posts have appeared everywhere.  In another excellent Goldberg piece titled We Are Not Charlie, Goldberg makes the case that free speech is sacred, that under no circumstances should any society appease or acquiesce to those who would suppress by force any criticism of religion.  “We in the West believe that blasphemy is a right and not a crime,” writes Goldberg.  With this, too, I agree.

Shabbat Shalom



The Bulletin is a weekly email from Amir Cohen, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford.  I welcome your feedback at