Yesterday was Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish Arbor Day festival. While, as is traditional, Israeli schoolchildren marked the day by taking nature walks and planting trees, militant Israeli leftists, funded by American Jewish donors, found a different way to mark the holiday.
In a junket sponsored by the New Israel Fund, militant Israeli leftists, led by cultural icons like War of Independence poet Haim Guri, set out for the Arab village of Salem in Samaria to plant olive trees for the Palestinians. It is hard to think of a sharper slap on the face to Zionism or to Judaism, than Israeli Jews traveling on Tu B’Shvat to a village that just voted a terrorist organization devoted to throwing the Jews into the sea into power, and planting olive trees for them.
The organizers claim that they did this in response to reports that Israelis from the area have been chopping down Palestinian owned olive trees. MK Ran Cohen from Meretz, who never calls for decisive Israeli responses to massacres of its citizenry by Palestinian terrorists, said in a recent interview with Israel Radio that Jews caught cutting down Palestinian trees should be shot.
Guri was asked in an interview on Israel Radio Sunday morning why he and his comrades felt it necessary to help Palestinian tree owners but have done nothing to bring attention or redress to the Israeli refugees from Gaza who six months after being forced from their homes and farms, have yet to receive adequate compensation or housing solutions.
Guri replied that the “plight of Palestinians is a humanitarian concern while the settlers removed from Gush Katif is politics.” So for Guri and his associates, and for their sponsors from the New Israel Fund, the rights of Palestinians are absolute while the rights of Jews are debatable at best.
The militant leftists’ decision to plant trees in Salem is part and parcel of their political warfare campaign against their country. While the allegations that Israelis have been involved in cutting down Palestinian olive trees have spread like wildfire, no proof has been given to substantiate the claims. While in response to the charges, the IDF and the police have reinforced their surveillance of the afflicted groves, they have yet to find one suspect and have made no arrests.
The Israeli civilians in the areas claim that the allegations of Jewish vandalism of Palestinian trees are unfounded. The Israelis maintain that the Palestinians have simply been pruning their trees and they have offered photographs that tend to support their contentions. Wherever the truth may lie, it is a matter for the law enforcement authorities to deal with.
And that is the crux of the matter.
These leftist extremists did not go to Salem to protest a crime, they went to Salem to demonstrate their view that their own state has no right to exist and that the Arabs are the true people of the land while the Jews are mere interlopers whose human rights are subject to political debate.
Given their anti-Zionist world view, it is not surprising that it is not merely the notion that Israeli civilians may have vandalized Palestinian olive groves they find objectionable. They believe that Palestinian groves are terra sancta that no Jew or agent of the Jewish State has a right to touch.
There has scarcely been an occasion in the past five years of the Palestinian terror war that these militant leftists have not objected to the cutting down of Palestinian owned trees by IDF forces engaged in counter-terror operations. The IDF has frequently found it necessary to cut down trees that have been used as hiding places by terrorists. By protesting these IDF actions, the militant leftist Israeli planters of Palestine and sowers of Israel’s destruction have shown that from their perspective, there is no Israeli act of self defense against Palestinian terror that can be justified. And there is no Palestinian act of terror against Israelis that cannot be justified.
Unfortunately, the views of these anti-Zionist Jews are no longer sentiments found only at the fringe of world Jewry. Indeed, the preference for Palestinian terror supporters over Jewish Zionists has reached as far as Brandeis University. Last year the “Jewish Harvard” hired a Palestinian with known ties to the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization as a senior fellow at its Crown Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Khalil Shikaki, the head of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, is the brother of Fathi Shikaki, the founder of Islamic Jihad who was slain in Malta in 1995. He was recruited to Brandeis by the center’s head and the former director of Tel Aviv University’s leftist Jaffee Institute, Shai Feldman. Shikaki’s ties to Islamic Jihad go far deeper than his blood ties to its founder and first commander. Steven Emerson, the head of the Investigative Project and leading American terror researcher detailed Shikaki’s deep links to the terror group in a dossier he compiled and published on the Investigative Project’s website last week. As Emerson documents, Shikaki was instrumental in setting up the Islamic Jihad’s network in the US in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He also played a central role in transferring funds to terror cells in Judea, Samaria and Gaza through early 1995. In 1990, Shikaki was appointed the Director of the World and Islam Studies Enterprise, (WISE) a think tank set up at University of South Florida in Tampa by Sami al-Arian. The FBI has concluded that WISE served as a “front organization” for the Islamic Jihad. Arian was indicted in October 2003 for financing, fundraising and promulgating the ideology of Islamic Jihad in the US. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the current head of the Islamic Jihad also worked at WISE with Shikaki and al-Arian. During al-Arian’s trial, (where he was acquitted of eight of the 17 charges in his indictment), the federal prosecutors presented wiretapped conversations regarding al-Arian’s activities on behalf of Islamic Jihad. These conversations directly implicated Shikaki in transferring funds from the US to Judea and Samaria and Gaza for the use of terror cells. In light of Shikaki’s links to Palestinian terrorists, Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, (of which Brandeis’s namesake, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once served as president), recommended that Brandeis’s donors “rethink their support for Brandeis if the university fails to address their concerns [about Shikaki’s links to terrorism] in a timely and appropriate manner.” Klein has also stated that if it wishes to retain Shikaki in spite of his known past links to Islamic Jihad, the Jewish university should demand first that he apologize for his past support for the terror group and openly condemn by name Islamic Jihad, Hamas and all other Palestinian terrorist organizations. Furthermore, Klien stated, Shikaki should openly declare his recognition and support for Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
Feldman who brought Shikaki to Brandeis, has responded to the ZOA’s protests by attempting to castigate the ZOA and Klein. In an interview with the Brandeis school newspaper, Feldman said, “I don't deal with Mort Klein’s and I don't deal with the Zionist Organization of America.”
Yehuda Reinharz, President of Brandeis has also refused to contend with the documentary evidence linking Shikaki to the Islamic Jihad. He has deflected the criticism of Shikaki by accusing Klein and the ZOA of “Jewish McCarthyism.”
In their statements, both Feldman and Reinharz behave in a manner all too similar to that of the leftist militants who went to Salem yesterday to plant trees for Palestinian terror supporters. The two men, like their radical leftist cou
nterparts in Israel, prefer to truck with people who are overtly tied to Israel’s sworn enemies than, in Feldman’s words, “deal” with their fellow Jews, who devote their lives to defending Israel but have an annoying habit of noticing reality.
In both the Israeli and Brandeis cases, there are only two ways to explain this pathological behavior on the part of these Jews. Either Feldman, Reinharz and the New Israel Fund supported Israeli militant leftists are stupid or they are immoral. In either case, they are serving the interests of those who wish to destroy Israel while vilifying its most stalwart defenders.