Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement
Preserving the Peace with Jordan By Caroline B. Glick
(JNS) Israel's Channel 13 reported on Tuesday that President Donald Trump's Deputy National Security Advisor Victoria Coates held a meeting at the White House last week with the ambassadors of Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. She reportedly asked the emissaries to check whether their governments are willing to consider signing non-aggression pacts with Israel.
The story, which the White House did not deny, indicates the Trump administration has embraced an Israeli initiative raised publicly last month by Foreign Minister Israel Katz. The idea is that through non-aggression pacts, which are less than peace treaties, Israel and its Arab neighbors will be able to sidestep the issue of formal relations, replete with embassy opening ceremonies, and simply engage in open relations, for the benefit of all sides.
This has been the central goal of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's diplomatic strategy. For decades, foreign policy practitioners and activists in the United States and Europe, and on the Israeli left, have insisted that peace between Israel and the larger Arab world is impossible so long as Israel has not concluded a peace treaty with the PLO. This view gives the PLO the power to dictate if, when and under what conditions Arab nations will be "allowed" to have normal relations with the Jewish state.
Netanyahu's goal has long been to rescind the PLO's veto. By working behind the scenes to build constructive, stable ties with the states of the region predicated on mutual interests, Netanyahu has made great strides in achieving this goal. The very fact that Coates reportedly held a meeting with the Arab ambassadors in the White House is a testament to the success of his efforts.
The dimensions of Netanyahu's achievement are clear when you compare Israel's constructive, mutually beneficial ties with states with which it lacks formal peace treaties to its ties with Jordan.
In recent remarks before a Knesset meeting marking the 25th anniversary of the signing of Israel's peace treaty with Jordan, Netanyahu explained that the basis of Israel's peaceful relations with Egypt and Jordan is not emotional. The Egyptians and Jordanians haven't embraced Israel as a neighbor and friend. Rather, Israel's peace treaties are the products of its deterrent power.
In his words, "As long as we are stronger—they are with us. If we become weaker, then the peace agreements will hang by a thread."
That means that practically speaking there is little substantive difference between Israel's ties with, say, the UAE, and its ties with Egypt. So long as both perceive Israel as strong and helpful, and impossible to destroy, they will have good relations with it. If Israel becomes a strategic basket case on the other hand, then those relations will rapidly deteriorate.
In Egypt's case, the combination of Israeli strength and shared interests in combating Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood improved relations to an unprecedented degree. Acting on these shared interests and his recognition of Israeli power, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi played a significant role in cultivating ties between the Sunni Gulf states and Israel.
Jordan is a different story. While Israel's relations with Egypt have never been better, its relations with Jordan have never been worse. Indeed, Israel's informal ties with Saudi Arabia today are arguably better than its formal ties with Jordan. So what is going on? Is Israel doing something wrong? What does it get out of its ties with Jordan to begin with?
The most important advantage Israel gains from its ties with Jordan is a peaceful eastern frontier. But that peaceful border, which is a function of Israel's control of the Jordan Valley on the one hand and of Jordan's actions to secure its border with Israel on the other, predates the peace treaty by more than 20 years. Moreover, given the downward trajectory of bilateral ties, it's hard to know how long Jordan will remain committed to securing the border. From week to week, Jordan's growing hostility towards Israel becomes more difficult to countenance or explain away.
Consider the events of the past three weeks.
A week ago, the Jordanian armed forces conducted a military exercise led by the elite Royal Guard 1st Mechanized Battalion. It was code-named "Swords of Karameh" after a 1968 battle by the Jordanian town of Karameh between Israel and Fatah terrorists. Jordanian military forces fought alongside Fatah.
Jordanian King Abdullah II oversaw the two-day exercise, which included infantry and armor forces along with fighter jets and helicopters. Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzazz, government ministers, senior military commanders as well as foreign military attaches also attended the exercise. The "Swords of Karameh" exercise reportedly simulated a battle between Jordanian forces and an invasion force "from the west" which involved defeating the foreign invaders and destroying the bridges they used to cross into Jordan.
In other words, it simulated a battle against Israel.
It bears noting that on the face of it, the "Swords of Karameh" exercise constituted a material breach of the terms of the peace treaty. The treaty bars the parties from carrying out belligerent acts against one another. Simulating war with Israel, and rushing to publicize the simulation, certainly feels like a belligerent act.
Two weeks ago, in remarks to a fawning audience of American Jews in New York, Abdullah said that Jordan's bilateral relations with Israel had reached "an all-time low." He laid the blame for the state of affairs squarely on Israel's shoulders.
Three weeks ago, Abdullah and his son prayed at the Tzofar and Naharayim enclaves to celebrate their transfer to Jordan from Israel. Israel was compelled to transfer the enclaves to Jordan after Abdullah breached the spirit of the peace agreement and refused to renew the lease of the lands to the Israeli farmers who own them for an additional 25 years, as the peace treaty presumed he would.
This week, the Jordanian State Security Court opened its trial of Israeli national Konstantin Kotov. Kotov is being tried for illegally crossing the border to Jordan on Oct. 29, and for drug possession. Israel expected Jordan to return Kotov to Israel last month parallel to Israel's transfer of two Jordanian nationals it was holding on terrorism charges. That didn't happen.
As Jordan has undertaken these hostile actions against Israel, Israel reportedly concluded a new water deal with Jordan. In the 1994 peace treaty, Israel agreed to supply Jordan 50 million metric cubes of water each year. The amount was doubled to 100 million metric cubes a year in 2016. Details of the latest agreement are being kept secret, but it is widely assumed that Israel agreed to increase the amount of water it is supplying to Jordan annually both from its desalination plants and from the Sea of Galilee, yet again.
It's easy to understand Israel's seemingly masochistic behavior. Israel wants to preserve peace with Jordan. Peace goes through the Hashemite monarchy, which itself is under constant threat from the Jordanian public. Last year hundreds of thousands of Jordanians participated in anti-regime protests precipitated by the kingdom's poor economic conditions. The protesters compelled King Abdullah to fire his prime minister.
Last year's protests terrified the monarchy because they marked the first time that the Bedouin tribes—the backbone of the regime—joined the traditionally anti-regime forces in the Muslim Brotherhood and trade unions to participate in anti-regime demonstrations.
Out of genuine concern for the welfare of the regime, Israel is turning the other cheek in the face of repeated abuse and humiliation to help Abdullah and the Hashemite Kingdom survive.
While the rationale for Israel's obsequious behavior is clear, the time has come to consider whether it makes sense to continue on this road, or if there are better ways to maintain our ties and perhaps better advance our interests with Jordan.
The fact is that Jordan doesn't have much leverage against Israel. It has no economic leverage against it. And with President Trump in the White House and Ambassador Kelly Craft at the United Nations, Jordan has little diplomatic leverage against Israel. The only card it can really play is the perennial "nuclear option"—the threat to abrogate the peace treaty.
Israel, on the other hand, has significant leverage against Jordan, and using it doesn't require threatening the peace treaty.
On Tuesday, we saw an Israeli politician make rare and effective use of that leverage.
On Tuesday morning, a delegation of deputy mayors attending a conference in Eilat tried to cross the border to Jordan for a day trip to Petra. They were stopped at the border by Jordanian authorities. After humiliating them, the Jordanian border guards prohibited the Israeli officials from entering the kingdom because several deputy mayors were wearing tzitzit, a religious garment with ritual fringes that Jewish law requires Jewish males to wear. Recently Jordan instituted a regulation barring Jews wearing or carrying religious attire or articles from entering the kingdom. The men had already hidden their kippot under hats. So the Jordanians stopped them for their tzitzit.
After the incident was reported, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri had the Foreign Ministry inform the Jordanian government that in retaliation for the anti-Semitic policy, he intended to bar Jordanian workers from receiving permits to work in Israel.
The Jordanians canceled their anti-Jewish regulation.
The fact is that Israel is the guarantor of Jordan's economic survival. The government needs to recognize the power that comes with that distinction.
Consider the following. Long-standing water shortages have compelled Israel to use desalinated water as its primary source of both potable and irrigation water. Given the continued water crisis, and its impact on the viability of Israeli agriculture, Israel should reevaluate the quantities of water it is capable of supplying Jordan beyond the 50 million metric cubes it is required to provide under the peace treaty.
Under the gas deal Israel concluded with Jordan, Israel agreed to supply Jordan with natural gas nearly at cost. Israel may need to reassess the price given Turkish and Hezbollah threats to its offshore gas fields. Security is expensive.
Whereas the Jordanians automatically support every Palestinian provocation, in recent years the Saudis have soured on the Palestinians and have supported Israel against them repeatedly. Given this new state of affairs, it makes sense for Israel to revisit the privileged position Jordanian officials enjoy on the Temple Mount.
In light of the region's strategic instability, the Israeli Defense Ministry should have carried out a serious study of the IDF's force size with an eye towards enlarging it years ago. And in light of Jordan's simulation of war with Israel last week, it would be irresponsible to put off conducting such a study any longer.
See how leverage works?
By all accounts, the peace with Jordan, and the survival of the Hashemite monarchy, are among Israel's key strategic interests. But as Netanyahu rightly noted in his remarks at the Knesset, that peace is not a function of Israel's popularity among the Jordanians. It is predicated on Israel's deterrent power.
Jordan's actions over the past several weeks reinforce what has been clear for some time: In its rush to protect Abdullah and the peace, Israel has forgotten to deter Abdullah to preserve the peace. The time has come for Israel to correct its behavior.
Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of "The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East."
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Kirk Douglas Is 103 – All Hail Spartacus
Kirk Douglas was born as Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, New York, on the Mohawk River, the son of Bryna and Herschel Danielovitch. Douglas grew up as Izzy Demsky and legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the US Navy in World War II.
He wrote in his 1988 autobiography, The Ragman's Son: "My father, who had been a horse trader in Russia, got himself a horse and a small wagon, and became a ragman, buying old rags, pieces of metal, and junk for pennies, nickels, and dimes…. Even on Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder. And I was the ragman's son."
Douglas served as a communications officer in anti-submarine warfare aboard USS PC-1137, and was medically discharged in 1944 for war injuries sustained from the accidental dropping of a depth charge. He married actress Diana Dill in 1943 and they had two sons, Michael in 1944 and Joel in 1947, before they divorced in 1951.
Douglas wanted to play on the stage, but his friend, Lauren Bacall, helped him get his first film role in Hal B. Wallis' 1946 movie, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, with Barbara Stanwyck.
In 1947, Douglas starred in Out of the Past, with Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Douglas was a major box-office star, playing opposite some of the leading actresses of that era. In 1951, Douglas starred as a newspaper reporter in director Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole, which was a box office failure because, as some reviewers put it, it was "ruthless and cynical … a distorted study of corruption, mob psychology and the free press."
Spartacus' 1960 poster
In 1960, Douglas played the title role in his career-defining movie Spartacus, with an all-star cast. As the executive producer, he raised $12 million for the production, which made it one of the most expensive films at the time.
Between 1970 and 2008, Douglas made nearly 40 movies and appeared on various television shows. In 1988, Douglas starred in a television adaptation of Inherit the Wind, opposite Jason Robards and Jean Simmons. The film won two Emmy Awards. In 2003, Michael and Joel Douglas produced It Runs in the Family, which along with Kirk starred various family members, including Michael, Michael's son, and his wife from 50 years earlier, Diana Dill, playing his wife. In March 2009, Douglas did an autobiographical one-man show, Before I Forget, at the Center Theatre Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California. The four performances were filmed and turned into a documentary that was first screened in January 2010.
Douglas has donated a number of playgrounds in Jerusalem, and donated the Kirk Douglas Theater at the Aish Center across from the Western Wall. Although his children had non-Jewish mothers, Douglas states that they were "aware culturally" of his "deep convictions," and he never tried to influence their own religious decisions. Douglas's wife, Anne, converted to Judaism before they renewed their wedding vows in 2004. Douglas celebrated a second Bar-Mitzvah ceremony in 1999, at age 83.
Douglas notes that the underlying theme of some of his films, including The Juggler (1953), Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), and Remembrance of Love (1982), was about "a Jew who doesn't think of himself as one, and eventually finds his Jewishness." Douglas recalls his time in Israel in the state's early years, and said he saw "extreme poverty and food being rationed," but stressed it was "wonderful, finally, to be in the majority."
The President's Executive Order on Anti-Semitism: Frequently Asked Questions
On December 11, 2019, President Trump signed an Executive Order on anti-Semitism. The order is designed to give the federal government more tools to protect Jews from anti-Semitism by addressing a gap in the interpretation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a key federal statute prohibiting discrimination in programs receiving federal financial assistance. The order addresses that gap by explicitly adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
This Executive Order is an important step acknowledging the growing concern about rising anti-Semitism on American college campuses. Including Jews in Title VI protections is something that ADL and previous presidential administrations have supported for years. ADL has likewise long supported the IHRA definition, which has been adopted by more than 20 countries and entities around the world as a non-legally binding definition of anti-Semitism.
As there's been much confusion over what this Executive Order means both from a policy standpoint and over how the order defines Judaism, ADL has compiled here some responses to frequently asked questions about the Executive Order, why it's necessary, and how it will work.
What does the President's Executive Order accomplish?
In a climate of rising anti-Semitism, this Executive Order provides valuable guidance on anti-Semitism, giving law enforcement and campus officials an additional tool to fight this pernicious hate.
Specifically, the Executive Order asserts that "it shall be the policy of the executive Branch" to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in programs receiving federal funding, "against prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in anti-Semitism as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination; prohibited by the statute."
The U.S. will adopt the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism. This is an important step acknowledging the growing concern about anti-Semitism on American college campuses. The Executive Order includes Jews in Title VI protections, something ADL and previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have supported for years.
In so doing, the order is very similar to the proposed Anti-Semitism Awareness Act which ADL has endorsed and supported. It directs the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to consider the IHRA definition in determining whether an investigation of an incident of anti-Semitism is warranted under Title VI.
The Executive Order also reaffirms protection of Jews under Title VI without infringing on First Amendment rights
Why is this order necessary?
In recent years, we've seen an uptick in activity targeting Jews on college campuses, including some incidents of anti-Semitism masked as anti-Israel activity.
With this Order, the President has officially confirmed the Department of Education's authority to protect Jews on campus, as it does for other targets of discrimination.
The Executive Order will help the government determine what constitutes anti-Semitism and clarify when an anti-Israel incident crosses the line from protected free expression into harassing, unlawful or discriminatory conduct, because investigations would be informed by the current, widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism.
The Executive Order would require the Department of Education to consider the definition of anti-Semitism as part of its assessment when reviewing whether there has been a violation of Title VI.
Under the order, criticism of Israel may be considered protected speech, but the line must be drawn when such expression becomes intentional, unlawful, discriminatory intimidation and harassment.
How much of a problem is anti-Semitism on campus?
Anti-Semitism is disturbingly pervasive and moving into the mainstream. In recent years, the issue of hostility towards Jewish students and Israel on college campuses, including a number of anti-Semitic incidents, has been significant.
ADL's Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents has documented an 86 percent increase in reported incidents at colleges and universities – from 108 incidents in 2016 to 201 incidents in 2018.
In fact, campus anti-Semitic incidents accounted for more than 10 percent of the total anti-Semitic incidents reported to ADL in the U.S. in 2018.
Likewise, a 2016 Brandeis University study stated: "On many campuses more than one third of Jewish students feel at least a little uncomfortable expressing their opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
While most incidents of anti-Semitism on campus are unrelated to anti-Israel activity, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice should have the authority to investigate instances in which anti-Israel activity – including anti-Semitic stereotypes and anti-Israel or anti-Zionist expressions coded as political discourse – cross the line to targeted, intentional, discriminatory intimidation and harassment of Jewish students and university leaders do not respond appropriately.
What is the IHRA definition?
At its most basic, the IHRA defines anti-Semitism as hatred toward Jews. This includes "rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism … directed toward Jewish people or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
The IHRA definition has been adopted by more than 20 countries, government entities, U.S. states and cities, and is supported or endorsed by a number of other entities including the European Union and the U.N. Secretary General.
The IHRA offers a broad, inclusive, non-binding working definition covering classic and current displays of anti-Semitism. This includes when criticism of Israel crosses the line from fair critique of the policies of the Israeli government into the delegitimization of the Jewish State, which is unequivocally anti-Semitic.
Does this mean that Jews will be defined under Title VI as a "nationality"?
No, the Executive Order does not define Jews as a nationality. The EO asserts that "it shall be the policy of the executive Branch" to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VI is one of the most important federal education anti-discrimination statutes. But it only prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
Both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education previously concluded that Title VI also prohibits discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other religious groups when the discrimination is based on the group's actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics – or when the discrimination is based on actual or perceived citizenship or residence in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity. This EO affirms that determination.
Is the White House asserting that Jews are a race?
The White House's order does not define Jews as a race, but it does identify Jewish Americans as a protected class who, like other minority students on campus, should not be subjected to harassment, intimidation and discrimination.
During the Obama Administration, the Department of Education determined that religions qualify for protection under Title VI on the basis of ancestry. Is this new EO anything different?
The EO does not break new ground legally.
In October 2010, the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) sent a letter to schools across the country announcing they would be enforcing their inclusive reading of Title VI authority – and emphasized new responsibilities for schools under this interpretation.
However, the Office for Civil Rights did not provide guidance on what constitutes anti-Semitism.
The new Executive Order provides a reference point that can be useful in these cases, including instances when targeted, discriminatory anti-Semitic conduct may be couched as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.