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The 'Red Flag' war-simulation training in Nevada – with forces from Pakistan and the Emirates - begins Monday.

The Israel Air Force will be taking part in the Red Flag advanced combat training exercise beginning Monday in the United States, along with additional aerial forces including those of Pakistan and the Emirates.
The advanced training exercise, during which fighter jets simulate combat involving coalition forces, will take place at the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada.
This is the second year in a row in which the IAF is participating in Red Flag.
In recent days photographers in the area, near Las Vegas, have filmed Israeli, Spanish and Pakistani aircraft in advance of the joint exercise. In addition, a transport plane belonging to the United Arab Emirates was also photographed, indicating that, as reported, that country’s air force will also participate in the exercise.
The Israeli plane that will be used in the exercise is the F-16I (the “Sufa,” or Storm). In footage from Nevada one can see that IAF jets belonging to three different Sufa squadrons were sent to the United States. Air and ground crews will also participate.
The Red Flag exercise is scheduled to end on August 26.
The IAF has for several months been planning its participation in the event, which necessitates a long flight from Israel to the base in Nevada, with a number of intermediate stops and aerial refueling.
Last year the air forces of the United States, Israel, Singapore and Jordan participated in the Red Flag. At the time it was reported by foreign sources that Israeli planes even refueled the Jordanian fighter jets in the air, on the way to the U.S.
“The Red Flag is the biggest and best simulation of war in the world,” one IAF officer said at the end of the 2015 exercise.
All of the squadrons participating are assigned to “red” and “blue” forces. They practice intercepting other aircraft, attacking targets, rescuing pilots and engaging in aerial activity under the ostensible threat of ground-to-air missiles.
Haaretz received no response when questioning Israel Defense Forces sources two weeks ago about the possible participation of Pakistan and the UAR in Red Flag.
At the time the IDF Spokesman's Office said only that, “The air force trains regularly in Israel and abroad in order to maintain operational fitness for various operational plans. The Red Flag exercise involves unique and high-quality training. When the IAF was invited to participate, it accepted the invitation.”
The source added that the same squadrons participating in the exercise this year did not participate last year.

Gili Cohen
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.736991Schermata 2016 08 15 alle 19.24.37

 

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Strategic Affairs Ministry aims to change the way Israel is perceived in the international arena, director general Sima Vaknin tells lawmakers; says victory will be achieved when Israel won't be equated with apartheid.
Israel is perceived a "pariah state" in the international community, Strategic Affairs Ministry Director General Sima Vaknin told lawmakers on Sunday, adding that the ministry intends to reverse this stance in the next decade.
Vaknin said that a team of 10 officials from a various ministries has been created to agree on a desired alternative narrative they would like to see in the world regarding Israel. Vaknin's comments were made during a meeting of the Special Committee for the Transparency and Accessibility of Government Information headed by MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union).
"Victory for me will be a change of narrative in the world toward Israel - that the narrative in the world won't be that Israel equals apartheid," Vaknin said. "[T]oday in the countries of the world, Israel is a pariah state. Our goal is that in 2025 no one in the world will question Israel's right to exist."
Shaffir requested that Vaknin reveal the ministry's budget, strategy and work plan regarding its fight against the delegitimization of Israel. Vaknin agreed to divulge little details and said that she would be able to offer more information only in a closed discussion with the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Vaknin, who until a few years ago served at the chief military censor, said she wanted her ministry to work in greater secrecy and she even asked Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan to avoid public comments regarding the ministry's work.
"We want most of the Strategic Affairs Ministry's work to be classified," she said. "There is great sensitivity and I can't even discuss in an open forum why there's sensitivity... A large part of what we do is under the radar."
Some two weeks ago, during an open discussion in the State Control Committee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel had "defeated" the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, known as BDS. Vaknin denied that Netanyahu said anything of the sort, but agreed with Netanyahu's assessment that supporters of the movement are on the defensive, unlike in the past.
"There is strategic competition between us and our opponents," said Vaknin. "We are shifting from containment and reaction to initiative and attack... BDS activists are on the defensive because we announced publicly and showed through back channels that we will fight back."
One of the only details that Vaknin agreed to reveal was the ministry's budget. According to her, the ministry's day-to-day budget amounts to 44 million shekels ($11.4 million) for 2016 and the budget specifically allotted for taking action against delegitimization in 2016 was 128 million shekels.
In the course of discussion, Shaffir asked Vaknin how the ministry defines delegitimization against Israel. Vaknin responded that the cross-ministry team is currently working on establishing a legal definition of the term. In the meantime, she said, the ministry is using the definition established a few years ago.
Vaknin's deputy, Zachi Gavrieli, read the current definition out loud, noting that "Delegimization is the gathering of organizations and ideas around a contemporary theme to reject the idea of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people."
On this note, Vaknin said that the Strategic Affairs Ministry believes "that any harsh criticism against Israel is legitimate but the denial of Israel's right to exist isn't." She said the ministry would like to collaborate with different organizations according to the principle of the "widest possible tent" and welcome in both staunch Israel supporters and critics, as long as all recognize Israel's right to exist.
"I'm a civil servant and I'm not addressing political issues," Vaknin said. "But in my view... whoever accepts our existence here - including the biggest critics - is our partner. Whoever does not - he is an opponent. If an organization says that we need to return all of the [occupied] territories but recognizes Israel's existence as a nation-state [of the Jewish people] - as far as I'm concerned it is a partner, even if there is those who won't like it."
Vaknin told the panel that the diplomatic-security cabinet decided to allow the Strategic Affairs Ministry to move offices from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. She noted that the grounds for the move were confidential and said that part of the ministry will remain in Jerusalem. Despite Vaknin's claims, Minister Erdan already revealed several months in a similar discussion in the Knesset that the reason for moving part of ministry is the need for physical proximity to military headquarters at the Kiryah complex and other intelligence organizations.

Barak Ravid
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.735598

Schermata 2016 08 07 alle 17.48.13

 

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Our connections to Israel flourished, faltered and finally ended even though we grew up, live and work in the heart of the American Jewish community.

Hasia Diner: The Israel I once loved was a naïve delusion
When I was asked to run as a delegate on the progressive Hatikva platform to the 2010 World Zionist Congress, I encountered my personal rubicon, the line I could not cross. I was required to sign the "Jerusalem Program." This statement of principles asked me to affirm that I believed in “the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem as capital” for the Jewish people. It encouraged “Aliyah to Israel,” that is, the classic negation of the diaspora and as such the ending of Jewish life outside a homeland in Israel. 
The “Jerusalem Program” also asked me to declare that I wanted to see the “strengthening [of] Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state.” As to democratic, I had no problem, but the singular insistence on Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state made me realize that, at least in light of this document, I could not call myself a Zionist, any longer. Does Jewish constitute a race or ethnicity? Does a Jewish state mean a racial state?
The death of vast numbers of Jewish communities as a result of Zionist activity has impoverished the Jewish people, robbing us of these many cultures that have fallen into the maw of Israeli homogenization. The ideal of a religiously neutral state worked amazingly well for the millions of Jews who came to America. 
The socialist Zionism of the Habonim youth movement was central to my early years, providing my base during the 1970s when the Jewish settlement of the Occupied Territories began. I need not belabor the point that from that date on, the Palestinian land that has been expropriated for Jews has grown by leaps and bounds and that the tactics used by the State of Israel to suppress the Palestinians have grown harsher and harsher. 
Nor do I need to say that the exponential growth of far right political parties and the increasing Haredization of Israel, makes it a place that I abhor visiting, and to which I will contribute no money, whose products I will not buy, nor will I expend my limited but still to me, meaningful, political clout to support it. 
I have read too much about colonialism and racism to maintain what I now see as a naïve view, that only the events of June 1967 changed everything. The Israel that I loved, the one my parents embraced as the closest approximation to Eden on earth, itself had depended well before 1967 upon the expropriation of Arab lands and the expulsion of Arab populations. The Law of Return can no longer look to me as anything other than racism. I abhor violence, bombings, stabbings, or whatever hurtful means oppressed individuals resort to out of anger and frustration. And yet, I am not surprised when they do so, after so many decades of occupation, with no evidence of progress.
I feel a sense of repulsion when I enter a synagogue in front of which the congregation has planted a sign reading, “We Stand With Israel.” I just do not go and avoid many Jewish settings where I know Israel will loom large as an icon of identity. 
Marjorie N. Feld: The moment I began my reeducation
In all facets of my very Jewish upbringing I was immersed in Holocaust education. It was made absolutely clear to me that only Israel could prevent the concentration camps, right-wing anti-Semitism and genocide, from reappearing. Friends and I travelled throughout Israel on a summer high school program in 1988, hitting the Jewish tourist spots (Masada, the Western Wall) that reinforced both Jewish nationalist triumphalism and the co-constitutive invisibility of Palestinians, their history, the violence and ethnic cleansing that created the Jewish state. 
I now call it my propaganda tour, but I learned this language only later. From non-Jews I met in liberal and left organizations in college, I first heard strong critiques of Zionism as Western colonialism, as a militarist project, as racism. Very smart friends of mine were articulating these critiques, and they made me terrifically uncomfortable.

A feminist scholar I met at a conference asked me directly if I considered myself a Zionist, and I gave an indirect answer. Her anger became palpable. She nearly shouted: “You’ve read Chomsky, haven’t you?” I had not yet read Noam Chomsky’s writings on Israel, I confessed. As I recall she turned away and didn’t speak to me again that evening. That might be hyperbole, or more likely my own sense of shame. 
I reeducated myself, stopping to look at all of the facts that I had bumped up against for years. The 1948 radio broadcast of the votes at the UN that declared the Jewish people had a home and would never face genocide again: I had listened to this recording and this interpretation dozens of times in the sites of my Jewish education. Now I interpreted it anew. The founding of Israel was the Nakba, the great catastrophe, for Palestinians, with ethnic cleansing, destruction, and no right of return. 
In short, I no longer found common ground with those who saw an anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist bent, or even conspiracy, on the left. I saw that that Israel fit neatly into my broader understanding of Western colonialism. How could Israel be the antidote to genocide when it was the product of imperialism and ethnic cleansing? 
Like Hasia, I often feel marginalized. I travel across several towns, driving past many other synagogues, to my synagogue precisely because I too refuse to enter to any institution that flies the “We Stand with Israel” banner. 
‘Before’ and ‘after’ Zionism in the U.S. Jewish community
Our journeys from “before” to “after” identifying with Zionism have been painful, and we’ve searched for allies and institutions. We have both found Jewish Studies a difficult space in which to criticize Israel, to stand against the Occupation or even Zionism. Though we certainly do not claim to speak for all American Jews, as scholars we know we are a part of something much larger, something that, we assert, should be shaking the foundation of American Jewish leaders. Closing down all conversations on Israel/Palestine, demonizing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, marginalizing or silencing those who dissent from the Zionist “consensus”: there is a growing gap between these leaders and the people for whom they claim to speak. 
Hasia Diner is a professor of American Jewish history at New York University. She is the author of “We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust” (NYUP, 2010).
Marjorie N. Feld is professor of history at Babson College and the author of “Nations Divided: American Jews and the Struggle over Apartheid” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Hasia Diner

Haaretz Contributor

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Schermata 2016 08 01 alle 18.22.43

 

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