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Former head of Mossad criticizes Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories

Former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit

By BERNIE BELLAN
Shabtai Shavit is a former director general of the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, having served in that position from 1989-1996.
During his time as Mossad head, Shavit was involved in many secret negotiations with Arab leaders. On May 29 he was the special guest speaker at an event sponsored by Solly & Orly Dreman on behalf of an Israeli organization known as Ezer Mizion.

 

 

 

 

Strangely though, when Shavit ascended the podium on May 29 to speak, no one bothered to introduce him. While that was somewhat unusual in itself, what followed was even more unusual. Shavit began reading from a speech that he had apparently delivered some time ago at a completely different forum – and I daresay he was almost impossible to understand.
Nonetheless, I thought: “Here’s a former director general of the Mossad. Surely I ought to record what he has to say – then listen to his remarks carefully so as to be able to decipher them for our readership.”
Even while Shavit was rambling on, however, I was able to pick out certain phrases that told me this particular speaker was apparently saying some highly controversial things, including that Israel is becoming “a theocratic state”, that it is “occupying” Palestinian lands, and that it should be willing to give back much of what it conquered during the Six-Day War in 1967.
How on Earth was this man allowed to speak here, I wondered? Did no one in our Jewish Federation, B’nai Brith, or our other self-proclaimed defenders of the Jewish people who have taken it upon themselves to decide who should and who should not be allowed to speak in Winnipeg, not know how provocative Shavit was going to be? As I note in my article about the Ezer Mizion gala, I am shocked that Shavit was not disinvited from appearing here. Once you read on and see for yourself how dangerous it was to allow Shavit to voice his opinions, I am sure you will agree that he should have been banned even from appearing in Winnipeg.

During his talk he referred many times to conversations he held with various Arab leaders, with the constant theme being that Palestinians were nothing more than major irritants to those leaders. His ultimate conclusion was that bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are completely dead, that peace initiatives coming either from the U.S. or Europe have no chance of succeeding, and the only way to achieve any sort of breakthrough will have to be through a “regional peace initiative”.
Early on in his remarks, Shavit took aim at Israel’s Nation-State Law, which was passed by the Knesset in July 2018 and which specifies the nature of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. He blamed “religious Zionists” for bringing this law forward. Shavit suggested that this law will lead to a “theocratic, apartheid state that will never be accepted by the united world nor by world Jewry – which today accounts for about half of Jewish people.” It will also lead to the illegal “annexation” of territory, he said.
“In my opinion,” he continued, “as long as we remain a secular, multi-ethnic democratic state without the annexation of territory, we will remain Israelis” living “in partnership” with minorities, including “Christians and Arabs.”
“The Israel-Palestinian conflict today is on a track of increasing alienation between the parties,” Shavit observed. “There is no dialogue taking place – only mutual accusations between both parties. Cooperation on the ground, executing coordination” has stopped. “The Palestinians are taking unilateral political measures and Israel is threatening to take counter-measures.”

Shavit then added this observation, however: In the world’s eyes “we are the powerful occupiers and they, the Palestinians, are our weak subjects. The policy of attempting to contain the Palestinians through conflict management will not succeed in the long run. In order to achieve new momentum we must see what is happening in the region and see if it is possible to utilize the regional reality in order to break the deadlock and help achieve a solution.”
Looking back on past efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Shavit referred to an incident involving former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat. (I had to Google the specific time period to find out which agreement Shavit was talking about. It turns out that it was in 1994 when Mubarak brought Rabin and Arafat together to work out details of Israel’s handing back Jericho and the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority. Apparently Arafat, as was his wont, had a last-minute change of heart and was refusing to sign that particular accord.)
In Shavit’s telling the story, Mubarak turned to Arafat and said: “Sign, you dog!” – which Arafat promptly did. The significance of that particular incident, as Shavit went on to explain, was that “Arab leaders in the Middle East have a better chance than Western leaders of bringing the sides together.”

Shavit then went on at great length to describe the “Saudi initiative” that was brought before the Arab League in 2002. It had the following components, according to Shavit:
1. Complete withdrawal by Israel from all territories conquered in 1967
2. Complete security for all parties in the region
3. Establishment of normal relations between Israel and the member states of the Arab League. According to Shavit, 35 Muslim states supported the initiative, with a total of 57 states supporting it altogether.
Since 2002 moreover, Shavit said there has been considerable softening in the Arab League position. Rather than a “dictate”, he noted, Arab leaders have now said the Saudi initiative is the “basis for negotiation”.
With that in mind, Shavit called for a new “regional agreement” which, he declared, would gain the support of both the United States and Europe.
“Regional stability,” Shavit declared, “will allow the Israeli government to extract itself from the major problem of the occupation.” (Ed. note: oh no – “occupation”. Traitor!)
The cost of the occupation, he noted, adds “2 billion shekels a year to the national debt.”
Shavit enumerated other savings that would accrue to Israel by entering into a regional peace agreement, including: lower taxes, more money for health care and education, and lower housing costs.
In concluding, he noted that his speech had been written prior to the last Israeli elections (in May). He saw those elections as an opportunity for Israel to chart a new course (although he didn’t elaborate on which party would have charted that new course, as Benny Gantz’s Blue & White party never differentiated itself from Netanyahu’s Likud party over the issue of peace negotiations).
Regardless whether Shavit seemed to come across as “yesterday’s man”, attempting to resurrect a path forward that has been, for the most part, overtaken by events in recent years that would render it largely irrelevant, here was a former leader of the Mossad calling for Israeli withdrawal from “occupied” territories taken during the ’67 War. Within Winnipeg’s established Jewish community, that would have to be considered taboo. But then again, who was paying attention to this fellow that particular evening? I had to listen to parts of my audio recording of his speech over and over again in order to make out what Shavit was saying.
Still, I don’t anticipate he’s going to be invited here again by either the Jewish Federation or any other Jewish organization that detests hearing the suggestion that Israel is “occupying” Palestinian territory.

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Features

New website for Israelis interested in moving to Canada

By BERNIE BELLAN (May 21, 2024) A new website, titled “Orvrim to Canada” (https://www.ovrimtocanada.com/ovrim-en) has been receiving hundreds of thousands of visits, according to Michal Harel, operator of the website.
In an email sent to jewishpostandnews.ca Michal explained the reasons for her having started the website:
“In response to the October 7th events, a group of friends and I, all Israeli-Canadian immigrants, came together to launch a new website supporting Israelis relocating to Canada. “Our website, https://www.ovrimtocanada.com/, offers a comprehensive platform featuring:

  • Step-by-step guides for starting the immigration process
  • Settlement support and guidance
  • Community connections and networking opportunities
  • Business relocation assistance and expert advice
  • Personal blog sharing immigrants’ experiences and insights

“With over 200,000 visitors and media coverage from prominent Israeli TV channels and newspapers, our website has already made a significant impact in many lives.”
A quick look at the website shows that it contains a wealth of information, almost all in Hebrew, but with an English version that gives an overview of what the website is all about.
The English version also contains a link to a Jerusalem Post story, published this past February, titled “Tired of war? Canada grants multi-year visas to Israelis” (https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/article-787914#google_vignette) That story not only explains the requirements involved for anyone interested in moving to Canada from Israel, it gives a detailed breakdown of the costs one should expect to encounter.

(Updated May 28)

We contacted Ms. Harel to ask whether she’s aware whether there has been an increase in the number of Israelis deciding to emigrate from Israel since October 7. (We want to make clear that we’re not advocating for Israelis to emigrate; we’re simply wanting to learn more about emigration figures – and whether there has been a change in the number of Israelis wanting to leave the country.)
Ms. Harel referred us to a website titled “Globes”: https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001471862
The website is in Hebrew, but we were able to translate it into English. There is a graph on the website showing both numbers of immigrants to Israel and emigrants.
The graph shows a fairly steady rate of emigration from 2015-2022, hovering in the 40,000 range, then in 2023 there’s a sudden increase in the number of emigrants to 60,000.
According to the website, the increase in emigrants is due more to a change in the methodology that Israel has been using to count immigrants and emigrants than it is to any sudden upsurge in emigration. (Apparently individuals who had formerly been living in Israel but who may have returned to Israel just once a year were being counted as having immigrated back to Israel. Now that they are no longer being counted as immigrants and instead are being treated as emigrants, the numbers have shifted radically.)
Yet, the website adds this warning: “The figures do not take into account the effects of the war, since it is still not possible to identify those who chose to emigrate following it. It is also difficult to estimate what Yalad Yom will produce – on the one hand, anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews and Israelis around the world reminds everyone where the Jewish home is. On the other hand, the bitter truth we discovered in October is that it was precisely in Israel, the safe fortress of the Jewish people, that a massacre took place reminding us of the horrors of the Holocaust. And if that’s not enough, the explosive social atmosphere and the difference in the state budget deficit, which will inevitably lead to a heavy burden of taxes and a reduction in public services, may convince Zionist Israelis that they don’t belong here.”
Thus, as much as many of us would be disappointed to learn that there is now an upsurge in Israelis wanting to move out of the country, once reliable figures begin to be produced for 2024, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that is the case – which helps to explain the tremendous popularity of Ms. Harel’s website.

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Features

Message from a Palestinian in Gaza to protesters: “You’re hurting the Palestinian cause”

Protesters at McGill University

A very brave Palestinian who was willing to put his name to paper and write an article for Newsweek Magazine has exposed the utter hypocrisy of all those students – and others, who have been setting up encampments across the U.S. – and now Canada, too.

You can read the article at https://www.newsweek.com/message-gazan-campus-protesters-youre-hurting-palestinian-cause-opinion-1894313

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Features

The Most Expensive Israeli Soccer Transfers

Eran Zahavi

Even if Israel isn’t known as a world soccer power, it has produced plenty of talented players who have made a living in top European leagues. On more than one occasion, an Israeli international has commanded a rather large transfer fee. But who are the most expensive players in Israel’s history? The answer could be a little surprising. We took a look back to find the most expensive Israeli soccer transfers of all time.

Tai Baribo

In 2023, Baribo made the move to MLS, signing with the Philadelphia Union. The reported fee was around $1.5 million, which is one of the highest transfer fees the Union has ever paid for a player.

Omer Atzili

Throughout his career, Atzili has played for a variety of clubs, including stops in Spain and Greece. In 2023, he joined Al Ain in the UAE for a transfer fee of $2.1 million.

Maor Buzaglo

Now retired, Buzaglo was briefly the holder of the richest transfer deal for an Israeli player. After a couple of successful seasons on loan, Maccabi Tel Aviv paid $2.7 million to rival Maccabi Haifa for Buzaglo in 2008.

Dia Saba

Saba made history in 2020 when he joined Al-Nasr, making him the first Israeli player to play for a club in the UAE. At the time, it was a big deal for relations between the two countries. Al-Nasr also paid an impressive $2.9 million transfer fee for the midfielder.

Tal Ben Haim

On multiple occasions, Ben Haim has been sold for more than $1 million. First, there was his move from Hapoel Tel Aviv to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2023 for close to $1.2 million. A few years later, Sparta Prague came calling for him, spending $3.1 million as a transfer fee for the winger.

Itay Shechter

During the prime of his career, Shechter was the type of player who warranted a seven-figure transfer fee. German club Kaiserslautern paid a little over $2.6 million in 2011 to bring Shechter to the Bundesliga from Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Daniel Peretz

When Peretz was sold to Bayern Munich, it wasn’t the most expensive deal involving an Israeli player, although it was arguably the most important. He became the first Israeli Jew to play at Bayern, which is one of the biggest clubs in the world. The transfer fee for Peretz paid by Bayern Munich to Maccabi Tel Aviv was around $5.4 million.

Oscar Gloukh

Gloukh is one of the best young Israeli players right now. He already has three international goals in a dozen appearances to his name. Somehow, Gloukh is already one of the most expensive players in Israel’s history. After coming up with Maccabi Tel Aviv, he moved to Austrian giant Red Bull Salzburg in 2023 for a transfer fee of close to $7.5 million. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him top that number one day.

Liel Abada

Abada has been a part of two huge transfer deals in his young career. In 2021, Scottish club Celtic paid $4.8 million to acquire him from Maccabi Petah Tikva. However, that number was topped in 2024 when Charlotte FC of MLS paid a fee of $8 million for Abada.

With Charlotte FC, Abada competes in North America’s top league, facing teams from both Mexico and Canada. Throughout North America, sports betting has taken off in recent years. That includes betting in Canada, where there is a large collection of trusted sports betting platforms.

Eran Zahavi

To date, Zahavi holds the record for the most expensive transfer fee paid for an Israeli player. It’s fitting for Israel’s former captain and all-time leading scorer. In 2016, Chinese club Guangzhou City paid $12.5 million to get Zahavi from Maccabi Tel Aviv. That record was nearly broken later that year when another Chinese club offered $20 million for Zahavi, who turned it down and stayed with Guangzhou City.

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