The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference

November 20, 2015 by Michael Kuttner
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The conference was held this week and attended by the diplomatic corps as well as foreign and local media. J-Wire’s Michael Kuttner was there and has filed this report:An interesting line up of speakers guaranteed an interesting day and so it proved.

Michael Kuttner

Michael Kuttner

Anyone who has ever attended an Israeli wedding will know that the chuppah never commences at the advertised time and the same can usually be said for other events. Advertised to start at 9am, attendees were told to arrive already at 7am because of the delays anticipated by security checks and a very tight schedule. As the Prime Minister was due to speak, security was stricter than usual but arriving at the crack of dawn seemed a bit over the top. Obviously others thought the same and as a result the conference only started at 9.30am. By the time the last speaker had spoken we were running an hour late.

It did not worry me as I had a free day but for participants with other commitments it must have caused chaos.

The first speaker featured was the Leader of the Opposition, Yitzhak Herzog. Predictably he rejected the PM’s assertion that peace is unattainable at the moment and optimistically maintained that most of the Arab world realized that Israel is here to stay. While believing that terror must be combated he also articulated the usual leftist belief that those who incite and murder must be given a diplomatic vision which would presumably then turn the murderers into peace partners. Although he received a polite round of applause at the end of his speech I doubt very much that apart from members of the diplomatic community and like-minded media journalists, many others in the audience were convinced.

Next up was Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Energy, who spoke about opportunities presenting themselves as a result of the discovery of large gas resources. He also, as did every speaker, express sympathy for the victims of Islamic terror in Paris.

The Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, reiterated her commitment to combat terror groups, labeling of Israeli products and making anti Israel NGO’s accountable for the funding they receive from foreign sources.

The French Ambassador and Prime Minister Netanyahu took the podium together. The audience was asked to stand for a minute of silence in solidarity with the victims of the Paris terror. Monsieur Maisonnave then assured us that Israel did not stand alone as it faced terror. He reiterated that France was now at war with ISIS and would do whatever it takes to defeat them. There is no doubt that he feels deeply about the dangers France and Israel both face but it will take more than rousing rhetoric to convince most Israelis that Europe really understands and supports us.

The Prime Minister was then interviewed by the JP’s diplomatic reporter. In a series of questions and answers he laid out his assessment of the current situation and prognosis for the future. Traversing the full range of problems confronting Israel such as terror, peace prospects, Abbas, boycotts, security and the economy, several significant points stood out. First, is an uncompromising war on terrorists and their supporters. Second, condemnation of the EU labeling policy and a promise to fight this blatant bias. He reiterated that Israel’s economy was strong and that any boycotts and labeling would only hurt the Palestinian Arabs themselves. As far as peace was concerned he remained ready to engage Abbas in meaningful talks but that the PA leader refused to sit down and discuss anything which might require compromise and an end to the conflict. It was vital to remain rooted in reality and not be mesmerized by pie in the sky balloons detached from earth. An interesting comment was Bibi’s reference to possible unilateral moves in the face of continued Palestinian Arab intransigence. While expressing an aversion to such moves he did say that perhaps certain conditions might cause steps to be taken in the future which most people would not have anticipated.

Next speaker was Naftali Bennett, Education Minister and leader of HaBayit Yehudi Party. His aim was to provide an education system which amongst other things would enable Israeli Arabs to gain meaningful employment and take their place as productive and loyal citizens of the country. Not mincing his words he made it clear that those who plotted against the State would be dealt with and that he and his party were adamantly opposed to the creation of an Iranian sponsored terror State in the heartland of Israel.

A panel discussion then took place on the future prospects for Israel following the discovery and utilization of large gas fields. Handled properly these discoveries and hopefully more to follow would give Israel enhanced economic and strategic independence.

Major General Amir Eshel, Israel Air Force Commander, gave a presentation on strategic challenges facing Israel and how the IDF and in particular the Air Force were planning to cope with an increasingly volatile and menacing scenario.

The US Ambassador spoke next and after the usual platitudes about Israel/US solidarity and support, spent the rest of his time extolling the triumphs and wisdom of Administration policies. Assuring the audience that Israel was the beneficiary of enhanced security co-operation and aid, he waxed eloquently about our mutually shared aspirations.

Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post delivered a damning condemnation of the EU’s recent moves against Israel and its hypocrisy and double standards when dealing with the Jewish State.

The final presentation of the day was a speech by the EU Ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Anderson. It was no surprise that he vehemently refuted all accusations made against the EU and tried to convince listeners that labeling was really a consumer protection law. Undoubtedly sincere in his beliefs there could have been very few who were convinced by his assertions of European solidarity and even handedness.

If nothing else, this array of speakers provided an opportunity to hear widely differing opinions, learn a few new facts and enable participants to meet and network with others, locally and from overseas.


4 Responses to “The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference”
  1. Michael Kuttner says:


    You obviously have a serious problem dealing with the fact that Israel, like Australia is a democratic country which allows a diverse exchange of opinions whether you like them or not. I did not attend this conference expecting to hear views which agree with mine. I went because it gave me an opportunity to hear what others are saying and thereby have better ammunition to refute them if necessary.

    Your question as to whether oppressive and anti democratic countries would allow such a conference to take place, implying that Israel has thereby lost the plot, illustrates unfortunately your obsessive loss of reality concerning Israel.

    Believe me despite all its imperfections, Israel is a model of how democracies can fight terror and those who are dedicated to its destruction and yet at the same time maintain the rule of law and freedom of expression.

    • Gil Solomon says:


      The last comment I will make on this post is to remind you that unlike Israel, Australia does not face existential threats day in day out from barbarians at the gates. So that in my opinion is sufficient reason why what works for one democracy is totally not applicable to the other.

    • Yaakov ben Yehuda says:

      It isn’t sure it illustrates unfortunately his obsessive loss of reality concerning Israel as in many issues Gil is right.
      You say Israel is a model of how democracies can fight terror and those who are dedicated to its destruction and yet at the same time maintain the rule of law and freedom of expression but you see it everyday it’s simply not true as it exists a double standard which applied depending whether you are a Jew or an Arab. The administrative orders by a ‘state of all its citizens’ remind us that we all live under administrative rule on the Temple Mount, in the media, and more…The attack in Duma where an Arab house was burned, has led to the ‘Duma psychosis’ where the junta government uses dictatorial and bolshevik measures against those who dare state their opinion and pursue their faith. The junta government fights against those who oppose assimilation in the land of Israel, who support Jewish settlement, who want to rebuild the Temple and who publicly sanctify G-d’s name, the security services insist it was Jews despite the fact that there are no suspects and no indictments have been issued.
      The various security services who fail to differentiate between good and evil, friend and foe, truth and falsehood, have entered into a frenzy. All of the various security services are cooperating on this issue. They do this hoping to earn favor in one another’s eyes and in the eyes of the world, in the State of Israel, mosques built illegally on private land are legalized while a synagogue built on land in the process of being registered will be destroyed
      and much more…Long live the methods of Israeli democracy.

  2. Gil Solomon says:


    The “Conference” you describe is, in my opinion, a farce that would never take place in any sovereign country with an ounce of self respect.

    It is bad enough that the leader of the opposition is allowed to babble on to the world press about giving murderers and their backers some diplomatic vision which would presumably turn them into men of peace and goodwill. Talk of a man with total lack of Hasbara. I will not give my view of Herzog here as no doubt my comments would not pass editing.

    Ayelet Shaked’s comments are useless. In summary they seem to be a commitment and roadmap for future action “making NGO’s accountable for funding they receive from foreign sources”. Is that it? Why have they not been made accountable already for treason and incarcerated en masse no matter where their funding came from?

    As for Netanyahu and the French Ambassador – as if standing for a minute’s silence will make one iota of difference in the French position that Israel and only Israel must show restraint whenever it faces terror. Yet the French Ambassador has the chutzpah to even suggest that “Israel did not stand alone”.

    Bennett babbles on with his usual nonsense about better education for so called “Arab Israelis” in order for them to “gain meaningful employment that may encourage them to be productive and loyal citizens”. What has this man been smoking? Better education would probably only give them the means to better articulate their hatred of “their country”. If loyal citizens, they should pledge an oath of allegiance to their country, case closed.

    The Prime Minister’s assertion about his uncompromising war on terrorists and their supporters is a total farce. Israel’s rules of engagement hinder any such war effort. Maybe he should visit el-Sisi in Egypt to learn how that leader deals with terrorist and the terrorist infrastructure. Or maybe go and have a chit chat to Putin. Then he babbles on about EU labelling that would hurt so called “Palestinians”. I’ve got news for Netanyahu, who gives a damn if the “Palestinians” get hurt or not. Finally he still babbles on about wanting to engage Abbas in meaningful talks. It seems that this man simply cannot grasp the fact that Abbas, to all intents and purposes represents the political leadership of avowed terrorists wherever they may be and is a mortal enemy not a negotiating partner.

    Then we have the spectacle of the US Ambassador, a man of sheer unmitigated gall who has the audacity of extolling the triumphs and wisdom of the Obama Administration to a captive audience.

    Then we have the spectacle of the EU Ambassador to Israel being allowed to even get up on the podium “vehemently refuting all accusations” and then claiming European solidarity and even handedness.

    Michael, how you could sit there taking all this in without wanting to throw up is beyond me. To me, only a political basket case of a country allows others to come forth and shower it with their sermonising nonsense. Only a country with no sense of sovereignty.
    Sad to say, only Israel. If any reader thinks my words are too strong, ask yourselves would Vladimir Putin ever allow a conference such as this to take place in Russia? What about Egypt, China or for that matter any other damn place on this planet?

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