“Standing with Israel”


“Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico, Ofer Bavly, didn’t mince words in a statement issued following the backlash against Israel.

“The so-called peace activists on board the flotilla with ties to Al-Qaeda and other terror organizations were interested in creating a media circus and not in helping the people of Gaza,” he noted. “There is no shortage of aid to Gaza. I don’t remember any of these activists issuing a single statement regarding ten thousand Palestinian rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli civilians over the past four years or speaking out about Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas four years ago and held without access to any humanitarian organization.”

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“16 South Florida grads sign up to serve in Israel’s Army” – Miami Herald

Consul General Ofer Bavly has been quoted by both the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinal.

The Consulate General of Israel held a party on June 6th for 16 young men and women from Florida who have made the decision to volunteer for the IDF. They begin their service this year.

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Don’t be fooled by flotilla’s claims: It was terrorist tool

St Petersburg Times – Monday June 7, 2010

Reports of the recent clash between the Israeli navy and six so-called peace ships en route to the Gaza Strip have, to a large degree, concentrated on the fact that nine “activists” were killed. To the lazy reader who peruses the headlines, it certainly may have looked like the “evil” Israelis were at it again — killing innocent “peacemakers” whose only crime was to want to bring some salvation and much-needed humanitarian aid to the Palestinians suffering under the yoke of Israeli occupation. This imagery is exactly what the activists wanted to evoke. The only problem is that it is far from being the truth.

Fact: There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Israel regularly allows the free flow of all type of humanitarian aid including food and medicines into the Gaza Strip even though we know that the Hamas terror organization then resells it to its own population, thus financing the purchase of more missiles to be launched against Israel. Over the last 18 months, Israel transferred more than 1 million tons of aid to Gaza. That’s about a ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza.

Fact: Israel offered the “peace activists” the possibility of unloading their cargo in an Israeli port. We offered to carry it into Gaza after screening it for weapons. The activists refused. Apparently, the supposed need of the people of Gaza was not as important as grandstanding and clashing with the Israeli army. Breaking a blockade that was legally imposed so as to stop the smuggling of weapons to Gaza was the real motivation behind this flotilla of hatred and violence.

Fact: The Israeli navy soldiers who boarded the ships came armed with paint guns, their side arms safely tucked away for emergency. Their orders were to take control of the ships peacefully and without the use of force and to guide them to an Israeli port. When they boarded the Marmara they encountered a vicious mob that tried to lynch them. Some soldiers were wounded from gunshots. Others were knifed. One was hurled 30 feet from a top deck to a lower one. When the soldiers finally reacted in self-defense it was because their lives were in danger. Up to that point, no activist’s life was under any kind of threat.

Fact: The “peaceful” activists were not exactly flower-power, tree-hugging, love-fest hippies engaged in civil disobedience in support of oppressed and harmless victims. They were armed with guns, long knives, metal pipes, wooden bats, night-vision goggles, ceramic bullet-proof vests and 1-year-old babies used as human shields. They wanted a military confrontation with Israel in order to divert the world’s attention away from the atrocities committed by Hamas, which regularly tortures and executes Palestinians guilty of supporting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Fact: The flotilla of hate and violence was led by an organization with ties to al-Qaida as well as to Hamas, whom they wanted to show support for. A group of naive Europeans and citizens of other nations were lured into violent action which in reality only strengthened those who oppose peace, those who are the true obstacle to peace. Hamas is the oppressor of the Palestinians in Gaza. When Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, the Palestinians could have used this territory as a seed for their future state. Sadly, in their first democratic elections, they chose Hamas, a band of terrorists whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and whose theology calls for the imposition of radical sharia law along the lines of Iran. This is the organization supported by the flotilla. Strengthening them would be contrary to supporting peace. But do not confuse them with facts.

Peace will come to the Middle East when terror organizations are no longer allowed to set the agenda and grab the media’s attention. They will be weakened and their destructive influence will be diminished when foreign provocateurs stop masquerading as peace activists and when the international community supports the efforts of true peacemakers instead of savage terrorists. The world media and the United Nations would do well to keep in mind the distinction between terrorists (and their supporters) and democracies such as Israel that defend their citizens — Christians, Jews and Muslims — day after day against the forces of radical violence.

Ofer Bavly is consul general of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico.

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The two-state solution – Deputy Consul General Paul Hirschson

Tampa Tribune – May 24, 2010

We understand the rules: There is a natural tendency, particularly in academia, the media and human rights organizations, to support the weak against the strong. I tend to do the same thing.

This is without reference to the substance of the claims of the parties to a dispute. For the most part this is with some legitimacy. For the strong has usually been in the wrong.

In that part of Palestine (a Roman name chosen to disassociate the land from the Jews long before today’s Palestinian Arabs came to the region), handed over by the British to the United Nations in 1947, there are now two peoples – the Jews and today’s Palestinians.
Two peoples with competing, some say conflicting, claims to one piece of land.

The government of Israel, as the previous three Israeli administrations before it, has endorsed what is called the “two-state solution” to the decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

What Israel has embraced is the idea of two states for two peoples. What the Palestinians propose is two states. The difference is in the nuance.

Israel proposes a situation that includes the finality of claims and an end to the conflict. The Palestinian Arabs, together with and incited by others, talk about two states without mention of “for two peoples” with reason.

Their continued refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state is no coincidence. What they foresee is the creation of a Palestinian Arab state alongside a second state, Israel, whose national character will be determined by the ongoing course of history.

When you encounter someone advocating a resolution to the Israel-Arab conflict, ask whether their vision includes the finality of claims and the end of conflict. If not, be on guard.

The real intent is to undermine the legitimacy of the Jews’ right to national self- determination. For the most part they have nothing but contempt for Palestinian individuals, the vast majority of whom want nothing more than the end to the conflict.

Make a note of it here. The day Israel reaches an agreement with the Palestinians, the campaign to undermine Israel will change focus and continue.

The radical left cannot stand the idea that the Palestinians would be better served by taking responsibility for themselves, developing the infrastructure of state and nurturing a productive economy rather than hold out their hand for charity.

Israel has more hi-tech companies traded on NASDAQ than any country other than the USA. Israel is producing film, dance, music and other arts at the highest possible standard.

Israel is the antithesis of that school which thinks the ailments of the world will be treated through remunerations. Nice as the idea may be, it doesn’t hold water. A Palestinian state, free of terrorism and radicalism, could also be a miracle of innovation and culture.

There may be some solace in the idea of old European colonial powers paying off others for the brutality of years gone by (or perhaps Japan for invading China way back when). The chance of this leading to something better is negligible.

It’s only in taking responsibility for oneself that progress comes. The Jews did it in establishing Israel, and it drives some schools of thought crazy.

Those who would undermine the very legitimacy of the Jews’ claim to national self- determination, of the right of Israel to exist as the state of the Jews, do themselves no good by aligning with the likes of Hezbollah, Hamas or others.

The darker regimes of the Middle East practice gender apartheid, hormone treatment of gays and human trafficking. We may end up imputing these ideas onto the radical left, which is comfortable in partnering such regimes in opposition to Israel.

We in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, are the stronger party. And we intend to remain so. The alternative, in our neighborhood, would be particularly unpalatable for us.

This doesn’t mean that we are in the wrong, for the substance of the claims should be taken into account.

Paul Hirschson is deputy consul general of Israel

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Consul General Ofer Bavly in Puerto Rico

Just returned from Puerto Rico where I have been discussing with the authorities a number of topics having to do with ways to strengthen the excellent relations between Israel and Puerto Rico. We are on the verge of signing a cooperation agreement that will further enhance our ties.  While in Puerto Rico, I met the Secretary of State, Mr. Kenneth McClintock, with whom I discussed the possibility of bringing some interesting and ground-breaking “green” Israeli technologies to the Island. Israel, a world leader in solar energy, water technologies and more, can and should collaborate with Puerto Rico in these areas and others.

 Consul General Ofer Bavly

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The real obstacle to peace

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have begun their “proximity talks” with the mediation of former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell. The objective of the talks, as far as Israel is concerned, is to reach a permanent two-state solution whereby a future Palestine will exist alongside Israel with peace and security for both. Peace is necessary because the peoples of the Middle East deserve it. It will bring stability to the region. It will give the Jewish state security as well as internationally recognized borders. Time does not favor us as radicalism continues to spread around the world. The obstacle to peace is not Israel. In the course of the past 15 years, Israel has taken tremendous and painful steps for peace including making substantial and painful territorial concessions, and taking grave security risks.

Over the past year, since the Palestinians walked out on negotiations, Israel unilaterally declared a 10-month moratorium on new construction in the West Bank. We dismantled dozens of checkpoints and roadblocks, facilitating free movement of Palestinians.

The steps we have taken enabled the Palestinians to achieve an amazing 8 percent economic growth in a year of global recession. These and other steps were taken in order to show good faith and convince the Palestinians to resume negotiations.

The constant obstacle to peace is the weakness of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (P.A.) and the violent takeover of the Palestinian Gaza Strip by the Iran-backed Hamas terror organization. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas still refuses to even recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish homeland, not to mention our right to peace, security — and life.

The Palestinian reluctance to recognize Israel as a Jewish state stems from the P.A.’s weakness as well as its ideology. The P.A. hides behind the Arab League and other external players who are only too eager to keep the conflict going by pressuring the Palestinians not to make concessions and not to negotiate as long as there are any settlements.

Past experience shows that settlements were never an obstacle to negotiations — or, indeed, to peace accords. Both Egypt and Jordan negotiated peace agreements with Israel in spite of the settlements. Israel proved it could dismantle settlements and evacuate its citizens during our unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005. Perhaps more important, the same Palestinian president, Abbas, had no difficulty in negotiating with Israel in the past — while settlement activity was going on.

The P.A.’s habitual addition of new preconditions postpones resumption of negotiation and precludes the creation of necessary trust between the two sides.

In order to reach peace, what is necessary is a negotiation process that is conducted in good faith, in a reciprocal manner and only once both sides recognize each other’s right to exist. It must be agreed that the negotiation process has to lead to a final and permanent agreement.

Negotiations are not a rest area on the road to Israel’s destruction. They must include permanently renouncing Palestinian violence and the complete dismantling of all Palestinian terror organizations. Those organizations only aim at destroying Israel, destabilizing the P.A. and ruining any chance for peace.

Only direct negotiations will create the necessary mutual trust and confidence that are so lacking in our region. Without mutual confidence, there can be no advance in any peace process.

The pressure now directed at Israel is therefore misdirected. It is aimed at the easy target rather than at the necessary target. The international community should mobilize its force and influence around the understanding that resolving our conflict is in the interest of the international community.

Those who seek peace should be telling the Palestinians that just as Israel has abandoned its maximalist notion of a “greater Israel” along the lines of the Biblical Promised Land, so should the Palestinians renounce their maximalist dream of a Palestinian state usurping Israel and destroying it.

Only political and military realism brought Jordan and Egypt to renounce violence and the idea of Israel’s destruction in order to reach peace. Only realism and a courageous Palestinian leadership will lead to direct talks, to the creation of mutual trust and ultimately to true and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Ofer Bavly is the Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico.



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Israel’s 62nd Independence Day Festival

On Sunday April 25, the Consulate organized, along with a large group of volunteers, the third annual Indepence Day festival at Haulover Park. Close to 5,000 members of the Israeli community in South Florida joined together for a day in the park, a celebration of Israeli culture, food and sheer fun. The yacht parade brought over twenty boats, all carrying the Israeli flag. They sailed in single file through the Intercoastal and were cheered by people along the banks. The ten mile Bike ride through the streets of Sunny Isles Beach and Aventura drew over 100 bikers. The motorcycle ride, acoompanied by four police riders, drew 86 Israeli bikers all carrying the Israeli flags. Their roaring entrance into Haulover park was cheered by thousands of participants. The stage at the park hosted many Israeli singers, and dj’s encouraged the people to dance throughout the sunny afternoon. Food vendors made sure the crowd was well fed with Israeli Falafel and Shawarma. Hundreds of barbecues filled every available spot. Children enjoyed inflatable recreation rides and a climbing wall.

Next year’s celebration promises to be even bigger and better with the addition of a mini-marathon run. Join us as we will celebrate israel’s 63rd Independence day!


Ofer Bavly

Consul General of Israel

Florida and Puerto Rico



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