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Ant Katz

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Ant Katz is currently the editor of this website. He has spent almost his entire working career in community media at every level. Born and bred and educated in Joburg (an Old Davidian Linksfield), Ant ‘emigrated’ to the Eastern Cape in the early 80s where he started a number of community titles between PE & Plett & became involved in the Struggle by training & employing families of emigrant cadres & sharing information he obtained by virtue of his position back offshore through the same channels. In ’92 Ant sold his stable of titles to Times Media for whom he then worked in various capacities and as directors of various companies. In 2003 he branched out into the world of digital community media consulting and 2009 he built and launched www.MyShtetl.co.za  (SEE MORE BELOW).

US unlikely to open Embassy in Jerusalem

by Jewish Report | Dec 22, 2016

The US Congress mandated the moving of its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem many years ago, but the nation’s security services have warned that such a move could endanger US facilities and personnel in the wider region. Here’s why even Trump will likely backtrack…

Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to move the embassy and last week, the Trump Transition Team made the announcement on their website: US Ambassador to ‘work from Jerusalem’ which both Trump and his ambassador-to-be David Friedman consider the country's capital.

Despite much speculation to the contrary, Trump’s team now seem to be back-tracking and all that exists in the public domain is that Ambassador Friedman will “work from” Jerusalem. Many pundits see this as an intention to relocate the embassy – but (as much as I would like to see such an action take place) - I think the risks will outweigh the benefits and the associated risk may be more than it is worth.

Yesterday the Palestinian Authority added its voice, with Mahmoud Abbas threatening certain sanctions on Israel if the move goes ahead… really!

I somehow think pragmatism will prevail and the term “work from Jerusalem…” will become the real state of play.


THE HISTORY

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is a public law of the US passed by the 104th Congress in 1995 under the Presidency of Bill Clinton.

It was passed for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the US in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than 1999, and attempted to withhold 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the State Department specifically for "Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad" as allocated in fiscal year 1999 until the new US Embassy in Jerusalem had officially opened.

The act also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. Israel's declared capital is Jerusalem, but this is not internationally recognised, pending final status talks on the world’s most complicated political situation.

Successive Presidential administrations have, however, withheld recognition of the city as Israel's capital – despite the Law having been adopted by the Senate (93–5), and the House (374–37). Since passage, therefore, the law has never been implemented. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have viewed it as a Congressional infringement on the executive branch's constitutional authority over foreign policy and have consistently claimed the presidential waiver on national security interests.

So, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign trail claims of wanting to “move the Embassy to Jerusalem” has become David Friedman’s statement of hoping he will work from the city.

Although Trump’s transition team continues to affirm the intention to move the embassy, it is a toothless statement as they offer no timeline. And, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, in a forceful speech at Tuesday night’s Chanukah party at the Washington embassy, encouraged Trump to make good on the pledge (even saying it was long past due) – the likelihood is that when Friedman takes office it will be a case of his “working” from Jerusalem – without moving the Embassy. In any case, it would take years to acquire a site in overpacked Jerusalem and design and build a new Embassy.

Dermer enumerated some of the positives for the move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which were subsequently outlined in a Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday.

There is already US Consulate in Jerusalem, likely where Friedman will work from.

JTA’s Ron Kampeas broke it down further today, writing:

 

Here’s what the “for” argument looks like:

  • The Jewish connection to Jerusalem is ancient.
  • No other country is denied representation in its capital.
  • Done correctly (i.e., with lots of pre-move assuaging of nerves in Arab and Muslim lands allied with the West, and with a site in western Jerusalem), it should go smoothly, especially because relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours are closer than ever due to shared interests in crushing the Islamic State and stopping Iran.

Here’s a summary of the “against” case:

  • The Palestinians have a claim to the city and moving the embassy before a final-status agreement pre-empts their claim.
  • The city is a tinderbox and any disturbance of its status quo will lead to violence.
  • Israel’s allies in the Arab and Muslim world (both unofficial and official) may reluctantly go along, but its enemies – particularly Iran, which annually commemorates the “loss” of Jerusalem, and the Islamic State — will seize the opportunity and stoke violence.
  • And those Arab allies? Even the dictators have to answer to their constituencies, who would likely be violently against. This could endanger whatever nascent comprehensive peace is in the works.

 

Other writers such as Eli Lake at Bloomberg gets at some of the ‘against’ arguments, particularly regarding tentatively improving relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

But, beyond the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ there is also the UNPREDICTABLE. That, readers, is what concerns me – in the eventuality of their transpiring…


Back to a paraphrasing of Ron Kampeas’ assessment on some things we can’t know about the move until it actually happens:

GOING NATIVE:

In the early 1980s, then-PM Menachem Begin used incentives to get journalists to move from Tel Aviv to the press centre in Jerusalem, Beit Agron, because he wanted them to recognise the city as Israel’s capital.

Plenty of news agencies did, with an unexpected result: Whereas the journalists occasionally visited with Palestinians while based in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem they got to know Palestinian leaders well and media understanding of the Palestinian story deepened — not necessarily to Israel’s benefit, says Kampeas.

The Americans maintain a consulate in eastern Jerusalem. Some Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups complain that its staff has ‘gone native,’ – and reflects the opinions of the Arab population. The Tel Aviv staff, by contrast, is ensconced in the most western corner of Israel and has a positive outlook on Israel. “What happens to that attitude once they move 40 miles up the hill to Jerusalem?” asks Kampeas.

 

WHO DROPS BY? AND WHAT ABOUT THE CONSULATE?

Israel frowns on diplomats taking meetings with Palestinian officials in Jerusalem as it signals recognition of Palestinian claims to the city. “Does that policy stick if the embassy moves there?” is another question on Ron Kampeas’ lips.

Would Palestinian officials even agree to enter as they would no doubt not recognise it?

What happens to the consulate in eastern Jerusalem that deals with Arab issues? Its continued presence would undercut Israeli claims to the entire city. Does Israel’s government agitate for its removal? And, if Palestinian representatives do meet their US contacts, where is that done?

 

JERUSALEM IS PROTEST-CENTRAL

 

Jerusalem residents with grievances such as the charedim, Arabs, nearby settlers and their supporters — hold their demonstrations in Jerusalem. A US embassy would be a fat, juicy place for them to hold such protests.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF...

 

“Try building anything new in Jerusalem and you’re bound to hit some pottery shards, possibly even bones,” Kampeas points out. If it is a significant find, a construction site could attract a stop order from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

 

 

THE RESIDENCE AND THE SCHOOLS

 

The US ambassador has a spacious home in Herzliya, a place amenable to festivities and bashes - and near some of the best schools in the country. Space is hard to come by in Jerusalem. Especially if Americans decide (to assuage Arab anger) to build both embassy and a residence in the city’s west.

“And the schools! For ambassadors with school-age kids, what a hornet’s nest,” says JTA. That sounds right- any choice could offend someone. Going ‘international’ risks accusations of exposing the kids to anti-Israel views. Going for Israel’s schooling system and take your pick of whom to offend — the religious, the Charedim, the national religious groups, etc.

 

There are so many other unpredictables – this is, of course, the world’s most politically contentious city. A city where anything can happen. They call it: The Jerusalem Syndrome.

“One more thing,” Kampeas points out, “the city is susceptible to earthquakes. Considering everything else, that’s almost an afterthought,” he chirps.

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Always an innovator, Ant Katz was the second person in the Eastern Cape (after UPE) to install Microsoft Windows and the first publisher in SA to produce a digital newspaper combining advertising and editorial. His Jeffreys Bay-based production facility was visited variously by management of Media24, Times Media and Caxtons when they heard that it was possible to do this. Ant Katz worked on Times Media teams throughout the country and the world seeking the latest and most innovative common IT platforms for their myriad of business interests.

Ant’s experience as a journalist, editor and media law specialist, media marketer and manager ensured he was well poised to become involved from the very start of online news websites and, from 1997 to date has had a hand in the development of over 30 such sites – of which www.sajr.co.za is but the latest. While less challenging operationally than daily newspaper websites, says Ant, this has been the most challenging to develop. “One is always having to try and anticipate the technology of the future, today,” he explains. And, while it may be easy for a journo to know what his various readers want, says Ant, “making sure that users can find what they want and use what they need in the easiest possible way is the secret of online news success.”

Add to that the question of on what tech platform they will want it in three years’ time, and you’ll understand why Ant has to keep his eyes on all evolving tech trends and be ready for those that will become ubiquitous.
 

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