Archive for January, 2007

The ancient virus returns

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Alvin H. Rosenfeld included this quotation in his essay on “Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism (available from the American Jewish Committee):

Yet I have come to believe, these past few years, that the emergence of a new strain of the ancient virus is one of the most frightening phenomena of my lifetime – because it’s happened after sixty years of Holocaust education, antiracist legislation and interfaith dialogue. — Jonathan Sacks, UK Chief Rabbi

What does this teach us? Something about unintended consequences, something about our monumental lack of understanding of psychology — particularly of groups — or perhaps something about the true perversity and darkness of the human soul.

Boycotting Israel

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

Several organizations are sponsoring a boycott of the Israel Philharmonic orchestra, and will be picketing performances in Los Angeles in February. This is in the framework of a boycott of all Israeli products, services, artists, academics, athletes, etc.

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Did Israel ‘misuse’ American bombs?

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

The US State Department has said that Israel ‘probably’ misused cluster bombs in Lebanon last summer. The full report, sent to Congress Monday, is classified.

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Carter’s audience

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

Jewish critics of Jimmy Carter’s book who seek to discredit it by pointing out errors and omissions of fact, incorrect interpretations of UN resolutions, etc. may be missing the point.

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Solving problems the Palestinian way

Monday, January 29th, 2007

From the Memri Blog:

Palestinian Clerics in Right-of-Return Fatwa

The Palestinian Clerics Association has issued a fatwa banning relinquishing the right of return, accepting compensation in return for this right, or taking citizenship in another country.

Source: Al-Ayyam, Palestinian Authority, January 16, 2007

Those clever fellows, always thinking about possible solutions and how to forestall them.

Resisting the occupation, one bakery at a time

Monday, January 29th, 2007

As everyone knows, a suicide bomber today sneaked from Gaza to Egypt and then back into Israel to blow himself up in a family bakery in Eilat, killing three.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, called Monday’s attack a “natural response” to Israeli military policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as its ongoing boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian government. “So long as there is occupation, resistance is legitimate,” he said. — Jerusalem Post

Of course he must mean the ‘occupation’ of the whole of Israel, since the occupation of 97% of the territories could have ended in 2000, had Arafat chosen to accept Barak’s proposal.

According to the IDF, more than 100 terrorists were caught trying to cross the Egyptian border in 2006, including suicide bombers, weapons experts, and would-be kidnappers.

This bombing was carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a particularly nasty bunch, funded through Hezbollah by Iran and headquartered in Syria. They are said to have carried out more than 30 (!) successful suicide bombings since 1995 for a total of 159 fatalities. They have employed suicide bombers as young as 15. It’s time to wipe out this organization.

Acts like this have been committed against Israel (and against Jews in pre-state Palestine) for the last 100 years, despite partition, peace talks, hudnas, or whatever. It’s about time for the world to realize that the Arabs simply are not interested in peace with a ‘Zionist entity’.

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Finding somebody’s voice

Monday, January 29th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

I went to the ADL’s Finding Our Voice conference in San Francisco on Sunday (see my earlier post). The conference was an attempt to bring together Jewish activists on the Left and Right – at least those who profess to support the continued existence of the State of Israel – to learn about ‘the new’ (i.e., left-wing) antisemitism and how to deal with it.

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A Palestinian civil war?

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

The number of Palestinians killed in fierce fighting between Fatah and Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip over the weekend rose to 25 on Saturday night, with dozens more wounded in the clashes…

A public opinion poll published Saturday showed that more than half of Palestinians believe that a civil war has begun. — Jerusalem Post

It’s not clear if either Fatah or Hamas has an actual plan, or if the fighting is primarily fueled by by each side getting revenge for previous killings. it’s hard to see how the cause of Palestinian ‘moderation’, which the US and Israel are supposedly supporting can be helped by continued fighting, which will lead to the ascendancy of the more violent elements on both sides.

MEMRI has translated an interesting article by Dr. Mamoun Fandy who argues that the conflict between Fatah and Hamas is “a struggle over who will capture Palestine as a symbol – the Muslim Brotherhood, as represented by Hamas, or the nationalists, as represented by Fatah…[before] the incitement was nationalist [in character], while today – after the Muslim Brotherhood has conquered a significant part of the symbolic Palestine – the incitement has become Islamist”.

We see a similar struggle between nationalistic and Islamic forces throughout the Muslim world: in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Syria, etc.

From the point of view of Israel and the West the Islamists are a much more dangerous enemy — not prepared to compromise, willing to use suicide as a tactic, and possessed with a powerful ideology for recruitment.

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A thought experiment

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

Suppose that every Israeli and every Palestinian had two buttons that he or she could push.

  • Button 1 would magically transplant all the Jews from the territories into Israel proper. It would also change the hearts of all the Palestinians so that they would wish to live at peace in a state alongside Israel.
  • Button 2 would make the other side disappear from the face of the earth.

My guess is that a large majority of Israelis would push button 1. But an even larger majority of Palestinians would push button 2.

I will write another post later about what we can learn from this. In the meantime, I would appreciate comments. Am I right about this? Is it a fair comparison?

I am (almost) struck dumb

Friday, January 26th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

Although details are sketchy, it seems that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is moving ahead with American support (or under American pressure, depending on one’s point of view) with negotiations with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

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ADL conference on left-wing antisemitism

Friday, January 26th, 2007

When does ‘progressive’ criticism of Israeli policy go to far? Certainly if it becomes antisemitic. The ADL, concerned about increasing left-wing antisemitism is sponsoring a day-long conference in San Francisco this Sunday (28 January) to discuss the phenomenon.

The organizers want to get a ‘spectrum of opinion’ from the Jewish community and co-sponsors include the ADL, the AIPAC, Americans for Peace Now and the Jewish Labor Committee. They notably do not include Jewish Voice for Peace or Tikkun. The fact that the conference is being held on the same day as planned antiwar demonstrations — including one in San Francisco — will probably decrease participation of left-wing groups.

FresnoZionism.org will be there.

Bias on the Beeb

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Steven Sugar, a commercial solicitor, is heading for the High Court in a legal battle to force the BBC to release the details of an internal report on its Middle East coverage, which he suspects will prove a bias against the Jewish state as well as pro-Palestinian tendencies.

Sugar has spent months using Britain’s Freedom of Information laws, designed to encourage openness, to force the BBC to release details of its internal 20,000-word Balen Report, which investigated the levels of balance in the BBC’s Israel reporting.

The BBC refused to do so. — European Jewish Press

And why do we think they are keeping it secret? It must be interesting.