Archive for February, 2007

Can a Jewish state be democratic?

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

Adalah, a legal advocacy organization for Israeli Arabs has drafted a “democratic constitution” for the State of Israel (or whatever it will be called). You can read the complete document here and read about it in Ha’aretz here.

Adalah claims that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic.

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Is the Palestinian issue the key to the Middle East?

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

One of the oft-repeated misconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it’s the root of all problems in the Middle East. For example:

“America’s best hope of containing the escalating tensions in the region would be to address the festering wound that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has represented for decades.” – Joshua Holland

Or, for example:

The root cause of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict is the failure to resolve the Israel-Palestine issue, an international church delegation visiting Jerusalem has said. — Ecumenical News International

Although one finds these or similar statements everywhere, it’s hard to find any actual arguments for them — they are supposed to be self-evident.

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Aid to Palestinians increases despite ‘cutoff’

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

You probably thought that the Palestinian people were suffering mightily from the cutoff of funds to the Palestinian Authority as a result of the Hamas government’s accession to power.

Well, think again. They may well be suffering, but the international community is pumping more aid into the territories than before.

The Western bloc has simply funneled its increased aid through the office of President Mahmoud Abbas instead of the official PA treasury, controlled by Hamas. Of course, Hamas is also receiving funds from its benefactors in the Arab world, so the total is even greater.

You can read the details in this report from CAMERA.

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Rosenfeld replies to his critics

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Prof. Alvin H. Rosenfeld created a great furor with his essay “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism” published by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) (PDF downloadable from the AJC here). It seemed to me that his thesis — that there’s a lot of antisemitism out there and some of it is starting to come from left-wing Jews — was unexceptionable; but it triggered a remarkably violent response.

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Why “West Bank Story” is dangerous

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

Yesterday NPR interviewed Ari Sandel, director and co-writer of the film “West Bank Story”, the Oscar-winning film about Jewish and Palestinian falafel stands:

A musical comedy set in the fast-paced, fast-food world of competing falafel stands in the West Bank… David, an Israeli soldier, falls in love with the beautiful Palestinian cashier, Fatima, despite the animosity between their families’ dueling restaurants. — westbankstory.com

OK, I will go see this when I get the liquid Helium concession in Hell, but that’s not the point. In the interview, Sandel said “[I wanted to show that] both sides are more similar than they care to admit”.

Sandel was criticized by Arabs and others because “the film didn’t show the suffering of the Palestinian people” or Israeli brutality. In other words, it was not the propaganda film they expected. Debbie Schlussel devoted a column to the horror of what happened when a suicide bomber walked into a real falafel shop. It’s true but a cheap shot.

But here’s what’s really wrong with the film: the message is that the conflict is basically a misunderstanding. That both sides actually want the same thing, peace and prosperity, and that coexistence is possible if only the details can be worked out and the extremists on both sides suppressed.

The truth is that both sides do not want the same thing. The Israeli side, by and large, does want peace and coexistence. The Palestinian side wants to reverse the historic ‘injustice’ of 1948 and take possession of what they believe is their property, from the river to the sea. And this has very important implications for what we ought to demand of Israel and of the Palestinians.

Sandel seems to be a decent guy who really would like the conflict to be soluble. Unfortunately, at least today, it isn’t.

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Israel has a right to exist

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Some (secular) reasons that Israel has a right to exist:

Israel was created by a UN vote, not by a treaty between imperialists like most other nations in the Middle East. Whatever one may think of the UN, it is the only expression of the general will of nations.

Israel defended her territory in multiple defensive wars. Israel did not take territory from other nations in wars of aggression. The majority of Israelis have always been prepared to trade occupied territories for peace and normal relations with her neighbors.

Israel reclaimed what had been worthless land and built an economy that could support a population of millions in a place that has been called “the armpit of the Ottoman Empire”.

The Jewish people began creating the institutions of the state in the beginning of the 20th century long before WWII, in order to exercise their natural right of self-determination. The state would have come into being whether or not there had been a Holocaust. It is not in any way justified by the Holocaust.

Israel is a democracy. It is not a monarchy or dictatorship like most other nations in the Middle East. Therefore it is one of the only middle-eastern nations to legitimately exercise power over its inhabitants.

Israel is the only nation in which the Jewish people can exercise their right of self-determination.

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Islamic Jihad again

Monday, February 26th, 2007

From YNet news:

The [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad [PIJ] has claimed responsibility for a stabbing attack which left an Israeli man dead on Sunday night.

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Salam Fayyad

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Salam FayyadUS-educated economist Salam Fayyad has agreed to be Finance Minister in the Hamas-dominated Palestinian unity government.

Fayyad is generally held to be a ‘moderate’, and if anyone will be able to get the US and others to disgorge financial aid for the Palestinians, he will.

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Jews against Israel

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

What it is about some Jews that makes them irrationally hate Israel?

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Peretz’s x-ray vision

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

PeretzMaybe Amir Peretz knows how to use the Force, but he’s not so good with binoculars: note the lens caps!

Of course it could be Photoshopped. But who would want to make fun of the Defense Minister?

No peace for the forseeable future

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

There is only one conclusion, and Moshe Dayan already said it in his eulogy over the grave of Roi Rutenberg, who was murdered by Arabs from Gaza in the 1950s: “This is our life’s choice: to be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword slip from our hand and our lives be cut down.”

From a column by Ze’ev Schiff in Ha’aretz. Ha’aretz is left of center in Israel, but everyone is beginning to understand that for the forseeable future there will be no peace for Israel.

Read Schiff’s column here.

Peretz uses the Force, changes reality

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

On Monday, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of Military Intelligence’s Research Division, told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hizbullah has ‘returned to its pre-war capabilities and has even become stronger.’

‘Hizbullah is building up more firepower than it had before the war,’ Baidatz said. ‘Some of this ordnance has arrived, and some is still en route from Syria.’

Baidatz was asked more than once by committee members if he meant that Hizbullah now had more firepower than before the war, and he responded in the affirmative until Defense Minister Amir Peretz interrupted.

‘Hizbullah has not increased its strength but merely its potential,’ said Peretz.

Baidatz then retracted his previous statement and told MKs that he agreed with Peretz.

Meanwhile, Baidatz told committee members that Syria was preparing its military for a confrontation with Israel. — Jerusalem Post [my emphasis -- ed.]

Leaving aside the complete absurdity of Peretz’ statement (how do you increase “potential strength”? — if you increase military capabilities, isn’t that the same as increasing strength?), one has to be impressed with his ability to bend minds.

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don’t need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don’t need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.
Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
Obi-Wan: Move along.
Stormtrooper: Move along… move along. — Star Wars (1977)

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