Archive for February, 2009

Hearts, minds, and infowar

Friday, February 27th, 2009

To introduce my recent post about the coming Durban II excrement-throwing event, I quoted Ami Isseroff’s remark that “Israel is losing the battle for hearts and minds“. Everyone should read this.

Speaking of hearts and minds, particularly of college students, we note with outrage the coming of Israeli Apartheid Week on March 1 to universities and colleges in 49 cities, from “Al-Quds” to Waterloo, Ont. “Mark your calendars”, say the organizers with undisguised excitement, “we are really going to show the stinking Zionist yahud something this year!” (OK, I made up the last part, but they did say “Mark your calendars”.

And we could also mention the fact that

Some 210 groups, including the PA, have urged the [International Criminal Court] to deal with the matter [of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza] and the ICC’s prosecutor has said a “preliminary analysis” is underway. — Jerusalem Post

Isseroff has written a follow-on to his piece today (“Battle for hearts and minds — why it is important“), in which he says,

The signs of the Israel’s image problem are so clear, and the effects so obviously pernicious, that denial borders on behavior pathology. In the space of a week, following Operation Cast Lead, Time, Newsweek and the New York Times published the sort of reports about Israel that in former times one would expect from the Syrian government newspaper Tishreen or the Egyptian extremist journal Roz el Youssef: atrocity stories bordering on blood libel, published without verification and without reserve. These are not fringe journals in Europe, but the heart of USA journalism that used to be solidly on the side of Israel. Today they unapologetically distribute propaganda not for the moderate PLO, but for the genocidal Hamas. This alone should have raised alarm bells in every Israel advocacy group, in the Israel Government Press Office, the Office of the IDF Spokesperson and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was instead virtually ignored, as just the latest step in an inexorable progression.

He goes on to describe other symptoms of pathology, mentioning the conspiratorial views about the ‘Jewish lobby’ held by Chas Freeman, Barack Obama’s nominee for a key intelligence post  (who, by the way, until recently has been a paid lobbyist for Saudi Arabia).

I also wrote about Israel’s image problem a couple of weeks ago (“Israel must become an information superpower“). The problem, in my opinion, has reached a critical point, a point at which it endangers the existence of the state almost as much as the military threats against her.

To be more precise, the process of delegitimization facilitates the destruction of the state by making it difficult or impossible for Israel to  respond to threats that she is, in a military sense, able to neutralize (and I include the Iranian nuclear program here).

The effect on the behavior of important players like the EU and the US is obvious. But in addition, the economic and psychological damage done to the state itself by the multiple ‘information attacks’ is great. Some of the consequences are a growing avoidance of military service, emigration, etc.

Israel expends huge amounts of human energy and money on military preparedness, and little of either on information. Where is the Israeli Al-Jazeera? Where is the vigorous defense against war crimes charges? Where is ‘Hamas genocide week’?

One reason that this is difficult is because so many Jews have accepted the views of the other side and actively work to promote anti-Israeli and even antisemitic views. Naturally these Jews are given a platform and megaphone by the enemy!

And it’s also true that those who wish to eliminate Israel have managed to portray the conflict as a religious one, Jew vs. Muslim. Since there are 1.4 billion Muslims and perhaps 12 million Jews in the world, the effect of this is obvious.

And finally, it doesn’t help that Israel is rudderless, without a government that can claim even a little popular support since the failed Second Lebanese war in 2006.

Nevertheless, ‘difficult’ doesn’t mean ‘impossible’.  Israel has done things before that were difficult, very difficult. It’s time for Israeli information efforts to move beyond the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover.

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Obama’s worst nomination

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Chas Freeman with Alwaleed bin Talal

Chas Freeman with Alwaleed bin Talal

There’s a great flap over the nomination of Charles ‘Chas’ Freeman for chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the agency responsible for writing the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that digests intelligence information for the President and others (you will recall the NIE that suggested that we needn’t worry too much about the Iranian nuclear program).

In pro-Israel circles, it’s been pointed out (see here also) that Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia who was until recently President of the Middle East Policy Council — formerly the American Arab Affairs Council — a pro-Arab lobbying agency funded in great part by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (read Freeman’s thank-you to the Saudi King here), is about as anti-Israel a guy that you can find west of Gaza City.

Everyone with a brain has a point of view, of course, and it’s certain that one side or the other (sometimes both) will always find something wrong with every appointee. But this is something else: a paid Saudi lobbyist is not the appropriate person to stand at the gateway between our decision-makers and raw intelligence data.

Nor are Freeman’s personal views close to balanced. Here’s his 2006 take on the history of the Jewish state:

For fifty years Israel has enjoyed military superiority in its region. Demonstrably, Israel excels at war; sadly, it has shown no talent for peace.

For almost forty years, Israel has had land beyond its previously established borders to trade for peace. It has been unable to make this exchange except when a deal was crafted for it by the United States, imposed on it by American pressure, and sustained at American taxpayer expense. For the past half decade Israel has enjoyed carte blanche from the United States to experiment with any policy it favored to stabilize its relations with the Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors, including most recently its efforts to bomb Lebanon into peaceful coexistence with it and to smother Palestinian democracy in its cradle.

The suspension of the independent exercise of American judgment about what best serves our interests as well as those of Israelis and Arabs has caused the Arabs to lose confidence in the United States as a peace partner. To their credit, they have therefore stepped forward with their own plan for a comprehensive peace. By sad contrast, the American decision to let Israel call the shots in the Middle East has revealed how frightened Israelis now are of their Arab neighbors and how reluctant this fear has made them to risk respectful coexistence with the other peoples of their region. The results of the experiment are in: left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them, and enrage those who are not.

Tragically, despite all the advantages and opportunities Israel has had over the fifty-nine years of its existence, it has failed to achieve concord and reconciliation with anyone in its region, still less to gain their admiration or affection. Instead, with each decade, Israel’s behavior has deviated farther from the humane ideals of its founders and the high ethical standards of the religion that most of its inhabitants profess. Israel and the Palestinians, in particular, are caught up in an endless cycle of reprisal and retaliation that guarantees the perpetuation of conflict in which levels of mutual atrocities continue to escalate.

Regarding the Saudi/Arab League ‘peace’ plan, he adds,

Despite the fact that such a peace is so obviously also in Israel’s vital and moral interests, history and the Israeli response to date both strongly suggest that without some tough love from Americans, including especially Israel’s American coreligionists, Israel will not risk the uncertainties of peace. Instead, it will persist in the belief, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that it can gain safety through the officially sanctioned assassination of potential opponents, the terrorization of Arab civilians, and the cluster bombing of neighbors rather than negotiation with them. These policies have not worked; they will not work. But unless they are changed, the Arab peace plan will exceed its shelf life, and Arabs will revert to their previous views that Israel is an ethnomaniacal society with which it is impossible for others to coexist and that peace can be achieved only by Israel’s eventual annihilation, much as the Crusader kingdoms that once occupied Palestine were eventually destroyed.

His position could be summed up as follows: it’s all Israel’s fault, Israel dominates American  policy in opposition to our interests, and the US better force Israel to give the Arabs what they want before it’s too late.

In keeping with Freeman’s opinions about Israeli and Jewish influence on American policy, his MEPC journal published a revised, ‘improved’ version of the original Mearsheimer-Walt article on the “Israel lobby”, thus lending weight to my early speculation about a Saudi connection to this false and slanderous work.

The MEPC journal and website even include a collection of articles by the notorious anti-Zionist (and arguably antisemitic) Israel Shahak, a favorite of David Duke, neo-Nazis and and antisemitic Talmud-bashers.

I would like to think that Barack Obama was not fully acquainted with Ambassador Freeman’s connections and his bias when he decided to offer him the intelligence job, and I hope he will reconsider.

Unfortunately, this is not the only cause of unease I feel about the Obama Administration. Yesterday, I wrote about my concern that the US seemed to be playing along with the Durban II exercise in delegitimization being prepared by Israel’s enemies at the UN.

Obama has said numerous times that he is a strong supporter of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. But if his appointments — and there are already a few worrisome ones, like that of Samantha Power — and his actions belie his words, then his words don’t amount to much, do they?

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Durban, Durban

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

In a thought-provoking (and they are not happy thoughts) piece, Ami Isseroff writes,

Though it is painful to admit it, it should be obvious to all by now that Israel is losing the battle for hearts and minds of international public opinion, not just in Europe, Asia and Africa, but in the United States as well. This is evident both in the recent reaction to Operation Cast Lead and in long term trends. This loss is not like losing a Eurovision song contest or not getting the Oscar for Waltz with Bashir. It has, and will have, grave strategic consequences for Israel’s well being, international posture and security.

The odious effluvium of the recent unjust human rights campaign against Israel following the Gaza operation (see here and here) is added to the already broad stream of “anti-Israel” criticism. That will almost inevitably be joined by the stinking effluent of the upcoming Durban II Conference on Racism. — Ami Isseroff, “Israel is losing the battle for hearts and minds

Almost inevitably? Durban II is an onrushing freight train, to borrow a metaphor from Barry Rubin, and the US has so far abandoned its ally Israel on the tracks. Ending its boycott of this exercise in delegitimization, the US has sent a delegation to preparatory meetings, supposedly to “change the direction” of the conference. But that is not what they are doing. Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN wrote,

On Tuesday, the Palestinian delegation proposed inserting a new paragraph under the heading “Identification of further concrete measures and initiatives … for combating and eliminating all manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance…” with the subtitle “General provisions on victims … of discrimination.” The paragraph includes: “Calls for … the international protection of the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.” In other words, it claims that the Palestinian people are victims of Israeli racism and demands that all U.N. states provide protection from the affronts of the racist Jewish state.

Furthermore, the new Palestinian provision “Calls for … implementation of international legal obligations, including the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall…” This is a dramatic attempt to change an “advisory opinion” into a “legal obligation” — a status which attaches to no advisory opinion. The ICJ decision, which advises that the Israeli security fence is illegal, has always been rejected by the United States — hitherto. And with good reason. The Egyptian judge had voiced his opinion on the result before the case was even heard, in his capacity as a leading Egyptian diplomat. The terms of reference from the General Assembly who asked for the decision, and the documents they laid before the Court, predetermined the outcome. And as the strong dissent by the American judge and Holocaust survivor Tom Buergenthal pointed out, the Court came to its preposterous conclusion that “the right of legitimate or inherent self-defense is not applicable in the present case” without considering “the deadly terrorist attacks to which Israel is being subjected.”

But when the Palestinian delegation laid their new proposal before the drafting committee, what did Obama’s team do? Nothing, absolutely nothing. They made no objection at all.

It is impossible to argue that their silence was unintended. Over the course of the week’s negotiations the American delegation had objected to a number of specific proposals. They had no trouble declaring “we share reservations on this paragraph,” in the context of a demand to criminalize profiling. They “called for the deletion” of provisions undermining free speech like the suggestion to “take firm action against negative stereotyping of religions and defamation of religious personalities, holy books, scriptures and symbols.”

Their silence when it came to Israel was, therefore, deafening. — Anne Bayefsky, “The Obama Administration sacrifices Israel

Barack Obama himself has enunciated Israel’s right of self-defense. So why was the US silent? But there’s more:

The Obama team was not only silent on the new “Israel is racist” language, it also said nothing when faced with Holocaust denial. Negotiators from the European Union suggested on Wednesday a new provision to “condemn without reservation any denial of the Holocaust and urges all states to reject denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full, or in part, or any activities to this end.” Iran — whose president is a Holocaust-denier — immediately objected and insisted that the proposal be “bracketed” or put in dispute. The move blocked the adoption of the proposal and ensured another battle over the reality of the Holocaust in April — at these supposedly “anti-racism” meetings. After Iran objected, the chair looked around the room, expecting a response. He said: “Is there any delegation wishing to comment on this new proposal by the European Union? It doesn’t seem the case. We move on.” U.S. delegates said nothing, even after the prompt.

Again, the American silence must have been deliberate. In marked contrast, after the E.U. objected to a provision calling for limits on free speech, the American delegation had no trouble piping up immediately: “I want to echo the comments from the E.U. This … call for restrictions is something that my government is not able to accept.”

How can we explain this? We know that the US Administration is strongly opposed to Holocaust denial. So why didn’t they object to this? Why did they take a position more extreme than that of the EU?

Not being privy to the internal discussions of the US delegation, I don’t know. But it is not unthinkable that the US has decided to use the conference as a way of pressuring Israel to make further concessions toward an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, and it is also very thinkable that the US is doing everything possible to avoid antagonizing its ‘engagement’ partner, Iran.

In 2001, the US joined Israel in walking out of the first Durban conference. Preliminary discussions have indicated that this years’ version will be even worse, and Israel and Canada have decided not to participate. Unfortunately, American participation will go a long way to give weight to the pernicious ‘findings’ and declarations that are sure to come out of it.

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Western self-deception or Persian trickery?

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

In his excellent article “Iran’s strategic nuclear deception“, Craig S. Karpel argues that Iran’s threats against Israel are a smokescreen designed to lull the West into a false sense of security regarding her true aims:

Most Europeans and Americans are not keenly aware that Iran is on track to having the ability to threaten Kuwait City, Riyadh, Dubai, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Berlin, Paris, London, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles with nuclear weapons. They are oblivious to the ultimate aim of the Iranian nuclear weapons program: to transform Iran into the dominant global superpower by enabling its regime to attain hegemonic control of the petroleum production of all of the Gulf region’s oil states, while preventing the West from taking military action against Iran by deploying missiles that can obliterate Western cities. Instead, Americans and Europeans are under the impression that the program’s main goal is the destruction of Israel…

The stream of invective calling for, predicting, and/or gloating in advance about the elimination of Israel constitutes one of the most effective strategic deceptions in history. Tehran has succeeded in minimizing Western concern about Iran’s nuclear weapons program by making it seem to be somebody else’s problem. —  Karpel, “Iran’s strategic nuclear deception”

There’s no doubt that it’s Iran’s goal to become “the dominant global superpower” as Karpel says. And the West in general and the US in particular seem remarkably unconcerned as the noose tightens. But it looks more like Western self-deception than Persian trickery.

It seems to me that Iranian leaders, like Hitler, have made their intentions clear long in advance. And (also like Hitler) they intend to destroy the Jews by conventional means.

Karpel lists several threatening statements made by Iranian leaders against Israel, suggesting that they are nuclear threats. But all of them refer to the Palestinians as the instrument of Israel’s destruction and only one even mentions nuclear weapons.

One is Khamenei’s 2000 statement in which he described Israel as a “cancerous tumor” in the Mideast. Here is Khamenei’s threat:

“Palestinian refugees should return and Muslims, Christians and Jews could choose a government for themselves, excluding immigrant Jews…

He praised the 11-week Palestinian uprising against Israel, in which more than 320 people have been killed, mainly Palestinians.

“The new Palestinian generation has learned that struggle is the way to victory, not negotiations,” Khamenei said, referring to the deadlocked U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace process.

Another is Ahmadinejad’s famous 2005 remark that Israel would be “wiped off the map”. But he did not mention nuclear weapons:

Ahmadinejad said in his remarks Wednesday that the issue of a Palestinian state would be resolved only when Palestinians took control of all their lands.

“The establishment of Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world,” he said, according to the press agency. “The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of the war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land.”

Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Admadinejad said, “As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map.”

And here is his May 2008 “stinking corpse” comment:

“Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

“Today the reason for the Zionist regime’s existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation,” he said.

Ahmadinejad added that Israel “has reached the end like a dead rat after being slapped by the Lebanese” — a reference to the July-August 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite Hezbollah militia.

In June 2008, Ahmadinejad again predicted Israel’s demise (video),

“The Zionist regime has lost its raison d’etre. Today the Palestinians identify with your name (Khomeini), your memory and in your path. They are walking in your illuminated path and the Zionist regime has reached a total dead end. Thanks to God your wish will soon be realized, and this germ of corruption will soon be wiped off the face of the world.”

And yet again in September, he reused the bacterial metaphor:

“A Zionist organization with 2,000 [members] and with 7,000 or 8,000 activists has brought the world to a state of confusion. Let me tell them that if they themselves do not wrap up Zionism, the strong arm of the peoples will wipe these germs of corruption off the face of the Earth.”

Even Rafsanjani’s 2001 statement that includes this “…the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam” also refers to the Palestinians:

Rafsanjani said that it is unlikely that the Palestinian Jihad will weaken. He explained that the Palestinians have come to the conclusion that talks [with Israel] are effective only along with struggle and self-sacrifice – the two key elements that gave way to the second Intifada. The Palestinian Jihad is the mother of many Islamic movements, ranging from the [1979] Islamic Revolution in Iran to Islamic movements in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Central Asia, and many other Muslim states. All these Islamic movements support the Palestinian Jihad and have not forgotten it. The Palestinian Jihad has its roots in the homelessness of five million people. Undoubtedly, [this Jihad’s] culmination will be the liberation of Palestine.

Now this is not to say that Israel ought not worry about Iranian nuclear weapons, because they clearly could be used against Israel, both directly and as blackmail.

But the characterization — by the West, not by the Iranians — of the threat as primarily a threat against Israel and therefore not a serious danger to Europe and the US is very wrong.

Iran wants to destroy Israel for several reasons.

  • It is an outpost of and possible military base for Iran’s primary enemy, the US, in the Middle East.
  • Israel is one of the few issues guaranteed to unite all Muslims, and championing its destruction allows Iran to obtain influence even with Sunnis, such as Hamas.
  • Israel sits in the most strategic spot in the Eastern Mediterranean, an area in which Iran wishes to project its power.
  • Ahmadinejad may have religious reasons for wanting to eliminate Israel.

But nuclear weapons, while useful, are not essential to the Iranian strategy against Israel, which is based on Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria (with its massive stockpile of non-nuclear missiles, some of them with chemical and biological warheads).

Nuclear weapons are essential, however, for the strategy against the US and the West that Karpel outlines. And this explains the willingness of the Iranian regime to expend huge sums of money — to the detriment of its population — as well as expose itself to the possibility of military attack from a cornered Israel.

Unfortunately, the US is behaving toward Iran very much as it behaved toward Hitler’s Germany in the late 1930’s, pretending that, after all, the worst that can happen is that somebody else will be hurt.  Perhaps Karpel should have titled his article “Our strategic nuclear self-deception”.

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American Congressmen get the grand tour from Hamas

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Keith Ellison (L) and Brian Baird in Gaza

Keith Ellison (L) and Brian Baird in Gaza

Two American members of Congress, Brian Baird (D-WA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) visited the Gaza Strip last week, in the first such visit since the Hamas coup in 2005. A joint press release issued last Thursday included the following:

“The stories about the children affected me the most,” said Ellison. “No parent, or anyone who cares for kids, can remain unmoved by what Brian and I saw here.”

“The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering” said Baird, “Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, schools completely leveled, fundamental needs such as water, sewer, and electricity facilities have been hit and immobilized. Relief agencies, themselves, have been heavily damaged. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools; of entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching. What went on here? And what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words.” the Washington state Congressman said…

The Congressmen’s concerns about treatment of Palestinians were not limited to Gaza. They also visited Palestinian hospitals that treat patients from East Jerusalem and the West Bank. There they met with doctors, nurses and hospital directors who described how official Israeli policies restrict border checkpoints which make it exceedingly difficult and expensive for patients, nurses, medical technicians, and other essential personnel to reach the hospital to receive or provide care.

Now read the above again, pretending that you are an attorney cross-examining a witness. How much of the above testimony represents what the congressmen actually saw with their eyes and how much what they were told by their Palestinian (that is, Hamas) guides? How much is actual evidence and how much is hearsay provided by interested parties?

Really the only part of their statement that might be the fruit of actual observation is the statement that “the amount of physical destruction…is staggering”. Is it true? Tim Butcher of the UK Telegraph, no partisan of Israel, wrote:

One thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944. There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs. Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged and there had been some clear mistakes, like the firebombing of the UN aid headquarters. But, in most [of] the cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt…

But, for the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites on streets already lined with broken kerbstones and jerry-built buildings did not make any great difference.

So in other words, yes of course the place is damaged — after all, a war was fought there — but the characterization of massive, wanton, gratuitous damage, particularly to civilian structures is unwarranted.

Here’s more from the congressmen:

Ellison, who is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, recalled how they had walked on a road where a number of the homes had been flattened by the IDF.

“We came upon a temporary shelter, it was just cinder blocks that were set up in an eight by 10 square, and they had some kind of a tarp and a sheet over it to stop the rain. They were making tea and we walked up and said, ‘Salaam aleikum,” Ellison said. The people in the shelter welcomed them and made them tea.

“We asked them how are you coping with all of this, and they talked to us,” he said. “They told us their stories. I will admit and I was a little reluctant to say that I was an American congressmen. Quite frankly, it might have been the IDF launching the bombs, but they all said made in America.”

Still, “no treated us with anything but the greatest respect and kindness,” Ellison said.

All this happened entirely by chance, of course.

Baird said he was particularly troubled by the “apparent targeting” of hospitals, schools and relief centers. It would be a “remarkable coincidence if the rounds accidentally fell” on those institutions, he said.

And of course, it wasn’t a coincidence, as the IDF documentation of weapons hidden in schools, etc. amply demonstrated.

As a licensed neuropsychologist and the father of twin four-year-old boys, he was particularly struck by the remains of what had been a play area for children in a treatment center at Al-Quds Hospital, which had Disney characters painted on the walls. “It is very disconcerting to say the least,” he said.

Similarly, he said, it was upsetting to see that an American school had also been bombed, “of all the iconic things you could destroy,” he said. The bombing had not only killed people, but also “an institution that taught core American values like tolerance,” Baird said.

With all due respect, I do not believe that “core American values” are taught anywhere in Hamas-run Gaza. Here is an example of what Hamas children are taught.

At the school, he found a little book on baseball with a question the teacher had asked about legendary first baseman Jackie Robinson, who broke the color line in the major leagues. “They are trying to teach Israel about tolerance using baseball, for goodness sakes, and that is now destroyed,” Baird said. — Jerusalem Post

American values, baseball and Disney, all bombed by cruel Israel. No wonder they were upset!

Baird and Ellison, it seems, were given a tour by Hamas officials and then dutifully reported their point of view. They did make the obligatory statement that rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza had to stop, but they certainly didn’t appear to think that the rocket attacks had anything to do with the Israeli operation:

“The first and most urgent priority must be to help the people in Gaza. At the same time, the rocket attacks against Israeli cities must stop immediately. Just as the people of Gaza should not be subject to what they have experienced, the Israeli civilians should not have to live in fear of constant and indiscriminate rocketing.”

One would think from the above that parallel natural catastrophes had occurred to Gaza and Israel, with Gaza’s being worse!

The congressmen also visited Sderot and Ashkelon, but although they ‘condemned’ the rocket attacks, the thrust of their recommendations was that the US needs to force Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians:

“If our colleagues had seen what we have seen, I think their understanding of the situation would be significantly impacted,” he said. “They would care about what happened to the Palestinians.”

Baird added that he hoped they, as well as members of the Obama administration, would come away with a sense that “the US has a responsibility to insist on a change in the situation in Gaza and the situation in the West Bank.”

The congressman said he would like to see more humanitarian aid and goods reaching the people of Gaza, accompanied by open border crossings that would allow Palestinians to travel for trade and medical care.

He also said he was troubled by the American origin of so much of the IDF weaponry used in Gaza, and suggested that the US should reconsider the military aid it provides and the weapons it sells to Israel.

“We need to use every pressure available to make these needed changes happen,” he said. — Jerusalem Post

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Pope’s judgment on Williamson flawed

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

'Bishop' Richard WilliamsonFollowing the flap about the Good Friday prayer, we have another ‘crisis in Catholic-Jewish relations’ as a result of the actions of the Pope, Benedict XVI. This is old news which has been beaten to death in many forums, but nevertheless…

On January 21, the Pope lifted the decree of excommunication on Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier and anti-Semite. Williamson (seen on video here) claimed that “not one Jew had been killed in gas chambers” and that only 200,000-300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps.

Williamson and four other members of the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) were excommunicated by Pope John Paul II in 1988 when the society’s leader, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consecrated them as bishops in defiance of the Vatican. He also declared the society in schism with the church (they dispute this, but see Pope John Paul II’s letter).

Lefebvre was quite a guy. He disapproved of the French Revolution, preferring absolute monarchy. He supported the Nazi puppet Vichy regime in WWII, and expressed unhappiness  at the liberation of France, calling it an “invasion of barbarians without faith or law”.  He bitterly opposed  the reforms of Vatican II (1962-65), including the encyclicals Nostra Aetate, which called for religious tolerance and declared that the Jews of today do not bear guilt for the death of Jesus, and Dignitatis Humanae, which condemned civil coercion of religious belief. In his view, much of Vatican II constituted heresy.

In 1969 Lefebvre formed the Society of St. Pius X (St. Pius X was Pope from 1903-14 and also opposed modernism). He established a seminary in Switzerland, denounced the Vatican II reforms as heretical and celebrated the traditional Latin Mass. Ordered by Pope Paul VI to close his seminary in 1976, he refused and his right to perform sacred functions was suspended.

After the 1988 excommunication of Lefebvre and his ‘bishops’ the SSPX continued to exist, although its status with the Church remained as a schismatic sect. Since then, it has flourished. In the US, the SSPX has chapels in 37 states, schools in 13, and four retreat centers. There are numerous seminaries and headquarters around the world (Lefebvre himself died in 1991).

Although Williamson’s Holocaust denial is extreme even for the SSPX, there is no doubt that SSPX doctrine is anti-Semitic. Here’s an excerpt from a 1959 letter from Lefebvre associate Bishop Gerald de Proenca Sigaud which appeared — with approval — on the SSPX website until very recently:


1.    We condemn all persecution of Jews for their religion or for ethnic reasons. The Church is against “anti-Semitism”.

2.    But the Church can not ignore the facts of the past and the clear affirmations of international Jewry. The heads of this Jewry have for centuries conspired methodically and out of an undying hatred against the Catholic name and the destruction of the Catholic order, and for the construction of a world wide Jewish empire. This is what Masonic sects and the communists stand for.

Money, the media, and international politics are for a large part in the hands of the Jews. Although the Jews are the biggest capitalists and should on that account be the greatest adversaries of the Russians and the communists, they do not fear them, but on the contrary, they help them to win. Those who have revealed the atomic secrets of the USA were: Fuchs, Golds, Gringlass, and Rosemberg: all Jews. The founders of communism were Jews. They are the promoters, organizers and bankers.

This is the reality. Should this foster hatred? No! But with vigilance and clear-sightedness we should launch a systematic and methodical opposition to the equally systematic and methodical onslaught of “the enemy of man”, whose secret weapon is “the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy”.

International Judaism wants to radically defeat Christianity and to be its substitute. Its chief armies are the masons and the communists. This process of the Revolution began at the end of the Middle Ages, developed itself by pagan Renaissance, jumped forwards by leaps and bounds with the Reformation, destroyed the political and social basis of the Church by the French Revolution, tried to overthrow the Holy See with by an attack on the Papal States, emptied the Church’s resources on the occasion of the secularization of the goods of religious [orders] and dioceses, was the cause of a very grave internal crisis with the advance of Modernism, and finally, with communism, it invented the decisive instrument to delete the name of Christian from the very face of the earth.

Much anti-Semitic material has now been removed from the site, but this letter is still available in Google’s cache. And on the website there remains a 1985 letter to the Pope from Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer which counts Jews among “declared enemies of the Church”.

The lifting of the excommunication does not include a full reconciliation with the doctrines of the SSPX. But its purpose was to open the door for a rapprochement between the Church and the SSPX, which would take place when certain “open matters” had been resolved.

On the one hand, it can be argued that since the four priests were not excommunicated because of anti-Semitism or historical revisionism — these are highly unlikely to be subsumed under the specified actions that can be punished by excommunication under canon law — but rather because of their part in Lefebvre’s forbidden consecration of them as Bishops, their readmittance does not imply acceptance of their pernicious ideas. This is the line that the Vatican has taken, and the Pope himself has taken pains to denounce anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. The Vatican even said that the Pope was unaware of Williamson’s statements about the Holocaust.

But on the other hand, the intention of the Pope’s action was to heal the breach between the Church and the SSPX. Given the anti-Semitic bent of the SSPX, should not more have been demanded — both of the society and the ‘bishops’  — before beginning the process of reconciliation?

Certainly Pope Benedict holds traditionalist views about ritual, and for example has relaxed restrictions on priests who want to use Latin liturgy. He is also not likely to call for liberalization of doctrine prohibiting abortion or euthanasia. And in these areas he has beliefs in common with SSPX. But I would like to think that he has strong differences with them regarding religious tolerance — the principles set forth in Nostra Aetate (he was the first Pope to visit a US synagogue, when he was present at a service — something that would be anathema to SSPX). He should have made this clear — and gotten agreement from SSPX — at the outset.

The timing was also quite unfortunate. Anti-Semitic attitudes and expressions around the world today are possibly greater than at any time since the end of WWII, as the virulent anti-Israel propaganda that has been flooding the media from Arab, Iranian and left-wing sources becomes more and more overtly anti-Semitic.

Personaly I don’t doubt Pope Benedict’s commitment to the principles of Nostre Aetate, I don’t doubt his understanding of history, and I don’t think he has an antisemitic bone in his body. But I do think that his decision to seek to bring the SSPX back into the fold without first obtaining an unambiguous recantation of their anti-Semitic (and in the case of Williamson, ahistorical) point of view was a serious failure of judgment.

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A public hating

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

In a 1955 story by the remarkable Steve Allen, “The Public Hating” (which you can hear here, starting about 10:45 into the file), a condemned political prisoner is executed by the sheer force of hatred. Alone in the center of a packed sports stadium, with the event televised throughout the nation, Professor Arthur Ketteridge is literally burned to death by the concentrated hatred of millions, all focused on despising this man.

Allen mentions the para-psychological experiments of Dr. J. B. Rhine of Duke University, well-known in the popular culture of the time, and suggests that the mechanism was some sort of psychokinesis.

But we all know that mass, hysterical hatred can burn its object spiritually if not physically.

I felt a little of it myself a few weeks ago when I was one of about 15 counter-protesters facing at least 300 anti-Israel demonstrators chanting, shrieking, roaring with hatred. While Fresno is much more civilized than London or San Francisco and there was no actual violence, it’s an experience that I won’t forget.

I felt it a few months back when I attended an academic conference of the Fresno State Middle East Studies Program, when Sasan Fayazmanesh displayed a slide of Neturei Karta members with Ahmadinejad and said “You see, he cannot be an anti-Semite. These are Jews. They are his friends” and the audience laughed.

Howard Jacobson has had the same feeling in the UK:

I was once in Melbourne when bush fires were raging 20 or 30 miles north of the city. Even from that distance you could smell the burning. Fine fragments of ash, like slivers of charcoal confetti, covered the pavements. The very air was charred. It has been the same here these past couple of months with the fighting in Gaza. Only the air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred. And I don’t mean the hatred of the warring parties for each other. I mean the hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, on our campuses, in our newspapers, on our radios and televisions, and now in our theatres.

A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here – the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, the fine tracery of social interdependence we call community relations, modernity of outlook, tolerance, truth. You can taste the toxins on your tongue.

It’s becoming a familiar taste.

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UN hands explosives to terrorists

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009


Five tons of unexploded Israeli bombs stored in the Gaza Strip under Hamas police guard have been stolen, UN officials said Tuesday.

UN spokesman Richard Miron said the explosives were being stored in Gaza until a UN team of disposal experts could disarm them, but they disappeared.

The bombs were dropped on Gaza during Israel’s offensive there last month, according to another UN official. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said three one-ton bombs and eight quarter-ton bombs were taken from the warehouse.

Miron said, “It’s clearly extremely dangerous and needs to be disposed of in a safe manner.” He said the material was under Hamas guard between Feb. 4 and 14 “in a warehouse in Gaza City under guard by Hamas police when it was stolen.” — Jerusalem Post [my emphasis]

Let’s see, you are the UN and you have five tons of unexploded bombs. You want to keep them safe so that they can be disarmed and disposed of safely.  This is a huge amount of military-grade explosive. I estimate that it could be used to make about 500 suicide vests if the bombs could be safely disassembled; or, as is they could be used as truck bombs, buried as antitank mines, or used as massive roadside IEDs.

You really don’t want them to fall into the wrong hands. So who do you get to guard them?

Hamas police.

I’m speechless again.

Some one-ton bombs, to give you an idea of size:

One-ton bombs

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The peace recess

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Recently I wrote about the nonsense written about the Israeli election by the AP. There’s a great gnashing of teeth in the Western media about the prospect of a ‘hard-line’ right-wing government that will ‘stymie the peace process’, but the real reason that there will be no progress toward peace lies elsewhere.

All Israeli — but no Palestinian — leaders want to end the conflict

By Barry Rubin

What is the most important theme of Israeli politics, policy, and thinking today? It is pretty simple but you will rarely see it explained in much of the world:

Most Israelis believe that the Palestinians don’t want to make a comprehensive peace with Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state. Hamas doesn’t want it; the Palestinian Authority (PA) is both unwilling and unable to do it. Israel faces a hostile Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah, and various Islamist movements which all want to destroy it. In addition, it cannot depend on strong Western or international support in defending itself.

Therefore, it is not a moment for Israel to make big concessions or take big risks. Peace is not at hand. The priority — even while continuing negotiations and trying to help the PA to survive — is defense.

That’s what the people who voted for Labor or Likud or Lieberman, Kadima or Shas or National Union or Jewish Home or United Torah Judaism believed. More than 85 percent of Israelis voted for parties that hold that basic conception, while that concept itself is the product of a very serious assessment of very real experience.  And that — whatever differences they have — is beyond any definition of “left” or “right.”

In contrast, what is the main theme internationally in evaluating the elections? The right in Israel is against peace, Israelis moved to the right in this election hence Israelis are against peace.

To make such a leap, it is necessary to avoid talking about the herd of elephants in the room: Palestinian politics. If anyone looked beyond the most superficial level of English-language interviews by PA leaders trying to make propaganda points, the conclusion is unavoidable that there is no possibility of an Israel-Palestinian peace agreement for years to come. This is regardless of who is Israel’s leader or anything within reason, or even somewhat beyond reason, which could be offered.

Here are some tips toward proving that point:

  • Analyze the Fatah Central Committee’s membership and the viewpoints expressed by the group’s top leaders. The number who can be called moderates ready to accept and implement a two-state solution stands at about 10 percent of them.
  • Mahmoud Abbas is weak. He has neither charisma nor organized base. While relatively moderate he will not give up the demand for all Palestinian refugees to be able to live in Israel, something that is acceptable to no potential governing party in Israel. He is sick and will probably not last in office much longer. He has made no attempt to transform Palestinian political thinking or to provide an alternative vision of peace for his people.
  • There is no moderate alternative Palestinian leader in Fatah or elsewhere. Are there those who voice a moderate two-state solution position and who advocate coexistence? Yes, there are some but they have no organization or power whatsoever. Moreover, they say so almost exclusively in English to Westerners and not to their own people. To express anything equivalent to Labor or Kadima, even Likud, positions is to risk your life.
  • Schools, mosques, media and other institutions controlled fully or partly by the PA daily preach that all Israel is Palestine, Israel is evil, and violence against it is good. Hardly the most minimal steps have been taken to prepare the Palestinian masses for peace. For example, no one dare suggest that a Palestinian nationalist movement might want to resettle Palestinian refugees in Palestine, not Israel; or that Israel and President Bill Clinton made a good offer in 2000 and it was a mistake to reject it. Or a dozen other points necessary as a basis for real peace.
  • Palestinian public opinion polls consistently show overwhelming support for hardline positions and for terrorism against Israeli civilians.
  • An unyielding historical narrative still predominates that the whole land between the Jordan River and the sea is and should be Arab Palestine.
  • Of course, Hamas governs about 40 percent of West Bank/Gaza Palestinians and opposes Israel’s existence explicitly. The PA and Fatah do not vigorously combat the Hamas world view, except perhaps for its idea of an Islamist state. On the contrary, Fatah and the PA put a higher priority on conciliation with Hamas rather than peace with Israel.
  • This conflict is not continuing because there is a dispute about the precise boundary line between Israel and a Palestinian state. It is going on because the Palestinian leaders — all of them — are either unwilling or unable to accept Israel’s permanent existence, the end of the conflict, the abandonment of terrorism, and the settlement of Palestinian refugees in a Palestinian state.
  • What should have been happening recently is that the PA sent delegations around the world to announce it was the sole legitimate government of the Gaza Strip, that Hamas seized power in a coup and murdered Fatah people in cold blood, that Hamas is an extremist terrorist group, and that the PA demands the international community restore its own rule to the area. Instead, it sent delegations around the world to blame Israel for every problem and tried to negotiate a deal with Hamas without requiring any change in that organization’s policy or goals.

None of the above arguments can be refuted. Literally none of these points — except for the barrier posed by Hamas’s rule over Gaza — is really understood by most governments, academics, or journalists.

Nevertheless, if you add all these factors together it’s clear that whoever governs Israel the PA is incapable of making comprehensive peace. There is no peace process but rather a long-term peace recess.

There’s nothing left or right wing about the above analysis. Tsipi Livni and Ehud Barak know these things. Equally, this analysis doesn’t mean Israel cannot work with the PA on such matters as stability, economic well-being for Palestinians, blocking terrorism, or keeping Hamas out of power on the West Bank.

There is a Palestinian partner for the above four issues, but not for a comprehensive solution ending the conflict forever in exchange for a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. As we learned in the 1990s with the peace process and more recently with disengagement, Israel’s actions — no matter how conciliatory and concessionary — cannot make peace when the other side is unwilling and unable to do so. It’s time for the rest of the world to learn this fact.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA and other GLORIA Center publications or to order books, visit, or write to Barry Rubin at

Israel must become an information superpower

Monday, February 16th, 2009

From a Western point of view, especially a progressive Western point of view, Hamas is about the least attractive bunch of fanatics that you can find anyplace.

  • They ignore the norms of civilized behavior, set up shop next to a legitimate state and try to kill its citizens at random.
  • Their idea of dialogue with their political opponents is kneecapping, torture and murder.
  • They are racist, antisemitic, sexist and homophobic; and their regime is totalitarian.
  • They steal relief supplies sent to their own people and resell them., shooting Palestinian UN personnel in the bargain.
  • They deliberately launch rockets and mortars from the midst of their population and hide arms and explosives in schools, mosques and hospitals.

It goes without saying that they lie and perform elaborate charades to create outrage in their fans around the world. For example, remember the story that the IDF shelled a school compound, killing 42, mostly civilians? Horrible, wasn’t it? But now that the dust is beginning to settle, we find that

The international community had been given a vastly distorted impression of the death toll because of “false reporting” by Hamas, said Col. Moshe Levi, the head of the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), which compiled the IDF figures.

As an example of such distortion, he cited the incident near a UN school in Jabalya on January 6, in which initial Palestinian reports falsely claimed IDF shells had hit the school and killed 40 or more people, many of them civilians.

In fact, he said, 12 Palestinians were killed in the incident – nine Hamas operatives and three noncombatants. Furthermore, as had since been acknowledged by the UN, the IDF was returning fire after coming under attack, and its shells did not hit the school compound. [Mortars were fired from the street in front of the school, and that is where IDF return fire was directed — ed.]

“From the beginning, Hamas claimed that 42 people were killed, but we could see from our surveillance that only a few stretchers were brought in to evacuate people,” said Levi, adding that the CLA contacted the PA Health Ministry and asked for the names of the dead. “We were told that Hamas was hiding the number of dead.” — Jerusalem Post

Fine, they lie. They do much worse things, so what?

So why is the world prepared to believe them? Why when they tell their lies with the flimsiest or no supporting evidence are they almost universally believed, when statements such as the quotation from Col. Levi above are dismissed as ‘Israeli propaganda’?

What is so appealing about anti-Israel expressions that they evoke a total suspension of critical judgment, so that anything, no matter how objectively improbable, is immediately believed by so many people?

What is so compelling that makes progressive people put their ideals of justice and democracy aside and support the vile Hamas in its struggle with Israel?

What is so motivating about hating Israel that it causes college students to drop the veil of political correctness that is so universal in academia today and fall into crude antisemitism (“Die, Jew“)?

I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because the sheer volume of misinformation, lies and hateful material that has already been absorbed has succeeded in becoming part of many people’s bedrock assumptions, the basic principles that are used to make drawing everyday conclusions practical.

If so, it will be difficult to reverse the phenomenon by simply pointing out, for example, that Mohammed al-Dura was not hit by Israeli bullets in 2001, that there was no massacre in Jenin in 2002, that a Red Cross ambulance was not hit by Israeli missiles in Lebanon in 2006, that Israeli tanks did not kill the driver of a UN relief convoy near the Erez crossing in 2008, and of course the truth about the Jabalya school incident.

Unfortunately anti-Israel attitudes are beginning to be more than annoyances. They affect policy of nations, including powerful ones like the US, toward Israel. A misperception of civilian damage in Operation Cast Lead may have caused US pressure on Israel to terminate the operation. This could also be said of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The information war is at least as important as the military struggle, and we are not winning.

The only way to undo this is to use the same tools, to proactively flood the world’s perceptions with truth, and not only react to lies. Imagine if Israel operated several worldwide satellite channels providing news and entertainment in various languages. A Jewish-Israeli Aljazeera.

This would be enormously expensive and it would have to find a way to avoid the self-doubt, the penchant for hyper-critical  analysis and yes, even the irrational self-hatred that sometimes seems to characterize  Jews and Israelis. One would hope that Gideon Levy and Amira Hass of Ha’aretz would not appear on it.

Too hard? But Israel managed to make itself the preeminent military power in the Mideast because it was necessary for survival. Surely it would also be  possible to become an information superpower.

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AP misrepresents Netanyahu’s position

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Here’s the lead paragraph in the latest AP story on the Israeli elections, by Mark Lavie, which appeared in our local newspaper today:

JERUSALEM The Kadima Party of moderate Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni kept its slight lead over Benjamin Netanyahu’s hawkish Likud in final election results announced Thursday, but the hard-line bloc in Israel’s new parliament will have the power to stymie Mideast peace efforts.

Writer Lavie is by no means anti-Israel like some AP staffers, but this paragraph illustrates why people in this part of the world have little understanding of what’s going on in the Mideast.

One gets the idea from it that there are ‘peace efforts’ that are on the verge of success, as long as some nasty hawkish hard-liners don’t come along and screw it up.

Actually, there has been no progress in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) since the Annapolis conference despite a very strong desire on the part of current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, to reach an agreement.

The problem has not been right-wing sabotage, but simply that the PA’s demands have exceeded anything that even Olmert and Livni can agree to — and they are far ahead of the average Israeli in what they will accept.

Anyway, even if Netanyahu forms a narrow ‘right-wing’ coalition without Kadima, the Likud and the major parties that would join it all favor a two-state solution. It’s unlikely that the smaller parties would be able to exercise a veto power over negotiations with the PA. And Netanyahu himself has said that he would continue negotiations if elected.

Lavie continues,

But the hawkish makeup of the new parliament — and Netanyahu’s own opposition to peace treaty talks with the Palestinians — could stall efforts to negotiate an accord. That could put the new government into conflict with the U.S., where President Barack Obama has pledged to put Mideast peacemaking high on his agenda.

The only sense that I can make of this is that Lavie is conflating the negotiations with the PA, which are intended to lead to a peace treaty and which Netanyahu would continue, with the indirect talks with Hamas over a cease-fire. Netanyahu did express his opinion that the war should not have been stopped short of overthrowing Hamas. But then he adds this:

Last month Obama sent a special Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, on his first tour of the region. Mitchell is on record as favoring talks on a peace treaty and opposing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Netanyahu disagrees on both issues.

Thursday evening, Palestinian [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel’s incoming leaders to press ahead with peace efforts. He told a Christian gathering in Ramallah that Israel must stop settlement expansion and construction of the security barrier dividing Israel from the West Bank.

Israel should “accept the two-state solution — Palestine and Israel living side by side in security and peace,” Abbas said.

So he is after all talking about negotiations with the PA and is simply wrong about Netanyahu’s position. No wonder Americans don’t understand!

Lavie quotes Abbas’ usual red herring that what is preventing agreement is “settlement expansion” and the security barrier, instead of the real reason, which is that the PA’s own weakness in confronting hardline elements prevents it from taking reasonable positions on borders, Jerusalem and refugees. Abbas’ Fatah party is contending for dominance with Hamas and other extreme factions, and its flexibility is highly limited. No Israeli government led by a Zionist party, even Labor or Meretz, can possibly agree to anything that Abbas will be allowed to accept — or vice versa.

So in a sense Lavie is getting things exactly backwards. The problem isn’t hard-line Israelis, it’s hard-line Palestinians, particularly Hamas. But that would be disturbing to the conventional wisdom, which says that everything is Israel’s fault.

Oh yes. Nowhere in the article does the word ‘Hamas’ appear. Not once.

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Are the octuplets Palestinian refugees?

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

There’s been a lot of discussion about who will pay the bills (estimated to be in the millions of dollars) for the octuplets born to Nadya Suleman, who — as everyone knows — already has six children.

One solution to the problem that may be open to them will be to apply for Palestinian refugee status and let UNRWA foot the bill. Here’s the official definition:

Under UNRWA’s operational definition, Palestine refugees are persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. UNRWA’s services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. UNRWA’s definition of a refugee also covers the descendants through the male line of persons who became refugees in 1948. The number of registered Palestine refugees has subsequently grown from 914,000 in 1950 to more than 4.6 million in 2008, and continues to rise due to natural population growth. — UNRWA

Nadya’s father, Ed Suleman, is reported to be “a Palestinian immigrant who hails from Jerusalem”. If it can be shown that he counts as a refugee, then so does Nadya.

However, UNRWA does not grant refugee  status to the children of Palestinian women married to non-Palestinians — although a Palestinian father conveys such status even if the mother is non-Palestinian (making it possible for there to be someone who is legitimately both Jewish and a Palestinian refugee). Feminist KPFA-listeners please take note.

I don’t know what the UNRWA policy is for children of unmarried Palestinian women when the father is unknown (Suleman’s sperm donor has not been identified).

But keeping in mind UNRWA’s generosity, which has allowed the original 550,000 -700,000 refugees to grow to 4.6 million,  and the generally-accepted need to keep families together, I’m sure something could be worked out. What’s another 15 when you already have 4.6 million?

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