Archive for July, 2009

US Jews: it’s 11 PM, do you know where your dollars are?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Recently, criticism has fallen on the New Israel Fund (NIF), a US-based Jewish organization that has funded such groups as Breaking the Silence [BTS], the Mossawa Centre, Adalah, etc.

Everyone knows how BTS has made unverifiable claims that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza and broadcast them to the media. But the Israeli Arab (or as they now prefer to be called, ‘Palestinian Arab in Israel’) organizations that the NIF funds are perhaps not so familiar.

NIF President Larry Garber says

We are also proud of the support we provide to Israeli Arab groups that advance civil rights in the courts and in the Knesset, and through grass-roots action. These groups, working with partner civil rights organizations that have emerged within Israel’s Jewish majority, continually advance the cause of equality on behalf of a minority that the Israeli government itself admits faces serious discrimination.

If in fact these groups actually were concerned with civil rights as we understand them — voting rights, allocation of public funds, discrimination in housing and employment, etc. — then there would be no basis for criticism.

But in fact the ‘Palestinian Israeli’ interpretation of ‘civil rights’ goes far beyond this.  Mossawa articulated it clearly in “The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel” (2006) in which it called for the replacement of the Jewish state with a ‘state of its citizens’, elimination of the Law of Return for Jews and addition of one for Palestinian Arabs, the creation of a ‘consensual system’ of government in which the Jewish majority and Arab minority would have equal power, the assumption of full responsibility by the state for the ‘nakba’ [catastrophe of 1948] and compensation of Arab victims thereof, changing the flag and the national anthem, recognition of Arabs as an ‘indigenous cultural group’ with full rights of citizenship but also ‘international care, protection, and support’, etc.

In simple terms, Mossawa calls for the replacement of the Jewish state of Israel with — something else, something that would shortly become yet another Arab state in the Mideast. Should Jews support this?

Another group supported by NIF is Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. In 2007, Adalah presented its version of a “Democratic Constitution” for Israel. In the intoduction, Adalah begins by demanding that

The state of Israel must recognize, therefore, its responsibility for the injustices of the Nakba and the Occupation; recognize the right of return of the Palestinian refugees based on UN Resolution 194 [understood by Arabs as return of any ‘refugees’ who choose to do so — ed]; recognize the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; and withdraw from all of the territories occupied in 1967.

They also present several options for providing the Arab minority with a veto over all decisions of the Knesset. There is lots more, but the adoption of this constitution would clearly mean the end of the Jewish state.

I previously wrote about the youth organization “Baladna” [our land!]  which teaches Palestinian nationalism to young Arab citizens of Israel.  They too are supported by NIF.

I can’t end this piece without mentioning another Jewish organization that the NIF funds, Machsom Watch. Here is some of what NGO Monitor said about this group:

The Israel-based Machsom Watch monitors and disseminates reports on Israeli soldiers at checkpoints, with the ultimate aim of “ending the occupation.” Machsom Watch publications regularly omit the context of terror and employ human rights terminology, “apartheid” rhetoric and emotive and politically charged language that contribute to the demonization of Israel.  In many cases, their allegations are either inaccurate or unverifiable….

Machsom Watch reports often deviate away from describing events at the checkpoints. Through omission of context, use of pseudo-legal terminology and emotive language, many reports become a platform for the author’s radical political views…

Machsom Watch reports regularly omit the context of terror and claim that the presence of checkpoints is arbitrary, unrelated to the security situation and created solely to disrupt the Palestinians’ daily lives, hinder their business and humiliate them.

I’ve only touched on a few examples. There are more. Although not all of NIF’s grants are to groups and projects which are inimical to the Jewish state, enough of them are that this agency must be considered hostile to it.

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Zionophobia is racism

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Prof. Judea PearlProfessor Judea Pearl, the father of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, invented the word ‘Zionophobia':

Pearl blames “classical anti-Semitism” for fueling the men who killed his son, but also sees “Zionophobia,” a term he coined. Zionophobia is different from anti-Semitism, and he feels the organized Jewish community has been slow and incompetent in fighting it.

“Denying Jewish people the right for nationhood is straight racism, not anti-Semitism. Jews fight Zionophobia by labeling it anti-Semitism, which is a mistake. It is so easily deflected by saying ‘My best friends are Jewish’ or ‘I’ll go to prison to defend a Jew’s right to wear a yarmulke or eat kosher food’ but still want Israel to be abolished,” argues Pearl. — JWeekly

I have been looking for this word for some time, but I want to add to Pearl’s definition a little. In part it’s anti-Zionism and denial of Jewish nationhood, but it’s also something else:

Zionophobia  is an extreme and irrational fear and hatred of the state of Israel.

  • It’s the force behind the propensity of so many journalists to apply a double standard to the conduct of Israel and its army, in a way that other nations are never judged.
  • It’s the force behind the apparent need to focus so closely on the Israeli-Arab conflict when far more bloody conflicts — like the recent events in Sri Lanka or the continuing saga of Darfur — receive only passing mention.
  • It’s the force behind so many academic conferences, Mideast Studies departments, human rights groups, and even ‘social action’ projects which do nothing but bash Israel.
  • It’s the reason that there can be groups like ‘Queers for Palestine’ when homosexuals in Gaza would be murdered if they came out.
  • Its concrete realization is the United Nations, with its resolutions, committees, rapporteurs and even divisions devoted to trying to damage the Jewish state.

It is related to antisemitism but not identical to it. Golda Meir touched on it when she said that “Israel is the Jew among nations”, and most antisemites are also Zionophobes. But a Zionophobe does not have to be antisemitic.

In fact, as Pearl pointed out, it is counterproductive to ask this question: it is no less reprehensible. Zionophobia is racism, and just as white racism gave rise to the horrific phenomenon of lynching in recent American history, Zionophobia has as its aim the destruction of a nation, Israel.

For some reason, some of the worst Zionophobes are Jews: Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappé, Philip Weiss and others proudly proclaim their Zionophobia before the world. Others claim to be ‘pro-Israel’ but their public positions are in fact Zionophobic: organizations like J Street, and Jewish Voice for Peace come to mind.

There is no more reason to accept Zionophobia as a legitimate position than antisemitism or any form of racism.

It’s time for those who like to say that they are only engaging in ‘criticism of Israel’s policies’ to ask themselves if they have taken ‘criticism’ a bit far and slid into a racist extreme and irrational hatred.

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A vision of stupidity

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

The Fist of Death (courtesy, Dilbert)You know, maybe it’s because today is tisha b’Av and I’m not dealing too well with the fast or maybe it’s something else, but it’s probably a good thing that I do not personally possess deliverable nuclear weapons or a Fist of Death.

For example, take this item:

Israel ranked one of world’s least peaceful states

For the third year in a row, Israel fared very poorly in the Global Peace Index, being placed just 141 out of 144 countries, and ranked more peaceful than only Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Published by the “Vision of Humanity” organization, the index has a stated aim of measuring peace through the “absence of violence.” To do this, the group employs 23 different indicators which are then modified by various variables to produce a final score.

In a breakdown of the Israeli score, which is based on the indicator results from the past five years, Israel is seen to maintain a very high level of “organized conflict,” and a very low respect for “human rights.” In addition, the Jewish state is deemed to have very poor relations with its regional neighbors…

Countries which were considered more peaceful than Israel in 2009 included Sudan (140), Pakistan (137), Lebanon (132), North Korea (131), and Iran (99).

Let me also mention Syria, which, despite arming Hezbollah and supporting insurgents in Iraq, still earned a  92. Of course, Hamastan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) aren’t countries yet, so they don’t appear.

I’m sure that the 1939 Global Peace Index put Poland near the bottom for “poor relations with its regional neighbors”, and downrated Czechoslovakia for its low respect for the human rights of those Sudeten Germans.

I could say that Israel should certainly be credited for withdrawing from Gaza and for making concession after concession to the PA which doesn’t even recognize its right to exist.

I could say that judging the ‘peacefulness’ of a nation without taking into account who precipitated the wars that it has been engaged in is a little misleading.

I could say that counting military expenditures as a percentage of GDP without considering external threats is pointless.

But why bother? You already knew that anybody calling themselves “Vision of Humanity” had to be a bunch of idiots.

Must… control… Fist… of… Death.

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A vast conspiracy

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

News item:

British spokesman Martin Day said in an interview in Dubai with Al-Arabiya television last week that the British government was “taking practical steps towards freezing settlement activities.”

“For instance,” Day said, “we finance projects aimed at halting settlement activities. One of these projects seeks to build new Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and save Palestinian houses from demolition.”

In addition, Day said in an Arabic interview, “we also finance organizations that monitor settlement activities.”

He further stated that “products from the settlements do not enjoy preferential custom duties that we offer to products coming from Israel. In light of this, we can say that we are taking effective and practical steps against settlement activities…”

Karen Kaufman, the British Embassy’s spokesman in Tel Aviv, said … that the British government was “not involved in the actual construction of new Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.”

“The UK is spending £450,000 over 4 years to support projects in east Jerusalem and the West Bank that help Palestinians better understand and effectively use the Israeli planning laws to gain permission both retrospectively for existing homes, and prospectively for new homes on their side of the Green Line,” she said.

Of course interference in internal affairs of sovereign states is an everyday thing on the part of ‘great powers’ and even formerly great ones like the UK, but what is surprising is the way they openly admit it.

The point is obviously to show contempt for the sovereignty of the Jewish state built on land that they once controlled. The Brits never did get over the way those uppity Jews didn’t allow them to hand it all over to the Arabs that they so admired, after they’d gotten tired of the idea of the Jewish National Home that foolish old Balfour had gotten them into.

They did their best by lopping off some 80% of the mandate and giving it to the Arabs in the form of Transjordan, and then they tried to finish the job by equipping, training and leading the Arab Legion during the War of Independence. If it hadn’t been for the Legion the Jews certainly would have been able to hold the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and Gush Etzion in 1948.

But the British aren’t the only Europeans that are paying to subvert the state of Israel. As everyone knows, there are a multiplicty of non-profit organizations that seem to live only to bash Israel and collect ‘evidence’ for ‘lawfare‘ — the use of the mechanisms of international law to harass a nation as part of a wider assault which may also have diplomatic and military components.

Recently, the Israeli group “Breaking the Silence” has been in the news for presenting ‘testimony’ from IDF soldiers of Israeli ‘war crimes’. Such ‘testimony’ has so far been presented in anonymous form to the media, so that it cannot be checked but do damage nevertheless. Legal claims will undoubtedly follow. Guess who funds “Breaking the Silence?”

On Wednesday, Breaking the Silence released a report including testimonies from 26 unnamed soldiers who participated in the campaign and which claimed that the IDF used Gazans as human shields, improperly fired incendiary white phosphorous shells over civilian areas and used overwhelming firepower that caused needless deaths and destruction.

On Thursday, military sources and NGO Monitor – a Jerusalem-based research organization – raised suspicions regarding Breaking the Silence’s setup as a nonprofit limited company and not an amuta, or nonprofit organization. The difference is that an amuta is required by law to publicly declare the identity of its donors. A limited company is not always required to do so…

In response to the claims, Breaking the Silence presented the Post with its donor list for 2008. The British Embassy in Tel Aviv gave the organization NIS 226,589; the Dutch Embassy donated €19,999; and the European Union gave Breaking the Silence €43,514.Jerusalem Post [my emphasis]

Of course this is only the tip of the iceberg. Another recent example is the fund-raising done by Human Rights Watch in Saudi Arabia, where it received funds from individuals connected with the regime. There are many such organizations, each with their  own specialty, and each receiving funds directly or indirectly from governments who wish to delegitimize Israel and in particular, hamstring her ability to defend herself.

Nothing seems quite so ironic as Israel’s enemies talking about Israel Lobbies and Zionist conspiracies, while in fact — to borrow a turn of phrase used by Hillary Clinton during her husband’s presidency — there is a vast anti-Israel conspiracy targeting the Jewish state.

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Mass PTSD afflicts Jews

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Today’s featured Jewish anti-Israel group is Americans for Peace Now (APN), doing their best to screw the state of Israel from their comfortable homes in the US, far from the front line that is Israel:

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Americans for Peace Now is urging U.S. senators not to sign a letter encouraging the Arab world to normalize ties with Israel because it does not mention efforts to halt Israeli settlements.

The bipartisan letter to President Obama, circulated by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and James Risch (R-Idaho) and backed by the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, is “unhelpful” because it “seems to make a straightforward and reasonable demand for the Arab world to normalize relations with Israel,” but “the subtext of the letter directly contradicts and undermines the efforts” of the Obama administration “to promote Middle East peace.”

The Senate letter notes that “over the past few months Israel has taken concrete measures to reaffirm its commitment to advancing the peace process,” and notes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s backing of the two-state solution and the removal of roadblocks and other measures to “improve the daily lives of Palestinians.”

But “the Bayh/Risch letter conspicuously ignores Israel’s continued refusal to stop settlement activity” and “never even once mentions the word ‘settlements,’ ” states the Americans for Peace Now letter. “It sends a message that signers consider settlements more important than peace.”

APN’s message, on the other hand, is that kicking Jews out of Jerusalem, for example, is more important than … well, than anything else.

It goes without saying that APN’s position is not shared by the Israeli government but in addition it is opposed by the great majority of Israelis and even by Aluf Benn, Editor at Large of the left-wing Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz:

…in the past decade, repeated peace negotiations and diplomatic statements have indicated that larger, closer-to-home settlements (the “settlement blocs”) will remain in Israeli hands under any two-state solution. Why, then, insist on a total freeze everywhere? And why deny with such force — as the administration did — the existence of previous understandings between the United States and Israel over limited settlement construction? There is simply too much evidence proving that such an understanding existed.

APN is a primarily Jewish organization, as is J Street, as is the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and Jewish Voice for Peace, which brought Cindy Corrie to testify against Israel at the festival. And we mustn’t forget Breaking the Silence, an Israeli group funded by anti-Zionist European sources, which presented unverified and unverifiable accounts of IDF ‘war crimes’ in Gaza to the international media. Then there’s B’tselem, the Israeli ‘human rights’ group which only reports on violations of Arab rights.

But wait: in addition to these and countless other Jewish organizations that I haven’t mentioned, there are also the individual Jews that do so much in the struggle against Zionism. There are the obvious ones like well-known academics Noam Chomsky and  Norman Finklestein, and the less-well known but equally vicious ones like Lawrence Davidson. We can’t forget hack journalists and bloggers like Max Blumenthal and Philip Weiss, or even those who are competent writers like Roger Cohen. Israel haters all.

I could go on: Tali Fahima, Jeff Halper, Ilan Pappé, Neturei Karta — they never end. Oh yes, one more, the anarchist vegan collective I wrote about yesterday.

A friend of mine once said that he seriously believed that Jewish history — ghettoization, persecution, expulsions, pogroms, the Holocaust — had  somehow damaged the Jewish people, a kind of mass post-traumatic stress disorder.

How else can you explain it?

Member of Neturei Karta with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Member of Neturei Karta with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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Obama pushes Jews into Republican arms

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Barack Obama may yet succeed in doing what no Republican has yet come close to doing, which is to create Republican Jews (yes, some Jews voted for Reagan, but because of his personal magnetism, not his ideology. And then they went back to voting Democratic).

There’s no question that Obama’s approach to Israel has turned off pro-Israel Jews. Starting with the Cairo speech, in which he equated the Palestinian ‘pursuit of a homeland’ to the Holocaust, foundering through the US reneging on commitments to allow building within existing settlements, and coming apart on the rocks of his apparent acceptance of an Iranian bomb, Obama’s Israel policy has been a shipwreck. And it’s obvious that this is just fine with the majority of the Democratic Party that elected him.

Of course not all Jews are Zionists, and there is probably no hope for the anti-Israel J Street — who opposed Israel’s military action in Gaza and even endorsed a performance of the antisemitic play “Seven Jewish Children”. But some relatively centrist Jewish Democrats are beginning to have second thoughts about Mr. Obama.

Recently, the Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Alan Solow — a Chicago native who was a long-time Obama backer — publicly criticized Obama’s stance on Jewish building in Jerusalem. Although Solow was present at Obama’s recent meeting with Jewish leaders, apparently he was not satisfied with the explanations he received.

Maybe the Obamacrats have calculated that few American Jews today, especially young ones, are enthusiastic supporters of Israel. But keep in mind that while the J Street types are vocal in their anti-Zionism, my guess is that the ‘silent majority’ of American Jews still does not want an American policy which is actively hostile to the Jewish state. And that is how the Obama Administration, increasingly, appears.

What is keeping these Jews on the Democratic side today are domestic issues, and of course the impression the Republicans give of hopeless incompetence. It will be interesting to see how far Obama has to go in a pro-Arab anti-Israel direction to cause them to jump.

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Tel Aviv club humiliates IDF

Monday, July 27th, 2009

The ‘Rogotka’ (Russian and Hebrew slang for ‘slingshot’) at 32 Yitzhak Sadeh St. in Tel Aviv is described as a vegan bar run by an ‘anarchist collective’. It does not serve products from ‘settlements’ and it does not serve anyone wearing an IDF uniform.

The following appeared on the Israeli blog “The Muqata”:

IDF Uniforms are associated with oppression and genocide, and the IDF’s violence is the reason for all violence in Israel, explained the club’s workers.

The ground rules of the club are clear: Naturalism, Pluralism, and no IDF uniforms — anyone can visit the club on Yitzchak Sadeh street in Tel-Aviv, with any clothing style, except for IDF uniforms.

Two IDF combat soldiers who visited the club last week were forbidden entry. They were told they could switch to civilian clothes and come in, but it was forbidden to wear uniforms inside.

“It’s nothing personal, but ideological. Your uniforms symbolize genocide and violence.” they were told by club employees and guests.

One of the soldiers took off his IDF issued shirt, but his Unit’s t-shirt didn’t pass muster either…and they were told to leave.

IDF radio sent a solider from an elite unit to validate the claims. As soon as he sat down at the bar, employees came over to him and demanded that he leave.

“Your shirt symbolizes sh&^ and disgust,” he was told, “and as soon as I see your shirt, it hurts me. So before I hurt you, I’m asking you to leave.”

The elite combat solider replied, “I kill myself to protect you and you’re throwing me out?”

Their response: “They pay you half of what you deserve. You aren’t killing yourself. They are taking advantage of you, and you’re a slave to the army…now leave.” (source, translated from IDF radio via rotter)

Maybe I’m hopelessly naive, but this is beyond shocking.

Here are about 5 million Jews surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs that would like to invade and destroy Israel, including — believe it or not — Tel Aviv. Think about what a victorious Arab army would do in Tel Aviv. You don’t need a lot of imagination, just think about the pogroms in Tzfat, Hebron, etc. and multiply them by a few hundred thousand. Think of the Russians in Berlin in 1945.

They would do this in a minute except for one thing: the IDF. Can anyone doubt this?

So this ‘anarchist collective’, who probably dodged the draft themselves and don’t plan for their sons and daughters to serve, who benefit from the Jewish state and the tiny bubble of peace, freedom and prosperity that it struggles to maintain in the midst of dictatorships and kingdoms where women are property, homosexuals are hanged and Jews are not allowed — these parasitic scum have the chutzpah to refuse to serve anyone in an IDF uniform?

The problem is that the IDF has done too good a job, and the parasites can live in Tel Aviv as if it were San Francisco. But even in San Francisco, how long would a nightclub that refused to serve US servicemen in uniform last?

How can this be allowed to continue?

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Mitchell brings good news and bad

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Israel’s President Shimon Peres met with US negotiator George Mitchell today, and if we can take Mitchell at his word, there is good news and bad news. First the good news that Mitchell understands that concessions on one side only are not enough:

“Israel has taken meaningful steps in the West Bank,” said Mitchell, alluding to the dismantling of 25 checkpoints, thereby allowing the Palestinians greater freedom of movement and easier accessibility to various destinations.

Referring to his visits with other leaders in the region, Mitchell said that he had conveyed the message that steps must now be taken by Arab States to fulfill the promise of the Arab peace initiative.

It’s also good news if the US understands the Arab (or Saudi) Initiative as a starting point for negotiations and not simply a ‘take it or leave it’ offer, because as it is it’s no more than a demand for Israel to accept all responsibility for the conflict and pay all of the price for a doubtful ‘peace’.

The bad news, though, is that the US is either remarkably naive about the Palestinians or doesn’t care about the ultimate outcome as long as Israel withdraws from the West Bank:

Anticipating the day when there would be “a state of Palestine” Mitchell envisaged that it would prove to be “a responsible neighbor to Israel…”

In discussions with US Security Coordinator for the Palestinian Authority and Israel General Keith Dayton, Peres said, Dayton had estimated that the Palestinians should be capable of self government by 2011.

The only kind of self-government the Palestinians are capable of today is the kind they have in Gaza, where Hamas has established totalitarian rule and maintains a state of war with Israel. Today,

  • The Fatah faction whose ‘security’ forces Gen. Dayton is arming and training has no popular support among Palestinians, who prefer Hamas if anyone.
  • Even this ‘moderate’ faction refuses to accept that Israel belongs to the Jewish people, demands a ‘right of return’ for Arab ‘refugees’ and in fact is now saying that they don’t really recognize Israel and that ‘armed struggle’ will continue. Some responsible neighbor they will be!

Dayton may think that by 2011 his pet Palestinians will have enough men under arms (the Palestinian authority already has a huge percentage of its population in police and ‘security’ forces) and enough weapons to challenge Hamas, but politically nothing has changed — except the rise of Hamas — since Arafat.

In fact, given the hostility to Israel displayed by Fatah officials when speaking in Arabic, and their political weakness vis-a-vis Hamas, one wonders whether arming them is a good idea.

Peres understood that US President Barack Obama has his own agenda calling for new facts on the ground at a somewhat quicker pace. But speaking with the hindsight of experience, Peres told Mitchell: “You need patience.”

President Kennedy made an audacious promise when he said that the US would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade, and of course we just celebrated the 40th anniversary of this event. Kennedy took the risk of appearing foolish because his competent scientific advisors told him that it was possible.

President Obama also promised that he would do something of monumental significance by ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is risking more than Kennedy did, because the consequences of bad policy in the Mideast may be a lot worse than just looking foolish. As we have so recently seen, mistakes lead directly to dead Israelis and Palestinians.

But unlike Kennedy, either Obama does not have competent advisors in this area or what they are after is something other than peace with security for Israel.

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Offensive anti-Zionism in Berserkeley

Monday, July 27th, 2009

It seems that the Berkeley Daily Planet (yes, that’s what it’s called), the only daily newspaper in the city of Berkeley, California — which the late SF Chronicle columnist Herb Caen aptly referred to as ‘Berserkeley’  — has several contributors, staff members, and a whole raft of letter-writers who like to bash Israel and Jews.

My first response is to say “why am I surprised about this in a place containing the greatest concentration of extreme left-wing nutjobs in the known universe?”

Typical San Francisco Bay area demonstration

Typical San Francisco Bay area demonstration (courtesy zombietime)

But  if you live in Berkeley or you just want to support some local people who are tired of Planet owner Becky O’Malley using the local paper as a platform for ugly rhetoric, you can sign a petition here calling for “integrity and responsibility” on the part of the paper. And you can read about the controversy here.

My opinion is that it is not worth worrying about whether O’Malley and her friends’ anti-Zionism is or is not antisemitic — it is objectionable enough as it is.

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Nazi tactics at San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

In a reductio ad absurdum of the idea that there is a Jewish Zionist conspiracy, the San Francisco Jewish Film festival has chosen to show the film “Rachel”, about Rachel Corrie, the young American woman who lost her life in the unwitting service of Palestinian terrorism in 2003. Worse, they are hosting a talk by Rachel’s mother, Cindy, who has become a tireless campaigner for the Palestinian cause.

Cindy and Craig Corrie receive portrait of Rachel from the Original Terrorist

Cindy and Craig Corrie receive portrait of Rachel from the Original Terrorist

In response to an outcry from those who felt that a Jewish festival should not promote the destruction of the Jewish state, the festival organizers agreed to let pro-Israel activist Dr. Michael Harris speak for a few moments before the film.

When you watch the video of Dr. Harris’ talk, note the audience reaction as they try to shout him down. The forced laughter is a particularly juvenile manifestation of what is reminiscent of nothing so much as Nazi tactics of the pre-war era.

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Update [27 Jul 2009 0830 PDT]: You can read Dr. Harris’ own account of the event here.

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NPR anchor displays shocking ignorance

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

NPR anchor Robert SiegelI was making a salad for dinner on Thursday (July 23) when I heard the following, on the NPR program “all things considered”:

The Israeli Ministry of Education has banned reference to the Arabic the word ‘nakba‘ from Arabic-language Israeli textbooks. The word ‘nakba‘ means ‘the catastrophe’ and it resonates for millions of Palestinians; it’s the word that they use to describe the creation of the state of Israel, when millions of Palestinians became refugees at the end of the 1948 war.

The anchorperson, Robert Siegel,  should know better, being an alumnus of one of the best high schools in New York, Stuyvesant HS. Of course he also went to Columbia University, where — if he were a student today — he could take courses from tenured professors Joseph Massad, who decries “the renaming of ‘Palestinian rural salad (now known in New York delis as Israeli salad)’ as an example of Israeli ‘racism'”, and Nadia Abu El-Haj, who — while rejecting “a positivist commitment to scientific methods” and accepting a methodology “rooted in … post-structuralism, philosophical critiques of foundationalism, Marxism and critical theory and developed in response to specific postcolonial political movements” — still expects us to believe her contention that Israeli archeologists deliberately falsify findings to show a Jewish provenance in the land of Israel.

To get back to the story, only about 650,000 Arabs became refugees in 1948 (reasonable estimates range from 550,000 to 700,000). The millions who today claim refugee status have ‘inherited’ it from their parents, or simply claimed it in order to get on UNRWA’s dole.

There is much to say about refugees, more than I can present in a blog post. Here are a few things for you and Robert Siegel to keep in mind when you think about Mahmoud Abbas’ demand that all 4.5 million have a ‘right of return’ to Israel:

  • The “1948 war” actually began in 1947 when the Jews accepted the UN partition resolution and the Palestinian Arabs chose to fight. It intensified in 1948 after Israel declared independence and was invaded by armies of five Arab nations. In other words, the Arabs bear responsibility for starting the war.
  • Of the Arab refugees from Israel, there were those that left in anticipation of war (many from of the upper classes of Arab society), there were those who left in response to exhortations from the leadership, there were those who fled as a result of exaggerated atrocity stories (e.g., the Deir Yassin incident in which about 110 Arabs were killed, many of them combatants, and nobody was raped), there were some that fled actual fighting, and there were some — a minority, mostly from hostile villages — who were actually expelled.

Israel launched a “build your own home” project in the 1970s that allotted a half dunam of land “to Palestinians who then financed the purchase of building materials and, usually with friends, erected a home. Israel provided the infrastructure: sewers, schools, etc. More than 11,000 camp dwellers were resettled… before PLO, using intimidation tactics, ended the program.” Israeli authorities contended that had the program been allowed to continue apace, “within eight years every camp resident could own a single-dwelling home in a clean and uncongested neighborhood.” Joel Bainerman, “Permanent Homes for Palestinian Refugees,” Christian Science Monitor, May 26, 1992.

  • UNRWA, the UN organization created specifically for the purpose of supporting Palestinian refugees, provides welfare services which encourage population growth and dependency without moving in the direction of providing permanent homes for refugees — precisely the most destabilizing policy imaginable.

That’s just a beginning.

The ‘nakba‘ concept is part of the Palestinian story that the situation of the refugees today is all Israel’s fault, which Israel should remedy by committing suicide. You can understand why the Israeli Ministry of Education doesn’t want to pay to print textbooks that promote this point of view.

The salad I was making? It was an Israeli salad.

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The road to the solution runs through Tehran and Riyadh

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Recently I heard that there will be a local ‘workshop’ that will bring Jews (Israelis and Americans) together with Palestinians, to engage in ‘dialogue’ and listen to each others’ ‘stories’. The idea is that ordinary people all want peace, and if we could understand where the others are coming from then we could get past the posturing and politics and become a force to influence our leaders to move toward a peaceful two-state solution.

Naturally, I don’t support the endeavor and would never participate.

But don’t I want peace? Don’t I think understanding — on both sides — is the key to peace? What could possibly be wrong about a dialogue in which both sides can express themselves? How can I say — as I do — that the very holding of such a dialogue constitutes propaganda for anti-Israel forces? What kind of fascist am I, anyway?

There are a number of problems here, including the fact that the deck is most likely stacked with left-wing Jewish participants who are already anti-Zionist, that the format suggests a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas, etc. But those are small issues compared with the main one, which is this:

The premise of the workshop is that the conflict is primarily between Israelis and Palestinians. And it follows from this that Israel, which is much more powerful than the Palestinian Authority or Hamas or any other collection of Palestinians, is in control of the conflict. And therefore, the solutions suggested will naturally take the form of Israel giving up land and power, granting the Palestinians their ‘rights’. And the Palestinians in turn will naturally stop terrorism, because after all it is counterproductive in the face of an enemy with F-16s and Merkava tanks. And everyone will live happily ever after.

What’s wrong with this picture? Simply that the Palestinians are not driving the conflict from their side, although they are essential to it. The conflict is actually between Israel on one side and the Arab states and Iran on the other.

The Palestinian side — on which we also find Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and others — is lubricated by the enormous amount of money that the West has pumped into it by our purchase of Arab and Iranian oil. The huge missile buildups in Lebanon and Syria, the persistent rocket attacks from Hamas, the growing nuclear threat from Iran — all of these, and every kind of Palestinian terrorism, are encouraged, supported and financed by the major powers of the Mideast.

Suddenly, Israel — which is highly vulnerable because of its small size and concentrated population — doesn’t look so comparatively powerful. Yes, it has a nuclear deterrent, but the day it will be used will certainly be a day too late.

In my opinion, this is the most important single idea to get across to  those — like the organizers of workshops like this — who tend to see the conflict as a question of rights, and as something which can be fixed by more understanding between Israel and the Palestinians.

So I will not help support the idea that the problem is in essence a conflict between these peoples by sharing falafel and hummus with my Palestinian cousins, some of whom I’m sure do want peace, at least on some terms.

Instead, I’ll be suggesting that the road to the solution of the conflict today runs through Tehran and Riyadh rather than Jerusalem.

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