Archive for August, 2009

Achieving peace depends on a Palestinian leadership wanting peace

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Time to stop and ‘reset’, to use a concept favored by Barack Obama. The Oslo idea that peace can be made between Israelis and Palestinians by dealing with a leadership made from the PLO is clearly bankrupt. For proof, read Barry Rubin’s analysis of Fatah here.

There are two kinds of people who favor the ‘peace process’ with the Palestinian Authority/PLO/Fatah:

  • Those who think that the Jewish state should not exist and that the process is an effective way to weaken it; and
  • Those who don’t understand the Palestinians or their politics.

The US State Department is full of the former, while the latter are found among the media and President Obama’s advisors (not all of them — he has some from the first group too).

In 2002, President Bush said:

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts…

Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure…

He was right about the need for change, but that election didn’t work out. The Palestinians voted for Hamas. Now the Palestinian territories are split between Hamas and a Fatah run by  70-year old hardliners dreaming of the glorious airline hijackings and terror operations of the 1970’s and 80’s while their actual influence gets smaller each day.

Reset. Back to the idea that achieving peace depends on a Palestinian leadership wanting peace. That means a readiness to compromise on their basic demand that there be no state of Israel. That is one demand that can’t be met, no matter if they put it in terms of a ‘right of return’ or the Arab peace initiative or whatever.

Oslo opened a can of worms, and many evil things crawled out of it — like the reign of Yasser Arafat, the empowerment of Hamas, the thousands of dead on both sides in the war and terrorism that followed. They can’t be put back.

Barack Obama could do both Israelis and Palestinians a favor by not opening the much larger barrel of worms that would be an imposed settlement.

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Swedes, Palestinians use time-honored smear technique

Monday, August 24th, 2009
Texan chicken (see text for relevance)

Yes, it's relevant -- read the post.

Swedish Israel-haters are in good company. The Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine is a Marxist PLO faction which holds that Israel is illegitimate, does not accept the Oslo agreements, and demands a ‘right of return’ for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The PFLP was quite active in terrorism in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and again during the second intifada. Their leader, Ahmad Sa’adat, is presently serving a 30-year sentence for directing the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.

It’s not a surprise that they support the Aftonbladet newspaper and slime journalist Donald Boström:

Gaza – Ma’an – International human rights organizations must carry out a serious and immediate investigation on media reports published by a Swedish newspaper alleging Israeli forces harvested organs from Palestinian youth, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine demanded Saturday.

The report in Aftonbladet quoted Palestinians claiming Israeli soldiers detained young men who died in custody, and alleged their bodies were returned with organs missing.

A PFLP statement said such reports, given the detailed names, dates and photographs included and the staunch support of the Swedish government of the reporter, must be taken seriously. The group said the story was similar to alleged violations carried out by soldiers in the 1980s in Gaza, where they were said to have stolen organs from children taken to Israeli hospitals.

It has always been normal  for Israeli hospitals to treat Palestinians, even wounded terrorists. They return the favor by sending suicide bombers to blow up hospitals, firing missiles at them and even shelling crossing points between Gaza and Israel while Palestinian patients are being transferred. And tell lies about organ stealing.

One of the interesting points about the organ stories is that Palestinians often talk about bodies of dead Arabs being taken. Of course, it is impossible to harvest organs from cadavers, which is why brain-dead accident victims are in demand as organ donors.

While admitting that there was no actual evidence — other than Palestinian accusations — the author of the Aftonbladet article continues to insist that an ‘investigation’ is called for:

…in an article published Friday, Arab media site Menassat interviewed Donald Boström, the Swedish journalist who wrote the original Aftonbladet story. Boström emphasized that there was “no conclusive evidence” that organ hartvesting was a systematic IDF practice, but rather a “collection of allegations and suspicious circumstances.”

“The point is that we know there is organ trafficking in Israel. And we also know that there are families claiming that their children’s organs have been harvested. These two facts together point to the need for further investigation,” Boström was quoted as saying. — Jerusalem Post

Here we have a time-honored smear technique. I call it the “Texas chickens” method, and it’s attributed to famous Texan Lyndon B. Johnson:

Johnson: Tell the press that our opponent has sex with chickens.
Aide: But we can’t possibly prove that!
Johnson: I know, but I want to see the son-of-a-bitch deny it on television.

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Swedish Jews don’t get it

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

The Aftonbladet scandal — in which the Swedish government refused to condemn an antisemitic and Zionophobic newspaper article which accused the IDF of stealing organs from dead Palestinians, falsely claiming that to do so would violate the Swedish constitution — brings the difference between the attitudes of Jews in the Diaspora and the Jewish state into sharp focus.

Here is how Israeli officials responded:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We do not want the Swedish government to apologize, we want it to issue a condemnation.” Netanyahu called the accusations “outrageous” and equated them to blood libels.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) also addressed the affair, saying “there is a crisis until Sweden offers a different response. The Jewish state cannot ignore such a manifestation of anti-Semitism. “Anyone who is unwilling to condemn such a blood libel could be considered unwanted in Israel,” Steinitz said. — YNet

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the government’s position would not have been as sharp had Sweden not reprimanded its own envoy for condemning the inflammatory article. The foreign minister said there was a degree of hypocrisy in the Swedish position – claiming they don’t interfere in freedom of the press – when in 2006 the Swedish foreign minister sent a letter to a Yemenite leader apologizing for offensive caricatures of the prophet Mohammed…

Ambassador to Sweden Benny Dagan lashed out at a Swedish reporter Sunday who asked him whether Israel should investigate the claims. “You know what, I have a suggestion for you,” Dagan retorted. “Why won’t you investigate why the Mossad and the Jews were behind the bombing of the twin towers? Why won’t we investigate why Jews are spreading AIDS in the Arab countries? Why won’t we investigate why Jews killed [Christian children to bake Matzot on Pessah]?” — Jerusalem Post

But some Swedish Jews don’t see it this way. It was painful to read the following:

According to Lena Posner, head of the Jewish community in Stockholm and president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, “Israel caused all this mess.”

Posner told Ynet, “The article was published here on Monday, but no one paid any attention to it. It wasn’t a news report and was buried in the back pages of a tabloid. The writer is known to many of us as anti-Israel, and so it the entire paper. This is why no one took it seriously – until Israel got involved.”

It appears that the affair has turned the Aftonbladet reporter, Donald Boström, into the star of news broadcasts. How did he get the great “scoop” on the Palestinian organ theft?

“He met a Palestinian youth in 1992 and based an article on an interview with him, because he wanted 15 minutes of fame for himself,” said Posner. “Now he is extorting this whole thing to the very end. He is a no-good, and has now become a famous person appearing on prime-time TV and radio every day. If the Israeli elements had avoided responding like they did, no one would have noticed and it would have never become part of the agenda. This is why we are so agitated here.” — YNet

They should be agitated, but for a different reason.

They should be agitated because, just as happened in pre-war Germany, the heat is being turned up on the pot of hatred, and their government is close to complicit in it. Do they think that the vituperation poured out on Israel is ‘legitimate criticism of policy’ and doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Israel is the state of the Jewish People?

Do they think that expressions like Boström’s article will simply go away if ignored? Do they think that because they are Swedish Jews they are not connected to accusations against Israeli Jews? Do they think that their ‘progressive’ government will protect them against Jew-hatred? If there is a pogrom in Stockholm next week, will the government claim that it is a legitimate expression of the antisemites’ right to free speech? Next year?

The precedent is not encouraging.

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Swedish PM ignorant of his own constitution

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
Reinfeldt: proof that forehead size and intelligence are not correlated

Reinfeldt: proof that forehead size and intelligence are not correlated

News item:

The Israeli-Swedish ping-pong over an offensive article in the Swedish Aftonbladet daily continued over the weekend, with Jerusalem calling for a Swedish government condemnation of the article [accusing the IDF of stealing organs from dead Palestinians], and Stockholm pointedly refusing to do so…

…Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said on Saturday his government would not condemn the report.

No one can demand that the Swedish government violate its own constitution. Freedom of speech is an indispensable part of Swedish society,” Reinfeldt was quoted as telling the Swedish news agency TT. [my emphasis]

But it appears that the Swedish PM is not familiar with his constitution.

The Swedish Constitution says:

Chapter 1 Basic Principles
Article 3
The Instrument of Government, the Act of Succession and the Freedom of the Press Act are the fundamental laws of the Realm.

And the Freedom of the Press Act begins:

Chapter 1 On the Freedom of the Press
Article 1
(1) The freedom of the press means the right of every Swedish subject, without prior hindrance by a central administrative authority or other public body, to publish any written matter, and not to be prosecuted thereafter on grounds of the content of such matter other than before a court of law, or to be punished therefor in any case other than a case in which the content is in contravention of an express provision of law, enacted to preserve public order without suppressing information to the public.

The act is quite long, but I could find nothing that even suggested that the government is prohibited from expressing disapproval after the fact of anything published in a newspaper.

Interestingly, there are some things that cannot be published:

Chapter 7 On Offenses Against the Freedom of the Press
Article 4
With due regard to the purpose of a universal freedom of the press as set forth in Chapter 1, the following acts shall be regarded as offenses against the freedom of the press if they are committed by way of printed matter and if they are punishable under law:

11) persecution of a population group, whereby a person threatens or expresses contempt for a population group or other such group with allusion to its race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, or religious faith;

14) Libel, whereby a person alleges another is a criminal or is blameworthy in his way of life, or otherwise communicates information liable to expose the other to the contempt of others, and, if the person libelled is deceased, to cause offence to his survivors or which might otherwise be considered to violate the sanctity of the grave except, however, in cases in which it was justifiable having regard to the circumstances, or in order to provide information in the matter concerned and proof is presented that the information was correct or that there were reasonable grounds for it; and

15) affront, whereby a person insults another by means of offensive invective or allegations or by any other insulting behavior towards him.

It seems to me that a decent case could be made that Aftonbladet has violated all of the above.

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A warning from history

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
The Nazis: A Warning from History

The Nazis: A Warning from History

My wife is away for a week and I’ve been taking the opportunity to watch videos that she wouldn’t enjoy. No, not what you are thinking! Rather, historical documentaries, war movies, Clint Eastwood films, etc.

Now I’m watching a BBC documentary called “The Nazis: A Warning from History”. It’s quite interesting, loaded with period footage that I’d never seen and including many interviews with former Nazis (they always are listed as becoming ‘former’ in 1945).

An early episode describes the persecution of the German Jews before the war, of which Kristallnacht was the culmination (and the beginning of the Final Solution). What is interesting — not that there is anything new in this — was the way in which the antisemitic predilections of ordinary Germans were nurtured for years, while at the same time the Jews were gradually excluded from every aspect of German society: the professions, the arts, political life, education, business, even the right to marry non-Jews (by the 1935 Nuremberg laws).

With every succeeding year, new indignities were heaped on the Jews which would have been unthinkable the year before. But like the proverbial frog placed in water which is slowly raised to the boiling point, the German people (even many Jews) didn’t perceive the horror of the situation until it was too late. The combination of the continuous antisemitic input from the German media and political establishment, the step by step promulgation of exclusionary laws and the gradually increasing paramilitary violence against individual Jews made the later recruitment of soldiers and police for einsatzgruppen [extermination squads] possible.

One of the former Nazis said something like this: “In 1933, who could have imagined what would be in 1945?  Only 12 years — but it was unimaginable beforehand.”

So why do I mention this?

Because a precisely parallel process is underway today. It is not aimed at individual Jews, but at the Jewish state. It is not limited to a single country, but is taking place worldwide. The anti-Israel rhetoric continues to reach new heights and every day things are said which would never have been said before. What was unimaginable last year — like the Aftonbladet accusations — becomes standard fare this year. Just like Nazi propagandists, there are writers and media that specialize in Israel-hatred. I can imagine Max Blumenthal (see here and here) looking in the mirror every morning and asking himself “how can I stick it to them today?”

The parallel is not exact, because unlike most German Jews the state of Israel is capable of defending herself. But the process of isolation — the product boycotts and divestments, the UN resolutions, the attempts to restrict Israeli participation in international sporting events, the academic boycotts, the anti-Israel conferences, and the escalating vilification in the media — are all intended to disconnect Israel from the world, to ensure that she will have no friends to stand by her when her enemies feel ready to challenge her directly.

The response has to be to not allow the temperature to be raised imperceptibly, to not get used to the anti-Israel rhetoric as, for example, “just what one expects from NPR, the Guardian, the LA Times, etc.,” but to push back vigorously against each attack, each lie, each fake ‘investigation’ and every ‘pro-Israel’ group that is actually the opposite.

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