Archive for October, 2009

Gold vs. Goldstone: a test case for free speech

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Richard Goldstone, author of the infamous Goldstone Commission report, which accuses Israel of war crimes in Gaza, will debate Dore Gold, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, at Brandeis University on November 5. The proceedings will be streamed live to the internet from the site.

The Goldstone report is full of inaccuracies and falsehoods (see also here as well as here), as well as making the very serious and completely unsubstantiated claim that the IDF intentionally caused civilian casualties and damage as a form of collective punishment — when of course the opposite was true.

The UN mandate of the commission was only to investigate Israel. Goldstone himself announced that it would be broadened to include anything that anyone did in the context of the war, and the report did contain a statement that Hamas “may have” committed war crimes by firing rockets at Israeli civilians — something that was ignored by the UN Human Rights Council in the wholly anti-Israel resolution by which it adopted the report.

The methods used by the commission were so biased as to be laughable:  evidence and testimony were chosen selectively. Pro-Israel testimony was discredited Even when the same person presented testimony that included anti- and pro-Israel components, the pro-Israel ones were discarded. Accusations made by Hamas or Hamas-linked groups were accepted as fact, while IDF rebuttals were deemed non-credible. Much of it was simply copied from reports published by highly anti-Israel NGOs like Human Rights Watch.

Richard Goldstone has said that “ours wasn’t an investigation, it was a fact-finding mission,”  and “if this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.” However, at the same time he defends the process, and calls for a more ‘investigations‘ to give further prominence to the libelous charges in his report.

Dore Gold is a smart guy, and a good speaker. He will be prepared.

What should happen is that Goldstone will apologize to Gold, the state of Israel and the Jewish people, and then ceremonially disembowel himself. This is unlikely.

What will happen if it is a fair fight is that Gold will cut Goldstone to ribbons.

Caroline Glick thinks that it will not be a fair fight:

In an e-mail to a campus list-serve, Brandeis student and anti-Israel activist Jonathan Sussman called on his fellow anti-Zionists to disrupt the event that will pit the “neutral” Goldstone against Gold with his “wildly pro-Zionist message.” Sussman invited his list-serve members to join him at a meeting to “discuss a possible response.”

As the young community organizer sees it, “Possibilities include inviting Palestinian speakers to come participate, seeding the audience with people who can disrupt the Zionist narrative, protest and direct action.” He closed his missive with a plaintive call to arms: “F**k the occupation.”

The problem is that Sussman’s planned “direct action” against Gold is not an isolated incident. On college campuses throughout the US, Israelis and supporters of Israel are regularly denied the right to speak by leftist activists claiming to act on behalf of Israel’s “victims,” or in the cause of “peace.” In the name of the Palestinians or peace these radicals seek to coerce their fellow students into following their lead by demonizing and brutally silencing all voices of dissent.

I’m with Glick. Having personally experienced the tactics of the Zionophobic alliance of radical Muslims and left-wing extremists, I think that no effort will be spared to prevent this debate from taking place, and if it does to shout down or in some way silence Dore Gold.

This event will be a test case for the proposition that the constitutional guarantee of free speech is still upheld in the United States of America.

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To URJ: Israel is not the USA

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

News item:

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — A newly restructured and slimmed down Union for Reform Judaism will focus on interfaith relations and the rights of Israeli Arabs at its biennial convention Nov. 4-8 in Toronto…

“The union has long held that Israel should live up to its Jewish values and its democratic values for all citizens,” said Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, director of Advancing Reform Judaism, a position created this summer to coordinate Union for Reform Judaism activities worldwide.

With all due respect, this is not an appropriate path for an American Jewish denomination to take.

There’s no doubt that there’s inequality in the treatment of the Arab minority in Israel. The average American, on hearing this, will think: it’s just like our own civil rights struggles. Israeli Arabs are like African-Americans, and the solution is just to force Israel, like Mississippi, to give them their rights.

It is nothing like that. Not at all.

For one thing, some of the perceived differences between Jewish and Arab towns may not be due to discrimination. If a road in an Arab town isn’t paved, is it because the money hasn’t been allocated or because the mayor of the Arab town has different priorities, like projects benefiting members of his own clan?

For another, Canada and Mexico are not populated by hostile cousins of our African-Americans. The US has not recently fought several major and numerous minor wars with them. Mexican and Canadian blacks are not firing rockets into our cites, kidnapping our soldiers or infiltrating our borders to blow us up.

Israeli Arabs are not descended from slaves (unless some of them were slaves of other Muslims), and they had the ability to vote from 1948,  before many American blacks did. There was no  Reconstruction and counter-Reconstruction, no Jim Crow laws, no segregated buses or lunch counters. There is no tradition of lynching Arabs who look at Jewish women — the lynching that sticks in my mind happened to Jewish reservists. And there is no long history of terrorism by African-Americans.

African-Americans are not demanding that the US change its flag or its national anthem, or that a ‘black caucus’ have a veto power over all acts of Congress. They are not demanding a change in our national identity.

There have been riots by African-Americans in our cities — after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., after the Rodney King beating, etc. It’s clear where the frustration that led to these riots came from, even if there was a criminal element that may have exploited the chaos.

There have been Arab riots, too. There was a ‘riot’ in 1834 in Tzfat, in which an entire Jewish community was destroyed. Arabs have rioted periodically in response to incitement about the al-Aqsa Mosque. This happened in 1929, when hundreds of Jews were murdered, long before there was an Israel to ‘discriminate’ against them; it happened in 2000 after Yasser Arafat threw Israel’s offer of a sovereign state back in its face; and it happened a couple of weeks ago. The politically correct view is that this happens because Arabs are ‘frustrated’ about being ‘second class citizens’, but what they are actually frustrated about is not being in possession of all of Jerusalem (and Israel).

There is plenty of tension between Jews and Arabs in Israel, but it is only to a small extent a question of civil rights. A whole lot of it has to do with a trend for Arab citizens of Israel to more and more identify as ‘Palestinians’, not just alienated from but actively hostile to the Jewish state. Unsurprisingly, the solution does not lie in — why does this seem so familiar? — forcing Israel to accept Arab demands.

It’s incredibly arrogant and insulting when Rabbi Kleinman (above) calls for Israel to “live up to its Jewish values and its democratic values for all citizens,” implying that Israel does not live up to said values.

But what word characterizes liberal American Jews better than ‘arrogant’? The J Street approach, that a bunch of ‘progressive’ American Jews can and should tell the democratically elected government of Israel how it ought to act — during a time that is probably no less perilous than any since 1948 –  is an example.

Another is the New Israel Fund, which collects money from well-meaning American Jews and uses it to support groups that are actually working to destroy the Jewish state, also in the name of ‘civil rights’.

Americans — including Jews — don’t understand Israel very well, and insist on applying American paradigms where they don’t fit. How can you discuss the relationship between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel without considering the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict, or indeed, the 100-year Arab war against Israel?

Lest they make fools of themselves and hurt Israel at the same time, I suggest to the URJ that their people concentrate their efforts on helping poor people and solving social problems here in the USA. That’s enough to keep them busy for years.

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Jones at J Street

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

“Why are you so down on the Obama Administration?”  asks a friend.

Here’s an example of why:

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Advancing Israel-Palestinian peace is the “epicenter” of U.S. foreign policy, the White House national security adviser said.

“If there was one problem I could recommend to the president if he could solve one problem, this would be it,” James Jones said Tuesday in Washington during an address to the first conference of J Street, the dovish pro-Israel lobby. Bringing about an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would create “ripples” around the world, Jones said. “The reverse is not true. This is the epicenter.”

Oh really? How about solving the problem of Iran? I bet that almost any Arab leader, speaking candidly, would agree that this is more urgent than peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Iranian regime is

  • Exporting its revolution everywhere possible by means of its Hezbollah proxy
  • Preventing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by supporting Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.
  • Providing arms and support to Syria, which is helping insurgents in Iraq and subverting Lebanon
  • Developing nuclear weapons

I agree that Iran would be a hard nut to crack, but guess what — so is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly if nothing is done about Iran. It should be clear that the chain of causality starts in Tehran, not Jerusalem.

Jones is expressing the so-called ‘linkage theory’, the really absurd idea that all the problems of the Mideast would be on the way to solution if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would only end.  There’s also the corollary to this that the conflict is entirely Israel’s fault, and the way to solve it is to force Israel to give in to all Arab demands. This is more or less the Saudi point of view, and it isn’t surprising to see James L. Jones pushing it.

After he retired from the marine Corps, Gen. Jones served as president and CEO of the Institute for 21st Century Energy — an industry-funded lobby and PR organization; and in 2008 he joined the board of Directors of the Chevron Corporation, which has large operations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. He was appointed “security coordinator” for the Bush Administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, and in 2008 issued a report which was not released, but which purportedly made “Israel look very bad”. He also proposed that security should be guaranteed by NATO troops after an Israeli pullout from Judea and Samaria.

This is the guy who is one of the top advisors to the President on foreign policy, perhaps the most influential!

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Prosecution of IDF officers cynically twists truth

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Ha’aretz reports:

Human rights lawyers and pro-Palestinian activists in a number of European countries hold lists with names of Israel Defense Forces soldiers allegedly linked to war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. Existing legislation enables arrest warrants to be issued against these officers if they enter those countries.

Lawyers in Britain and other European countries have been collecting testimonies of Palestinians and other data from Gaza since January, which they maintain proves that war crimes were committed by the IDF during the offensive. The evidence is linked to IDF officers holding ranks of battalion commander and higher, who were in command during various stages of Cast Lead.

The other nations who have lawyers collecting information on the matter include the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Norway, whose laws, as well as Britain’s, allow the issuance of arrest warrants against foreign citizens suspected of war crimes.

All very official, not unlike ‘official’ Nazi legal procedures for confiscating Jewish property, etc.  Naturally only the highest standards of ‘evidence’ will be used:

[British attorney Daniel] Makover said that the Goldstone report on the fighting in the Gaza Strip will bolster the efforts of the activists, and said that some of the instances mentioned in the report were already known to the attorneys. Makover is part of an unofficial network of attorneys operating in various countries in Europe, exchanging and sharing information so that suspected officers may be arrested in those countries.

Imagine my relief to know that the same careful forensic methods and the same standards of fairness that characterize the Goldstone report and NGO ‘investigations’ will now drive an international manhunt to capture the criminals who have violated Rule No. 1:

Other public-spirited individuals will help assure that the ‘perpetrators’ do not escape ‘justice’:

The information is often received from pro-Palestinian activists who follow Jewish or pro-Israel groups that invite IDF officers to deliver lectures. In some instances, this information is relayed to border controls…

A number of human rights groups are busy working to create an international organization that would enable closer surveillance of those they suspect of war crimes and torture, as well as seek warrants for their arrest.

It also renews my faith in my fellow man to know that they are not depending on the authorities to bring these miscreants to justice. No, a network of ‘pro-Palestinian activists’ and ‘human rights groups’ will make sure the none of them slip away!

It would be unbelievable, if it were not true, that language, organizations and laws that originally came into being as a result of the horrific persecutions of Jews by the Nazis are being used today to aid the Palestinian Arabs — who were allied with the Nazis during the war — as they take part in the 100-year old war against Jews living in eretz yisrael.

The cynical twisting of truth that facilitates this is really a triumph of modern media manipulation in the supposedly ‘advanced’ countries of Europe. Göbbels himself would have to admire it.

There are other ironies. In the Warsaw Ghetto 66 years ago, Jews who tried to defend themselves were hunted down. Then, as now, the ‘authorities’ had the enthusiastic help of ‘activists’, Ukrainians, Latvians and some Poles (although in fairness, the Polish underground aided the Jews).

Imagine the empowerment of today’s ‘activists’, who in addition to demanding boycotts of Israeli products and professors can now actually help lock up a real live IDF officer!

Sometimes human behavior is so perverse, so ignorant, stupid and evil that the usual rhetorical tools, like irony, can’t begin to describe it. For years after, historians, novelists and poets struggle to explain the apparent pandemic insanity of a time or collection of events, like the Crusades or the Nazi era.

Today, when half the world is obsessed with the desire to stamp out a tiny nation with a tiny population, a nation with no significant natural resources except Jewish brains, is truly one of those times.

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Honest students vs. J Street hypocrisy

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Here is who is representing ‘Jewish activism’ to our kids at American universities:

J Street’s university arm has dropped the “pro-Israel” part of the left-wing US lobby’s “pro-Israel, pro-peace” slogan to avoid alienating students.

That decision was part of the message conveyed to young activists who attended a special weekend program for students ahead of J Street’s first annual conference, which began on Sunday…

“We don’t want to isolate people because they don’t feel quite so comfortable with ‘pro-Israel,’ so we say ‘pro-peace,'” said American University junior Lauren Barr of the “J Street U” slogan, “but behind that is ‘pro-Israel.'”

Barr, secretary of the J Street U student board that decided the slogan’s terminology, explained that on campus, “people feel alienated when the conversation revolves around a connection to Israel only, because people feel connected to Palestine, people feel connected to social justice, people feel connected to the Middle East…”

Yonatan Shechter, a junior at Hampshire College, said the ultra-liberal Massachusetts campus is inhospitable to terms like “Zionist” and that when his former organization, the Union of Progressive Zionists (which has been absorbed into J Street U), dropped that last word of its name, “people were so relieved.”Jerusalem Post

I’m not going to analyze J Street’s positions any more to try to show that they are the opposite of ‘pro-Israel’. I’m not going to quote Ambassador Michael Oren about J Street’s positions being bad for Israel’s interests. I am not going to try to analyze J Street’s funding sources or even director Jeremy Ben-Ami’s previous anti-Israel work — Lenny Ben-David has done a tremendous job of that here.

My (somewhat random) comments:

  • The Arab world, and now Iran, has been prosecuting a war against Israel for more than 60 years. Palestinian Arabs have been trying to drive Jews out of the region for almost 100 years. What does it mean to say “Jewish students feel connected to Palestine”? Do Armenian students feel connected to Turkey? Should they?
  • The Big Lie about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it is a human-rights or social justice issue rather than part of a regional war.
  • Maybe “[students] were so relieved” when the left-wing Union of Progressive Zionists dropped the word ‘Zionists’ because — unlike Ben-Ami and the J Street leadership –  they were uncomfortable with the hypocrisy of calling themselves ‘Zionists’ and at the same time bringing the anti-Zionist ‘Breaking the Silence’ organization to campuses.
  • Why does Jeremy Ben-Ami make me so angry? Not because of his left-wing anti-Israel position, which is common in many quarters today, and not because he holds it despite having Jewish parents. It’s because he claims the role of advocate for Israel, even as a spokesperson for an American Jewish perspective, while doing his best — as a paid agent of Israel’s enemies — to weaken American support for Israel.

I would be overjoyed if J Street, too, would follow the lead of the far more sincere students, come out of its closet and unabashedly drop the phrase ‘pro-Israel’ from its self-description.

Of course, not doing this is their whole point, isn’t it?

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