Short takes — letters, potshards and human rights

The McDermott/Ellison letter

News Item:

Fifty-four members of the U.S. Congress have signed a letter [the text is here — ed.] asking President Barack Obama to put pressure on Israel to ease the siege of the Gaza Strip.

The letter was the initiative of Representatives Jim McDermott from Washington and Keith Ellison from Minnesota, both of whom are Democrats. Ellison is the first American Muslim to ever win election to Congress.

McDermott and Ellison wrote that they understand the threats facing Israel and the ongoing Hamas terror activities against Israeli citizens but that “this concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip.”

“We ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts,” they wrote, adding that the siege has hampered the ability of aid agencies to do their work in Gaza…

Ellison has harshly criticized the House of Representatives decision to reject the Goldstone report, arguing that the report “only presents facts and raises recommendations for the future.” He cast doubt that members of Congress who voted to reject the report even took the time to read it and that the rejection hurt the Obama government’s role as an honest broker in the Middle East conflict.

The letter was also signed by those paragons of pro-Israel-ness, J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

Although the letter pays lip service to Israel’s ‘fear of terrorism’, it calls for the removal of restrictions on people moving into and out of the strip, the shipment of construction materials, etc. which would directly lead to such terrorism.  There is only one solution, and that is the removal of the Hamas terrorists from power there.

The Left has been gleeful, of course, while the Right has pointed out that the signatories are Democrats.

I have just one tripartite thought:

  • Where is the all-powerful ‘Israel Lobby’ which supposedly controls the Congress?
  • Where is the iron hand of AIPAC, which can allegedly destroy any elected official that steps out of line?
  • Why don’t the supposedly Jewish-controlled media step in?

Meanwhile, some Israelis have written a far more extreme letter…

More suicidal intellectuals

Yes, I should stop giving them exposure. But here is a letter from a bunch of Israelis, most of them academics, including Dr. Rachel Giora about whom I wrote yesterday, in advance of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ visit to Germany.

The letter accuses peace advocate and ‘architect of Oslo’ Shimon Peres of “numerous violations of human rights”, repeats Hamas and Hizballah atrocity stories, suggests that Israel mistreated nuclear traitor Mordechai Vanunu (in fact, he should have been hanged), and asserts that Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons — without which those who signed the letter would be dead or living in Los Angeles — is unacceptable.

But not all Israeli academics are idiots…

More evidence for early Jewish presence in Israel

A University of Haifa scholar has deciphered an inscription in Hebrew from the 10th century BCE:

A breakthrough in the research of the Hebrew scriptures has shed new light on the period in which the Bible was written. Prof. Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa has deciphered an inscription dating from the 10th century BCE (the period of King David’s reign), and has shown that this is a Hebrew inscription. The discovery makes this the earliest known Hebrew writing. The significance of this breakthrough relates to the fact that at least some of the biblical scriptures were composed hundreds of years before the dates presented today in research and that the Kingdom of Israel already existed at that time…

Prof. Galil’s deciphering of the ancient writing testifies to its being Hebrew, based on the use of verbs particular to the Hebrew language, and content specific to Hebrew culture and not adopted by any other cultures in the region. “This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans. It uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as asah (“did”) and avad (“worked”), which were rarely used in other regional languages. Particular words that appear in the text, such as almanah (“widow”) are specific to Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages.

The content of the inscription is interesting because is shows a traditional Jewish concern for human rights:

The content itself was also unfamiliar to all the cultures in the region besides the Hebrew society: The present inscription provides social elements similar to those found in the biblical prophecies and very different from prophecies written by other cultures postulating glorification of the gods and taking care of their physical needs,” Prof. Galil explains.

Hebrew inscription from 10,000 BCE

Hebrew inscription from 1000 BCE

Here it is, with his translation:

1′ you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2′ Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3′ [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4′ the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5′ Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

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