Archive for July, 2010

Nine years after Sbarro

Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Malki Roth (2001)

Malki Roth (2001)

I often write about Hamas and how hateful (in both senses) they are. But I want to make it concrete today.

Exactly nine years ago tomorrow, by the Jewish calendar, a Hamas suicide bomber detonated a massive blast at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem. One of the fifteen murdered (130 were hurt) was 15-year old Malka ‘Malki’ Chana Roth. Malki’s family has established a foundation in her name, to assist families with special needs children.

Is it necessary for me to point out the difference between a culture that responds in this way to the one that still considers the Sbarro bombing one of their finest moments?

There is a well-documented account of the bombing on the foundation’s site. This is a slightly edited version:

Suicide terrorist Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri

Suicide terrorist Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri

9th August 2001: A resident of the village of Aqaba, north of Tulkarm, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, single and 23 (by some accounts 22), son of a well-to-do land-owning family, entered the busy Sbarro restaurant at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road at lunchtime on a school vacation day in Jerusalem. The restaurant was filled with customers, most of them children and mothers. … eventually it was clear that 15 Jews (picture) were killed; one remains unconscious four years later, and 130 were injured in various serious degrees…

It’s been suggested at various times that al-Masri’s family were opposed to, or even horrified by, their son’s murderous actions. But a Palestinian Authority official source, quoted by the unimpeachable MEMRI, reports that Hamas official Ashraf Sawaftah, speaking publicly a week after the massacre of a ceremony honoring the bomber, said this: “His relatives distributed sweets and accepted their son as a bridegroom married to ‘the black-eyed,’ not as someone who had been killed and was being laid in the ground.”

The Sbarro massacre was coordinated and planned by the Hamas terror organization’s Ramallah branch. Six weeks later, a triumphal exhibit at [An-Najah] University, the largest in the West Bank, featured a mock-up of the Sbarro restaurant including gnawed pizza crusts and bloody plastic body parts suspended from the ceiling as if they were blasting through the air. See the New York Times report (PDF version) and this video record of the event.

Hamas, which today rules Gaza with an iron and bloody fist, published a particularly dishonest, self-delusional account here.

Engineer Abdallah Jamal Barghouti

Engineer Abdallah Jamal Barghouti (2006)

The explosive charge was manufactured by Abdallah Jamal Barghouti, the chief “engineer” of the Hamas infrastructure in the Judea region. The bomb, along with screws and nails to magnify the devastation, was assembled inside a guitar case which Al-Masri carried. Barghouti is a Kuwaiti who settled in the West Bank village of Burqa in 1999. He has been frequently described in the media – and from his own mouth – as the brains behind the massacre.

At his trial, evidence was produced to show that Barghouti’s relative Marwan Barghouti – a prominent Palestinian Arab political figure now serving several life sentences for murder – paid Abdallah $500 to build the bomb. This came on top of the $117,000 he received for his troubles from Hamas, according to evidence given to the court in Abdallah Barghouti’s multi-murder trial.

Others were involved in providing funds – large sums of cash – for the terrorists themselves and for their families. A 2005 news article “Hamas Financier Detained” describes the involvement of Hamas ‘activist’ Ahmad Saltana [PDF version here] in the financing of the terrorist murders.

Guide Ahlam Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi (2001)

Guide Ahlam Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi (2001)

The human bomb’s guide was Ahlam ‘Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi, also known as Ahlam Tamimi, a 20-year-old innocent-faced Jordanian national who lived in Ramallah, studied in Bir Zeit, and worked as a journalist. Tamimi was involved in gathering the intelligence for the attack and on the day of the massacre, along with the suicide bomber and the charge hidden inside the guitar, she headed for a taxi-cab station in Ramallah, where they took a taxi to Jerusalem.

Tamimi carried a camera and spoke with the suicide bomber in English so that they could inconspicuously pass for tourists. She was arrested on 14th September 2001. For her part, Tamimi was sentenced to sixteen life terms, or 320 years, in an Israeli jail (report and report). She was the first woman to have been recruited by Hamas’ Izzadine el-Qassam gang. She has never expressed remorse of any sort.

A 2006 report quotes Tamimi saying from an Israeli jail cell: “I’m not sorry for what I did. We’ll become free from the occupation and then I will be free from prison.”

For some additional, deeply disturbing, background about this female, see “The Real Ahlam Tamimi You Didn’t Read About In The Times” by Noah Pollak (published 3rd August 2007).

Another co-conspirator was Mohammad Daghlas, a “student” who delivered the bomb that was used in the massacre. He is now in an Israeli jail.

Abdallah Barghouti‘s counsel said Barghouti felt “his actions were legal as part of the game Israel is playing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip”. Barghouti himself pleaded guilty and told the court he “did this to kill as many Israelis as possible”. He was rewarded in December 2004 with a sentence of 67 life-terms in an Israeli prison (report). In a later interview, he said: “I do not accept responsibility for their deaths. I feel pain, of course. They are little children. But the government of Israel is solely responsible.”

Interviewed in April 2006 by CBS’ television program “60 Minutes”, Abdallah Barghouti said of the death toll in the Sbarro massacre and the other bombings he engineered: “”I feel bad because the number is only 66.”

By the way, among the 1,000 (or 1,500 — it changes) prisoners that Hamas is demanding that Israel release in exchange for the kidnapped Gilad Shalit, we find the Barghoutis and Tamimi.

This is only a single story. There are hundreds of similar stories in which families are torn apart because children, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, etc. have been brutally and deliberately murdered by Hamas terrorists because they dare to be Jews living in the land of Israel.

The Hamas covenant says:

“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him…

The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day…

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad…

In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.

There is no room for even-handedness with respect to Hamas. Just ask Malki’s parents, or any of the other families of Hamas victims. But don’t ask Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, leader of the effort to build a mosque two blocks from the destroyed World Trade Center:

Asked if he agreed with the State Department’s assessment [that Hamas is a terrorist organization], Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf told WABC radio, “Look, I’m not a politician.”

“The issue of terrorism is a very complex question,” he told interviewer Aaron Klein. “There was an attempt in the ’90s to have the UN define what terrorism is and say who was a terrorist. There was no ability to get agreement on that.”

Asked again for his opinion on Hamas, an exasperated Rauf wouldn’t budge.

“I am a peace builder. I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary or as an enemy,” Rauf said, insisting that he wants to see peace in Israel between Jews and Arabs. — NY Post

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ISM claims another victim

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

This is really a tragic story.

A 21-year-old woman, an art student no less, goes to Israel as an exchange student. While she is there, she falls in with the pro-Palestinian activists of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). She attends demonstrations against the security fence at Bil’in and Nil’in, as well as protests in Nabi Saleh and the East Jerusalem Sheik Jarrah neighborhood.

On May 31, the day of the flotilla incident, she takes part an a protest against Israel’s ‘crimes’ near the Qalandiyah crossing, south of Ramallah. The protest is violent, and she is struck in the face with a tear-gas canister fired by Israeli police. Her eye cannot be saved.

The woman, Emily Henochowicz of Potomac MD, is Jewish. According to the NY Times, “Her father was born in Israel to Holocaust survivors whom he described as “ardent Zionists.” The AP reported that the last status update on her Facebook page was “Gaza on my mind.”

There is a controversy about who will pay for the medical care she received at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, and the followup care in the US, and another about whether she was hit directly by the canister or whether it ricocheted off of a wall, which apparently bears on the first one. She has an activist lawyer, Michael Sfard, who will help her while doing his best to screw Israel. I feel sorry for the young woman.

Her story is much like that of Furkan Dogan, Tristan Anderson, Rachel Corrie and others. A politically naive young ‘international’ is recruited to take part in purportedly ‘non-violent’ activities along with Israeli extremists and Palestinians. In many cases, violent elements are present, and the overall purpose is to provoke Israeli soldiers and police. Organizers know that the presence of these internationals will deter security forces from responding harshly.

Meanwhile, demonstrators can achieve their PR objectives, along with other practical things like cutting the security fence, tying up army and police units, costing Israel money, etc. And if it should happen that an international is hurt or even killed, it is a huge propaganda coup for the Palestinian cause.

This is another front in the information war against Israel, the struggle to destroy Israel’s credibility, moral standing and legitimacy in the world arena. It parallels the military campaign, and because it attacks international support for Israel’s self-defense, its importance shouldn’t be minimized.

It’s ironic that idealistic young people are being injured and even killed while being cynically used in support of anti-democratic, racist, misogynist — and murderous —  groups like Hamas.

It’s time that Israel put a stop to it. Efforts to detect infiltration from ISM and similar groups should be stepped up. And foreign activists who can be shown to have participated in anti-Israel activities should be rounded up and summarily deported.

Here is a video (h/t: Daled Amos) made by Ms. Henochowicz that is… indescribable. But I think it provides a window into the mindset that gives rise to tragedies like hers.

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Roger Cohen, a one-trick pony

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

It’s hard for me to express the degree of antipathy I feel toward Roger Cohen.

He is one reason that I wish for an afterlife, including a Hell in which Cohen could have his liver eaten by eagles with dull beaks, over and over for eternity.

Cohen wrote a tear-jerker about the 19-year-old Turkish-American, Furkan Dogan, who was one of the nine members of the Turkish IHH contingent aboard the Mavi Marmara who were killed in a confrontation with Israeli commandos on May 31. It appeared in the New York Times, a newspaper which downplayed WWII reports of the Holocaust because of its Jewish ownership — and if you can understand this perhaps you can understand Cohen.


How he was killed is disputed — as is just about everything concerning the Israeli naval takeover of the six-boat Gaza-bound flotilla — but his father suspects a video camera carried by his son may have provoked Israeli commandos.

Anyone can dispute anything. But in this case there was a careful investigation, by the IDF (those who think that all Israelis are demons, the videos are fake, and that an IDF investigation is worthless can stop reading now). There is also a great deal of other information available, including testimonies from the ship’s personnel.

Here are some facts: of the 718 passengers on the Mavi Marmara, some 40 of them (according to the ship’s Second Officer) took over the upper deck. They prepared for the arrival of the IDF boarding party by cutting up railings, etc. to make metal clubs.

The hard core boarded the ship in Istanbul without undergoing a security check, as opposed to the other passengers, who boarded in Antalya [Anatolia] after a full examination… As they boarded they were given walkie-talkies for communicating with one another. — ITIC

The IHH’s connections to Islamic terrorism are well-documented, and its core operatives on the ship were planning for a violent confrontation. Reportedly, half of those killed had made statements to friends or family that they were seeking martyrdom.

The first officer reported that this group did not allow passengers or crew members that they did not recognize on the deck in the hours before the confrontation. When the IDF soldiers landed on the top deck, they were viciously attacked with various ‘cold’ weapons — metal bars, slingshots, knives, etc. — and with live fire. Numerous Israelis were injured, three of them critically.

Some of the deaths of the IHH  ‘activists’  occurred here. Somewhat later, in the process of taking over the ship, IDF personnel were met with live fire in several locations, and returned it. Some of the shooting came from weapons taken from wounded Israelis, and some from weapons that the passengers brought on board. The Israelis did not shoot to kill except in life-threatening situations.

It isn’t possible to determine exactly where Dogan was when he was shot. It was reported that he was shot five times, at least twice in the head. Cohen et al produce this as evidence of Israeli brutality, but in fact it indicates that Dogan was shot because he was perceived as a threat.

This implies that either he was involved in deadly violence or appeared to be. The suggestion that he may have ‘provoked’ the Israelis by holding a video camera is certainly reasonable — what would you expect to happen to someone who injects himself into the middle of a firefight and aims a small black object at a combatant?

Cohen is outraged that little has been written about Dogan:

I have little doubt that if the American killed on those ships had been Hedy Epstein, a St. Louis-based Holocaust survivor, or Edward Peck, a former U.S. ambassador to Mauritania, we would have heard a lot more…

I also have little doubt that if the incident had been different — say a 19-year-old American student called Michael Sandler killed by a Palestinian gunman in the West Bank when caught in a cross-fire between Palestinians and Israelis — we would have been deluged in stories about him.

But a chill descends when you have the combination of Israeli commandos doing the firing, an American with a foreign-sounding Muslim name, and the frenzied pre-emptive arguments of Israel and those among its U.S. supporters who will brook no criticism of the Jewish state.

Actually, Dogan has been written about far more than Michael Sandler. A Google search for “Furkan Dogan” brings up 3,600,000 results while “Michael Sandler” gets only 325,000 — and this includes numerous other people named Michael Sandler. A search for “Michael Sandler Palestinian” produces a mere 18,700. This is remarkable, because Dogan’s death is really not that interesting. It’s sort of like a guy that wanders out onto a busy freeway and gets hit by a truck.

What Cohen is really convulsing about is “the frenzied pre-emptive arguments of Israel and those among its U.S. supporters who will brook no criticism of the Jewish state.”

I don’t know what’s preemptive here. The Israelis were ambushed, and then the chorus of lies started: the commandos supposedly landed on the deck shooting; they targeted harmless ‘peace activists’. Turkey’s PM Erdoğan accused Israel of “murder” and “genocide” (I would be careful with that word, if I were him).

How did we get from refuting vicious lies to “brook[ing] no criticism?”

Cohen mentions in passing an incredibly stupid article by Peter Beinart, lately more or less the manifesto of the Jewish anti-Israel crowd. It has nothing at all to do with the Mavi Marmara affair, except insofar as a it suggests that American Jews shouldn’t support Israel.

Roger Cohen is a one-trick pony, and his trick is hating Israel while being Jewish. He should be put out to pasture.

Update [2049 PDT]: minor changes.

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The Barack and Rashid show

Monday, July 26th, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about an embarrassing videotape of Barack Obama speaking at a party for Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi. Well, Khalidi’s done it again by joining an appeal to raise funds for an American boat that will try to break the blockade of Gaza. And just in case anyone might fail to see the connection, they’re calling the boat “The Audacity of Hope”. has obtained a top-secret transcript of a recent telephone conversation between the President and Khalidi. Although we journalists — like the LA Times, which still keeps its tape locked up — must protect our sources, I can guarantee that in some possible universe  every word of it is entirely accurate:

Barack Obama: Ahlan Rashid!

Rashid Khalidi: Barack! Good to hear from you. Why don’t you come over for some of Mona’s hummus, like you used to?

BO: Well, you know. I have to be careful of my associations. Those right-wing neocon Zionist bloggers would have a field day if I did that. Which is why I called…

RK: You mean you want me to whack some Zionists? Just say the word, Barack. I’ll give Marzook a call. Itbach al yahud —

BO: No! Don’t do that. But actually, it does have to do with the pesky Jews.

RK: Al-Yahud qalab’na! We know how to handle them. Just fire some rockets into Montgomery County. I can —

BO: Please. I’m in enough trouble already. Why do you have to call your Gaza boat “Audacity of Hope?” You might as well name it “Barack’s Gaza Love Boat.” Here I am trying to make the Jews forget the fact that my administration has been the most anti-Israel one since 1948 — before the midterm elections — and you drag me into this!

RK: We must break the horrific blockade! Gaza is an open-air prison! People are suffering! You can see how bad it is here and here.

BO: But I thought the Zionists had ended restrictions on consumer goods… and even the UN thinks there shouldn’t be any more flotillas.

RK: Bah. Everybody knows that the UN is dominated by the Zionists. Look at how the Goldstone report accused Hamas of firing rockets at civilians!

BO: Well, anyway, this makes me look bad.

RK: Barack, you are not thinking right. There are huge shortages in Gaza. Like four-inch steel pipe. We are entirely out of four-inch pipe! And we need ball bearings — how are we expected to create local industry that can launch — er, export — its products without these things? Not to mention the need to send our people to Iran for terrorist training — I mean, vocational education.

BO: Now Rashid, you know how I feel about the Palestinian cause. That’s why you supported me for the Senate, and then for the Presidency. But can’t it wait until November?

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The Ground Zero mosque and the Muslim Brotherhood

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

The plan to build a ‘Ground Zero mosque‘ literally overlooking the site of the destroyed World Trade Center has brought the question of the meeting of Islam and the West to the forefront in a way that  even 9/11 and the terror attacks in Madrid, the London, Bombay, etc. themselves did not (if you haven’t read the post linked above, please do so).

The murderous attacks were clearly the work of fanatics. Although they were done in the name of Islam, it was possible to believe that the perpetrators were acting against normative Islam. It was said that they had ‘hijacked’ Islam for their nefarious purposes. Indeed, this appears to be the official position of much of the media, the government of the US and its legal and law enforcement agencies. The case of Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, whose crime is being explained as a result of mental illness, is an example.

Americans have a passionate commitment, expressed in the Bill of Rights, to free exercise of religion. And the reaction to the historical treatment of blacks in our society — a national trauma — has made anything that even comes close to a negative general statement about any racial, ethnic or religious group a violation of taboo so extreme that the violator is instantly ostracized (although an exception is apparently beginning to be made for left-wing antisemitism). This is one reason for the popularity of the ‘hijacked’ metaphor.

Organized Muslim groups in the US such as CAIR and ISNA have been quick to present any criticism of Islam in general or any warning that political Islam could be a danger to our free society as ‘islamophobia’, a form of racism. People like Geert Wilders are called right-wing extremists or worse, as are ‘anti-Jihadist’ bloggers like Robert Spencer. It’s harder to attack Aayan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim who came to criticize Islam — particularly in connection to the position of women — from within, so while she is admired for her courage her ideas are mostly ignored.

There are also practical reasons to speak kindly of Islam. There are 1.4 billion Muslims in the world, they control much of the oil supply, and there are a large number of them who are prepared to respond to perceived defamation of Islam quite violently. There’s nothing that has more of a ‘chilling effect’ on speech than a credible threat to behead the speaker.

Unlike Wilders and some others, Daniel Pipes doesn’t believe that violent extremism is inherent in Islam (although this doesn’t keep him from being called an ‘Islamophobe’ and requiring police protection when he speaks). Pipes thinks that the texts of Islam can in principle be interpreted peacefully, but that the radical, expansionist interpretations that characterize the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian mullahs has recently gained ascendancy as the definition of normative Sunni and Shia Islam respectively.

Although there is only a small fraction of the Muslim ummah who are prepared to act violently in defense of — or in offense for — Islam, there is a growing number who provide moral and material support for them, because they believe that the truest, purest form of Islam is the most radical form. Unfortunately, the major Islamic organizations in the US are aligned with radical movements like the Muslim Brotherhood.

This also turns out to be the case with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the head of the “Cordoba Institute” which is spearheading the building of the Ground Zero mosque. And if Rauf espouses the expansionist radical Islam of the Ikhwan (brotherhood), then we can answer the question that I asked in my previous post about the mosque:

Does Abdul Rauf represent a moderate, conciliatory, tolerant Islam … or is he following in the tradition of the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, who built the Dome of the Rock over the ruins of the Second Temple in 692 CE? Is it a work of peace or a triumphal celebration of a successful act of war?

The Islam of the Ikhwan is more than ‘just a religion’. It is even more than ‘just a fundamentalist religion’. In addition to what we normally think of as ‘religious’ things requiring tolerance — practices of worship, ritual, moral codes, beliefs about a deity or afterlife, etc. — there are other features which the West cannot afford to tolerate.

They include a political program, a program to expand the borders of Islamic domination, and a legal, political and social system — Shaaria — which is diametrically opposed to the principles of an enlightened society (and the US Constitution), since

  • It institutionalizes the superiority of Muslims over other religions, and men over women. It calls for the subjugation of Jews and Christians and the murder of ‘polytheists’ (for example, Hindus) who refuse to accept Islam.
  • It is incompatible with democratic government. Decisions are made by religious authorities.
  • It is opposed to personal liberty in social matters, even prescribing a death penalty for adulteresses and homosexuals.

And more.

Abdul Rauf’s connection to the Muslim Brotherhood implies that this project is not a project of peaceful, tolerant Islam, because that is not the Islam of the Brotherhood. It is an Islam of conquest and the imposition of Shaaria in the conquered territory.

For the brotherhood, the horrific terrorist attacks perpetrated around the world by Muslims were not ‘crazy’, but rather expressions of the purest and most admirable faith. And, similarly, we too need to see them as ideological and purposeful acts of radical Islam.

The Ground Zero mosque is intended to be a symbol of the defeat of the United States of America by the forces of radical Islam. Westerners often treat symbolism and ideology as unimportant. What counts are practical things like a healthy economy, etc.

But the behavior of Muslims in the Middle East — the Palestinians are a good example — where time after time ideology and symbolism has trumped what we think of as common sense — should be a warning to us.

Thousands of ordinary New Yorkers took part in a demonstration against the plan to construct the mosque last month. They get it. Why don’t our leaders (including the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg) and most of the media?

Demonstration against proposed Ground Zero mosque, June 2010 (photo: El Marco,

Demonstration against proposed Ground Zero mosque, June 2010 (photo: El Marco,

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Liberal Jewish anti-Zionists get together — and stay confused

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Every time I think that I can’t be surprised by the things Jews do and say, I come across something like this:

A 25-year-old environmental activist named Hillary Lehr from Oakland, California, said she no longer wanted to visit the Reform synagogue she’d attended as a child because its pro-Israel stance was casually embedded into ritual life, from prayers for the Jewish state to tzedakah boxes for the Jewish National Fund. “I want to de-Zionize my synagogue because it’s not about being a Zionist, it’s about Judaism,” Lehr said. “There’s a generation that’s ready to go back to those religious and spiritual spaces. I want to say to my rabbi, ‘I want to come back to my spirituality and I want there to be space for all of us because we’re all Jews.’ ”

Yes, yet another group of anti-Israel Jews. Described as “first major gathering of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network,” the 2010 “U.S. Assembly of Jews” was held in Detroit this summer.

Since the founding of the Jewish state, Jewish anti-Zionists have fallen mostly into two groups: observant Jews who believe that Judaism teaches that they may return to the land of Israel only when the Mashiach takes them there, and highly secular left-wing ideologues who think that Jewish nationalism is just another bourgeois detour away from international anti-colonial solidarity.

But these people, although closer to the latter than the former, insist that they are Jewish not just by culture or tradition, but  because they observe some form of Judaism:

[Aaron] Levitt helped start a non-Zionist minyan this year called Page 36 with fellow Jewish pro-Palestinian activists including a young Reconstructionist rabbi, Alissa Wise [about whom I wrote last year – ed] — not, he said, because he ultimately wants to pray only with political comrades, but as a kind of stopgap measure while truly “Zionist-neutral” congregations remain few and far between. At the same time, he added, the minyan was inspired by frustration with what he sees as a lack of interest among many of his coreligionist political comrades in aspects of spirituality and peoplehood [but a people without a state! – ed] that go beyond Jewish-flavored universalist politics.

Two points:

One is theological. The Torah, on which all streams of Judaism — no matter how orthodox or liberal — are based in some way, is a story about a three-sided relationship between God, the Jewish people and the land of Israel. Regardless of one’s concept of God or the origin of the Torah, it’s impossible to read the Torah and ignore the land. The anti-Zionist Satmar Hasidim and the vile Neturei Karta don’t deny this, they just interpret the relationship differently from Zionists. And secular Marxists have no interest at all in ‘das Opium des Volkes‘.

So one wonders exactly what’s Jewish about Hillary and Aaron’s Judaism. Liberal Judaism without the land of Israel is indistinguishable from Unitarianism, it seems to me, which explains why so many Unitarians used to be Jews.

The second point is that the members of the “International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network” have the same problem that all Jews have: the antisemites (including the Jewish ones) don’t like them:

“Folks like us get it from both sides,” said a 27-year-old Jewish religious professional at the conference who requested anonymity because, she said, she feared repercussions if her views became known. “We’re not loyal enough to the Jews and we’re not pure enough for the anti-Zionists.”

The use of the word ‘pure’ is suggestive. It has a definite racial connotation, intended or not.

“It’s startling how much easier it is to bring my politics to Jewish spaces than to bring my Jewishness here,” said a participant active in the Boston minyan scene who wanted to remain anonymous because she hopes to apply for Hebrew school teaching jobs. “The organizers kept asking, ‘What is the material benefit this will have? How is this going to end Zionism?’ And it was like, we don’t want to justify why we pray.”

It’s not enough, apparently, for a Jew to support the Palestinian cause. It’s also necessary to purge any commitment to Judaism in order for a Jew to feel welcomed on today’s Left — as the professionally obnoxious Michael Lerner found out when he got the cold shoulder from the International ANSWER coalition in 2003 after he objected to left-wing antisemitism.

I wonder why, of all the causes available, they have to choose this one. Despite thinking about this for the past few years, I still don’t have a satisfying answer.

It certainly can’t be because Hamas, Hezbollah and the PLO exhibit the liberal, tolerant viewpoint that they find so lacking at their local synagogues!

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The Zionist League for Preemptive Self-Defense

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Recently, a fellow mentioned that he was putting together a new pro-Israel organization and that he was trying to decide what to name it.

He was considering something like “Peace and Justice for the Middle East.”

My first thought was that this sounds like an anti-Israel group. All he would need to add would be something about human rights and it would be perfect. Of course this is because the people who want to see an end to the Jewish state have co-opted the language of peace, justice and human rights. They own it now, despite the fact that this entails an Orwellian reversal of meaning.

For example, let’s take a local organization, Peace Fresno. They support the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian Arab ‘refugees’. Now I know a number of their members and they say they are against all war. I would like to ask them how the influx of several million violently hostile Arabs into tiny Israel would affect matters of war and peace. Would it make things more peaceful? We know that it would be the beginning of a bloody civil war, 1948 all over again except with ten times the number of combatants. We know this because the Palestinians themselves tell us.

But they would say that the Palestinian refugees deserve justice. Really? Is it just that the Palestinian Arabs, who started the 1948 war under the leadership of the Nazi Mufti al-Husseini and lost it, should have the result of that war reversed after 62 years?  Is it just that other refugees, like the 800,000 Jewish ones who fled Arab countries between 1948 and the 1960’s were absorbed by Israel and other countries, but the Arab nations refuse to absorb even one Palestinian?

More generally, is it just that there are 23 Arab nations with a combined population of 358 million and one Jewish state with about 5.5 million Jews, and this is intolerable to the Arabs?  Is it just that one unelected royal family rules all of Saudi Arabia, where they have institutionalized racism, misogyny and antisemitism? Is it just  that Arab terror organizations are rewarded for their murder campaigns?

Peace Fresno also calls for justice for the ‘victims’ among the ‘peaceful activists’ (Turkish IHH thugs) on board the Mavi Marmara. Justice must mean that you can beat somebody with an iron pipe until his brains start coming out and he is expected to do nothing. ‘Justice’ must mean something different for Israelis and Turks.

And Peace Fresno wants no restrictions on traffic of goods or people in and out of Gaza. Their Hamas friends in Gaza need more building materials, so they can rebuild after the recent war that they started and were losing, at least until the incoming Obama administration made Israel stop fighting. They have already started rebuilding — fortifications and tunnels and a big new prison (with a reinforced basement bunker, I’m sure), not homes. That’s how to promote peace.

Speaking of human rights, the ‘activists’ on the Gaza Flotilla, who belonged to multiple organizations with ‘peace’, ‘justice’ and ‘human rights’ in their names, were asked to deliver a message to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped four years ago (when he was 19 years old) and has been held incommunicado — in violation of international law — ever since. They refused, because apparently ‘human rights’ mean something different for Israelis and Arab residents of Gaza.

So who wants peace? Israel, which wants to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority (PA), or the PA, which refuses to negotiate unless Israel agrees to all of its demands in advance? Hamas, which — still — fires rockets into Israel and continually probes the border, trying to kidnap more Israelis?

Who is more concerned with justice? Israel, whose Supreme Court often issues orders that Palestinian rights require changes in the route of the security fence, whose army command arrests and tries Israeli soldiers for improper behavior in wartime, and which allows security prisoners — even those convicted of multiple murders — access to television and university courses in prison? Or Hamas, which executes ‘collaborators’ and political opponents without trial, and will not let the Red Cross visit Gilad Shalit in his underground bunker?

But it’s no use. The language is corrupted. Better he should call his group “The Zionist  League for Preemptive Self-Defense,” in keeping with the adage that if you can’t be liked, you might as well  be respected.

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Does this make you feel peaceful?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

At various times — for example, this May — the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority has promised to stop incitement. In fact, back in 1993 the Oslo accord required that the PLO, soon to be raised from a terrorist gang to a government by the US and a naive Israeli government, would stop incitement.

So what’s incitement? In the words of Palestinian Media Watch, it’s behavior like this — all of which has been observed in the past two months, since Mahmoud Abbas’ most recent  promise to end it:

  • The PA continues to teach on PA educational TV that Israeli cities across the entire country, including Jaffa and Haifa, are Palestinian cities.
  • The official [PA] media deny Israel’s right to exist by using terminology to refer to Israel as “the homeland occupied in ’48.”
  • The conflict with Israel is defined by PA-appointed political and religious leaders not as territorial but as Ribat — a religious war for Allah.
  • The PA senior religious leader demonizes Jews as the “enemies of God.”
  • PA TV host: “The Jews are our enemies, right?”
  • The PA continues to honor terrorists [by naming streets, schools, etc. after them].
  • [A] PA-Fatah leader defends “the right to return to the armed conflict.”
  • [A] PA-Fatah leader explains negotiations as “a tactical decision, i.e., a temporary, defensive decision.”

PMW has it all on video here, especially including the programming for children.

Does this inspire confidence that the PA intends to join in a peaceful two-state solution which will end the conflict? Is this what you would tell your people if you were on the verge of making peace? I didn’t think so.

Remember, we are talking about the PA/Fatah/PLO. The people that the US is supporting and arming (so they can ‘fight terrorism’). The people with whom we are having a ‘peace process’. Not Hamas, whose media — particularly children’s programming — is far worse.

Here’s a music video with a catchy tune, directed at young Palestinian shaheed material (er, teenagers). According to PMW, PA TV broadcast it live on June 4, 2010, and then on June 24, July 9, July 13, July 16, and yesterday, July 20.

Doesn’t it make you feel peaceful?

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Attacks on conversion bill are misleading

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) — the largest Jewish denomination the US — sprung into action recently to protect us from a “dangerous threat”:

Sunday, July 12th, abruptly and with no warning, a committee vote was held on the bill sponsored by Member of the Knesset David Rotem that poses a dangerous threat to the rights of Conservative, Reform, and all non-Orthodox Jews, who comprise the overwhelming majority of world Jewry…

For 2,000 years, Judaism has treated Jews-by-choice (converts) the same as Jews-by-birth. This treatment is rooted in the Talmudic teaching that “as soon as a convert emerges from the mikvah (ritual bath) she or he is Jewish for all purposes.” (Yevamot 47b).

Since its founding 62 years ago, the State of Israel, through the Law of Return, has welcomed Jews from around the world as citizens in the world’s only Jewish state.

This legislation would delegitimize all non-Orthodox conversions. It would also preclude conferring citizenship under the Law of Return to Jews who did not qualify for such status on a prior visit (ie. converts).
[my italics]

The URJ is calling for its members to write to the Prime Minister and to apply every kind of pressure available to US Jews to prevent the passage of this bill. Rabbis will be speaking to their congregations from the pulpit, mass emails have been sent to Reform Jews, etc. Recently, the president of the largest congregation in our city said to me that “I’ve always supported Israel [he has], but I’m going to fight on this.”

A change to the criteria used by the State of Israel to determine ‘who is a Jew’ for the purposes of the Law of Return would indeed be big news. The Orthodox parties have tried in the past to change the law to disallow non-Orthodox converts from receiving citizenship, but have always been beaten back.

But in fact the bill doesn’t do anything like that.

Its main purpose is to decentralize the conversion process in Israel, in order to solve the problem of 320,000 Russian immigrants who would like to convert to Judaism but have been unable to, because of bureaucratic problems and ultra-Orthodox obstructionism. It makes it possible for local rabbis to perform conversions, and makes it harder for ultra-Orthodox ones to annul them.

This is a huge issue, and the bill tries to fix it without changing the traditional religious-secular status quo.

The Hebrew text of the bill is here. If you don’t read Hebrew, you will have to take my word for it that it doesn’t mention the law of return, nor does it discuss conversions that take place outside of Israel.

The big problem for the Reform movement is that the bill specifies that the Orthodox Rabbinate has overall authority over conversions in Israel. In fact, it has always been the case that conversion in Israel has been an Orthodox monopoly. This will not change. But this bill might be an obstacle to a legal challenge, mounted by the arm of the Reform movement in Israel via the Supreme court, to legitimize non-Orthodox conversions that take place in Israel.

By the way, the Reform movement in Israel has not generated much interest among secular Israelis, for most of whom “the synagogue that they don’t go to is Orthodox.”

David Rotem, who introduced the bill, is a member of the Israel Beiteinu [Israel, our home] party, which mostly represents Russian immigrants — and is strongly opposed to ultra-Orthodox control of family law. The bill is intended to reduce ultra-Orthodox influence on conversions. Israel Beiteinu also favors the institution of civil marriage, something which could be the subject of a forthcoming bill.

Lately there has been a great deal of tension between his party and PM Netanyahu’s Likud on various matters. This issue is seen on the Left as a way to split the coalition.

And this is another reason the Reform movement in the US is so energized. The leadership of the movement, which strongly supported the Obama administration, has always been left of center in Israeli politics. They are not comfortable with PM Netanyahu — whom they suspect of not being sufficiently committed to the ‘peace process’ — and violently dislike the head of Israel Beiteinu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. They would be much happier with Lieberman’s party replaced in the coalition by the left-leaning Kadima — and so would the administration.

This issue is perfect. For years there has been a simmering feud between the Reform movement in the US and Israeli Orthodoxy. Part of it is due to the arbitrary and sometimes corrupt stranglehold on matters of marriage and divorce held by the Rabbinate (ask me about how my daughter’s wedding was delayed for almost a year until her Jewishness could be documented). And it’s not helped by frequent comments from Orthodox Jews that, for example, a Reform rabbi is not a rabbi but is — I am not making this up — “a treif-fressing am ha-aretz” (an ignoramus who stuffs himself with non-kosher food).

So the URJ’s campaign has hit a nerve. Here are some examples of comments on their site:

I say: either accept those Americans who claim their Jewish heritage or those Jews will not support Israel. We are either important to Israel or the minority Orthodox outweigh us. Israel, DECIDE!

Who needs to worry about religious extremists in the Arab world, when we have our extremists in our own midst. Great civilizations have been destroyed from within, rarely from without. Get the message before it is too late.

I will like to see how the Orthodox Movement survives without the rest of the Jewish world. Let’s not just talk money wise, without the support of  “the rest of us” Israel will be alone and surrounded by enemies. I will not support “this Israel” in anyway.

A long time supporter of Israel, I must, with great sadness, announce that I am asking my fellow American Jews to shut down support of AIPAC until this disput [sic] is resolved and the rights of ALL Jewish people are protected fully under the “Law of Return”.

There is more to this from a psychological point of view. There’s a tension that exists in liberal American Jews between their overall ‘progressive’ ideology and their fear that much the Left supports those who want Israel to disappear. This gives them an opportunity to be ‘progressive’ by venting their anger against the “extremists” in Israel without getting in bed with Hamas.

There’s no doubt that the Rabbinate and ultra-Orthodox interests have created (and continue to create) a great amount of trouble for secular Israelis. In my opinion, matters of family law should be governed by the state, not by religious authorities.

But I think that the URJ and others have seized on this bill and presented it in a deliberately misleading way. They want to advance the interests of their Israeli branches — and also their political agendas — and have found a way to stir up a storm of opposition among Diaspora Jews. But from an Israeli point of view, the bill would do a great deal of good in relieving an intolerable situation. And from an Israeli point of view, the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel are irrelevant, just another craziness of some American immigrants.

If you want to read more about the conversion bill, here is a link to a good, detailed article in a somewhat right-wing blog, and one in the left-wing newspaper Ha’aretz. Both of these are relatively fair accounts from their respective points of view.

Update [1923 PDT]: I made a few minor changes for clarity.

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Why they bash Israel

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Yesterday I posted some light reading from the Hamas Covenant, just in case anybody still wonders who they are. It’s important to realize that those “human rights” advocates who call for boycotts and divestment from Israel are not just opposed to something. They are for something, too — and Hamas is it.

One of the themes repeated by the BIO people (Bash Israel Obsessively) is that those of us who support Israel in the US are putting Israel first, subordinating American interests to those of a foreign nation. Leaving aside the nasty implication that we’re, well, traitors, there is the premise that helping Israel hurts America. Really?

In a recent interview, Noah Pollak of the Emergency Committee for Israel asks,

I would like to know the following from those who view American and Israeli strategic interests as divergent: what interests do you advocate? Is it allowing Iran to go nuclear, or granting legitimacy to Hamas, or letting Hezbollah become stronger? Is it the desire for America to turn away from its democratic allies in order to placate dictatorships and terrorist groups? Is it the belief that we share common values with societies that sentence homosexuals to death, allow honor killings for women, and viciously discriminate against religious and racial minorities? Is it the campaign to delegitimize the only liberal democracy in the Middle East while ignoring the authoritarianism of nearly every other country in the region? What interests are these people talking about, exactly?

Here are a few choices:

  • Islamist maximalism, as exemplified by Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, the Iranian regime, etc.
  • Saudi anti-Zionism and antisemitism (there’s no difference)
  • Pathological left-wing or anarchist extremism, ‘the new antisemitism’
  • Palestinian Arab irredentism (Fatah’s demand for ‘right of return’ comes to mind)

Which is it? Don’t keep us in the dark.

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If Americans knew…

Friday, July 16th, 2010

If every American were to learn what was in the Hamas charter, Israel would never have to worry about public support, ever again. That’s how important it is.Frank Luntz

So you agree with the EU foreign ministers that  Israel should open its border with Gaza and allow free flow of goods and people to the Hamas-ruled enclave?

So you think, like Tel Aviv University Professor Carlo Strenger, that Hamas should be brought into negotiations?

Is that what’s bothering you, Bunkie? Then have a look at the Hamas Covenant (my headings and emphasis):

What is Hamas (art. 7 – 8)?

The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders. It goes back to 1939, to the emergence of the martyr Izz al-Din al Kissam and his brethren the fighters, members of Moslem Brotherhood. It goes on to reach out and become one with another chain that includes the struggle of the Palestinians and Moslem Brotherhood in the 1948 war and the Jihad operations of the Moslem Brotherhood in 1968 and after.

Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).

The Slogan of the Islamic Resistance Movement:

Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.

Whose land is it (art. 11)?

The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.

What is the solution to the conflict (art. 13)?

Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. “Allah will be prominent, but most people do not know.” …

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.

Fighting the Jews is a religious duty (art. 15):

The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised. To do this requires the diffusion of Islamic consciousness among the masses, both on the regional, Arab and Islamic levels. It is necessary to instill the spirit of Jihad in the heart of the nation so that they would confront the enemies and join the ranks of the fighters…

It is necessary to instill in the minds of the Moslem generations that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on this basis. Palestine contains Islamic holy sites. In it there is al- Aqsa Mosque which is bound to the great Mosque in Mecca in an inseparable bond as long as heaven and earth speak of Isra` (Mohammed’s midnight journey to the seven heavens) and Mi’raj (Mohammed’s ascension to the seven heavens from Jerusalem)…

“I swear by the holder of Mohammed’s soul that I would like to invade and be killed for the sake of Allah, then invade and be killed, and then invade again and be killed.” (As related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).

The nature of the Jewish enemy (art. 22, 28):

For a long time, the enemies have been planning, skillfully and with precision, for the achievement of what they have attained … With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.

They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it…

We should not forget to remind every Moslem that when the Jews conquered the Holy City in 1967, they stood on the threshold of the Aqsa Mosque and proclaimed that “Mohammed is dead, and his descendants are all women.”

Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people. “May the cowards never sleep.”

Zionism’s ultimate aim (art. 32)?

World Zionism, together with imperialistic powers, try through a studied plan and an intelligent strategy to remove one Arab state after another from the circle of struggle against Zionism, in order to have it finally face the Palestinian people only. Egypt was, to a great extent, removed from the circle of the struggle, through the treacherous Camp David Agreement. They are trying to draw other Arab countries into similar agreements and to bring them outside the circle of struggle.

The Islamic Resistance Movement calls on Arab and Islamic nations to take up the line of serious and persevering action to prevent the success of this horrendous plan, to warn the people of the danger eminating [sic] from leaving the circle of struggle against Zionism. Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.

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Islamic barbarism, coming to a world near you

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

YNet reports:

An Iranian court has sentenced two more women to death by stoning, a human rights group reported Thursday, adding [that] the horrific sentence was made worse by the fact that one of the women was pregnant.

Maryam Ghorbanzadeh was recently convicted of adultery and although she is pregnant, was sentenced by an Islamic court to death by stoning…

Her attorney told the media he was trying to have her sentence commuted to lashing, adding that even if her original sentence will remain unchanged, she will not be executed until she delivers.

This country, which will shortly have nuclear weapons, is ruled today by a barbarian clique. Its goal is to completely change the political landscape of the Middle East, establishing an Islamic Caliphate in which will enforce Shaaria. Too bad for adulteresses, rape victims, Christians, Jews, etc.

What do you think will happen to Europe if they succeed? And after Europe?

This should be the most pressing issue in the councils of the West. They should be pulling all-nighters at the Pentagon and Whitehall, asking: how can we stop Iran?

So far, Iran has had success after success. Syria, Turkey and even Brazil have decided that they know a winner and are betting on it. Lebanon’s destiny is in the hands of Hizballah, the “foreign legion of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”

US policy is such a mess. Here we are facing this enormous threat and we’re screwing around in Afghanistan trying to not hurt anybody and about to withdraw from Iraq, handing Iran yet another victory (if you think there will be an independent Iraq, I have a bridge… etc.).

Is Barack Obama the guy to get up and save Western Civilization? If not, how many years will it take before they are stoning adulteresses in Fresno?

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