Archive for December, 2010

We don’t have to — we’re Google!

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) plays an essential role in debunking Hamas’ and Fatah’s claims to moderation or even legitimacy.

By monitoring, translating and giving exposure to the vicious antisemitic rantings that appear in Palestinian Arab media, especially TV, PMW makes it impossible for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to hide who and what they are.

Now, in an Orwellian fashion, Google’s YouTube has removed PMW’s main video channel — Palwatch — because it allegedly violates terms of service with respect to hate speech!

This is what you will see if you try to access Palwatch videos like “PA cleric: Kill Jews, Allah will make Muslims masters over Jews” formerly at, or “Hamas suicide terrorist farewell video: Palestinians drink the blood of Jews” formerly at

Sorry indeed! As a former teacher of logic, let me point out that YouTube is committing the classic fallacy of confusing the use of a linguistic entity with its mention. In other words, Palwatch is not engaging in hate speech — rather it is describing it and in fact advocating against it.

If YouTube or its parent Google really wanted to help reduce the incidence of hate speech in the world, they would promote Palwatch’s exposure and shaming of those who use this kind of hateful propaganda to attack others.

The inversion of ethical guidelines to punish the victim rather than the perpetrator is apparently popular today. This case is remarkably similar to the recent IRS ruling that a pro-Israel group seeking tax-exempt status must be vetted by special criteria because “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of  terrorism.'”

There is another problem, and this is the self-service model adopted by YouTube and Google. These media — I don’t know if ‘medium’ is the right description for Google, but it’s the only word I can think of — are hugely powerful. They can make or break a commercial enterprise, a nonprofit, or perhaps even a country. Yet their terms of service state that users have no rights of any kind, especially the right to contact a human being when they feel that they have been treated improperly.

As of today, Itamar Marcus of Palwatch has been unable to find an email address to complain to YouTube.

Not that an email address is likely to help. This blog has an unresolved problem that Google’s Blog Search stopped indexing it in August 2009, although posts appear in the normal web search. I’ve re-submitted it, requested ‘reconsideration’ (although from what I don’t know), read pages of ‘help’ and forums, and sent emails to every address I could find.  I have never received an answer, and short of showing up at their headquarters driving a tank, I’ve run out of ideas.

It’s reminiscent of the famous Laugh-in skit featuring Lily Tomlin:

We don't have to -- we're Google!

We don't have to -- we're Google!

Update [1933 PST]: Some or all of the videos — including the ones I’ve linked to above are available again! This issue was mentioned in many blogs and other media — perhaps someone noticed?  Let’s hope they all come back, permanently.

Update [2041 PST]: Lily Tomlin played telephone operator Ernestine on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in (1969), not Saturday Night Live. Memory is s broken reed.

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Moty and Udi: California vs. the Middle East

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Moty and Udi remind us of a point that I’ve made before, and just the other day Daniel Gordis expressed it beautifully. He writes,

This week, real wisdom hid between the extreme positions so commonly staked out in this country. There was the fatwa against Israelis who would “dare” rent or sell their homes to Arabs. Dozens of rabbis have signed the letter forbidding such sale, while a smaller number have also had the courage to reject it outright. But virtually no one has pointed out that the choice isn’t a simply one between racism and human rights. It’s more complicated.

Obviously, it is mortifying to live in a country where “religious” leaders speak about Arabs the way that the enemies of the Jews spoke about us for centuries in Europe. And yes, as some observers have noted, it is virtually impossible to imagine a rabbi in the US saying anything remotely similar.

But the US isn’t Israel, and America does not need to struggle to guarantee its Christian nature. Our society, though largely Jewish now, could easily become something very different with time. If that is what these rabbis meant to say, they were right.

Apply the ethnicity-blind standards of American life here, and in a generation or two, Israel’s Jewish quality might be gone.

Why, after all, are most Israelis and American Zionists opposed to the Palestinian “right of return”? Isn’t that also a human rights issue? The answer, of course, is that on that issue, people recognize that the country’s Jewish character is at stake. Allow the refugees to return, and Jews become a minority almost overnight. (That is precisely why the Palestinians insist on it.)

Israel is a tiny speck of Jewishness in an ocean of Arabs and Persians in the Middle East, and to be clear about it, the ocean doesn’t appreciate the speck. How often do the Islamists of Hamas or Iran talk ab0ut ‘cleansing’ the land of its Jewish ‘infestation’!

Possibly I’ve repeated the same message enough that it’s boring some, but — especially for readers in the US — it needs to be emphasized:

Israel is not California, and the USA is not in the Middle East.

Arab and Islamic rejectionism hasn’t stopped trying to crush the idea of Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the Middle East for a hundred years. The war has multiple aspects where battles take place simultaneously: that of conventional and semi-conventional warfare, of terrorism, of subversion and sabotage (often seen simply as ‘crime’), of psycho-war, and finally, of demographics.

The US faces threats too, particularly that of terrorism. But there is nothing comparable to the demographic struggle.

Fully one-fifth of Israel’s citizens are Arabs. They are increasingly becoming ‘Palestinized’, that is, sharing the objective of the Palestinian Arabs in the territories to replace Israel with an Arab state. Some of them are secular nationalists and some (increasingly) are radical Islamists.

There may have been a time when Israel’s Arab citizens were reconciled to living in a Jewish state, where they would aspire only to equal rights and benefits as citizens, along with Jews and other groups. Today, as Jonathan Spyer has argued, the rise of Islamism and its ‘optimistic’ prediction that a corrupt and weak Israel will be defeated in the long run has reawakened hope, even among secular Arabs, that they can succeed in reversing the outcome of the 1948 war. Paradoxically, this has worked against the realization of full rights and benefits for Arabs.

In any event, the demographic front is alive, with Arabs from the territories wanting to live within the Green Line both to obtain the very real benefits of living in a Westernized, democratic and abundant society as well as to work to change it into an Arab state (they do want to keep the abundance, if possible).

There are other concerns than Arabs. There are hundreds of millions of inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa who are living in unbelievable poverty under dysfunctional, kleptocratic, murderous ‘governments’. Many of them would like to live in secure, abundant Israel. Should Israel open its borders? How long would it continue to exist as a modern state if it did that? Even the US can’t sustain unlimited immigration.

Here in America, particularly in liberal Jewish America, discrimination of any kind is considered equivalent to racism. The outcry against the rabbis that signed that ‘fatwa’ was predictable and entirely misses the point.

Why is Israel’s ‘Jewish character’ so important anyway, ask my California friends. Surely that kind of ethnic nationalism is outdated, they say.

There are 22 or 23 (if you count the Palestinian Authority) Arab states in the Middle East.  They take up the overwhelming portion of the land area and resources of the region. None of them are true democracies, none have anywhere near the tolerance found in Israel for religious, ethnic, or sexual-preference minorities. None come close in provision of equal rights for women. They have in general cooperated in creating the ‘Palestinian Refugee Problem’, started wars and supported terrorism. Indeed, they gave birth to al-Qaeda and other groups now threatening the West.

Many of these countries do not allow Jews to live within their borders at all.

This is not a question of civil rights for Palestinian Arabs. It’s a question of survival for Israeli Jews. If Israel loses its Jewish majority and Jewish character then it becomes just another Arab state, with all that implies.

Israeli Jews would be killed, subjugated or expelled. Jews around the world would no longer have a homeland — not just a refuge from antisemitism, but a symbol and sometimes active agency against antisemitism. One can imagine the world of 1939, in which no place on earth would provide a safe haven for Jews that nobody wanted.

We’re not prepared to let that happen again.

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End the J Street charade

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

This one is just too good (h/t: Lenny Ben-David).

News item:

The United States House of Representatives unanimously on Thursday approved a resolution opposing unilateral declaration of [a] Palestinian state.

The resolution introduced by Rep. Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, slams Palestinian efforts to push the international community to recognize a state in such a manner as “true and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties.”

The resolution calls on the U.S. administration to “deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties.”

Makes sense, right? It wouldn’t exactly promote peace if an Arab state were suddenly declared within some arbitrary borders (the 1949 armistice lines are exactly that). There would be no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, no land swaps for the large settlement blocs, no agreements to guarantee Jews access to holy places, no security arrangements to prevent ‘Palestine’ from inviting Iranian troops for ‘protection’, and more. And it would violate numerous UN resolutions, the Road Map, and the Oslo agreements.

The fact that it was unanimously adopted by the House shows how noncontroversial it is.

Why, only someone who really wanted to hurt Israel would oppose it. Even the most pro-Arab House members didn’t. But guess what?

The pro-Israel lobby [sic!] J Street issued a statement on Wednesday criticizing Berman’s resolution, saying “it addresses only one issue standing in the way of peace.”

In the statement, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that the resolution continued “a pattern in which overly one-sided resolutions are introduced and moved to the floor of the House without an adequate opportunity for debate, discussion and modification by the Members.”

Let’s see: J Street takes money from people associated with Saudi Arabia, the Arab-American institute,  Iranian interests, anti-Israel billionaire George Soros, a mysterious woman associated with the guy who beat the Hong Kong horse-racing track, and the Turkish producer of anti-Israel propaganda films. Its co-founder called the creation of Israel ‘an act that was wrong’. J Street also facilitated meetings between members of Congress and Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the notorious Goldstone report that accused Israel of deliberately murdering civilians in the Gaza war. And of course they’ve opposed other pro-Israel resolutions in Congress.

Time to end the charade.

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IRS digs itself deeper in Z Street case

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
When you're in a hole, stop digging

When you're in a hole, stop digging

A few weeks ago I wrote about the incredible behavior of the IRS in seeking to deny tax-exempt status to the pro-Israel organization Z Street (see “Obama and Nixon would agree on this“).

Z Street sued the IRS, claiming in part that

21.   Agent [Diane] Gentry also informed Z STREET’s counsel that the IRS is carefully scrutinizing organizations that are in any way connected with Israel.

22.   Agent Gentry further stated to counsel for Z STREET: “these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”

Now the IRS has responded, and their response is even more incredible. Here’s an excerpt:

a. The application indicated that Z Street could be providing resources to organizations within Israel or facilitating the provision of resources to organizations within the state of Israel;
b. Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a “higher risk of  terrorism.” (LR.M. See also; and
c. A referral to TAG is appropriate whenever an application mentions providing resources to organizations in a country with a higher risk of terrorism.

Just to put this into perspective, I wrote that

…some other organizations which had received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, [include] unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terror financing case CAIR and ISNA, as well as Codepink, a group which regularly accuses the US of war crimes and has called for support of the ‘Iraqi resistance’ and US military deserters.

But the IRS chose to “scrutinize” an organization that supports the world’s biggest target of terrorism, Israel! Anyway, Z Street’s original application clearly stated that it did not ‘provide resources’ to anyone outside of the US, but was only concerned with pro-Israel advocacy within the US.

And there is also an affidavit from agent Diane Gentry in which she says “I never said that stuff”:

7. Although I had telephone conversations with [Z Street attorney] Bullock on July 19, 2010 and July 27, 2010, I never told her that the IRS had a special concern about organizations whose positions contradict the Obama Administration’s Israel policy or that cases are sent to a special unit in the Washington, D.C. office to determine whether an organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s  public policies.

8. I never told Ms. Bullock that the IRS has an “Israel Special Policy” governing the processing of applications for tax exemption by organizations that are believed to be operated by persons holding political views inconsistent with those espoused by the Obama administration.

Z Street points out that they never said “Obama” and did not use the words “Israel Special Policy”, so Ms. Gentry’s statement is technically true. But they stand by their original filing.

Z Street’s suit calls for

A. Barring application of the Special Policy to its pending application for tax-exempt status pursuant to §501(c)(3) of the Code;
B. Requiring that Defendant adjudicate Plaintiff’s application for tax-exempt status expeditiously and fairly and without any consideration of whether the positions espoused by the Plaintiff or its officers are or are not consistent or inconsistent with the policy positions taken by the Obama administration;
C. Mandating complete disclosure to the public regarding the origin, development, approval, substance and application of the Special Policy.
D. Awarding to Plaintiff of its attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2412; and
E. Such other and further relief as the Court may deem proper.

The embarrassed government (at least I hope they are embarrassed) wants the case to be dismissed on technical grounds, saying that Z Street has an “adequate remedy at law” to get their exemption. But that would not accomplish item C above, which is to expose the cynical use of the IRS by the administration to punish its ideological opponents.

Although the case has been heavily discussed in blogs and Jewish media, it’s interesting that the ‘regular’ media has almost entirely ignored it, despite its constitutional implications. Archival searches of the Washington Post, NPR and the NY Times — which not so long ago published a long article viewing with alarm the possible use of charitable donations to support settlements — show ZERO relevant hits.

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Quotes of the week: the conflict in a sentence or two

Monday, December 13th, 2010

You can say a lot in a single sentence.

The great Melanie Phillips does it in an admittedly long one:

Israel, the victim of six decades of Arab aggression, is to be punished for frustrating ‘peace’ talks with its aggressors in which it is prepared to take part, on the grounds that it refuses to halt building homes which are said to be illegal but are not; while no punishment is to be meted out to the Arab aggressors who refused to take part in negotiations during the ten months that Israel did halt building these homes — within territories which during these past nine decades it has been entitled to settle under international law – even though these Arabs are the belligerents in the Middle East conflict and continue repeatedly to assert that they will never accept Israel as a Jewish state and who accordingly teach their children to grow up to hate and kill Israelis in order to achieve their never-renounced aim of destroying Israel; nevertheless these genocidal belligerents who have repeatedly turned down a state of their own ever since this was first offered to them more than seven decades ago because they wanted to wipe out Israel instead are to be rewarded by the EU while their victim is to be punished; and all to realise the creation of a state of Palestine which will surely turn in short measure into part of greater Iran, to the terrible cost of the Arabs living in such a state of Palestine and placing the free world in even more danger.

Elder of Ziyon nails it in even fewer words:

People have to start realizing that Palestinian Arab demands do not equal rights, and that a Palestinian Arab state cannot and should not be defined in a way that deprives the Jewish state and people of their own competing rights.

The fact that this needs to be said is testimony to the powerful reality distortion field that surrounds the conflict. There are other conflicts, some even longer-lasting and as seemingly intractable. But very rarely does one side get to make up its facts and have them automatically taken seriously by much of the world.

For example, as Elder of Ziyon also said, “Not one person has ever yet explained why Jerusalem must be a part of a Palestinian state.” Jerusalem was historically the seat of a Jewish kingdom and today is the capital of Israel. In modern times it has had a Jewish majority since the 1860’s. Yet the eastern portion thereof, from which Jews were driven at gunpoint in 1948 and where the holiest site in Judaism is located, is regularly referred to as ‘Arab East Jerusalem’, and the US, EU and UN consistently oppose construction inside Jewish neighborhoods there because “the Palestinians want that for the capital of their state.”

When did wanting become deserving?

Another distortion — alluded to by Phillips — is the inversion of aggression and victimization. Arabs have been starting wars and killing Jews and Israelis, violently opposing Jewish self-determination for at least a hundred years, and yet they are presented as the victims. Here are another two sentences to explain this, these by Canadian historian Gil Troy:

Arabs learned, that before a lazy, complacent world, they could mask sexism and homophobia, terrorism and dictatorship, their continuing rejection of Israel’s right to exist, behind a smokescreen of rhetoric treating the national struggle between Israelis and Palestinians as an expression of Jewish racism, colonialism, and imperialism. This New Big Lie was so potent it would outlast its Soviet creators, derail the UN, hurt the cause of human rights – and make Israel what the Canadian MP and human rights activist Professor Irwin Cotler calls the Jew among nations.”

Recently, a local acquaintance pointed to one of Roger Cohen’s diatribes about the illiberality of Israel and suggested that ‘progressive Jews’ needed to pay serious attention to the message therein, the message being that we shouldn’t support Israel because (according to Cohen and my acquaintance) it doesn’t live up to ‘progressive’ ideals — in a Middle East where it is a regular thing to punish free speech with imprisonment or bullets, where they hang gays and strangle uppity women!

The New Big Lie lives, even in Fresno.

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