Archive for February, 2011

Jews on the dark side

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Why do I write so much about anti-Zionist Jews, you ask? Why so much space dedicated to the phony ‘pro-Israel’ J Street, for example? We already know that there are a few Israel-hating crazies and naive-but-well-meaning liberals out there, but aren’t there more important targets?

Well, no, I don’t think so.

I am going to recommend a book that I am reading (I’ll have a full review later) by Kenneth Levin, called The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege (Smith & Kraus, 2005). Levin is a practicing (and teaching) psychiatrist who also happens to have a degree in History, and his book describes the psychological roots of the seemingly irrational anti-Jewish (not just anti-Zionist or anti-Israel) behavior of so many Jews.

It also documents and explains Jewish behavior throughout history, from the remarkable survival of Judaism in the face of the antisemitic depredations of the Middle Ages, through the vicious hatred for the state displayed by so many Israeli academics and intellectuals, to the concrete realization of delusional ways of thinking in politics, as exemplified by Israel’s behavior during the Oslo period.

This is a big book (more than 500 pages) and there is a lot of detail. It’s not exactly bedtime reading. But it is an essential book.

Levin’s thesis, somewhat oversimplified, is that anti-Jewish attitudes in oppressed Jews result from a) internalizing  and coming to believe the antisemitic canards of their oppressors, and b) an unrealistic delusion that they have the power to change the behavior of the antisemites by self-reform — by ‘improving’ themselves so as to no longer deserve antisemitic hatred.

These mechanisms have led to an attenuation of Judaism itself, in which the focus on God, the Jewish People and the Land of Israel in traditional Judaism has been replaced with a universalist doctrine which minimizes national, ethnic and cultural divisions and espouses abstract ‘justice’ for all humankind as its highest goal — and which sees a transnational utopia as the ultimate Jewish goal.

Proponents of this universalist ethic see it as an evolution in Jewish ethical principles, a progressive improvement from a particularist and parochial past to a more modern, ‘higher’ form of ethics. But often — as when Jewish left-wing activists call for ‘justice for Palestinian Arabs’ while ignoring the context of the intermittent war being prosecuted against the Jewish state by the entire Arab world and Iran — universalist ethics provide a cover for anti-Israel positions.

Levin goes into detail about the failure of the Jewish community in America and the yishuv in Palestine to rescue more European Jews during the Holocaust. Of course, the primary responsibility for the lack of action must fall on the US State Department, President Roosevelt and the despicable British Foreign Office, which actually opposed any actions to save European Jews after the mass murders became known, because they might want to go to Palestine after the war. Levin quotes a memo which refers to “the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued.” Really.

What may not be generally known is the degree to which attempts to rescue Jews — which could have been accomplished with very little effort and without damage to the overall war effort — were often stymied by resistance from irrational or delusional Jews.

For example, Levin notes that the New York Times, under direct orders from its (Jewish) publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger, published only one story during the war relating to the Holocaust on page one above the fold: one which reported as true a State Department claim in the Fall of 1943 that 580,000 Jewish refugees had entered the country (the true number was about 21,000). The story had the immediate effect of short-circuiting support for a Rescue Resolution in Congress, at least until other sources revealed that the State Department numbers were false.

Perhaps even worse, the philosopher Martin Buber, whose own butt was safely in Jerusalem (he escaped from Germany in 1938), published an article in 1944 which called for a binational state and said  that levels of Jewish immigration must be determined in agreement with Palestinian Arabs (who of course wanted it to be zero and whose leadership collaborated with the Nazis). So although he professed admiration for the spirituality of the Jews of Eastern Europe, Buber preferred to leave their bodies in the hands of Hitler!

Indeed, all through the 1930’s, as David Ben Gurion frantically tried to create a united front to maximize Jewish immigration to Palestine from Europe — where he clearly saw that there was no future — he was fought tooth and nail by Jews like Buber, Felix Warburg and Judah Magnes, all of whom felt that a Jewish majority would be disastrous (it would lead to antisemitism, be unjust, etc.).

How many Jews could have been saved but for the obstructions placed by Jewish anti-Zionists? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We don’t know, of course.

Today it seems to me that the degree to which the Jewish people has become infected with the delusional irrationality that Levin describes is greater even than in the past. While Israel faces a physical/military danger that is no less threatening than that which loomed over European Jewry in the 1930’s, the very leadership, the vangaurd of the movement to delegitimize Israel, to prevent it from defending itself and to deter others from coming to its aid, is Jewish.

Not only is the Jewish contingent ubiquitous in the ranks of the information war against Israel — for every Ali Abunimah there are several Jeremy Ben-Amis — but they are highly effective, both because they are remarkably inventive and enthusiastic, and because of the psychological force of the ‘as a Jew’ argument.

In addition there is the simple fact that every Jew who goes to the Dark Side is one less who might support Israel politically or materially. Such support has to start with Jews, even if there are plenty of non-Jews who are prepared to help. But without the Jews most of them have little reason to do so.

The struggle against Jewish anti-Zionists isn’t a sideshow. In my opinion the information war will be won or lost depending on its outcome. The enemy understands this. We need to as well.

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Is the White House as anti-Zionist as J Street?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The annual J Street national conference begins this weekend. Some have suggested that the phony ‘pro-Israel’ group will soon be breathing its last, crushed by the weight of its persistent dishonesty, and by the fact that you just can’t claim to be pro-Israel while calling for the US to not veto an anti-Israel resolution in the UN Security Council for the first time in history.

Recently a milestone was passed when one of J Street’s congressional supporters, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D. NY) loudly defected, saying in part,

After learning of J Street’s current public call for the Obama Administration to not veto a prospective UN Security Council resolution that, under the rubric of concern about settlement activity, would effectively and unjustly place the whole responsibility for the current impasse in the peace process on Israel, and–critically–would give fresh and powerful impetus to the effort to internationally isolate and delegitimize Israel, I’ve come to the conclusion that J-Street is not an organization with which I wish to be associated…

America really does need a smart, credible, politically active organization that is as aggressively pro-peace as it is pro-Israel. Unfortunately, J-Street ain’t it.”

Unfortunately, although J Street may be losing the respectable pro-Israel Left, it is gaining support from the anti-Israel fringe, including supporters of Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) which J Street has (so far) claimed to oppose.

In an open letter to US diplomat, administration adviser and Camp David negotiator Dennis Ross, who is listed as one of the speakers at the J Street conference, Noah Pollak asks if Ross wishes to be associated with the other scheduled speakers, who include

  • Maen Areikat of the PLO, who denies there was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and accuses Israel of “state terrorism.”
  • Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader who said that Israel has “a full-fledged Apartheid system” that is “much worse than what prevailed in South Africa,” and that Israel has been “ethnically cleansing” Palestinians since 1948. A BDS supporter.
  • Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, a correspondent for MBC TV, who says that Hamas should not be “lumped in” with other terrorist groups because “once Palestine is liberated then [Hamas] will cease to use violence.”
  • Edina Lekovic, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who was a managing editor of a magazine that praised Osama bin Laden as a “freedom fighter.”
  • Imam Feisal Rauf, the Ground Zero Mosque leader, who refuses to call Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups.
  • James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute, who has compared Israelis to Nazis and accused the IDF of “genocide” and a “Holocaust.” Only three months ago he wrote that “In a real sense, the plight of the Palestinians is to the Arabs, what the Holocaust is to Jews worldwide.”
  • Lawrence Wilkerson, a former State Department official, who has repeatedly accused Jewish members of the Bush administration of “working for Israel” and being “card-carrying members of the Likud Party,” and asked whether “their primary allegiance was to their own country or to Israel.”
  • Daniel Levy, one of Richard Goldstone’s leading advocates in Washington, who said that Israel’s creation was “an act that was wrong,” and that if Israel had to fight for its existence, “maybe Israel ain’t [sic] such a good idea.”
  • Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem, who says that “the situation in the West Bank is worse than apartheid in South Africa” and that Israel’s policy toward Gaza is a “siege.”
  • Naomi Chazan, a leader of the New Israel Fund and a conference honoree. Her organization funds NGO’s that accuse Israel of war crimes and Apartheid, provided the bulk of the accusations contained in the Goldstone Report, support the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, and seek the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Rebecca Vilkomerson, who runs the BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace. She has said, “Just as in Apartheid South Africa’s day, Israel’s society seems to be turning more bluntly racist and repressive.” She says her organization “speaks out for Goldstone, and we speak out for BDS campaigners.”
  • Debra Delee, president and CEO of the NGO Americans for Peace Now, who commented on the Turkish flotilla attack on IDF soldiers, “The root of this disaster lies not in the actions of the flotilla’s participants.”
  • Oded Na’aman, a founder of Breaking the Silence, which accuses IDF soldiers of war crimes. He says the IDF “is guilty of a wide range of abuses” including “allowing Jewish settlers to poison Palestinian wells” and evacuating entire blocks of Palestinian towns and then demolishing them. Palestinian terrorism, he says, is merely a “perceived threat.”
  • Daniel Seidemann, founder of the NGO “Terrestrial Jerusalem,” who claims that the Old City of Jerusalem is being turned into an “Evangelical settler theme park” and compared Israel’s security fence to the Berlin wall.
  • Michael Sfard, a lawyer for several radical NGO’s, who routinely demonizes Israel, accuses it of “Apartheid,” and promotes war crimes allegations against it. He testified as a paid witness on behalf of the PLO in a lawsuit brought in U.S. Federal Court by victims of terror attacks perpetrated by the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. He is best known as a leading advocate of “lawfare” – prosecuting Israeli soldiers and officials in European war-crimes trials.

Nothing illustrates J Street’s place in the ideological spectrum better than this lineup, most of whom are anti-Zionist at best. Rep. Ackerman clearly woke up and smelled the coffee in time, understanding that this was not the gang that his liberal constituents  wanted him to pal around with.

So is J Street on life support? I doubt it. Organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, etc. are lately flush with funds, opening new branches, running speaking tours and other programs. There is apparently a lot of money available for these people, and it’s unlikely that the somewhat marginal individuals who are associated with them are funding them from their own pockets.

J Street has historically been very close to the Obama Administration. Director Jeremy Ben-Ami called himself “the president’s blocking back [in Congress],” and J Street was invited to a White House meeting of ‘Jewish leaders’ in July 2009, while some other groups like the Zionist Organization of America, which had previously attended such meetings, were pointedly left out. J Street’s positions have often very closely echoed the administration’s, and J Street’s statement on the UNSC resolution closely parallels that of Ambassador Susan Rice, who made it clear that her ‘no’ vote was being cast for technical reasons only and that she agreed with the content of the resolution.

The interesting question is this: does J Street’s dropping the veil of ‘pro-Israelness’ in practice if not in words reflect the attitude of the Obama Administration? Is it as frankly anti-Zionist as J Street?

My guess is yes, and I think it will express itself in the form of a US proposal for an imposed solution. This will give the Arabs an ‘out’ to accept it — they can say that Obama gave them no choice, even though it doesn’t meet all of their maximal demands. It’s probable that the US will then seek some form of multilateral support for it, maybe even in the Security Council. The dynamics of this would be very interesting, with Arabs and their friends pulling to harden the terms against Israel.

Not much has happened since Israel ‘dissed’ President Obama by refusing to accept the absurd extension of the 10-month settlement freeze proposed last September. I suspect that for a time the administration will have more pressing issues to deal with as the Arab world goes up in flames (if they had any sense, they would ask what this implies about their theory that everything depends on Israel). But I continue to wait for the other shoe to drop.

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Bring it on, Yariv!

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

This week, the Knesset finally took steps to rein in the humiliating and dangerous phenomenon of hostile foreign entities funding non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Israel:

The Knesset passed a bill into law on Monday requiring nongovernmental organizations to issue quarterly reports about funding they receive from foreign governments, and to reveal when they are backed by other countries in their websites and advertisements.

The bill, which was sponsored by coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), passed its final reading by a 40-34 vote after tougher measures against NGOs and plans to form parliamentary inquiry committees to examine them were dropped. — Jerusalem Post

I’ve written before about how extreme left-wing Israeli NGOs that can only be called anti-state are supported by European governments, the EU, the US-based New Israel Fund, and so forth. For example, the group “Breaking the Silence” has toured the US presenting malicious gossip and exaggerations about IDF conduct as fact, and “b’Tselem” and “Physicians for Human Rights — Israel” provided much of the grist for the mill of the UN’s dishonest Goldstone Report.

I think transparency is a more effective (although less exciting) approach than parliamentary investigations, which will blow with the winds of politics.

Unfortunately, the bill doesn’t go far enough. Although it calls for disclosure of funding from foreign governments, it does not do the same for donations from foreign individuals or non-governmental foundations, like the New Israel Fund or the Ford Foundation. This is a hole big enough to drive a truck through.

The Post article continues,

Knesset Law Committee chairman David Rotem, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, withdrew amendments that would have taken tax benefits away from NGOs supported by foreign governments. His amendments would also have required NGOs to report donations from foreign individuals and to write that they received foreign funding on every e-mail they sent…

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed support for Rotem’s amendments at Monday’s Likud faction meeting, in the face of strong opposition to the bill expressed by the leadership of several countries. But Rotem said he had decided to drop the amendments at the request of Zionist organizations that had told him the amendments would harm them.

Rotem said he would submit a different version of his amendments before the end of the Knesset’s winter session next month. He expressed confidence that he would be able to pass them.

Zionist organizations have absolutely nothing to fear from transparency. So what if an American Jewish casino operator or a Christian pastor is ‘revealed’ to be in favor of the continued existence of the Jewish state, or even that he believes that Jews have a right to live in places that “the Palestinians want for their future state?”

On the other hand, contributors to the massive delegitimization campaign that aims to prevent Israel from defending itself — precisely the objective of the Goldstone Report — so that it can ultimately be destroyed by its enemies deserve to be “named and shamed.”

Naturally, the delegitimizers screamed bloody murder:

Yariv Oppenheimer, secretary general of Peace Now, said this new transparency will only apply to left-wing organizations, some of which are supported by foreign governments, but not to right-wing organizations like the Yesha Council, the settlers’ umbrella group. “The logic behind the new bill is simple, to de-legitimize the left-wing organizations and portray them as foreign agents. But no one will ever know who’s pulling the strings of foundations receiving far bigger support from evangelical organizations in the U.S. or tycoons like Irwin Moskowitz,” Oppenheimer said… — LA Times

Far bigger? Even Irwin Moskowitz doesn’t have the tens of millions poured into left-wing NGOs in recent years by the EU. I say make all contributions transparent. Bring it on, Yariv Oppenheimer!

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Oil, Palestine, and dreams

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Oh, we really need this:

Nomura Securities says that if Algeria joins Libya in the land of chaos, oil prices could shoot to $220 a barrel. That’s in a worst-case scenario, the investment bank adds unhelpfully.

To back up that headline grabber, Nomura compares the current situation to the 1990-91 Gulf War. During that time, oil prices rose 130% in two months, according to our friends at Dow Jones. Nomura defends the comparison by saying “we could be underestimating this as speculative activities were largely not present in 1990-91.” — Dave Kansas in the Wall St. Journal

Kansas continues to say that he sees such a huge jump as unlikely, given the relative amount of oil produced in Algeria and Libya compared to Saudi Arabia and others. And a commenter points out that traders want to stimulate activity to make money.

But still…

Oil surged to $100 a barrel in New York for the first time in two years as Libya’s violent uprising threatened to disrupt exports from Africa’s third-biggest supplier and spread to other Middle East oil producers.

Futures climbed as much as 4.8 percent after heavy gunfire broke out in Tripoli again today, army units defected and a former aide to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi warned the spreading revolt may topple the regime within days. Oil pared gains on signals that Saudi Arabia and some other producers are willing to put more oil on the market if buyers demand it.

“We’re crossing $100 because with the cut in Libyan output, the unrest in the Middle East is actually having an impact on oil supply,” said Phil Flynn, vice president of research at PFGBest in Chicago. “There’s concern that unrest will spread further, threatening Saudi Arabia and other producers.”

Crude for April delivery increased $2.68, or 2.8 percent, to settle at $98.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, it touched $100, the highest level since Oct. 2, 2008. Futures are up 24 percent from a year ago. — Bloomberg

Folks, this is the number one issue that will make the USA sit up and take notice that there is a Middle East. From Joe Sixpack to the Congress and the President, no one will ignore the price of gasoline and heating oil, even if it doesn’t get to $220. The problem is that while Sixpack will whine about it, the political class will feel obliged to Do Something About It. And experience shows that we will begin to hear that the key to everything in the Middle East is the creation of a Palestinian Arab state.

This is so dumb that I have a hard time even writing it. Who could possibly believe that the explosive events now occurring in the Arab world, the collision of the entrenched conservative dictators with the forces of liberalism, Islamism and just plain tired-of-being-ripped-off-ism, are even peripherally related to the hundred-year war against the Jews in the land of Israel?

Don’t worry. As soon as gasoline prices close in on $4 per gallon in the US, I guarantee that we will hear from the usual suspects that the road back to nostalgically cheap gas will be to impose a ‘solution’ on Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Obama confidant and trial-baloonist former Florida Congressman Robert Wexler hasn’t exactly said that (yet), but he does think that right now is the time to de-humiliate the long-suffering Palestinians by diktat:

The continuing turmoil has dramatically altered each side’s calculus. But this uncertainty also provides a narrow window of opportunity. It is clear from the region’s paralyzed leadership that resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, unfortunately, dependent on U.S. initiative.

It is delusional to assume that the West Bank and Gaza will sit idly by until leaders feel more comfortable to address the pressing issues. If Egypt has taught us anything, we are forewarned that the Palestinian quest for dignity and statehood cannot remain the exclusive domain of diplomats for long. Better to get out ahead of events, while the United States, Israel and moderate Palestinians still enjoy considerable leverage.

What he doesn’t explain, since we are all presumed to understand, is why it is somehow advantageous to create yet another dictatorial, racist Arab state for a self-defined ‘people’ whose national project is defined entirely by hatred of and opposition to a Jewish state. Nor does he mention that ‘moderate Palestinians’ do not enjoy any leverage, primarily because they don’t exist, and that the state that he wants to create will shortly become an Islamist theocracy, ruled by Hamas, and a base for terrorism.

***

I was driving in my car when I turned on the radio. I heard our President calling for the international community to do the right thing and stand behind its historic promises to the Jewish people in the Mandate for Palestine, which had never been revoked. I heard him say that Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, which were invaded by the Arab nations in 1948, were still in dispute. He told us that UNSC resolution 242 called for a settlement in which all parties would live in peace within secure and recognized borders, and reminded us that no such agreement had ever been made. He added that there was no privileged status to the 1949 armistice lines, which simply marked the positions of the various armies at that time.

I stopped at a traffic light and looked out the window to see a gas station on each of four corners. “Gas War!” said the signs. “Twenty-nine point nine cents per gallon!”

Dream on.

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Quote of the week: P J Crowley

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Again, you know, this ultimately and fundamentally an issue between, you know, the Libyan government, its leader, and the Libyan people…

State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley, after Qaddafi ranted about dying as a martyr, and while goons and mercenaries are killing protesters in the streets of Tripoli

Probably they are afraid that Qaddafi, who is more or less correctly described as a homicidal maniac, will kill every American he can get his hands on if they are rude to him. But still, what a remarkably weak response. Not like Israel got when it ‘insulted’ the US by announcing the construction of some apartments in eastern Jerusalem last year!

There is a lesson in this: evil is power. The worse you are, the better you are treated. Bashar Assad, the Syrian dictator who supports Iraqi insurgents who are trying to kill US troops, now has an American ambassador, previously withdrawn after the Syrian-sponsored murder of Saad Hariri in Lebanon. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who stole an election last year and viciously put down anti-regime demonstrations is doing it again, while at the same time thumbing his nose at the US by introducing warships into the Mediterranean.  So far the US has done nothing.

Hizballah and Syria are threatening to kill thousands of Israelis with a massive rocket barrage. Not that Israel can’t defend itself, not that the rocket barrage won’t be met with a massive counterattack that will likely end the Syrian regime and the Hizballah threat as well, but Israel is supposed to be our ally. Our administration’s policy seems to be to single-mindedly focused on getting Israel out of Judea-Samaria and Jerusalem and weakening it strategically, rather than on the serious dangers it faces from the north.

That’s OK — we don’t help our less-savory allies either, like Saudi Arabia, presently shaking in its boots in fear of a possible Shiite takeover in Bahrain (there is a large Shiite presence in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province) or an Islamist regime arising in Egypt. Meanwhile the US encourages ‘democracy’ in the region.

It’s funny, but I’ve recently watched videos of protests from several Arab countries, and the rioting democrats all seem to be shouting “Allah hu akbar.” I presume that means “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” in Arabic.

The turmoil in the Arab world creates both dangers and opportunities for all sides. It seems to me that the Iranian bloc, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, are taking advantage of the opportunities, while the US is standing by, paralyzed, uttering platitudes about democracy and counseling nonviolence.

By the way, we won’t be able to use the ‘peace process’ excuse for pressuring Israel anymore, because the Palestinian Authority (PA) has resigned from it. Here is what it said in a press release (thanks to Elder of Ziyon for this):

The United States of America’s use of the veto to prevent the passage of a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policy confirms that it is not an honest broker, and it is no longer able to carry out its responsibilities as a sponsor of any future Palestinian – Israeli negotiations.

Mr. Ziyon (who also refers to himself as ‘Eldad Tzioni’), argues that this is outrageous, especially considering that the US financially supports the PA:

The PA is officially calling the United States an “obstacle to peace.” It is saying that the US – a nation that has worked harder than any other to bring about peace, a nation that brokered Camp David – cannot be an honest broker in negotiations. Whether you agree or disagree with the present administration, this press release is an unacceptable slap in the face of the world’s superpower by an entity that cannot conceive of the idea of compromise for peace.

This hateful screed has, so far, been ignored both by the media and by the current administration. There have been no public calls for apologies, no calling out of president Mahmoud Abbas who is responsible for this statement.

But hey, who’s counting insults anymore.

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