Archive for April, 2011

Moty & Udi: Can this marriage be saved?

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Nobody expects the marriage (the Fatah/Hamas one, not the royal one) to last. My view is that it is a marriage of convenience, planned to present the Palestinian Arabs as speaking with one voice just long enough to get the state of ‘Palestine’ declared.  Afterward, there will be a divorce and a violent custody battle over ‘Palestine’. One could imagine the IDF taking sides against Hamas in this one.

Some analysts don’t agree. They think that adding Hamas to the mix will make it harder to get recognition for ‘Palestine’. After all, Hamas won’t agree to recognize Israel and give up terrorism, etc., and the US and EU are insisting that any Palestinian government do so. But in my opinion, the EU is already beginning to weaken. Although the US could have been counted on in the past, we really can’t predict what this administration will do.

One partner in the marriage has already been shown (Gaza, 2007) to be an abusive spouse. So far, the only thing that has prevented Hamas from taking over in Judea and Samaria has been the presence of the IDF, which almost every night arrests Hamas operatives there. You know what will happen if the IDF withdraws!

There are some bright spots. “Joe Settler” points out that a married couple shares their liabilities as well as their assets. When Hamas joins the PA, then the PA becomes responsible for Gilad Shalit. Can a responsible government justify holding an innocent citizen of another country incommunicado, for ransom, for almost five years? Not to mention the rockets that are still being fired into southern Israel by Hamas.

The Fatah/PLO faction is clearly in a giddy honeymoon state. Here’s what one PLO diplomat told a friendly reporter:

The new Palestinian government will respect all previous PLO agreements, including the Road-map commitment to an end to violence and the Arab Peace Initiative, and it will move toward establishing a Palestinian state on 1967 borders … How could the EU come out against a government that has the same policies as the EU itself on this region? I don’t think that is an option.

Hamas as a movement might have a document calling for armed struggle, but as part of a unity government, it will have to respect the law and it will have to respect the Roadmap … Israel is saying we have to choose between peace and Hamas. But Hamas is part of Palestinian society, it’s part of our people. They must respect the choice of the Palestinian people and see Hamas as part of the [final?] solution, not part of the problem.

That’s interesting, since even the PLO never lived up to Roadmap obligations to stop terrorism and incitement, and Hamas has already made clear that they will not compromise their genocidal principles.

I also like the part about Hamas being “part of the solution,” but the Israeli response that the Arabs must choose between Hamas and peace is, well, stupid. The PA voted against peace in 2000 at Camp David, in 2008 when it rejected Olmert’s proposal and just last year when it refused direct negotiations with Israel. And Fatah, the dominant PLO faction, rejected peace at its convention in 2009 when it adopted a resolution reaffirming its commitment to armed resistance. So don’t bother saying “the Palestinians must choose.” They’ve chosen, over and over, with and without Hamas.

So, Can This Marriage be Saved? Who cares, they’re both jerks.

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Action alert: Reform Jews, stand up for Israel!

Friday, April 29th, 2011

The other day I mentioned a group of Reform Jews called “Jews Against Divisive Leadership” (JADL) who are opposing the selection of Rabbi Richard Jacobs as President of the Union for Reform Judaism. Rabbi Jacobs is an active member of the phony ‘pro-Israel’ J Street as well as the New Israel Fund, which funds anti-Zionist organizations in Israel.

JADL thinks that Rabbi Jacobs’ position on Israel is not consistent with the beliefs of a majority of Reform Jews, and has called his nomination a “J Street coup.”

If Jews don’t stand up for Israel, who will?

JADL is planning to purchase more advertisements in the Jewish media. If you are a member of a Reform congregation and would like to add your name to one of them, email JADL and tell them so!

It wouldn’t hurt to send them money, either.

Update [30 Apr 1239 PDT]: An incorrect email address was given for JADL. It’s been corrected.

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Critical mass in the Israeli/Arab conflict

Friday, April 29th, 2011

The Israel/Arab conflict is reaching a new point of inflection. The status quo which has been in place more or less since the early ’90’s (when the PLO returned to the territories from Tunis) is about to be replaced by a new reality.  This change could be peaceful, or — more likely — it could be mediated by the most vicious war in Israel’s history. But possible outcomes could be very different, depending primarily on the actions of the Israeli government.

The Hamas/Fatah arrangement, as I wrote recently, is designed to facilitate the creation of a state of ‘Palestine’ in the territories without recognition of Israel, end of conflict, or security arrangements. Such a state would immediately be in confrontation with Israel over settlements, etc., and would be a base for terrorism or outright war. If it were recognized by enough UN members, Israel’s self defense would be seen as aggression against the new state, and could be met with sanctions or worse.

But the Arab plan faces an obstacle: the US, and to a lesser extent, the Europeans, require that a Palestinian Authority that includes Hamas must agree to the three conditions of recognition, accepting prior agreements (Oslo) and renouncing violence. Hamas has never been prepared to even pretend to agree to these things.

The Arab strategy to overcome this is described brilliantly by the pseudonymous “Eldad Tzioni”:

So this is the game:

The PLO is the party that negotiates with Israel, and the party that officially recognizes Israel.

The PA [Palestinian Authority] is only responsible for governing the Arabs in the territories, not with any foreign relations.

The PA, despite claims of being democratic, reports to the PLO.

The fake Hamas/Fatah reconciliation is meant to only address the PA, not the PLO. They won’t hold any elections until after September, if ever.

So the PLO will claim to still recognize Israel and be peaceful, as it will claim that from its perspective nothing has changed.

The instant that Palestine is declared a state that is recognized by the world, in part because of these assurances that it is a peaceful state that recognizes Israel, Hamas and Fatah (and all the other terrorist parties that decide to join the government) will immediately take over the PLO’s foreign affairs, as that is what nations do. The PLO’s foreign affairs role will be superseded by “Palestine.”

Which means that the very minute that Palestine is recognized as a state, it will be by definition a terror state that no longer recognizes Israel! And indeed it will not need to. The entire peace process since Oslo has been a sham in order to gain territory, with peace being a tactic, not a strategy.

As I wrote yesterday, the introduction of Hamas into the PA means that the ‘peace process’ is over. Israel can no sooner make peace with Hamas than it could have with Hitler. The Oslo accords require recognition, etc., and so the day Hamas joins the PA, the PA will have abrogated the Oslo agreements. But Oslo created the PA. And Oslo recognized the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

This means that the PA will be illegitimate, and the status of the territories will revert to the way it was defined by UNSC resolution 242: the entire area is disputed, until the parties can agree on secure and recognized boundaries. And it means that Israel will not be required to negotiate with the PLO — something that was illegal under Israeli law before Oslo, by the way.

This gives Israel freedom of action from a legal point of view, I think. Of course, in the real world nations do whatever they can get away with. Force rules and diplomacy provides fig leaves. So Israel can’t depend on support from other nations just because it makes a convincing legal case.

I think that Israel needs to act preemptively to establish facts on the ground before the September declaration of ‘Palestine’, in order to ensure its continued security. Here is an example of a proposal for the kind of actions Israel might take:

  • Annex the large settlement blocs, the Jordan Valley, the ‘high ground’, and anything else that is necessary for security.
  • Re-emphasize Israel’s commitment to a unified Jerusalem under Israeli rule.
  • Publish a map which clearly defines the boundaries of the state.
  • Make a clear statement — and implement it — that Israel will work to provide full civil rights to its Arab and other minorities, but will not give them national rights. The Palestinian Arab state will be outside the borders of Israel, which is defined as the state of the Jewish people.

Naturally the Arabs and their supporters will scream bloody murder, including threats of war. Israel’s leaders and supporters must keep in mind that the replacement of Israel by an Arab state is and always has been the goal of the major Palestinian Arab factions. What has happened now is that the mask has dropped, and it will not be productive for Israel to pretend that there is still a possibility of a compromise peace.

The possibility of a major war today is greater than it has been for some time. Now to the threat from Hizballah and Hamas, we must add the possibility that Bashar al-Assad will deliberately provoke or join a conflict in order to divert attention from his violent suppression of domestic opposition, and also the possibility that Egypt will facilitate the supply of weapons to Hamas in Gaza.

But it seems to me that war will come if and when Israel’s enemies see the possibility of victory — that is, when it appears to them that Israel’s deterrent and defensive capability can be overcome. Israel’s ‘provocative’ actions would have little to do with it — the existence of any Jewish state is sufficient provocation.

The best way to prevent war, therefore, is to maintain the strongest possible defensive and deterrent posture. Proposals for appeasement, like the so-called ‘Israeli peace initiative‘, would have exactly the opposite effect. Naturally, the ‘peace camp’ is frantically coming up with new ideas along these lines. The good news is that they will be contemptuously dismissed by the Arabs, who are going for the whole enchilada.

Israel is facing a very difficult period in the near future. The way to traverse it successfully is to take a stance that is positive rather than apologetic or conciliatory.

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Peace process, RIP

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

So Fatah and Hamas are merging, and will create a unity government for the Palestinian Arabs.

As I wrote yesterday, the differences between Fatah and Hamas fall in the realms of cosmetics and tactics:

  • Fatah, dedicated to the violent destruction of Israel no less than Hamas, is prepared to say pleasant things in English. Hamas is not.
  • Fatah is willing to take a state on as much territory as it can get, promise peace, and then move toward its objective, as spelled out in its ‘plan of phases‘. Hamas will only agree to a hudna (temporary truce) if Israel withdraws from all the territories. Then the war will continue.

Ultimately, although they are quite different in the kind of life they will offer the Arabs in their state — Hamas will enforce Islamic law — there is no difference for Israelis. They will be dead or dispersed if either gets its way.

Neither Hamas nor Fatah intend to engage in bilateral talks with Israel. Hamas spokesperson Mahmoud Zahar said yesterday that

Our program does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it … It will not be possible for the interim national government to participate or bet on [sic] or work on the peace process with Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah/PLO made one of his typically ambiguous statements, which will be jumped on as a ray of hope by peace processors:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signaled on Thursday that peace talks with Israel would still be possible during the term of a new interim government formed as part of a unity deal with Hamas.

Abbas said the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which he heads and to which Hamas does not belong, would still be responsible for “handling politics, negotiations” …

In his comments, Abbas also addressed reactions by Israeli officials to the Hamas-Fatah unity deal, saying: “Netanyahu and Lieberman said yesterday that I had to choose between Israel and Hamas, but Hamas is part of the Palestinian people, and whether or not you like or agree with them, they are part of our nation and they cannot be extracted from us.”

But Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel until now — for 10 months because the official freeze on construction in settlements did not include Jerusalem (although de facto it did), and after that because Israel refused to extend the freeze.  Do you think the presence of Hamas in his government will render him more likely to talk? I don’t. Anyway, he has his heart set on getting everything he wants from the UN without having to give up anything to Israel.

The ‘peace process’ which began with Oslo is now officially dead. May it rest in peace.

Pro-Israel US Congress members are saying that if a Palestinian Authority (PA) unity government that includes Hamas is set up, and if Hamas doesn’t agree to recognize Israel, accept prior commitments of the PA and renounce terrorism, then the US must, by law stop all assistance to the PA. The European Union (EU), also, has demanded that Hamas must meet the substantially equivalent ‘Quartet conditions’ (of course they manage to help Hamas in other ways).

I can’t imagine that this will happen. I expect that Hamas will say something, anything, that the Administration will be able to interpret as meeting its criteria for a civilized Palestinian government.

The last time Hamas was part of a unity government (2006), Fatah threw them out in response to international pressure  and then Hamas took over in Gaza by force of arms (2007). This time I don’t think there will be that kind of pressure. The world has begun to accept the murderous, racist Hamas. We can thank the international Left and the Turks for their flotillas, Israel for its failure to complete Operation Cast Lead, and the weakness of the Obama Administration for not allowing Israel to put real pressure on Hamas.

So what’s next? Nothing good. Here are the choices, as presented by ‘Joe Settler’ in the Muqata blog:

Scenario 1 is that by September the EU, the UN, and everyone else willfully ignores that Hamas is part of the PA government. They go to the UN. Everyone votes for the new terrorist state – the US certainly won’t be a party-pooper and veto it. And presto, instant state.

Scenario 2. This summer they launch a full out war against Israel with Hezbollah’s help. At some point they run to the UN and beg for a cease fire, and while they’re at it, declare this their war of independence, which the UN will recognize as such (you can bet they like this scenario better, because it includes a war).

In either scenario, they get a state and come October, Hamas takes over. But they don’t care. Phase 2 will have been achieved.

The PA isn’t interested anymore in maintaining the fiction of Peace, because they are solely working towards a unilateral declaration of a state and war with Israel.

Do you think his remark that they prefer war is an overstatement? The PLO charter, never revoked despite lies and obfuscation, includes this:

Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine.

The Hamas Covenant includes this:

Article Thirteen: There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.

I hope ‘Joe’ and I are wrong. But I don’t think so.

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Three eminent Reform rabbis who slept through logic class

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

This advertisement appeared today in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal:

LA Jewish Journal advertisement opposing Rabbi Jacobs (click for larger version)

LA Jewish Journal advertisement opposing Rabbi Jacobs (click for larger version)

The nomination of Rabbi Richard Jacobs to head the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) created more than a little controversy. Rabbi Jacobs is an active member and supporter of both J Street and the New Israel Fund, Jewish organizations which claim to be pro-Israel, but whose actions — and in the case of J Street — sources of funding have a distinctly anti-Zionist tinge.

Today a group of Reform Jews called “Jews Against Divisive Leadership” published advertisements in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and the Forward (I’m  one of the signatories). The LA ad appears above. Apparently the editors of the Journal couldn’t let it go unrebutted, and so solicited an op-ed from several  prominent Reform rabbis to do so.

Rather than defend the positions taken by Rabbi Jacobs, these rabbis chose to simply attack the motives and politics of his critics. Some years ago I taught a class in elementary logic. The rabbis’ essay would not have gotten a passing grade.

It begins with a basic argumentum ad hominem and continues by setting up a straw man to attack:

The current advertisement means that a handful of Reform Jews have now joined previously Right-leaning critics who in recent weeks have challenged the Zionist credentials of Rabbi Jacobs. The claim is that Rabbi Jacobs’ involvement with groups promoting human rights and social improvement aligns him with crazed extremists.

Of course “right-leaning” is in the eye of the beholder, and the direction of lean has nothing to do with the soundness of the critics’ claims. And I don’t see the phrase “crazed extremists” in the ad, do you? So why do the rabbis say “the claim is…” when that isn’t at all what the ad says?

Here are five reasons why such a canard needs to be refuted with vigor:

1. If American Jews related to Israel the way Rabbi Jacobs and his family do, nega’ ha-netek [the plague of separation] would be in retreat. He cares deeply about the country, has strong relationships with many Israelis, encourages bilateral encounters and programs in his synagogue and through his work in the larger Jewish community, studies in Israel and even owns property in Jerusalem. He comes to Israel several times every year, and spends every summer studying sources with curiosity and profundity at the Shalom Hartman Institute. He is a passionate Zionist, who devotes time and love to the State of Israel. By any dispassionate standard, Rabbi Jacobs is part of the solution to the challenges confronting American Jewish engagement with and support of Israel, not part of the problem.

In the paragraph above, we find two common fallacies: the red herring in which irrelevant facts are presented as if they are evidence for an unrelated conclusion, and begging the question, in which the writer assumes that which he wishes to prove. Clearly the fact that someone visits Israel doesn’t imply that he is a Zionist — some of the most ‘passionate’ anti-Zionists live there year round. And simply calling Rabbi Jacobs a Zionist does not establish that he is one.

2. By setting the battle lines in the way they are currently doing, Rabbi Jacobs’ critics are sailing in very dangerous waters. They argue that any demurral from the current party line of Israel’s government is disloyal. If this position prevails, the plague of separation will reach epidemic proportions. The old parliamentary notion of “His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” is an important idea.

“They argue that any demurral…”? No they don’t! Nobody ever argued that. Talk about straw men! Where do the rabbis find such a statement in the ad? Or in my “right-leaning” blog, for example?

3. Let us also face facts. A significant number of North American Jews of a liberal disposition under the age of 40 are less and less likely to make Israel a central part of their lives. Yet, a small and highly influential committed core is swimming against the tide, and developing meaningful models for engagement for this cohort with Israel at this dramatic and uncertain time is a necessity for all of us who love and support the Jewish State. In Rabbi Jacobs’ example of encounter with Israel, in his willingness to confront complexity and face up to unpalatable realities, in his infectious enthusiasm and immense charm, he is a model for such younger Jews. To vilify him is to alienate them still further.

Agreed, many Jewish liberals do not support Israel. How is Rabbi Jacobs significantly different from them? What is his “meaningful model for engagement”? Participating in an anti-state demonstration? Is that what “confronting complexity” means?

Further, the ad does not ‘vilify’ anybody. It simply draws attention to Rabbi Jacobs’ actual positions and associations, suggests that these are best characterized as anti-Zionist, and asks if someone who takes these positions is a suitable leader for the largest denomination in American Jewry.

4. The fact that those who have assaulted Rabbi Jacobs’ integrity have wrapped themselves in the flag of Zionist purity is particularly galling. Since its inception, the Zionist movement has provided a forum for a range of opinions. If these self- appointed purists try to bar a great congregational rabbi whose views represent the mainstream of the American Jewish community and the Reform Jewish Movement from the fold of the True Believers, who wins? The campaign to discredit the work of the New Israel Fund (which hundreds of Zionist rabbis support) shows all the symptoms of separation plague — self-righteous certainty, disregard for nuance, allergy to reason and a strong appetite for the whiff of a witch-hunt. Support for Israel is not the exclusive property of one party or another.

I’m tired of repeating myself, but we did not “assault Rabbi Jacobs’ integrity.” I’m sure he is as honest and fair as the day is long. But we strongly disagree with his politics, and we think they are inimical to the survival of Israel as a Jewish state.

I am not sure about what wrapping oneself in the flag of Zionist purity is, but this brings me to the next fallacy that is so prevalent in this piece: I call it the Humpty Dumpty fallacy (apologies to Lewis Carroll): the view that words can mean whatever one wants them to mean. ‘Zionism‘ is a word that already means something, and the rabbis cannot simply redefine it to mean “knowing what’s good for Israel better than Israelis themselves,” as they seem to want to do.

5. Anyone who knows Rabbi Jacobs will tell you that he is a mature and wise man. He cares. He learns. He is a mensch. He is the farthest from a fanatic one can possibly imagine. In fact, Rabbi Jacobs lives his life striving for balance, humanity and depth. In the struggle against the plague of separation, he is staffing the ER.

OK, granted. I am sure he would be a good guy to have a beer or be in a foxhole with. But what does that have to do with his positions about Israel, and in particular what American policies toward Israel ought to be?

Let me add one more thing. The tone of this article is insulting. The writers say that critics of the New Israel Fund display “self-righteous certainty, disregard for nuance, allergy to reason and a strong appetite for the whiff of a witch-hunt.”

May I suggest that this better characterizes the writers themselves?

Update [1824 PDT]: The other ad was in the Forward, not NY Jewish Week. Corrected.

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Is Fatah/Hamas reconciliation for real?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

News item:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and its rival Hamas said on Wednesday they had resolved their deep divisions, opening the way for a unity government and national elections. The deal, which took many officials by surprise, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings. The two groups hammered out an agreement, setting the stage for forming an interim government as well as fixing a date for a general election. The accord was first reported by Egypt’s intelligence service, which brokered the talks…

Spokespeople for both Hamas and Fatah confirmed that “all differences” have been worked out between the long-feuding Palestinians political movements.

Is this to be believed? Keep in mind, that when Hamas overthrew the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza, some Fatah officials were taken to the top of tall buildings, shot in the knees and dropped off.

Fatah is a secular, Arab nationalist party. It was founded in 1959, and during the period that the Soviet Union supported the Arab states against Israel, took on a Marxist orientation. One of its founders was Yasser Arafat. In 1969, Arafat took over the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was recognized as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” by the Oslo accord and which became the dominant power in the Palestinian Authority (PA), the pseudo-government set up by Oslo. Fatah has a ‘military’ (terrorist) wing called the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from which somehow it manages to distance itself in order to be treated as a legitimate ‘partner’ by Israel and the West.

Despite the viciousness of Hamas and Hizballah, etc., Fatah has probably been responsible for more terrorist murders of Israelis over the years than any other group. But despite the policy clearly enunciated by Fatah and the PLO (including the most recent Fatah convention in 2009) advocating the violent replacement of Israel by an Arab state, it is considered a ‘moderate’ Palestinian organization because its leaders are prepared to make moderate-sounding statements in English.

Although Fatah claims not to be antisemitic or pro-terrorism, the PA media that it controls is full of antisemitism, incitement to murder, and glorification of terrorist ‘martyrs’.

Hamas is an Islamist party. It is explicitly antisemitic and calls for violent jihad against the Jewish state. Unlike Fatah, its spokespersons do not make moderate noises in English, so it is considered beyond the pale by Israel and the West. Hamas believes in strict application of Islamic law, and its reign in Gaza has been marked by persecution of Christians, limitation of the freedom of women, etc. Hamas has been waging war on Israel from its base in Gaza, launching thousands of rockets and trying to kidnap Israelis. Hamas has been holding kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit incommunicado since June of 2006.

Hamas and Fatah have very little in common from an ideological point of view, except a commitment to violent ‘resistance’ against the ‘occupation’, which means a Jewish state of any size between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. The most significant differences between them relate to the kind of Arab society that they would establish in Israel’s place, and the tactics that they have been employing in the struggle with Israel today.

Fatah and Hamas have negotiated on and off since the Hamas coup in Gaza without result. So why are they suddenly able to reach an agreement?

The PA has recently been quite successful in getting various nations to sign on to the idea of a unilateral declaration of statehood according to the 1949 armistice lines. If they can get the UN to call for such a state and a sufficient number of countries recognize it, then they will have their state without having to make any compromises for the sake of Israel — no recognition as a Jewish state, no secure boundaries for Israel, no demilitarization or other security concessions, and, importantly, no agreeing to give up further claims against Israel, including right of return for Arab ‘refugees’. A state like this would immediately be in a position of confrontation with Israel, and I expect that it would immediately become a locus of terrorism.

This would be a big win for the ‘Palestinian movement’ in general, because it will significantly advance the common goal of both groups, which is getting rid of those pesky Jews for once and for all.

But there is a big problem, which is that the Europeans will not agree to recognize such a state under a PA that does not represent all of the ‘Palestinian people’ (40% of them live under Hamas in Gaza). So in order for this to work, it’s necessary to at least give an appearance of reconciliation. I expect also that there will have to be some kind of representation that the new regime, including Hamas, will be peaceful.

Once the state is declared, Hamas and Fatah can go back to struggling for complete control of ‘Palestine’. Palestinian elections are scheduled for 2012, but D-Day for the big push in the UN is September 2011.

My guess is that the agreement will be long on generalizations and short on specifics, and that it will also contain some kind of language designed to soothe the US and Europe, who have in the past refused to recognize a PA that includes Hamas unless Hamas agrees to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept prior PA agreements (the Oslo accords). Hamas has never been prepared to do these things, but today conditions are especially ‘good':

  • The prize is great — they smell victory
  • The Europeans (and the Palestinians think the US as well) are really pushing for Palestinian unification
  • The atmosphere in Egypt is now much more supportive
  • They know that agreements are made to be broken

It is also possible that there will be a renewed push to get Marwan Barghouti out of Israeli jail, where he is serving a life sentence for multiple murder, because he is considered by many to be the man who can bring the factions together.

What will the Obama Administration do? So far, it has opposed a unilateral declaration of statehood, calling for a negotiated agreement between the parties. Who knows if it will be able to resist the temptation if the Fatah/Hamas ‘reconciliation’ is convincing enough?

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Anti-Israel claims invert reality

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Last week (“Secrets of Palestinian Arab propaganda“) I wrote about the way particular anti-Israel messages are targeted at  specific audiences. For example, I talked about

An anti-racist message aimed primarily at the US, where the white population is suffused with guilt for the institution of slavery followed by institutional discrimination against African-Americans. Palestinian Arabs are (nonsensically) presented as discriminated against because of their ‘race’, comparisons are made to apartheid South Africa, and violent terrorism is compared to the civil rights movement of the 1960′s. This argument is epitomized by a recent article by Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.

Today I want to look at another dimension of these various messages, the way they are characterized by an inversion of reality. Let’s look at some of the most absurd anti-Israel claims and see how they are actually inversions of Arab actions or objectives:

1. The IDF deliberately targets civilians (Goldstone Report). Not only did Goldstone himself repudiate this conclusion, it has been conclusively shown that

[T]he Goldstone Report’s anti-Israel charges were just unproven partisan allegations masquerading as investigative conclusions.

But Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews, which has been going on for at least 100 years, primarily targets civilians. They are soft targets, and best fit the goals of terrorism — to attract attention and to demoralize a population.

2. Children are especially victimized. If there ever was an inversion, this is it. No better example can be given than the recent murder of five members of the Fogel family, where one of the perpetrators returned to the house to kill a crying baby, and one said that they would have killed two other children if they had known they were present. There was the recent murder of a child when an antitank missile was fired directly at a yellow school bus.  And there have been any number of ‘actions’ like the Ma’alot massacre, the Bus of Blood, the attack on the nursery at Misgav Am, etc., in which the victims were primarily children.

3. The conflict arises from Israeli racism. There is no doubt that many Israeli Jews strongly dislike Arabs. You would too, given 1. and 2. above. But going all the way back to the beginnings of Zionism, there is documentation of a Jewish desire to coexist with Arabs in the land. On the other hand, the founding documents of both Hamas and the PLO (Fatah) are explicitly antisemitic, as are the messages broadcast by Palestinian Arab media, taught in schools, etc.

4. Israel tries to deny self-determination to Arabs. Of  course the whole point of the anti-Zionist movement is that the only Jewish state in the world is illegitimate, and should never have been created. Self-determination, they argue, is fine for ‘Palestinians’ — but not for Jews.

5. IDF actions are intended to terrorize the Palestinian population. No, they are designed to stop Arab terrorism, which is designed to … you get the idea.

6. Israel wants to displace Arabs from their land, on both sides of the Green Line. Both major branches of the Palestinian movement are quite clear that the problem is Jewish ‘occupation’, which refers to all of Israel, “from the river to the sea,” in the words of former PLO official Feisal Husseini.

7. Israel is a regional power oppressing the weak Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs are just a small part of the complex of the entire Arab world plus Iran, which is prosecuting its war to eliminate Israel. Can 40,000 (a conservative estimate) rockets aimed at Israel from Lebanon, long-range missiles in Syria, the increasingly unfriendly but massively armed Egypt, the Iranian nuclear program, etc. be left out of the equation?

8. Israel is carrying out a genocide against the Palestinian Arabs. This is the most vile accusation of all. The Palestinian Arab population in the territories and within Israel has more than tripled since 1970. Does this look like genocide? Not to me. But Hamas explicitly espouses murdering Jews in its charter, and Fatah has killed more Jews than anyone since Hitler.

I could go on. But I want to present one last example of the absolutely insane lengths to which anti-Israel propaganda has been taken.

One of the panelists at a recent University of California’s Hastings College of the Law conference (“Litigating Palestine: Can Courts Secure Palestinian Rights?“) was Noura Erakat, niece of Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erakat.  Here is how Stephen Schwartz reported some of her remarks:

In a weird attempt to contrast the present-day view of Israel held by the majority in the U.S. with official attitudes toward ethnic Japanese living in America during WWII, Erakat argued incoherently that “Israel [sic] enjoys citizenship and full status in the U.S.”  Answering a question from the audience, Erakat claimed that “criticism of Israel is seen as criticism of the U.S.” by the American populace and that U.S. laws against assisting Palestinian terrorists are comparable to Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding racial segregation based on the maintenance of “separate but equal” facilities.  She advised her audience that changes in the public outlook about Arab opposition to Israel would eventually arise, just as in 1954 the Supreme Court issued its decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education finding segregation of schools to be illegal.  After the panel, Jules Lobel, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and keynote speaker for the session, explicitly identified the Jewish state and its relation to Palestinians with American slavery.

The closest parallel that I can find to slavery and discrimination against African-Americans in the US is to compare the terrorism of the hooded Klan to that of masked Arab terrorists:

Hamas members with young recruit

Hamas members with young recruit

Klan members with young recruits

Klan members with young recruits

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Find another scapegoat

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Over the years, I’ve written about the moral necessity to recognize the Armenian Genocide, in those words, without euphemisms.

I’ve maintained my position despite the prevalence of antisemitism in Armenia (read a 2005 report here) as well as a disturbing strain of it found among some Armenian Americans (see this discussion, by an Armenian). One of the common themes in antisemitic revisionist history is that Jews somehow instigated or took part in the actual genocide alongside the Turks. And it is common currency on antisemitic and anti-Zionist websites that Jews and Israel are behind the US government’s failure to recognize the genocide (see for example the slimy Stephen Walt).

Last December Marshall Moushigian, a local Armenian activist, wrote an op-ed in the Fresno Bee entitled “Israel’s role in Armenian Genocide” in which he claimed that AIPAC was responsible for the defeat of several congressional resolutions to recognize the genocide. He went as far as to say that

Israel has, for decades, colluded with Turkey in the final stage of the Armenian genocide — denial that it ever happened.

and quoted the offensive remark of an antisemitic State Department employee that

[Jews] don’t particularly want to share the genocide label with other groups.

I responded that the great majority of Jews and Jewish organizations in the US, with a few exceptions, do call for recognition of the genocide, that those who did not (the ADL in particular) were responding to multiple forms of pressure, including threats against Turkish Jews. It was also to the advantage of the State Department to blame Israel for its own cynical amorality, and they are happy to do that.

Moushigian, following Walt, also called attention to the recent cooling of relations between Israel and Turkey, and suggested that AIPAC and Jewish groups might not oppose similar resolutions in the future. For my part, I thought that the State Department might change its tune as a result of Turkey’s recent alignment with the anti-American Iranian bloc.

Well guess what? Our courageous president blew it again, and neither side is happy:

Obama issued the annual statement on Armenian Remembrance Day on Saturday, honoring the “horrific events” that took the lives of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 — but declining to label it as “genocide” …

“The statement distorts the historical facts.” said the Turkish foreign ministry. “Therefore, we find it very problematic and deeply regret it … One-sided statements that interpret controversial historical events by a selective sense of justice prevent understanding of the truth” …

In the meantime, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, Ken Hachikian, criticized Obama for a “disgraceful capitulation to Turkey’s threats” and failing to acknowledge what many historians describe as genocide.

“His complicity in Turkey’s denials, and his administration’s active opposition to congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide represent the very opposite of the principled and honest change he promised to bring to our country’s response to this crime,” Hachikian said.

With Turkish PM Erdoğan and the terrorist IHH planning yet another Turkish flotilla to Gaza (delayed only because of upcoming elections in Turkey), I think it’s safe to say that AIPAC, ‘The Lobby’, Israel or Jews in general had absolutely nothing to do with the administration’s failure once again to recognize the genocide.

It’s also an indication of their lack of understanding of today’s geopolitical realities that the administration seems to think it is still productive to appease Turkish genocide denial. Caroline Glick wrote (April 15),

This week it was reported that NATO member Turkey is opening something akin to a Taliban diplomatic mission in Ankara. Turkey supports Hamas and Hizbullah. It has begun training the Syrian military. It supports Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It has become the Iranian regime’s economic lifeline by allowing the mullahs to use Turkish markets to bypass the UN sanctions regime.

In less than 10 years, the AKP regime has dismantled Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. It has inculcated the formerly tolerant if not pro- Israel Turkish public with virulent anti-Semitism. It is this systematic indoctrination to Jew-hatred that has emboldened Turkish leaders to announce publicly that they support going to war against Israel.

As a Zionist, I have consistently called for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and did not change my position as a result of Turkey’s hostile policies toward Israel. To those Armenians like Marshall Moushigian who choose to blame the Jews, I say: find another scapegoat.

Note: The Fresno Bee link to Marshall Moushigian’s original article is not available. My link is to a local copy of it.

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When does enough become enough?

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011
Arabs vandalize Joseph's tomb and adjacent yeshiva in 2000

Arabs vandalize Joseph's tomb and adjacent yeshiva in 2000

Joseph’s tomb is located in an area that was placed under Palestinian control by the Oslo accords. However, access to Jewish holy places was supposedly guaranteed, and Israeli soldiers were stationed there to protect Jewish worshipers. In 1996, it was attacked by Palestinian Arab ‘police’ and terrorists (are they different?) and six IDF soldiers were killed. The Arabs were ‘furious’ (aren’t they always?) ‘because’ Israel had opened an additional entrance to a tunnel that ran under the Western Wall, and about 80 people were killed in ensuing riots.

The second Intifada in 2000 (‘because’ Ariel Sharon had visited the Temple Mount) brought another attack, in which an Israeli border patrolman was killed. After that the IDF sporadically arranged visits for Jews wanting to pray there, although the building was vandalized and had garbage dumped at the site.

The Muqata blog brings the story up to date:

Sometimes the IDF coordinates visits in the middle of the night and brings in busloads of people (unless they think it is too dangerous), but more often Breslev Hassidim sneak in and out in the middle of the night.

Early this morning [April 24, 2011] (5:40AM), after finishing their prayers a carload of Breslev Hassidim were attacked by Palestinian policemen.

Originally 3 carloads of Jews arrived at the tomb to pray, but PA policemen waiting there shot in the air and 2 of the cars immediately left. The third carload of Breslevers stayed to pray.

After the prayers, when the Hassidim were driving out, the Palestinian policemen (trained and funded by the US) drove their PA police jeep up to the car with the Hassidim in it and opened fire.

One Israeli, Ben-Yosef Livnat (age 30) was killed and 3 more injured. Livnat is the nephew of Minister Limor Livnat.

Do you see? Let them think that they are safe, and then shoot them down in cold blood. After all, they are not only Jews, they’re ‘religious’, with their black hats. Only killing a ‘settler’ gets an Arab gunman more honor.

When does enough become enough? How many murders have to be committed by Palestinian Arabs just because the victim was a Jew and it was convenient to kill him, before there is a fundamental change in our way of thinking about Palestinian Arabs?

When do we stop treating Arab rights as top priority and start worrying about our survival? This applies to the ordinary terrorist in the street and to the Palestinian ‘security services’ that the US administration thinks it has trained to be ‘professional’, but it also applies to the Palestinian Authority that most of the world thinks should have a state.

Peace is not a possible outcome. The alternatives are effective self-defense or suicide.

Update [0019 PDT]: Israel National News reports:

Speaking to reporters Sunday morning, one of the Bresolv Hassidim [sic] who was in the vehicle shot at by PA police earlier outside the Tomb of Joseph said that it was clear that the PA police were shooting to kill. “They fired several long rounds at our cars, and yelled ‘Allahu Akhbar.’ There is no doubt they were shooting to kill us,” the witness said.

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Moty & Udi are on vacation

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

For those of you who are missing Moty, Udi, Shula and the group, the artist took a week off for Passover, and now is working overtime to finish a book that he is illustrating. He will be back soon! In the meantime, you can see previous Moty & Udi cartoons here.

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The human rights industry hates Israel

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011
Claudia Milani, the girlfriend of brutally murdered 'activist' Vittorio Arrigoni, visits his mourning tent in Gaza.

Claudia Milani, the girlfriend of brutally murdered 'activist' Vittorio Arrigoni, visits his mourning tent in Gaza, wearing a checkered kefiya and what appears to be a PLO flag.

Arrigoni was an International Solidarity Movement activist, full of hatred for Israel, so much so that he was unable to feel sympathy for Gilad Shalit, imprisoned alone in a bunker in Gaza since June 2006 without Red Cross visits or communication with his family. Arrigoni created this album of cartoons, and he had the word ‘resistance’ in Arabic tattooed on his right arm. His death generated outrage in the ranks of Hamas (as well as a very clumsily photoshopped picture of Arrigoni with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh).

He was probably kidnapped by a group called “tawhid wal jihad” (monotheism and holy war), which demanded the release of its leader, who was in a Hamas jail. But long before the deadline expired, Arrigoni was found dead, hanged or strangled. Their motives aren’t clear, but it’s been suggested that the ‘monotheists’ wanted to establish their bona fides as uncompromising fighters against ‘Western corruption’.

So what about his girlfriend? It would be surprising if Claudia Milani had a different point of view than Arrigoni, and apparently she didn’t. Here is a photo from a Facebook page created by Arrigoni (in Italian) and a comment posted by Milani (h/t: Harry’s Place):

Sign in the window of a cafe in Petra, Jordan

Sign in the window of a cafe in Petra, Jordan

Milani’s comment:

Sì, è eccessivo.

Ma è la riprova, se mai ce ne fosse bisogno, se mai la Storia non fosse riuscita ad insegnarci alcunché e noi da Lei nulla siamo stati in grado di imparare, del fatto che l’apartheid generi odio, l’odio rabbia, la rabbia il …torpore della ragione.

Inaspettatamente ingenuo, Israele, e con esso l’Occidente tutto, se ha creduto che il genocidio del popolo palestinese potesse restare impunito, stanca di ripeterlo.

Ancora grazie a te, Vik, che mai ti unisci al nostro coro e mentre noi gridiamo che questo mondo ci ripugna, stai in prima linea nel tentativo di rivoltarlo.

Here is a translation (thanks to a reader it’s much better than the Google version). Her position is clear:

Yes, it is excessive.

But it is proof if ever proof were needed, if ever history was not able to teach us anything, and if we haven’t been able to learn from it, that apartheid engenders hatred, hatred rage, and rage the slumber of reason.

Surprisingly naive, Israel and with her all the West has believed that the genocide of the Palestinian people would go unpunished, one gets tired of repeating it.

Again, thank you, Vik [Arrigoni], who never joined our choir while we cried that this world is repugnant to us, you were at the forefront in trying to overturn it.

Why do I care that the girlfriend of this murdered supporter of terrorists shares his offensively false beliefs?

Because she works for Amnesty International, which is supposed to be concerned with everyone’s human rights. I submit that taking the insane position that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian Arabs disqualifies her as having even a semblance of the impartiality that we must demand from this organization.

By the way, one of the first bloggers to notice this connection was Elder of Ziyon, who was taken to task by Amnesty for ‘targeting’ the bereaved woman. It also denied any anti-Israel bias. Here is part of his response:

In fact, Amnesty itself has no problem partnering with organizations that are explicitly dedicated to Israel’s destruction. If Amnesty accepts ab initio that the destruction of the Jewish state is a legitimate position, it is difficult to accept their argument that they are not biased against Israel.

It’s an unfortunate fact that the human rights industry devotes far more of its resources to the alleged violation of the rights of Palestinian Arabs, than to any other national or ethnic group — including those that actually are targets of genocide. Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, many lesser NGOs and the UN human rights establishment itself, seem to exist primarily to attack Israel.

Another example is that of Hina Jilani, the Pakistani feminist lawyer, a co-author of the libelous Goldstone Report which accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza. After the principal author, Judge Richard Goldstone, recanted the most vicious accusation, that Israel deliberately intended to harm the civilian population, Jilani (with the other two co-authors) reiterated her support for the report’s conclusions.

Phyllis Chesler, an American Jewish and feminist activist, wrote an open letter to Jilani, asking how it was possible that they could both share a concern for oppressed women, while Jilani could not see the blatant bias against Israel and antisemitism that suffused the UN and the human rights NGOs. Chesler wrote,

I once worked at the United Nations. In my opinion, it is completely ineffective save in two areas: It has legalized Jew-hatred with a vengeance and it has provided a High Life for many Third World/developing world professionals who wish to be well paid to live in the West and yet also wish to retain or achieve reputations as champions of justice. Therefore, I understand the price you would have to pay if you broke with UN-Think or with Third World Think which is so intensely anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Israel—the convenient scapegoats for all the crimes and ills of the Arab and Muslim world.

Chesler’s letter is worth reading in its entirety. Will she get a meaningful answer? I doubt it.

Updated [24 April 1644 PDT]: A reader who reads Italian has improved the translation greatly from the Google version.

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Solidarity with butchers

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

It’s a truism that so many Jews who purport to care about human rights seem to care far more about the rights of Palestinian Arabs than those of other Jews, in particular, other Jews who live east of the Green Line — who have no rights at all.

Here is a really shocking example. The following article appeared in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv (the original Hebrew article is here) and was translated by NGO Monitor. The translation doesn’t appear to be on their website yet, so I’ve reproduced it for your edification:

The radical left identifies with the families of the murderers from Awarta

Kalman Liebeskind, Maariv

April 17, 2011

A week ago, subscribers to the mailing lists of extreme left organizations received an important invitation. The activists were summoned to visit the village of Awarta on Saturday, calling it a “solidarity visit” is not a distortion. The email invitation, which was signed by the Coalition of Women for Peace [which receives funding from the New Israel Fund in the US], Combatants for Peace, Gush Shalom, and Humans without Borders, included a few lines on the plight of the villagers of Awarta following the attack in Itamar and after the IDF began to suspect that the killers were from there: Harsh searches, property damage and curfews. Bus transportation [to the solidarity visit] would be provided from Tel Aviv, Kfar Saba and Jerusalem.

Today, the names of the murderers were released — Palestinian human animals who slaughtered the Fogel couple and their children. Today, everyone who heard the details, exposed in the GSS interrogations, could not remain indifferent. This terrorist attack horrifies, boils the blood, and maddens the mind.

But within our midst, there are groups who, more than being concerned for the murdered, are worried about what the killers and their families are going through. It is not the murder that keeps them up at night, but the details of how the IDF treats the suspects. Disgusting.

As mentioned, this visit of extreme left-wing activists can not be called anything other than a solidarity visit. With what exactly do they identify? This I leave to your imagination. However, this is what one of the organizers, Yaakov Manor, posted on the website of the Alternative Information Center (AIC) after the visit:

“Zacharia and I arrived today at Awarta around 3:00 pm. The village was under curfew; a military jeep blocked the main entrance to the village. We found a way to bypass the obstruction. We held the first meeting at the Village Council building. Qais Awad, head of the Council and other local activists attended. The local participants reviewed the situation in the village since the killings in the settlement of Itamar … Since the murder, most of the searches by Israeli security forces focus on Awarta … Dozens of villagers were arrested for investigations that were conducted roughly and under threats… more than 20 villagers are still detained by the security forces.”

Manor details here, in shock, the version of some detainees on the insulting questions asked and the treatment they received from their interrogators. His Palestinian hosts in Awarta also had an explanation as to why the IDF’s searches were focused specifically on them. Is it because there is intelligence information about their involvement? Absolutely not. Is it because this village has already produced several murderers? No way. Is it because maybe the two killers of the Fogel family used to live next door to some of the villagers and were assisted by some villagers? Of course not. The head of the council explained to the left-wing activist “that the army is laying the groundwork for expropriating over 1,000 acres of olive groves near the settlement.” You get it? It’s all a conspiracy. The activists, it seems, were easily convinced.

The website excitedly reports about the IDF’s intrusion into the villagers’ homes and searches conducted while damaging property and hurting residents. Really terrible. It would have been better to pick up a phone and ask if it would please the killers to enter the nearest police station. The friends of the extreme left activists in Awarta would probably help immediately. Actually not. Do you know why not? Because the “village elders,” so tells us Manor, “firmly denied any guilt in the act and claimed collective punishment in the most brutal fashion.” Well, if the friends from Awarta strongly deny, who are we not to believe them? In any event, after the meeting, the justice seeking left-wing activists went to the homes of two families, to show their sympathy for their sorrow.

Yes, you guessed it. It is the families of the murderers. “The horror we saw in house of Mohammed Awad’s family, can not be described but as a pogrom for its own sake,” wrote the left-wing activists. The murder in Itamar did not remind the Tel Avivian friends of a pogrom. The search in the house of the killer is what triggered memories of dark days. The family was taken from their beds in the morning chill, and an IDF soldier even took one of girl’s blankets. The activists sympathized with the family. The son of these poor wretches – the murderer, slaughterer, butcher, or whatever you choose – was arrested that same morning. The leftists were troubled by his sister’s blanket. Manor describes him as a first year university student, and his mother “seems broken, stunned by grief and sorrow. The fear and terror can still be seen in her eyes.” Indeed difficult images. “No wonder there was a gag order imposed on all the events in the village. Under this cover you can pull any mischief without criticism,” he concludes.

These friends, from the radical left, are proceeding to remove themselves from Israeli society. They are no longer part of us. Those who are damaged the most by their activity is the legitimate Zionist left, who must denounce them and remove them from its camp. It must.

Shabbat shalom.

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