Archive for January, 2012

The AP’s Gonzo Journalism

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

The decay of the traditional Western media into irrelevance continues, as it sinks to the level of the old Soviet Pravda.

News item (the numbering of the paragraphs is mine):

1. (AP) JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has made two overtures to West Bank settlers in the run-up to his party’s leadership race on Tuesday: It’s offering financial incentives to encourage people to move to settlements and opening the door to legalizing rogue settler outposts.

2. The gestures appear to be aimed at appeasing hardline elements in the ruling Likud Party who are sympathetic to settlers. While Netanyahu is expected to win the leadership race, a relatively strong showing by his ultranationalist rival would suggest many Likud voters consider the prime minister too soft on peacemaking with the Palestinians.

3. The moves threatened to derail tentative new peace efforts with the Palestinians. A round of low-level peace negotiations ground to a halt last week, in large part because of Palestinian objections to Israeli settlement construction. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon is expected in the region Wednesday in an effort to restart the talks…

4. Years ago, the Israeli government halted generous financial enticements designed to encourage Israelis to settle in the West Bank, the occupied territory the Palestinians see as the core of their future state.

5. But in this week’s government decision, 70 settlements appeared on a new list of 557 communities inside Israel and the West Bank that qualify for housing subsidies. The incentives, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office, are “meant to encourage positive migration to these communities.” …

6. In a separate move, the government on Monday appointed a committee to examine land ownership issues in the West Bank. The panel will review a 2005 government report that found several dozen outposts were built not only without state approval, but on privately held Palestinian land. Officials said the report needs to be reviewed because its author, state prosecutor Talia Sasson, later entered politics with a dovish political party, raising questions about her objectivity…

7. …the panel’s makeup aroused suspicions it would legalize at least some of the more than 100 outposts built without government authorization, including dozens Sasson says were erected on privately held Palestinian land.

This is presented as a news story, not an editorial. Let’s look at how it’s constructed.

In the very first sentence, the idea is introduced that these actions were taken in order to improve PM Netanyahu’s chances in the Likud primary. This may be true to some extent — although his opponent, Moshe Feiglin, is in no way a real threat (initial results show Netanyahu with 63% of the vote vs. Feiglin’s 36) — but surely, unsourced speculation about Netanyahu’s motives does not belong in the lead sentence of a news story.

The reporter does not let up in the second paragraph, where he refers to “hardline elements” who are “sympathetic to settlers.” I would hazard a guess that almost all Likud party members are to some extent sympathetic to Jews living east of the Green Line, considering that they face pressure from the Arabs, the US, the EU and the (vanishing but foreign-supported) Israeli Left to leave their homes and become refugees like the former residents of Gush Katif.

In paragraph 3, we get the usual line that “settlement construction” — meaning construction within existing settlements — may “derail” peace efforts. Why is that? It doesn’t change anything, particularly since most of the construction is in the larger settlements or eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods that would be expected to become part of Israel in any reasonable peace agreement. It is a problem only because the Palestinians insist that it will be. One would think that the introduction of the Hamas into the Palestinian Authority and the likelihood that it will win future elections (or coups) would be a much bigger problem! But the writer doesn’t mention that.

Then in paragraph 4, he trots out the “occupied territory the Palestinians see as the core of their future state.”  The implication is that Israelis don’t have a right to live here, and Palestinian demands for Jew-free land are acceptable. I’ve discussed the falsehood of this view here.

Only in paragraphs 5-6 do we get to something partially resembling factual reporting. We are led to understand that there is a controversy concerning a 2005 land use report authored by Talia Sasson. The writer tells us that she became associated with a “dovish” party and so her objectivity  when she determined that many settlements were built on “private Palestinian land” may have been questionable.

But Talia Sasson is a board member of the New Israel Fund, a member of the Public Council of Yesh Din, a foreign-funded left-wing NGO which carries out ‘lawfare’ against Israel in the name of ‘human rights’, and a Knesset candidate of the fringe New Movement-Meretz party (which has 3 seats out of 120 in the Knesset). She is a professional opponent of the Jewish presence in the territories. Her objectivity is more than questionable, it is non-existent.

Finally, paragraph 7 uses the loaded phrase “arouses suspicion” and quotes Sasson as an authority.

Although the writer clearly has a point of view, it would still have been possible to provide some balance by including other interpretations. But this was not done: the article does not quote a single spokesman for PM Netanyahu or the Israeli government. It does, however, give voice to the Palestinian position:

“They are adding obstacles at a time when everyone is intensifying efforts to try to resume peace talks,” said Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib. “I think with every additional settlement activity, the feasibility of having two states is diminished.”

And just to be fair, a spokesperson for Peace Now also appears:

After suspending benefits unique to the settlements, the government is now encouraging settlers to move to the West Bank under a different program, said Hagit Ofran of the anti-settlement group Peace Now. “They put in 70 settlements, in effect encouraging them to live there,” Ofran said.

I know that there is a place for what Hunter Thompson called “Gonzo journalism,” but it isn’t a wire service news report, where the ancient Five Ws are still appropriate.

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‘Palestine’ adores vicious murderers

Sunday, January 29th, 2012
The mirdered Fogel family: Ruth, Udi, Yoav (11), Elad (4), Hadas (4 mo.).

The murdered Fogel family: Ruth, Udi, Yoav (11), Elad (4), Hadas (4 mo.).

The absolute vileness of the “Palestinian movement” is hard for those of us who grew up in civilized societies like the US and Israel to comprehend. As a result, many of us may be prepared to listen when they say that it is about human rights or justice.

But every once in awhile we get a window into what’s really behind it.

Even Israeli police and security personnel, who have seen some terrible things, were shocked last year by the sadistic murder of five members of the Fogel family including a 4-month-old baby whose throat was cut, committed by two Palestinian Arab teenagers, Amjad and Hakim Awad, cousins from the village of Awarta.

Captured after an intensive manhunt, the Awads were both convicted and given multiple life sentences. There was even consideration of applying the death penalty, something not done in Israel since Eichmann was hanged in 1962. Unfortunately, the court decided against it.

One might expect that the official Palestinian reaction — after all, they are preparing to petition the UN for statehood again — would have been something like “we condemn violent extremism, although we understand their frustration, etc.”

But they are past pretending even that much.The official reaction is that the butchers  are heroes!

Watch the following video, from official Palestinian TV, courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch:

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PA TV host: “We have a call from the family of prisoner Hakim Awad.”

Mother of Hakim Awad: “I thank you for connecting me with my son, because I and all of the family are prevented for security reasons [from visiting him].

Host: “Go ahead, sister, we can convey your voice.”

Mother of Hakim Awad: “My greetings to dear Hakim, the apple of my eye, from the village of Awarta, 17 years old, who carried out the operation in Itamar [i.e., killing of 5 Fogel family members], sentenced to 5 life sentences and another 5 years, in prison.”

Aunt of Hakim Awad: “I’m the sister of prisoner Hassan Awad and of Salah Awad; [I am] Um Habib, from the village of Awarta. My warm greetings to all the great heroic prisoners, to my brother Hassan Awad, head of the village council; to my brother Salah Awad, the heroic prisoner journalist; to the heroic, resolute prisoner, the lion, Yazid Awad, my nephew; and to my nephew Hakim Awad, the hero, the legend.”

Host:“We [PA TV], for our part, also convey our greetings to them.”

Aunt of Hakim Awad: “I dedicate this song to Hassan Awad, Yazid Awad, Hakim Awad, and Salah Awad, in prison:

‘My brother, in solitary confinement, your voice calls to me
You dare not throw down the rifle
That is what the homeland asked of me
In your eyes, we are all self-sacrificing fighters.
I convey greetings to the sound of the bullets of Ahmad Sa’adat and Hakim Awad.'”

Host: “Thank you for being with us, the family of prisoners Hassan and Salah Awad of Awarta.”
— (PA TV, Jan. 19 and 21, 2012)

This is nothing new. According to the Palestinian ethos, murdering Jewish civilians, including (especially) children, is not only legitimate, but praiseworthy.

Now I know that if any Palestinian sympathizers are reading this, right now they will be saying “well, didn’t the IDF murder children in Gaza?”

Actually, no. Pro-Arab propaganda often takes the form of inverting reality, accusing Israel of behaving like Nazis, or (more to the point) Arab terrorists. The IDF’s operation in Gaza in 2008-9, a response to the thousands of rockets that had been bombarding Israeli towns since 2002, resulted in a higher ratio of combatant to noncombatant casualties (about 3 to 1) than any instance of urban warfare in recent times (where the ratio is more like 9 to 1). This is despite the fact that Hamas deliberately operated from civilian areas in order to use the population as a shield.

On the other hand, we have Palestinian Arab ‘military’ actions like these:

The Ma’alot massacre, in which 25 Israelis were killed including 22 children, the Bus of Blood (35 dead, 13 children), the attack on the nursery at Kibbutz Misgav Am (3 dead, 2 children), the Dolphinarium bombing (21 teens dead), the Sbarro Pizza bombing (15 dead, 5 children), the shooting at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva (8 dead, 7 teens), the vicious butchering of the Fogel family (5 dead, 3 children), the antitank rocket attack on a yellow school bus (1 child) — these are just a few of a long, long list.

One of the scandals of the the conflict is that the media have helped the Arabs get away with portraying it as a dignified struggle for self-determination, when it is better described as one to eliminate the Jewish presence from the region, carried out primarily by terrorism against civilians — an attempt to make living in Israel so painful that Jews will simply give up — and only secondarily by conventional war and diplomacy.

Don’t expect to see the details of the Palestinian admiration for murderers in the NY Times, for example.

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When the President (of Palestine) is a mass murderer

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

From Ha’aretz:

[Marwan] Barghouti, who is likely to become the next Palestinian President, was convicted by the Israeli justice system of five counts of murder – four Israelis and a Greek monk – during the second intifada. There is no question he supported and encouraged violence.

Actually, as the head of the Fatah Tanzim during the second intifada,  he was almost certainly responsible for many other murders. But the prosecution was unable to provide sufficient evidence to convict him of more than five, for which he received five life sentences.

In a normal world it would be impossible to imagine that one country would release a convicted mass murderer so that he could become the president of a state to be established next door. In Russia (or Texas) he would be executed. Here in California, he might be sentenced to death but then remain in prison for life (while running up astronomical legal costs). But he would not be released to become, for example, Governor of Nevada.

The Ha’aretz story continues,

Barghouti’s involvement in past terror attacks does not change the fact that in light of the political developments on the Palestinian side – the possible reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and especially the lack of contenders against President Mahmoud Abbas – Barghouti remains the only Fatah member who could inherit Abbas’ place when the time comes.

In other words, since he is the one murderer that two murderous terrorist organizations find acceptable, then by all means Israel should facilitate unifying them by letting him go free. Incredible logic!

Barghouti appeared at a court hearing concerning a lawsuit filed by the family of Esther Kleiman, who was shot to death in 2002:

Esther Kleiman z"l

Esther Kleiman z"l

March 24, 2002 – Esther Kleiman, 23, of Neve Tzuf, was killed in a shooting attack northwest of Ramallah, while traveling to work in a reinforced Egged bus.

Esther was on the bus on her way to the Samaria community of Ofra where she worked as a special education kindergarten teacher for Downs Syndrome children. At least one terrorist on a ridge overlooking the Abud bypass road fired at the bus as it passed the village of Umm Safah, near Ateret. A bullet apparently penetrated an unprotected part of the bus above the bullet-proof windows, hitting her in the head…

Esther completed high school at Ulpanat Zvia and then volunteered for National Service for two years in the Neveh Sha’anan School for disturbed children in Jaffa, where she worked with both Arab and Jewish children. After completing her service, she studied special education at the Talpiot teacher’s college in Jaffa. Esther was quiet and shy, but she loved working with children, her father said, and preferred relating to the youngsters on a one-to-one basis, rather than in a classroom.

Neve Tzuf residents described Esther as a very kind and pleasant person who always had a smile on her face. She worked as a volunteer with disabled and disadvantaged children in addition to her regular job.

Kleiman’s family is suing the Palestinian Authority for several million dollars, because the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades killed her. Barghouti is supposed to testify on the connection between Fatah, the PA, and the al-Aqsa Brigades. Of course he refused to testify on the grounds that he does not recognize the authority of the court (to be precise, he does not recognize the Jewish state).

One wonders why he was brought to the courtroom in the first place, since he refused to speak at his own murder trial for the same reason. He was, however, given a platform to speak on an unrelated question:

The court hearing provided Bargouti with a rare opportunity to communicate with the Palestinian – and the Israeli public. One of the most important messages he conveyed to the many journalists surrounding him was that an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state will bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

An ‘important message’ indeed! As one popular pro-Israel blogger would write, “what could go wrong?”

You might be forgiven for wondering if it would be a good idea to take the word of a mass murderer who in effect promises that if you give him half of what you possess, then he won’t try to take the rest. But the Ha’aretz reporter assures us that Barghouti has repented from his evil ways:

In the past, Barghouti spearheaded the Fatah faction that called for terrorist attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank, and from January 2002 he even supported attacks within the Green Line. Like many Palestinians, Barghouti drew inspiration from Hezbollah, which forced Israel to retreat from southern Lebanon in May 2000, and thought that adopting the Shiite group’s tactics will cause Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories.

However, in recent years Barghouti admitted that the Palestinians made a grave mistake by turning to terrorism. In countless interviews he said he supports “popular resistance” – that is, unarmed resistance.

I don’t know about that last argument. For example,

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) (Arabic: لجان المقاومة الشعبية, Lijān al-Muqāwama al-Shaʿbiyya) are a coalition of various armed Palestinian factions that oppose the conciliatory approach adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel…

Set up in late 2000 by former Fatah and Tanzim member Jamal Abu Samhadana, the PRC are composed primarily of ex-Fatah fighters and al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades members and are alleged by Israel to be inspired and financed by Hezbollah. The PRC specializes in planting roadside bombs and vehicle explosive charges – directed against military and civilian convoys in the Gaza Strip. The PRC is described as a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. — Wikipedia

Is that the way ‘popular’ means ‘nonviolent’?

According to the reporter, Israel will have no choice if he is elected ‘President of Palestine':

…some of the people close to Barghouti have no doubt he intends to run for president, even if it means being elected while still behind bars. He also understands that after the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap – in which he was not included – his only chance of being released is to be elected president. Israel will have a hard time dealing with the international pressure to release an imprisoned president.

It’s hard to think of an analogy. Could California mass murderer Charles Manson be elected Governor of Nevada? Of course not. But then, Nevada is not an artificial entity created simply to oppose and destroy California.

Israel is still a sovereign state, which can keep its convicted murderers in prison despite the pretensions of its enemies. Releasing Barghouti because he may become ‘President of Palestine’, or even if he is elected, would be a surrender of sovereignty, and cannot be permitted.

The best solution, going forward, will be the establishment of a death penalty for terrorist murderers like Barghouti.

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Israel will attack Iran

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

In today’s New York Times is a long article by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman entitled “Will Israel Attack Iran?” It is the best-informed article I’ve read on this subject yet. It is also rational and fair — there are no villains other than the Iranian regime. It is a must-read.

Bergman has interviewed Ehud Barak and several former Mossad heads. He includes a fascinating account of the various covert actions undertaken by the Mossad and perhaps other agencies like the CIA, to delay the Iranian weapons program.

There are voices in Israel that say that an attack on Iran would be ineffective or the Iranian reaction so damaging as to make even an effective attack a Pyrrhic victory at best. But the position of Defense Minister Barak and PM Netanyahu seems to be that a nuclear Iran is inconsistent with the continued existence of the state. They believe that there are only a few months in which to stop it, before the program has advanced to the point that an Israeli military intervention will be impossible.

They would like to see Iran stopped peacefully, perhaps a result of economic pressure. The next best option would be an American military operation. But the point of no return is farther off for the US than for Israel, due to its greater firepower and, to be honest, a lesser degree of concern. Iran is expected to hide what it is doing, to pretend to negotiate seriously, to put all the pieces of the puzzle in place except for the final assembly of a weapon. But at some point, Israel’s red line will be reached. If the US has not acted by then, Israel will be forced do so. Bergman expects that point to be reached sometime this year, before US elections.

All this makes sense to me. It is almost impossible to believe that the US will launch an attack on Iran in the next few months. I can’t see any advantage for the administration, which would be accused of pulling a “wag the dog” maneuver. The resulting oil shock, as well as possible retaliation against American troops in the region, or even terrorism against the US, would be blamed on Obama at the worst possible time.

But this makes an Israeli strike almost a certainty.

Israel’s intention seems to be to inform Washington at the last possible moment, in order to show respect for its most important ally, but not give it enough time to stop it. The US, on the other hand, will try to find out when Israel is preparing to strike. Both President Obama and Israeli officials have pointed to the high level of military cooperation between Israel and the US as a sign of a coincidence of objectives between the countries. But there may be other reasons it is advantageous for the US to be in close contact with the Israeli military. Some analysts have suggested that a joint military exercise planned for April was canceled due to Israeli reluctance to have 9,000 US personnel in the country at this time.

There is no question that the Obama Administration would like any action to be delayed until after the election. The issue is how far the US will go to prevent an Israeli attack before then. Opinions range from “not past diplomatic pressure” to “we will shoot at Israeli planes.”

I’m going to go with the first option. While I think the administration would rather avoid the political risks of doing the job itself, the goals of the US and its very influential conservative Sunni Arab allies would best be served by keeping Iran from going nuclear. It would be convenient for the administration to have Iran defanged, while Israel can be blamed for any unpleasant side effects.

Israel will probably find itself fighting Hizballah and Hamas, either preemptively or after they are unleashed by Iran in retaliation. There may even be attacks from other Palestinian elements who take advantage of the situation. At this point, we can assume that the US, UN, Europe, Russia, etc. will ratchet up the pressure on Israel in the name of ‘peace’, but actually to prevent any real change in the status quo. I hope Israel will be able to resist this pressure and finally crush the terrorist militias.

So there it is. I don’t blame my Israeli friends and relations who look ahead with trepidation toward what may become Israel’s most damaging war. In fact I understand those who say that there is no future in fighting one war after another, ad infinitum. I understand that a lasting peace would be far better than winning a series of wars, with their unavoidable human and material cost.

Of course I also understand that there is only one way to get this lasting peace, and that is by defeating the enemy soundly enough and often enough that they will understand that peace is to their advantage as well.

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The evolution of the Oldest Hatred

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
An "anti-Zionist" demonstrates in San Francisco, 2009. No Jew-hatred here!

An "anti-Zionist" demonstrates in San Francisco, 2009. No Jew-hatred here!

Somebody asked me to expand on the remark I made Friday, when I said,

Today the impulse to hate — at least as it affects the more sophisticated Americans and Europeans — is directed at the concrete national expression of the Jewish people, the state of Israel, rather than at ‘the Jews’ … Irrational, obsessive hate is irrational, obsessive hate. Only the object is different. And the bloody results can be the same.

People that hate Israel every bit as viciously as the Nazis hated Jews are at pains to distinguish their hatred from antisemitism, because although anti-Zionism is acceptable, antisemitism is not.

Today, there is an absolute taboo in educated Western society against racist or ‘prejudiced’ speech.  Even some words (or ones that sound like them) are absolutely forbidden. Do you recall this incident?

On January 15, 1999, David Howard, a white aide to Anthony A. Williams, the black mayor of Washington, D.C., used “niggardly” in reference to a budget. This apparently upset one of his black colleagues (identified by Howard as Marshall Brown), who interpreted it as a racial slur and lodged a complaint. As a result, on January 25 Howard tendered his resignation, and Williams accepted it [he was later offered another position] … Howard felt that he had learned from the situation. “I used to think it would be great if we could all be colorblind. That’s naïve, especially for a white person, because a white person can’t afford to be colorblind. They don’t have to think about race every day. An African American does.” — Wikipedia

The Wikipedia article lists several similar incidents. Of course the word ‘niggardly’ has nothing to do with the famous ‘n-word’, in etymology or meaning —  it comes from A Swedish dialect word that means ‘stingy’ or ‘miserly’. I mention this to illustrate how incredibly touchy we can be about this kind of taboo.

How did we get here? In America, the fact of slavery followed by institutionalized racism and the struggle to end it was especially traumatic, in different ways, for both whites and African-Americans. Similarly, the Holocaust created a sensitivity to antisemitism in Europe and America. Explicit Jew-hatred is almost never expressed by the educated classes in the US and Europe (although it is quite common in the Muslim world — a recent poll shows that only 2% of Egyptians have a favorable opinion of Jews).

It is almost unthinkable that a university teacher today would delver a lecture accusing international Jewry of conspiring to take over the world, or saying that Jews have inordinate control over the US government. On the other hand, the equally false propositions that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian Arabs (despite the fact that their number has grown steadily since Israel was established), and that US policy is warped by a powerful ‘Israel lobby’ are heard in classrooms every day.

Especially in left-wing circles, where political correctness is carefully enforced and nobody would dream of accusing Jews of putting Christian blood in their matzot,  it is considered perfectly legitimate to accuse Israel of deliberately shooting Palestinian children, or of killing Arabs to steal their organs, on the strength of unsubstantiated statements made by Israel’s enemies — including those who themselves regularly practice murderous terrorism! But that doesn’t matter, because actual evidence is not required when the hatred is irrational.

We find irrational, obsessive and extreme hatred of the Jewish state everywhere on the Left, particularly among Jews. One example is here.

My thesis is that extreme Israel-hatred in this context is simply an evolved form of antisemitism. Let me explain.

Antisemitism is a meme.

A meme is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures. — Wikipedia

While it’s possible to take analogies too far, the biological metaphor seems spot-on in this case. Like a living species, traditional antisemitism developed throughout European cultures (and spread to others) until 1945, because the environment was favorable to it. In fact, one can see the Holocaust as the logical result of this development, the final flowering of it.

But like biological population explosions in which a species’ excessive expansion can change its environment in ways that make it less hospitable to the organism, the horrors of WWII changed the cultural environment in which the antisemitism meme lives. At least among educated Westerners, a resistance to traditional Jew-hatred developed, and the meme was inhibited from reproducing there.

There were other reasons. I mentioned the trauma of white racism in America. An analogy was drawn between racism and antisemitism. A great amount of energy was directed towards extirpating all kinds of prejudice in our society. Political correctness developed, which helped suppress racism and antisemitism, but also has had other non-benign effects.

Unfortunately, like living creatures, memes have the ability to mutate and mutations that improve their ability to reproduce in a particular cultural environment will be strengthened by natural selection. So rather than dying out, the meme evolved. Jew-hatred became Israel-hatred. Instead of  being directed at a group of people because of who or what they are, it was directed at the state that they created for themselves. The taboos against racism and prejudice were circumvented, because the meme could be presented as political opposition to a country rather than hate for a people.

Little else changed. The fundamental irrationality of traditional antisemitism, by which Jewish crimes and the evidence for them could simply be made up, remained. The ability of the antisemite to believe anything negative about the Jew no matter how outlandish, remained. The application of antisemitism to every area of human interaction — literature, music, sports, professions, etc., remained (consider academic boycotts, for example). The extreme vitriol that characterizes it, remained. And it appears that the ultimate goal — the destruction of the hated object — remains.

One way to see the connection between the Oldest Hatred and today’s attacks on Israel’s legitimacy is to note that what is being denied by Israel-haters today is that the Jewish people are a people, and they have a right of self-determination.

Keep this in mind the next time — and I’m sure there will be a next time, probably in the next few months — that there are massive anti-Israel demonstrations against the state of the Jewish people having the chutzpah to defend itself. Not much is new under the sun.

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What’s good for Israel is good for the USA (apologies to General Bullmoose)

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about whether certain bloggers associated with the Center for American Progress (CAP) — an organization ‘closely linked to the White House’ — have crossed the line by using the expression “Israel-Firsters” for American supporters of Israel. Peter Wallsten of the Washington Post provides a relatively neutral summary of the controversy here.

I am beginning to think that nothing is less productive than discussing whether a particular expression or person is antisemitic. Certainly saying that “American Jews are disloyal because they choose Israel over the USA” is antisemitic. But the CAP bloggers who used this expression insist that they are only talking about specific individuals, and their being Jewish is irrelevant.

I’ll be generous and give them this. It’s unimportant (although I’ll add that the expression is quite popular in explicitly antisemitic and neo-Nazi circles).

Today the impulse to hate — at least as it affects the more sophisticated Americans and Europeans — is directed at the concrete national expression of the Jewish people, the state of Israel, rather than at ‘the Jews’.

So what? Irrational, obsessive hate is irrational, obsessive hate. Only the object is different. And the bloody results can be the same.

What is a bit ironic today is that the interests of the US and Israel are more closely aligned than ever before. Speaking for myself, I believe that being pro-Israel is part of being pro-American (if this weren’t the case, I would go back to Israel tomorrow).

The Obama Administration doesn’t agree with me. The thrust of its policy, since the 2009 Cairo speech, has been to bring us closer to the Muslim world, which naturally implies drawing away from Israel, and in particular trying to force the creation of a Palestinian state, regardless — despite what Mr. Obama says in public — of the cost to Israel’s security.

An argument was made in the 1970’s that US interests, in the form of low oil prices, implied that the US should adopt a more ‘even-handed’ (read: pro-Arab) approach in the Middle East. I would dispute this, but at least the proposition makes sense.

Today the situation is entirely different. The tide of radical Islamism that is sweeping over the region is ideologically hostile to the West and particularly to the US. Appeasement of these forces — which is the appropriate way to describe a great deal of Administration policy — weakens our strategic position towards them.

The present goals of the regime in Iran include the elimination of US influence in the region, the control of its oil resources, the establishment of a regional Shiite hegemony under Iranian control, and oh yes, the elimination of the “Little Satan,” Israel. Ultimately the regime’s admittedly grandiose aim is to replace the “Great Satan” (that’s us) as the world’s superpower and spread Islam throughout the world.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has similar goals. The Turkish AKP envisages a new Ottoman Empire. Whether any of these regimes or groups stand a chance of realizing them is another question, but their ideological enmity to the US is unquestionable. Appeasement of any of these will not bring lower oil prices.

In every case, the Jewish state is the active front in their diplomatic, informational and sometimes military war to achieve their goals.  Israel has the ability and desire to defend itself, and therefore to help protect US interests as well.

Despite the recent campaign to portray Israel as undemocratic, it is the state that most closely embodies our values of freedom, justice, democracy, free enterprise, etc. in the Middle East. We should do our best to support it, and not work against its self defense as the Obama Administration has done.

Are those the only reasons that I support Israel? Of course not. But they are good reasons for all Americans to do so.

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Israel’s information enemies

Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Hard-Left Ha'aretz publisher Amos Schoken. A "main enemy" of Israel

Hard-Left Ha'aretz publisher Amos Schoken: a "main enemy" of Israel

A report from Steve Linde, editor of the Jerusalem Post, about a conversation with PM Netanyahu:

“He said, ‘You know, Steve, we have two main enemies,’ ” Linde had said on Wednesday of Netanyahu, according to a recording of the WIZO speech provided to JTA. “And I thought he was going to talk about, you know, Iran, maybe Hamas. He said, ‘It’s The New York Times and Haaretz.’ He said, ‘They set the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world. Journalists read them every morning and base their news stories … on what they read in The New York Times and Haaretz.’ ”

Of course, PM Netanyahu denied saying it, and Linde indicated that he had actually been paraphrasing the PM’s statement, not quoting it exactly. And I’m sure that nobody expects Israel to bomb Ha’aretz or invade Times Square. Everyone knows who Israel’s main enemies are.

But in a sense, we also know what he was getting at. While — at least so far — Israel has been capable of defeating its Arab enemies on the battlefield, it is particularly inept at countering the information war being waged against it, in part by the anti-Zionist Left.

Netanyahu knows that unless something unlikely and unforeseen happens, the moment will come when he will have to order the IDF to attack the Iranian nuclear complex. This is the last thing he wants to do — or rather, it is the second last, the last being to become aware that Iran has deliverable atomic weapons.

He knows that such an attack will be followed by retaliation which will undoubtedly kill many Israelis, despite the plans of the IDF to take out Hizballah’s rockets, neuter Hamas and deter Syria, and despite Israel’s well-developed missile defense capabilities.

He knows that the only thing worse than making the decision too early will be making it too late. It is reminiscent of the decision faced by Eshkol, Dayan and Rabin on the eve of the Six Days War.

So it doesn’t help when the Times publishes op-eds suggesting that the best way to solve the problem of Iranian nukes is for Israel to give up its own nuclear deterrent.

He is pressured on other fronts, too, as by a European diplomatic assault to force Israel to evacuate the area east of the Green line, which would effectively allow it to become a terrorist base. And speaking of terrorist bases, there is the increasingly dangerous condition of the Sinai peninsula, which has become a no-man’s land for multiple radical groups.

He really doesn’t need — just one striking example — for US decision-makers to read top Times columnist Tom Friedman saying that the standing ovation he received in Congress was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby,” or, for that matter, anything about Israel written by Friedman, Roger Cohen or Nicholas Kristoff.

NY Times editorials and the great preponderance of op-eds that relate to Israel blame it for the conflict or denigrate it as undemocratic or otherwise unsavory. Recently the Times published an outrageous attack on Israel for ‘pinkwashing’ — using its reputation for tolerance of gays to cover up oppression of Arabs — by a member of the extremist group “Jewish Voice for Peace.”

Ha’aretz is worse, if possible. Its staff includes Gideon Levy, Amira Hass and Akiva Eldar, who simply echo the Arab narrative in which Israel is a racist apartheid war-criminal state, which should never have been created. Because it is an Israeli newspaper — with an elaborate, up-to-date English website —  it is often quoted as representative of opinion in the country, whereas its positions are actually shared only by a small minority of Israelis on the far Left.

Both of these organs are considered the ‘newspaper of record’ in their respective countries, and as Netanyahu noted, their views are repeated by journalists around the world.

This is how the campaign to delegitimize Israel — to paint it as a criminal among nations, a rogue state, a state which is forbidden to defend itself — is fed every day. From the top.

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Anti-Israel propagandist to speak at Fresno State

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
Vida Samiian demonstrates against the presence of Israeli academic Ronen Cohen at a conference of the International Society for Iran Studies in Santa Monica last year.

Vida Samiian demonstrates against the presence of Israeli academic Ronen Cohen at a conference of the International Society for Iran Studies in Santa Monica in 2010.

Renegade Israeli ‘historian’ Ilan Pappé will be in California next month. In a whirlwind tour, he will visit UCLA and campuses in Northridge, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and California State University Fresno (CSUF) — where he has been invited by our own Dr. Vida Samiian, Dean of CSUF’s College of Arts and Humanities.

Pappé’s talk is titled “The False Paradigm of Parity and Partition: Revisiting 1967.” It is described as follows:

The talk will focus on Israeli policy before and after the June 1967 war. Two theses will be argued by revisiting the 1967 events: first, Israeli policies of 1967 can only be understood within the context of the overall Israeli strategy in 1948 and after.  This means that the war of 1967 was a direct continuation of the 1948 Nakbah and not a separate event. The second argument will be that Israeli strategy, including the device of what was later named as the “peace process,” was already formulated in 1967 and has not changed since that year and even until today. This strategy, it will be argued in the talk, is the main obstacle to peace in Israel and Palestine.

Pappé’s view is that the nakba, the exodus of Arabs from Israel in 1948, was the result of an intentional Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing. In attempting to prove this false thesis in several books and articles, he has presented quotations from Israeli officials of the time out of context, changing or even reversing their meanings (see Efraim Karsh, Fabricating Israeli History (Second, revised edition. London: Frank Cass, 2000)). He is currently under investigation at his present university, Exeter in the UK, for inventing a quotation from Ben Gurion out of whole cloth in one of his books.

Now apparently, he wants to place responsibility for the Six Days War on Israel — despite the massive documentation of Arab intentions to destroy Israel and even to commit genocide of its Jewish inhabitants — and present it as another attempt to dispossess the Palestinian Arabs and steal their land.

Pappé taught at Haifa University until 2007. He left after a controversy over a student’s Master’s thesis, which alleged that a massacre had been committed in the Arab town of Tantura in 1948. The student, Teddy Katz, ultimately lost a libel suit filed by veterans of the brigade that was accused of the massacre, and a university examination found distortions and fabricated quotes in the thesis and disqualified it. Pappé took up the student’s cause and called for a world-wide academic boycott against Haifa University, which developed into the academic boycott of several Israeli universities by the British Association of University Teachers. The detailed story is here.

Pappé doesn’t hide his disdain for facts when they interfere with his ideological preconceptions. Here are some quotations collected by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA):

There is no historian in the world who is objective. I am not as interested in what happened as in how people see what’s happened. (“An Interview of Ilan Pappé,” Baudouin Loos, Le Soir [Bruxelles], Nov. 29, 1999)

I admit that my ideology influences my historical writings…(Ibid)

Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not about facts. Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truthseekers. (Ibid)

The debate between us is on one level between historians who believe they are purely objective reconstructers of the past, like [Benny] Morris, and those who claim that they are subjective human beings striving to tell their own version of the past, like myself. (“Benny Morris’s Lies About My Book,” Ilan Pappé, Response to Morris’ critique of Pappé’s book, “A History of Palestine” published in the New Republic, March 22, 2004, History News Network, April 5, 2004)

[Historical] Narratives… when written by historians involved deeply in the subject matter they write about, such as in the case of Israeli historians who write about the Palestine conflict, is motivated also… by a deep involvement and a wish to make a point. This point is called ideology or politics. (Ibid)

Yes, I use Palestinian sources for the Intifada: they seem to me to be more reliable, I admit. (Ibid)

Pappé continues to claim that there were massacres of Arabs in Tantura, and more recently, Jenin in 2003 — although even the UN now admits that only 50-odd Arabs were killed there, four-fifths of them combatants.

Pappé’s ‘solution’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to replace Israel and the territories with a single state containing all of the present inhabitants of the area, along with the several million Arabs claiming refugee status or otherwise to be descended from Arabs living in Palestine pre-1948:

This must be based on the twofold recognition that a solution has to include all the Palestinians (in the occupied territories, in exile and inside Israel) and has to be based on the construction of a new regime for the whole land of historical Palestine, offering equality and prosperity for all the people who live there now or were expelled from it by force in the last 63 years of Israel’s existence.

This of course would result in an Arab majority, the end of the Jewish state, and probably a bloody civil war.

In addition to his admitted bias and deliberate distortion of facts, Pappé is a sloppy scholar. In a review of a 2004 book, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, Efraim Karsh writes,

Even by the skewed standards of this field of studies, Pappé’s latest book ranks in a class of its own. Not only does it add no new facts or ideas to the anti-Israel literature, but the sloppiness of its research astounds. It contains countless factual errors and inaccuracies. Yasir Arafat’s birthplace is Cairo and not Jerusalem. The U.N. Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) presented its report on August 31, 1947, not on November 29. Deir Yasin is a village near Jerusalem, and not in Haifa. Lawrence of Arabia had nothing to do with the Anglo-Hashemite correspondence that led to the “Great Arab Revolt” of World War I. Further, this correspondence was initiated by the Hashemites not by the British. Pappé even misspells the official English transliteration of President Weizmann’s first name (Chaim, not Haim).

More serious is the book’s consistent resort to factual misrepresentation, distortion, and outright falsehood. Readers are told of events that never happened, such as the nonexistent May 1948 Tantura “massacre” or the expulsion of Arabs within twelve days of the partition resolution. They learn of political decisions that were never made, such as the Anglo-French 1912 plan for the occupation of Palestine or the contriving of “a master plan to rid the future Jewish state of as many Palestinians as possible.” And they are misinformed about military and political developments, such as the rationale for the Balfour declaration…

His position is fundamentally dishonest: while he calls himself a ‘historian’, which most of us understand as someone who studies actual past events, he invents events to suit his program. He is not a serious scholar; rather he is a propagandist and ideologue.

While such a person may speak at our university, it’s not clear that University funds should pay for it. His talk at California State University Northridge (CSUN) is sponsored by the CSUN Students for Justice in Palestine, CSUN Greens, Muslim Student Association, South Asia Club, and the CSUN Communications Association. Where is the money coming from for his Fresno talk?

There is also the question of balance. I understand that he will be speaking alone rather than as a member of a panel. Obviously he prefers this, since any decent historian of the Mideast would make Swiss cheese out of his arguments. But given the political nature of his talk, should not some balance be provided?

Finally, is it appropriate for an administrator, like Vida Samiian, to be involved in political activity at the university where she works? After all, Dr. Samiian has the ability to affect the livelihoods of faculty members who might challenge her.

I plan to put these questions to the University authorities.

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Slanderous essay wins Carnegie-Mellon award

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Ben Zoma says:
Who is wise?
The one who learns from every person…
Who is brave?
The one who subdues his negative inclination…
Who is rich?
The one who is appreciates what he has…
Who is honored?
The one who gives honor to others…
(Talmud – Avot 4:1)

I lived for some years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is not a bad place at all, although the winters are very cold and once the sun didn’t come out for 43 days (I counted). It has several top -notch universities, including the University of Pittsburgh where I was a graduate student, and Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU).

Every year CMU runs a contest for student writing about racial issues, on the occasion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. This year’s high school  winners were a African-American girl, Erika Drain, and a Jewish boy, Jesse Lieberfeld. They are both juniors at the Winchester Thurston School, a private school whose main campus is located in the city’s Shadyside neighborhood. Tuition for the 11th grade is $23,600 at Winchester Thurston, so one assumes that they have only the best teachers and facilities available to them.

Their essays were published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, here. Erika Drain’s, about being called “not black enough” because of her academic achievement, was perceptive and nuanced. Jesse Lieberfeld’s was notable for several reasons:

  • His clearly expressed disdain for Jews and Judaism
  • His completely one-sided understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • The fact that his parents, teachers, rabbi, etc. didn’t succeed (or try) to introduce at least a bit of reality into his thinking
  • The fact that CMU chose this offensive piece as one of the top two high school essays

He begins with an arguably antisemitic statement:

I once belonged to a wonderful religion. I belonged to a religion that allows those of us who believe in it to feel that we are the greatest people in the world — and feel sorry for ourselves at the same time. Once, I thought that I truly belonged in this world of security, self-pity, self-proclaimed intelligence and perfect moral aesthetic. I thought myself to be somewhat privileged early on. It was soon revealed to me, however, that my fellow believers and I were not part of anything so flattering.

One would think that someone along the way would have explained to him that normative Judaism — liberal or Orthodox — does not teach that Jews are superior to others, only that they bear a greater moral burden, that of following the commandments. It’s unfortunate if he or his family are intellectual snobs or enjoy self-pity, but the Jewish people are not responsible for his psychological issues.

…as I came to learn more about our so-called “conflict” with the Palestinians, I grew more concerned. I routinely heard about unexplained mass killings, attacks on medical bases and other alarmingly violent actions for which I could see no possible reason. “Genocide” almost seemed the more appropriate term, yet no one I knew would have ever dreamed of portraying the war in that manner; they always described the situation in shockingly neutral terms. Whenever I brought up the subject, I was always given the answer that there were faults on both sides, that no one was really to blame, or simply that it was a “difficult situation.”

Nobody told him, apparently, that Operation Cast Lead came after some 8,000 rockets were fired at random by Hamas into Israeli towns. Nobody explained to him about the Second Intifada, the suicide bombings and drive-by shootings. Nobody told him about the surprise attack in 1973, the plans to wipe out the Jewish residents of Israel in 1967, the ethnic cleansing of Jews in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem in 1948. Nobody mentioned the 800,000 Jews kicked out of Arab countries after the War of Independence. Nobody explained how the Arab world had been trying to extirpate the Jewish presence from the Middle East for at least the last 100 years.

No, they just told him that “there were faults on both sides.”

And the connection to Dr. King?

In that moment, I realized how similar the two struggles were — like the white radicals [sic] of that era, we controlled the lives of another people whom we abused daily, and no one could speak out against us. It was too politically incorrect to do so. We had suffered too much, endured too many hardships, and overcome too many losses to be criticized. I realized then that I was in no way part of a “conflict” — the term “Israeli/Palestinian Conflict” was no more accurate than calling the Civil Rights Movement the “Caucasian/African-American Conflict.”

In both cases, the expression was a blatant euphemism: it gave the impression that this was a dispute among equals and that both held an equal share of the blame. However, in both, there was clearly an oppressor and an oppressed, and I felt horrified at the realization that I was by nature on the side of the oppressors. I was grouped with the racial supremacists. I was part of a group that killed while praising its own intelligence and reason. I was part of a delusion.

No one could speak out? Apparently Mr. Lieberfeld was not only allowed to speak out, but was given an award for it.

Concerning his absurd analogy, I would ask him if black people fired missiles into American cities? If they made a habit of blowing up buses on our streets? If African-Americans regularly proclaimed their desire to rid the country of whites and were supported in this by 23 neighboring nations, one of which was developing nuclear weapons? If black heroes, instead of Dr. King, were people like Palestinian hero Dalal Mughrabi, who led a bloody terrorist attack that killed 35 Israelis, including 13 children? Talk about delusions!

Was his expensive education so poor that he is unaware of the differences between the struggle of African-Americans to overcome official and unofficial racism in their country, and the viciously racist 100-year effort to kick the Jewish people out of their ancestral homeland?

Did it occur to him that his sources of ‘information’ might possibly be biased? Apparently not.

Finally, Mr. Lieberfeld gives Judaism one last chance — and it fails the test:

I decided to make one last appeal to my religion. If it could not answer my misgivings, no one could.

The next time I attended a service, there was an open question-and-answer session about any point of our religion. I wanted to place my dilemma in as clear and simple terms as I knew how. I thought out my exact question over the course of the 17-minute cello solo that was routinely played during service. Previously, I had always accepted this solo as just another part of the program, yet now it seemed to capture the whole essence of our religion: intelligent and well-crafted on paper, yet completely oblivious to the outside world (the soloist did not have the faintest idea of how masterfully he was putting us all to sleep).

When I was finally given the chance to ask a question, I asked: “I want to support Israel. But how can I when it lets its army commit so many killings?” I was met with a few angry glares from some of the older men, but the rabbi answered me.

“It is a terrible thing, isn’t it?” he said. “But there’s nothing we can do. It’s just a fact of life.”

I’d like to believe the rabbi did better than that, and that Lieberfeld was just not paying attention. But today, who knows?

I blame the family, the teachers, the rabbi, and CMU’s selection committee who validated this exercise in ignorant slander. But the responsibility for what he said lies with only one person, Mr. Lieberfeld himself. He’s old enough to accept it.

I suggest that he reread the words of Rabbi Shimon ben Zoma at the beginning of this piece, and then learn the truth about Israel — and some humility, while he’s at it. Dr. King certainly would have approved.


Update [2008 PDT]: Elder of Ziyon also discussed this essay in “An open letter to 17-year old Jesse Lieberfeld.”

Update [2011 PDT]: Jesse Lieberfeld is the son of Daniel Lieberfeld, an associate professor at Duquesne University, another well-known Pittsburgh institution. Daniel Lieberfeld has written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (see a list of his publications here), and teaches an undergraduate course on it. From what I’ve been able to find so far, he seems to take a center-left perspective.

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Why Israel fails in public diplomacy (and strategic action)

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Martin Sherman writes (“Comprehending the incomprehensible — Part I“),

For anyone seeking the principal reason why Israel is losing the public diplomacy war, the answer is difficult to accept, yet very easy to prove.

Israel is losing the battle because it doesn’t want to win.

Sherman’s thesis is tightly argued. I’ll summarize:

If an organization wants to achieve an objective, it will allocate resources to it. Israel’s budget for what Sherman calls ‘public diplomacy’ and I call the ‘information war’ is minuscule. The state is able to come up with large sums of money for such things as the withdrawal from Gaza or building the security barrier, but the Osem company spends two to three times as much promoting its ‘Bamba’ snack than Israel does telling its story to the world.

Since everyone admits that this is enormously important, why isn’t more funding provided?

Sherman suggests that the explanation for this criminal negligence is the same as the solution to these additional paradoxes:

• Why a country that displays such technotactical brilliance is afflicted by such strategic imbecility;
• Why hawkish candidates consistently win elections, but then immediately adopt the failed policy of their defeated dovish rivals;
• Why the doctrine of political appeasement and territorial concessions is repeatedly and consistently disproven, but somehow never discredited – and certainly never discarded;
• Why the Israeli political establishment has not embraced more appreciatively and mobilized more effectively the huge potential in the support of communities such as the Evangelical Christians across the world, and particularly in the US, as a strategic asset.

Sherman blames “the decisive role that civil society elites have in setting the direction of the country’s strategic agenda – no matter who gets elected.” And he adds that “this is a role that is not only decisive, but also in many ways detrimental, dysfunctional and at times disloyal.”

He’s talking about the academic/media/legal establishment, which includes some of the most viciously anti-Israel personalities you will find outside of Hamas. He gives some egregious examples, like BDS supporter Professor Neve Gordon and Ha’aretz journalists Akiva Eldar and Gideon Levy, and explains how the anti-state worldview that suffuses this stratum of Israel’s society, is strictly enforced by sanctioning ‘dissidents’ livelihood, promotions, etc.

This unelected establishment, says Sherman, has “both the ability and the motivation to determine the direction of the strategic agenda of the nation,” neutralizing the will of the voting public. And that direction is pathologically self-destructive.

With regard to public diplomacy or information warfare, the battle is lost before it even begins, because “the senior professionals charged with conducting the county’s public diplomacy are drawn from – and interface with – the elites discussed previously.”

This is an extremely important article, and is worth reading in full. In part II, Sherman will expand on the precise way in which the world-view of the intellectual elite acts on the decision-making processes of state institutions.

I’ve written in the past about Dr. Kenneth Levin’s thesis that many Jews suffer from what he calls “The Oslo Syndrome.” I described it thus:

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.

What we apparently have here is an entire social stratum of Israeli society — arguably made up of  the most influential Israelis — that is afflicted by this disorder. Worse, these individuals provide positive feedback for each other’s derangement to the point that some — see the examples in Sherman’s article — become nothing less than traitors, agents of those that want to commit another genocide against the Jewish people.

Recently there have been several pieces of legislation considered in Israel’s Knesset that have been criticized in the media as “anti-democratic.” Their intent has been, for example, to limit foreign funding of Israeli organizations, to change the method of selecting Supreme Court Justices, and to increase the limit on libel damages that public figures can claim from media.

Without discussing the details, it seems that these are all attempts of Israel’s elected legislature to limit the power of the unelected elites, in other words, to defend democracy, not to attack it.

How ironic!

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Talking about political Islam

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Non-Muslims in the West are beginning to be divided into two groups: those who believe that it is possible and necessary to talk about political Islam, and those who see that discussion as religious prejudice, and therefore taboo.

The present American administration falls into the latter group. While it is committed to fighting against those who are waging war — jihad — against us, it has abstracted the violence from its religious/ideological context, and has done its best to forbid our government and law enforcement agencies from mentioning the context.

This is a logically incoherent position, and prevents us from taking appropriate actions to protect our liberal, secular and democratic way of life.

One of the main problems is that the ideology of political Islam calls for both violent and non-violent action to change the nature of society — American and European society — in accordance with Islam’s ideal, which is as different from ours as seventh-century Arabia is from the 18th century Enlightenment.

For example, recently we have been hearing about the ‘moderate’ Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. It is true that the Ikhwan (Brotherhood) is not presently engaged in actual warfare with the West, the way al-Qaeda is. But thanks to Raymond Ibrahim, we have a statement by Dr. Muhammad Badi, leader of the Brotherhood since 2010 that explains its true objective:

Dr. Muhammad Badi, supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said: “The Brotherhood is getting closer to achieving its greatest goal as envisioned by its founder, Imam Hassan al-Banna. This will be accomplished by establishing a righteous and fair ruling system [based on Islamic sharia], with all its institutions and associations, including a government evolving into a rightly guided caliphate and mastership of the world.” Badi added in his weekly message yesterday [12/29/11]: “When the Brotherhood started its advocacy [da’wa], it tried to awaken the nation from its slumber and stagnation, to guide it back to its position and vocation. In his message at the sixth caucus, the Imam [Banna] defined two goals for the Brotherhood: a short term goal, the fruits of which are seen as soon as a person becomes a member of the Brotherhood; and a long term goal that requires utilizing events, waiting, making appropriate preparations and prior designs, and a comprehensive and total reform of all aspects of life.” The leader of the Brotherhood continued: “The Imam [Banna] delineated transitional goals and detailed methods to achieve this greatest objective, starting by reforming the individual, followed by building the family, the society, the government, and then a rightly guided caliphate and finally mastership of the world” [emphasis added by Ibrahim].

This is somewhat incompatible with the principles of our Founding Fathers, isn’t it!

Especially in Europe after the mass murder committed by Anders Behring Breivik, any deviation from politically correct speech about Islam is criticized as “right-wing extremism,” tantamount to neo-Nazism. For example, in a fascinating interview, the Norwegian blogger Peder Jensen (‘Fjordman’) described his experience:

I have never once met Anders Behring Breivik in my entire life and have been checked out of the case by the police after an extremely thorough investigation that at best operated at the very fringes of what could be considered legal. I am obviously aware of the fact that I am one of the many people who have been quoted a number of times in ABB’s so-called manifesto. I intensely dislike this, as most sensible people would do in my place, but since all of my writings are available on the Internet there is, sadly, little I can do about that. I see no reason why others should be held accountable for the acts of an insane person they have never met.

I did seriously consider quitting as a writer in the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks due to the immense international pressure on my person at that time and because I genuinely felt horrible about being quoted by such a man. Being dragged into the Breivik case against my will is the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life. After coming to my senses and recharging my mental batteries I decided to continue after all. I remain dedicated to the truth. Whatever was true before Breivik is also true after Breivik. If I ever quit as a writer I want this to be my own choice, not something I am forced to do by others.

Although Jensen vehemently opposes multiculturalism and calls for an end to Muslim immigration into Europe, he has never advocated violence against Muslims or left-wingers. He is not a racist or extremist, although he is regularly called such, as well as blamed for the murderous actions of Breivik.

If we want to survive as a culture, we cannot continue to ignore reality, to live in a world undergoing a titanic struggle while pretending that the struggle does not exist.

Is it possible for the Enlightenment-based West to coexist with Islam? Is it true a priori that Islam must be expansionist? We need to understand Islam in order to find out.

We can start on the road to understanding by dropping the rules of political correctness. It is possible to distinguish between opposing an ideology that wishes to harm us and irrational prejudice without making rules about what we are allowed to say, and what ideas we are allowed to entertain.

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Good prenatal care = racisim and militarism

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The degree of sheer lunacy displayed by some Israel-haters continues to amaze me.

A few months ago, a writer in the UK Guardian, Deborah Orr, argued that the 1000-1 ratio of Arab prisoners swapped for Gilad Shalit was an indication of Israeli racism. As if Israel had decided to accept the enormously disadvantageous swap and release convicted murderers and other terrorists, because Jews are superior to Arabs! There is no imaginable logic in her argument, only the desire to slander Israel.

Nothing, I thought, could possibly top the stupidity of that.

I was wrong. A Dutch writer, Ilse van Heusden, has published an article in Trouw, a daily newspaper, in which she proposed that the high level of prenatal care provided to Israeli women (Arab women as well as Jewish ones, I might add) is an indication of — guess what — Israeli racism and militarism. The article was antisemitically entitled “The chosen people must be perfect.” (The full article, in Dutch is here, and a Google translation is here).

Here are some quotes:

To be pregnant in Israel is comparable to a military operation. Countless echos and blood tests should produce the perfect baby, nothing can be left to the luck of the draw. The state demands healthy babies and a lot of them too. …

Children should not only be perfect: what makes things even more loaded, is the Israeli demand for many children. The state promotes having children, including a large family.  The then Minister of Social Affairs Shlomo Benizri explained in 2002: “The fear of losing uniqueness of Israel compels us to take action, so we are not a minority in our own country.” The battle with the Palestinians is fought with birth rates. It’s about numbers of Jews, the future of the country. The former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said that the Palestinian womb is the strongest weapon. [my emphasis]

As the blogger “Missing Peace” notes, Benizri was not talking about the birthrate, but about the uncontrolled influx of illegal immigrants and foreign workers. He also points out that National Insurance allowances for children in Israel are much smaller than in the Netherlands. But who cares about facts, when you can accuse Israel of a Hitler-like program of eugenics for military purposes?

As someone with four Israeli grandchildren (and one on the way) I can tell you that the state doesn’t “demand” anything. What it does is provide the best possible care, at a level that the average American woman unfortunately do not come close to receiving, for pregnant women.

This is a bad thing?

Update [1325 PST]: Speaking of insane Israel-haters, I forgot to mention the Israeli graduate student, Tal Nitzan, who wrote a paper arguing that IDF soldiers dehumanize Palestinian Arab women by not raping them. Yes, that’s what she said. And she received high praise from her adviser for it.

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