Archive for April, 2012

Dept. of ‘What was she thinking?’

Friday, April 20th, 2012
Rabbi Miri Gold. What was she thinking?

Rabbi Miri Gold. What was she thinking?

What was she thinking?

Q. What kind of interactions or relationships do you have with Arab citizens of Israel?

A. Miri Gold (rabbi of Kehilat Birkat Shalom at Kibbutz Gezer; board member of Rabbis for Human Rights): … For 16 years, our two families have also thrown a yearly hafla (party), where as many as 500 family members and friends—Jews and Arabs—eat, drink, dance, and have fun. One year the party happened at the same time as the deadly terrorist attack on the Dolphinarium discotheque in Tel Aviv. A few young Arabs who’d left our hafla to party in Tel Aviv came back to tell us the news. We turned on the TV and realized that we were all equally vulnerable, angry, and sad. Had we been at the club, all of us could have been the victims. There was no distinction between Jewish and Arab lives. — Reform Judaism Magazine

If the people on the Bus of Blood had been Arabs, they would be dead. If the children of Ma’alot, or the Israeli athletes at Munich, or the customers of Sbarro’s Pizza, or the students at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, or the Fogel family, or Asher and Yonatan Palmer had been Arabs, they would be dead.

It isn’t news that anybody’s flesh, Jewish or Arab flesh, can be penetrated by explosive-accelerated nuts and bolts, bullets or knives.

Anyone can be a victim. A harder question to ask Rabbi Gold is “who can be a perpetrator?”

Shabbat shalom.

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Sweden, a pioneer of political correctness

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Reported number of violent, including deadly, crimes in Sweden, per 100 000 pop, years 1975-2006

Reported number of violent, including deadly, crimes in Sweden, per 100,000, years 1975-2006

Ha’aretz reports,

Arkia has to stop flying to Stockholm because the Swedish capital’s international airport now refuses to allow Israeli methods of security inspections dictated by the Shin Bet security service … Thus, Stockholm’s airport joined those in Malmo, Sweden and in Copenhagen in refusing to allow Israeli security inspections, which involve ethnic and personal profiling, extensive questioning and selective inspections based on the perceived degree of risk to security.

Arkia, the only Israeli airline flying to Sweden, had to move its operations to Malmo and Stockholm this year after Denmark refused to permit Israeli security procedures at its airports last summer. Arkia elected to fly passengers to Sweden and take them by land to Denmark. Now this avenue is closed.

This could very well spread to other European countries:

“It seems from the international media that additional European countries waving the flag of civil rights and equality will refuse the Israeli security demands, which I’ve warned would happen,” said Arkia CEO Gadi Tepper. Arkia and other Israeli airlines would face serious difficulty if much of Europe is blocked to them, he said.

So Sweden, as usual a pioneer in politically correct insanity — this is the country that has invented a new pronoun equivalent to “he-she” to promote gender equality — finds the idea of profiling and asking intrusive questions so repugnant that they would prefer passengers on Israeli planes to accept an increased probability of getting blown to bits.

But that’s not just because they are anti-Israel. They are equally prepared to let themselves get blown to bits in various ways for the sake of political correctness. According to a 2006 cable from the US Embassy in Stockholm released by Wikileaks, Sweden granted 873,040 residence permits to immigrants between 1980 and 2004. The dispatch, apparently by  interim chargé d’affaires Stephen Noble, includes this:

¶2. (SBU) According to a report by the National Council for Crime Prevention published in December 2005, immigrants or individuals with at least one immigrant parent perpetrated about 45 percent of all crimes during the period 1997-2001. In regard to the most serious felonies — murder, manslaughter, assault and rape — the percentage was even higher.

¶3. (SBU) A National Council press release about the report focused on other findings showing immigrants are often wrongly suspected of crimes — possibly in deference to the politically sensitive nature of the crime statistics. The Council report cites failed government integration strategy as partly responsible for the over-representation of immigrants in criminal activity.

The situation is worse today. More than 14% of the population of Sweden is foreign-born. About 5% are Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the former Yugoslavia. Most recent immigrants (since 1990) have been Muslim asylum seekers.

The Swedish government knows there is a problem. The approach to solving it, however has been — what else is new? — politically correct:

The diversity policy [as opposed to encouraging assimilation] that was introduced in the 1990s did not result in any obvious improvements. Thus, the government set up a commission in 2001 to investigate migrant communities’ access to power and influence.

In 2003, however, two members of the commission’s scientific committee publicly criticized the commission, claiming it discriminated against its non-Swedish members. The government discontinued the commission and set up a new commission to investigate integration in relation to structural discrimination.

The new commission consists of two researchers and a secretariat, but above all, it has been in a position to engage a large number of independent researchers for specific studies and tasks. Most of the researchers are young post-docs in sociology, economics, anthropology, and political science; a large share are of immigrant background. One of the critics, University of Uppsala ethnic studies professor Masoud Kamali (born in Iran), was appointed chair of the new commission.

This new commission has clearly adopted a post-colonial theoretical perspective. In its report released in 2005, it proposed introducing affirmative action on a broad scale to counteract structural discrimination. Affirmative action, the commission stated, should not only apply to ethnic or migrant minorities but also to other social categories. The commission even proposed that categories of people in a low socioeconomic position (including native Swedes) should enjoy the benefits of affirmative action.

However, the commission has not been able to pinpoint the causes of structural discrimination. All the main trade unions and the employers’ association have jointly repudiated the policy proposal. Members of the non-socialist opposition parties, who on the whole are more favorably inclined to labor migration, have criticized the government for encouraging the production of ideological discourse rather than seriously determining the facts, analyzing the problems, and developing feasible strategies to deal with the shortcomings. [all emphasis mine]

Some have suggested that the Swedish government has put the fox in charge of the henhouse. Meanwhile, there has been a very large increase in crime, including violent crime. There has also been a spurt of antisemitism against the tiny Jewish population (20,000) — both of the Muslim variety and the left-wing “anti-Zionist” type — which has gone entirely out of control in some places, like Malmö.

It’s ironic that Sweden had a highly restrictive immigration policy before and immediately after WWII, so very few Jews found refuge there. Today, political asylum is easy to get. I’m sorry that Israelis will find it hard to visit Sweden now, at least on Israeli aircraft. But one wonders why they should want to.

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Zero tolerance for ISM ‘activists’

Monday, April 16th, 2012
IDF officer striking Danish ISM protester

IDF officer striking Danish ISM protester

Many of you have already seen this video of an IDF officer striking a Danish International Solidarity Movement (ISM) ‘protester’ in the face with his weapon. The incident occurred when the activists blocked a road near Jericho on Saturday.

The injured protester after the incident

The injured protester after the incident

IDF authorities have suspended the officer, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, and have ordered an investigation. Unsurprisingly, the media — including the left-wing Israeli media — have jumped all over this example of Israeli ‘brutality’.

We should keep in mind that the edited video, produced by the ISM, shows only a few seconds of the incident, which took place over a period of two hours. And Lt. Col. Eisner says that the same protester had previously struck him with a stick or bicycle pump, fracturing his fingers. Nevertheless, it’s likely that he will be severely punished for his action.

Those who sympathize with the officer say that the video does not show the context of the incident, which includes the two hours prior to it. But there is a lot more context than just this that needs to be taken into account.

The ISM was created in order to support the Palestinian project to eliminate the Jewish state. It sees ‘nonviolent’  — that is, without guns or explosives — protest as part of the overall struggle, which also includes violent ‘resistance’.  In a 2002 essay called “Why Nonviolent Resistance is Important for the Palestinian Intifada: A Response to Ramzy Baroud,” ISM founders Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro explain,

The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent. But most importantly it must develop a strategy involving both aspects. No other successful nonviolent movement was able to achieve what it did without a concurrent violent movement – in India militants attacked British outposts and interests while Gandhi conducted his campaign, while the Black Panther Movement and its earlier incarnations existed side-by-side with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

Nonviolence, as they argue, can be effective in achieving goals that violence alone cannot, such as “changing the image of the Palestinian struggle,” and involving foreigners:

Additionally, more foreign civilians would be encouraged to come to work with Palestinians in their legitimate struggle against occupation and injustice, thereby internationalizing the Intifada and bringing more resources to bear on pressuring Israel and the international community to establish a just peace.

And what is the ultimate goal? Is it a peaceful two-state solution? No.  One of ISM’s objectives is to secure the ‘return’ of Arab refugees and their descendents (between 4-5 million) to Israel, which would effectively end the Jewish state. They directly support Hamas and other terrorist groups, sometimes as human shields.

ISM has chapters all over the US and Europe from which they recruit naive activists, whom they bring to Israel to participate in their actions. If these people are injured or, better, killed, they provide great propaganda value. In this particular case, the Danish government has already made inquiries regarding the treatment of its citizen.

Nonviolent does not mean non-hostile. Nonviolent actions in war, especially when it is an asymmetric war in which public opinion is one of the fronts, can be very effective tactically, sometimes much more so than violent acts.

Just because nonviolence is associated with good causes like the US civil rights movement does not mean that it cannot be used for evil ones. The tactic itself is morally neutral.

These people are in effect combatants in the Arab war against Israel, albeit without guns. They do their best to disrupt operations and protect terrorist fighters, who do have guns and explosives. Although there are leftist or anarchist Israelis who take part in demonstrations, the international activists are in the majority and the most effective as propaganda tools.

Democratic countries like Israel seem to believe that as long as  a ‘tourist’ does not use an actual weapon when he participates in anti-state activities, he must be treated as an honored guest. While I don’t think Israel can adopt the methods used by Arab countries, Russia, Turkey, China, Iran, etc., there is more that can be done.

There should be zero tolerance for these enemy soldiers. ‘Internationals’ who enter military zones or disobey orders from soldiers or police should be arrested immediately, deported, and prevented from reentering Israel. Like the “Flightilla” participants, anyone identified as having a connection with ISM should be barred from entering the country.

Frankly, I cannot sympathize with the slightly injured protester. He came to Israel in order to help destroy the Jewish state and replace it with another Arab dictatorship, resulting in the dispersion and/or death of its Jewish population. In effect, he was trying to kill Lt. Col. Eisner’s children, and it’s tragic that Eisner will be punished because he gave him a split lip.

Update [18 APR 1847 PDT]: For more about how the ISM operates, read this fascinating piece by investigative journalist Lee Kaplan.

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First Muslim Life Peer in UK supports terrorists

Sunday, April 15th, 2012
Lord Nazir Ahmed. Solidarity with murderous terrorists

Lord Nazir Ahmed. Solidarity with murderous terrorists

MEMRI reports:

During a recent visit to Pakistan, Lord Nazir Ahmed, a member of the British House of Lords who originally hails from Pakistani Kashmir, announced he was putting up a bounty of £10 million for the capture of U.S. President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush. The announcement, made at a conference held in the Pakistani town of Haripur, came in response to a recent U.S. announcement offering a $10 million reward to anyone providing information leading to the capture of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, founder of the Pakistani jihadi organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and emir of LeT’s charity arm, Jamaatud Dawa.

I’m sure that Bush and Obama are well-protected. But before I discuss his offer, here is a reminder about what Lashkar-e-Taiba is:

LeT has been responsible for numerous terror attacks, including one on the Indian Parliament in 2001 in which 7 people (plus 5 terrorists) were killed. The most well-known was the 2008 incursion into Mumbai in which 150-190 people were murdered (numbers in sources vary; also 10 terrorists were killed).

The Mumbai incident, which continued for 3 days until Indian special forces finally overwhelmed the terrorists, was remarkably vicious, including the random shooting of people at a railway station, an attempt to kill hospital patients, and the invasion of hotels and restaurants.

The group is concerned with far more than the Indian ‘occupation’ of Kashmir. It has a global focus:

a Markaz al-Dawa wal-Irshad [LeT’s parent political organization] publication titled Hum Jihad kyun Kar rahe hain? (Why Are We Waging Jihad?), declares the United States, Israel and India as existential enemies of Islam.  It lists eight reasons for Jihad: 1) to eliminate evil and facilitate conversion to and practice of Islam; 2) to ensure the ascendancy of Islam; 3) to force non-Muslims to pay  jizya (poll tax, paid by non-Muslims for protection from a Muslim ruler); 4) to assist the weak and powerless; 5) to avenge the blood of Muslims killed by unbelievers; 6) to punish enemies for breaking promises and treaties; 7) to defend a Muslim state; and 8) to liberate Muslim territories under non-Muslim occupation. – Husain Haqqani: The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups, p. 24-25

Their concern with the Jewish occupation of ‘Palestine’ led the terrorists to include the Mumbai Chabad house on their list of targets, where Rabbi Gavriel Holzberg, his pregnant wife Rivka, and four others were murdered. It was not an afterthought, and in an intercepted phone call from Pakistan, the terrorists were told that dead Jews were worth 50 times other victims.

Gavriel and Rivka Holzberg. Murdered because Jews rule "Muslim land"

Gavriel and Rivka Holzberg. Murdered because Jews rule "Muslim land"

Baron Nazir Ahmed is Britain’s first Muslim life Peer. Here is an explanation of his reason for supporting this terrorist organization, from a Pakistani newspaper (also from MEMRI):

In an expression of solidarity with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, British parliamentarian of Kashmiri origin Lord Nazir Ahmed has announced a reward for the [capture] of U.S. President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush…

Lord Nazir said that the bounty placed on Saeed was an insult to all Muslims, and [that] by [offering it], President Obama has challenged the dignity of the Muslim ummah.

Even if Ahmed would say that the methods of LeT are too violent — and I have no idea what he would say if asked — his remarks show that it is intolerable to him that infidels like Bush or Obama should place themselves above a Muslim.

This is precisely the ideology of LeT. Haqqani continues:

This list of itself is sufficient to justify a virtual state of permanent jihad. “Have all the obstacles to observing the faith in the world been removed?” the unnamed author asks rhetorically, adding that non-Muslim dominance of the global system makes jihad necessary. “Is the current world order that of kafirs (unbelievers) or of Muslims? Is the global economic system according to the wishes of Allah, which requires the end of interest and usury?” Jihad is described as essential to ensure ascendancy of Islam and to create circumstances whereby non-Muslims would either convert to Islam or pay jizya.

Maybe a good test for whether a Muslim is ‘moderate’ or not is to ask him if unbelievers should have the same rights as believers.

Certainly those who do not accept this, like Ahmed, should not hold a position in a governing body of a Western democracy like the UK.

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Can there be a ‘progressive Zionism’?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

I want to contrast two widely divergent views of the Jewish people and what the relationship of American Jews toward Israel should be. First, Rabbi Daniel Allen of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists:

If we take Israel seriously, and if Yom Ha’Atzmaut is a holiday for all Jews, which it should be, then how do we celebrate the success of Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, this April 25/26 as Israel turns 64?

The answer is relatively easy; make a commitment to make Israel an always improving society. In a recent study in the United States by the Public Religion Research Institute, the question was asked: What is most important to one’s Jewish identity? The leading answer, with 46%, was a commitment to social equality. Support for Israel was second with 20%. If the Jews in group one and the Jews in group two could be combined, then 66% of American Jews could work together to create more social equality in Israel.

And Rabbi Daniel Gordis:

[Peter] Beinart’s real problem is that Israel is not, and was never meant to be, a felafel-eating, Hebrew speaking version of the United States. It is not ethnic-neutral. It was created, and our children die for it, not simply so there can be another democracy in the Middle East. Is one more democracy worth my soldier son’s risking his life? No, it’s not. Israel is about the revitalization of the Jewish people. It is, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “of the Jews, by the Jews and for the Jews,” all while protecting and honoring those who are not Jewish. Are we perfect? Hardly. But do we aspire to America’s ideal of a democracy? Not at all. We’re about something very different.

To be fair, you need to read all of both articles. But — leaving aside the (I have to say it) typically American arrogance in Rabbi Allen’s piece, the idea that we know better than Israelis what their democratic country should be like — there is a fundamental difference in their conceptions of the nature of our people, and therefore of the function of a Jewish state.

Allen writes,

As Reform Jews, we are committed to social equality. As Reform Jews, we are already making Israel an ever more inclusive democratic state.

I think it’s not unfair to say that, like Beinart, Allen believes that the essence of Jewish ethics is equal treatment for all human beings. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but he would probably explain the concept of chosenness as being chosen to bear the burden of being a “light unto nations.” He would probably reject the idea that Israel should treat Jews differently in any way than non-Jews.

Gordis emphasizes the tribalism — “a view of the world that says that we are not just like everyone else, that we are distinct and ought to remain that way” — inherent in Jewish tradition. For Gordis, chosenness is about more than just visibly following the same ethical precepts espoused by Unitarians. And he believes that the distinctness, the deliberate separateness, of the Jewish people both informs and is preserved by the Jewish state.

But in order for this to happen, there can’t be equality in every respect between Jews and non-Jews — although it is possible and important to ensure that all of Israel’s residents have civil rights as we understand them (keeping in mind the special circumstances of Israel as a nation under continuous siege).

If you do not believe in an essential difference between Jews and non-Jews, how do you justify giving Jews a right of return to Israel but withholding it from Arabs? Why should the national anthem include the words “a Jewish soul still yearns” when some Israeli citizens are not Jews? How, in other words, can we demand a specifically Jewish character for the state when we we don’t recognize anything special about the Jewish people?

The problem with the identification of Jewishness with a universalist ethics plus some ritual and cultural — food, etc. — baggage, as Beinart and Allen appear to do, is that it leaves no rationale for the existence of a Jewish state.

These are hard questions for progressive Zionists. Maybe Rabbi Allen will answer them.

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