Archive for May, 2013

The Jewish lobby made them do it

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Sunday I discussed the way the IRS targeted Jewish and Zionist organizations that applied for tax-exempt status, in the same way that they have done to conservative groups like the Tea Party.

We know why the administration had a problem with the Tea Party, which strongly opposes its candidates and policies. But why jump on Zionists?

The mainstream media are just beginning, after three years, to notice this story, so let me help them understand it better by quoting something that I wrote back in August 2010:

In the past few months, we’ve seen the development of what could be called “the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) war.” Opening shots were fired by an Israeli Zionist student group named im tirtzu, which caused a stir when it reported that a large majority of the ‘documentation’ of  Israeli ‘war crimes’ in the tendentious Goldstone report on the recent war in Gaza came from 16 left-wing Israeli NGOs, all of which were supported by the US-based New Israel Fund (NIF).

Many of these groups can only be called ‘extremist’, and they are part of the movement to delegitimize Israel. In fact, the NIF’s guidelines did not disallow funding groups that advocate ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ (BDS) against Israel. Other NIF-supported groups include Arab organizations which call for the ‘de-Zionization’ of the state.

These NGOs also received millions from the European Union. The Knesset is now considering legislation to require greater transparency in funding of Israeli groups by foreign sources. NGOs are opposing it and have even asked the EU Parliament to consider this issue (talk about interfering with Israel’s sovereignty)!

There’s a cliché about poking a hornet’s nest. Did you ever hear the angry whine of, say, ten thousand disturbed insects? This pretty much describes the response to Im Tirtzu. Groups that benefited from the NIF’s largess, even the  Union for Reform Judaism (NIF supports its initiatives in Israel) screamed bloody murder.

But they did more: they counterattacked. In a coordinated campaign in early July including the New York Times and J Street, anti-Zionist forces blasted what they called “pro-settler charities” and suggested that they ought not to have tax-deductible status. The Times article included this:

The use of charities to promote a foreign policy goal is neither new nor unique — Americans also take tax breaks in giving to pro-Palestinian groups. But the donations to the settler movement stand out because of the centrality of the settlement issue in the current talks and the fact that Washington has consistently refused to allow Israel to spend American government aid in the settlements. Tax breaks for the donations remain largely unchallenged, and unexamined by the American government. The Internal Revenue Service declined to discuss donations for West Bank settlements. State Department officials would comment only generally, and on condition of anonymity.

“It’s a problem,” a senior State Department official said, adding, “It’s unhelpful to the efforts that we’re trying to make.”

It is remarkable how well anti-Zionist ‘Jewish’ organizations and celebrities line up together with the anti-Israel media against anyone, like Z Street, that opposes Israeli concessions to the PLO and supports the right of Jews to live outside the Green Line. The NY Times article quoted above is particularly offensive in its bias, distinguishing between (bad) contributions to ‘settlers’ and (good) donations for ‘Palestinians’. On the day it appeared, J Street

…call[ed] on the United States Treasury Department and relevant Congressional bodies to launch thorough investigations into whether or not the organizations funding settlement activities on the West Bank named in [the] New York Times report have broken the law.

And last year, in a NY Times op-ed, the star of the Jewish Left, Peter Beinart wrote that in addition to boycotting “settler-produced goods,”

We should push to end Internal Revenue Service policies that allow Americans to make tax-deductible gifts to settler charities.

So now we have the answer to why the Obama administration misused the IRS to punish pro-Israel groups:

The Jewish Lobby — the left-wing one — and its media lackeys, made them do it!

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Zionists targeted by IRS, too

Sunday, May 12th, 2013
Tax-exempt organization CODEPINK suborns treason against the US

Tax-exempt organization CODEPINK suborns treason against the US

What’s he trying to do, say that we can’t play politics with IRS?… Just tell George [Schultz] he should do it. – Richard M. Nixon, August 1972

With a great deal of sound and fury, Americans are discovering that the IRS is being used for political purposes by the Obama administration.

Readers of FresnoZionism knew this back in 2010, when we discussed (here, here and here) the way the IRS targeted the pro-Israel group Z Street when it applied for tax-exempt status. At the time, I wrote that

So, for example, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Students Association, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Council on American-Islamic Relations all can accept tax-deductible contributions. So can the left-wing Americans for Peace Now, Meretz USA, and even the relatively extreme extremist Jewish Voice for Peace.

Incredibly, If Americans Knew, a group dedicated to demonizing the state of Israel is also a proud holder of 501(c)(3) status. And — to my further astonishment — so is CODEPINK, whose members get arrested at anti-military demonstrations, support boycott-divestment-sanctions against Israel, invade the homes of people they don’t like, etc.

While the IRS seems to have drawn the line at Free Gaza — the people that organize the ‘flotillas’ to Gaza — they continue to allow a group called “American Educational Trust” which is a 501 (c)(3) to accept contributions and pass them on!

Lori Lowenthal Marcus, the founder of Z Street who filed a lawsuit against the IRS that year, notes that “the very first hearing in Z STREET v IRS was recently scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, July 2, [2013] in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia.” If Marcus were not a lawyer herself and very persistent, there would be no appeal for Z Street. And need I point out that justice delayed is justice denied?

I don’t know what official reasons were given by the IRS to Tea-Party related organizations — as well, ironically, as those with the word ‘patriot’ in their names — for holding up their applications, but Z Street’s lawsuit claims that

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

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

Could the violation of the First Amendment be more clear? An affadavit from the IRS official in charge of the “special unit” referred to was even more Orwellian:

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

This is like saying that we shouldn’t support the Boston Marathon, because terrorism happens there! And it is reminiscent of the US refusal to give refuge to Jewish victims of the Nazis because, as Germans, they were enemy nationals.

Marcus notes that the Z Street charter specifically condemns terrorism, and that Z Street has never provided funds or ‘resources’ to anyone in Israel or anywhere else.  And she adds that Z Street is not the only Jewish organization to receive ‘special treatment’ from the IRS:

And at least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel.  Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”

Some say the IRS is out of control. I wouldn’t put it that way — it is under way too much control, by an administration that simply doesn’t understand the Bill of Rights.

Zionists are on his list, too

Zionists are on his list, too

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Pro-Israel professor harassed and defamed

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

For some years, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin has been almost the sole faculty voice in the University of California system speaking out against harassment of Jewish students who support Israel. Here is an excerpt from a complaint she filed with the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights in 2009:

Professors, academic departments and residential colleges at [The University of California, Santa Cruz] promote and encourage anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish views and behavior, much of which is based on either misleading information or outright falsehoods. In addition, rhetoric heard in UCSC classrooms and at numerous events sponsored and funded by academic and administrative units on campus goes beyond legitimate criticism of Israel.  The rhetoric – which demonizes Israel, compares contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, calls  for the dismantling of the Jewish State, and holds Israel to an impossible double standard – crosses the line into anti-Semitism according to the standards employed by our own government. …

The impact of the academic and university-sponsored Israel-bashing on students has been enormous.  There are students who have felt emotionally and intellectually harassed and intimidated, to the point that they are reluctant or afraid to express a view that is not anti-Israel.

In the snake pit of academia, where unfashionable explicit Jew-hatred has morphed into enthusiastic and widespread over-the-top anti-Zionism, Rossman-Benjamin stands out — even among pro-Israel faculty members, most of whom are happy to  keep their mouths shut and their noses clean for the sake of promotions and tenure.

Now it seems that her enemies have decided to make an example of her, attributing to her the worst possible sins — the 21st century equivalent of witchcraft — racism and Islamophobia.

In the fantasy world of our universities, being accused of crimes against political correctness can get you in big trouble. And there is a degree of viciousness there that those of us who live on Earth and have real jobs can barely imagine. Rossman-Benjamin recently wrote a letter to University of California President Mark Yudoff, where she wrote in part,

… I have recently come under a vicious and unjustified personal attack from a pro-Palestinian student group on my campus, the Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP) and members of affiliated Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) groups on other UC campuses. They claim that I made “openly racist” and “Islamophobic” comments about the SJP and Muslim Students Association (MSA) during a talk I gave at a synagogue near Boston last summer. …

Most recently, in response to a 2-minute video clip taken from a much longer video of my talk last summer, the UCSC CJP and affiliated SJP groups on other UC campuses have not simply voiced dissent but waged a virulent and harmful campaign to assassinate my character that includes: posting and promoting a defamatory on-line petition accusing me of racism and censorship and calling on you to condemn me; widely posting defamatory flyers about me on the UCSC campus; launching over a dozen videos about me on YouTube that wrongfully accuse me of being “hateful,” “dangerous,” and “Islamophobic;” instructing SJP students UC-wide to fill out hate/bias reports against me on their respective campuses; passing libelous resolutions condemning me for my “inflammatory, hateful, and racist assumptions” in the UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, and UC Irvine student senates; and, perhaps most egregiously, appearing to collaborate with groups sympathetic to terrorists (e.g. the International Solidarity Movement) and associated on-line publications (e.g. Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss) to more widely circulate these defamatory materials about me.

Please understand that the CJP/SJP’s targeted and well-orchestrated campaign of intimidation, harassment, and defamation has caused me to feel real concern for my safety and my ability to carry out my responsibilities as a faculty member at UCSC.

It is no longer remarkable that supporters of the most racist, misogynist, homophobic, intolerant, anti-free-speech and violent forces in the world today — for example, Hamas — take shelter behind Western concern for the complete opposite of all of those. They are expert at the game of political correctness (here is another example). At the same time, their behavior conveys veiled physical threats against their targets.

I find it interesting to recall the atmosphere on campus when I went to school, before the upheavals of the mid-1960’s. One significant difference was the attitude of the Jewish students, who weren’t cowed and apologetic, still not having been beaten into submission to the idea that the Jewish state was an evil, apartheid, Nazi-like oppressor of ‘indigenous’ brown Palestinians. How this happened is a long story, but there certainly is no hope for reversing it if the few faculty members who can serve as models and mentors for Jewish students are intimidated or even driven out.

Check out Rossman-Benjamin’s request for letters of support here.

Previous posts about Tammi Rossman-Benjamin are here and here.

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Outrageously one-sided Chinese proposal needs lots of work

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
PLO's Abbas meets XI Jinping this week in Beijing

PLO’s Abbas meets XI Jinping this week in Beijing

I’ve heard suggestions that Israel should be looking east for allies, rather than toward the US and Europe. Judging by the four point “peace plan” proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping while both PM Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas were in China, maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea. Do we really need another plan that doesn’t mention recognition of Israel as a Jewish state?

Here are the four points, with a few comments interspersed. You can decide for yourself if this represents a positive breakthrough.

First, the right direction to follow should be an independent Palestinian State and peaceful co-existence of Palestine and Israel. To establish an independent state enjoying full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital is an inalienable right of the Palestinian people and the key to the settlement of the Palestinian question. At the same time, Israel’s right to exist and its legitimate security concerns should also be fully respected.

Just in case we have any question about whether the Chinese are taking sides, the ‘Palestinian people’ have “inalienable rights” to specific territory while Israel has only a “right to exist.” The word ‘legitimate’ is ambiguous, too — does it mean that Israel’s concerns are legitimate, or does it mean that only ‘legitimate’ concerns should be ‘respected’?

As we know, there are no “1967 borders,” only 1949 armistice lines which neither side accepted as having any permanent significance, and which were understood by the drafters of UNSC resolution 242 as needing to be replaced by “secure and recognized” boundaries. And if ‘full sovereignty’ includes militarization and control of airspace, then that is simply inconsistent with Israel’s security.

Second, negotiation should be taken as the only way to peace between Palestine and Israel. The two sides should follow the trend of the times, pursue peace talks, show mutual understanding and accommodation, and meet each other half way. The immediate priority is to take credible steps to stop settlement activities, end violence against innocent civilians, lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip and properly handle the issue of Palestinian prisoners in order to create the necessary conditions for the resumption of peace talks. Comprehensive internal reconciliation on the part of Palestine will help restart and advance the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

Ending violence against innocent civilians, if this means stopping Arab terrorism, would be great. But keep in mind that the PLO promised — when it signed the Oslo accords, and received weapons, money and training for its ‘police force’ — to do just that. PLO-supported terrorism continued, before, during and after the murderous second intifada, under Arafat and Abbas, on both sides of the Green Line, and is even increasing today, giving rise to fears of a third intifada. So any agreement must include a way to ensure that the PLO would honor it, as well as a way to restrain Hamas and the other extremist factions.

I recall the ill-fated ‘Road Map‘, whose full name was “A Performance-Based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” It called for “ending terror and violence” and stopping incitement as part of Phase I. Supposedly there would not be a Phase II if this didn’t happen. Of course it didn’t. Along the way, the idea of conditioning Israeli concessions on Palestinian performance seems to have been given up.

Regarding ‘settlement activities’: the argument has been that even if a ‘settler’ adds a bedroom onto his house within an existing settlement, then he is somehow creating facts on the ground which prejudice a future agreement with the Palestinians. This is illogical, considering that a) the settlement blocs where most Jews live are expected to remain part of Israel under any reasonable agreement, and b) there is established precedent for Israel withdrawing from inhabited settlements. But more important: Arabs, too, are building ‘settlements’, especially in Area C, the part of Judea/Samaria that is supposed to be under full Israeli control. Will they agree to stop their ‘activities’ as well? Because they are the ones creating facts on the ground today.

“Comprehensive internal reconciliation” is a lovely phrase, which means at least the integration of the belligerent, racist and genocidal Hamas into the Palestinian government. Since Hamas is the strongest and probably most popular force among the Arabs of the territories, it would probably lead to a complete takeover. The proper response to Hamas by all civilized peoples should be to reject and isolate it, not invite it to participate. I should add that removing the blockade to permit the import of missiles and other weapons is hardly conducive to peace.

The Chinese also seem to see a release of prisoners as a reasonable precondition. Perhaps they are used to the idea of political prisoners from their own case, but most security prisoners in Israeli jails are there for terrorist acts, of which they have been convicted according to due process (the Chinese could learn something from this).

Third, principles such as “land for peace” should be firmly upheld. The parties concerned ought to build on the existing achievements that include the principle of “land for peace,” the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative to advance the Middle East peace process across the board.

The idea of Land for Peace is pernicious. It could be rewritten, “your land or your life.” The contrapositive equivalent is “no land, no peace.” It ignores Israel’s historic rights under international law, assumes that Israelis or Jews do not have the right to live in the territories, and asserts that the penalty for doing so is war and terrorism. The Arab peace initiative makes precisely this kind of statement, placing blame for the conflict entirely on Israel and expecting Israel to bear all of the burden of resolving it.

Fourth, the international community should provide important guarantee [sic] for progress in the peace process. Relevant parties of the international community should have a greater sense of responsibility and urgency, take an objective and fair position, make vigorous efforts to encourage talks for peace, and increase assistance to Palestine in such fields as human resources training and economic development.

May I paraphrase: “Israel should be coerced by the ‘international community’ into agreeing to a disadvantageous settlement. Said community will also provide aid to ‘Palestine’, which as always will be used for weapons or to fatten the Swiss bank accounts of its leaders.”

The Chinese proposal gives nothing to Israel except a vague ‘right to exist’ — which of course is in not question regarding any other nation — and echoes PLO demands about borders, Jerusalem, and prisoners. Indeed, it could have been dictated by Mahmoud Abbas.

It almost certainly was. So what was Bibi doing in China?

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Bombing Syrian weapons and Israel’s future

Sunday, May 5th, 2013
These Syrian missiles did not make it to Lebanon (courtesy pietervanostaeyen)

These Syrian missiles did not make it to Lebanon (courtesy pietervanostaeyen)

I just watched some video of stuff blowing sky high in Syria.

I won’t add to the speculation about whether they are bombing weapons intended for Hizballah, chemical weapons, or “military research installations.” I do think we can say without fear of being wrong that it is Israel that is doing it, for the second time this week.

Yesterday, I listened in on a discussion about whether to be optimistic or pessimistic about Israel’s survival. My thought was: “I am guardedly optimistic.” Recent events make me feel even more so.

The way I see it, long term trends are mostly in Israel’s favor, although there are serious short-term threats that have to be overcome.

One of the most important of the long-term changes is the erosion of the Muslim oil monopoly. New sources of oil and gas in Canada, the US, China, even some in Israel, will make it harder for Israel’s enemies to pressure the West or Far East, and will reduce the amount of excess cash available to buy politicians and universities.

Although the Islamist takeover of Egypt is often placed in the negative column, the fact is that Egypt — once Israel’s most formidable enemy — is falling apart, as it proves that as far as running a country goes, Islam is not the answer. Egypt’s economic problems are immense, and it will be a long time before it will be capable of using its US-supplied weapons for anything other than putting down demonstrations.

While there has never been anything that united the Muslim Middle East more than hatred of Israel, today the ideological and religious issues dividing it are more important than ever.

Syria, another formerly formidable enemy, is cratering itself as we speak. Although there are justifiable fears that a radical Sunni regime even more hostile than Assad’s may take over, it appears that a decision has been taken in Jerusalem that it is the lesser evil compared to an Iranian/Hizballah takeover. Anyway, whoever follows Assad won’t inherit his massive arsenal, because it won’t be there at the end.

Assad’s exit — as long as Iran is kept out — will cut Hizballah off from its source of weapons, money and expertise. This is important because Hizballah is one of the main short-term threats I mentioned above.

War with Hizballah still seems probable, although less likely than before. In the event of war, its 60,000 missiles will have to go somewhere — I expect some will be destroyed on the ground, others will be launched and intercepted, and some will hit their targets. Hizballah also has built formidable defenses against ground attacks in South Lebanon, and even has plans for incursions into Israel. One has to take the threat seriously, but on the other hand there’s no doubt that Israel would prevail.

Without support via Syria, Hizballah will be weakened, and opposing forces in Lebanon — who do not want to see their national infrastructure damaged yet again by a pointless war of Hizballah’s making — may restrain them.

Iraq is also out of the picture, riven by internal conflict.

What about Iran? There are both short and long-term considerations. In the short term, we can’t minimize the danger from its nuclear program. The probability of American action seems small, so if they are to be prevented from developing actual weapons — and they don’t have far to go — Israel will need to do it. It is certainly correct that the program can only be set back, not taken out entirely.

But for the long term, the regime is highly unpopular. Like Lebanon, there is a large, relatively advanced segment of the population who would prefer peace and development to belligerence and Islamic fundamentalism. The Persian people also have not displayed the degree of Jew-hatred that one finds among the Arabs, unless the present regime has succeeded in ‘reeducating’ them. There is a good chance that a more moderate regime can arise, especially if it is encouraged to do so by the West.

So much for the good. What about the bad and the ugly?

The PLO and Hamas have little military capability, but their hatred is implacable and they can be expected to continue doing whatever they can by means of diplomacy, terrorism and subversion to destroy the Jewish state. Thanks to the ‘educational’ program established by Yasser Arafat and continued by the present Palestinian leadership — despite promises to end incitement — today’s residents of the territories are more pathologically consumed by hatred than ever before.

Israel’s options are limited — it must continue security precautions, work to assure loyalty among its Arab citizens, and make sure that the rest of the world is aware of the true intentions of the ‘Palestinian’ leadership (insofar as it doesn’t share them — see below).

The only thing that can make this problem go away is time, and this only if incitement can be ended. Unfortunately, Israel has little or no power to control this.

What historically empowered the ‘Palestinian cause’ was the Soviet Union and Arab petrodollars. Russia is now more neutral in this particular conflict for various reasons, and the Arabs have fewer and fewer petrodollars to throw around. But there is another factor, one which was kick-started by those same forces, that has taken on a life of its own almost everywhere in the world — Muslim nations, Europe and the academic sector of the US — old-fashioned Jew-hatred, now transmuted into anti-Zionism.

I’m not going to discuss all the ways that Israel should respond, but one is based on a simple psychological principle: humans hate weakness and victims; they like strength and winners.  The way to end Jew hatred is not to apologize or compromise with it, and not to appeal to the haters’ better natures, but rather to maintain our honor: to fight the enemies of the Jewish state with determination, to develop respect — love is not available — and deterrence, the political aspect of fear.

Bombing Syrian weapons depots is a good start.

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