Archive for April, 2014

Trend of US Israel policy is negative

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014


Yesterday I tried to explain why John Kerry’s use of the concept of ‘apartheid’ in connection with Israel was so outrageous.

For a top official of the US, supposedly Israel’s ally, to employ language more usually found in the sewers of Jew-hatred — sorry, I have to be accurate — is shocking, but indicative of the level to which US-Israel relations have fallen in the Age of Obama.

But there is also a practical significance. Kerry’s remarks constitute a threat. If Israel doesn’t roll over on command, suggests Kerry, it will get the South Africa treatment, boycotted and divested from by the so-moral ‘international community’ until its Zionist regime is forced to resign from the human race, like the National Party of apartheid South Africa. This isn’t the first threat from Kerry, who promised (and thus encouraged) a ‘third intifada’ if Israel didn’t hurry up and make a deal.

Kerry continued by blaming Israel for the failure of negotiations, even though the PLO leadership refused to commit to end the conflict, maintained their demand for a right of return to Israel, and never stopped the vicious incitement to murder in their media.

What has happened is that the center of discourse about Israel in the US has shifted. Administration and media people, educated in our ‘great’ universities — universities richly endowed with Arab petrodollars — have consumed a diet of extremist anti-Israel propaganda from teachers like David Klein, Lawrence Davidson, James Petras, Joseph Levine (three out of four Jewish!), and many others. Like the education for hate carried out by the Palestinian Authority, it has been effective. The students, including the President and his Secretary of State, learned their lessons and are applying them in their daily work.

The US Congress has been less affected, because of pressure from pro-Israel constituents — mostly evangelical Protestants and older or more observant Jews. But there is strong pressure on the evangelicals (especially younger ones) to move them away from their support of Israel, and as the older Jews (who tend to be Zionists) die off, the liberal Jewish community becomes less and less committed to defending Israel. Congress will follow the lead of its constituents.

I don’t see any reason for these trends to reverse, and the more that opinions formerly considered extreme become mainstream, the more they will inform policy.

On a personal note, I will be moving back to Israel in a couple of months. The US has been good to me, and I’ll miss my friends and a lot more about this wonderful country. But I can’t help but admit to a feeling of relief that Kerry, Obama and others like them will no longer represent me.

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John Kerry exposes his anti-Israel bias

Monday, April 28th, 2014
Apartheid -- the real thing

Apartheid — the real thing

News item:

If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state,” Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting Friday.

Senior American officials have rarely, if ever, used the term “apartheid” in reference to Israel, and President Obama has previously rejected the idea that the word should apply to Jewish State. Kerry’s use of the loaded term is already rankling Jewish leaders in America—and it could attract unwanted attention in Israel, as well. …

The application of the concept of ‘apartheid’ to Israel, a theme that began with the notorious Durban Conference in 2001, is one of the most offensive propaganda techniques used by Israel’s enemies to demonize it, matched only by the “Israelis are the new Nazis” one.

Apartheid, as everyone knows, is a set of laws designed to create ‘separation’ between races that existed in South Africa between 1949 and 1994. It was much more than mere racial segregation, being a complete system to ensure that blacks (and ‘coloreds’) would have inferior status in every sphere and be unable to obtain political influence. Nothing remotely like it exists in Israel (on either side of the Green Line) nor is it contemplated, even by the most right-wing members of the Knesset.

To be completely fair, apartheid is much closer to Islamic Shari’a, under which non-Muslims’ rights are severely limited. And racism more appropriately characterizes Mahmoud Abbas’ demand for a Jew-free ‘Palestine’ than Israel in any sense. But never mind, this isn’t a contest.

Kerry is alluding to the argument that if Israel annexes all of Judea and Samaria (and Gaza?), demographic considerations would lead to a loss of Israel’s Jewish majority. At that point, it’s argued that Israel would be forced to limit Arab suffrage in order to keep its character as a Jewish state.

This line has been shown over and over to be unsound. The demographic predictions are false, being based on phony Palestinian numbers and wrong assumptions about Jewish and Arab birthrates, and there are other alternatives. This has been covered in detail in numerous places, including Caroline Glick’s book The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.

But even if this is all that he had in mind, it is beyond inappropriate and offensive that the American Secretary of State would echo the most vicious anti-Zionists by using the word ‘apartheid’ in connection with Israel. Indeed, his use of it indicates that behind his ‘balanced’ rhetoric — he likes to blame ‘both sides’ — he is strongly biased against Israel.

Kerry needs to apologize (the lame attempt to minimize the damage by State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki doesn’t cut it). Or, as the Emergency Committee for Israel suggests, quit.

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US Reform Jews following same path as in 1940s

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom haShoah. Although I agree with those who say that preservation of the historical record is a necessary part of preventing its repetition, I am very uncomfortable with its use to produce an emotional catharsis, which often stands in the way of facing the real threats against the Jewish people today. The same people who cry over the dead Jews of the 1940s often have no problem taking anti-Zionist positions today — or supporting politicians like Barack Obama, whose policies are inimical to the continued existence of the Jewish state, and therefore the Jewish people.

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) as seems not to have noticed Yom haShoah this year — at least, I can’t find anything on its website. Individual congregations, like the one in our town, are holding commemorative events. Possibly they have decided to deemphasize the observance.

But the URJ’s drift in the direction of anti-Zionist politics hasn’t stopped. Under the leadership of its President Rabbi Richard ‘Rick’ Jacobs, we find the URJ supporting the phony ‘pro-Israel’ organization J Street in its bid to joint the Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. J Street — which called for a cease-fire on the first day of Operation Cast Lead in 2009, which supported an anti-Israel resolution in the UN Security council (which the US vetoed), which consistently opposed sanctions on Iran, which supported the conclusions of the Goldstone Report (later repudiated by its author) that accused the IDF of war crimes in Gaza and introduced Goldstone to members of Congress, which has invited viciously anti-Zionist and pro-BDS speakers like Mustafa Barghouti, Rebecca Vilkomerson and James Zogby to its annual conference, but refused to allow liberal Zionist Alan Dershowitz to speak — is anything but pro-Israel. It is, however, very pro-Obama.

It is ironic, then that the liberal wing of the Jewish establishment in the US is following the same path as it did in the 1940s, when, out of loyalty to a liberal president and his party, it worked against the true interests of the Jewish people. The danger is not as immediate today as it was in the dark days of WWII, although the Iranian nuclear project, which is being facilitated by the policy of the Obama Administration, could very quickly change this.

I am therefore taking this occasion to republish the following, which I wrote several years ago. It is even more timely today.


The failure of the liberal Jewish establishment, then and now

by Vic Rosenthal, 8/7/2011

400 mostly Orthodox rabbis march to the White House on October 6, 1943. Roosevelt avoided meeting with them.

It’s well-known that the Roosevelt Administration did little to help European Jews during the Holocaust. Unfortunately, part of the blame falls on American Jewry, which was sharply divided about how to respond — a fact which caused good men in the government to hesitate, while it gave antisemites an excuse to resist taking action.

The NY Times has published a piece by Isabel Kershner that may bring more attention to the shameful stupidity of the Jewish establishment during that period:

The Bergson group formed in 1940 when about 10 young Jews from Palestine and Europe came to the United States to open a fund-raising and propaganda operation for the Irgun, the right-wing Zionist militia. The group was organized by Hillel Kook, a charismatic Irgun leader who adopted the pseudonym Peter H. Bergson. [Samuel] Merlin was his right-hand man.

The group began by raising money for illegal Jewish immigration to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine and promoting the idea of an army composed of stateless and Palestinian Jews. But the mission abruptly changed in November 1942 after reports of the Nazi annihilation of two million European Jews emerged. Like earlier reports of the mass killing of Jews, the news barely made the inside pages of major American newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The Bergsonites were appalled by what they saw as the indifference of the Roosevelt administration and the passivity of the Jewish establishment, which staunchly supported the administration and largely accepted its argument that the primary American military objective was to win the war, not to save European Jews. The group embarked on a provocative campaign to publicize the genocide and to lobby Congress to support the rescue of Jews, roaming the hallways of Capitol Hill and knocking on doors, displaying a degree of chutzpah that made the traditional, pro-Roosevelt Jewish establishment uncomfortable.


The establishment, led by Reform Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, fought Kook’s group tooth and nail. Writer Ben Hecht, recruited by Kook to stage a huge pageant in Madison Square Garden in March 1943 (“We will never die”) to raise awareness and embarrass the government into action, described one encounter:

I first became aware that there was annoyance with me among the Jews when Rabbi Stephen Wise, head of the Jews of New York, head of the Zionists and, as I knew from reading the papers, head of almost everything noble in American Jewry, telephoned me at the Algonquin Hotel where I had pitched my Hebrew tent.

Rabbi Wise said he would like to see me immediately in his rectory. His voice, which was sonorous and impressive, irritated me. I had never known a man with a sonorous and impressive voice who wasn’t either a con man or a bad actor. I explained I was very busy and unable to step out of my hotel.

“Then I shall tell you now, over the telephone, what I had hoped to tell you in my study,” said Rabbi Wise. “I have read your pageant script and I disapprove of it. I must ask you to cancel this pageant and discontinue all your further activities in behalf of the Jews. If you wish hereafter to work for the Jewish Cause, you will please consult me and let me advise you.”

Wise was a confidant of Roosevelt, and tried to use his influence to get the British to allow European Jews to enter Palestine, with no success. He was even unable to get Roosevelt to publicly speak out on the subject. According to Hecht, Kook told him that

The United States has a secret pact with Great Britain concerning the future of Palestine. It is intended to belong to the British. President Roosevelt will do nothing to violate that pact. He will not speak of Jews being massacred because that might excite popular opinion to rescue them–and result in their being sent to Palestine as a haven, which would be a violation of this pact [in December 1942, Roosevelt and allied governments did finally issue a declaration denouncing Hitler’s murderous project, but no concrete actions were taken — ed.].

When Kook organized a march of 400 mostly Orthodox Rabbis (but including Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, z”l, who had been ordained as a Conservative rabbi some months before) to the White House, Roosevelt left before they arrived, on the advice of Wise and others.

In Louis Rappaport’s words (“Shake Heaven and Earth: Peter Bergson and the struggle to rescue the Jews of Europe,” p. xi),

During the era, Zionist leaders like Rabbi Wise and Nahum Goldmann told the State Department that Kook/Bergson was as big a threat as Hitler to the well-being of American Jewry.

Wise did his best, in the tradition of the medieval ghetto community leader who protects his people by virtue of his relationship with the goyische prince, but he failed utterly. And then he did his best to sabotage the more aggressive, public efforts of Kook. His publicly stated reason was that he feared that Kook’s actions (which included criticism of Christians who did not intervene) would stimulate an antisemitic reaction in the US.

But there was another motive, too. Rabbi David Ellenson, president of the Reform Movement’s Hebrew Union College (in part founded by Wise), explained it in a September, 2008, talk:

“In the 1930s, it was Wise who led the rallies against Hitler, so why did he fail so horribly in the 1940s?” Ellenson asked at a Holocaust conference organized by the Washington-based David S. Wyman Institute …

He said part of the explanation lies in Wise’s “absolute and complete love” for president Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as his antipathy toward the Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and toward the Bergson Group, whose leaders were followers of Jabotinsky, something that “helped blind him” to the need for more activism.

Ellenson said concerns of provoking an anti-Semitic backlash should not have thwarted the American Jewish leadership from actively working to prevent the extermination of six million Jews. “Jewish leaders have an obligation to be sufficiently flexible and imaginative to deal with unprecedented situations,” he said. He said he hoped that today’s leaders would respond more effectively to contemporary dangers facing the Jewish people, such as the Iranian nuclear threat.

“Stephen Wise spent too much time trying to protect FDR from criticism, and not enough time focusing on how to convince Roosevelt to help rescue Jews from Europe,” said Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff. “Rabbi David Ellenson is to be commended for acknowledging the mistakes of his predecessor and trying to ensure that the failures of the 1940s will not be repeated.”

It seems to me that this is almost exactly what is happening today, with the liberal Jewish establishment in America cleaving to its President, Barack Obama, while the latter pursues policies inimical to Jewish survival. It is ironic that Rabbi Ellenson criticized Rabbi Wise in this way, and then three years later viciously attacked opponents of the nomination of J Street and New Israel Fund activist Rabbi Richard Jacobs as head of the Union for Reform Judaism!

Kook and Merlin, by the way, both sailed to Israel in 1948 on the ill-fated Irgun arms ship Altalena, which was fired on by IDF forces on the orders of David Ben-Gurion (Merlin was wounded, as the Times article notes). Interestingly, later in life, Ben-Gurion said that he regretted the decision, which he would not have made had he known Irgun leader Menachem Begin as well as he had since come to know him.

I don’t know if Wise regretted his actions in regard to Kook, although he apparently understood that he had failed in his responsibility toward the Jews of Europe. Toward the end of his life, he wrote,

I have seen and shared deep and terrible sorrow. The tale might be less tragic if the help of men had been less scant and fitful.

Today’s establishment still has time to choose the right path.

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First victory, then peace

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Emily Amrousi’s piece about rape as an act of terror should be required reading for everyone who thinks that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is about borders and Palestinian statehood.

There is one passage that stood out, about the 2006 rape and murder of 9-year old Lipaz Himi:

Anwar Ahdush, a resident of the village of Tzurif and a member of Fatah’s Tanzim who had entered Israel illegally, confessed to the crime. Two days before raping and murdering Himi, Ahdush killed another Jew, David Ben-Hamo, with an axe. When police questioned him for the first time, he said he had committed both acts as “revenge for the suffering of Palestinian mothers,” and added that he had also planned to murder a female soldier and kidnap a bus carrying schoolchildren and steer it down a ravine.

When Judge Dalia Ganot of the Tel Aviv District Court asked Ahdush why he had committed the act, he answered: “Because tomorrow this girl will grow up, be in the army and murder our children.”

When he was asked why he trained at shooting, he answered, “Because we are in a state of war.”

“A war against a 9-year-old girl?” the judge pressed.

“For us, there is no 9 years old or 10 years old,” he answered. The fact that since Ahdush’s arrest his family has been receiving a stipend of NIS 4,000 ($1,100) per month from Fatah is further evidence that the crime was nationalistically motivated.

Some random thoughts that came to mind:

Israel has no death penalty, and lately a history of releasing murderers either to ransom kidnapped Israelis (even dead ones) or to “strengthen Palestinian moderates.” Fatah, the organization headed by Mahmoud Abbas to which Anwar Ahdush belonged, is counted as ‘moderate’. When prisoners are released, especially those that have murdered Jewish civilians, they are welcomed as heroes.

When Yasser Arafat returned from exile after the Oslo Accord created the Palestinian Authority (PA), he instituted a wide-ranging campaign to deepen the hatred of Jews and Israel in the Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian educational and religious systems and all Palestinian media were focused on this objective. The Palestinian Media Watch organization provides hundreds of examples, which include crude Jew-hatred, denial of Jewish history, distortions of recent events, sheer invention of ‘war crimes’, blood libels, religious conspiracy theories, adulation of terrorists and exhortation to martyrdom.

The Palestinian Cause, as it is taught, takes various forms, but what is common to all of them is the end of the Jewish state. The campaign has been continued, even strengthened, under ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas.

In the US today there is a controversy about laws restricting certain breeds of dogs, which some consider inherently dangerous. Others say that the dogs, which are often adopted by drug dealers as guards or set to fight one another, are only aggressive when trained to be. In the case of the Palestinian Arabs, we have the result of deliberately training a population of humans for hate and violence. Unsurprisingly, it works. The various Palestinian factions have all adopted versions of this strategy. It is a kind of warfare, an adjunct to the kinetic kind.

On the other hand, Israeli media, for the most part, tries to humanize the Palestinians. If there is an Israeli ‘Cause’, it is presented as peace. This is a mistake. Israel doesn’t need to — shouldn’t — adopt a philosophy of hate, like the Palestinian Arabs. But it’s essential to understand that the Jewish nation is at war with the Palestinian Arabs, and has been for almost 100 years. If the survival of the state and consequently the Jewish people is important, then our primary objective has to be victory. Peace will follow.

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Is it good for the Jews? Maybe a little.

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Nu, my grandmother would have asked, is it good for the Jews?

I am talking about the latest episode in the Fatah-Hamas ‘reconciliation’ soap opera. Let’s look at some of the arguments pro and con.

First, on the left, we have this: “it is good for the Jews because a unified Palestinian entity can sign a peace agreement that binds all their factions.” This is probably the weakest argument. As I wrote yesterday, the idea that the PLO, even without Hamas, would in good faith make and keep an agreement to end the conflict is at best wishful thinking. This has been proven on multiple occasions since the days of Arafat. Add the rejectionist Hamas, and the tiny probability becomes even tinier.

Turning right, we hear that it is bad for the Jews because it will strengthen Hamas. There is some truth to this. Hamas has been suffering economically since its patron, the Muslim Brotherhood, lost power in Egypt. General Sisi’s forces are continuing to destroy the tunnels that provide a path for weapons and terrorists to pass into and out of the strip, and whose operation is heavily taxed by Hamas. If Hamas gets access to the European and American funds sloshing around in the Palestinian Authority (PA), that will offset the loss.

Some object that Europe and the US will not continue to fund a PA that includes the terrorist Hamas. But practically speaking, the powers are not prepared to give up the control that they buy with their aid. US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki reiterated yesterday that Hamas would be an acceptable partner in a unity-governed PA only if it met the three “quartet conditions” of renouncing violence, recognizing Israel and accepting prior agreements (the Oslo Accords, in particular). While this appears to be a rejection of Hamas, which has often insisted that it would never agree to these conditions, it is also a door that Hamas can pass through. If it really wants to join the PA, I suspect a formula could be found that both Hamas and State would accept. Of course, in practice nothing about Hamas would change.

All this is true and on the ‘bad’ side of the ledger. But others suggest that there may be an unexpected benefit as well, which is that union with Hamas would expose the PLO for what it is — an organization with genocidal aims no less sinister than Hamas. After all, what distinguishes the PLO from Hamas? Three things:

Strategy — The Hamas approach is more directly confrontational, while the PLO prefers to alternate terrorism with diplomatic warfare. In both cases, the objective — the replacement of the Jewish state with an Arab state and the expulsion or murder of the Jews of Israel — is the same.

Ideology — Hamas would like to create an Islamic state following Shari’a. The PLO is mostly secular, with Marxist, Pan-Arab and nationalist elements. From our point of view, the kind of state they would create after eliminating the Jews is irrelevant.

Personalities — Hamas leaders would like to be the dictators of their new state, and so would those of the PLO. They would like to settle their scores and become the Arab tyrants they believe they deserve to be.

The idea of exposure is attractive: everyone would see the truth about the PA, and stop pressuring Israel to make concessions to forces that want to destroy it. But of course that is not what would happen. Would the US State Department suddenly reverse the course it has steered since 1967, to get Israel out of the territories? Would the Europeans suddenly decide that it’s acceptable for the Jews to have a sovereign state?

None of these things would happen, because the world’s priorities do not fall on the side of Jewish survival. They never have, and even our friends have more important concerns.

What might happen, though, is a short pause in the international pressure, along with a further disillusionment with the ‘process’ in Israel (even Tzipi Livni said that there could not be “business as usual” with a Hamas-ified PA). This could be an opportunity for Israel to act decisively to end the charade started at Oslo and the pretense that the PLO is anything other than the genocidal terrorist gang that it has always been.

Oslo, specifically the recognition of the PLO as the “legitimate representative of the ‘Palestinian people’,” is one of the greatest mistakes — if not the greatest — made by any Israeli government since 1948. While much of the damage can’t be undone — the roughly 1500 Jews murdered as a result of it can’t be brought back to life — at least the pernicious ‘process’ can be finally ended.

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