Tuesday, May 14, 2024

No Virginia. This is not a genocide

 The shrill cries of " Its a Genocide!!!!" are repeated everywhere- from social media to city council chambers, to the ubiquitous anti-Israel protests.

No, its not.

This is a war.
A war Hamas started. 
A war that Hamas is losing (badly). 
And a war that Hamas can end today, by surrendering and freeing the kidnapped Israeli hostages.

In our lifetime, there have been many wars, military actions and insurrections

1. The Second Congo War (5,000,000 dead)
2. The Vietnam War (4,000,000 dead)
3. Soviet–Afghan War (2,000,000 dead)
4. The Nigerian Civil War (2,000,000 dead)
5. The Second Sudanese Civil War (1,500,000 dead)
6. The Syrian civil war (600,000 dead) 
7. The Angolan Civil War (500,000 dead)
8. The First Sudanese Civil War (500,000 dead)
9. The Ethiopian Civil War (900,000 dead)
10. The Iran–Iraq War (1,000,000 dead)
11. The Rwandan genocide (700,000 dead)
12. The Bangladesh Liberation War (2,000,000 dead)
13. The South Sudanese Civil War (350,000 dead)
14. The Yemeni Civil War (380,000 dead)
15. The Boko Haram insurgency (350,000 dead)
16. The Somali Civil War (400,000 dead)
17. Burundian Civil War (300,000 dead)
18. The War in Darfur (300,000 dead)
19. The Russian invasion of Ukraine (300,000 dead)
20. The First Congo War (600,000 dead)
21. The Colombian conflict (400,000 dead)
22. The Mexican drug war (300,000 dead)
23. The Tigray War (350,000 dead)
24. The War in Afghanistan (250,000 dead)

Even if we believe the death toll from the Hamas run Gaza Ministry of Health (and we have no reason to believe them) the total is far far less than any of these actions. 

No, Virginia.   Its not a genocide. 
From an article originally posted at Pro Israel Bay Bloggers

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Meet Elana Auerbach, Candidate for Berkeley City Council

Elana Auerbach is running for Berkeley City council in District 4, in a special election scheduled for May 28.   District 4 covers the downtown business district and central Berkeley. The sudden resignation of Kate Harrison has left the 4th district seat vacant.

Elana Auerbach is a quintessential "How Berkeley can you be?" candidate. 

Elana's commitment to "public service" began with her involvement in the "genital-focused" One Taste sex cult, which has been accused of human trafficking.  Elana and her husband eventually left the cult, but Elana has found an equally dubious way to give her life meaning.

Elana Auerbach is proudly identified anti-Zionist.   One day after  October 7, the single largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust, Elana joined local extremist groups to rally in front of  San Francisco's Israeli Consulate, in the time-honored local tradition of gloating over the deaths of innocents

Look at Elana's smile!

Elana Auerbach celebrating the October 7th massacre

Elana's been making appearances at UC Berkeley's "How dare the Jews fight back" encampment, proudly posing with fellow outside agitator, Russell "Rusty" Bates.

Elana Auerbach and Rusty Bates at anti-Israel encampment, UC Berkeley

Lest anyone think they are participating in a peace rally, the encampment at Cal Berkeley features a banner promoting "Victory to the resistance".

October 7 gave the world a glimpse of what Palestinian "resistance" looks like.

Who's Elana's good buddy, Rusty Bates?  Rusty's a Berkeley fixture, an unhinged antisemite known for interrupting Berkeley City Council meetings and Jewish community events on and off campus.

Rusty Bates interrupting Berkeley  City Council meeting

Rusty Bates arrested in front of the Israeli consulate, 2014

Apparently Elana Auerbach's mother never told her that you are known by the company you keep.

So Berkeley voters, its time to mobilize.  That means registering and voting.   Lets work together to keep partisan extremists off the Berkeley City Council, and lets keep the focus on building a better Berkeley.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Responding to Jeffrey Blankfort

Jeff Blankfort, a veteran anti-Zionist, 
seems quite upset that my recent letter in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat was reprinted in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, a weekly serving a small rural area of Mendocino County.

While I guess I should be flattered that I inspired Blankfort to research my background to discover that I am—GASP—a Zionist activist (and thanks for the shout-out for my 
book, Jeff!), he appears to insinuate that, by not providing my Zionist bona fides in my letter, I am somehow deceiving readers. Of course, there’s no space in a letter to the editor to do that. But Blankfort, in a 2500 word comment, should then have the integrity to disclose his own associations.

And what are those associations? Blankfort has presented at speaking events with Gilad Atzmon, an ex-Jew who has declared burning down synagogues to be “a rational act”, but also believes “There’s no such thing as antisemitism.”. He’s also appeared together with both Greta Berlin and Alison Weir. Berlin was a founder of the Hamas support network known as the Free Gaza Movement, which tried to bring expired medications and worn-out shoes to Gaza by boat; in 2012, she notably promoted a Holocaust denial film and then gave multiple, 
mutually conflicting explanations of how that happened. Weir appears to be David Duke’s favorite antizionist (at least until Duke tweeted out his admiration for Ilhan Omar in 2019); her books have been on sale at his website. Weir is so toxic that even Jewish Voice for Peace, which promotes an astonishing litany of lies and libels about Israel, won’t work with her.

It's only who he chooses to associate with, of course; he has his own track record of hate speech. As cited 
here, he “spoke at Oct 18 2012, at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists. Using coarse, vitriolic language, Jeff evoked the themes of classic anti-Semitism, speaking of 'Jewish power', and mockingly comparing those concerned with rising anti-Semitism 'dogs who like to roll in horseshit.'" Declaring firmly "Our business here was to stop support of Israel", he made no pretense of objectivity or impartially, until he concluded "The Jewish establishment is the biggest purveyors of untruth and disinformation you can possibly find anywhere in the world".”

Antisemitism is, at its heart, a conspiracy theory. No wonder that Cynthia McKinney, the disgraced former Congresswoman from Georgia whose promotion of conspiracy theories have made her a favorite of wingnuts the world over, is a big fan:

But all of this pales in contrast to the ne plus ultra of Far Left antisemitic online gathering places, the “Palestine Live” Facebook group started by Jeremy Corbyn supporters. The British activist David Collier has written at length about the old-school antisemitism rampant in that group—Holocaust denial, Rothschild conspiracy theories, links to white supremacist websites, uploads of the Protocols of the Elders of Ziyon (there was so much material that he had to do two separate posts on it-- 
here and here. Of course Gilad Atzmon, Alison Weir and Greta Berlin were members. So was Jeff Blankfort, who was prominent enough to be added on the SECOND DAY of this group’s existence. On page 182 and 183 you can find comments posted by Blankfort; nobody could be faulted if they had guessed that those were statements made by David Duke:

“Israelis like to use the terms blood libel and Jew hatred in the matter that some dogs like to roll around in horse shit, the only difference being that the dogs come out invariably smelling better.” And “How could anyone possibly connect Jews with money any more than bees with honey.” Blankfort spoke up about someone banned from the group for more extreme antisemitism (one can only imagine what could get someone banned from such a group), and posted, inter alia, “Most Jews are not semites.” (As if antisemitism is in any way an opposition to “semitism” or “Semites”; look up 
Wilhelm Marr, Jeff.)

So now that we have established who Jeff Blankfort is, let’s examine his response to my letter. He doesn’t straight-up assert that I am assisting the Mossad, but he does feel it necessary to spend a few paragraphs chewing over what is apparently a Hebrew neologism for those who do so, and has decided that I am indeed qualified to be one. Sooner or later, though, if you insinuate dual loyalty or even outright assistance in espionage to all Jewish supporters of Israel, you might even be correct once! Sorry Jeff, just not this time. He also cites an alleged quote from Chaim Weizmann which only appears on several quote aggregation websites with no documentation. Given that a quote such as this would have been frequently used over the decades to charge Jews with dual loyalty—especially by the KGB, which helped create the basis for modern leftist antiZionism—I would strongly suspect that this quote is just another in the very long line of deliberate misinformation known as “Pallywood”. Even if the quote were genuine, modern Zionist thought has obviously developed quite a bit over the past 100 years, and neither the State of Israel or the Zionist organizations abroad adhere to such a philosophy.

Blankfort’s rewriting of Biblical history is quite interesting. If he wants to take Genesis as literal history, he should go back and reread it. According to the narrative, Abraham indeed came from Mesopotamia but then personally went to what later became Beersheva, Hebron and Jerusalem. Everything else in the Biblical story is centered around the land of Israel.

Yet the Biblical narrative is not in any way required to understand how Jews are indigenous to Israel. Nor was it the basis for modern political Zionism, led by resolutely secular—and socialist—Jews. The land of Israel, as even Blankfort acknowledges, is where the Jewish people developed our unique identity, language, faith, and ties to a particular piece of land. Were there Canaanites, Philistines (sea people from Europe who lived on the coast), Moabites, Edomites and other tribal peoples in and around that land? Of course. But they all disappeared from history millenia ago. There are no living Canaanites who give their children Canaanite names, teach them Canaanite legends, or observe Canaanite religious practices. Yet Jews are living in the same place, speaking the same language, following the same faith, and giving their children the same names as thousands of years ago. The lie that Ashkenazi Jews have “no connection” to the Land of Israel and the Middle East is long since disproven by genetics indicating Middle Eastern origin (such markers, of course, were absent in their non-Jewish European neighbors). And despite the fact that the Khazar origin story (created by Arthur Koestler in the 1970s without any actual scientific evidence) is still worshipped by antiZionists as a way of trying to separate the bulk of world Jewry from the Jewish homeland, there is no genetic, historical or archaeological evidence to support it. How ironic that Blankfort titles his piece by referring to “Israeli mythology” while simultaneously promoting the Khazar nonsense. Let’s not forget to mention that he uses “Jewish supremacy”, a term popularized by David Duke--not a surprise, coming from an active member of Palestine Live.

Blankfort, on the basis of his extensive (4 months’) time in Israel over 2 decades, has come to the conclusion that Israeli Jews are irredeemably racist. Now let’s be clear—racism exists in Israel, and it is vile. Just as racism exists in every country in the world, and it is vile everywhere. But only in regard to Israel is it followed by “and therefore, that country should not exist” (or some variant of that). There isn’t a way, without sounding like a reprehensible bigot, to say that countries with exponentially worse human rights records than Israel towards their own minority groups—China, Russia, Iran, just to name a few—should be eliminated as nation-states. And those who come to that conclusion regarding Israel aren’t any less the reprehensible bigot. Did Israel have in its recent past have restrictions on where Arabs could rent housing? Yes. Did the US have in its recent past have restrictions on where Blacks could rent housing? Yes. Have courts in both countries taken steps to remove them? Yes. Should the US be disestablished because of this? (I'd say no, but I’m not sure where Blankfort stands on that one).

What do Israeli Arabs think about their country? In a recent 
survey, 60% said they had a favorable view of the country and 63% said it was a positive place to live. That doesn’t sound like a group being treated as Blankfort alleges.

Blankfort also has a problem with Israeli democracy—it doesn’t elect an Arab as Prime Minister. Arabs are 21% of the population. Jews are 74% (and 5% other, for those of you keeping score at home). While Arab parties were in governing coalitions in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Arab parties in the past few decades have been staunchly anti-Zionist and refused to serve in any coalition. That changed last year when Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am party served in the coalition that recently disbanded. Meanwhile, Arab members have been elected to the Knesset from various parties—Labor, centrist parties, even Likud-- and served as government ministers. Will an Arab be Prime Minister of the Jewish state one day? There’s no law against it. Just as Blankfort was still not able to find a single legal or political right held by a Jewish Israeli not also held by an Arab Israeli. Arabs even can-- 
and do-- live in Israeli settlements; though there's often friction arising from that, just as in multiethnic societies the world over. No, the Nation-State Law didn’t remove any rights from its Arab citizens nor add any new rights for its Jewish citizens.

Blankfort then goes on a lengthy tirade charging Israel with controlling US government policy towards Israel. Of course, if Israel really did control the US government we wouldn’t have had Reagan’s sale of AWACS to the Saudis, or George W Bush's apparent refusal to help Israel destory Iran's nuclear weapons development program, or Obama’s JCPOA which legitimized that nuclear program while turning a blind eye to the mullahs' drive for a nuclear bomb, or his refusal to veto UNSC 2334 which overturned decades of US policy stating that final status issues of a peace agreement would have to be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians. After invoking historically antisemitic tropes about Jewish money and power, he then complains that he will be labeled antisemitic and a “self-hating Jew.” I don’t call people such as Blankfort “self-hating”. My experience is that those like him are very much in love with themselves-- and with their edgelord willingness to deploy rhetoric used to justify the persecution and outright slaughter of Jews just a few generations ago.

Blankfort and I likely agree on one thing: that the Palestinian Arabs should be able to determine their own future in their own nation-state. But his position is that, of all the peoples in the world, Jewish national self-determination is uniquely illegitimate and the Jewish state should be eradicated, to be replaced by the 22nd Arab nation-state. (Basically, it's the same position which Vladimir Putin has taken towards Ukraine, and threatens to for other nation states within what he feels is Greater Russia.) And that is, by the criteria in the 
IHRA definition which has been adopted by three dozen democracies as well as the US Departments of State and Education, indeed antisemitic. Not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, of course, but that doesn’t mean that none of it is. Pre-emptively declaring in advance that this would be the response to your words doesn’t in any way mean that it’s incorrect. If you’re sharing platforms with antisemites, if you’re using historical tropes of antisemitism against the Jewish state, if you're using terms popularized by actual neo-Nazis, if you’re demanding that Palestinian self-determination and dignity require the elimination of Jewish self-determination and dignity—well then you might just get correctly called out for promoting antisemitism.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Palestinians celebrate today's terror attack in Beersheba

Today, at least four Israelis were killed in a Beersheba terror attack. Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, a 34 year old former terror convict from the Negev town of  Hura stabbed and ran over multiple Israelis before he was finally neutralized.  Abu al-Qi'an was a former high school teacher previously jailed for supporting and promoting ISIS at the school.

Palestinian media was filled with praise for the attacker.  Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou on official Hamas radio declared “We salute the executor of the heroic operation in occupied Beersheba

“The occupation’s crimes shall be met with heroic operations: stabbings, ramming and shooting,”  al-Qanou added

In Gaza, sweets were passed out in the streets to celebrate the murders.

Palestinian promotion of violence, glorification of violence and celebration of violence- these have always been the obstacles to peace in the region.  

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Gaza: Land of 1230 Mosques. Gazans are asking "Why"?

Gaza, an area 25 miles long and 8 miles wide has 1,230 mosques, many ornate and extravagant.

The people of Gaza are begining to ask why.

Imam al-Shafei Mosque in the al-Zaitoun neighborhood of Gaza was built at a cost of $3.5 million.

Imam al-Shafei Mosque in Gaza

Al-Hassayna Mosque in Gaza City cost over $2 million.

Al-Hassayna Mosque in Gaza

The Al-Khalidi and Salim Abu Muslim mosques in Gaza were built at a cost over  $1 million each.  More lavish mosques will be opening soon.

Gaza's Al-Khalidi Mosque

In improverished Gaza, citizens are begining to question the wisdom of such lavish expenses.
From Al-Monitor:
Mohammad al-Khalidi, a citizen from Gaza, poured out his resentment of such luxury mosques. “The Ministry of Endowments claims that the donors funding the construction of the mosques want to spend this much money on them. But why would it [the ministry] not inform the donors that there are other fields in Gaza where the donations could be more useful? Mosques can be built at a reasonable cost and the remainder of the donations could be used to build hospitals, schools or residences, for example.

Al Khalidi questioned these priorities:

“The opening of the Khalil al-Wazir Mosque in the coming months will stir an uproar among Gazans due to the large number of mosques already present in Gaza, in the absence of development projects, hospitals and sewage networks. For example, in the Beit Lahia area in northern Gaza, the Salim Abu Muslim Mosque was built at a cost of $1 million, while a nonregulated landfill in the area is endangering the health of the locals and the environment.”

The construction of these lavish mosques in Gaza is yet another indication of how out of touch the  Hamas leadership is to the needs of its people and how misplaced its priorities have been.

Read more here:
Gazans outraged over millions of dollars spent building mosques

(Cross-posted at Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers)

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Meet Nader Rayan: another "child" killed by Isral

Last night, in Nablus’s Balata refugee camp a gunfight broke out when Israeli Border Police officers entered the camp to arrest a wanted criminal. Two terrorists arrived on a scooter and began to shoot at the police. Border Police officers fired back, killing them.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry identified one of the deceased as 17-year-old Nader Rayan, who will go down forever in statistics as a "child" killed by Israel.

Qatar affiliated AJ+ (Al Jazeera plus), a social media publisher owned by Al Jazeera Media Network the death, posted about Rayan's death, deliberately devoid of any context .

English language posts on social media show a well groomed young man in athletic wear.   The Arabic posts are quite different.

Images that aren't geared to a Western audience portray the  "martyr" Nader Haitham Rayan in a very different light.

When 17 years olds are given weapons and told to shoot policemen, 17 years olds will die.   Mourn for Nader Haitham Rayan, whose life was cut short by those cynically willing to sacrifice their young.  Mourn for his community, that values his death more than his life.   

Monday, March 14, 2022

Venerable Economist Intelligence Unit: Israel is the Only Democracy in the Middle east

 In a stunning rebuke to Amnestry International recent slander, the Democracy Index from the Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Israel in 23rd place in the out of 167.    The index ranks Israel as the most democratic country in the Middle East, placing it ahead of even the United States.  Israel's overall score has been improving steadily over the years.

Israel scored 7.97 points out of a maximum of ten, just behind France (7.99 points) and Britain (8.1 points). Nations are rated on a variety of factors, including electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture.