Sunday, December 23, 2007
"Marcy Winograd is the co-founder of the LA Jews for Peace collectiveand a long-time anti-war activist in Los Angeles . Inspired by author Joel Kovel's book Overcoming Zionism, she is interested in assembling and publishing an anthology entitled: From Zionism to Humanism:Personal Stories of Jews Who Dare to Speak Out. If you know of Jews who might be interested in contributing to her anthology, please encourage them to submit their story to Marcy at Winogradcoach@aol.com."
(Note the implicit slur that Zionism, self-determination for the Jewish people in our homeland, is incompatible with humanism. I wonder how she feels about threatening to flog people for naming a teddy bear Mohammed? Also, it's interesting that she was inspired by the Kovel book. This book, distributed by the University of Michigan via a contract with UK-based Pluto Press, has brought much criticism to the university for distributing it, since it is filled with anti-Israel propaganda and doesn't deserve the imprimatur of a prestigious university. It operates from the premise that the Jewish state should not exist at all. You can read a recent column in the Jerusalem Post about the book here.)
It was suggested that those of us on the pro-Israel side might want to submit our stories as well.
Here's mine. If I hear back from Ms Winograd, I will let you know; I'm not holding my breath. Readers may want to submit their own stories about speaking out for Israel as well.
In the interests of full editorial disclosure: the first sentence below is completely false. I only wrote it to get her to start reading it; I've been an Israel advocate for years. When I was in college, I posted (on my dormitory door-- we didn't HAVE blogs or listserves then) Chaim Herzog's speech at the UN condemning the General Assembly for its "Zionism is Racism" resolution. Those words apply to Ms Winograd today no less than they applied to the "diplomats" who voted for that piece of verbal sewage.
"While I had always been politically inclined, Israel was never really the focus of activity for me. I became involved while in medical school with Physicians for Social Responsibility and in my professional career as a pediatrician was working on legislative issues involving child health. Things were always happening in Israel but they didn't affect me here.
Then came the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000 and the war in Iraq in 2003. Suddenly, the situation in Israel seemed to be relevant here in the Bay Area, since the anti-war marches and rallies seemed filled with not only condemnations of Israel but outright support of terrorist acts against Israeli civilians. Why was all this happening? Then I realized that the answer really came down to racism--
Israel was being accused of being a racist state in that it was established as a Jewish state, and those who were calling for its replacement by a "binational" state (which would quickly become another Arab state by demographics) felt that this would resolve a fundamental wrong in the world.
After reading and hearing so much of what these anti-Zionists had to say, I realized that they were partially right-- there is a problem of racism as it pertains to Israel. But the problem was staring those protesters right in the mirror! Racism was inherent in their attitudes towards Israel.
Why do I say this? Consider that Israel is singled out for condemnation when crimes being ignored include the genocide in Darfur, the human trafficking and oppression of women in Saudi Arabia, the religious repression of Christians throughout the Arab world, and the elimination of the culture and history of the Tibetans by the Chinese. There's also the singling out of the only Jewish state as somehow racist in a world with 23 members of the Arab League and 57 members of the Islamic Conference (every one of which declares itself to be an Islamic state), but where only the Jewish people are told that we are not entitled to self-determination. For that matter, Israelis were accused of having stolen land from "indigenous" Palestinians-- by those living on land that belonged to the Miwok Indians, on which Europeans never even set foot until the 18th century! My own heritage stems much more from the Land of Israel than it does from San Francisco, yet my presence here is unchallenged by those who would accept that I am a legitimate target should I decide to live in Israel.
But even more, there is a subtler form of racism against the Palestinians-- the racism of diminished expectations: the racism that refuses to hold them to standards of behavior such as not blowing up women and children in busses and restaurants then publicly celebrating it; the racism that gives them a pass for indoctrinating children into hatred; the racism that says that it's OK for Arabs to have exclusionary states that discriminate against other religions, other ethnic groups, and even their own women; the racism that says that because they have darker skin that they must be right.
So I do speak out-- I stand up for Israel as a Jewish state against those who welcome its destruction. Is Israel a perfect country? Of course not; I haven't found that country yet. Does that validate the thugocracy of Arafat, the Taliban-like rule of Hamas, rockets landing on Sderot? Does that validate the hysterical anti-Zionist rhetoric in this country, which is frequently accompanied by anti-Semitic imagery not usually seen in public except in Arab countries? No. And that's why I speak out."
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Jonathan Carey is the founder of Blue Star PR ("The Jewish Ink Tank"), a nonprofit based in San Francisco that turns out a variety of pro-Israel PR materials. He was interviewed about BlueStar's latest campaign: putting up posters in kiosks in downtown San Francisco promoting Israel's role in developing renewable and greener energy sources, helping to end our dependence not only on petroleum itself, but on the repressive and undemocratic regimes that control it. Jonathan also makes a very cogent point in the interview about how Saudi Arabia might be escaping well-deserved criticism for its treatment of women and minorities because Western countries are afraid to alienate those who control the oil spigots. (Of course, given the recent history of Saudi donations to American universities with their accompanying potential for political ramifications, one also can wonder how many of the anti-Israel organizations in this country receive some of those oil profits)
There are other groups also attempting to promote "Israel beyond the conflict" (a phrase formerly used by Israel21c.org, which also promotes Israeli achievements in science, technology and culture along with politics-now they just say "A Focus Beyond"). Is this approach effective? I don't know; I'll leave that to opinion pollsters and the like. We all know that this sort of PR isn't going to convince the hard-core anti-Israel contingent, for whom even the development by Israel of endless free green energy and a cure for cancer wouldn't get them to even admit the legitimacy of the Jewish state (And there's WAY too many of that sort around!). But for those whose worldview isn't grounded into excusing any type of behavior in the name of "struggling against occupation", this sort of information can help generate positive impressions of Israel-- which are in too short supply these days.
You can listen to the entire (6 minute) clip while viewing the posters here.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Israel should welcome these residents as new citizens; after all, if large numbers of Arab residents of Jerusalem voluntarily request Israeli citizenship, then there is an even stronger case against relinquishing this territory to any Palestinian state. And if it is determined that this can indeed be forced on Israeli Arabs, then why can't Israel cede Umm al-Fahm and vicinity to a Palestinian state as well, given the hostility shown to the Jewish state by the Arab population of that area?
However, this also provides an opportunity to ensure that citizenship isn't just a free ride to Western-style health care, education, and social services. You want to become a citizen of Israel? Great-- first you pledge your allegiance to the Jewish state rather than its enemies. Then you do national service-- it doesn't have to be the IDF, but young Arab men and women will also have to serve their country while their fellow Jewish and Druse citizens protect them. (And yes, this writer fully supports ending exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox as well).
Privileges are valued a lot more when they are won by effort, rather than just handed out.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The international campaign to invalidate Israel’s right to exist relies on disinformation and ignorance.
The fact is, the state of Israel has more legitimate claims to nationhood than any country on the planet. Here are some of the reasons:
1) Historical claim to the land. There have been Jews living on this land for over three thousand years, actually close to four thousand years. There are few indigenous peoples left on this planet (and fewer every year), but it is exceedingly rare, perhaps unheard of, for an indigenous people to maintain residency into modern times and recreate their ancient nation state.
2) Legacy from colonial rule. Most modern countries fall into this category, including the entire Western hemisphere, almost all of Africa, much of Asia, and the entire Middle East. Most modern Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, were controlled by Britain after the fall of the Ottoman empire in World War I. The borders of modern Middle Eastern countries were drawn by Britain. Britain promised “to establish a Jewish National Home in Palestine” in 1917. The borders of Palestine initially included Transjordan (now called Jordan), but this was separated and given to the Hashemite tribe as a reward for their support of Britain in the war. In 1937, Britain offered to separate the remaining piece into a tiny Jewish, and a larger Arab state. The Jews accepted, desperately hoping to save a remnant of European Jewry. The Arabs r ejected it, and launched a 3 year wave of violence against civilians (1936-1939). Notice a pattern here?
3) Conquered by force. This is the second most common source of national legitimacy in the world. Practically the entire United States was taken by force either from Native Americans, the British, or from Spanish colonists. Although all of Israel’s wars have been defensive, they resulted in Israel acquiring some of the territory of the countries that attacked her. Despite Israel’s right to annex the lands she has conquered, and her tiny, vulnerable size, she continues to offer land for peace.
4) Voted into existence by international body. This is an exceedingly rare occurrence. Despite receiving condemnation by just about every country at some point in her existence, a bizarre concurrence of political motives and anti-Semitism resulted in both the Western bloc and the Russian-controlled Eastern bloc voting for Israel’s independence in 1948.
In addition to the above reasons, one or another of which applies to every country in the world, Israel has two additional qualifications for statehood:
5)Property Ownership. Although most of what is currently Israel was government-owned, state land under the Ottoman Turks, and later the British, almost all the private land was bought by Jews (from absentee Arab landlords). While there were a few (maybe a hundred thousand) Arabs living on the land when the Jews began returning in large numbers in the late 1800’s, exceedingly few of them owned the land they lived on. Israel compensated tenant farmer/herders who worked on, but did not own the land.
6) Positive stewardship of the land. When Jews first began returning in large numbers over a hundred years ago, almost all of the land was uninhabitable. Most of it was either desert or malaria-ridden swampland. The few pieces of fertile land had been ravaged by years of neglect and sheep herding. One of the main Arab objections to Jewish immigration in the early 1920’s was that the land could not support more than a few hundred thousand people. There are now about 7 million people living in this land. Jews drained the swamps, discovered new methods of irrigation that literally “made the desert bloom,” and for much of its existence has been a primarily agricultural economy- exporting produce all over the world. Israel is the only country on the planet that ended the 20th century with more trees than it started with.
Furthermore, although the land is considered holy to three great world religions, when Moslems controlled the land they severely restricted the ability of people of other faiths to pray at their holy sites. The Jordanians did not allow Jews to pray at the Western Wall, and desecrated some of the oldest synagogues in Jerusalem- turning them into garbage dumps. Five years ago, Palestinians destroyed Joseph’s Tomb, a sacred Jewish shrine. Palestinians terrorists vandalized desecrated the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem when they sought refuge from Israeli soldiers. Most Christian Arabs have left areas under Palestinian rule due to persecution.
Under Israeli rule, there are no restrictions on any citizen’s right to pray at their holy places. Further, despite the fact that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the holiest place in Judaism, Israel has graciously allowed the Moslem religious authority (the Waqf) to maintain control of the site. The Waqf has shown its gratitude by refusing to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, and allowing Moslem worshipers to throw stones on Jews praying at the Western Wall below. They have vandalized priceless archeological sites on the Mount with bulldozers, dumping tons of archeologically rich earth into garbage dumps.
Although “treatment of the land” has never been considered a criterion for nationhood, perhaps it should be. Certainly Jews have demonstrated a reverence for the land that was not shown by any of its prior rulers. The relationship of the land of Israel to the Jews is the same connection other indigenous peoples feel for their ancestral lands. Many Native American tribes feel their land is part of them, part of their identity as a people. It is the same for Jews.
For two thousand years Jews have longed to return to this land that is a part of them. Now the ancient longings and ancient prophecies have been fulfilled. Israel has come into being by all the means that any nation has claimed, and more. If any nation has earned the right to exist, it is Israel.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The recent history of how Christians have been treated both by the Palestinian Authority, as well as the jihadist gangs that operate freely within it, should give pause to those who still operate under the delusion that the Jewish state could be subsumed into a "binational" Jewish-Arab state comprising Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. At the time of the Six-Day War, Christian Arabs comprised 20% of the population of the West Bank and Gaza; today, mostly because of emigration, it's 2% (source: Catholic News Agency). Interestingly, the Christian population of the State of Israel has grown from 32,000 at independence to 130,000 (80% of this group are Arab) in 2000. So it appears that life in a Jewish state is a much better alternative to living under the rule of the Palestinian Authority-- and this was BEFORE the Hamas coup.
Few people seem to recall the siege at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in March 2002 when wanted terrorists from Hamas and from Fatah's own al-Aqsa brigades seized the church and used the priests and nuns inside as human shields to avoid capture by the IDF. Such a violation of holy places would provoke worldwide outcry against the perpetrators--except when it comes to Islamic terrorists.
One of Yasir Arafat's many legacies has been to "de-Christianize" the area set aside for a future Palestinian state-- without question, an example of ethnic cleansing . And if that's how they treated their fellow Arab Palestinians, how does any rational person think the Jews are going to be treated?
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The first thing I noticed at the Berkeley event, despite the fact that it was co-sponsored by Tikkun and moderated by Michael Lerner, was the presence of several well-known local anti-Zionist activists, one of whom was busy handing out postcards advertising the now-annual protest at the December AIPAC dinner in Oakland. (For those unsure of the nomenclature, "anti-Zionist" describes those opposed to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state-- whether they be virulent Jew-haters, pie-in-the-sky "one state solution" idealists, or Neturei Karta ultra-Orthodox extremists). The table at the event held only copies of the W&M book and a flyer from Gush Shalom describing "millions starving in Gaza" (which, if it were actually occurring, would of course be accompanied by extensive video on the same Hamas TV station that airs the wonderful children's show featuring Farfur the Martyr Mouse and Nahool the Jihad Bee). Lerner introduced the speakers as being "on the cutting edge of a central issue facing our country" and of course touted the new issue of Tikkun magazine which apparently will laud M&W's book and promote the same thesis.
So, what is their thesis anyway? Stephen Walt began by describing two main questions:
1. Is there a powerful pro-Israel lobby and how does it work?
2. Is that lobby good for the US and is it even good for Israel?
Walt comes across as a friendly, articulate academic, someone you'd enjoy having as a professor. He doesn't get mean and he doesn't use words carelessly. He specifically acknowledges the sensitivity of writing and talking about this issue because of the history of anti-Semitism and in particular "bizarre conspiracy theories such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and goes on to specifically reject such theories. Yet without batting an eye he then immediately claims that any critic of Israel is labeled an anti-Semite.
He makes several specific points. One is that the dollar amount of US aid to Israel comes to $500 for each Israeli citizen, and that Israel has the 29th largest economy in the world so doesn't need that level of assistance. The other is that the level of US diplomatic support for Israel, and lack of criticism from US politicians, is without parallel. He then attacks the two most commonly cited reasons for these: that Israel is a vital strategic ally and that Israel shares American values of freedom and democracy. Walt admits that Israel might indeed have been a strategic ally during the Cold War , but that not only is this in the past, but also that Israel is one of the reasons that we have a terrorism problem. Again, he is very careful to say "one of the reasons", not "the only" or even "the main" reason. He then goes on to say that no other democracies get the same level of support and that Israel's treatment of its own Arab population (much less its treatment of the West Bank Arabs who are not citizens) doesn't measure up to American values. He does go as far as to say that Israel, in its actions to defend itself, "doesn't act any better" than its adversaries, striking a moral equivalence between the IDF that attempts to avoid civilian casualties and the mass murderers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who celebrate the deaths of women, children and senior citizens in buses and restaurants. Not a word about the fact that Israel has terrorist gangs on its borders armed with rockets, not a word about the terror war launched by Arafat in 2000, not a word about 60 years of genocidal threats against the Jewish state. Listening to Walt, one would think Israel is located in central Europe surrounded by friendly neighbors but just can't manage to get along with them.
Walt then describes "The Lobby" (somehow, one feels the capitalization even when he is speaking) as a loose coalition of organizations specifically including AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and unnamed Christian Evangelical groups. He talks about AIPAC's work in building support for Israel within Congress and in trying to shape the public discourse about Israel. While he concedes that this is entirely legal and open activity, he also refers to a number of members of the House and the Senate who were "driven from office" by AIPAC; he specifically cites recent elections (Cynthia McKinney, Lincoln Chaffee) as well as more distant ones (Paul Findlay, Charles Percy and Roger Jepson, the latter two targeted because of their vote for Ronald Reagan's sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia in the 1980's-- a sale which went forward despite strong objections from AIPAC.). He returns to the charge that AIPAC's efforts to stifle debate "almost always" include labeling critics of Israel as anti-Semites, without any supporting references. Apparently, AIPAC's power extends to the opinion pages of America's newspapers, and is the reason why there are no "dissenting voices" such as Robert Fisk in the UK, or Akiva Eldar and Amira Hass from Ha'aretz. Walt must not read the San Francisco Chronicle, where George Bisharat appears so frequently he might as well have his own byline. Walt does acknowlege that most Americans have a favorable view of Israel, but that this doesn't mean that they support it unconditionally.
For those of us who are card carrying members of "The Lobby", the recitation of AIPAC's successes is nothing new; we hear it at the annual membership meetings and we hear it when we talk to our local AIPAC leaders. Whether such open self-celebration of success is helpful or counter-productive should now be a matter of some serious discussion within AIPAC.
Interestingly, Walt explicitly endorsed Israel's existence as a Jewish state and said that the US should come to its aid if its existence is threatened; he didn't see any current existential threat to Israel, however.
Mearshimer took on the second question with a very different style from Walt; he's much more aggressive and attacking. He also is the one to present the arguments that are staples of the far left and the extreme right, that the influence of "The Lobby" is so pervasive that it was one of the main driving forces for the US invasion of Iraq, and that the policies it promotes are a major source of terrorism. He spent a lot of his time tying the 9/11 attacks to US support for Israel as well. Mearshimer acknowledged that the neocons who pushed for the war with Iraq did believe that this would be good for the US, and denies claims that this was a "Jewish" war, citing opinion polls showing that the American Jewish community had less support for the war in 2003 than the public in general. By the same standard, he assigns causality for the war to the Israel lobby because opinion polls showed that most Israelis supported an attack on Saddam Hussein. He got a lot of mileage out of an editorial in the Forward from 2004 which quoted AIPAC's executive director, Howard Kohr, as having taken credit for pushing the use of force against Saddam.
Mearshimer echoed Walt's support of Israel as a Jewish state within the 1967 borders "with minor territorial adjustments" and also stated that the US should come to its aid if its existence is threatened. It wasn't clear what would constitute an existential threat to M&W, since they are very concerned about being drawn into military action against Iran, which is frantically pursuing nuclear weapons and has made no secret of its desire to destroy Israel. His prescription for peace between Israel and the Arabs was simply telling Israel that they "must make peace" with their neighbors and withdraw from most of the West Bank. Not a single mention of Palestinian terror. Not a word about Palestinian refusal to give up on the so-called "right of return". Not any hint that Israel completely withdrew from Gaza and was rewarded with a Hamas terror entity. In Mearshimer's world, the responsibility lies solely with Israel. Interesting how he then, with such a shallow approach to the complexities of the conflict, claims to know that The Lobby has been bad for Israel.
During the question period (and the only challenges to W&M were from those who disagreed with their support for the existence of a Jewish state within any borders at all) they also made note of a detailed response to critics of their original 2006 paper posted on their website. Indeed, this is a 30 page document, half of which is devoted to rebutting Benny Morris's refutation of their misuse of Morris' work in their paper.
Supporters of Israel need to take them seriously. W&M are well-spoken, and they try to pre-empt any charges of anti-Semitism both by their claim that any opponents of The Lobby are tarred with that brush, and by making very clear statements of support for the Jewish state. The fact remains, though, that many of their arguments echo the old canard of "Jews control the media" and "Jews control Congress", just with the more genteel substitution of "Israel Lobby" for "Jews". The argument that Osama bin Laden is motivated by the Palestinian issue falls flat on its face when his "messages" to the American people have barely even paid lip service to the Palestinian cause--but if the argument is repeated enough, imagine the backlash should there be another terror attack on American soil. And despite their credentials, their scholarship IS sloppy. One of many important critical reviews of their work is by Leslie Gelb in this past Sunday's New York Times, which points out that Israel did indeed offer, at Camp David in 2000, exactly the prescription offered by Mearshimer-- and of course Ehud Olmert ran for office on virtually the same platform.
Lerner closed the event by calling upon the audience to join organizations that apparently pass his criteria for acceptability mentioning not only Tikkun of course, but also Americans for Peace Now, B'rit Tzedek v'Shalom, and Jewish Voice for Peace. The irony that JVP stands at anti-Israel demonstrations along with jihadist wannabes flying the Hamas and Hezbollah flags, and features anti-Zionist speakers at their events, is lost on Lerner. And I left the event wondering what W&M really think about the much bigger irony: that while they themselves insist that they are neither anti-Israel nor anti-Semitic, many of their biggest fans are. Stand outside the Oakland AIPAC dinner in December, see the rally which was being promoted at this talk, and look for yourself.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Now we have documentation of what should have been obvious all along-- that the Israelis were arguing AGAINST the invasion of Iraq! Why obvious? Because those who study the region knew that Iraq, while formerly dangerous, was essentially contained in its ability to make trouble while Iran, the real threat to peace in the world, was funding terror across the globe for years (the bombing of the Jewish community center and of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires were the work of Iranian terrorists, the money flowing to Hezbollah to buy the rockets used last summer came from Iran, and the terror infrastructure in Gaza answers to the Iranian mullahs). What the Israelis were rightly concerned about has come to pass-- the US is bogged down in Iraq and is both politically and militarily weakened in its efforts to confront the jihadist regime in Tehran.
As Gareth Porter reports in IPS News "Israeli officials warned the George W. Bush administration that an invasion of Iraq would be destabilising to the region and urged the United States to instead target Iran as the primary enemy, according to former administration official Lawrence Wilkerson.Wilkerson, then a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff and later chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, recalled in an interview with IPS that the Israelis reacted immediately to indications that the Bush administration was thinking of war against Iraq. After the Israeli government picked up the first signs of that intention, Wilkerson says, "The Israelis were telling us Iraq is not the enemy -- Iran is the enemy." Wilkerson describes the Israeli message to the Bush administration in early 2002 as being, "If you are going to destabilise the balance of power, do it against the main enemy." The warning against an invasion of Iraq was "pervasive" in Israeli communications with the administration, Wilkerson recalls. It was conveyed to the administration by a wide range of Israeli sources, including political figures, intelligence and private citizens. Wilkerson notes that the main point of their communications was not that the United States should immediately attack Iran, but that "it should not be distracted by Iraq and Saddam Hussein" from a focus on the threat from Iran. " Later in the piece, Porter notes " Despite agreement between neoconservatives and Israeli officials on many issues, the dominant Israeli strategic judgment on the issue of invading Iraq diverged from that of U.S. neoconservatives because of differing political-military interests. "
InterPress is not a Jewish or right-wing site, either; as their website states "The core activity of IPS is a global news agency producing independent news and analysis about events and global processes affecting the economic, social and political development of peoples and nations, especially in the South. IPS is the news agency of Civil Society and the South, Development Issues, The Globalisation Process and of the People Excluded from It." Doesn't sound like the sort of site to go out of its way to run pro-Israel news items.
So the next time any of the wingnuts from International ANSWER or other so-called "peace" groups claim that Israel was behind the Iraq war (especially through the "neo-conservatives" in the Bush Administration), ask them for any actual statements or evidence. Then tell them to read about Laurence Wilkerson.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Mr. Bisharat attempts to cast a boycott of Israel as an innovative idea without even mentioning that the Arabs have been boycotting Israel since as early as 1921, 27 years before the establishment of Israel. The original Arab boycott forswore contact with any Jewish owned business operating in the British Mandate of Palestine, long before Israel’s independence in 1948. The Arab boycott of pre-state Israel was not motivated by any high minded ideals, just on the Arab resentment of the potential existence of a Jewish state. The Arab boycott of Israel is illegal for Americans under the 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act (EAA)
We must accept such efforts as Mr. Bisharat’s for what they are, part of a series of propaganda attacks on Israel designed solely to cast Israel as the villain and the Palestinians as eternal helpless victims in a situation where neither is true. Mr. Bisharat’s spinning of the facts and twisting of history doesn’t change that a bit.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Well, you're completely wrong. This little nugget of truth came right from Eric Westervelt, a reporter for NPR's All Things Considered. He's stationed in Gaza.
He did a story about the growing economic divide between Gaza and the West Bank, mainly caused by the Karni crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The thing is, though the economy of Gaza is collapsing (an unfortunate byproduct of the necessary closing of the Karni crossing), there really isn't a humanitarian crisis going on. Supplies get in, they're distributed, and people are getting what they need.
Now, everybody is blaming Israel for this, because they're doing their best to stay secure. The obvious question is, if you have an extremely hostile force controlling land with access to weapons that really wants to destroy you, wouldn't you close the borders (excluding necessary provisions)? Israel is doing what is necessary to avert a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border. To open the gates to Hamas would be just as evil as cutting off Gaza entirely. The fact of the matter is, it's not Israel, stupid. If Hamas would renounce violence and accept Israel's existence there would be no problem, and there never would have been a humanitarian crisis to speak of.
But my point was, and still is, there isn't one now.
Hell, if you don't believe me, check out the report for yourself.
Click the "Listen" button under the headline.
The quote is about 2 minutes in.
Monday, July 30, 2007
There's an excellent op-ed by Shlomo Avineri in the July 28 Ha'aretz that reminds readers of a very simple fact:
"The current Palestinian excuse is that it is difficult to establish coherent political institutions in conditions of territorial fragmentation, refugees and Israeli occupation. All this is true, but irrelevant. Every national movement emerges in difficult conditions, which usually have to do with being under foreign rule. It is hard to imagine more difficult conditions than those that faced the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine in the 1930s and '40s, with the rise of the Nazis, abandonment on the part of Britain, the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust."
Of course, no other national movement (at least in modern times) has made it an essential part of its program the elimination of another country, the national movement of a different people. The Irish didn't require the dismantlement of England, the Eritreans didn't insist on the destruction of Ethiopia, and so on. But for too many Palestinians, the goal of destroying Israel has taken precedence over creating a Palestinian state.
Fortunately, even in the Arab media there are more voices being raised questioning the repeated refusal of the Palestinians to assume any responsibility for their own futures. Maybe once they realize that even their fellow Arabs are disgusted with their failure as a society, the Palestinians will be able to recognize that they will have to give up their dream of Israel's destruction before they can create a future for their own people. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Farfur the Martyr Mouse and Nahool the Jihad Bee are too interested in teaching the next generation of Palestinian children about civic values.
In the time leading up to Pearl Harbor, the large and influential America First movement, led by Charles Lindberg, and an assortment of anti-Jewish figures, isolationist Republicans, and figures from both the right and the left, including Norman Thomas, Gore Vidal, Potter Stewart and Walt Disney, declared that hostilities in some far-off place were none of our business, and certainly not worth the loss of American life. The underlying assumption, never stated, was that American lives were worth more than the lives of those affected by the onslaught of aggressive war by the Axis powers. Thus the lives of the Chinese in Nanking, the Poles in Warsaw, the Dutch in Rotterdam, the Brits in London, and of course the Jews all over Europe, were not worth risking American lives to save. The movement ended less than two years after it started with the Japanese attack on Hawaii.
What have we learned since then? The expression "Never Again" has a worthy pedigree. It was coined by Rabbi Meir Kahane and referred to the Shoah. It has also been used to refer to the Armenian Genocide and to the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And of course, many Israelis quote this expression in their determination to avoid reliance for their security on any other power
Yet we have really learned nothing. Since the time of "America First", we have avoided intervening against the most egregious instances of genocide. Are American lives really more important than those of Bosnian Muslims, or the Tutsis of Rwanda, or the Czechs or Hungarians revolting against tyranny during the Cold War, or those we abandoned in Viet Nam in 1975, or the Cambodians murdered on the killing fields, or the Shiites who rebelled against Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War?
With all these other instances, it may be comforting to know that the abandonment of the Jews during the Nazi period was not personal. As they say in the Mafia, it was just business. It was simply part of the general approach to "realpolitik" foreign policy, in which our involvement is dictated by (and only by) our own narrow interest, without regard to morality or legality. Yet, as Jews, we are acutely aware of what it means to be on the wrong side of “Its not my problem”.
I take no position on American involvement in Iraq. Yet I am troubled by the consequences of a pull-out and what that means for those left behind. Recently the AP reported that “Presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use it’s military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.” Why am I uncomfortable with this? Could it have something to do with the memory of an earlier time when the prevention of genocide against Jews in Europe was not considered “a good enough reason” to commit American power?
While Senator Obama’s plea for non-involvement is generally considered to be a legitimate point of view, it is troubling in its implication that American lives are more valuable than the lives of non-Americans. Is this really the sort of foreign policy that we want? Fortunately, we have had examples of doing otherwise. President Clinton, who failed to intervene in Rwanda, did in fact intervene in Kosovo.
Many Americans decry the ongoing murder of black Africans in Darfur by the Arab government ruling Sudan. The Sudan, a totalitarian fundamentalist Muslim state that permits slavery, is engaged in supporting genocide against blacks in Darfur. We all insist (rightly in my opinion) that more be done to stop the genocide. The UN, for all the usual reasons, will not do anything. Would these same Americans who call for more action in Darfur, Americans who are unquestionably humanitarian, support the only measure that could make a difference? I am speaking of a military attack by American soldiers on the Junjaweed killers, the Arab militias supported by the government who have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Black Africans. And would such support continue after the first Americans to be killed return in flag-draped coffins?
A minority of Americans believe that our involvement in Iraq is beneficial to the citizens of that beleagured country, perhaps preventing a genocidal war at the expense of American lives. The jury is still out as to the best course to follow in Iraq. But anyone who truly believes in "Never Again" must ask whether or not this applies to the citizens of Iraq who face disaster in the wake of an American pull-out. The larger question is whether Iraq is another Viet Nam from which we must extricate ourselves. Or is it another Munich, in which surrender will embolden our adversaries, and increase the chances that we will still have to fight a larger war, as we eventually fought against Hitler.
We are also faced with the stated intent to commit a second Holocaust. The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, presents a genocidal double whammy. He promises the destruction of Israel, and is feverishly working toward nuclear weapons capability. The US has the ability to destroy the Iranian nuclear production facilities, but once again, the voices of “realpolitik” urge restraint. Will America stop Ahmadinejad, or this again an instance of “it’s not my problem”?
It seems that supporters of "realpolitik" do not believe in "Never Again". For these people, "Never Again" is a slogan of those who don’t understand what a realistic foreign policy looks like. So do we ever really learn from history, or is each generation "doomed to repeat" the tragic lessons of the past? Except this time, the nuclear-tipped lesson may be more swift and lethal, not permitting time to correct our errors of judgment.
Our choices are not simply between war and peace. In 1938, Winston Churchill, in responding to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler at Munich, told the English Parliament “You have been given the choice between war and dishonor. You have chosen dishonor, and you will have war!” As Churchill might have said today, if in our eagerness for peace, we consider the mass murder of Israeli or Iraqi citizens to be “not our problem”, we will surely end up with war, and it will become very much our problem.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
As a liberal American Zionist, I also deal with the dichotomy between my liberalism and my Zionism. I support much of the social agenda promoted by the same Protestant denominations that entertain discussions of boycotting Israel; I abhor the strident opposition to choice and to gay rights from the same evangelical Christians whose financial and moral support of Israel I deeply appreciate (even if I don't agree with their more right-wing positions on the conflict). However, as Rabbi Forman also points out, staying alive is a pretty important priority on the agenda as well. And if anyone who thinks that radical Islam would be satisfied with (merely) the elimination of the Jewish state is the intellectual heir of Neville Chamberlain.
Perhaps Rabbi Forman's piece will help the Zionist leftists in this country realize that they cannot on the one hand work to build a just society within Israel, yet on the other continue to be involved with groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (and, at least in our area, Women in Black) who fundamentally oppose Israel's very existence as a Jewish state. Perhaps Rabbis for Human Rights won't co-sponsor events with JVP and Bay Area Women in Black, as they did earlier this year in Berkeley.
After all, the first basic human right is the right to life. And the forces of radical Islam surrounding Israel refuse to accept even that for the Jews. Indeed, it is well past time for those who do support Israel to heed Forman's words, and to actively challenge those, especially those in the Jewish community, who don't.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
It was a year in the planning. A “massive” march on Washington was planned for June 10, 2007. Over 300 organizations endorsed it. The theme: “ The world says “No” to Israeli Occupation”
In a memo to Participants in the June 10, 2007 March on Washington, The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and United for Peace and Justice declared “This will be a large protest.”
More optimistic rhetoric appeared at the DC Indymedia, regarding selling this story to the press:
“Insist that they get a wide-shot of the crowd. The camera lens can be very narrow. It's one thing to say "a hundred thousand people", and quite another to show it.”
The trouble is, no one came.
Mass media reported “hundreds”
DC Indymedia claimed “1,000".
The progressive community was left shaking their heads in disbelief. What do you do when reality and rhetoric don’t line up? Well, in the time honored tradition of the Israel-bashers, you lie.
According to organizing committee’s press release .“DC Protest against Israeli Occupation Big Success!” The organizers continue on to claim 5,000 participants.
Did we expect anything different? Not really. It’s a truth optional world for the Israel-bashers.
Panoramic view of June 10, 2007 march on Washington courtesy of http://ageofhooper.blogspot.com/
Friday, June 15, 2007
In a memo to Participants in the June 10, 2007 March on Washington, The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and United for Peace and Justice declared “This will be a large protest.”
More optimistic rhetoric appeared at the DC Indymedia, regarding selling this story to the press:
“Insist that they get a wide-shot of the crowd. The camera lens can be very narrow. It's one thing to say 'a hundred thousand people', and quite another to show it.”
The trouble is, no one came.
Mass media reported “hundreds”
DC Indymedia claimed “1,000".
The progressive community was left shaking their heads in disbelief. What do you do when reality and rhetoric don’t line up? Well, in the time honored tradition of the Israel-bashers, you lie.
According to organizing committee’s press release, "DC Protest against Israeli Occupation Big Success!” The organizers continue on to claim 5,000 participants.
Did we expect anything different? Not really. It’s a truth optional world for the Israel-bashers.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Now, I'm not disputing the premise of the article. The internet is a place where people can talk in anonymity, which invariably leads to shouting matches.
But in making my way through this muck, I found this little gem:
Is the harshness of language a natural outgrowth of a male-dominated medium in which anonymity gives many a chance to speak without accountability?When did the internet, the great equalizer, become yet another outpost of our (apparently) incredibly chauvinist society, along with Western imperialism, colonialism, and all sorts of other "liberal" buzzwords?
Are you telling me that in a country where we are (rightfully) taught that all people are equal, where schools are mandated to have equal funding for boys and girls sports, where companies are applauded for appointing women to high posts, where feminism has gone so far as to make education tilted against young boys, the outlet accessible to almost everyone, has become yet another "male-dominated medium?"
Lady, you have got to be kidding me.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
JVP tried shutting down comments for a day, claiming it was "not because of the bigotry per se, but the escalation of personal attacks." (I guess "bigotry per se" is OK then?) But of course once the comment boards were opened up then they couldn't get rid of the company they attracted. Yet they do seem surprised at this: "Lately, the site has become a forum for posting anti-Semitic in particular, and also other bigoted and racist comments, as well as ugly personal attacks." Just like they were, in the words of one JVP member who posted there, "appalled" at the anti-Semitism displayed at ANSWER rallies against Israel last summer(see pictures of that event here ). Yet they never publicly dissociated themselves from ANSWER after seeing similar ugliness in previous ANSWER rallies, and they went ahead and paid ANSWER so they could officially participate with a booth at that hate-fest!
So why are they surprised that their forum became a haven for anti-Semites, at least one of whom were known posters on hate sites? Despite their own high-mindedness in claiming to oppose anti-Semitism, their track record of tolerating it in practice from ANSWER and other anti-Israel groups inexorably led to this. They just don't get it-- at its core, anti-Zionism (opposing the right of the Jewish people to have our own country in our own homeland, while supporting the right of every other group, including Palestinian Arabs, to their own state) IS anti-Semitic. And an anti-Israel website will always attract anti-Semites, like flies buzzing around excrement. Of course, JVP's recent conference in Oakland featured T-shirts on sale that proudly stated "Anti-Zionist". If the shirt fits........
Friday, June 8, 2007
(if any of you weren't paying attention to any of that stuff, you can read all about it at the British site EngageOnline which was founded to combat anti-Israel boycott efforts).
Now I'm always good about sending off e-mails to decision makers, etc., etc. But while I know it's the right thing to do, I don't have any illusion that it's going to do much. I somehow don't think the folks at the UCU are going to suddenly leap out of their seats and change their minds because 10,000 Israel supporters from around the world are sending them e-mails. It's more the idea that if WE don't send those e-mails, nobody else is going to do that and silence is not a good option.
However, for those of us that like to take things to the streets and to the people, our friends at BlueStarPR have outdone themselves! Check out their new poster about the proposed British boycott of Israeli academia. Let's help them get it displayed at Tube and train stations all over London. Go here to help; make sure that you specify that it is for the British anti-boycott campaign. Let's take this across the pond and get them stammeringly red in the face as they try to backpedal from throwing away their laptops and cellphones that are contaminated with Israeli technology.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
this weekend, on Sunday June 10. It seems that everyone was fruitlessly waiting for someone else to take a leadership role, and nothing has happened. But time is running out and we cannot remain silent any longer.
Please- help us get the word out. When Israel is attacked publicly, we must respond publicly.
America, Stand with Israel at the Counter-Rally on June 10, 2007.
You CAN make a difference.
Come to Washington DC on June 10, and join us in a rally to support Israel's right to peace, security and defensible borders!
Israel's opponents are on the move: On June 10, 2007, to mark the 40th anniversary of Israel's 1967 war of survival, the extremist groups "United for Peace and Justice" and "Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation" will hold what even the liberal magazine Tikkun called a rally for the "dissolution of the State of Israel." The "United for Peace and Justice" coalition includes such radical organizations as the Socialist Party USA, the Young Communists League, Communist Party USA, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Israel's supporters depend on you: We will gather on the West side of 3rd Street on the Mall, between Madison and Jefferson Drives. We are organizing this literally one week before the event, with almost no resources or time. This Counter-Rally truly is the product of a few citizens who are deeply outraged that Israel's opponents might have demonstrated in our nation's capitol without any patriotic opposing voices who will tell truth to counter these lies. We must stand up to lies and distortions.
We will not have a microphone or a speakers' platform, but we CAN show our support with our signs, flags, patriotic songs and our own strong voices as individual citizens exercising our right to assemble. We are bringing signs and flags for you to hold, sponsored by Stand with Us.
Date: Sunday, June 10
Place: Begin assembling on the west side of 3rd Street on the Mall, between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive at 1:00 PM. Our exact location may change. Please check here before the rally, and look for our American and Israeli flags on June 10.
The Counter-Rally: The Stand with Israel Counter-Rally begins at 2:00 PM and lasts until 4:00 PM
The March: The March from the Capitol to the Ellipse begins at 4:00 PM. We plan to march with our signs and flags parallel to, but apart from, the main demonstration.
What to bring: Bring a cell phone, food, water, a hat, and sunscreen.
Transportation: Don't drive--there is limited public parking on Capitol Hill. Take the metro to either Union Station on the red line or Capitol South
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Interestingly enough, it's actually quite simple to rebut these lies using some rather simple arithmetic. All of the statistics used here are from Israeli-Palestinian ProCon, which is a neutral site that does not take positions on the issues and is not run by advocates with either a pro- or anti-Israel position. (Of course, you can hear the screams of "if you're not obviously against the racist-colonialist-Zionist-occupiers then we can't trust anything you say" from those who promote the big lies. Just ignore them and focus on the facts.)
In 1946 "Palestine" (the British Mandate, comprising what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza) had 608,000 Jews and 1,237,000 Arabs (all statistics rounded to the nearest thousand). As a result of the war of extermination launched by 5 Arab countries against the nascent state of Israel, there was a population exchange-- the Arab population mostly ended up in the West Bank and Gaza, to be imprisoned in refugee camps there. The Jewish population that had lived outside the borders of the state of Israel either fled as refugees to Israel or were killed. By 1949, Israel had 159,00 Arab citizens and 1,014,000 Jewish citizens. In 1950, the nearest year for which population statistics are available, the West Bank and Gaza had 1,005,000 Arabs and no (living) Jews-- it was a thoroughly ethnically cleansed area. Some towns like Hebron that had Jewish populations for uninterrupted centuries were actually ethnically cleansed long before the UN Partition Plan, as the result of pogroms. Some, like the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and the kibbutzim of the Etzion Bloc, were conquered by Arabs and the survivors forced to flee for their lives.
You can learn more about the ethnic cleansing of Jewish communities in Palestine here .
Now let's see what happened after 1967. The population of the West Bank in 1970 (prior to the re-establishment of any Jewish population in that area, outside of Jerusalem) was 677,000 Arabs--and no Jews (except for a few hundred of the ancient Samartian cult living near Nablus). By 2003, the Arab population was 2,300,000 and the Jewish population was 219,000. Yes, that's right. The Arab population more than TRIPLED over that time. In Gaza there were 368,000 Arabs in 1970; by 2003 there were 1,337, 000. Yes, that's not a typo. Under the supposedly genocidal and tyrannical rule of Israeli occupation, the population of Gaza went up FOURFOLD. The Jewish population of Gaza in 2003 was 7,500. Now, of course, it is down to one: Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier who has been held incommunicado by Hamas terrorists for nearly a year and denied access to Red Cross representatives.
Oh, but certainly in Jerusalem the Arabs are getting pushed out of their neighborhoods and ethnically cleansed, right? Sorry, once again those pesky facts get in the way:
1946: Population of Jerusalem --34,000 Muslims, 31,000 Christians (probably not all Arab), 99,000 Jews
1967: 58,000 Muslims, 13,000 Christians, and 197,000 Jews
2000: 197,000 Muslims, 14,000 Christians and 440,000 Jews
Once again, the Muslim population more than tripled since Israel re-unified the city!
Those crafty Zionists-- conducting ethnic cleansing but hiding it so well that the Arab population doubles every 20 years. How do they pull it off?
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
2006: Lebanese villages are targeted by the army because of a fanatical Islamic terrorist group that has taken over these villages and used them as human shields for launching of hundreds of missiles against civilians. This heavily armed group has refused to accept the authority of the government and operates outside of the law. The army responds with attacks attempting to deter the firing of the missiles. The world community is once again outraged, claims of "massacre" are again accepted at face value by the world media, despite photos showing purported victims standing up under their shrouds and other doctored photos published worldwide presenting the images of widespread bombing. The kidnapping of soldiers and the firing of rockets at towns that led to the counterattack once again go essentially unnoticed in the rush to condemnation.
2007: A Palestinian refugee camp is the target of indiscriminate shelling by the army, in its attempt to root out a band of fanatical Islamic terrorists. Civilians flee for their lives and condemn the terrorists. The Arab League itself blames the terrorists for threatening the country's security, safety and stability. However, the United Nations remains strangely silent and the world media have not run the blazing headlines about atrocities and massacres.
Could it possibly be that the world only cares about protecting terrorists if it's the Israeli army that's attacking them? The Arab League statement made it very clear why it can condemn Fatah al-Islam: the group "has no relation to the Palestinian question or Islam".
OK, NOW I get it! As long as the group is truly Islamic, or conducts terror operations on BEHALF of Palestinians, then it gets a free ride. Well, at least they're up front about their hypocrisy. Hezbollah doesn't have anything to worry about, at least from the Lebanese Army.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
The arguments made 40, 30, or even 20 years ago said that Israel should allow the Palestinians to have a state in the territories conquered in that June 1967 war. Now, of course, with the international community (including Israel) having agreed with that concept (though not on borders, as well as other minor details such as security for 7 million Israelis in the face of such a state controlled by radical Islamist jihadis), the anti-Israel groups have revealed what was undoubtedly their true goal all along-- the dismantlement of Israel as a Jewish state. One of the claims made to justify this is that Israel is a racist/apartheid state and that the primacy given to Jews and to Judaism is prima facie unacceptable and must be eliminated. Reading those arguments, one would think that no other country in the world provides any type of differential treatment to members of its own ethnicity.
Of course, we would not condone not granting to members of minority groups such basics as voting rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. Israel, of course, does grant these. The Freedom House annual report on political and civil liberties around the world ranks Israel as "free", with a ranking of 1 (highest) for political rights and 2 for civil liberties. (The PA , "partially free", manages a 4 for political rights; civil liberties are at 6 [lowest is 7]. That of course doesn't factor in the recent threat to one's political rights or civil liberties of being shot dead for belonging to the wrong militia or being kidnapped for being a journalist. They probably already took into account other risky behaviors in the PA such as being a Christian or being a young woman who "dishonors" her family by being seen with an unrelated male in public).
But I digress. The main right being challenged is Israel's Law of Return, which gives the right of immigration to anyone with one Jewish grandparent or who has converted to Judaism. From reading anti-Israel screeds, one would never know that immigration preferences are quite common in the world today. The legal term for this right is lex sanguinis. Countries that provide such preferences include Armenia (another country with a widespread diaspora), China, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Russia and Spain. That covers a pretty fair-sized chunk of the world's population right there. Especially given that none of these countries (except Armenia) can document any history of genocidal persecution in its diaspora similar to what the Jewish people have experienced, why is only Israel singled out as if this is unique? One possible answer can be found in this landmark article by Natan Sharansky.
We also hear that the flag and the national anthem must also be changed to not show any preference to Jews and Judaism. As far as flags, how about this salient fact:
The flag of Turkey, which was the flag of the Ottoman Empire, has been an inspiration for the flag designs of many other Muslim nations. During the time of the Ottomans the crescent began to be associated with Islam and this is reflected on the flags of Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Tunisia, and of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flags)
Also, the following countries feature a different religious symbol, the Christian cross, in their flags:
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Greece, Tonga.
Once again, only Israel is pilloried for using the symbol of the Jewish people on its flag.
And for national anthems, here are slections from the national anthems of a few other countries that somehow are not vilified as “racist”–
Saudi Arabia:Hasten to glory and supremacy!Glorify the Creator of the heavensAnd raise the green, fluttering flag,Carrying the emblem of Light!Repeat - God is greatest!O my country,My country, may you always live,The glory of all Muslims!Long live the King,For the flag and the country!
Thailand (I'm not criticizing Thailand here, but I do suspect that not 100% of the citizens of Thailand are ethnic Thais…):
Thailand unites its people with flesh and blood.
land of Thailand belongs to the Thais.....
The Czech anthem includes the lines "Where is my home? Where is my home?
If, in a heavenly land, you have met
Tender souls in agile frames,
Of clear mind, vigorous and prospering,
And with a strength that frustrates all defiance,
That is the glorious race of Czechs,
Among Czechs (is) my home!"
The mention of the Jewish soul's hope to become a nation in its own land isn't so different, is it? Not really-- unless you've got an underlying agenda.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Over one hundred rockets have been fired off at Sderot from locations in Gaza in the last week by Hamas and its pals.
Israel, which delayed reaction longer than was necessary or even sane, perhaps out of a hope-against-hope that confrontation could be avoided, has struck back in the last day and a half.
Predictably the Hamas leadership has voiced outrage and called for massive bloody revenge against the Zionist monster, threatening suicide bombings and other creative acts.
[Note of perspective: Far fewer Hamas members have perished as a result of recent Israeli actions than have snuffed it in the internecine combat between Hamas and Fatah. And note also that Fatah have suffered more casualties than Hamas in the gang-battles on the streets of Gaza these past two weeks.]
For good up-to-date coverage on this war, from a realistic and Israeli perspective, please visit Jameel at the Muqata:
Aussie Dave also updates about the war:
Calling it a war is perhaps an overstatement, as there has been no significant Israeli incursion, the Qassams from Gaza in the direction of Sderot (and soon also Ashkelon) are routine and entirely predictable attempts to massacre civilians, and so far more Palestinians have slaughtered each other since this latest round started than have been killed by Israeli actions.
It is perhaps better to think of it as a Beirut-type conflict, with the sparks and shrapnel from the main participants (Hamas and Fatah) hitting the bystanders, and with provocative acts by both participants the sole purpose of which is to draw the attention of outsiders, with the hope that other parties will get involved and so change the equation.
The only way in which this gangbang significantly differs from the Beirut fracas of a generation ago is that all Gazan factions represent the same ethno-religious group, and still enthusiastically cheer the deaths of Jews. In Beirut, for a while, there were ethno-religious differences and they were more enthusiastic about the deaths of each other.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
So go vote! Right now. Go.
Given the overwhelming hypocrisy of this organization, pro-Israel activists from StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel have been standing across the street in a well-received counterprotest. Not, of course, standing in favor of the occupation, but rather standing clearly in support of Israel's existence as a Jewish state. On April 21, they were joined by dozens of members of Temple Beth Abraham complete with guitar-playing rabbi, singing songs of peace. After standing with the Israel supporters, they proceeded across the street to the opposite corner where the WIB were standing, then continued around the entire intersection. Watch it yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8N67M6Y9AM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKjtL2kbWBs .
The response of BAWIB? They called the Oakland Police Department! Those little kids singing "Am Yisrael Chai" must have really worried them. Yet, of course, Hamas' use of children to probe Israel's security measures or carry bomb belts doesn't seem to worry them at all.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Well, of course it does, if you follow the same twisted logic: blame Israel for violence between two warring Palestinian factions, armed to the teeth with weaponry that they are unable to use against Israel, thanks to the border fence around Gaza. (Very little note is taken about the fact that while there are all sorts of claims tossed around about disease and malnutrition in Gaza, there seems to be plenty of money around to buy guns and easy access across the border with Egypt that is supposedly "under siege" by Israel).
While we're at it, let's also help debunk the myth promoted on the far left in this country that the US went to war in Iraq on Israel's behalf. Check out the real story at The Iraq War: A Jewish Plot?.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The folks over at Jewish Voice for Peace have now developed this big lie into a sadly repetitive formula:
1. Find those who oppose Israel’s very existence; bonus points if they are Jewish (let’s call them the anti-Zionists, since they wear that label with misbegotten pride). Ignore the fact that these individuals get to appear on TV and radio frequently, speak on college campuses, publish books, etc.
2. Find statements from members of Jewish community organizations opposing the anti-Zionists– not on the grounds that they criticize Israeli policy, but because they oppose Israel’s existence at all.
3. Claim that these anti-Zionists are just “critics of Israeli policy”, ignoring their own self-admitted prejudices which make EVERY Israeli policy or self-defense action something to criticize. Continue to ignore the fact that these individuals get lots of access to an unquestioning media.
4. Ergo, Jewish community leadership is attacking "all critics of Israeli policy” (funny how a few extremists become “all”) and preventing them from spreading their views; now you’ve discovered more evidence of a vast “muzzling” conspiracy!
Never mind that there are no lawsuits, no websites being shut down, no anti-Israel speakers prevented from speaking by rioters.
Interestingly enough, a few ACTUAL episodes of attempted misuse of the legal system to muzzle free speech have come to light; unlike individuals who might simply register an objection to an inappropriate speaker or an unbalanced program, these are actual attempts to shut down free speech. In homage to the new baseball season, let's throw 3 strikes at freedom of speech:
For strike one, we have CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), which has demanded the names of the passengers who reported the suspicious activity at Minneapolis Airport on November 21, 2006 so they can be included in their religious discrimination lawsuit http://washingtontimes.com/national/20070313-110514-4800r.htm (note that in response to this, Congressman Steve Pearce, R-NM, introduced in Congress the "Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007, H.R. 1640." This bill would protect Americans from being sued for reporting suspicious activities to law enforcement and security personnel). Apparently, CAIR feels that free speech shouldn't include the right to report suspicious activity to law enforcement officials. (anyone feeling their rights "muzzled" yet?)
Strike two: the Arizona Republic's online edition reprints the story of a film for the PBS. series Crossroads that was the subject of tampering by PBS station WETA: "WETA appointed an advisory board that includes Aminah Beverly McCloud, director of World Islamic Studies at DePaul University.....in a January e-mail, McCloud told Crossroads producers that she had spoken with Nation of Islam representatives and 'invited them over to view this section.' She also wrote that they were outraged 'and will promptly pursue litigation.'" Read the full
story at http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0410crossroads0410.html. (foul ball, strike two)
Now we get the curveball for strike three: there IS a "Jewish" organization that is involved in a lawsuit to "muzzle" free speech. This lawsuit is aimed at both the news media and advocacy organizations on an issue involving the Islamic community. Which group would line up against free speech and freedom of the press, to try to stifle reporting on an issue? Why, it's none other than those brave defenders of free speech : Jewish Voice for Peace! JVP has filed an amicus curae brief on behalf of the Islamic Society of Boston in its lawsuit against Boston area media and a local Israel advocacy group, the David Project. The issues are well described by the American Jewish Committee in its March 15 press release .
Despite multiple posts on JVP's "muzzlewatch" site challenging them on their participation in this legal maneuver to stifle speech with which they disagree, they have even failed to deliver a promised article outlining their rationale for becoming involved in this sordid effort. Muzzlewatch asks for readers to send in tips about the "stifling of open debate" to firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps it's worth tipping them off about the hypocrisy staring them right in the mirror.
Friday, March 30, 2007
At first glance, the print is massive. This looks like a children's book, with large margins large type, but a good deal higher level of vocabulary and better command of language. I remarked that the publishers. could have easily boiled this down to a pamphlet, to which a friend of mine responded: But then they wouldn't be able to sell a nice big hardcover edition. Which of course is true.
The text itself seems harmless enough, it generally seems like the heartfelt pinions and memories of a highly influential ex-president. But then, I come across this bit on page 15:
Although some extremists disagree, most Israelis have learned that they cannot reconstruct the Kingdom of David, which includes all of the West Bank the Golan Heights, and parts of Lebanon and Jordan.
This may seem innocuous, but it implies through the use of the word learned, that at one point most Israelis seriously hoped to reconstruct the Kingdom of David. This is simply false. Quite to the contrary, the Jews living in Mandatory Palestine accepted without hesitation every plan thrown at them, from the early ideas of the twenties which simply split off at the Jordan River and continued to the borders of Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, to the 1947 partition passed by the United Nations, which though giving them 55 percent of the landmass, contained the barren Negev desert. This shows early on Carter's obvious bias.
For the next fifty pages or so, Carter chronicles his personal journies from his visit to Israel in 1973 through the Camp David accords. This section passes without much grumbling from me, just the occasional piece here and there which is hard to place, but still shows the book's bias.
On pages 65-66, Carter is discussing Jewish immigration to the land, and the population statistics pre-independence. He then writes on page 66:
There had been further waves of Jewish and Gentile immigration into Palestine, as indicated by official British date: the Arab population increased from 760,000 in 1931 to 1,237,000 in 1945, mostly attracted by economic oppurtunity.In the first section, through a statement of fact, namely the doubling of the Arab population in Palestine, Carter neglects to mention the driving force behind this sudden economic oppurtunity: the Zionist immigrants. This change from wasteland to up-and-coming economic player is well known to be the work of these hard working European Jews, who drained the swamps and built the farms throughout the land that drew the massive Arab immigration, creating their imaginary majority at the time of partition. I call this majority imaginary in reference to the great numbers of Jews who were disallowed and even turned away from entering the land by British law. The second quoted section is much more fun: It calls Palestine the ancient homeland of the local Arabs. Not disputing any claim to a homeland in part of this area, let's focus on the word ancient: Nearly half of the Arabs living in Palestine at the time were very recent immigrants, and of course for them to be considered Arab at all, they would have had to come from the Arabian Peninsula, which, coincidentally, does not include Palestine. Any claim to an "ancient homeland," put forth here by Carter, is false and misleading.
No serious consideration was given by Arab leaders or the international commmunity to estblishing a separate Palestinian state while these people's ancient homeland was divided amog Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.
That's all for now. I'll point out more innacuracies, and obvious showings of bias as they come up. Check back soon...
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Recently, more and more voices have been raised in the American Jewish community, expressing dissatisfaction with current representation of the Jewish community in Zionist institutions and institutions that represent Jewish views on Israel........ The sad truth however, is that the situation reflects the relative contributions of the different communities to the defense of Israel and Zionism. Groups like Ameinu, UPZ and Brit Tzedek VeShalom are entitled to protest the occupation and air their disagreements about with Israeli policies. However, if they want to earn a central place in determining Zionist policies in the USA and the future of Israeli society, they have to be there for Israel when it comes to clear-cut vital issues such as defense of Israel on campus against racists like Columbia Professor Joseph Massad, ISM boycott initiatives, emergency funds for Israel, Aliya (immigration) programs and delegitimization of Israel. These issues have nothing to do with the occupation or democracy in Israel and should not be divisive.
Read the full post here.