Friday, March 30, 2007

Just For Fun: Early Observations on Jimmy Carter's Book

I recently (as in today) began reading a copy of Jimmy Carter's new book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Of course, being the good citizen I am, I decided to give my thoughts on the first 60 pages or so.
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.
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.
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.
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

Do the progressive ZIonist groups EVER Stand Up for Israel? (sadly, no)

from ZioNation - Progressive Zionism and Israel Web Log

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.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pro-Israel Voices Muzzled at UCSC

If anybody still believes the protestations of Jewish Voice for Peace at that anti-Israel speech is suppressed by the all-powerful pro-Israel machine, read below for details of last week's conference at University of California at Santa Cruz. This event would have been more appropriately held in Ramallah or Tehran. Note that any attempt to voice a pro-Israel opinion, or to get the organizers to provide a balancing position, was met with implacable hostility.

This phenomenon is not confined to UCSC. Muslim students at UC Irvine hold "Palestine Solidarity Week" events in which jihadist speakers spew their hatred on campus, providing an intimidating environment for any pro-Israel students (see the film "Tolerating Intolerance", available from StandWithUs at for actual videos of hate speech on campuses). Earlier this year, Muslims students at Brown University forced the cancellation of a speech by Nonie Darwish, an Arab Muslim woman who grew up in Gaza but now speaks out against jihadist terror, on the grounds that having her speak was "offensive" to them. the truth of the matter is that on too many campuses all across America, pro-Israel students and faculty find that they are not allowed to have their views heard, not allowed to question the presumption of evil Israeli guilt and noble Palestinian resistance, not allowed to promote the Zionist perspective-- in short, THEY are the ones truly "muzzled".

Those of you who agree that the type of biased political advocacy described below might just be a few giant steps short of the "highest ideals of academic freedom" should address your concerns to the individuals listed after the report on the conference.

BlueTruth thanks Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, lecturer in Hebrew at UCSC, for attending and documenting the conference and for providing us with the opportunity to disseminate her report. She noted "The most egregious part of the event was not the anti-Israel sentiment or the fact that all alternative positions were stifled, but rather the fact that the conference was sponsored by 8 university departments and therefore given complete academic legtimacy. In this way UCSC differs from, say UC Irvine, where the anti-Israel propaganda comes from the students. In my opinion, that makes UCSC far worse than Irvine. All citizens of California should be outraged by this university-sponsored taxpayer-funded conference."

Report on “Alternative Histories Within and Beyond Zionism” conference
at UCSC on March 15, 2007
Submitted by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Ilan Benjamin
Approximately 100 people attended the conference -- about 70 students, 20 faculty members and 10 community members. UCSC Anthropology professor Lisa Rofel, the conference organizer and moderator, opened the event by saying that the conference was an historic one at UCSC, and represented the “highest ideals of academic freedom”.
The first speaker was David Theo Goldberg, Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute, who spoke on “Racial Palestinianization”. Goldberg claimed that Israel was, from its inception, a racist entity, which used its racist state policies to protect the purity of the Jewish race and exclude and oppress the Palestinians. In his talk and accompanying slide presentation, Goldberg explicitly and implicitly linked Israel’s current state policies and practices to those of the Nazis. Goldberg concluded his talk by asserting that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians was part of a race war begun by Israel in order to rid the land of a despised racial group, and that within such a context, suicide bombing was an understandable and even fair response.
Judith Butler, a professor in the departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley, was the second speaker. Her talk was entitled “Hidden Histories of Post- Zionism”. Basing herself in part on the writings of Edward Said and in part on those of Jewish thinkers in the first half of the 20th century such as Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt, Butler claimed that Zionism was a racist and therefore illegitimate ideology, and she argued for the creation of a secular democratic bi-national state, which would replace the Jewish State. While Butler complained that the debate about a bi-national state is often stifled with the argument that it will lead to the destruction of Israel, she did not address the issue of why this concern is unfounded, or how Jews would be able to live safely and securely in a state with a Muslim majority.
The third speaker was Hilton Obenzinger, Associate Director for Honors and Advanced Writing at the Stanford Writing Center. His talk, entitled “Jewish Opposition to the Occupation Since 1967, A Personal and Public Journey“, was indeed primarily a personal account of how, after growing up in a Zionist Jewish home, Obenzinger became an anti- Zionist activist who opposed the Jewish State and advocated Palestinian causes. Obenzinger also described and decried the opposition within the Jewish community to his anti-Israel pro-Palestinian efforts.
Terri Ginsberg, an adjunct professor at Purchase College, was the fourth speaker. In her talk, “Holocaust Film and Zionism: Exposing a Collaboration”, Ginsburg drew heavily upon the writings of Norman Finkelstein in claiming that Holocaust films have facilitated and justified the propagation of a racist Zionist ideology, which has resulted in the oppression, ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinians. She noted that her ideas were very unpopular both in the academy and in the Jewish community, and she accused those who would discredit her work of being “McCarthyites”.
The fifth and final speaker was Ryvka Bar Zohar, a graduate student at NYU, whose talk was entitled “A History of Zionism and the Politics of Divestment”. Bar Zohar presented her own ideas about the history of Zionism, arguing that the ideology grew out of the attempt of Eastern European Jews to recover from the “shame” of the Diaspora and the Holocaust by finding pride in domination. According to her analysis, Zionism was an essentially racist doctrine, which led to the creation of an apartheid state. Bar Zohar used her analysis to argue that the movement to divest from Israel was a justified and effective strategy for mounting an opposition to Zionism for all anti-Zionist and anti-apartheid activists.
It wasn’t until after the final speaker had concluded, with less than a half-hour remaining to the 3-and-a-half hours scheduled for the conference, that the moderator opened the floor for questions. Unfortunately, by that time most of the audience had left the hall, as well as one of the speakers. At the end of the event, a student approached one of the members of the audience who had, during the question and answer period, challenged the use of the term ‘Arab Jews’ by one of the speakers, and she yelled at him several times, “You are a racist”. Another student approached two men engaged in a private conversation about how egregiously biased the conference was, and she said in a clear and accusatory tone, “You have blood on your hands”. The few pro-Israel students in the room were extremely upset after the event. One student was appalled that her own department, History, had sponsored this event. Another expressed outrage that her university tuition was supporting what she felt was anti-Israel propaganda.
There are four aspects of this conference that should deeply concern all university administrators and faculty, as well as members of the tax-paying public:
1) Although promoted as an academic event and sponsored by 8 UCSC departments and research groups (Institute for Humanities Research, Feminist Studies, Anthropology, CGIRS, Community Studies, Sociology, Politics and History), this conference did not adhere to even minimal standards of scholarship. First of all, neither the conference organizer nor any of the speakers is a recognized scholar of the history of Zionism or Israel, and collectively they boast few academic publications in this area. Secondly, only two of the five speakers referenced the scholarship of others. Of these, Ginsburg based much of her work on the highly questionable scholarship of Norman Finkelstein, and Butler’s interpretation of one of her key sources was disputed by the book’s editor, who happened to be in the audience at the time. Thirdly, the use of demonizing and vilifying language and slides in Goldberg’s talk, the focus on personal anecdotes in Obenzinger’s talk, and the justification of political activism that was at the heart of Bar Zohar’s talk, all raise a number of serious questions about the academic quality of this event. 2) Far from representing a diversity of legitimate scholarly perspectives on the topic of Zionism, the speakers all articulated the same extremist view about Israel’s founding ideology, namely, that it was racist and illegitimate, and called into question the legitimacy of the Jewish State itself. Indeed, this uniformity of perspective and expression of egregious anti-Israel bias, which violate the norms of academic integrity, are not surprising, given that all five speakers identified
themselves in the course of their talks as anti-Zionists, and two of them, Obenzinger and Ginsberg, openly expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people. It seems, however, that such a one-sided anti-Israel conference is just what the conference organizer, Lisa Rofel, had in mind. For when Jewish Studies director Murray Baumgarten offered to work with Rofel to create a more balanced event by bringing speakers with other legitimate scholarly perspectives about Zionism and Israel, she declined the offer.
3) It is clear that the conference was an event dominated by political advocacy. Most of the speakers were explicit about their political motivation and advocacy efforts: The talks by Obenzinger and Bar Zohar were wholly devoted to justifying and promoting their anti-Israel political efforts. Butler introduced her talk by saying that she had committed herself “to speaking out, and to encouraging other Jews to speak out”, and Ginsberg said that her goal was “to transform Zionism in the name of social justice”. Moreover, the anti-Israel political stands of the speakers must have been well-known to the conference organizer, as all of them had previously spoken out publicly against the Jewish State, either by signing divestment petitions and other public statements calling for halting all aid to Israel, boycotting Israeli academics, or organizing "Israeli Apartheid Week" events. Indeed, the conference organizer herself is a signatory the petition urging that the University of California divest from Israel.
4) The US Department of State, in its working definition of anti-Semitism, has included the following examples of the manifestation of anti-Semitism in public discourse:
• Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor).
• Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
• Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
• Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
The description of the talks above suggests that every one of these examples found expression at this conference. In addition, it is reasonable to assume that the speakers’ blatant anti-Israel bias and inflammatory rhetoric gave rise to the hostile behavior of some students in the audience towards the few people who openly expressed disagreement with the speakers.


If you wish to share your concerns about this with responsible individuals at UCSC, please contact the following; let them know you read it on BlueTruth!

Acting Chancellor George Blumenthal:
Executive Vice Chancellor David Kliger:
Dean of Humanities, Prof. Georges Van Den Abbeele:
Dean of Social Sciences, Prof. Sheldon Kamieniecki:
Prof. Ronnie Lipschutz, co-director, Center for Global International and Regional Studies (CGIRS):
Prof. Daniel J. Wirls, Chair Politics:
Prof. Gail Hershatter, Director Institute for Humanities Research:
Prof. Karen Barad, Chair Feminist Studies:
Prof. Judith A. Habicht-Mauche, Chair Anthropology:
Prof. Mary Beth Pudup, Chair Community Studies:
Prof. Herman S. Gray, Chair Sociology:
Prof. Daniel J. Wirls, Chair Politics:
Prof. Lisa Rofel, Anthropology (conference organizer):

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Crossing the Line: Portrayals of Israelis as Nazis

Manfred Gerstenfeld has written a detailed report on the phenomenon of "Holocaust Inversion", the propaganda that the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis is comparable to the treatment of Jews by the Nazis. Of course, to anyone who has studied history, this comparison is so outrageous that the only excuses for it are either sheer ignorance (all too common these days) or deep-seated intractible malice against Jews (also, unfortunately, all too common these days). Gerstenfeld researches this phenomenon and shows its roots--especially in the Arab world.

Those who accept this type of propaganda from their anti-Israel fellow travelers should pay very close attention to this article.

Before posting comments, please note: in no way does BlueTruth claim that any criticism of Israeli policies is anti-Semitic. Read Gerstenfeld's article here to find out when such criticism DOES cross the line.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

United Nations- UNfair and UNjust?

The UN Human Rights Council is expected to place Israel under permanent investigation for its "violations" of international law in the territories - until such time as it withdraws to the pre-1967 border. This new UN body was created in June to replace the old Human Rights Commission, which was scrapped because it had a faulty membership composition and repeatedly singled out Israel. Its interesting to note that the change of name was only that.

The United Nations history is replete with one sided General Assembly Resolutions singling out and condemning Israel for just about everything. Everyone is aware of the automatic anti-Israel Arab/Moslem voting bloc. Even UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan admitted at the opening of the 61st General Assembly on September 20, 2006, that Israel is often unfairly judged at the United Nations. "On one side, supporters of Israel feel that it is harshly judged by standards that are not applied to its enemies," he said. "And too often this is true, particularly in some UN bodies." Most egregious was the condemnation of the right of the Jewish people to national self determination pushed through the UN by the Arab states and the Soviet Bloc in the form of Resolution 3379, which slandered Zionism by branding it a form of racism. Of course as Abba Eban stated,""If Algeria introduced a [UN] resolution declaring that the Earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164-13 with 26 abstentions."

Since its inception, the new UN Human Rights Council has continued to single out Israel, the sole Jewish State for condemnation. Thus far the UN Human Rights Council has issued eight anti-Israel resolutions, and none against any other nation. It has also held three special sessions focused solely on Israel while ignoring far more obvious and patent violaters of human rights, (many of whom are in fact represented on the council!)

It becomes obvious that the agenda for the Un Human Rights Council is something far different than human rights. The "permanent probe" of Israel is simply yet another blatant attempt to attack Israel on a permanent basis by her enemies in the UN. Its just another case of the politics being war by other means. If one were to judge by the accumulated UN resolutions, then according to the U.N., Israel is the only country in the world and member nation whose right to exist and right of self defense are an issue.

Maybe if everyone should just agree that the UN permanently condemns all actions or inactions by Israel, no matter who, what or when, past, present and future, at the start of every session. It wouldn’t even require a vote, just a literal rubber stamp. Then perhaps UN would have the luxury of getting on to other business.

Monday, March 12, 2007


International Answer is organizing another anti-war protest.

Oh boy.

What is fascinating about International Answer is how they have hijacked the peace movement to rope more people into their world and propagandize for a number of causes which have no link to the Iraq war.

It is no secret that International Answer opposes the government, and advocates policies which are contrary to current policy. In doing so they are exercising fundamental rights which cannot be assailed.

What is utterly deserving of condemnation, however, is their choice of causes to promote.

In addition to their opportunistic hijacking of the anti-war movement, International Answer strongly supports Hamas and Hezbollah, and fulsomely praises both Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.
They demand that the United States cease aid to Israel, and they oppose any intervention in Darfur.
They are adamant that North Korea and Iran be allowed to pursue the development of nuclear weaponry, and they insist that the US withdraw from Afghanistan.

Their opposition to the Iraq War serves as a splendid vehicle for propaganda and dissimulation on all these fronts.

In supporting Hamas and Hezbollah they deliberately misportray both organizations as the popular and democratic voice of Arabs, and defend terrorism against Israeli civilian targets as legitimate (though violence against fellow Arabs is ignored).

In praising Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez they paint both as great political leaders fighting for their people, overlooking the actual brutalizing of many of those people.

In opposing aid to Israel they do not mention US aid to Jordan, Egypt, the UN Refugee Agency (which has as it's primary mission maintaining the Palestinians in several countries in permanent camps), the exorbitant cost of other UN activities and US programmes all over the world, in countries whose friendship with the US is doubtful or non-existent, and whose leaders and diplomats venomously slam the United States and Americans.
And yet they oppose any interference in Darfur - precisely where involvement by the US and the international community would bring an end to immense suffering, and where US aid would truly work miracles.

In supporting North Korea and Iran they aid regimes which have no regard for human rights and proven records of savagery against their own people - regimes which have also funded terrorism against US citizens.

In demanding that the US withdraw from Afghanistan, they would return Afghanis to the untender mercies of the fundamentalists who executed journalists and artists, burned down libraries, destroyed antiquities, killed educators and doctors, banned music, and damned Afghan women to lives of illiteracy, exploitation, and slavery.

Their misguided and dangerous advocacy in these causes is not a fluke, but fundamental to their organization. Most of International Answer's founders came from the Workers World Party, which since its start back in the Eisenhower years has vociferously defended such causes as the Soviet repression of Hungary, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, they also whitewashed the Tian An Men massacre. But most damning in recent years was their longstanding adulation of Serbian tyrant Slobodan Milosevic.

How ironic that such people should dominate the peace movement, most of the members of which would be appalled at the ideology of their leaders. One would have hoped that socially conscious people would exercise greater discretion in their associations.


Lo telech rachil b'ameicha... ('do not go as a talebearer among your companions' - Vayikra (Leviticus), Parshas Kedoshim, Possuk (verse) 19:16).

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, head of the German Bishops Conference, grudgingly conceded that some remarks made by German churchmen visiting the holy land were inappropriate.

[Big whoopee - now rejoice, y'all.]

Nevertheless, he still slams Israel from behind by calling the security barrier 'a painful reality', and excusing the comments by some of the participants by saying that they did not mean that Israel has no right to defend itself.

[Here's the article in Ha'aretz:]

I am not favourably impressed.
The damage has already been done.

This is like a newsrag making a deliberately evil report, and then several days later publishing a retraction somewhere between the illustrated underwear ads and the obits.

Front page: "Senator Fooferaw Gropes Pages"

Page 38 retraction ten days later: "When we wrote ten days ago that Senator Fooferaw groped pages, we inadvertently left out that he has hooks instead of hands due to a war injury, and the pages were in Jeremaiah and Samuel, not named Jerry and Samuel."

The statements by the German bishops will be quoted and referenced for years to come, and will no doubt be inventively elaborated upon. Cardinal Lehmann's anaemic attempt at mollification will only be quoted when it becomes necessary to demonstrate how temperate and humane critics of Israel have been - in other words, it, too, will be a cudgel.

Friday, March 9, 2007

You Have The Right To Shut Up

"There's a controversy that has bubbled up in the Jewish world today around this question: Is it good for Israel when Jews go public with harsh criticism of Israel? One recent example is a Jewish group that has been presenting on college campuses a stinging, single-minded and, in the eyes of many, exaggerated critique of the Israeli army. Presumably, this type of collective soul-searching demonstrates the Jewish values of fairness and good faith and ought to generate some goodwill in return. "

Or so the folks over at Jewish Voice for Peace seem to think.

Read the rest of David Suissa's piece on the StandWithUs website and see why this isn't really such a good idea when facing those to whom the only good Israeli is a dead Israeli.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Exposing The Lies of Norman Finkelstein

(For those you not familiar with the activities of Norman Finkelstein, he is one of the darlings of JVP and other anti-Israel "Jewish" groups. A (non-tenured) political science professor at DePaul University, he has made a name for himself by going on the anti-Israel lecture circuit with supposed credibility added by being the child of Holocaust survivors. An extensive summary of Finkelstein, his shoddy scholarship, and his slurs not only of Jewish leaders but of respected world figures like Elie Wiesel can be found on CAMERA's website at

This is an abridged transcript of a talk given by the anti-Zionist activist Norman Finkelstein at Stanford University on January 25, 2007, entitled “Reflections on the misuse of anti-Semitism and the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering.” Why do we present the words of this extremist? We want to expose the misuse of history, the sloppy “research”, and the outright lies that go into talks by the likes of Finkelstein. It should come as no surprise that Finkelstein is one of the intellectual heroes of Jewish Voice for Peace and similar anti-Israel groups. His brochure for this talk stated “Finkelstein will discuss how the concept of anti-Semitism has been distorted to include any criticism of the state of Israel and silence all legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy.”
Once again he follows a theme we hear ONLY (and constantly) from anti-Israel activists: that “any” criticism of Israel is considered anti-Semitic. Of course, one can also ask whether criticism of Israel from those who don’t recognize its legitimacy and seek to destroy it can be considered “legitimate”. (We ask that one all the time, since too many people have never even thought about it!). One can also ask why someone who is so “silenced” can be given at platform at an elite university like Stanford.

My comments are underlined. Please feel free to use this information if you get the opportunity to challenge Finkelstein.

(Finkelstein) …How do you account for the fact that so much controversy swirls around this conflict when if you look at the documentary record, the factual record, it really isn’t very controversial or complicated…. And the thesis I’m going to argue this evening is that most of the controversy, the preponderance of the controversy that swirls around the Palestine Israel conflict is contrived. It’s fabricated. It’s concocted. And the purpose of this artificial controversy is to divert attention from the documentary record and to sow confusion about what that record actually shows.

…It’s (the ICJ) findings were as follows…It’s clear under international law that it’s inadmissible to acquire territory by war. That principal is anchored in Article 2 of the United Nations charter. And therefore, Israel has no title to any of the territory it conquered in the West Bank or Gaza during the June 1967 war. That is to say, to use the language of the World Court, those are occupied Palestinian territories… For our purposes that means, contrary to what you routinely read or hear in the United States – those are NOT disputed territories. Those are occupied Palestinian territories, full stop.

For your reference, here is Article 2 of the UN Charter:

Article 2
The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.
The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.
The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.

Nothing in there about the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by force. Interesting that there IS a requirement to refrain “from the threat or use of force” against other countries. Not that Arab-launched wars in 1948, 1956 or 1973 have any relevance to Finkelstein.

In fact it illustrates, this is from another direction, how uncontroversial the supposedly controversial conclusions of Jimmy Carter’s recent book, “Palestine, Peace not Apartheid” how uncontroversial his conclusions are. His main conclusions are 1) Israel must withdraw to the June 1967 borders and 2) that the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East is Israel’s unwillingness to comply with international law. As you’ll see in a moment, that’s absolutely uncontroversial, even though his book is called very controversial.

….the factual controversy has always been the one of how did the Palestinians become refugees in 1948… The standard response… was that in 1948 the Arab armies poised to attack the newly born state of Israel, transmitted orders to the Arabs of Palestine to flee from their homes and after the victories of the armies they would win. It would clear the fields for the Arab armies. And most mainstream scholarship of that interpretation, it was the standard one. There was a group on the periphery who said it wasn’t true but they had relatively little influence in academic, let alone, media life. Come the late 1980’s, Israeli scholars pre-eminently, but others as well, go through the Israeli archives and they reached the conclusion to quote the most pre-eminent of those scholars, a fellow named Benny Morris, he says that all the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948… There is debate. But the debate is very narrow.

“All the Palestinians”, that is, except for the 160,000 that remained and became citizens of the state of Israel.

Was this ethnic cleansing pre-meditated or was it born of the war? In Benny Morris’s famous phrase, the Palestinians became refugees ‘it was born of war, not of desire.’ Others say ‘not true’. It was pre-meditated.

Shlomo Ben-Ami, the former Prime Minister, he says it’s true. For sure, Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948. But he says, “I disagree with Benny Morris. I think it was pre-meditated. I think it was anchored in Zionist ideology… ”

Now of course any student of the history of the area knows that Shlomo Ben-Ami was never Prime Minister of Israel. He is, however, an Israeli diplomat who was involved at the Camp David and Taba talks in 2000 and 2001 (the latter while serving as Foreign Minister in the waning days of the Barak government). Here’s a very revealing quote from Mr. Ben-Ami who appeared on a radio show with Finkelstein (italics mine):

“My view is that, but for Jesus Christ, everybody was born in sin, including nations. And the moral perspective of it is there, but at the same time it does not undermine, in my view, in my very modest view, the justification for the creation of a Jewish state, however tough the conditions and however immoral the consequences were for the Palestinians. You see, it is there that I tend to differ from the interpretation of the new historians. They have made an incredible contribution, a very, very important contribution to our understanding of the origins of the state of Israel, but at the same time, my view is that this is how — unfortunately, tragically, sadly — nations were born throughout history.
And our role, the role of this generation — this is why I came into politics and why I try to make my very modest contribution to the peace process — is that we need to bring an end to this injustice that has been done to the Palestinians. We need to draw a line between an Israeli state, a sovereign Palestinian state, and solve the best way we can the problem, by giving the necessary compensation to the refugees, by bringing back the refugees to the Palestinian state, no way to the state of Israel, not because it is immoral, but because it is not feasible, it is not possible. We need to act in a realistic way and see what are the conditions for a final peace deal. I believe that we came very, very close to that final peace deal. Unfortunately, we didn't make it. But we came very close in the year 2001.”

Of course, to make it clear that the “blame Israel” crowd is completely wrong as to why Israel couldn’t make peace with Arafat, Ben Ami also adds: “international law was the last — or the least of Arafat's concern. He didn't give a damn about international law. It was not whether or not the agreement was based on international law or not that concerned Arafat. In my view, this is my interpretation of a man I met many, many times. I might be wrong, obviously, but this is my firsthand interpretation of this man. He was morally, psychologically, physically incapable of accepting the moral legitimacy of a Jewish state, regardless of its borders or whatever. Arafat was incapable of closing or locking the door of his endless conflict between us and the Palestinians. And this is the bottom line.”

So, let’s see what those human rights organizations have to say on this question. If you look at the statistics of the numbers killed during the second intifada. I checked last night and the latest figures are 4,446 Palestinians killed, 1,017 Israelis killed. A ratio of almost exactly 4-1. In fact, more Palestinian children have been killed – then the total number of Israeli civilians killed – …Now most people won’t dispute these numbers – not very controversial – there’s a range for sure. I’m using the B’tselem figures. But the argument is usually made that there is a difference between Palestinian killings which target Israeli civilians and Israeli killings, although 4 times as many but which don’t target Palestinians. They are as it were collateral damage. What do the human rights organizations say? They all agree Israel’s use of live ammunition is excessive, indiscriminate and on many occasions deliberately targeting civilians…. According to human rights law – there is a basic legal principal that the doer of any act must be taken to have intended its natural and foreseeable consequence. So, if you indiscriminately fire into a crowd then it’s taken that you intentionally killed those who died in the course of the indiscriminate firing…

This argument resorts to the “body count” method of determining who is right and who is wrong. If you have fewer casualties, then you are (by this equation) obviously in the wrong. Of course, this ignores the fact that most of the Arab “children” are teenage boys—sometimes armed, sometimes sent to try to infiltrate across the border with Gaza, sometimes in the front lines of a crowd while gunmen shoot from the back. There’s also the issue that Israel tries to shield its civilian population from terrorism, while the Palestinians use their children as human shields.

Let’s turn to the 3rd aspect. …As Mr. Barhoum mentioned in the introductory remarks, for the past 30 years, there has been international consensus for resolving the conflict…. It’s called the 2 state settlement. A full Israeli withdrawal from the territories it occupied in June 1967… a full Israeli withdrawal on the one side and recognition of Israel’s right to live in peace with its neighbors on the other side. Again, it’s remarkable how uncontroversial it is…. 1989, when the General Assembly voted on a 2 state settlement, the vote was 151 to 3 with 1 abstention. The negative votes – United States, Israel and the island state of Dominica.

What Finkelstein conveniently leaves out is that this resolution (General Assembly resolution 44/42) also included a call for an international conference including the PLO, which at that time had continued to publicly call for the eradication of the state of Israel. Therefore it was not acceptable to either the US or Israel.

The first condition put on Hamas that was the elected Palestinian government in January 2006…. They had to renounce terrorism. And the second condition was - they must recognize the state of Israel. To my thinking - perfectly legitimate and not very controversial. Israel is a member state of the United Nations and like every other member state would like to live in peace with its neighbors. The problem is… if you make the demand on every party in the conflict, it’s a moral, ethical principal. If you make it on one side its hypocrisy. No Israeli government, no Israeli political party, no Israeli public official has every recognized the Palestinian state within the borders affirmed by countless UN resolutions and the World Court decisions….

This is a deliberate attempt at avoiding the issue. Israel has endorsed the idea that a Palestinian state should exist. Hamas rejects the idea that a Jewish state should exist anywhere within the Middle East.

As the world demands that Hamas recognize Israel, the current Israeli government is building a wall that annexes about 10% of the West Bank, illegally and East Jerusalem, illegally; effectively tri-sects the West Bank into 3 parts. In addition, Israel is separating the West Bank from Gaza, ethnically cleansing the Jordan Valley, and has defacto annexed the Jordan Valley.

Of course, the fence can be moved once the Palestinians dismantle the terror infrastructure. Israel has not annexed any additional land to build the fence. The West Bank has always been separate from Gaza. Jericho seems to be doing just fine—no mass exodus of citizens from the heart of the Jordan Valley.

What are the Palestinians being offered? Palestinians are being asked to choose between a Swiss cheese state comprised of most of the West Bank but riddled with settlements and Israel pulling out from about 40-50% of the West Bank unilaterally while keeping most of its settlements. But no demand is put on Israel – only on Hamas.

The differences between Israel and Hamas are first although Hamas has been ambiguous on its willingness to recognize Israel on the pre-June 1967 borders, it goes hot and cold…Hamas’s stance has been ambiguous. But Israel’s stance hasn’t been ambiguous at all. It has always opposed a Palestinian state on the June 1967 borders. And secondly, the only other difference as far as I can tell, is that while Hamas sometimes speaks, about destroying the Jewish state, Israel is in practice dismembering the Palestinian state. (Audience applause).

It’s interesting how Finkelstein apparently believes that peace doesn’t require two sides who agree to live together in peace. As the Hamas charter says (unambiguously): "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. "
"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

That is as far as I can tell, I’m always happy to be corrected, the documentary record. Pretty straight forward, uncomplicated and doesn’t cast Israel in the best of lights. And it’s because it doesn’t cast Israel in the best of lights, that so much controversy is fabricated in order to distract attention from and sow confusion about that uncomplicated documentary record.

He keeps repeating his mantra about how straightforward it is, hoping that will make it so.

Take the case of that historian I mentioned earlier, Benny Morris. He acknowledges that Israel made an ethnic cleansing in 1948. But he said, I think that ethnic cleansings can be good things. I don’t think they’re always bad things. He said take North America, now I’m using his words, had it not been for the annihilation of the native population, you couldn’t have had that great American republic. So, the annihilation was a good thing. In the case of the Israel Palestine conflict, he says that Ben Gurion’s main error in 1948, the Israeli Prime Minister… was that he didn’t cleanse Palestine of every last Arab….

Let’s look at what Benny Morris actually says; decontextualizing his statements can be very misleading, which of course is Finkelstein’s modus operandi. Morris takes a forthright and brave position: “yes, bad things happened to the Palestinians in 1948, but this was because the alternative was another genocide against the Jews, deal with it.”

From Wikipedia

Morris takes Ben-Gurion to task for not doing the job more thoroughly:
I think he made a serious historical mistake in 1948. Even though he understood the demographic issue and the need to establish a Jewish state without a large Arab minority, he got cold feet during the war. In the end, he faltered. If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. [...] my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country -- the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. If he had carried out a full expulsion -- rather than a partial one -- he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations."
There is no question in his mind of the legitimacy of the Zionist project:
The desire to establish a Jewish state here is legitimate, there was no other choice. It was impossible to leave a large fifth column in the country. [...] Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.
You have to put things in proportion. These are small war crimes. All told, if we take all the massacres and all the executions of 1948, we come to about 800 who were killed. In comparison to the massacres that were perpetrated in Bosnia, that’s peanuts. In comparison to the massacres the Russians perpetrated against the Germans at Stalingrad, that’s chicken feed. When you take into account that there was a bloody civil war here and that we lost an entire 1 percent of the population, you find that we behaved very well.
Regarding the suffering and condition of the Palestinians, he writes:
I feel sympathy for the Palestinian people, which truly underwent a hard tragedy. I feel sympathy for the refugees themselves. But if the desire to establish a Jewish state here is legitimate, there was no other choice. It was impossible to leave a large fifth column in the country. From the moment the Yishuv [pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine] was attacked by the Palestinians and afterward by the Arab states, there was no choice but to expel the Palestinian population. To uproot it in the course of war.
Remember another thing: the Arab people gained a large slice of the planet. Not thanks to its skills or its great virtues, but because it conquered and murdered and forced those it conquered to convert during many generations. But in the end the Arabs have 22 states. The Jewish people did not have even one state. There was no reason in the world why it should not have one state. Therefore, from my point of view, the need to establish this state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them.

Let’s see those refugees again. You can agree that factually they were ethnically cleansed in 1948. You can agree that morally it’s an abomination. You can agree that legally they have the right of return. But, you can say politically as Professor Chomsky does, I don’t think its going to happen. And he says, it’s not a realistic possibility then to give people hope when there’s no ground for hope is itself immoral…And I think honest people can agree to disagree on that question… If on the other hand you think it is feasible then of course you should fight for it…There is no disagreement on the legal question, that is to say, there is simply no dispute that under international law, Palestinians have the right of return. The vote in the General Assembly in 2002 on the right of return 158-1. The vote in 2003 on the right of return 167-1. Human rights organizations, let’s take mainstream ones – not controversial ones. Human Rights Watch – 2000 it urges Israel to recognize the right of return. I’m quoting them. Amnesty International – 2001 it calls the Palestinians to be able, I’m quoting them, to exercise the right of return. It’s not controversial at all. Nonetheless, I do think, as I said, there are areas on the question of its practical implementation where honest people can disagree.

Once again, he resorts to “it’s not controversial at all”… of course it’s also not controversial that the only Palestinian refugees to which a right of return could conceivably apply are the individuals displaced in 1948, NOT their 4th and 5th generation descendants. Also the original UN resolution (GA 194) referring to return of refugees specifies a right for those refugees “wishing to live in peace with their neighbors”; was there any willingness ever expressed in the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s or 1980’s for Palestinian Arabs to “live in peace” within a Jewish state? Is there now? Finkelstein’s reliance on the UN General Assembly as the arbiter of international law is laughable; this was, of course, the same body that declared in 1975 that Zionism was a form of racism.
Could there be some mechanism to compensate families who were displaced in 1948? Sure, why not—as long as we include the 950,000 Jews who were forcibly expelled and/or fled from Arab countries in the wake of the 1948 war.

What I want to turn to now is that much larger area on the Israel Palestine conflict where I don’t think the differences of the controversies are legitimate at all. They’re simply fabricated and concocted. They have no bearing on the real world. They’re fabricated and concocted in order to divert attention and sow confusion.

First, is this attempt to mystify the conflict. To claim that it is so complicated, so intricate, that it requires the equivalent of science to penetrate its mysteries. Its about primordial irreconcilable wars, its about the cosmic clash of religions and civilizations…The first purpose of it is to convince the observer that he or she should suspend his or her ordinary ethical, legal judgments. Because the conflict is too complicated. A typical example. There’s a fellow, Robert Malley – a very decent guy who was one of the American negotiators at Camp David, no it wasn’t at Taba, it was Camp David, in 2000, and in a public forum about a year ago he was asked, ‘Why is it that U.S. aid into Israel continues to flow despite Israel’s egregious human rights record.” And he said, ‘Well, this is a really and truly unique conflict. And the fact that it’s really and truly unique somehow means we apply a different moral standard to it.”…We’re always told, don’t compare because this conflict is so different, so much more complicated…The reason is obvious because whenever you compare the Israel Palestine conflict with other obvious cases, Israel always comes out on the wrong side. So don’t compare.

Historically, you can make a reasonable analogy between the fate of native Americans in North America and the fate of Palestinians in the course of the Zionist conquest of Palestine. In fact as I mentioned ago it wasn’t a coincidence that was the exact group that Benny Morris immediately led up to. There’s an obvious analogy there. Not perfect but still obvious. The problem is Israel comes out on the wrong side of the analogy. So don’t compare. The Israel Palestine conflict is unique.

Of course, Finkelstein acts as if there was no historical presence of Jews in Palestine and Arabs had been there from time immemorial; of course, Arabs came from the Arabian peninsula in the 8th century while Jews had already been there for 1800 years and continued to be there since. And the Native Americans would have probably been delighted (compared to what they ended up with!) to get an independent state on half the American West.

Or take, not historically, but currently the obvious analogy is this one. The one with Apartheid in South Africa. Now no aspect of Carter’s book… has invoked more outrage then its identification of Israeli policy in the occupied territories with Apartheid. The Washington Post called it, the Apartheid analogy ‘foolish and unfair’. The Boston Globe called it ‘irresponsibly provocative’. The New York Times said it was ‘dangerous and ant-Semitic’. (audience laughter) But in the real world it’s not even controversial. B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization – in 2002 it produces a major study on Israeli settlement practices in the occupied territories. This is how it was ? – quote “Israel has created in the occupied territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applies two different systems of law in the same area, and bases the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime is the only one of its kind in the world and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past such as the Apartheid regime in South Africa.” (Audience applause) 2005- B’Tselem produces another hefty report called ‘Forbidden Roads’. In Israel they call it Israel’s road regime in the occupied territories… what does it conclude? It bares striking similarities to the racist Apartheid regime and even entails a greater degree of arbitrariness then was the case with the regime that existed in South Africa. It’s worse. Ok. B’Tselem – those are lefties also. So, let’s take Ha’aretz. They had an editorial in September of 2006 and it says just in a passing comment, “the Apartheid regime in the territories remains intact. Millions of Palestinians are living without rights, freedom of movement or a livelihood under the yoke of ongoing Israeli oppression”…They didn’t have to defend the claim. It’s perfectly obvious.

Apparently, Finkelstein’s “real world” ignores the fact that the Palestinians are not citizens of Israel, nor do they want to be. They are indeed a population under occupation. Even the road system is not based, as apartheid was, on ethnicity, but on citizenship. For safety, certain roads in the West Bank are for Israeli citizens—including Israeli Arabs. Have you noticed thus far that there’s virtually no mention of Arab terrorism that made these roads necessary? Or of the genocidal Jew-hatred taught in Palestinian schools? Finkelstein’s worldview can be so simple when he simply ignores inconvenient facts.

Shulamit Aloni – she wrote a couple of weeks ago “The U.S. Jewish establishment’s onslaught on former President Jimmy Carter is based on him daring to tell the truth which everyone knows. Through its army the government of Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies. Everyone knows it. But in the United States,
it’s very controversial. It’s even dangerous and anti-Semitic, irresponsibly provocative, foolish and unfair. In the real world, it’s a cliché. In fact the list of those who hold to the Apartheid analogy apparently includes former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who reportedly said that the Bantustan model was the most appropriate solution to the conflict. So, it seems that he is also dangerously anti-Semitic. (laughter and applause)

Again, not apartheid based on ethnicity (or, as in every Arab country, religious affiliation) but Israel’s attempt to deal with a hostile population that is unwilling to accept living in peace alongside it.

When you look at the actual documentary record on the history of the Israel Palestine conflict is how uncontroversial it was seen to be at the time….

…during the British Mandate period…roughly between 1920-1948, there were many clashes, many conflicts, between the indigenous population and the Zionist settlers. And every time there was a major clash the British would send a parliamentary team…to figure out why are the natives so restless. And, they put together beautiful reports written in the most eloquent English, replete with solid factual information… They keep saying in the reports, obviously, obviously, obviously, obviously… all the other states in the region either have or are on their way to independence. The only ones that are being denied that are the Palestinians since they called them the Arabs of Palestine. And two, it said, the Arabs of Palestine are worried because they’re afraid that when the Jews become the majority and declare a state, they’re worried about what they’re fate is going to be in that state. So, the British conclude, it’s obvious… the solution is complicated…

Which is why the British proposed partition as early as the Peel Commission in the 1930’s, which would have given the Jews of Palestine about 15% of the land and created an Arab state in most of the rest of the Mandate. The Arabs rejected the plan.

Take the case of North America. Now, the Native American resistance to Euro-American encroachment was very bloody. It was not for no reason at all that the Native Americans were called savages. It was a brutal resistance. They killed men, they killed women, they killed children. Not to say the settlers didn’t do the same. They did….They were yesterday’s terrorists and suicide bombers. What would any rational person say if looking at that resistance and asked to explain it, were told, you see, the Native Americans they were resisting because of Anti-Europeanism, (Hearty audience laughter) or Anti-Christianism, or Anti-Whiteism. (laughter) Just like you’re laughing. But the same exotic explanation about the Muslim incapacity to tolerate a successful minority amidst them….It happens to be the simple explanation, is also quite a sufficient one. You don’t need to conjure up a complicated explanation.

Finkelstein ignores the long history of minorities within Muslim countries and their status as “dhimmis”: tolerated at best, but the victims of periodic pogroms at worst. If you want to use the analogy of the Native Americans, ask what happened to the native cultures and indigenous peoples of the areas that were the subject of the great Arab conquests of the Middle East.

A second kind of illegitimate controversy is the plague of the Holocaust card – the dragging in of the Nazi Holocaust in order to justify Israel’s violations of international law in the occupied territories…. The Holocaust industry emerges after the June 1967 war. Its main purpose was to immunize Israel from criticism. Its main contribution, familiar to everyone in this room, is the claim of the Holocausts’ uniqueness. No people in the history of humanity, has ever suffered like the Jews suffered. In fact, the doctrine of uniqueness is vacuous and morally, this ranking of human suffering is an abomination. But, its purpose is pretty straight forward, namely, that if you can claim that Jews uniquely suffered during the Nazi Holocaust, then you can claim that they shouldn’t be held to ordinary notions of right and justice. You shouldn’t apply to Israel the status you’d apply to any one else because the suffering of the Jews was unique. The way this played out historically is …that Palestinians and Arabs generally have been held directly culpable, responsible for the Nazi Holocaust or seen as lineal descendants of its perpetrators. So, at the time of the 1948 war, David Ben-Gurion called the Palestinian Arabs disciples and even teachers of Hitler. During the Eichmann trial, in 1961, the Arabs were labeled… as among the biggest Nazi war criminals and it was said the Mufti even masterminded the final solution. Ben-Gurion said the Mufti was “one of Hitler’s closest associates in this genocide.” Without going into it, this was sheer fantasy.

Of course Finkelstein doesn’t want to go into it! The Mufti, al-Hajj Amin Husseini, the uncle of Yasser Arafat, organized the “Nazi Scouts” among Arab youth, was visited in Palestine by Eichmann before the outbreak of the war, received funding from Himmler (and later toured Auschwitz with him), and spent the war years in Berlin. He wrote in his memoirs “I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews.”

In 1967 during Israel’s attack on Egypt, Israel said that Abdul Nasser represented the new Hitler. And more recently, as most of you know, Israel’s apologists equated Saddam Hussein with Hitler, equating all opposition with Israel’s illegal war against Iraq with appeasement of Hitler and now it’s the turn, if you look at the current journals and magazines, now it’s the turn of Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran, all of them being called newer reincarnations of Hitler and the Nazis…. It’s hard to know what’s more laughable – the extraordinary coincidence that each new Arab leader allegedly threatened Israel is Hitler incarnate or that the threat posed to Israel is routinely compared to the Holocaust. While we are told simultaneously that the Holocaust was unique and any comparison between it and other crimes is a form of Holocaust denial. (Audience applause)

Yet Nasser himself said in 1967, “The objective will be Israel’s destruction.” Hafez al-Assad of Syria said it would be “a battle of annihilation”. Unfortunately, the Jewish people have learned to take threats of annihilation seriously.

The most recent form of this playing the Holocaust card is what’s called the new Anti-Semitism. And there are two things to be said about the new Anti-Semitism – number 1 it’s not new (laughter) and number two it has nothing to do with Anti-Semitism. Every time Israel faces a public relations debacle or international pressure is put on Israel to resolve the conflict diplomatically, in accordance with international law, Israel’s apologists orchestrate this new Anti-Semitism extravaganza. This is a good school with an excellent library… go look for your self.

Let’s take the case of Europe. We’re told that Europe is rife with Anti-Semitism. Not on the fringes – but we’re told in the heart of Europe. BBC, The Independent, The Guardian, somewhere down the line – they’re all Anti-Semitic…. How true is that? I recently picked up a decent book called “Great Shakes” by Walter L’Coure (?)… who can hardly be described as Anti-Israel, he’s one of its chief apologists. Walter L’Coure puts out a book entitled “The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism”. What does he say? “The Anti-Semitism in Europe is predominantly Muslim character”. The popular attitudes towards Jews, he says, were better in 2002 than they were in 1991….there is less Anti-Semitism than ever before…. If you listen to Abraham Foxman, he says “The condition of Jews now, is worse than at any time since the late 30’s in Nazi Germany.” What does Walter L’Coure say?..... “It goes without saying that Anti-Semitism today is in no way comparable to the persecution of Jews of the 1930’s and 1940’s.”…. It goes without saying among the rational people, but not among those who orchestrate hysterias about the new Anti-Semitism, to shield Israel from criticism…. A few years ago, if you said that the main animus towards Jews and hostility to Jews was due to Israel’s ruthless policies in the occupied territories and the best remedy was for Israel to end the occupation, it was said that you were an Anti-Semite. You were blaming the Jews for Anti-Semitism…. You are claiming it’s the policies of the Jewish State which are creating Anti-Semitism. Now if you open up Ha’aretz, they’re marking the 58th anniversary of Israel’s founding, they invite Tony Judt, the American professor at NYU, to write about Israel’s founding on its 58th anniversary. And what does Tony Judt write? He says, “Israel’s reckless behavior and insistent identification of all criticism with Anti-Semitism is now the leading source of Anti-Jewish sentiment in Western Europe and much of Asia. One way to take the sting out of rising Anti-Semitism would be for Israel to give the Palestinians back their land.” (applause and whistles) A perfectly sensible, rational statement, in the pages of Israel’s most influential newspaper, published on Israel’s most important day, its 58th anniversary. But in the United States, that’s called Anti-Semitism. Blaming the Jews, blaming the victims for the hostility directed against them. The purpose of this capricious, promiscuous use of the label Anti-Semitism, it’s pretty straight forward to turn the perpetrator, Israel’s apologists, into the victim – focusing on the immense suffering of Jews rather than the very real suffering of Palestinians. And secondly, to discredit all criticism of Israel as being motivated by Anti-Semitism. One might add, it’s an important point and an important topic …that, that era of hurling these filthy epithets at anybody who dares to criticize Israel. I think that that era is coming to an end (applause). In the last couple of years, Israel has now suffered from the disaffection, of no longer just marginal Jews, but Jews at the center of intellectual and political (?) life in the United States. And when that label was used against them, they have power, and it didn’t work. They used it against Tony Judt, then non-Jews – they tried to use it against Steve Walt and John Meirsheimer and then they tried to use it against Jimmy Carter. And I think it’s fair to say it fell flat….

Here’s the core mantra of Finkelstein and the other apologists for hatred such as “Jewish Voice for Peace”: anytime they are challenged on all the lies and distortions they purvey, they resort to the charge that they’re just being called “anti-Semitic” to distract from the substance of the challenge. Get it straight, Norman: not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. But criticism that is one-sided, full of lies, and has at its core the goal of the destruction of the state of Israel IS anti-Semitic.

…the last topic – namely, the last kind of contrived controversy which has sowed confusion about the Israel Palestine conflict and in many ways, the most dispiriting. When I listened to Professor Barhoum’s introduction and he quoted me as saying, I loathe lies, and it’s true that lies do energize me. I feel sometimes like I am academia’s garbage man…First I have to identify the garbage and then I have to pick it up and throw it away. And in the case of the Israel Palestine conflict it has to be said that there are large amounts of garbage, littering not the periphery and the crackpot ends of the spectrum but regrettably at the heart of academic life in the United States…. But it’s very different on the Israel Palestine conflict because the lunacy is right at the heart of our academic life and it’s validated by our mainstream media and our public?... As everyone here knows, academia has methods of quality control….

Is that why Finkelstein has been denied tenure at 4 different universities so far?

(Some Q&A did follow the speech)

How do both Fatah and Hamas carry out terrorist acts? Why favor Fatah to divide the Palestinian people at this point?

…I don’t favor any side in this particular conflict. I devoted the evening to try to convey what the documentary record says on these questions. And I said that the documentary record show that there is a broad consensus including virtually every country in the world apart from Palou, and Tuvalu…supporting the two state settlement. So, I don’t think it’s a question of favoring one of the factions of Palestine over another…It’s none of my business. They vote for who they vote for. That’s their right not mine. I’m not choosing. All I’m saying is two things. Every side to the conflict should be held to the same principals of international law. And you can’t demand of Hamas to renounce what’s properly called terrorism but not make the same demand of Israel. And you certainly can’t demand of Hamas, that it recognize Israel unless you also demand of Israel they recognize a Palestinian state within the June 1967 borders. (Applause). …. Hamas is the legally elected government of the Palestinians and that’s their right.

Finkelstein obviously thinks of himself as an expert in international law. He should know, therefore, that the June 4 1967 lines were never internationally recognized “borders”; they were armistice lines from 1949. Certainly those countries bordering Israel (Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria) never recognized their legitimacy at the time. Again he dodges the core issue—that Hamas refuses to accept the existence of Israel within ANY borders whatsoever.

What “crime” is there that protects Israel’s existence as a “Jewish State”?

I don’t think there is any right that protects any state’s existence and any particular form. Those are separate issue. I think before 1965, the United States, had, to use the current language, the right to live in peace with its neighbors. That does not mean I support the right of the United States to be a slave state. I think those are separate issues. Israel, as a member state of the United Nations, has a right to live in peace with its neighbors… but I don’t think the right exceeds that. Nobody has an obligation to recognize Israel’s right to be a Jewish state anymore than anyone has the obligation to recognize South Africa’s right to be a white state and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to claim United States has a right to be a Christian state. But that’s separate from the question about whether it has the right to exist in peace with its neighbors. Incidentally, this whole phrase ‘right to exist’ is a bastardization of what it originally meant. If you go back and look at the record, and I’ve examined it, it was a short form for ‘right to exist in peace with its neighbors. There’s no right to exist. And nobody’s obliged to acknowledge a right to exist, let alone a right to exist as a Jewish state. I think those are separate issues.

Yet of course 57 or so countries insist on THEIR right to exist as Islamic states.

Given that Arab terrorism, against the state of Israel began as soon as the 1948 war ended, what evidence do you have that Palestinian Arab terrorism will stop if Israel ends their “occupation” and withdraws back to the pre-1967 war (border)? (slight applause from the good guys)

…. That argument can be used with equally compelling force against first, the Zionists and then against the state of Israel. Let me explain. We’re often told… that the PLO had a stages strategy for conquering Palestine. That is to say, in 1974, they were beginning to talk about a state in the occupied territories and that was going to be a stage towards the eventual conquest of all of Palestine and the elimination of Israel. And the argument was that we can’t recognize the right of the Palestinians to a state in the West Bank and Gaza because they harbor a secret aim or desire, aspiration to the whole of Palestine. Ok, for argument’s sake, let’s say that’s true. That the secret ambition delegitimizes the Palestinian right to the West Bank and Gaza. But where did this strategy of stages come from?.... You go back to 1937 -1938 at the time that was called the Peel Commission offered the Zionist movement a tiny state in about 10% of Palestine. And David Ben-Gurion and others including Chaim Weitzmann said, ‘Let’s take it. It’ll be a stage towards the conquest of all of Palestine. In 1946-47, when the partition idea was being brooded about, Mr. Ben-Gurion and others said the same thing, ‘We’ll take what they give us and it will be a stage towards the conquest of all of Palestine.’ They said it over and over again. In fact, they harbored those same desires…. through the 1956 invasion of Sinai. In 1967, that stages approach was realized. So if we used the argument that was just told that would mean that the UN in 1947 should not have proposed the partition resolution, because the Jews were going to use it towards a staged conquest of all of Palestine. Well, that then deligitimizes Israel’s right to be a state. If that’s the argument you want to use then that deligitimizes Israel’s right because it not only too had a stages program, it acted on it. That’s why it controls all of the West Bank and Gaza - all of Palestine. So, if that’s the argument that you’re going to use, I think you’ve undermine your own case. (Applause from the idiots who failed to notice he didn’t answer the question)

(from the questioner) Well, that wasn’t my question.

No surprise here. Finkelstein ignores the fact that Israel did not attack the West Bank in 1956, despite Jordan’s illegal acts in preventing Jewish access to the Western Wall and in demolishing centuries-old synagogues. Nor was the PLO “stages” plan a secret—it was openly trumpeted by Arafat in speeches to Arab audiences.

As a non-Mexican American or Native American am I morally obliged to leave Californian? After all, wasn’t this land acquired by force of arms?

That’s a fair question and I can only tell you what I said earlier – namely, international law has evolved. That’s why slavery is now illegal; that’s why women have equal rights, legally to men. Law changes. By that kind of argument you want to say it was admissible back then to conquer territory by war. Why isn’t it admissible now? By that kind of logic, you should also be able to say it was admissible to enslave black people in 1865, why can’t I enslave my maid now? That’s the same kind of logic. The law changed. What was legally permissible no longer is….. And I put this in the same category. The Palestinian people live in Palestine. They have the same right to self determination and sovereignty as any other people born on their land. I just don’t think it’s complicated. (Applause and whistles) When my late mother was still alive, we used to occasionally lecture together. She spoke on her experiences under the Nazi regime and I spoke on the Israel Palestine conflict. And we spoke before mostly Jewish audiences, in Brooklyn area, in New York City area – and as you can imagine, people were enraptured by my late mother and absolutely appalled by me. It was good cop, bad cop, with a vengeance. Once, a member of the audience summoned up the courage… to challenge the Jewish mother about her son. And he raised his hand and he said, ‘What do you think of what your son is saying?’ And she thought for a few moments and she said, ‘To my mind, the only crime the Palestinian people committed was to be born in Palestine. And I don’t think that’s a crime.”

So to close it out, he ignores all the history of Arab pogroms, Nazi sympathies, terrorism, and refusal to accept living in peace alongside Israel. At least he’s consistent.

Truth vs Fiction

Recently there has been a great deal of talk by self styled "Progressive" Jews about feeling "muzzled" in their attempts to criticize Israel. Although open discourse is of course valued, in most situations, only truthful open discourse is helpful in advancing thought. Therefore when I began to notice that much of what is said about Israel, Jewish history and Jews simply wasn’t accurate, I began to question the value of open discourse where only one side was connected to the facts and the other to some sort of undefined ideology and characterized by historic distortions, myths and popular buzz words. Oftentimes, the entirety of the recitation is just as repetition of propaganda generated by avowed enemies of Israel. Is there any value to having dialogue where one side presents a point of view unsupported by truth, facts, or history?

Among the many odd, un supported ideas that I hear recited regularly is that "Palestinians are the indigenous inhabitants of the land" some time supplemented with the assertion that the "Palestinians are the descendants of the Canaanites, or Phillistines. " This bold and unsupported assertion is transparently designed to give the Palestinians an early claim to the land of Israel, but requires one to believe, as if somehow millenia of history somehow managed to overlook only these people. As if the armies of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Persians Ummayyads, Abbassids, Fatamids, Saljuqs, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mamelukes, and Mongol invaders, not to mention the Black Plague managed to wipe out all th eother inhabitnats of that area and missed only the Palestinians. Of course, this fantasy doesn’t explain the lack of any supporting history or archeology of the Palestinians. Although there are Arab families that can trace their history back for hundreds of years, the vast majority of the ancestors of today’s Palestinians were immigrants to pre-state Israel in recent historic times. Arab immigration during the British Mandate period has been well documented, notably in "Rape of Palestine" (1938) William Ziff.

It is typical for the discussion to then go on to talk about Israeli "occupation" of "Palestinian lands." Of course this pre-supposes the outcome of negotiations as to a future Palestinian state as to "Palestinian lands. Similarly, it has become stylish to use the phrase "apartheid", a phrase referring to the old South African of separating people based on their color to describe Israel’s policies in the West Bank. But what makes the use of these phrases more sinister, is that the use of these words really means that one must ignore the Oslo Agreement transferring authority for the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinian Authority and the "Intifada" that followed. The Palestinians elected their own government and that government administers the West Bank. However, when Israel is attacked by Palestinians in an "Intifada", of course Israel has to defend itself. Lets all recall that before the Oslo and the "Intifada", that there were no check points or Israeli only roads. The real phrase that should be used isn’t "occupation" or apartheid". A better phrase would be "another phase in the Arab -Israeli War."
Among other strange things that I’ve heard "progressives" assert is that "only Jews are allowed in Israel." This is often repeated but shockingly ignorant. A little reading will reveal that not only is Israel 20% Non-Jewish but that Arab Israelis serve as members of Israel’s Parliament, ("the Knesset") as well as in the judiciary.

Often its said or implied that Israel was once an Arab country called "Palestine". This baseless assertion has even gone so far that I once listened to a man wearing a tee-shirt with a picture of a British Mandate postage stamp, assert that the stamp pictured was from Arab Palestine. Somehow, the understanding of history omits everything between the crusades and 1948, including 500 years of the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate . Its seems hard for these people to accept that there has never been an Arab country called "Palestine"in all of history.

I’ve also been present when a self-proclaimed "progressive’ explained that as "Jews are Europeans and the Arabs must be indigenous" followed soon after with the usual attempts to racially distinguish Askenazi Jews from Sephardi Jews. When pressed, this explanation usually draws on the discredited notion (although quite popular in the Arab world) that all Ashkenazi Jews are of purely European ancestry and are descended from the Khazars, a long lost, obscure Turkic kingdom that vanished in the 8th century c.e.. and thus by inference, only Sephardi Jews are actually descended from the ancient Israelites. Of course, this social theory flies in the face of recent genetic testing which has shown that, throughout the world, modern Jews are genetically more closely related to groups from the north of the Fertile Crescent Kurds, Turks and Armenians) than to their European or Arab neighbors. This strangely racialist theory is apparently designed to distance and delegitimize any connection to the land of Israel on the part of European Jews.

However, of all the wacky things said by "progressives’ about Israel is that "all criticism of Israel is called ‘anti-semitism’ ." The only times that I’ve ever heard this said was by someone about to say something outrageously anti-semitic, using Israel as an excuse. As to those people how could the charge of anti-Semitism silence their vitriolic criticism of Israel anyway? If only it were true. Its those same people who are always the first to inappropriately sling the accusation of "racism" at Israel supporters in an attempt to trump any discussion. Its funniest of all, because of course, criticizing Israel is the favorite pastime of Israelis.

It’s a positive thing when people have strong feelings about Israel and a desire to express themselves. However, its strangely misguided to assert that one is being "muzzled’ when really, everyone would agree that there should not be a forum provided for the dissemination of distortions, half-truths and misinformation about Israel.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

You Can't Claim the Moral High Ground When You're Standing in the Sewer

The "muzzlewatch" blog, run by Jewish Voice for Peace, continues its claim that Jewish anti-Israel voices can't be heard-- ironically, by citing the cascade of various media stories and Op-Eds by and about Jewish anti-Zionists. They apparently seek some validation from a Feb 23rd opinion piece in the Forward by Dan Fleshler. However, in their craving for endorsement of their anti-Israel position, they obviously failed to read Fleshler's article, in which he states

"From conversations with people engaged in these efforts, it becomes clear that Jews who agree with many of the left’s objections to Israeli policies can have more of an impact than those who don’t.
The ideal candidates for addressing the claims of the far left aren’t afraid to say publicly that the occupation is morally repugnant. They want to be able to talk about Israel in the public arena with the same candor that can be found in the Israeli media. They want the American government to have the political wiggle room to occasionally push and prod both sides of the conflict, if that is what is necessary to preserve hope for a two-state solution.
At the same time, they proudly say they are pro-Israel. They want to change the atmosphere on campuses and on the Internet, where so-called “progressives” often see nothing wrong with comparing Israeli Jews to Nazis, praising suicide bombers as freedom fighters or proclaiming that the very idea of the Jewish people is an illusion — what is known in leftist parlance as “Jewish particularism.” And these moderate leftists insist that Palestinians and other Arabs not be absolved of responsibility for the Arab-Israeli conflict."
JVP and its supporters are the PROBLEM that's being addressed, not the solution. Those who stand with keffiyeh-shrouded Hamas supporters at anti-Israel demonstrations, those who co-sponsor events with the likes of ISM and MECA, those who refuse to even endorse the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state-- these are the people that Fleshler decribes as the "so-called progressives" who have allowed the atmosphere on campus, in the media, and on the Internet to be poisoned against the very concept of a Jewish state. If JVP wants to claim the moral high ground, it first needs to extricate itself from the sewage.

Who's actually being "muzzled" here?

Our friend Ami Isseroff also examines the hypocrisy of those constantly claiming that their voices are being suppressed:

Shla-muzzlewatch: The open society and its enemies
Original content copyright by the author
Zionism & Israel Center

It is increasingly difficult to criticize critics of Israel, and even more difficult to find any article about the subject that does not begin by decrying the Jewish conspiracy that is preventing free speech about Israel. Mearsheimer and Walt started the vogue by insisting that the "Israel Lobby" stifles all criticism. Jimmy Carter went around the US peddling his book and claiming over and over that the "Israel lobby" would not let him speak. His claims were reported incessantly in all major media. An organization called Muzzlewatch reports on any attempt to get a fair break for Israel, to correct factual errors in reporting, or to insist that not every Israeli has horns and a tail, as "Muzzling."Of course, those who insist on "freedom of expression," want freedom only to express their views. They were quite proud when they managed to prevent Daniel Pipes from speaking at U.C. Irvine, and even prouder when they managed to prevent Benjamin Nethanyahu from speaking at Berkley. Only one type of opinion must be allowed.

An article in Arab News speaks frankly about the problem (see§ion=0&article=92722&d=25&m=2&y=2007). We should point out that Arab News is the enlightened showcase English language organ of the moderate, and enlightened Saudi government, and that the author, Mr. Batarfi, considers himself a moderate as well. Mr. Batarfi has found a serious problem in the United States. The United State press is not free he maintains. Even though there are many journals and media outlets, the Jews control the media and do not allow any criticism of Israel. Batarfi managed to find, or invent, several US journalists like this one:An American TV producer interviewed by an Arab radio was asked to explain the overwhelming support for Israel in the US Congress. He said: You need millions of dollars to run for Congress, and the Israeli lobby will make or break you depending on your loyalty, not to your country but to theirs. If you beat your competitor in pledging your undying loyalty to the Holy Cow, Israel, you win their steadfast support. Later, they watch you like a hawk and judge you on your voting record. One mistake and you are down with a scandal or in the next election. Therefore, the American explained, most elected politicians and lawmakers are in the lobby's pocket. The interview was translated by an Israeli Arab-media watch group, an article was written about it in a pro-Israel paper, and the torture campaign began! In a few weeks the pressure was too much for his employers to bear and he had to resign.He regales us with several more such incidents, all related anonymously.

I am wondering out loud, what would happen if a US newspaper printed a cartoon of Mohamed with a crooked nose or the wrong type of beard. Mr. Batarfi forgot what happened when such cartoons were printed in Europe. When Muslims rioted, burned buildings and killed people, Mr. Batarfi and Muzzlewatch were not there to complain.Mr Batarfi cannot explain how it is that nonetheless, Professor Mearsheimer and Walt's study received wide, and usually favorable, coverage in US Media. Mr. Carter and his anti-Israel book were likewise well received, and his book is selling well, and will be a source of disinformation for many tens of thousands of people. During operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the Los Angeles Times published an Op Ed comparing the IDF unfavorably with the Waffen SS in the Warsaw Ghetto. During the recent Lebanon war, a Washington post Op Ed maintained that Israel is a mistake of history. More recently, the New York Times published an article equating anti-Zionism and support for Holocaust denial with "liberalism." Apparently these critiques are far too mild for Mr. Batarfi's taste. It seems that unless someone actually advocates a second Holocaust, they aren't serious critics of "Israel" in Batarfi's view.

In Saudi Arabia, they do not have such problems of course. Saudi Media are therefore free to publish drivel like Mr. Batarfi's article, as well as supposed Jewish recipes for baking Purim cakes from the blood of Christian children, false and libelous articles about the Talmud, fictitious articles on the nonexistent Jenin massacre of 2002, and other disinformation that would not meet with approval in the USA because of the "Israel Lobby." Such "freedom" has not been enjoyed in any Western country since the allied armies put the Nazis out of business.The reason that Saudi Arabia enjoys such freedom of the press is simple: Saudi Arabia is Judenrein - no Jews can live there. Mr. Carter, Muzzlewatch and Jewish Voice for Peace are in good company with Mr. Batarfi.Remember, not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism is always anti-Semitism.Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2007. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.