Monday, December 29, 2008


What: Counter Protest in Support of Israel
Where: Israeli Consulate – 456 Montgomery Street, San Francisco
When: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - 4:45pm

Dear Friends,

Israel is taking care of business in Gaza, and it is upon us to watch her back, here, on the streets of San Francisco. As we have seen from recent events in the region, PR war is a big part of this conflict, and "the streets" is where it’s fought, and no one will fight it but us.

Under the camouflage of "Peace Movement", the haters and the misguided will be holding a demonstration in front of the Israeli Consulate to protest the "Holocaust in Gaza". We ask, where were they for 3 years to "stand for peace" when Israelis were being bombed, killed and injured? We ask why are the fair-minded supporters of Palestinians not outraged by Hamas’s continuous provocations which clearly led to this defensive action, by its human shields tactics, and by its complete disregard for human life, both Israeli and Palestinian? We ask, what would United States, Turkey, Russia or China do, if 750,000 of its citizens were under constant cross-border shelling? We ask the questions that are at the heart of this conflict, the ones that no-one will ask if we are not there!

So be there, with your own questions and answers, and flags and energy, to show by our solid presence our unwavering solidarity with the Jewish State.

For signs to support Israel, please go to:

These posters are ready to send to your local printer. Please bring your own flags and signs, we have limited resources for this event.

Be the San Francisco Voice for Israel!

As always, feel free to make your own signs but please no signs or graphics offensive to any racial or ethnic group including but not limited to Arabs, Islam, or Palestinians. Signs in violation of our policies will not be allowed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Standing Up Against Hate

(I join with the rest of the civilized world in sending my deepest sympathies to the entire nation of India, and to the families of those murdered in the terror attacks in Mumbai, including the families of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg of Chabad).

While there is often legitimate concern about how Jewish youth in America relate to Israel, especially with the climate at many American universities being very difficult for Zionists, there are occasional bright spots that surface.

At UC Berkeley, tensions have been running particularly high lately between "Students for Justice in Palestine" (said definition of "justice" usually involving the end of Jewish self-determination in the Jewish homeland) and the pro-Israel group Tikvah. Yet despite that, one member of Tikvah took it upon himself, alone, to take a stand against the racist attitude that only the Jewish people, among all peoples of the world, are not entitled to self-determination. He delivered a speech to the student Senate that also referenced efforts to expel the president of Tikvah. Matt's speech is copied below, and needs no further comment except "Yasher Koach":

"There is much racism on this campus that should not go unreported. So, publicly, before the Senate tonight, I should like to report something that happened to me. Monday I noticed a huge crowd gathering on the opposite side of Sproul from me, by the Peace Not Prejudice sign. Many shirts were passed out, and I myself, believing firmly in the words “peace not prejudice” with all my being, almost went to get one myself. I say almost because of what I have seen people wearing such shirts do.
The group was wearing Peace not Prejudice shirts, keffiyehs around their necks, and waving two enormous PLO flags. While I will not get into how these symbols make me feel, what I will say is that if this is truly Peace not Prejudice week, then why were there no Indian, Pakistani, Indonesian, Argentine, or whatever else flags appearing on campus? I could not tell whether or not this was a part of Peace not Prejudice Week.
As I saw it fit that there should be more diversity in the symbols seen on campus that day, I stood in the middle of Sproul, alone, and waved the Israeli flag overhead for hours. I did not go over to dance with them as I felt this would lead to a confrontation, and avoiding a confrontation was a top priority of mine.
A member of Kesher Enoshi approached me, chastised me for making it seem like there was a separation between the two groups. Though I did not agree with her at the time, I do now. She took the Israeli flag and ran to dance with them.
I myself decided to run over, take the flag, wave it, and dance with all of them. Why not? Of course, then I noticed that the few people not wearing Peace Not Prejudice shirts were wearing shirts that show the map of Israel covered in a keffiyeh. This, in my mind, shows a desire to erase and hide Israel from the map. I had not danced for one minute before I was excluded from the circle of dancing, and told that I had to stand away, to the side. At this time, the group began to chant: “Palestine is Arab, Palestine is Arab.” I have confirmed this with several Arabic-speaking friends of mine. So then, by this reasoning, as a Jew, if I wanted to live in “Palestine”, would I be allowed to even though I am not Arab? If this is not racism, my friends, I don’t know what is. Peace, not prejudice. Then, Students for Justice in Palestine executives took me aside and told me that if I wanted to dance there, I had to issue a public apology on behalf of the pro-Israel community at Berkeley. I will NOT apologise for waving my people’s flag. Additionally, I was told they were worried about me being violent. How was it at all violent that I was waving the Israeli flag and dancing, smiling? Unless of course they were concerned that an anti-Semite among them might take offense and start a fight.
Refusing to let myself be baited into an aggressive reaction, as I am sure these executives were intending, I took the moral high ground and left the situation, returning to the opposite side of Sproul. As I resumed my place near the Tikvah table, very shaken and on the edge of tears, several Yemeni girls from the Muslim Student Association and several Indian girls from the Peace Not Prejudice coalition came to speak to me. They informed me that Peace Not Prejudice did not endorse this pseudo-demonstration, assured me that I was in the right, apologised, and commended me. I thank G-d there are still some sane students left on this campus. Peace, not prejudice.
This initiative to remove my colleague John Moghtader from the ASUC Senate frankly goes hand in hand with what I experienced Monday. It is a racist ­yes, I said it, racist ­attempt to shut out Jewish pro-Israel voices that have done nothing wrong and have not committed acts of violence, an initiative led by an individual who was indeed successfully sued for libel last year and continues to Facebook-stalk myself and my friends for his blog, which I liken parts of to a modern-day Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Speaking with One Voice

As readers of this site have noted, we occasionally comment on activities related to Israel in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have reported on appearances at a local Presbyterian Church by anti-Israel activists Anna Baltzer and Alison Weir. Last week I went to check out a different event--a different Presbyterian church, a different group, and a different message. The new group is called From Here To Peace; it is a new local grassroots group formed around a single concept: that the only viable way to get a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to have two states for two peoples, rather than trying to eliminate the state of Israel in favor of a so-called "binational" state that would quickly become yet another Arab state and eliminate Jewish self-determination in the Jewish homeland.

As its first event, From Here To Peace brought representatives from OneVoice , itself a grassroots movement in Israel and the Palestinian territories dedicated to the concept of two states for two peoples. OneVoice is attempting to build grassroots support among both Israelis and Palestinians for a two state solution on the basis of an end to occupation and violence, and thereby to place pressure on the leadership of both sides to negotiate such a solution. It describes itself as "political but not partisan", not taking specific positions on contentious issues such as borders, Jerusalem, and details of a solution to the refugee problems but rather trying to develop grassroots consensus where it can be found and building from there. When presenting programs in the US and in Europe, it brings both an Israeli representative and a Palestinian representative to speak and to answer questions.

This event took place at, and was co-sponsored by, Westminster Presbyterian Church, whose pastor is the remarkable Reverend Douglas Huneke. Reverend Huneke is notable for his outspoken and courageous stands against anti-Israel positions taken by his own church body, the Presbyterian Church-USA.

Of the 60-70 people present, about half were recognizable from anti-Israel events such as the Baltzer and Weir speeches. This was probably a good thing--after all, those who already support the national rights of the Jewish people in our homeland don't need to be convinced.

As to the program itself, a film by OneVoice described the organization's position against violent extremism on both sides and commitment to non-violent action and the "language of mutual recognition". The film also noted that OneVoice has offices in Tel Aviv run by Israelis, and in Ramallah and Gaza run by Palestinians, though the US-based staff member did note that their activities in Gaza have been met with harassment by Hamas. Following the film, the two OneVoice members spoke about their work with OneVoice. The presentation by Malaka, the Palestinian woman from Tulkarm was interesting--she described how when she was growing up (she is 29), she and her friends could easily travel to Israel and throughout the West Bank and Gaza; however, with the outbreak of the Second Intifada, life changed dramatically because of checkpoints, travel restrictions, and IDF incursions. Without intending to, she verified what Israel advocates have been saying for years-- that the checkpoints were a response to the terrorism being inflictged upon Israeli civilians. The Israeli representative, a 24 year old from Tel Aviv named Uri, had served in the Israeli Navy prior to attending Tel Aviv University where he became involved with OneVoice. He noted that he majored in both biology and diplomacy-- the latter skill proving a very useful one during the Q&A period.

Most of the questioners were clearly hostile to Israel, and addressed questions to Uri as if he were representing the Government of Israel rather than a peace group. He was asked about an incident the previous night in which the Israeli Navy had detained anti-Israel activists offshore of Gaza (which of course he could not discuss in detail as he wasn't privy to any details of this), and he responded to accusations that the Israeli Navy would open fire on Gaza fisherman just for target practice by saying that those accounts were simply wrong. He also handled a question about an alleged home demolition in Israel by talking about trying to overcome extremists on both sides of the conflict (I think that the implication was lost on the questioner). The two representatives clearly did not agree on everything-- Uri talked about ending the occupation but perhaps with minor territorial adjustments, but Malaka insisted that Israel will have to withdraw from every inch of lands conquered in 1967. In answer to a question about the role of US aid to Israel, Uri suggested that with a peaceful settlement Israel will have less need for US aid, while Malaka thought that the purpose of US aid is to help create conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. However, in response to a very direct question about support among their people for a "one-state" solution, both Malaka and Uri were in complete agreement-- such an arrangement would not be acceptable because each group wants its own national identity, its own civic institutions, and control of its own territory. Interestingly, Malaka was the one who spoke about Palestinians not being able to exercise their national rights as a minority.

Concern was raised by some in the pro-Israel community that this event would be yet another in a depressing series of events featuring a Palestinian anti-Israel speaker "balanced" by a Jewish anti-Israel speaker. Those who were there saw something different-- an articulate young Israeli who did not criticize his country but spoke about a future of a state of Israel at peace with a state of Palestine, and a young Palestinian who, while certainly critical of the occupation, spoke clearly about the exact same solution as the only road to peace. It's a message that needs to be heard more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Unattributable Gaza Updates from Oxfam

Last month, we published the curious story of Oxfam and its e-mail updates on the situation in Gaza; recipients were explicitly warned that any information in those e-mails was not to be attributed to Oxfam as it could not be verified (though obviously it was good enough for Oxfam to distribute to its recipient list).

Not surprisingly, in the through-the-looking-glass world that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this story even "curiouser and curiouser". It turns out that Mr. Mohammed Ali Abu Najela, listed on Oxfam's e-mail alerts as "Advocacy and Media Researcher, Oxfam GB, Gaza Strip - Occupied Palestinian Territories" probably has a great deal of experience in advocacy and media. He has been a guest on "progressive" radio stations, on programs with titles such as "Palestinian Resistance against Zionism and US Imperialism"(Canadian radio station CFRO, April 2006). (Hat tip to Lurene for recognizing his name). It's not that surprising that NGOs like Oxfam would rely on local activists in Gaza, since kidnappings of journalists and aid workers have made it a dangerous place for infidels. But then of course one must recognize that staged news photos or NGO reports (whether attributable or not)become just another part of the Palestinian propaganda war against Israel.

Then today I received another e-mail from Michael Bailey in Oxfam's Jerusalem office. This e-mail, however, made no mention of Oxfam at all-- it was a press release directly from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights regarding the border closing between Gaza and Israel. Not surprisingly, this document made no mention at all of the fact that the border was closed as the result of fighting that developed when Israeli soldiers went a few hundred yards into Gaza to destroy a tunnel being built under the border between Gaza and Israel. (That tunnel would of course have no use other than to allow terrorists to infiltrate Israel.)

So now it appears that Oxfam's e-mail list is being used to circulate information directly from other Palestinian NGO's. The fact that the agenda of PHCR equates Palestinian "human rights" with the elimination of the Jewish state of Israel doesn't seem to bother Mr. Bailey. PHCR states on its website that "the Oslo accords failed to address the essential elements of the Palestinian question -- the right to self-determination, the right to an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees and the removal of Israeli settlements from the OPT." Of course, calling for the so-called "right" of return (a right that does not, in fact, exist for descendants of 1948 refugees) is Pal-speak for calling for the demographic elimination of the Jewish state.

Oxfam UK claims that it "recognises the right of the State of Israel and a viable, independent, Palestinian state to exist within secure borders where all citizens can live in security and dignity." So why is it now using its Jerusalem office as a mouthpiece for a group that opposes this?

Once again, Michael Bailey can be reached in Jerusalem at 2 656 6234 ext 223. He has not responded to an e-mail request for his comments on the previous piece.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Taking Back our Struggle- Taking Back our Identity

As a progressive with a long track record of working for individual human rights, my peers often react with shock and disbelief when I publicly express my support for the only country in the Middle east that protects the rights of its gays, minorities and women. Often I'm treated as though I brought veal to a PETA pot luck. Its an uncomfortable feeling, here in "more politically correct than thou" northern California.

On the other hand, it baffles me that my peers so readily and unquestioningly accept the classic fascist regimes of Hamas and Hezbollah. How did this happen? How did repressive, totalitarian regimes come to enjoy liberal support in America , while liberal democracies are rejected?

Sales and Marketing, my dear Watson. Sales and marketing.

Realizing that their articulated goal of driving the Jews into the sea wasn't helping them make friends and influence people, the Palestinians have been employing the rhetoric of victimization to further their agenda.

In History Upside Down, David Meir-Levi writes:
Ho Chi Mihn's chief strategist, General Giap, made it clear to Arafat and his lieutenants that in order to succeed, they too needed to redefine the terms of their struggle... "Stop talking about annihilating Israel," advised North Vietnam's General Giap, "and instead turn your terror war into a struggle for human rights. Then you will have the American people eating out of your hand."

At UC Berkeley and on college campuses throughout the country, this approach is being used. "We are talking truth to power" , UC Berkeley lecturer Hatem Batzien said recently to a group gathered to hear Norman Finkelstein and Jon Dugard speak at Boalt Hall. But with 22 Arab nations, with 800 times the land and 50 times the people and with extensive oil wealth, tell me again who exactly is in the position of power?

Arafat was also taught to exploit his situation by Muhammad Yazid, the minister of information in Algeria:
"Wipe out the argument that Israel is a small state whose existence is threatened by the Arab states, or the reduction of the Palestinian problem to a question of refugees; instead, present the Palestinian struggle as a struggle for liberation like the others. Wipe out the impression …that the Zionist is the underdog. Now it is the Arab who is oppressed and victimized in his existence because he is not only facing the Zionists but also world imperialism."

This strategy has certainly succeeded, at least on College campuses. How did this happen? Part of the answer is our own complacency. The organized Jewish community allowed our history and our heritage to be redefined for us. We allowed our proud movement of self determination, Zionism, to be turned into a pejorative. We allowed our communities to be redefined as "settlements". We allowed our pursuit of a peaceful resolution to a complex issue to be redefined into an "imperialist colonial struggle". We watched the other side frame its history unchallenged- "occupied territories", "siege of Gaza", "ethnic cleansing". Its time to take back our language, our words, our heritage. They are as much a part of our identity as our land.

We need to remind our community that in the present, as well as the not so distant past, the worst enemy of the Palestinian people has been the Palestinian leadership. We need to remind people that destroying Israel is not the way to help the Palestinian people- that the Palestinian people need to be empowered to shake off the yoke of those willing to use them as pawns in this struggle. We need to remind people that true progressives should challenge all those who restrict individual rights and liberties, and that Palestinian despots will not be given a free pass.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oxfam's Unattributable Gaza Update

"Unattributable Gaza Update": that is the actual title of periodic e-mail alerts sent out from Oxfam International, the UK-based NGO. The subtitle states "This document is for your information only – do not attribute to Oxfam International – check and confirm all figures before reporting." One of the e-mails that I received was signed by 'Mohammed Ali' Abu Najela "Advocacy and Media Researcher, Oxfam GB, Gaza Strip - Occupied Palestinian Territories" and the other was signed by Michael Bailey "Advocacy and Media Manager, Jerusalem Office".

The e-mail contains various statistics regarding reports of food and fuel delivery, electric power supplies, personnel movement, and incidents of rocket fire between Hamas and Israel. Interestingly, despite the significant amount of humanitarian aid supplied by Israel, none of the aid reported in Oxfam's e-mail is listed as coming from Israel-sources are UNRWA, WHO, "commercial" and "conveyor belt" (presumably unloaded at one of the crossings).

Given the curious disclaimers in the e-mail, I sent my own e-mails to Oxfam asking why they send out information that they don't want to be attributed to them. I received a response from one Elizabeth Stevens, Oxfam America Humanitarian Communications Officer:

"I think you received an update that we sent to a specific distribution list. The sources for the information for these updates are thought to be reliable, but as most of the observations aren't our own, we can't say with absolute certainty that they are true. We included the caveat because we don't want anyone on the list to pass the information on without taking further measures to verify it. It is important that people intervening in any volatile conflict situation be able to keep track of the ever-changing landscape; however, not all information collected under these conditions can be verified quickly or easily. We want to be sure the readers on our list get what they need to do their jobs and that they also understand the limitations of the fact-gathering."

Now comes the interesting part; now that I have made this inquiry, I am now on the "specific distribution list" for more of these Unattributable Updates! Last I checked, I don't need this information to do MY job. So why does Oxfam think I should receive these? Given the history of deliberate misinformation and media manipulation by Palestinians and their advocates, this could be just another way that Palestinians use NGOs as part of their propaganda war. Certainly it's not like information, especially unattributable information, would ever circulate around the Internet!

Unfortunately, this is not really a humorous matter. The al-Durah affair was used by Palestinians to inflame tensions and inspire heinous acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians. The so-called "Jenin massacre", the Hezbollah photo frauds unquestioningly disseminated by Reuters, and the Gaza beach incident in which the deaths of civilians from a Palestinian land mine were blamed on an Israeli attack-- all were prominently used against Israel while the "corrections", if ever acknowledged at all, were made very quietly. Just 2 months ago, there was a miracle that occurred in Gaza that received remarkably little press coverage-- a Palestinian who had died, allegedly because he was denied access to Israel for medical care according to the press release from Physicians for Human Rights in a story given prominent play on the BBC, was resurrected the next day, though I don't think the BBC felt that his resurrection was unusual enough to publicize.

What if I suggested that Oxfam and other NGOs knowingly manipulate their reports to deliberately harm Israel? What if I suggested that Oxfam and other NGOs knowingly employed Hamas terrorists on the ground in Gaza; or that they were required to pay a percentage of their funds (donated by well-meaning citizens in Europe and the US) to Hamas to help fund Gazan rocket factories; or that they knowingly collaborated in allowing Hamas to limit the distribution of aid to its own loyalists? These observations aren't my own, so I can't say with absolute certainty that they are true.

Mr Bailey's contact numbers in Jerusalem is 2 656 6234 ext 223. Perhaps one of our readers in Israel would like to call Mr Bailey and ask him about this. Just remember, all of this is unattributable to BlueTruth; check and confirm all facts before disseminating.

Monday, September 22, 2008

UC Berkeley Hillel--If They Are Not For Israel, Then Who Will Be?

"If I am not for myself, who is for me?" Rabbi Hillel asked many centuries ago. Looking at the institution at UC Berkeley that bears his name, he would be wondering even more. There has been ongoing anti-Israel activity at Cal for many years; that's not news. But it is newsworthy if a group opposed to the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state gets to spread its propaganda within the walls of the Hillel house itself.

On September 17, a group calling itself "Kesher Enoshi" held a meeting in the Hillel auditorium at Cal. Kesher is the name of the national Reform Judaism campus arm; it is not yet known if the group at Cal is officially a chapter of this organization, since this writer has not yet received a response from the Union for Reformed Judaism. The meeting was held ostensibly as a discussion forum about pro-Israel posters in Berkeley that had been placed in a number of bus shelters by BlueStarPR. One of the students in attendance reported back:

"Two leaders of SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] attended: Yaman Salahi and Allison Deger. The event was actually advertised on the SJP website. The event started innocently with a discussion about what the Bluestar pr signs were supposed to do, etc. In stage 2 of the meeting a video of an Arab soccer player was shown who complained about racism he experienced on the soccer field. Essentially they were debunking the pr. In the third stage they talked about a group that is addressing Israel's "fucking over" of the Bedouin population in the Negev. Basically the meeting went from innocuous to serious criticism of Israel."

SJP is Students for Justice in Palestine, a group that clearly states on its website ( "we condemn the racism and discrimination underlying the policies and laws of the state of Israel". Hillel's own website describes Hillel as a place for Israel advocacy-- how does allowing an anti-Zionist group that calls Israel an "apartheid regime" to use Hillel facilities fit this mission? The International Hillel website notes that "Hillel is steadfastly committed to the support of Israel as Jewish and Democratic State with secure and recognized borders and as a member of the family of free nations." Does a group that states "we condemn the racism and discrimination underlying the policies and laws of the state of Israel" deserve to have their events hosted and promoted by Hillel? It would seem more appropriate to Hillel's mission to teach students how to respond to such propaganda, rather than by hosting it. Yet even after last week's event, Kesher Enoshi (and presumably its friends from SJP) are being allowed to hold another event at Hillel itself, likely to feature more Israel-bashing.

All of this has been brought to the attention of UC Hillel staff. The response given was that Kesher is Zionist (though not, to their knowledge, affiliated with the URJ group), that a non-Zionist group would not be allowed into Hillel, and that Salahi and Deger were not leading the discussion- they were simply there. By the report of Hillel staff at the meeting, the presentation was not an attack on the BlueStar posters, but rather a segue into a discussion of issues in Israel. The previously quoted student saw it differently:
"This [the response of Hillel staff] is absurd. Kesher Enoshi doesn’t claim to be a Zionist group. They are about “social change within Israel.” They are supposed to be a domestic Israeli discussion group.... The event was obviously, clearly, without any doubt an attack on the posters. The first point was to question the intentions of BlueStar PR, etc. in the first place to have pro-Israel PR. The second point was to say that even if the placement of posters is justified, the posters were lies..... The next step was attacking Israel in general as a state that has exploited and abandoned the Bedoin population... In my opinion the leaders of SJP should not even be allowed in Hillel (they attended the Kesher Enoshi event). As a private organization, Hillel has the right to kick them out. SJP is a hate group that spreads vicious antisemitic attacks on Israel. Their leaders have no place in Hillel. It’s no surprise the SJP leaders attended by the way. Since the event was largely attacking Israel and pro-Israel pr, it fits in very well with their message."

This student is right. It does raise questions about the choices made at UC Hillel. Why host and promote this event, but have an invisible response when Jimmy Carter came to Cal to peddle his demonization of Israel in May 2007? Why did students who wanted to stand up in support of Israel had to form a separate group outside of Hillel? The first point of Hillel's "Vision for Israel on Campus" states: "One of the central objectives of Israel education is to generate and cultivate among students a passion about Israel and to cultivate within them a sense of personal attachment with the country and its people." To which I can only add "And if not now, when?".

Friday, September 19, 2008


Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair, said that the "concentration camp" of Gaza received less media attention than Darfur.

Has Gaza in fact received less attention? Not just less media attention, but less attention overall?

An internet search for 'Darfur,' shows 16,300,000 results.
[Deaths in Darfur: nearly half a million over the past five years.]

An internet search for 'Gaza,' shows 39,400,000 results.
[Conflict deaths in Gaza: 7007 since 2001.]

Note: The idea for comparing death tolls was taken from an Arutz Sheva article. It dramatically highlights the disparity. There is relevance, and then there is 'relevance'. I got the idea for internet searches from the same article.

Further searches showed a similar pattern:

5,330,000 results for 'Darfur UN'.
9,840,000 results for 'Gaza UN'.

603,000 results for 'AFP Darfur'.
1,380,000 results for 'AFP Gaza'.

1,940,000 results for 'BBC Darfur'.
3,040,000 results for 'BBC Gaza'.

1,350,000 results for 'Reuters Darfur'.
2,790,000 results for 'Reuters Gaza'.

387,000 results for 'Al Jazeera Darfur'.
1,020,000 results for 'Al Jazeera Gaza'.

32,300 results for 'Ha'aretz Darfur'.
361,000 results for 'Ha'aretz Gaza'.

3,690 results for 'Algemeen Dagblad Darfur'.
5,260 results for 'Algemeen Dagblad Gaza'.

19,100 results for 'Volkskrant Darfur'
31,800 for 'Volkskrant Gaza'.

1,050,000 results for 'Guardian Darfur'.
2,040,000 results for 'Guardian Gaza'.

1,610,000 results for 'New York Times Darfur'.
2,800,000 results for 'New York Times Gaza'.

There are two logical conclusions.

The first one is that Lauren Booth is an ignorant and biased woman who neither knows nor cares about the truth. The second one is that each Gazan is worth far, far more than at least fifty Sudanese in the eyes of the world.

One might also think that the killing of Gazans is frowned upon, and the deaths of Sudanese positively welcomed.
But it is probably only people like Lauren Booth who incline that way.

My own personal conclusions are that the world cares too little about Darfur, and that Lauren Booth and her type are evil and vicious.
I would be keen to hear from anyone who knows ms. Booth whether that latter conclusion matches their perception.



This article is crossposted here:

I compared the figures for the fatalities in Darfur and Gaza in several places: B'Tselem, The United Nations, various Palestinian and activist websites, etcetera.
The figure for Gaza is based on B'Tselem. I did not include Palestinians killed by other Palestinians, such as the victims of political assassinations by the factions, targeted killings by gangsters such as the Dogmush clan, murdered kidnap victims, or poisonings.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Alison Weir--Beyond the Average Israel Hater

Last week, I promised an entry about Alison Weir, who was hosted at the same local church where Anna Baltzer spoke earlier this summer. In what was not a sign of things to come, the event was opened by a member of church's Social Justice Committee with a prayer for Israelis and Palestinians to "strive for reconciliation and peacemaking" and a plea for "meaningful dialogue". I think he was sincere; I also think he completely failed to appreciate the irony, given the speaker that he was introducing and the content of her presentation.

Alison Weir is a self-proclaimed "unbiased journalist" (she used to edit a local community newspaper in Sausalito) who on the basis of two trips to the West Bank and Gaza and a review of newspaper headlines and network TV broadcasts, has come to the unbiased journalistic conclusion that the Israel-Palestine conflict is a pure battle between good and evil, that there is only one side, and she is going to be an unbiased crusader for the principles of justice, fairness and equality--in other words, the Palestinian side.

Weir has at least several different types of presentations that she gives, apparently depending on the expected naivete of the audience. When she spoke at Sonoma State University several years ago, and also at UC Berkeley the night before recent her local appearance, she railed much more openly about the "Zionist conspiracy" (which apparently included people moving furniture in the room directly upstairs), and also challenged those who would question her statements as "Zionist troublemakers". She has made statements such as
“People who say there are two sides to this ‘conflict’ are full of bs … Here there is the brutalizer and the brutalized. It’s not complicated.”
“When a rare, crazed, would-be freedom-fighter escapes this prison and tries to strike his oppressor, we need to read about the prison he exploded out of. Rather than an ‘inexplicable, fanatical terrorist,’ we would see what we had helped create with our aid to Israel-a terrorized victim who has tragically but inexplicably turned to violence himself.”
"In the 1948 War, the Zionist army consisted of over 90,000 European trained soldiers and possessed modern weaponry, including up-to-date fighter and bomber airplanes. The Arab forces, very much a third-world army, consisted of approximately 30,000 ill-equipped, poorly trained men. The US army, British intelligence, and the CIA all agreed: it would be no contest."

At Berkeley, she also claimed that there had been an independent sovereign Arab country of Palestine prior to the establishment of Israel. That comes as no surprise given her interpretation of the Six-Day War as "Israel attacked its neighbors" without any mention of Egypt's closing of the Straits of Tiran and the bellicose genocidal pronouncements of Arab leaders.

At the church, she was more subdued; I don't recall hearing the phrase "Zionist conspiracy" even once! She does have a montage of slides, photos and videos with the variety of truths, half-truths, and extra bonus features such as a video interview with a former government official who stated that "The White House is dominated by Israelis" and her charge that the media is controlled by pro-Israel individuals and groups. To anyone who doesn't know the history of the region and the conflict, this one-sided presentation can be very effective. Jews have no right to self-determination in Palestine in Weir's world, but she would deign to have them stay there as part of a one-state solution (at least until they get dispossessed by the Arabs).

But there may be more to the story than this. Weir, unlike most anti-Israel activists who tend towards the far left, has an interesting association with the extreme anti-Semitic right. David Duke is a fan of hers, having reposted in its entirety on David an article Weir wrote for Counterpunch--interestingly, not about Israel itself, but about Israeli influence on the Russian government. Apparently Weir has made no effort to get this copyrighted work off of Duke's site-- when asked about this several years ago by this writer, she stated that she had no control over the use of her work. As an unbiased professional journalist, one would expect that she is familiar with the principle of fair use so maybe she really doesn't mind. She was a guest in 2006 on the public access cable TV show of one Hesham Tillawi, an anti-Israel activist from Louisiana whose foul spoor is easily tracked over the Internet even by those like myself who aren't unbiased professional journalists. Duke himself has appeared on Tillawi's “Current Issues” three times to peddle his brand of Jew-hatred and also proudly posts a fawning letter from Tillawi written in 2005 (a year before Weir was a guest on his show). Duke warned that there is a “worldwide Jewish extremist media and government [effort]” to corrupt children with violence and promote drug use; to “destroy…the home and the family”; to wipe away “individual cultures and freedoms” and institute “a new age of darkness.” Another guest on Tillawi’s show has alleged that Jews are somehow aligned with demonic forces. “Call it anti-Christ, call it Satan, call it whatever,” Russian-born Jewish covert to Christianity Israel Shamir said on “Current Issues.” “This kind of force tries to defeat Christ, and it is heavily armed with tools of Jews.” Among the Holocaust deniers Tillawi has hosted on his own personal "Wayne's World" is Bradley Smith, who has crusaded since the 1980s to bring Holocaust denial to college campuses. He also interviewed Fredrick Toben, a Holocaust denier from Australia. In his interview Toben propounded his theory that Jewish and Zionist forces invented the threat of Islamic terror to “squash dissent” and serve as a “decoy” distracting world attention from a different goal: demolishing the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and replacing it with a rebuilt Temple of Solomon. Mark Weber, who directs the California-based Holocaust-denying Institue for Historical Review, has been a guest on Tillawi’s show more than once. When not trying to chip away at the Holocaust’s historical evidence, Weber attacks Holocaust commemoration efforts. “Holocaust remembrance is not a noble effort motivated by sincere concern for humanity,” Weber told Tillawi’s viewers. “This campaign is an expression of Jewish-Zionist power and it’s designed to further Jewish-Zionist interests.” Tillawi also said: “And of course economically, correct. They have a stranglehold on Congress and the administration…the American people are in the same shape that the Palestinians are in, because the media is controlled, the government is controlled, the economy is controlled, and actually they are in worse shape than the Palestinians...There is a good book written by Henry Ford called The International Jew, and my own personal take on the protocols: I don’t care if it’s authentic or not, I don’t care if it’s real or if somebody just dreamed them up. The thing is they are being used as blueprints. If you read the protocols and look at what’s going on right now, and [inaudible] government, who controls them, the money, who etc. the media, who controls it, all these things are in the protocols. So I don’t care if it’s authentic or not, they are using it as a blueprint.”
(credit to the Anti-Defamation League for the background information on Tillawi).

It's hard to imagine that Weir was unaware of all this when she chose to add her name to Tillawi's guest list of extremist haters. After all, she's an unbiased professional journalist who would want to do some background research before appearing on someone's TV show. Perhaps she did her research and recognized that her lines such as “What Israel says, our media repeat. What Israel demands, our government gives. ”(Counterpunch, March 15, 2005) echo the tropes of classic anti-Semitism.

Weir closed her talk by saying that the "intentional arousal of hatred, bigotry and fear is very dangerous". Once again, the extraordinary irony of that statement went unnoticed by too many in the room.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Those Evil Evil Zionists and their Evil Evil Death Rays

One of the time honored canards of the anti-Israel forces is that Israel is a European colonialist state. The haters of Israel regard it as an highly inconvenient technicality that the majority of Israeli have their origin in the people of the Middle East and North Africa.

When faced a group that was ethnically cleansed, with a population of nearly 900,000 in 1948 tumbling to 6,500 today- a group that haven't received a dime from the United Nations, what do the haters do? They scramble frantically- trying to rewrite history of the Mizrachi Jews and reframe the facts.

The anti Israel forces have been parading Reuven Abarjel about in a frantic effort to reframe these issues. Abergel and his family came from Morocco to Israel in the 1950's. In a recent talk in San Francisco, Abarjel claimed the white colonialist Zionists practiced eugenics on the recent immigrants, subjecting them to bizarre medical experiments. Yes, its just another version of the "Damned Zionists-they are no better than the Nazis" song and dance we've heard so often.

Reuven Abarjel was one of the "Ringworm children", treated by israel for tinea capitis; ringworm, a very common and very contagious fungal infection at the time. What Reuven has chosen to ignore is that his treatment was not "eugenics", but was the state of the art treatment , not just in Israel, but in Europe and America as well.

Calif Med. 1949 March; 70(3): 189–193.
M. E. Mottram and Harold A. Hill

A recent epidemic of tinea capitis in children
has revived a considerable interest in
the methods of treatment of this disease.
The most efficacious form of therapy for
M. audouini infections is roentgen epilation.
Cure was effected by this method in all of
a group of 125 cases.

Yes, this was 1949 in San Francisco!

In spite of this, and dozens of other references in period medical literature Abarjel claims his treatment for this skin condition was really just part of a racist conspiracy from the white Zio-nazi colonial entity. Oh, those evil, evil Zionists with their evil, evil death rays!

There has been a disproportionate number of malignancies reported in the hundreds of thousands treated for ringworm. Many nations have begun registries. In 1995, Israel began compensating those suffering from radiation related illness- and it remains one of the few nations of the world that does.

The sponsors of Abarjel's talk, the "non-zionist" Jews of the San Francisco Bay area are planning a panel discussion on water, next. Will they title it " The Pacific Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and global warming- part of the worldwide plot for Zionist domination" ? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Free Speech in Berkeley--Except for Zionists

Berkeley California is where the "Free Speech Movement" originated in the 1960's. Unfortunately, it appears that such ideals are no longer applicable when it comes to pro-Israel speech. The latest evidence for that statement is the defacing of a poster from BlueStar PR in a bus shelter. BlueStarPR, for those who missed our previous post about them, is an innovative firm located in San Francisco that creates novel pro-Israel advertisements--some are political, some are cultural, some are environmental.

In the world of "political correctness", however, pro-Israel sentiments are apparently not acceptable so one of the posters was vandalized by someone with an obvious political agenda. Interestingly, the poster in question showed an Israeli Arab soccer player and discussed coexistence between Jews and Arabs. It wasn't anti-Arab, or defending the occupation of the West Bank, or really in any way political-- except that it supported Israel's existence.

So, as BlueStar points out on its site, "Israel haters apparently think that defacing a poster featuring an Arab athlete advocating coexistence earns them points among liberal college students." Now, there is a possibility that the same people who perpetrated this vandalism would also support the Jewish state if only it would withdraw from the West Bank, right? Then they would have no problem with Israel, right? (Sure, and the sun might rise in the west tomorrow, too).

Natan Sharansky has suggested the town square test for a free society: "If a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a "fear society" has finally won their freedom. " But isn't it also true if a peaceful idea cannot be posted without defacement?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Jewish Anti-Semitism

This past week, a German court officially recognized that being Jewish, or of Jewish origin, does not provide immunity against charges of anti-Semitism. The case involved Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, whose late father Heinz Galinski was the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany after the Holocaust, and journalist Henryk Broder. Broder had publicly charged that Hecht-Galinski's statements, such as a "Jewish-Israel lobby with its active network is extended over the world and thanks to America its power has become so great...", were anti-Semitic. Initially an injunction was obtained by Hect-Galinski against Broder; the court in Cologne waived the injunction as long as Broder could provide reasons for that charge. The Jerusalem Post article about the court decision can be found here.

Of course, as readers of this blog and other astute observers know, this phenomenon is by no means limited to Germany, or even Europe. We have commented here on groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and Bay Area Women in Black that try to deflect criticism of some of their positions with the "how can we be anti-Semitic, we're Jewish?" response. But it shouldn't make a difference whether the same defamatory comments from from them, or from someone who associates with the neo-Nazi fringe like Alison Weir (teaser alert--this will be subject of an upcoming post in about a week). Natan Sharansky has pointed out that if statements are made that demonize Israel (the world's only Jewish state), if they delegitimize the existence of Israel and only Israel, if they invoke double standards of acceptable behavior against Israel and only Israel, that's anti-Semitic. The EU Working Definition of Anti-Semitism includes those points as well as the phrase "drawing comparisons between contemporary Israeli policy and that of the Nazis" in determining whether statements are anti-Semitic.

The German court got it right. It doesn't matter who said it, wrote it, or blogged it. It doesn't matter whether someone's father was a well-respected leader whose memory is being exploited by someone without any other credentials. It doesn't matter if a group has "Jewish" in its name. The same statements are anti-Semitic whether they come from sources like that or from David Duke. And we'll continue to call it that way.

Lauren Booth Shopping in Gaza

Although Jewish Voice for Peace has claimed that Israel is slowly starving 1.5 million Gazans and that Palestinians in Gaza are being "deliberately malnourished", Lauren Booth of the "free Gaza" flotilla doesn't seem to have any trouble finding food at this well stocked Gazan store.

Photo from Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images

And if anybody wants to claim that the "Free Gaza" movement wasn't in bed with the terrorists of Hamas, this picture should set the record straight (the one in the middle raising his cup is Haniyeh; the rest are wearing medals he personally awarded to them).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Forgotten Refugees

At the Arab Cultural fair in Golden Gate Park, the flags of the Arab world hung proud and straight, except for the Palestinian flag. Ex- English majors can find whatever symbolism they want in that.

Thanks to our friends at Oakland Women in Black for sharing their experiences.

Debate on the middle east often focuses on the plight of the Palestinians refugees, perpetual victims of the Arab leadership which has turned them into pawns in the battle to destroy Israel. Until very recently, little has been heard about the Jews who fled Arab countries after Israel's founding in 1948, leaving behind assets valued today at more than $300 billion. These refugees hold property deeds on a total area of about 100,000 sq. km. -- five times the size of the State of Israel.
A May 16, 1948 New York Times article "Jews in Grave Danger in Moslem Lands: Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia Face Wrath of Their Foes" by Mallory Browne stated "There are indications that a stage is being set for a tragedy of incalculable proportions". Yet the story of these refugees has been largely ignored.

Fortunately, that is changing. In March, 2008 Regina Bublil Waldman of Jimena, dressed in her traditional Libyan garb gave a talk to the UN Human Rights Council. A month later, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an unprecedented resolution recognizing Jewish refugees from Arab countries . According to H. Res. 185, U.S. officials involved in Middle East peace negotiations which reference the Palestinian refugee question are to "also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries." In July, 2008 - the first hearing in a European Parliament was organized by Paulo Casaca, with the European Friends of Israel and B'nai B'rith in association with Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, the international coalition of organizations that seek justice for the Jews displaced from Arab lands.

With recent attention on the Jews from Arab lands, the organizers of the 14th Annual Arab Cultural Fair still seemed angry when a dozen activists showed up in Golden Gate park in San Francisco bearing signs describing the ethnic cleansings of Jews from Arab lands . The group, Oakland Women In Black decided that the time had come to bring public awareness to the forgotten refugees of 1948, the Jews expelled from Arab lands.

Oakland Women in Black describe themselves as Jews and allies who stand against injustices tolerated by others, rejecting the notion that some people are worthy victims. They have broken off from the other Bay area Women in Black groups in their belief that all people, not just a select few, have the right to security, home, education, justice and freedom.

There had always been a Jewish presence in the Arab world. Since the expulsions of the indigenous Jews, this important thread is missing from the rich cultural tapestry of the Arab world. The Oakland Women in Black prepared informative signs showing the numbers of Jews in respective Arab countries before the expulsions and at present.

Tunisia 1948 Jewish population: 105,000 2008: 1,500
Algeria 1948 Jewish population: 140,000 2008: 100
Egypt 1948 Jewish population: 75,000 2008: 100

The group maintained a solemn vigil, dressed in black and bearing silent witness to the destroyed Jewish communities of Arab land. And, true to form, festival organizers called the police. This tactic shouldn't surprise anyone. The Arab Cultural Fair is, after all, headed by Jess Ghannam , a member of the executive committee of the extremist group Al Awda the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition who never misses an opportunity to bash Israel. To their credit, the San Francisco Police department immediately recognized Ghannam's charade, and declined to be used as an instrumentality of oppression.

Reactions from Fair participants was mixed- many welcomed the information and acknowledged the shared heritage. A conversation that began with the accusation "You stole our falafel" met the response "I also ‘stole’ enchiladas and lasagna, and I'm glad I did. Isn't it great we can enjoy and share and learn from each other?" It became a discussion of the Bay areas favorite topic beside politics- food. Recipes were compared and exchanged. Yet others took the vigil as an opportunity to argue. A Palestinian with his blonde wife and child maintained that Israel discriminated against him because he was “brown”. The fact that he was as white as snowfall didn’t faze him a bit. Being mistaken for a Jew a moment later- now that was offensive! Ahmed, an insurance salesman representing Prudential, left his table on numerous occasions to shriek at the vigil regarding the 7 or was it 9 million Palestinian refugees, the number escalating with each tirade. Ahmeds' ad hominem attacks on the silent group were a shrill reminder of the intolerance that remains an major obstacle to peace in the region.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Anna Baltzer out of the Middle East

Inasmuch as this event was taking place in my own area, I gave up several hours of my life last night to hear Anna Baltzer speak. Baltzer is another in a line of anti-Zionist Jews who traipse around the country to speak against Israel. Her apparent expertise comes from 1. being the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors (she calls them Holocaust refugees, a subtle attempt to put the Palestinian refugee experience on the same level as the horrors of Nazism) 2. Having been a Fulbright scholar at Columbia which resulted in her obtaining a teaching job in Turkey and 3. Having lived in the West Bank for eight months and been trained by the terror support network the International Solidarity Movement.

Her talk focused on many photographs she had taken while in the West Bank and on the hardship that the occupation poses for Palestinians who are seeking emplyment, education and health. She also rails against Israel's security barrier, and shows many pictures of that. From her talk, you would never know that hundreds of Israeli civilians died since 2000 in the terror war launched by Yasser Arafat. You would never know about the children sent to try to smuggle suicide bomb belts through checkpoints. You would never know about the jihadist propaganda on Palestinian TV. She asked at one point "Does segregation bring peace?" (Well, yes if you segregate those who would act violently against you it does!)

She also talks about 1948 in such a way that it is no surprise when she admits that she is an anti-Zionist who favors the so-called "one state solution", in which the Palestinians will agree to suddenly live peacefully with Israel and sing "kumbaya" in the hilltops watching the sun set into the Mediterranean (until the moment they are a demographic majority, that is). She shows the same inaccurate slides of land ownership favored by Jewish Voice for Peace , though this writer was sardonically amused by the slide that showed landownership in 2007 with large chunks of Gaza still designated as "Jewish owned".

In her question and answer period she kept referring back to an appendix in her book, presumably with all her set responses already written in. Most of them sound like they are lifted directly from Ilan "Facts aren't important" Pappe. She also would not answer several questions directly, such as how Israelis can feel secure in withdrawing from the West Bank if that will put Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport in the range of rocket attacks, or how Palestinian children are expected to learn peace if they are taught hate.

Not surprisingly, her talk and her answers were riddled with inaccuracies. She showed a slide with a quote by Ben Gurion supposedly advocating compulsory transfer:
"I support compulsory transfer. I do not see in it anything immoral ... The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war."
By omitting the full quote, she incorrectly implies that the Jewish leadership adopted transfer as a plan. Efraim Karsh, in his critique of a book by Israeli historian Benny Morris, quoted from the record of the Jewish Agency Executive meeting on June 12, 1937 (“Falsifying the Record: Benny Morris, David Ben-Gurion and the ‘Transfer’ Idea,” Israel Affairs, V4, No. 2, Winter 1997, p52-53). It reads as follows: "I saw in the Peel Plan [proposed by England] two positive things: the ideas of state and compulsory transfer. I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see in it anything immoral, but compulsory transfer can only be effected by England and not by the Jews... Not only is it inconceivable for us to carry it out, but it is also inconceivable for us to propose it. " This was in reference to the Peel plan, which proposed a very tiny sliver of land on the coastal plain for the Jews from which a small number of Arabs would be transferred. The Jews accepted the plan; the Arabs, foreshadowing the intransigence of 1948, 1967 and 2000, rejected it.

She claims that Gaza is still "occupied" under international law. Good thing she's not MY international lawyer. The International Committee of the Red Cross states: What is occupation?Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations (HR) states that a "territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised." If Israel had control over Gaza then Haniyeh would be dead or captured. Who is responsible for public order in Gaza? Hamas. Rather than occupied, Gaza is under sanctions, because of its refusal to adhere to the basic requirements of renouncing violence and terrorism. Those sanctions are enforced by Israel and Egypt jointly, and supported by the EU and the US.

She claims the Arab armies in 1948 never entered areas that were set aside for the Jewish state; that is completely false. There is a Syrian tank at the gates of Kibbutz Degania--it's a relatively famous photo spot. Degania was within the Jewish area of the 1947 UN Partition plan. The description of the battle is at Egyptian armies occupied most of the Negev until driven out by the IDF in late1948-early 1949. Kaukji's "Arab Liberation Army" roamed in Galilee. You can see a detailed map here.

But perhaps the biggest and most damning lie is her claim that Zionism supports an EXCLUSIVELY Jewish state. Ephraim Karsh specifically examines the entire (not edited) relevant quotes from early Zionists-- even Jabotinsky, who drafted a constitution in 1934 that would put Arabs on an equal political footing. Zionism is the movement for a Jewish state, but there is room for non-Jews in it just like there is room for Jews and Moslems in the Christian states of Europe. Even a few (a very, very few) predominantly Moslem states such as Morocco (and officially secular Turkey) grant Jews political and civil rights. But it serves Baltzer's purpose to portray Zionism as an evil, exclusionary policy, because she is promoting the BDS agenda: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Specifically trying to draw a parallel with the anti-apartheid movement, Baltzer shows a slide of logos of companies that do business in Israel and urges the audience to boycott them. Since the "BDS" movement specifically also calls for the so-called "right" of return of 1948 Palestinian refugees, its underlying agenda is clear-- the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

Anna seemed fond of saying "Don't trust me; do your own research." Of course, all the sources she used were of the Ilan Pappe variety. I did my research, and it shows that Baltzer twists the truth in support of an agenda against the existence of Israel. She's right; I don't trust her.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Indymedia: A Visit to the Truth Optional Planet

Many activists initially welcomed Indymedia as an alternative to the commercial media, as a way to give a voice to the voiceless. For local issues in particular, Indymedia had the potential to inform and engage in a way the commercial ventures had failed. Years into the Indymedia experiment, its failures are clear.

Many IMCs have failed completely and exist only as an archive. This has proven to be a dignified end. Others languish on life support, awaiting the merciful pulling of the plug as they fill with commercial spam. Some Indymedia have fallen under fascist control, where only the politically correct dare express their opinions. At these sites, the far left has gone full circle to the point where its become indistinguishable from the far right. The San Francisco Indymedia Center, Indybay, has become a forum for hate speech and truth optional reporting masquerading as "free speech".

Many local Israeli activists have found themselves viciously attacked on Indybay for crime of being Zionist in public, and daring to support Israel's right to exist. They find themselves subject to lies, harassment and intimidation in an effort to suppress their voices. Adding insult to injury, when they attempt to respond to the charges brought against them, they are simply deleted, as Indybay allows no dissent. For Indybay in general, and for Micha in particular, I recommend a visit to The society of professional journalists code of ethics (

You may want to pay particular attention to these guidelines:

* Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
* Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
* Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
* Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
* Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

Roll that around your collective conscience, Indybay:

"Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant."

That icon of the left, Noam Chomsky said "If you don't believe in free speech for those you despise, then you don't believe in it at all.". It is precisely through cross cultural communication- through open dialog and the sharing of information and ideas that differences can be discussed and resolved. Censorship eliminates this possibility . We should be encouraging engagement and communication rather than creating artificial barriers.

Just something to think about Micha- do you want to be a real journalist when you grow up, or just another kid with a camera?

And in the meanwhile, bloggers, if you want to post on Indybay, remember these few simple rules:

1. Address anyone you don't agree with as a "right wing conservative"
2. No historic sources that contradict leftist philosophy are admissible.
3. Insist that all the worlds problems could be solved through the destruction of Israel
4. And when in doubt, know that the editors will run interference for you, and remove any dissent

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Jewish Voice for Peace and the New Blood Libel

Jewish Voice for Peace needs a new motto, something like “We’re not really anti-Zionist, but we always act that way.” Their latest screed about the Palestinian Nakba reads like a textbook produced by the Palestinian Authority, full of allegations designed to incite hatred and prevent peace. It levels charges of atrocities allegedly committed against Arab civilians by the Jews of 1948 Palestine, who had the temerity to try to defend themselves not only against 5 invading Arab armies, but also against local villages that had long been launching attacks against Jewish civilians and besieging Jewish Jerusalem.

Their “fact sheet” accuses Israel of war crimes, in blood-curdling detail that brings to mind accounts of the horrors of the Holocaust. This of course is not by accident. There are three themes that anti-Zionists use to try to relate the Palestinian narrative to the Holocaust. First, they attempt to present the Arabs as nothing more than peaceful innocent bystanders who became secondary victims of the Holocaust (ignoring the fact that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin al Husseini spent the war years in Berlin where he encouraged the Nazis to commit full scale genocide against the Jews, recruited Muslims for the Nazis, and toured Auschwitz with Eichmann, probably to help plan a similar facility should the Germans have overrun Palestine). Secondly, they insist on the false equation of the mass industrial-scale extermination of European Jewry based on a horrific racist ideology, and the dislocation of Palestinian Arabs caused by another war of extermination against the Jews—this one started by their fellow Arabs. Finally, and most outrageously, they claim that current Israeli self-defense actions against the terrorist organizations Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad are morally or legally on a plane with Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews.

The descriptions used by JVP are almost all credited to one source: Ilan Pappe’s book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Pappe, for those unfamiliar with him, is a former Israeli lecturer at the University of Haifa who has since relocated to the University of Exeter in the UK. A doctrinaire Marxist who once ran for Knesset with the Communist-led Hadash party, he opposes the existence of Israel as a Jewish state but nonetheless supports "resistance" by Hamas, a radical Islamist movement that seeks to impose sharia law and at least tolerates, if not incites, violence against Christian "infidels" . Most tellingly, he also frankly admits that he is not really interested in facts: “‘We do [historiography] because of ideological reasons, not because we are truth seekers... ‘there is no such thing as truth, only a collection of narratives’.” This philosophy was exposed when one of Pappe’s graduate students, Teddy Katz, was shown to have falsified evidence about an alleged massacre at Tantura in 1948 by claiming that his interview subjects said one thing while the tapes of the interviews proved otherwise.

There are historians such as Benny Morris who have indeed documented incidents of expulsion and even murder of Arabs during Israel’s War of Independence, when the Jews were fighting for their lives and the Arabs were fighting to kill Jews. Israel, no more and no less than other countries, was not born without violence, without wrongs being committed, without people being displaced. All Americans who are not part of the original Native American population live on their land by virtue of military conquest, much of it involving acts worse than anything Israel is accused of by its worst enemies-- and Americans are not returning to a homeland for which we have pined and prayed for centuries. The same holds true for Canadians and Australians. So by what moral right do those who point the finger at Israel and bellow “J’accuse!” continue to reside in their own comfortable homes?

The blood libel is an old staple of anti-Semitism. Jews through the centuries have been slaughtered because of the now-rejected Catholic teaching that the Jews were responsible for killing Jesus, then for the myth that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood for matzah. Now we have the new blood libels against Israel. The most prominent has been the al-Dura affair, used as a bloody shirt to create a jihadist frenzy during the Arafat’s terror war—and now that the entirety of the filmed evidence has been aired in a French courtroom, the questions about what might have been a fully staged hoax are larger than ever. Other examples of media gullibility to Arab manipulation abound—the “Jenin massacre” in 2002 during which world media eagerly swallowed Palestinian claims of hundreds of deaths during Operation Defensive Shield, the doctored pictures from Lebanon , blame placed on Israel for the deaths of civilians killed by Hamas mines on a Gaza beach. Of course, while the sensationalist false reporting of these incidents makes headlines, the “corrections” are always buried in small type at the bottom of page 10.

JVP has chosen to perpetuate the tradition of the blood libel, hiding behind anti-Zionism as a politically correct shield. As self-described experts on anti-Semitism, their leadership can’t claim to be ignorant of what they are doing. So one can only conclude that they agree with Pappe: facts aren’t important, advancing the ideology is. And the ideology, sadly, is not one of peace, but of fanning the flames of anti-Israel hatred.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Somebody Must Be Paying Attention Out There

BlueTruth is delighted to have had last week's post about Jimmy Carter selected for this week's Haveil Havalim (hosted this week at Simply Jews).

Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'

Hey, we're just happy to be noticed!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jimmy Carter: There He Goes Again

Jimmy Carter, the darling of the anti-Israel left, continues his effort to give legitimacy to Hamas in the pages of yesterday's New York Times. Anyone with a working knowledge of 20th century history cannot fail to recognize the parallels between Carter and another tragically wrong-headed failed Western leader, Neville Chamberlain.

Actually, Carter's misguided missive adapts surprisingly well to Chamberlain's capitulation at Munich in 1938. Imagine that Carter had been writing at that time...... (you can apply the appropriate "Wayback machine" sound effects and visuals here) and this is what would have appeared in the Times in September 1938:

A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE Washington policy in recent years has been to boycott and punish political factions or governments that refuse to accept United States mandates. This policy makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies.

I, my wife and my son went to Germany. My goal was to learn as much as possible to assist in the faltering peace initiative endorsed by Prime Minister Chamberlain. Although I knew that many in the West were concerned about the government of Germany and leaders of the Nazi Party, I did not receive any negative or cautionary messages about the trip.
The Carter Center had monitored German elections since 1928, including one for parliamentary seats in January 1933. The Nazis had prevailed in several municipal contests, gained a reputation for effective and honest administration and did surprisingly well in the legislative race, displacing the ruling party. Eventually, the Nazis gained control of Germany and opinion polls show them steadily gaining popularity. Since there can be no peace with Germans divided between Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, we at the Carter Center believed it important to explore conditions allowing the Nazis to be brought peacefully back into the discussions.
We met with Nazi leaders from Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland, and after two days of intense discussions with one another they gave these official responses to our suggestions, intended to enhance prospects for peace:

Germany will accept any agreement negotiated with the government of Czechoslovakia, as long as it is put to a referendum of Germans everywhere.

When the time comes, the Nazis will accept the possibility of forming a nonpartisan professional government of technocrats to govern the Sudetenland until the next elections can be held.

The Nazis will also disband the SS if a nonpartisan professional security force, led by the same individuals, can be formed.

The Nazis will permit Jews held in concentration camps to send letters to their families.

The Nazis will declare a peaceful border between the Sudetenland and the rest of Czechoslovakia, which might be extended to the rest of Europe at some later time.

Through more official consultations with these leaders, it may yet be possible to revive and expedite the stalemated peace talks between Germany and its neighbors. In Europe, the path to peace lies in negotiation, not in isolation.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The J Street Lobby-- How Big Is Their Tent?

The newly formed (and long-planned) J Street Lobby describes itself as "the political arm of the pro-Israel pro-peace movement", and has a distinguished list of scholars, policy experts and political activists on its advisory council, as well as many prominent and respected Israelis who have signed a letter of support. Not surprisingly, most of those Israelis are affiliated with the Labor Party, since the specific positions described in that letter are indistinguishable from the platform on which Labor ran in the last election. I suspect that they will also be extremely close to the Democratic Party's platform this year, with notable exception of the language on settlements--J Street straightforwardly calls them an "obstacle to peace" and calls for more vocal US opposition to them.

I don't have a problem with the specifics of their policy proposals, since they very specifically support the existence of Israel as a Jewish state within secure borders, and their positions regarding settlements and borders certainly reflect current US policy as well. They support the status of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and specifically do not call for re-division of the city along the 1949 armistice line, but rather call in advance for American endorsement of any agreement arrived at by Israelis and Palestinians regarding the capital city. Their major point is that US diplomatic involvement needs to be vigorous and ongoing, including engagement with Syria and Iran; they don't address the question of how to deal with Hamas or Hezbollah except by reference to Iran.

J Street's founders intend it to be a counterweight to AIPAC, which they see as being too conservative and too uncritical of Israel. However, while they strive to make this distinction, some of the organizations and individuals that have organized this effort are going to find themselves in a precarious position, because their supporters straddle the line between those who support Israel as a Jewish state and those whose definition of "peace" doesn't necessarily require that. A few are worthy of note:

---Marcia Freedman, founder of B'rit Tzedek v'Shalom and Steve Masters, President of BTvS: In the San Francisco Bay Area, BTvS has worked with the anti-Zionist groups Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area Women in Black and the International Solidarity Movement. BTvS was even noted in a newsletter from Amienu (another founding organization of J Street) to refuse to consider themselves Zionists and they would not support even singing Hatikvah at a rally to support last year's Annapolis conference. (Exactly how, then, are they "pro-Israel"?)

---Ricken Patel, Co-founder and Executive Director, Avaaz: Avaaz had a petition on its website several months ago which hysterically proclaimed that "The people of Gaza are being squeezed to death. This week's blackouts have finally reached the attention of the world -- and the international community could help end the blockade. Our obligation is clear. This isn't about Israel vs Palestine or Hamas vs Fatah: this is about 1.5 million human beings locked up in the biggest prison on earth.....The humanitarian crisis of sealed-off Gaza is only getting worse, and a rain of missiles is falling. " Sure makes it sound like a rain of missiles was falling ON Gaza, rather than originating FROM Gaza. Not a mention of the genocidal jihadist ideology of Hamas, not a word about Hamas firing on the crossing points with Israel to prevent the flow of humanitarian supplies. (Good thing that Patel supports Israel; I'd hate to see what opposition would look like).

---Peter Edelman, Board Chair, Larry Garber, Chief Executive Officer, and Norman Rosenberg, Former Chief Executive Officer, New Israel Fund: The New Israel Fund has come under criticism for its funding of Adalah, an Arab rights organization that has called for Israel to allow an unlimited Arab "right of return" that would end Israel's existence as a Jewish state and turn it into yet another Arab country.

J Street also links to many organizations and websites, all of whom state that they are promoting "peace". Many of them are indeed promoting peace while supporting Israel's existence as a Jewish state. Some of them claim to, but suffer from the same problem of finding it too easy to ally with organizations that don't share their support of Israel. For example, the Churches for Middle East Peace include the Protestant churches that have been calling for a one-sided divestment from Israel, and one member organization, the United Methodist Church, recently developed a study guide on the Middle East that claims that Israel's founding constitutes "original sin", the suggestion that Israel's "hysteria" and "paranoiac sense of isolation" have prevented it from making peace, and the assertion that Israel's "denial of the word Palestinian reveals a racism that considers Arabs less than human." (there certainly is voluminous evidence of racism and dehumanization of the other side in the Middle East media-- on the Palestinian side). There's even a link to Richard Silverstein's blog--Silverstein is known for his ad hominem attacks on anyone who dares to question his views, and his site links prominently to Jewish Voice for Peace and promotes Jimmy Carter's "Peace Not Apartheid" book as well as Walt and Mearshimer's "Israel Lobby".

No doubt I will be accused of defaming either J Street as a whole or many of the active, dedicated members of the Zionist community who have signed on to it. In no way do I suggest that the positions of Richard Silverstein or the United Methodist Church are supported by the majority of those whose names appear on the J Street website. But the fact that those extreme positions are represented raises concerns about the future direction of this group.

J Street thinks that the conflict will be between the principles that they support and those of AIPAC and other prominent American pro-Israel groups. They want to draw a distinction between their policies and those of AIPAC, yet many supporters of Israel won't see the two groups as mutually exclusive. It is hard to imagine political candidates that J Street will support who won't also be described by AIPAC as having a "pro-Israel" position. Obviously, not all AIPAC endorsed candidates will be seen as favorable by J Street since AIPAC also endorses candidates that won't meet J Street's more restrictive criteria. J Street clearly envisions itself as being able to provide political cover for elected officials who wish to be more publicly critical of Israel without being tarred as "anti-Semitic", although AIPAC and other prominent American pro-Israel organizations do not equate opposition to specific policies of an Israeli government with anti-Semitism. On occasion, one sided criticism that demonizes, that applies double standards only to Israel, or that delegitimizes Israel has been appropriately labeled as having anti-Semitic content (cf. Carter, Jimmy).

I think their bigger problem will be their own internal conflict. Those groups and individuals that truly do support Israel as a Jewish state will face opposition from within over being seen as too supportive, especially at times of crisis; after all, during the Second Lebanon War there was widespread support across the Zionist political spectrum in Israel for military action against Hezbollah (though there was a lot of disagreement on what form that action should have taken). At the same time, in this country, Jewish Voice for Peace stood prominently with radical anti-Israel and pro-terror groups-- and while they are not part of J Street, they do have sympathetic allies there. I expect that we will see ongoing friction between those who are true supporters of Jewish self-determination in the land of Israel and those for whom even the singing of Hatikvah is problematic.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

L’Shanah Habah B'Goshen!

How would the Jewish Voice for Peace think about Pesach?.

Dear Pharaoh;

We’re sorry that we left. We’ll be back soon. We’ve come to understand that there’s a difference in being a Hebrew and having an Exodus, and that we can still be good Hebrews without supporting an Exodus. An Exodus which causes hardship to another, equally as deserving people, the Egyptians, by unlawfully depriving them of their slave labor force, which is vital to their nationhood and national identity. Through the clarity of moral relativism we have come to accept and understand the property rights of the Egyptians’ in our continued servitude is equally as precious to them as our feelings about our role as Hebrews.

We’ll be right back to our places in Goshen so we can resume building the stone cities of Pithom and Ramses. If you could see, the first group of us is beginning to walk backwards into the Red Sea at this very moment as part of the “Phased Plan of Return” to slavery and bondage.

Yours truly,
L’Shanah Habah B”Goshen!

The Children of Israel

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wrong, ANSWER--again

The folks over at International ANSWER appear to have gone off their medication again. You remember them-- the "anti-war" group that cheers Hamas and Hezbollah rocket attacks against Israel; the self-proclaimed commissars of rallies against the US war in Iraq that have managed to shrivel the public turnout at their events down to a few thousand at a time. Basically now irrelevant except to the hard core cadres who show up because of ANSWER's other agendas--Israel-bashing, China-excusing, Darfur-denying and so on. They have now gone as far as to admit that they have accepted dhimmi status with regard to their radical Moslem constituency. Having been instructed by their Moslem groups that they would be offended by public nudity, ANSWER begged the "nudes for peace" contingent not to show up at their recent rally. Of course, ANSWER doesn't view as offensive the "Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs" chants or the sonorous voice of Hatem Bazian chanting "intifada, intifada" like some kind of crazed jihadist mantra (wait, that actually IS a crazed jihadist mantra!), or the signs at its rallies displaying naked anti-Semitism. They ignore the fact that the Islamists whose boots they lick are homophobes who excuse "honor killings" and the genocide in Darfur.

We also were able to find out that at least one group allied with ANSWER places its racial/ethnic agenda even ahead of its core political position--opposition to the war in Iraq. Witness these e-mails received by Direct Action to Stop The War about last week's anti-war actions in San Francisco which were aimed not only at US Government offices but also those businesses who were deemed complicit in the war effort:
"Hey all,I just got a call from S---- S---, the owner of the Sprint store at --------, which is on our direct action menu. He told me that that store is an authorized Sprint dealership that's owned by him - it is*not* owned by Sprint. He said that he strongly opposes the war and strongly supports what we're doing, and hopes that we won't target his business.Please make whatever decision you see fit based on this information.(Personally, I think we should let the poor guy off the hook.)Thanks,Adrian"
"I just got an e-mail forwarded to me from someone re: the sprint storeowned by S---- S---- he is a Palestinian who's grandfather passed away 3 days ago, so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE drop this off your target list. I understand the need to target war profiteers, but i wish more research had been done on the targets. some people are just trying to feed their families, and have almost no choice but to partner with companies such as Sprint. thank you, M----- S---- (S----- is my cousin)"

How did we get these e-mails? Maybe somebody on the inside took offense at not holding Palestinians to the same moral standards? Maybe this person felt that just because you're Palestinian or other "oppressed" Moslem that you can be held accountable for the choices you make, same as everyone else? Naaahhhhhh..... Palestinians are excused for celebrating the cold-blooded murder of yeshiva students so why should a little war profiteering be an issue between friends?

What's next-- is ANSWER going to insist that all women wear burkas to its next rally?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Help! Police! Zionists Are Looking At Us!

When Bay Area Women in Black (BAWIB) decided to do anti-Israel vigils at the corner of Grand and Lake in April of 2007, San Francisco Voice For Israel knew that we had to come and counter. As we stood with them that day, April 7th, 2007, they started what became a recurring theme. They called the police.

Oakland Police sent tactical negotiator Sgt. Hookfin (badge #276) came to deal with the situation. He told us that BAWIB felt threatened by our presence and he demanded that we separate the groups. If we did not, he stated, we would not be having as nice a conversation as we were having at that moment. His initial suggestion was for us to stand in front of the Kentucky Fried Chicken on the next block. This was unacceptable to us. What we did agree at the time was to stand on opposite corners of Grand and Lake, alternating the corners weekly.

Since that time, BAWIB have called the police repeatedly, both in Oakland and in San Francisco. The most notorious incident was when they called the police on Rabbi Bloom and his contingent from Temple Beth Abraham because they crossed by where BAWIB were standing on their way back to their synagogue.

With their attempts at harassment failing to deter our presence, they turned to a new tack, facing away from us. On February 9, 2008, instead of facing the Grand Lake Theatre, they decided to face towards Grand Avenue. Adapting to their new strategy, we came up with a new one of our own, we stood on the median island on Grand Ave. We had previously stood there once before, on December 1st, 2007 that would have been without incident had not Felice of BAWIB not come to collect a flyer from us and she was followed by a notoriously hostile and violent BAWIB activist, Ms. Stoller to harass us.

In February, BAWIB decided that our standing in the median, separated from them by 4 lanes of traffic was somehow “violating the agreement,” and furthermore, illegal. They threatened to call the police. On each occasion that BAWIB stood on the corner with the Farmer’s Market, a couple people stood in the median island. No incidents stemmed from this until March 22nd.

Apparently, they had called the police 2 weeks ago for the same reason but by the time police arrived, both groups had gone. It is Oakland, after all, and police have better things to do than rush over at the whim of someone feeling threatened by 3 people standing on a median looking at them. On March 22nd, Sgt. Hookfin arrived in time and came over to talk to both groups. Now, rather than the agreement being about keeping the groups separated, BAWIB and Sgt. Hookfin claim it is about being on different corners. Now they claim they are threatened by us standing on a median island separated by only 4 lanes of heavy traffic. Sgt. Hookfin tried to suggest that it was like militarily “flanking” them by standing in the median.

This time, we were in no mood for appeasement. We have already appeased them several times. We have changed our flyers when they complained, we allowed ourselves to be separated from them. We try to keep our people from interacting with them. We have allowed them to interact with us without calling police. We have allowed them to pass by us multiple times as they bring materials back and forth from their vehicles. This time, we felt that we no longer had any reason to appease. We agree to separation. We did not agree to stay off the median. BAWIB representatives Sharon, Felice, and Ron Klein (who had previously given his name as Ralph) adamantly refused and said this could void the agreement. Felice even yelled at me for filming the conversation. Sharon tried to yell that her son was a police officer who refused to work on Shabbat.

After BAWIB stormed off, we did agree with Sgt. Hookfin to allow whoever got to the median first to have exclusive use of it. We fully expect BAWIB to object, but clearly their issues are not about their feeling “threatened” as separation should have dealt with that and they no longer even feel an agreement is needed for their safety. Their issue is in a countering message being present. This is the reason for the harassment, for the continual calling of the police and for wasting an hour of police time to attempt to muzzle our counter-protest.