Sunday, January 24, 2010

We Are All Seismic Shock

Simply Jews has just posted, under this same title, the nearly unbelievable story about a blogger in the UK who goes by the name of Seismic Shock. Seismic Shock has run a series of posts exposing the activities of Reverend Stephen Sizer, an Anglican cleric who associates with Holocaust deniers and members of terror organizations (imagine Alison Weir with a clerical collar). Sizer, along with his colleague Dr Anthony McRoy (a lecturer at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology who has delivered a paper at a Khomeinist theological conference in Iran comparing Hezbollah’s struggle against Israel via suicide bombing with the Christian’s struggle against sin via the atoning death of Jesus), filed a police complaint against Seismic Shock who then was visited by a member of the local constabulary.

You should read Seismic Shock's own guest post at Harry's Place for the full details, including Sizer's attempt to intimidate a blogger in Australia by threatening her with the same treatment (though Australia is, last we checked, a separate country).

One has to wonder, of course, why police in the UK feel the need to have "an informal chat" with a blogger exposing extremist haters, but those in the UK who openly support Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other terror groups are free to spread their hate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jewish Voice for Peace-- Still Proudly Delegitimizing Israel

Jewish Voice for Peace, through their house organ Muzzlewatch , is still trying to keep one foot in the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) camp while claiming that they are still part of the dialogue within the mainstream of the Jewish community. Two recent posts on Muzzlewatch by Cecilie Surasky illustrate this schizophrenic attitude perfectly.

The first one dealt with a blog post elsewhere by James Besser, a veteran journalist in the Jewish press, entitled "Stifling Debate about Gaza". Besser raises very valid points about whether Israel's policy towards the Hamas regime has been correct--not in some morally ambiguous sense that equates the "rights" of a gang of radical Islamist thugs to launch rockets at civilians with the right of Israeli citizens to live in peace, but correct in the sense of best serving the interests of the state of Israel and its people. While clearly noting that he doesn't disagree with Israel's decision to use force in Gaza, he does write:

"I am saying there’s something disturbing about the growing determination to stifle debate in an American Jewish community with a multiplicity of pro-Israel views."

Presumably, Besser is referring to the controversies regarding J Street , which describes itself as a pro-Israel organization yet accepts money from Arab and Iranian interest groups and held a conference whose attendees jeered at the name of Elie Weisel and heckled suggestions that the Palestinians had some minimal degree of responsibility for their choices in voting for Hamas. Much of the discussion regarding J Street is not about their policy suggestions per se, but rather whether these positions are actually arising from a fundamentally Zionist viewpoint, as opposed to their own description of themselves as primarily an arm of President Obama's foreign policy.
(However, I know some committed Zionists who happen to agree with much of what J Street promotes. They should have every right to espouse these policies, just as those of us who disagree should have every right to respond without being accused of "stifling debate" merely for the act of disagreeing.)

But Cecilie missed Besser's key point: "a multiplicity of PRO-ISRAEL views." JVP is simply not part of this discussion, because they are not a pro-Israel organization! To being with, to be pro-Israel is to be a Zionist , to support the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their own national homeland, just as this same right is accepted for almost every other self-defined national group. Not only does JVP explicitly refuse to support this, but they join in anti-Israel demonstrations with International ANSWER which openly supports Islamist terror groups; they have signed on to a public statement endorsing BDS as a way to pressure Israel into accepting the mythical "right" of return; they work with the anti-Zionist Sabeel, but never with any organization that supports the existence of a Jewish state; they hand out fliers drawn from the work of the anti-Zionist Ilan "facts aren't important" Pappe. I'm not sure who JVP is really trying to deceive here-- the genuine pro-Israel mainstream of the Jewish community, or themselves. They've certainly failed at the first.

Surasky's second post is Mr Hyde to her previous Dr Jekyll-- instead of trying to appeal for acceptance, she more accurately boasts of her role (and, by extension, JVP's) in supporting attempts to delegitimize Israel. She discusses the Reut Institute's recent analysis of worldwide delegimitization efforts against Israel, immodestly identifying herself as a "general in the new battlefield for Israel's survival". Sorry Cecilie-- propaganda officers are usually below command rank; the generals are the ones who are paying you to promote their policies. (As for me, I'm just a dedicated volunteer.)

Curiously, Surasky doesn't even note in passing several very important points from the Reut analysis--ones that she should have been crowing about as an endorsement of what she claims to stand for. As noted in the article in the Jerusalem Post: "Other recommendations presented by Reut to counter the hubs of delegitimacy are to break the 'all-or-nothing' dynamic of criticism of Israel, place more Israeli diplomats in the hubs [of delegitimization, like the San Francisco Bay Area], be wary of 'strange bedfellows' such as right-wing and evangelical organizations..." If you are a leftist Zionist group that opposes Israel's policies, and especially one that continuously claims to be calling for open debate and criticizes those who support Israel from the right, then isn't this a complete endorsement of your position? Surasky should be jumping up and shouting ecstatically about this! But, look at the strategies suggested later in that very same sentence: " support anti-boycott campaigns (buy Israeli products), establish a 'price tag' for attacking Israel and punish boycotters....". Yes, Cecilie, they are indeed to referring to you, JVP, and your extremist friends. And the price that you will continue to pay by denying Israel's legitimacy is not getting the legitimacy within the Jewish community that you so desperately crave yourself. After all, you can't get a seat at the table when you're trying to saw off its legs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Israel Aids Haiti; Arab Nations Ignore The Disaster

The tragedy in Haiti is mind-boggling in its extent. Countries around the world are mobilizing to offer assistance. The Canadian Press just reviewed the list of those who are offering assistance: of course the wealthier developed countries such as the US and many EU countries as would be expected, but also India and China as well as regional countries such as Mexico and Venezuela. And, of course, Israel.

Israel, though there are almost no Jews in Haiti aside from tourists.
Israel, though Haiti routinely sides with the most one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.
Israel, though Haiti is far away from the Middle East.

This is not a new phenomenon. Israel sent aid after the devasting Asian tsunami in 2004 , after earthquakes in India and El Salvador in 2001 and Greece and Turkey in 1999. This isn't just Israelis contributing donations, but also mobilization of the Israel Defense Forces itself to provide direct assistance.

One might expect that the Arab states, many of them awash in oil revenue, would offer similar assistance. A Google search for "Arab earthquake aid Haiti" yields a few teasers on news sites that on further investigation are hits from unrelated stories on those sites, so the net result is pretty much what the Arab nations are providing: next to nothing. This should not surprise anyone, given their relatively miniscule contributions to UNRWA to assist the descendants of their fellow Arab refugees from the 1947-48 war-- a war which the Arab nations encouraged, supported, and bear responsibility for the resulting refugee population.

Several American organizations are raising funds which will be funneled through IsraAid, Israel's consortium of humanitarian aid groups. You can make contributions to IsraAid via B'nai B'rith International or via the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (select "Haiti Earthquake Relief" from the dropdown menu).

Haiti's government has more important things to worry about right now, but I can't help but wonder whether, when the next viciously anti-Israel resolution comes before the UN General Assembly, their representatives will remember that Israel (and the worldwide Jewish community) responded to their desperate situation with immediate and unconditional aid. And the Arab nations? Maybe they'll offer the Haitians discounted leases at the new Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Peter Stein Should Resign from the SFJFF

The Bay Area Jewish community continues to deal with the fallout from last summer's programming debacle by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival--first the ill-conceived invitation to Cindy Corrie (along with the choices of Jewish Voice for Peace and American Friends Service Committee as co-presenters, both of whom now have openly endorsed the anti-Zionist cause), and then the openly hostile response to a pro-Israel statement made at the event itself by an audience that appeared to have been mostly recruited from one of the many anti-Israel rallies held locally.

While the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco is trying to develop an appropriate set of guidelines to ensure that its own beneficiaries do not misuse their contributions for anti-Israel events, the Film Festival itself has been relatively unrepetant. Their leadership has admitted that they mishandled the "Rachel" event-- but NOT in their programming, rather by failing to anticipate the community outrage. And they have promised to make changes in the future--again, NOT by promising that they will not provide a platform for anti-Israel activists, but by promising "to improve the way we anticipate, communicate about and present potentially controversial programming."

It is unlikely that any changes will be forthcoming in the operations of the SFJFF without change in its leadership. Peter Stein, the executive director of the SFJFF, had personal responsibility for the choices made in the programming of the "Rachel" event. Without such change, we can expect similar programming at the SFJFF in the future--the kind of programming that appeals to the audience that came to see "Rachel" and hear Cindy Corrie.

There is an online petition calling upon Peter Stein to take the honorable step and resign his position. This is not an issue of any personal animosity for the way I was treated by the audience at the Castro; rather, it is a recognition that there is an impassible chasm between his concept of what a Jewish Film Festival should be, and what our community can and should support. The Film Festival has the right to present any films it wishes, and to seek funding from any sources. It does not have an automatic claim to support from the local Jewish Community Federations or from members of the Jewish community, just because it puts "Jewish" in its name. Just like Jewish Voice for Peace, it will be marginalized within its own community and find its audience elsewhere. This doesn't have to happen to an organization that has been, and can once again be, the cultural jewel of the Bay Area Jewish community.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jewish Voice for Peace and AFSC Formally Admit It-- They Are Opposed to the Existence of Israel

At a pro-Hamas demonstration in San Francisco last week, Jewish Voice for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee finally dropped all pretense about their position on Israel. While both of these groups had been vigorously involved in anti-Israel activities for years (and joined together to co-present the now-notorious showing of "Rachel" last summer at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival), each had maintained the pretense that they didn't oppose the existence of a Jewish state per se. They have now decided to admit what we knew all along-- that they are fully and completely aligned with groups that openly call for the elimination of Israel, and that they share the agenda of groups such as al-Awda, International ANSWER, and, in the end, Hamas.

This flyer was handed out at the event; the sponsoring organizations listed include JVP and the Pacific Mountain Region of the American Friends Service Committee. The website of the Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid not only endorses the Palestinian BDS movement (which calls for the elimination of Jewish statehood through the so-called "right" of return), but in case anyone misses the subtlety, it also states "We are opposed to imperialism, sectarianism, and Zionism."

Extremist groups such as al-Awda and ANSWER have at least been straightforward about their position-- opposition to any Jewish state while supporting terrorism as "legitimate resistance". JVP and AFSC have been trying for years to claim that they can stand with those groups in public and not pick up their foul stench. They have now given up that charade. JVP should simply complete the task and merge with the so-called "Jewish Anti-Zionist Network", since their positions are now indistinguishable. Perhaps their membership already is.