Calm down dear

We can probably safely assume that the Observer editorial of February 21st was not actually intended to be a comedy piece, but the nameless armchair general/diplomat who wrote it certainly achieved that effect. Its anachronistic patronising tone coupled with the irony that a writer from the Guardian group – undoubtedly the main stream media’s foremost de-legitimiser of the world’s one and only Jewish state – should instruct Israel to basically calm down and listen to her elders and betters was quite hilarious, but at the same time a sad indication of just how far removed from reality the writer (and his/her newspaper) is.

The editorial opened with yet another attempt to attribute the apparent execution of Mahmoud al Mabhouh to Israel, despite the fact that with every press release from the Dubai police this is looking further from being the case. Then, some pseudo-psychology supposedly explaining the ‘fears’ and ‘paranoia’ behind Israeli policy; obviously it has not occurred to the writer that after 62 years of an Israeli state in the Middle East we might have a rather better understanding of our neighbours than the average Fleet Street journalist.

“The diplomatic challenge is to help Israel grasp how its failure even to engage with international opinion risks an isolation which will make the country much less secure.”

How are we to define ‘international opinion’? Is the writer’s intention the Muslim bloc dominated UNHRC? The sometimes frankly ridiculous EU? The USA? Or (heaven help us!) the opinions of Guardian readers and journalists? Leaving aside the fact that there cannot be said to exist a homogenous opinion held by all, our armchair general seems to think that whatever it is, ‘international opinion’ must be just and correct. Unfortunately, history has proved time and time again that the Jews cannot rely upon international appraisal of right and wrong for their safety. From Evian to Bermuda, through the 1948 American embargo on arms and Heath’s Yom Kippur embargo to name but a few, the international community’s record is sadly lacking.

Even at this very moment, the international community is allowing Hizbollah to stockpile vast amounts of Iranian weaponry under its collective nose and in direct contravention of its own UN resolution 1701. Right now the international community is failing to come up with any viable solutions to the problem of Iranian nuclear armament. For the past 44 months the International Red Cross has failed to oblige Hamas to comply with international conventions regarding prisoners of war in the case of Gilad Shalit. For eight years prior to Operation Cast Lead the international community ignored Israel’s repeated appeals regarding Hamas rocket fire on Sderot and its environs. Just this week UN envoy Serry made statements regarding the preservation of heritage sites in Hebron and Bethlehem which can only encourage those for whom ridding Judea & Samaria of Jews is merely the first step in their aspirations. If these are examples of the effects ‘international opinion’, then it is obviously both a fickle and dangerous thing.

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The Jokes on You Little Dickie

On Purim it is traditional to play April Fools type pranks in celebration of the holiday. Its also traditional to get so drunk that you can’t tell the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai”.

It seems though that Richard Silverstein (a/k/a Little Dickie) in his celebration of Purim has taken this to another extreme. In his drunken stupor, not on alcohol of course but the anti-Israel Kool-Aid variety, he wrote a blogpost lambasting the government of Israel for its decision to sell ad-space on the Western Wall (the Kotel). Here’s a screengrab of his post (for posterity):

Silverstein writes:

I know I’ve said this before, but I gotta tell ya, just when I thought the Israel government couldn’t provide any more fodder for this blog, it goes and surprises me again.

He goes on:

One of the real jaw-droppers of this report is this statement from the high-tech entrepreneur whose company stands to benefit from this wretched scheme:

“After thousands of years of just being there, the Western Wall will finally be able to fulfill its commercial potential,” King said. “The religious and spiritual center of the Jewish people should reflect Jewish heritage – and thus be dedicated to bringing in a healthy profit.”

The problem is that the source for Silverstein’s bogpost was a prank article in Ha’aretz that was clearly intended as a joke:

It seems that Little Dickie has now realized his, how should I put it, faux pas and has taken down his post.

Purim Sameach Richard! (hat tip Purimspiel)

Update 1

Silverstein’s nemesis Aussie Dave has a post up on this story too where you can read a copy of the entire Silverstein post.

Update 2

Silverstein having been totally embarrassed by the affair has come up with one of the lamest excuses:

For the sake of my honor, I’ve got to explain a real boneheaded set of errors that happened last night, which happened to also be Purim.  This holiday is the equivalent of April Fool’s and it’s common to read wild newspaper stories attempting to take in the reader in a good natured way.  Of course, I was silly not to realize that Haaretz wrote just such a story claiming the Israeli government was planning to beam high tech ads onto the stones of the Kotel (Western Wall).  I got halfway through writing a post criticizing this plan when I realized the article was a Purim joke.  And a very funny one that took me in for the few minutes it took me to get halfway through writing the post.

I hadn’t published the post yet, so I saved it as a Draft.  For some strange reason insted of deleting the post (that’ll teach me) I decided to make some formatting changes and after one of those changes instead of hitting Save Draft out of habit I clicked on the Publish button.  I immediately realized my error and changed the status of the post from Published to Draft, but I didn’t realize that I needed to click another button, Update, in order to change the post back from Published to Draft.  So unbeknownst to me the post was still sitting out there for all of the pro-Israel right-wing to see, and call me a fool.

Talk about digging a hole. There’s more.

That “But” Word…

Antony Lerman’s CiF article last month on the subject of the arson of a synagogue in Crete was obviously tailored for its anticipated audience in that it was strewn with undertones guaranteed to prompt specific responses below the line. Many of the reactions were of course predictable and basically can be summed up as ‘yes, the vandalism at the Etz Hayim synagogue was awful, but….’

‘But the Jews bring it on themselves by supporting Israel…’


28 Jan 2010, 12:29PM

The atack on the Synagogue is utterly inexcusable, and rebuilding serves notice you will not be cowed.

Good for you.

But as you build ponder the reasons that men will commit such vile acts.

Only in understanding why you were attacked will you find peace.


28 Jan 2010, 1:00PM


In mistaken reprisal for the actions of the State of Israel .

Are you hard of thinking.


28 Jan 2010, 2:32PM

a Judaism open to the world and not afraid to engage with people

I condemn anti-semitic attacks and ideology.

But that said, the Jewish community needs to take a good hard look at itself.

Because the day when the jewish community can turn as one to condemn and ostracise the racist, and the corrupt and powerful their midst will we see the day that jews can genuinely say that they, as a people and a creed, are open to the workd and not afraid to engage with people.

The fact is the actions of a few rich jews, who both have and continue to tanish the community as a whole. When we look at people like Bernie Madoff, many in the American banking community who let the economy burn, or the (largely) jewish russian oligarchs who made billions buying up russian assets at knockdown prices in return for Yeltsin being bankrolled by the same American Jewish financial fraternity (all while the russian population starved) – Because it is the actions of a few rich jews, who both have and continue to tanish the community as a whole.

Moreover, the inability of jews around the world to wholeheartedly condemn racist Israeli jews who treat palestinians as subhuman in their own land, only adds to the perception that all jews are guilty of this behaviour.

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Fair and Balanced: If it doesn’t fit the narrative well then…er…just delete it

Check out the comments below from the Rifkind thread yesterday.

Notice how posts that refute the assertion that Israel doesn’t want peace are deleted by the Guardian censors.











And in case you’re wondering why the above posts were deleted, here’s the official “Guardian World View” on the subject:

And here’s a taste of the kind of discourse that doesn’t get deleted.

Fair and balanced. Yeh right.

A sign of the times

Can there be a more depressing and alarming sign of the times in which we live than the sad fact that Holocaust Memorial Day has since its inception been a subject of political wrangling? It seems that any mention whatsoever of the Holocaust on CiF will generate some comments which can be defined as antisemitic under the EUM C Working Definition of Antisemitism and Alan Posener’s article of January 26th proved to be no exception.

“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”


26 Jan 2010, 2:08PM

The Holocaust shouldn’t be forgotten but we shouldn’t forget the Armenian genocide, the Rwandan genocide, the death of thousands of communists and anarchists in the German concentration camps.

We should celebrate everyone or no-one. Selective memory just doesn’t work.

Let’s also not forget what’s going on right now in the occupied territories (Palestinian territories). Otherwise, why are we remembering for? If not to avoid repeating the mistakes of past generations.


26 Jan 2010, 2:21PM

The legacy of the Holocaust/Shoa is more complex than the writer suggests.

I did some research in to children of Holocaust survivors. The parents reaction to their experience was either to make them highly sensitive and sympathetic to the pain of other, or vile and open racists who can abuse blacks like any Nazi. The reason as I understood it was after such suffering, helplessness the impulse was never to be that vulnerable again. And that sometimes entailed aligning oneself with power.


26 Jan 2010, 2:27PM

as long as the holocaust is used to justify say the state of Israel there are going to be people who use it as an excuse to commit other atrocities especially against muslims. today’s germans arent responsible for the holocaust and they have measures like holocaust denial as a crime put in place to make sure that it isnt wiped from their history. that should be where it ends


26 Jan 2010, 4:56PM

…so why is the Warsaw ghetto being revisited in Gaza? Has Israel forgotten the holocaust now it is the regional top dog?


26 Jan 2010, 6:23PM

as someone who once cried during his history lessons at school about the nazi treatment of jews during ww2, i am disturbed by the very fact that i do not sympathise with jews any longer largely due to the israeli treatment of palestinians and lebanese. how can you cry about a genocide that was perpertrated on your people whilst you carry out one yourselves on others. have you not learnt any lessons from history?

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Brawling Judgements

“Where blind and naked Ignorance

Delivers brawling judgements, unashamed,

On all things all day long.”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King, ‘Merlin and Vivien’ (1859)

It would be amusing to toy with the idea that Alfred, Lord Tennyson had with his above words somehow predicted the nature of the Guardian’s flagship blog 150 years into the future, but even though that was doubtless not the poet’s intention, his verse certainly hits the spot and nowhere more so than on the recent Carlo Strenger thread. Internal Israeli politics are fascinating, but for a discussion on the subject to have any merit whatsoever the participants must at least have some idea of what they are talking about. That is why, to put it mildly, an article such as Strenger’s on CiF can achieve nothing other than to bring out in force the noisy empty vessels who indeed deliver their ‘brawling judgements’ on a subject about which they amply display their ‘blind and naked ignorance’.


16 Feb 2010, 11:46AM

Yes, Israel is full of paradoxes — is it not, Mr. Strenger?

What a shame that so many of your so-called liberals (are you yourself a liberal?) stood back and remained quiet when the political and military upper echelons of your state enacted the barbarism of the Gaza onslaught. I think you have more than an image problem here.

I notice you have a slot at online Ha’aretz that you call “Strenger Than Fiction”. Very appropriate.


16 Feb 2010, 12:19PM

liberal in israeli terms is someone slightly to the left of leibermann. so we shouldnt get too worked up about israels liberals and their silence..we should in fact expect it.

the issue can only be resolved by israelis accepting and grasping their arab ethnicity instead of the illogical and untenable belief that they are somehow unrelated and separate.

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Guardian’s Double Standards: Gaza and Afghanistan Compared

The Guardian’s anti-Israel bigotry has come into sharp focus once again with a report by Just Journalism comparing British media coverage of Britain’s military operations in Afghanistan with Israel’s military operations in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

According to the report,

The Guardian notably published the results of a month-long investigation in Gaza in March 2009. Diplomatic editor Julian Borger and correspondent Clancy Chassay claimed to have ‘compiled detailed evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 23-day offensive in the Gaza Strip’. A key claim of the investigation concerned the use of drones in military operations:

‘Israel has pioneered a new type of all-seeing precision weapon: the armed drone. The capabilities of this hunter-killer, which can track a person walking along a street and strike with precision, are a military secret. To use these weapons against civilians is a war crime. But a Guardian investigation has uncovered evidence from the Israeli military themselves, that proves just how clearly these weapons can see. So why did one of these drones kill an entire family having tea in their courtyard?’

Yet during the same month as the investigation in Gaza, the Guardian also reported about civilian deaths caused by the US military’s use of drones in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan – but without raising the spectre of war crimes in that context, let alone embarking on an investigation. William Dalrymple wrote in the newspaper’s G2 supplement:

‘The tribal areas have never been fully under the control of any Pakistani government, and have always been unruly, but they have now been radicalised as never before. The rain of armaments from US drones and Pakistani ground forces, which have caused extensive civilian casualties, daily add a steady stream of angry foot soldiers to the insurgency.’

The double standards at play in this example above are manifest and as we know from the articles that appear in “Comment is Free” and in other sections of the Guardian this is only the tip of the iceberg.

To read the rest of the report, click here.

How a Forgery–Not the Protocols–Shows Us Why So Many Still Don’t Understand Antisemitism When They See (or Produce) It

This is a cross-post by Professor Barry Rubin of the GLORIA Center

You won’t see where I’m going with this at first but trust me and you’ll hear a good story with a very timely point. And if you have time read the two short appendices at the end which add to the fun.

Bertram Wolfe, an expert on Communism and the USSR who died in 1977, wrote an obscure little book in 1965 entitled, Strange Communists I Have Known, with fascinating personal profiles and anecdotes about his experiences.

In “The Strange Case of Litvinov’s Diary,” Wolfe recounts a marvelous little scholarly mystery. Shortly after the death of former Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov in 1951, a manuscript purporting to be his secret diary surfaced. A prestigious British publisher asked Professor E.H. Carr, the famous historian, to examine it for authenticity. Carr strongly endorsed it as genuine, even offering to write the preface about its historical importance.

A well-known American publisher gave Wolfe the same task. Wolfe found dozens of flaws showing the manuscript was an obvious forgery. Moreover, by comparing it to things written earlier by the former Soviet diplomat who supplied the manuscript, Wolfe even proved that this man was the forger. If you read the details you can see that Wolfe’s case is air-tight.

But what interests me (and you) most is Wolfe’s first reason for finding the manuscript phony:

“The opening pages…began with the first of a series of visits from a rabbi…who comes to Litvinov as one Jew to another to complain [that Soviet authorities] had looted two synagogues and arrested the rabbi of Kiev….Litvinov promises to intervene, though he knows that Stalin ‘doesn’t like me to interfere in questions concerning the Jewish religion.'”

Indeed, the “diary” claimed, when Litvinov had previously tried to help imprisoned Jew, Stalin threatened to try him before a high Communist party committee. But, Litvinov supposedly wrote, “I couldn’t help smiling at the threat” because the committee’s head Soltz “is the son of the rabbi of Vilna.”

[Incidentally, that was untrue. Although Wolfe doesn’t mention it, the father of Aaron Aleksandrovich Soltz was not a rabbi but a wealthy merchant. Soltz and Litvinov, too, actually has the same background as other anti-Jewish leftists of Jewish background, see Postscript 1.]

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Let me count the ways

This is a guest post by AKUS

Today is February 24th 2010.

I count 55 articles dealing with Israel, Jews, and Judaism on the Guardian’s website, including those not open for comment and those of CiF since February 14th, 2010, when the Dubai affair hit the headlines.

About 5 articles a day. The rest of the world can occasionally get a look in, but the Guardian, microscope firmly fixed to its eyes, sees only Israel and Jews.

I have come to the amazing, possibly controversial, conclusion that this focus on matters dealing with Israel and Jews is due to the frustrated love affair some of the Guardian’s dimmest bulbs have with my people. So – in their honor – let us praise the hidden, if not brightest, philo-Semites at the Guardian:

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Georgina Matthew Whittaker (with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning).

How do we love thee, O Israel? Let us count the ways.

55 articles in only 10 days

Not a nit, not a twitch, not a negative comment, not a slight

About Israel that does not fill us with delight

And for which we will not find space.

We love thee as we meet every day’s

Most urgent need, by sun and candle-light

To fill another day’s blog with hate and spite

We love thee freely, with baseless claims and innuendo

We love thee purely, as we reach crescendo.

And if it should appear, that in Dubai.

Our articles turn out to be one massive lie

We’ll not retract, apologise, or reply

But seek another flaw to decry.

Of course, some naysayers will contradict me and claim that 55 articles merely represent their obsession with Israel and Jews – indeed, an obsession usually only found, I am sad to say, on anti-Semitic websites – but I firmly stand by my new theory.

This enormous number of articles about Israel, Jews and Judaism is an example of repressed passion – a Murdstonian desire to make Israel a better place for us all by constantly exposing every negative aspect of the country. Five time a day we can feel the l..u..r..v.. – like a muezzin’s call ringing out over the open spaces of Britain, calling the faithful to CiF.

Vote for Eric Lee for the Amnesty International UK Section Board

This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman

Over the past eighteen months or so, Amnesty International has been in the vanguard of the delegitimisers and vilifiers of Israel. Even though impartiality is a core value of Amnesty within its statute, the London branch has hosted meetings addressed by Jeff Halper, who frequently calls Israel an ‘apartheid’ state – an antisemitic  statement – Ben White, author of the book with an antisemitic title “Israel Apartheid” (a book replete with misquotations and untruths) and the Christisons, who make the antisemitic charge of ‘dual loyalty’ about US supporters of Israel and make wry jokes about Congress being “Israeli-occupied territory.” (They are also 9/11 ‘troofers’).

Amnesty has also got far too close to organisations that support radical Islamism and suspended Gita Saghal when she queried the propriety of this. 

 Amnesty published a report about water resources in Gaza which was shamefully biased and intended only to vilify Israel; it was not so much a piece of research as a piece of fiction. 

The good – no, wonderful – news is that Eric Lee wants to change things at Amnesty by standing for election to the Amnesty International UK Section Board.

You can read his aims for yourself.

I know Eric and have spoken in a debating team with him. I cannot think of anyone better to restore sanity to Amnesty as regards Israel. 

If you are a member of Amnesty UK, please don’t waste this chance!

Cognitive Egocentrism in Action

Despite numerous readings of Aluf Benn’s Cif article of February 4th, (take note of the wording of the URL on your search bar when clicking on that link) I still haven’t a clue what the author thinks he’s achieved with this piece. Although it looks rather like a quick re-hash of a very similar article which Benn wrote for his own paper Ha’aretz a couple of weeks previously, which also appeared on the website of Miftah – yet another NGO dedicated to bringing about Israel’s demise  – and was criticised by CAMERA, Benn’s CiF article is not only certainly pointless in any non-Israeli context, but is also so full of ridiculously sweeping and inaccurate statements that it is rendered meaningless.

“The separation policy of the former prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who strove to isolate Israelis from the conflict through the Gaza pullout and the construction of the West Bank security barrier, paid off handsomely. The vast majority of Israelis, who live in and around Tel Aviv, don’t interact with Palestinians, or even with Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Only a small number of conscripts and reservists, deployed across the barrier as part of their military service, would go there.”

Benn’s fabrications are obviously disingenuous; the idea behind the Gaza pull-out was clearly what it said on the label – disengagement – and the construction of the anti-terror fence was initiated solely to prevent even more Israeli non-combatants from being ruthlessly murdered. He must also lead a very isolated life if he never interacts with Palestinians – say in a hospital – or goes to visit family or friends in Judea and Samaria. Benn’s analysis of the Israeli mood is summed up in this paragraph:

“As a result, most Israelis are indifferent to the establishment of a Palestinian state. For several years, a stable two-thirds majority of Israelis have supported the idea in opinion surveys – while a similar majority doubted its possibility. They simply don’t care, since they fail to see how an independent Palestine would make any change in Israelis’ lives.”

Here he displays a shocking lack of ability to recognise the nuances of the political and security situations in Israel; what Israelis would like to see happen in the future, compared to what they think it is realistically possible to achieve, have obviously been shaped by their experiences. Unfortunately, many on the far Left like Benn seem determined not to learn from the collective experiences of the Israeli people ; it is almost as though they wish to ignore the fact that we signed the Oslo agreements and got Intifada, withdrew from Lebanon and got Katyushas and disengaged from Gaza only to be rewarded with Kassams and Grads.

Many will remember that Aluf Benn has something of a history of painting Israel’s enemies in colours he finds pleasing. Just six days before the 2006 Lebanon war, he wrote an article entitled “We need a Nasrallah” in Ha’aretz which included this classic:

“Nasrallah hates Israel and Zionism no less than do the Hamas leaders, Shalit’s kidnappers and the Qassam squads. But as opposed to them – he has
authority and responsibility, and therefore his behavior is rational and reasonably predictable. Under the present conditions, that’s the best
possible situation. Hezbollah is doing a better job of maintaining quiet in the Galilee than did the pro-Israeli South Lebanese Army.”

Of course those of us who live in the North and occasionally travel on roads close to the Lebanese border had been somewhat less prone to defining the bellicose positioning of Hizbollah troops with their unmistakable yellow flags literally meters away from our vehicles as ‘responsible’ or ‘quiet’. Benn’s article was beautifully fisked by Richard Landes at the time and described as an example of “liberal cognitive egocentrism in full flower”. In this latest CiF article, Benn is once more projecting his own way of seeing the world onto others and it is precisely his cognitive egocentrism which appeals to fellow sufferers below the line at CiF and generates so many comments which are prime examples of this phenomenon at work.


4 Feb 2010, 10:15AM

Israelis define their country as a western democracy with an advanced high-tech economy, a bastion of innovation, modernity, and technological development in a backwards region

They attribute their economic and technological successes to their perceived cultural superiority instead of mentioning the over $100 billion of US aid they’ve received along with preferential trade agreements. And Israel is hardly democratic.

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An Eastern Western

Remember this?

I’m often reminded of those old Westerns when reading the comments on CiF. Back in those days the cowboys were always good and right, the Indians always mad, bad and wrong and with the very first opening bars of the theme music, we always knew that justice would eventually prevail. And so it is even today on CiF; some of the below the line commentators (and indeed, above the line writers) are seemingly still living in those gloriously anachronistic times when the world was perceived as being an easy place to understand.

Take the recent Jonathan Freedland thread for example; a rather woolly analysis in my view, but nevertheless, the comments were true to form. Some ‘Mystic Megs’ with apparent mind reading powers were able to inform us as to the inner thoughts of members of the Israeli government.

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