Anti-Israel hatefest season kicks off

This is cross posted from Richard Millett’s Blog

Last wednesday I went to hear two pro-Hamas supporters give a talk to a group of revolutionary communists at a London pub. The subject of the talk was “Ten years of Intifada – What Future for Palestine?”.

I cleared it with the pub manager beforehand so I wasn’t barred as happened to me when I tried to attend a Middle East Monitor meeting at the House of Commons in July.

Seems our pubs are more democratic than Parliament.

When I entered the room the front table was adorned with a “Victory to the Intifada” banner and the banner next to me read “Boycott Marks and Spencer”.

The chairperson opened the meeting by telling us how M&S was closely entwined with the growing of the Zionist project and how past M&S directors had made many racist statements.

The two speakers, Ghassan Abu-Sitta, a Palestinian surgeon, and Manal Masalha, a Palestinian activist and PhD student, spent the next hour basically telling us how Fatah/PLO had sold out to the racist imperialists and Zionists.

Fatah had, apparently, now conspired in the Zionist project via the Oslo peace accords and will eventually either agree future landswaps with Israel so that Israeli Palestinians will be transferred to a new Palestinian state or there will be an outright ethnic cleansing of Israeli Palestinians.

What was needed was a national liberation movement and although Hamas was far from perfect (Abu-Sitta acknowledged that Hamas demolishes Palestinian houses which don’t have permits) it was the only organisation capable of doing what was necessary to free the Palestinian people.

We were told that during the Oslo peace process the Palestinians were offered only 42% of the West Bank and 60% of Gaza and that Israeli Palestinians live in Israel under laws reminiscent of the Nazis

During the Q&A a Sri Lankan man asked whether Hamas should be either more democratic in its behaviour or step aside. He compared Hamas to the Tamil Tigers who, he felt, had caused chaos in Sri Lanka and that Sri Lanka was now benefitting from their demise.

Abu-Sitta disagreed and told us just how democratic Hamas is and how it had gone along with the Oslo Accords until Fatah had finally sold out the Palestinian cause.

I didn’t want to complicate issues by mentioning Hamas suicide bombers walking into Israeli restaurants to blow up families who were at lunch.

I kept it simple and asked:

“If the Palestinians were offered 100% of the West Bank and Gaza for a Palestinian state and the Israeli Palestinians living in Israel could stay put, wasn’t peace better achieved that way than continuing the Palestinian struggle?”

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Selling out to Soros

 

Well,well; it’s amazing what one finds out by reading the Guardian. Had I not read the October 28th editorial “In praise (I think that’s British understatement) of George Soros” for instance, I would never have discovered that I’m apparently of a curmudgeonly persuasion.

It turns out too that I’m deemed to remain “an ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions” (according to the dictionary) for the Guardian informs me that “[o]nly the most curmudgeonly of his critics could fail to admire what the billionaire is doing with his money”.

As a socialist, I do resent the fact that the Soros fortune was mostly made by carelessly playing around with the lives of the little people affected by currency speculation. Short sellers and operators of hedge funds for the super-rich are not the traditional type of praiseworthy hero for a Left of centre newspaper, but the Guardian’s apparent ‘conversion’ indicates just how far it is prepared to go in sanctifying the methods in order to realise the aim.

I’m afraid that I must also plead guilty to holding on to the stubborn notion that the legalisation of drugs – one of Soros’ pet campaigns – is not a positive step for society to take, particularly in light of the well-known link between drugs and the financing of terror, but also due to my experience as a health-care professional who has often had to deal with the devastating effects of drug use not only upon the lives of addicts themselves, but also upon their families and even innocent bystanders.

But the aspect of Soros’ ‘chequebook advocacy’ which makes me most ill-tempered is his support for organisations which aim to eliminate the Jewish nature of Israel and undermine the elected government of a democratic nation by means of delegitimisation. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to live in a society in which we count votes, not cash; in which every voice carries equal weight, regardless of wealth or connections. The sad thing is that once upon a time, the Guardian believed in that too.

Soros’ ‘Open Society Institute’ funds a whole host of operations in Israel such as Adalah, Peace Now, Breaking the Silence, Gisha and Yesh Din. Adalah works towards a one-state ‘solution’ in which the Jewish nature of Israel would be replaced by a “democratic, bilingual and multicultural” framework. Jewish immigration would only be permitted for “humanitarian reasons.” In other words, millions of Palestinian refugees would be brought to Israel, but Jews would be severely limited in their right to immigrate as the Law of Return would have been abolished.  Adalah promotes the erroneous and delegitimising concept of ‘Israeli apartheid’ and contributed significantly to the infamous Goldstone Report.  Soros’ Open Society Institute has provided legal assistance to Adalah in its attempts to overturn the Israeli law which states that spouses from enemy states are not automatically granted Israeli citizenship for reasons of security. That’s not only foreign intervention in the internal legal affairs of a sovereign state, but also reckless gambling with the lives of Israeli citizens.

Soros recently donated $100,000,000 in matched funding over a period of 10 years to Human Rights Watch. Readers will no doubt remember that just over a year ago Human Rights Watch’s founder, Robert Bernstein, accused the organization of “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state”. The generous Soros pledge does not bode well for any kind of improvement in the organizational culture at HRW ; in fact one might even say that this is a case of ‘birds of a feather’ joining forces –  supposed political agenda-free ‘human rights’ activists using the language of civil rights and democracy in order to promote extremist ideology. And if that sounds a little far-fetched, consider the following.

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Guardian and BBC whitewash inconvenient truths about “Rally to Restore Sanity” event in Washington (Updated)

In a report on the contrasting coverage by the BBC on the Glenn Beck rally vs. John Stewart’s recent “Rally to Restore Sanity”, Biased BBC recently noted:

“When BBC correspondent Finlo Rohrer reported on the Glenn Beck rally she made a point of mentioning the racial make-up of the crowd”:

The audience at the rally was predominantly white, but there was the occasional African-American in the crowd, some Tea Party-aligned, others without symbols of affiliation.

Biased BBC continued:

“Yesterday’s Rally To Restore Sanity was at least as white (if not more so) but Rohrer’s account of that event fails to say so. Here are some images of the crowd from the Stewart/Colbert smugfest. If you look carefully you can just about make out a couple of non-white faces in the centre of the top-right image”

Biased BBC continued:

“It serves no purpose for the BBC to highlight the overwhelmingly white nature of yesterday’s rally so the fact is simply ignored, airbrushed from the bigger picture. The only white narrative the BBC is interested in is the angry white conservative one. A rally of young white hipster liberals is just a rally. Agenda-driven bias from the BBC, pure and simple.”

“Rohrer’s account of the Glenn Beck event included this:”

Activist Jeremy Batterson, manning a stall festooned with posters of President Obama sporting a Hitler-style toothbrush moustache, explained why he was so steadfastly against the nation’s leader.

“Her report on yesterday’s event mentions only funny slogans and placards. Here’s another side to the rally – isn’t it amazing that BBC journalists never see stuff like this at leftie events?”

“One of those Hitler mustaches is on a Jewish congressman, btw. Once again it doesn’t fit the BBC narrative, therefore it is ignored.”

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My tour of the Israeli settlement of Eli

The demonization of Israeli “settlers” – those Israelis who live beyond the “Green Line” – is a narrative that is simply reflexive in much of the mainstream media.  The Guardian represents an especially egregious case of employing such caricatures to describe Israelis who live outside of the 1949 borders.  My tour of the settlement of Eli was an attempt to understand the settler movement and, more importantly, to understand what motivates Israelis to move to communities in Judea and Samaria. Here is my snapshot of the community.

 

Israeli settlement of Eli

 


I recently toured the settlement of Eli, a few miles from Ariel, a community stretching over a vast area situated on a mountainous topography, including a cluster of neighborhoods with a total of 3,000 residents. The center of life in Eli is the pre-military academy that attracts religious students from all over the country. Maj. Ro’i Klein, an Eli resident and hero of the Second Lebanon War, was killed when he leapt on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers.

Quality of life is not a vague concept at Eli. There are cultivated gardens, breath-taking mountain views, the shades of its olive trees, and a well-kept regional sports center, which includes multi-purpose playing fields, a tennis court, a work-out facility & swimming pool. Eli provides health services, a small shopping center, and post office. Synagogues and ritual baths are scattered around the neighborhoods.

Eli is also only 30 minutes from Jerusalem. And, the relatively short distance from Israel’s large centers of employment, particularly the Industrial Parks in Barkan and Ariel, allow direct access to and from work. The town is at an elevation of about 700-800 m. above sea level, with a climate similar to that of Jerusalem.

Kobi Eliraz, who is the head of Eli’s local council, spoke to our group with an immense sense of pride about his community. Eliraz is disappointed by most Israelis’ refusal to cross “the eastern threshold of Ariel,” after which the real “settlements” begin. He wanted to also make it clear that he recognizes the authority of the state, and if it wants to evacuate him from Eli, he says, he’ll fight the decision – but peacefully go along with it. Indeed, that sentiment was echoed by others we spoke to.

One of the more interesting things I discovered was that the population of Eli includes a significant number of secular Israelis – inconsistent with the caricature of the settlers as uniformly religious. While I obviously wasn’t able to speak with a large number of residents here, my sense from speaking to the community leaders is that Israelis are drawn to such settlements for a number of reasons. The beauty of the area and relative affordability of home ownership is a factor for some; the allure of living in close-knit, family friendly community is also a draw, as well as the feeling, which I heard echoed by Eli residents – as well as the residents of a tiny outpost near the Jordan Valley that I visited later in the day – that a pioneer spirit was partly at play.

I couldn’t help but think of the American families moving to remote unsettled areas of the Western frontier, in the 19th century, as the borders of their nation gradually expanded –  drawn by cheap land, and the promise of a fresh start.  No doubt such pioneers thought they were entitled to do so either by political right or by providence. Likewise, Israelis who have opted for these remote hillside communities are also driven by perhaps a sense that, as the original Jewish homeland in Eretz Israel included areas in what we call today the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), they too have an inherent right to settle the areas. But, as the West Bank was captured by Israel in a defensive war (The Six Day War), and not, as in the American example, in the context of expansionist conquest, they no doubt also feel – I think justly so – that they have a strong moral and political claim to the land.

I’m very sympathetic to the settlement community, and am saddened by the degree to which they are often demonized (even by Israelis and Jewish supporters in the diaspora). And, I further feel that Israel’s reluctance to cede more land to the Palestinians, after their experience in Gaza, is completely justified.  However, I also feel that, for the sake of a TRUE and LASTING peace, evacuating such settlements may eventually be the the only responsible option.

The devil, of course, is in the details.  I’ve argued before, and still believe (based on polling data), that Palestinians are not yet ready to live with a Jewish state within any borders – so, ceding land would not, in the current political context, do anything to advance peace.  However, if that day ever comes when Palestinians are truly ready to live in peace with Israel, I think I represent the feelings of many Israelis who think that enormous sacrifices may indeed be worth it if the outcome is a true and lasting peace.

It still wouldn’t be a fair or just outcome for the Israelis who have built homes and communities, and raised families here.  But, as politics is rarely about perfect justice - merely about making decisions based on what will cause the least harm – if the decision is between holding onto such settlements at any cost, versus ceding land in return for a genuine peace, I think the choice is a clear one.  When it comes to the “settlements”, the axiom that “the perfect is the enemy of the good” has never been more relevant.

The Israeli Narrative of the Guardian Commenter

A guest post by AKUS

The recent Daphna Baram article which forced a retraction from the Guardian dealt with the issue of dual narratives in Israeli and Palestinian schools. But there is a third narrative – Israeli and Jewish history as it exists in the minds of certain “below the line” commenters on “Comment is Free”.

I’ve noticed this commenter, “tinlaurelledandhardy”, before. She reminds me of the bimbo “Old Christine” played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, or the latest star of the current US election cycle, Christine (“That’s in the First Amendment?”) O’Donnell. She specializes in particularly ignorant comments and on the Baram thread she surpassed herself, revealing how important it is that the Israeli narrative be taught in whichever school she attended or attends.

To be fair”, “tinlaurelledandhardy” must have been under a rock not to hear about the Palestinian side and never wandered into a bookstore or library. Perhaps no-one texted her about it.

Leaving that aside, Shlomo Sand’s “excellent book”, which is a fabrication from start to finish, first appeared in Hebrew, of course. Sand is a lecturer in French Cinema and other non-genealogical studies at the University of Tel Aviv. “To be fair”, “tinlaurelledandhardy” would probably be surprised to learn that courses there are taught in Hebrew and Sand’s book was originally published (Resling, 2008) as מתי ואיך הומצא העם היהודי? (Matai ve’eich humtsa ha‘am hayehudi? – When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?).

It was later translated into English with the CiF-grabbing title “The Invention of the Jewish People”, guaranteed to reinforce precisely the stereotypes and narratives that the naïve professors at Ben Gurion University who wrote Learning Each Other’s Historical Narrative claim they wish break down. (By the way – read the Arab narrative. The distortion of history is appalling).

As for the “false memory” of Masada invoked by “tinlaurelledandhardy”, this is yet another attempt to write Jews out of their own history. How did all those ruins and remainders of palaces get to Masada and why were they there? Is it all a sort of Israeli Disney-land created in the dead of night by the Mossad or Jewish leprechauns? And that funny old history book by Josephus – is it a 2,000 year old forgery?

Clearly “Learning Israel’s Historical narrative” should be a required course not just for Israelis and Palestinians, but for a much wider audience.

Breaking News: UPS packages with explosives sent from Yemen to two Jewish synagogues in Chicago intercepted after US intelligence tip-off

Via the Jerusalem Post

US President Barack Obama announced Friday that law enforcement authorities in the US, UK and the United Arab Emirates have thwarted two attempted terrorist attacks on synagogues in the Chicago area.

Obama called the incident “a credible terrorist threat” and said he was informed by US counter-terror intelligence officials ob Thursday of a suspected attack. The president and other White House officials repeatedly stated that, contrary to earlier media reports, two packages found and examined – one in the East Midlands in the UK and another in Dubai – did in fact contain explosive material.

While two packages have been confirmed to contain explosive material, international law enforcement authorities are continuing to search other packages recently shipped from Yemen and the Persian Gulf region on suspicion that more explosive devices may be headed for the US.

Fear of more explosive devices originating in the Persian Gulf led to the escorting by two US fighter jets of an Emirates Airlines passenger jet also carrying cargo headed from Canada to the US on Friday. Nothing out of the ordinary was said to have occurred before or during the flight, but the fighter jet escort was ordered as a precautionary measure.

Both of the suspicious packages containing explosives were shipped from Yemen using the United Parcel Service company.

The first package that was found in the East Midlands contained a toner cartridge with wires and powder, and was discovered during an extra-vigilant screening of cargo in the United Kingdom prompted by reports from US intelligence.

See rest of the story, here.

Daphna Baram’s Pants are on Fire

A guest post by AKUS

“Liar, liar, pants on fire” is an old schoolyard chant. Daphna Baram, the Israeli-hating descendant of the illustrious Baram family, was caught with her pants brightly burning in today’s Guardian.

In a rare admission of wrong doing, the Guardian was forced by pro-Israeli readers of the article to acknowledge that, once again, the editors had not checked the facts behind an article published on CiF – in this case, the article A shared story offers hope to Israel that Baram raced to publish:

• This article was amended at 14.10 on October 29. The earlier version stated, on the basis of an Israeli newspaper report, that the book is being used in Palestinian Authority schools. That statement was removed at Daphna Baram’s request after readers questioned its accuracy.

Readers not only questioned its accuracy – they cited chapter and verse from the Palestinian Authority that completely contradicted her and the report from the “Israeli paper”. That paper was, of course, Ha’aretz, where it ran on October 11th with a follow-up on the 25th. The comments on the thread show Ms Baram gradually shifting in her chair as her pants feel increasingly warm.

At first, she holds herself out as a paragon of truth, justice and the Guardian way:

Too true, Daphna, too true … but then comes the first crack in the façade by in a comment by a reader, “yossistern”, who actually … reads … checks … and then comments, since he is not fooled by … you:

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On Facebook, Jewish Social Activism, and Israel Advocacy

Facebook is an interesting window into what people in your extended community think about – what occupies their time – what moves them culturally socially and politically. A few status updates, or the posting of a link or video, can tell you who’s a Yankees fan and who roots for the Red Sox; who grooves to Madonna and who prefers Brahms; who likes hanging out at the trendy downtown club and who feels more at ease at the neighborhood dive bar; whose sister just had a baby, and who recently returned from vacation.

Someone as political as me, however, is constantly looking for signs of friends’ political leanings. Do they identify with a political party/ideology/movement on their Info page? Do they subscribe to fan pages for politicians of certain political persuasions? Did their posts reflect support for Obama or McCain during the recent election? Do they show their support or disapproval Obama’s healthcare reform proposals? Do they post patriotic messages on July Fourth? Are reproductive rights important to them, or environmentalism? And, who inspires them to anger – evangelical conservatives or secular liberals?

While I post many non-political updates, am fond of commenting on pop cultural or sports, sometimes post the latest pic of my little nephew, and will post the simply humorous, the pithy one-liners, and the ”just because” updates like most people, my greatest political passion involves Israel and, as such, Facebook for me is an incredible opportunity to use the new social networking media as an extension of my Zionist activism. From linking to my latest blog posts, to posting links to polemics I find persuasive, or more creative/personal essays I find moving or evocative, Facebook is a great way to spread the ”word” about Israel and to rebut the dangerous rhetoric of Israel’s critics.

Recently, I posted a link to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s latest speech in which he once again called for the elimination of Israel and denied the Holocaust. I later posted a link to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at the UN, where he eloquently criticized those in attendance at Ahmadinejad’s speech who actually applauded at its conclusion. I also, posted a link to a translation of a Hamas children’s show in which the main character, a bear named Nassur, informs the children that it is their duty to slaughter all of the Jews.

Among many of my progressive Jewish friends on Facebook, however, religious and non-religious, even those whose support for Israel has been demonstrated by frequent visits to the Jewish state, there is (with some notable exceptions) not much political content about Israel on their updates, nor are there comments (or the Facebook ”thumbs-up) to Israel-related posts by Zionist activists within their network. And, to the degree that these at least marginally socially aware friends do post political content, the issues which they seem most comfortable highlighting their support for tends to be healthcare, environmentalism, poverty, homelessness – lending their support for ”social justice” related concerns, consistent with how they view a commitment to ”Tikkun Olam” (repairing the world).

While many of these causes are indeed admirable, there is a ferocity in their support for these causes which seems, anyway, strangely absent in their support for Israel. For instance, the anger among my progressivefriends with Republican opposition to President Obama’s healthcare proposals was palpable in a supportive post which people were being asked to use as their status update, which read:

”No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.”

If you agree, please post this as your status update for the rest of your day’

While I’m not certain if this status update exactly went viral, many of my friends responded in kind to this request, and posted this sentiment, which was then seen by their network of friends, etc. While my thoughts on Obamas’s health care plan are a bit complicated, I do admire the passion many have for this topic, and – while I wish there was a bit more tolerance for those of us who had at least some reservations about increased government involvement in the health care sector of the U.S. – I am, more broadly, heartened whenever I see people engaged in a cause greater than their own self-interest. However, it seems that the only ones who ever post on Israel are (again, with a couple notable exceptions) those on the political right – broadly defined. While using my admittedly limited social network on Facebook (500 friends) to assess a community’s passion for a given cause is, I readily acknowledge, not the most rigorous method for determining such a complex phenomena, there are polls and more empirically driven data which seem to indicate at least prima facie evidence in favor of my conclusions.

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Comment is Free errs on pro peace textbook

This was published at The Wire, the blog of Just Journalism,

(Comment is Free’s latest Middle East instalment incorrectly claims that Palestinian Authority schools use a pluralistic text book banned in Israeli schools.)

Learning the Historical Narrative of the Other’ offers both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on the foundation of the State of Israel.

Daphna Baram says:

‘The current administration in the Israeli ministry of education, headed by the Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar, was less than sympathetic to this liberal endeavour. The book was not authorised for use in schools and the staff of schools that decided to use it were admonished.’

She later links to a Haaretz report, published on 11 October which reported that the Palestinian Authority was allowing the book to be used in its schools:

‘In this sense, Sa’ar is struggling to shut the barns doors after the horses are already out and roaming all over the field. One cannot indoctrinate a generation using North Korean methods when the world is wide open to them. In Palestinian Authority schools, by the way, the book is being used.’

However, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education publicly denied allowing use of the book on the same day, as reported by the Ma’an News Agency.

UPDATE

The Ma’an News Agency article has been brought to Daphna Baram’s attention. On the Cif comment thread she says:

I’m looking into the Maan report and will update hwen I have a conclusive answer. However, the question whether the PA is using it or not is marginal to the story. Knowing the Palestinian narrative is in the interest of Israelis. The Israelis are the ones with their hand on the palestinian lifelines, and the Palestinians are the ones fighting a war of liberation. Comparing between Israel and the PA as if their were equal sides in a war is ludicrous. That said, if indeed the PA banned the book – I will let you know shortly.

Read rest of post, here.

A slap in the face for Europe

A guest post by AKUS

After all the aid, and all the flotillas, and all the discussions, and all the visits, and all the anti-Israeli resolutions, and all the failed boycotts, and all the anti-Israeli articles, and all the support from Code Pink, and all the secular leftists supporting Hamas’ right to inflict a medieval theocracy on the people of Gaza … this is what Europe gets from Hamas in return?

Mahmoud A-Zahar says Western world ‘does not even live like animals’

The West is floundering in immorality and has no right to criticize the Islamist movement Hamas over the way it governs the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip, [Mahmoud A-Zahar of Hamas] said.

“We have the right to control our life according to our religion, not according to your religion. You have no religion. You are secular,” said Zahar, who is one of the group’s most influential and respected voices.

“You do not live like human beings. You do not [even] live like animals. You accept homosexuality. And now you criticize us?” he said earlier this week, speaking from his apartment building in the densely populated, Mediterranean city.

Oh well … I suppose it was just words … he doesn’t really mean it … does he? But if he does … isn’t it time for the Guardian to take notice? Unless, of course, the editorial staff agrees with him.

EU-funded Israeli NGO launches anti-Israel video game (in an apparent attempt to capture the teen Demonization market)

The Israeli NGO Gisha - whose stated objective is to “protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents” and uses “legal assistance and public advocacy to protect the rights of Palestinian residents” – recently released a video game called Safe Passage.

Gisha – whose donors include New Israel Fund, the EU, Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Oxfam GB, and (George Soros’s) Open Society Institute – is among the NGOs who characterize Israel using apartheid rhetoric.  Gisha also, per NGO Monitor:

“promotes the false claim that Gaza remains ‘occupied’ under international law, and that Israel has a legal obligation to grant unfettered ‘freedom of movement’ to Gaza residents. Gisha’s claims were quoted in the Goldstone report in order to accuse Israel of enacting policies ‘in the pursuance by Israel of political goals at the expense of the civilian population, in blatant violation of international humanitarian law.’ “

Further:

“Gisha’s highly publicized 2008 campaign condemning Israel for barring Palestinian students’ travel from Gaza to Israel and to the United States under the Fulbright program erased Israel’s legitimated security concerns. Indeed, most of these “students” were refused entry by the American government on security grounds.”

Gisha describes the game as an effort to “inform about the legal and military measures that Israel uses to implement its policy of separation between the Gaza strip and the West Bank.”  Their hope is that the game will encourage you to support Gisha in their efforts “to allow for freedom of movement between Gaza and the West Bank…for 4 million Palestinians.”

(To give you a taste of the game, Safe Passage, it actually suggests that WAITING AT A BORDER CROSSING is a human rights violation.  As a colleague noted, it seems that such a universal principle would require that US, Canada, and Mexico customs officials be immediately arrested and sent to the Hague. )

Regardless, let’s play the game that – from what I hear – all the kids are talking about!

Like most modern interactive video games, they allow you to choose your own character.  I chose one of Gaza’s many friendly ice cream manufacturers.

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Inconsolable victimhood?

This is cross posted from the blog, This Ongoing War

The Islamic Jihad terror organization announced earlier this afternoon (in a report quoted by Haaretz, as well as by Reuters) that one of its terrorists was killed on what it termed a “Jihadist mission” today – in other words, an attack aimed at Israelis. Islamic Jihad has been behind many of the rocket attacks that have targeted civilians in southern Israel from launching points in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Ynet, quoting Gaza Palestinian sources, says the dead man was 20, and a member of Islamic Jihad’s so-called military wing al-Quds Brigades (as if a terrorist organization has wings that are not inherently terrorist).

The IDF’s spokesperson confirmed the basic facts: one of its tanks fired on “two Palestinian suspects who approached the security fence” and the target was hit. Palestinian Arab medical sources in Gaza, also quoted by Haaretz, said a second person nearby was wounded.

As happens so often, this is only part of the story. Earlier today a mortar shell fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip exploded in an open area near one of the kibbutzim of Shaar Hanegev. Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was no damage, but this was not the intention of the jihadists. And unlike the death of the terrorist, the mortar attack is entirely unreported at this hour, outside of Israeli news channels.

Meanwhile, true to form, the major news agencies are already promoting the traditional photos(see below) of wailing, inconsolable friends and relatives… of the dead terrorist for heaven’s sake. His name happens, perhaps not by chance, to be Jihad Afanah. The narrative by which the jihadists and the Islamists are perpetual victims is, somehow, irresistible to the photo editors who, sad to say, know their customers well.

Here, below, are several of the agency photos already making their way around the world into the syndication channel. To us, the tone of sympathy and tragedy they sound is a disgrace. Not a new disgrace, but a disgrace. Either the editors at AP and Reuters believe the dead man is a terrorist, in which case why do they time and again frame the death by reference to bereavement and loss? Or they actually believe this dead man and his ilk are activists – and in that case their message seems to be: how very sad that a sincere young man died while trying to achieve his noble goal. Either way, the syndicated publication of pictures like these brings no credit to the editors or the agencies.

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A Sad Day for the One-Staters and BDSers

A guest post by AKUS

Ever since I came across a naïve report on “Comment is Free” touting the cooked poll run by J Street about US Jews’ views of the I/P issue, I’ve had a soft-spot for polls about the issue. They generally seem hopelessly biased, usually due to the careful selection of a, typically, small number of “appropriate” respondents.

The recent Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) poll reported on CiF Watch via Israel Matzav was far more rigorous than most I’ve seen, as have been its previous efforts:

“The poll was conducted right after the expiration of the Israeli partial settlement freeze and during Palestinian deliberations on the future of their direct negotiations with the Israeli government… Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%.”

Among many other interesting results, its findings give lie to those endlessly promoting a “one state solution” (i.e., the destruction of Israel) and boycotts of Israel by WBers (by CiFers sipping latte’s at a convenient Starbucks). The response to Q.35-3 showed an overwhelming dismissal of the idea of a “one state solution” on the WB and in Gaza, though I suppose no objective data will cause members of the “pro-Palestinian” crowd to change their ingrained opinions or stop them from claiming it is only Israelis that reject the concept:

Q. 35 -3 Abandon the two state solution and demand the establishment of one state for Palestinians and Israelis

Support: WB – 28.6%. Gaza 14.4%

Oppose: WB – 68.9% Gaza 73.6%

Moreover, despite the world-wide clamor over Gaza, PSR reports that only 15% of Palestinians on the WB and in Gaza regard the “siege” as the main problem confronting them. National unity (or lack thereof) and poverty and unemployment are regarded as roughly twice as important:

….. what worsens conditions for Hamas is the public belief that the two issues of national unity and ending the siege should be two of the most important Palestinian priorities. In an open question about the main problems confronting Palestinians which should be the top priorities of the PA, 26% mentioned the absence of national unity due to the split, while 15% mentioned the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings, 28% mentioned poverty and unemployment, 16% mentioned occupation and settlement activities, and 11% mentioned corruption in some public institutions.

Those eagerly cheering on WB boycotts of Israeli goods (which are widely available in Gaza, of course) or hoping to stop WBers working for Israeli companies should take these numbers to heart.  Flotilla supporters should consider how unimportant their PR stunts are to most of the Arabs on the WB and in Gaza.

There were a several responses in PSR’s summary of key findings that knock the feet out from the anti-Israeli arguments and breast-beating about the occupation constantly repeated on CiF by a small group of robo-typists.

It turns out that while conditions in Gaza are not considered good, by a large majority WBers feel things are not so bad. So the occupation of the WB, the settlements, the checkpoints, etc. are presumably not affecting WBers’ lives as much as the bleeding hearts parading on their behalf elsewhere would believe. This reflect the reports we read of restaurants, cinemas , nightclubs, beer factories, and so forth that are starting to populate even the Guardian’s website:

  • 70% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip and 34% describe conditions in the West Bank as bad or very bad.
  • 58% believe there is, or there is to some extent, free press in the West Bank and 32% say there is, or there is to some extent, free press in the Gaza Strip.
  • Perception of safety and security is identical in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: 60% say that these days they feel that their safety and security is assured.
  • Positive evaluation of the performance of public institutions in the West Bank reaches 43% and in the Gaza Strip 30%.

(A fairly substantial portion of the US electorate would likely respond in similar fashion to similar questions about the current state of affairs in the USA!!)

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Ameer Makhoul admits to spying for Hezbollah (CiFs heroic efforts to paint him as a victim seem to have been in vain)

 

 

Ameer Makhoul

 

 

Hezbollah flag

 

The Guardian, on May 11, called on the services of prolific Israel-hater Ben White to offer his sage analysis of the recent arrest, by Israeli authorities, of Ameer Makhoul, head of the NGO, Ittijah.  Makhoul had been charged with espionage and “contact with a foreign agent” (Hezbollah.)  White, never one to disappoint, framed the arrest as “political”, consistent with Israel’s efforts to “silence dissent” and as “the latest manifestation of a deteriorating atmosphere in Israel, with political dissent and human rights groups under attack.”  In fact, White went even further – advancing the view that the arrest was meant to remind folks that Israel “is not a democracy”.

White simply described Makhoul as “a prominent advocate internationally for the need for accountability.”  Of course, White didn’t explain that, per NGO Monitor:

  • Ittijah rejected anti-terror clauses in foundation and government funding agreements, specifically from USAID and the Ford Foundation.
  • During the Gaza war, Ittijah claimed that “the IDF is turning Gaza to kind of an extermination camp, in the full sense of the word and with the full historical relativity.”
  • Helped organize the Bilbao Initiative boycott conference. The final declarationof the initiative states: “this study has concluded that Israel’s regime is a system that uniquely combines apartheid, settler-colonialism and belligerent occupation,” and refers to Israeli “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” and “crimes against humanity.”

Well, on Wednesday, Makhoul reached a plea agreement with prosecutors – whose original indictment which was based mainly on Makhoul’s own statements to the police - confessing to charges of conspiring to assist an enemy, contact with a foreign agent and espionage for Hezbollah. Makhoul reportedly gave his Hezbollah handlers the exact location and layout of two Shin Bet facilities as well a Mossad intelligence agency office. He reportedly admitted to meeting with a Hezbollah operative in Denmark, when he agreed to start collecting information on Israeli security services for the terrorist organization.

Just so we’re all clear on the seriousness of Makhoul’s offense, let’s remember that the “political activist” admitted to spying for Hezbollah – a radical Shiite group formed with the aid of Iran in the early 1980s in order to spread Islamic revolution to the Middle East.  From the inception of Hezbollah to the present the elimination of the state of Israel has been a primary goal for the group. Its 1985 manifesto states “our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated.” The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has referred to Israel as “the state of the grandsons of apes and pigs – the Zionist Jews”.  Hezbollah’s television station, Al Manar, aired a drama depicting a Jewish world domination conspiracy, and made accusations that Jews deliberately spread AIDS.

Outside of rocket fire and terrorist attacks on Israel, Hezbollah was also responsible for the 1994 AMIA bombing of a Jewish cultural centre, killing 95, in Argentina, as well as the bombing of a U.S. military housing complex, on October 23, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 241 servicemen.

Now that  CiF’s “activist” cause-celebre has pleaded guilty to aiding such a dangerous and hateful organization – an acknowledgement of guilt completely contradicting the characterizations of the arrest by White – the episode will likely go down as one of those follow-up stories that the Guardian somehow won’t get around to publishing.

Its about hate and intolerance, Stupid

(“It’s the economy, Stupid.”  - A phrase, made popular by President Clinton’s campaign strategist James Carville, referring to the notion that Clinton was a better choice because President Bush had not adequately addressed the economy.)

The significance of my recent post “Almost half of all Palestinians support murdering Jews inside 1949 armistice lines” was, I thought, clear enough.  49% of Palestinians surveyed supported killing Israeli civilians (men, women, and children) within pre-1967 borders. However, I have reason to believe that the significance of this poll eludes many readers.  Let me be clearer, then, on its meaning:

The most tired trope advanced by the mainstream media, and the Guardian in particular, is that “settlements” – referring, of course, to Jewish communities built in Judea and Samaria in the aftermath of the Six Day War (Israel’s war of defense waged to prevent its destruction) – are the main impediments to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  This argument rests on the premise (equation) that “occupation” = conflict and “withdrawal” = peace.  However, this equation somehow ignores that results of Israels’ unilateral withdrawals from Southern Lebanon (2000) and Gaza (2005) – disengagements which only led to the strengthening of terrorist movements dedicated to Israel’s destruction (Hezbollah and Hamas respectively.)

Such folks always seem to ignore the fact that – regardless of Israeli policy – the failure of the Arab world, and Palestinians in particular, to acknowledge  Israel’s very right to exist (within any borders) may be an impediment to peace.  Further, such otherwise liberal and sober minds always find ways to justify – or conveniently ignore – the virulent anti-Semitism and demonization continually peddled in Palestinian political culture.  One only need to read reputable sites such as Palestinian Media Watch or MEMRI to understand the depth of the problem.

I recently asked an extremely well-informed and thoughtful colleague why “progressives” – typically sensitive to even the most subtle forms of racism- seem to ignore the most vile and virulent anti-Semitism consistently on display In Palestinian society – a level of Jew-hatred that respected historian Robert Wistrich has characterized as on par with that advanced by Nazi Germany.

Wistrich said:

“The scale and extremism of the literature and commentary available in Arab or Muslim newspapers, journals, magazines, caricatures, on Islamist websites, on the Middle Eastern radio and TV news, in documentaries, films, and educational materials, is comparable only to that of Nazi Germany at its worst. Yet the Western world largely turns a blind eye to the likely genocidal consequences of such a culture of hatred…”

 

A frame from a Hamas video which claims that the Jews planned the Holocaust to get rid of disabled and handicapped Jews to avoid having to provide for their medical needs.

 

My colleague suggested that such “progressives” may actually believe that exposure to such information may hurt the “peace process.”  That is, in the minds of many, facts regarding anti-Semitism and intransigence in Palestinian society may create an impediment to the trust and goodwill necessary to achieve a peace agreement.  Let’s call them “inconvenient truths”.

Of course, such folks never consider that – beyond the public relations problems such facts cause – the REALITY of such Palestinian intransigence, hate, and intolerance towards Jews may be, in itself, an impediment to peace.  In other words, maybe it’s not just a public relations problem but, rather, such hate may be an essential root cause of the conflict.

I often wonder what those who are convinced that “the settlements” are the root cause of the conflict would say if Israel withdrew from every last square meter of the West Bank, and granted the Palestinians a capital in East Jerusalem, and that such concessions not only didn’t result in peace, but actually emboldened the most radical elements within Palestinian society – making Israelis (men, women, and children living within its ’49 borders) even more vulnerable to deadly terrorist attacks – and rendered the Jewish nation’s very existence less secure.

Would such “proponents of peace” finally admit that they were wrong all along? More importantly to those, like me, who actually live here, would such an admission come too late?