Turn this vile claim on its head

The following essay was written by Chas Newkey-Burden, who blogs at OyVaGoy

As one who advocates formally and informally for Israel, I have heard the full gamut of misconceptions and slanders that are aired by those opposed to the Jewish state. Over time, my skin has thickened; people can throw whatever baloney they want my way.

Except… there is still one anti-Israel argument that makes my jaw drop. And it is one that is made with unfortunate frequency. It is the “they-of-all-people” argument: the suggestion that the Jews, having faced extraordinary persecution, should know better than anyone not to be oppressors.

Put aside for a moment that the “oppression” which proponents of this argument are accusing Israel of committing is usually imaginary. When directed by gentiles towards Jews, the “they-of-all-people” argument is in its very essence so fundamentally ill-judged and unjust, and voiced with such a breathtaking lack of self-awareness, that my spirit flags when I hear it.

Where to begin in response? The heroic Howard Jacobson made a fine start when he proposed that “they of all people” is the natural successor of Holocaust denial. He wrote that the argument leaves the Jewish people doubly damned: to the Holocaust itself and to elevated moral scrutiny as a result of it.

I agree, and I would go further. I contend that, as a result of the Holocaust and what preceded it, it is we gentiles who should know better. The Holocaust followed centuries of slander, persecution, violence and murder committed by gentiles against Jews. So it is not you who have an increased responsibility to behave morally, but us.

For instance, something that we gentiles should know better than to do is lazily accuse Jewish people, or the Jewish state itself, of any misdemeanour. We have seen what centuries of slander against the Jewish people led to during the 1930s and ’40s. We see the hatred, heartbreak and bloodshed that such anti-Jewish libels continue to provoke, particularly in the Middle East.

Yet much of the world still continues to delight in damning Israel with indecent haste. From Al Dura (the false claim that Israeli forces murdered a boy in Gaza) to Jenin, from the Goldstone Report to the Gaza flotilla; time and again the world has found Israel guilty of a particular crime before all the evidence was available. When the full picture emerged and exonerated Israel it was too late to undo the damage. We gentiles, of all people, should know better.

It is also us, of all people, who should know better than to expect Israel to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat alone.

The world’s ceremonies and gestures of regret over what happened in the Holocaust would carry an increased weight of sincerity were they to be matched with robust support for Israel as the countdown to a nuclear-armed Iran, whose leader denies the Holocaust while promising to commit a second one by wiping out the Jewish state, continues.

World leaders should be sincerely standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel’s government as it decides what to do, not dawdling on the sidelines, waiting to wag their collective, condescending finger yet again.

Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity. Do not accept it; turn it back on those who offer it. For it is us, not you, who should know better.

Breaking News: Palestinians Challenge Romney’s Thesis by Declaring Peace with Israel!

A guest post by AKUS

Palestinian non-negotiator Saeb (“we will only negotiate after you first agree to our terms”) Erekat who had been imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority for revealing that Jews had lived in Palestine for centuries  was released from prison by the PA in order to make the following stunning announcement:

“Following Mr. Romney’s racist remarks about our culture we have decided to prove him wrong by unilaterally and immediately making peace with the Israelis whether they like it or not. We will show Romney just what Palestinian culture is capable of. I presented Mr. Netanyahu with a map of our borders, and he agreed that effective immediately he will recognize the new state of Palestine within the borders I have not negotiated”.

In previous remarks, Mr. Erekat had criticized Mr. Romney:

“This man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” Erekat said. “It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people.… He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority.”

Erekat concluded:

“Now, Mr. Romney, since Israel no longer occupies us and no longer controls our borders and economy, you are going to see just what we Palestinians are capable of when we control our own destiny!”

Catherine Ashton immediately nominated herself, Mitt Romney, Saeb Erekat, and Benjamin Netanyahu for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The top 10 illiberal, uninformed and racist comments of the Guardian’s latest star, Juan Cole

Juan Cole, an American academic and blogger, characterizes Israel as fascist state whose behavior was at least partly responsible for the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks against the U.S. on  9/11. He also has advanced antisemitic narratives about dual loyalty, and is quite vigilant in warning his followers about the dangers of ‘Jewish power’.

Juan Cole

So, obviously, he was recently welcomed by Guardian editors to offer his analysis on Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel at ‘Comment is Free’.

While you can read a superb critique of Cole’s CiF essay by the CST’s Mark Gardner (cross posted at CiF Watch), I thought it would be helpful to also provide a little background on Cole, whose blog is called ‘Informed Comment‘.

Here are some samples of Juan Cole’s malign and supremely uniformed fixation, in own words:

Many Zionist organizations are fascist and exert undue influence on the media and US Congress

“[The] fascist point of view is privately shared by many of the strident Zionist organizations that are so influential with the press and the US Congress in the United States.” – Informed Comment, June 1, 2005

American Jews with dual loyalties have powerful positions in Bush White House

I believe that Doug Feith, for instance, has dual loyalties to the Israeli Likud Party and to the U.S. Republican Party. He thinks that their interests are completely congruent. And I also think that if he has to choose, he will put the interests of the Likud above the interests of the Republican Party.” – Informed Comment, Sept. 9, 2004

Thinly veiled Nazi Analogy

[The] wounded romantic nationalism of [Jewish blogger, Jeffrey] Goldberg’s sort is a pathetic remnant of the twentieth century, which polished off tens of millions of human beings over wet dreams about “blood and soil.” There isn’t any “blood” or “pure” “races,” and human groups have no special relationship to territory.” – Informed Comment, March 17, 2010

Fascist Israel is responsible for Muslim rage around the around the world

No American media will report the demonstrations in Israel as fascist in nature, and no American politicians will dare criticize the Likud. But the fact is that the Israeli predations in the West Bank and Gaza are a key source of rage in the Muslim world against the United States (which toadies unbearably to whatever garbage comes out of Tel Aviv’s political establishment), something that the 9-11 commission report stupidly denies.” Informed Comment, July 26, 2004

Israel ethnically cleansed Lebanese Shiites for the same reasons Saddam Hussein did

So let’s get this straight. The Israelis warn the small town Shiites of the south to flee their own homes and go hundreds of miles away (and live on what? in what?). But then they intensely bombing them, making it impossible for them to flee. The Lebanese have awoken to find themselves cockroaches.

I repeat, this is nothing less than an ethnic cleansing of the Shiites of southern Lebanon, an assault on an entire civilian population’s way of life. Aside from ecology, it is no different from what Saddam Hussein did to the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, and the Israelis are doing it for exactly the same sorts of reasons that Saddam did.” –  Informed Comment, July 21, 2006

Israeli barbaric behavior threatens U.S. democracy 

Israeli atrocities in Gaza are endangering American security. If the Israeli operation were something other than a cynical power play that almost wholly disregards civilian welfare, then the US would be right to support it and damn the consequences. But it is a shame to place our land and even our democracy in danger on behalf of a barbaric military operation.” - Informed Comment, Aug. 1, 2009

Twin threats of Fascist Israel and Al-Qaeda

...our press and politicians do us an enormous disservice by not putting the Israeli announcement about the Jerusalem barrier on the front page. This sort of action is a big part of what is driving the terrorists (and, of course, Sharon himself is a sort of state-backed terrorist, anyway). The newspapers and television news departments should be telling us when we are about to be in the cross-fire between the aggressive, expansionist, proto-fascist Likud coalition and the paranoid, murderous, violent Al-Qaeda and its offshoots.”Informed Comment, Nov. 26, 2005

Israeli behavior caused 9/11

We don’t need any more U.S. buildings blown up because our government is coddling cuckoo [Israeli] settlers who are stealing other people’s land to fulfill some weird religious power fantasy.” Informed Comment, Feb. 1, 2004

It is obvious to me that what September 11 really represented was  a dragooning of the United States into internal Middle East political conflicts. Israel’s aggressive policies in the West Bank and Gaza have poisoned the political atmosphere in the Middle East (and increasingly in the Muslim world) for the United States. It is ridiculous to suggest that radical Islamists don’t care about the Palestine issue.” – Informed Comment, Sept. 9, 2004

Neocon Likudnicks in Bush White House cynically used 9/11 to get U.S. to fight wars for Israel

It is an echo of the one-two punch secretly planned by the pro-Likud faction in the Department of Defense. First, Iraq would be taken out by the United States, and then Iran. David Wurmser, a key member of the group, also wanted Syria included. These pro-Likud intellectuals concluded that 9-11 would give them carte blanche to use the Pentagon as Israel’s Gurkha regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv (not wars that really needed to be fought, but wars that the Likud coalition thought it would be nice to see fought so as to increase Israel’s ability to annex land and act aggressively, especially if someone else’s boys did the dying).” – Informed Comment, Aug. 29, 2004

Israel gets the U.S. to fight its wars, on behalf of pro-Israel supporters

When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed…cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives…US politicians must say [no] to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf.” – Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’, July 30, 2012

As Mark Gardner noted, Cole’s bigotry earned him a coveted spot on veteran Guardian journalist Brian Whitaker’s list of “Best blogs and analysis from the Middle East”.

Whitaker, for those unaware, previously served as the Guardian’s Middle East editor.

Finally, as Jonathan Chait wrote about Cole, in The New Republic:

“One of the odd things about people with very left-wing views on the Middle East is that they’re obsessed with the political influence of American Jews yet almost completely unfamiliar with the actual beliefs of the subject of their obsession.”

“…the general tendency among this ideological clique is to write about American supporters of Israel with almost total ignorance, in a tone of hysteria, and treating their target as a broad, undifferentiated mass.”

A more apt characterization of the Guardian’s narrative about Zionists would be hard to find.

“Bad taste” & “Wrong on so many levels” – Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Few things are guaranteed to upset the Guardian like a US Republican presidential candidate’s visit to Jerusalem: on a fund-raiser no less! 

If bookies took bets on such things, you could put your house on the paper writing a poorly worded article that risks sounding like a modern version of old antisemitic conspiracy myths. Remember this Guardian editorial from 2008?

“When a presumptive US presidential candidate arrives in Jerusalem, he willingly dons a jacket designed by Israeli tailors.”

And that was for Barack Obama, a black Democrat! 

Indeed, right on cue, here comes Comment is Free with an article by Juan Cole concerning Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel, entitled:

‘Ten reasons Mitt Romney’s Israel visit is in bad taste’

The “bad taste” begins in the article’s sub-title:

Did you catch that? “Presidential hopeful…fundraiser…playing war enabler in Israel”.

The article is reasonably straightforward, consisting of 10 points against Romney’s visit.

Unlike many other articles on this risk-strewn subject, it at least stresses (in its very 1st point) that Romney is reaching out to Christian Zionists “and the minority of American Jews who would be willing to vote Republican”. So, this is no crass antisemitic slur, but it still risks hitting those nerves, particularly with its 7th point, which states:

7. Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran. When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, destabilised the Gulf for some time, cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and damaged American power and credibility and the economy. As Nancy Reagan said of drugs, so US politicians must say to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf: “Just say no.” Instead, Romney is playing war enabler, and that abroad.

Of the 10 points in the article, this was the “war enabler” one that made the sub-title, obviously having caught the attention of the Comment is Free sub-editor.

Consider, however, exactly what this 7th point actually states. It says “Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran”. Nothing more and nothing less. A war that could make Iraq look like a picnic, promised by a Presidential candidate to “his donors in Jerusalem”

If the Guardian has proof of such a conspiracy and such a dangerous promise, then surely it should be on the front page, not buried on the CiF website with all the other dross. If the Guardian has no such proof, then this allegation should be removed immediately. The author does, however, provide a link. It is here and goes to an Associated Press report that shows differing nuanced statements made by Romney and on his behalf concerning whether or not America would back an Israeli strike upon Iran. It ends with:

“He [Romney] later clarified his comments in a written statement, saying that the candidate “believes we should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course and it is his fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded.”

This hardly meets the burden of proof that “promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran” should require from the Guardian: even upon its journalistically subnormal CiF site.

But there’s worse than this. Double it, in fact, because the promised Iran war is immediately followed by:

“When George W Bush promised his pro-Israel supporters a war on Iraq, it cost the US at least $3 trillion, got hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed…cost over 4,000 American soldiers’ lives…US politicians must say [no] to constant Israeli entreaties that the US continually fight new wars in the Middle East on their behalf.”

So, the Iraq war was all Israel’s fault. Well, not exactly…it was the fault of President Bush’s “pro-Israel supporters” to whom he had “promised…a war on Iraq”. No link is provided for this colossal claim, nor for the even bigger succeeding one, that American wars for Israel is standard operating procedure.

Perhaps the author feels that no proof is required, perhaps this is what simply passes for received wisdom at the Guardian these days. It certainly feels that way: an impression that is not helped by senior figure, Brian Whitaker, recommending the article under the title “best blogs and analysis from the Middle East”.   

The remarkable story of Swedish Zionist activist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein: CiF Watch Interview

In January 2009, during the Gaza war, a small, mostly Jewish group held a peace rally in Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city (with a population of roughly 293,900, including 760 Jews).

During the peaceful march the demonstrators were attacked by a large screaming mob of Muslims and leftists who threw bottles and firecrackers at them.

The marchers were eventually evacuated to safety by the police who had seemed unable, or unwilling, to confront the attackers during the demonstration.

Ilmar Reepalu, Malmo’s mayor, stated the following during a subsequent interview, specifically addressing the January 2009 attack on Jews:

“We accept neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism. They are extremes that put themselves above other groups, and believe they have a lower value.”

He also criticized the Malmo’s Jewish community for its support for Israel, stating:

“I would wish for the Jewish community to denounce Israeli violations against the civilian population in Gaza. Instead it decides to hold a [pro-Israeli] demonstration in the Grand Square [of Malmö], which could send the wrong signals.” 

Reepalu also claimed that Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigrant party with its roots in the Swedish neo-Nazi movement, had “infiltrated Malmö’s Jewish community in order to turn it against Muslims.”

But beyond the violence directed at Jews during the 2009 demonstration, and the insidious remarks of the city’s mayor, reports abound that Malmo’s Jews are often harassed on their way to the main synagogue, and “Jewish children are subjected to antisemitic taunts and attacks from schoolmates.”

Fredrik Sieradzki, spokesman for the Malmo Jewish community, estimated that the already small Jewish population is shrinking by 5% a year, citing anti-Semitism as the main reason.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a travel advisory for Sweden, and explicitly warned Jews not to travel in southern Sweden. The statement read, in part:

“We reluctantly are issuing this advisory because religious Jews and other members of the  [Swedish] Jewish community have been subject to anti-Semitic taunts and harassment. There have been dozens of incidents reported to the authorities but have not resulted in arrests or convictions for hate crimes.”

More broadly, a Swedish government study in 2006 estimated that 5% of the entire adult population, and 39% of the Muslim population, harbor strong and consistent anti-Semitic views. 

Sweden, with a population of 9 million, has about 18,000 Jews and roughly 300,000 Muslims.

Sweden has become “a center of anti-Semitism,” the president of the European Jewish Congress, Dr. Moshe Kantor told the Jerusalem Post in January.

Kantor said he had repeatedly contacted the office of Swedish Prime Minister Fredik Reinfeldt, but never received a reply. “It’s a conspiracy of silence. They apparently think that if they say nothing, the problem will go away but we know it persists,” Kantor said.

However, an interesting thing happened in Stockholm last week.

Jews refused to be silent.

Ynet reported that, in response to the departure of a flotilla to Gaza (‘Ship to Gaza‘, whose spokesperson, Dror Feiler, is a veteran flotilla ‘activist’ who was once honored by the terrorist group, IHH, for his ‘activism’) there was a small pro-Israel demonstration.  

One protester was holding a sign saying: “Hundreds of rockets hitting Israel from Gaza while Israel is delivering supplies to Gaza. The blockade is legal. Are ship to Gaza’s activities legal? Humanitarian?”

Among the 20 or so Swedes who turned out was a pro-Israel blogger named Annika Hernroth-Rothstein.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein: Photo by Nima Dervish

Intrigued by the courage of a few brave souls standing alone against a tide of anti-Zionism, and antisemitism, I contacted Hernroth-Rothstein, who agreed to the following interview.

Adam Levick: A fellow pro-Israel Swedish blogger named Kim Milrell said: “To blog and to tweet positively about the Jewish state means you’ll get attacked from every angle imaginable. You’ll even lose a few friends along the way.” Can you tell us about your blog, what kind of response it’s gotten by your friends and colleagues, and, broadly, how you became a pro-Israel activist?

Annika Hernroth-RothsteinMy grandparents on my mother’s side were forced to hide the fact that they were jewish. The were named Rothstein when they moved to the northwest part of Sweden in the early 40’s, a part that openly let the germans pass on their way to Norway. The antisemitism was accepted, and everywhere. So they changed their name. They hid their jewish identity, but still: my mother was bullied for her big hair and strange nose…for being a Jew…for being weird. This led to a sense of shame in our family. The jewish identity withered, and it was never spoken about – sorrow and a grief for my grandmother and for my mother. It was a piece missing in our history. When i grew up i knew that we were Jewish, but it didn’t matter to me, except when the neo-Nazis in my small coastal town told me I did not deserve to live, that I was scum, less than them. At that point, I reflected on it. and felt out-of-place, just as my mother had, with my big nose and curly hair. But that changed when I had my kids at age 22. I decided that my boys would never have to hide who they are, and never be ashamed – but be proud and know their identity. So I studied and became more observant. I learned about Judaism, started celebrating Shabbat and found my identity. And since then, I’ve been proud of being Jewish. I tell anyone who wants to listen. I wear my big hair like a crown…

I have always been a political person. It’s my passion in life. And I feel very strongly about Israel, about our right to our land and to our freedom, our right to defend that freedom and our very existence. I started my political blog TRUTHANDFICTION 4 years ago. I wrote about a lot of things, among them Israel. And every time I did write about Israel, there was a backlash. People got furious. Hateful. Emails, messages. I lost friends. Even people within my family warned me not to pursue this path of being openly pro-Israel and defiantly not tell the world that I was Jewish. 

But I did anyway. Because it made me so angry that Israel was portrayed as the devil in Swedish media. That it was so mindnumbingly one-sided. I am stubborn, and I persisted to tell the truth. I have gotten so many hateful emails, I get them every day. People call me a murderer, a Zionist whore, a bad mother and an awful human being for writing what I do. I now write as openly as I can about being Jewish, about Israel , and I have accepted the fact that I have lost “friends” through this, and will continue to. I also know that this has cost me job opportunities, that I have become persona non grata in some places because I am so openly pro-Israel. It pains me, but what scares me even more is the thought that this would keep me from writing what I write – and that people every day are silenced because of this terrible consensus-driven media and anti-Israeli society.

AL. What was the reaction by Swedes to the Aftonbladet blood libel story? Do you think many people in  your country believed Israel was capable of such a crime? And, overall, how biased is Swedish media coverage of the Israel-Palestinian Conflict?

AHRThat story, as well as many others, plays in to the narrative that Israel and Israelis are crooks and murderers. People have read these lies for so long, that they believe it. It is very one-sided, because our media has for so long been dominated by a pro-Palestinian left-wing set of ideas. It is the accepted norm, the common truth to so many in Sweden. To outsiders, this must seem absurd. I know it is to me. Jews are treated with a no smoke without fire-type attitude and most people don’t seek out the truth, they accept what is presented to them as fact. 

AL: Fredrik Sieradzki, spokesman for the Malmo Jewish community, estimated that the already small Jewish population (roughly 18,000) is shrinking by 5% a year. “Malmo is a place to move away from,” he said, citing anti-Semitism as the primary reason. Do you agree with this assessment and are reports that the bulk of antisemitism in Sweden is caused by the Muslim population accurate?

AHRI agree. Fully. I do not see the situation in Malmö changing under the current political leadership. Quite the opposite. 

AL: I noticed on Facebook that you’re reading ‘The Arab Lobby’ by Mitchell Bard. What are your thoughts on the book, and whose ideas (writer, journalist, etc.) have most influenced your views on the Middle East?

I just started reading the book last night, so I will refrain from commenting on that until I have gotten further …
I take a lot of influence from current events. And I make a point of not looking to one “leader” or source. I take in media from all over the world regarding the Middle East. Arab, Israeli, Swedish, American, French… I want to understand the world we live in. That is my goal, however pretentious and impossible. I write from the heart, sometimes too much so. It is personal, and with passion. And I thrive on taking in thoughts very different from my own. To be challenged on my views and see the “other side” as humans, not competitors for the truth. 

AL: Any final thoughts?

Finally, I would like to include the invitation to an event for Israel that I am arranging. I want the people of Israel to know that they have our support, a support that is growing every day, and that we are working tirelessly to change this situation. 

On the first Sunday of September we will gather in a joyful display of support for Israel. This is not a protest against anything; instead it is a way of highlighting all the wonderful aspects of this country that we know and love and protect its existence in a time of confusion and disinformation. Together, we will change the narrative.  Innovation, democracy, freedom and culture is what this celebration is all about.

At 1 pm we will gather in Sergels Torg, the biggest meeting place in Sweden, bring flags and signs in support of Israel. There will be speeches by myself and others on this subject as well as wonderful Israeli music and food. Let’s have a great day and celebrate!

I would like to add that this rally for Israel is organized by me, and me alone. There are no ties to religious or political organizations. This is not about politics, or religion, nor am I acting as an instrument of the Israeli state. This is my initiative, out of love and support for Israel .

Naturally, I have coordinated with the police and gotten all of the necessary permits.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein

No BDS for this intractable Middle East conflict

Cross posted at CAMERA’s blog, Snapshots

Dec. 29, 2011: Kurdish demonstrators gather at a rally in Istanbul to protest an airstrike that killed 35 people in southeastern Turkey. (Reuters)

July 26, 2012: The Prime Minister “warned that it might take action to stop groups it deemed ‘terrorists’ from forming” an autonomous region. “No one should attempt to provoke us. If a step needs to be taken …. we would not hesitate to take it (Fox News).”

July 25, 2012: “… forces killed at least 15 … in a raid near the country’s border … after tracking them with drones and attacking them with helicopters and on the ground, officials said on Wednesday.”

June 19, 2012 : “Fighting leaves 26 dead.”

March 25, 2012: “15 [were] killed…all of them women.”

Dec. 29, 2011: “… at least 35 people died most of whom were teenagers” from air strikes (“Attack on Civilians Tied to U.S. Military Drone, Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2012).”

Oct. 19, 2011: “… airstrikes and artillery attacks against the group’s bases… killing as many as 160 militants…”

1) Who is the Prime Minister who threatened to use his military forces to attack a neighboring state in order to stop militants from setting up an autonomous region?

2) Is the media complaining about the use of “disproportionate force” against the militants in these cases? 

3) Has the U.N. Human Rights Commission launched a special investigation like it did for the Israeli Cast Lead operation in 2009?

4) Have the Presbyterian and other churches set aside large blocks of time at their national conventions to debate and vote on motions to boycott and divest from companies that do business with this state because its forces utilize American technology, including drones, to crush the aspirations for autonomy of a dispossessed people?

The answer to question 1): Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Prime Minister. Erdogan’s unapologetic resort to military force in dealing with Kurdish militants contrasts with his condemnation of Israel’s response to the Gaza flotilla in 2010 which resulted in the deaths of 9 Turkish militants who attacked an Israeli boarding party initially armed with paint guns. Erdogan continues to demand an Israeli apology even though a UN investigation found Israel’s interception of the flotilla to be legal.

To questions 2), 3) and 4) the answer is no.
Major news media report on the Turkish-Kurdish conflict in a perfunctory and dispassionate manner. This contrasts with much of the reporting on Israel. The New York Times and the BBC, for example, do not routinely publish editorials, op-eds and columns lambasting Turkey for failing to show any willingness to accommodate Kurdish demands for autonomy. Compare the Times’smeasured handling of Prime Minister Erdogan’s bellicosity with its scathing treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Then consider the fact that the Turkish-Kurdish conflict has taken an estimated 40,000 lives, including many civilians, over the past 30 years. 

Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel & Harriet Sherwood’s miscalibrated American political ‘Jewdar’

The strap line for Harriet Sherwood’s Guardian report of July 27th, Mitt Romney woos Israel by considering U.S. strike against Iran, reads as follows:

Sherwood writes:

“An American military strike against Iran‘s nuclear sites should not be ruled out, Mitt Romney has said in interviews with the Israeli media before his visit to the Jewish state.

He also suggested it was not “right” for the US to act as a negotiator between Israel and the Palestinians, and he accused President Barack Obama of publicly criticising its “friend and ally”.

Romney has repeatedly attacked Obama over his administration’s stance on Israel and is attempting to win over Jewish voters in the US. [emphasis added]

A July 29th report by Sherwood, Romney declares unity with Israel over nuclear threat, repeated this narrative about Romney’s visit to Israel.

“…a senior Romney aide said the candidate would back unilateral military action by Israel against Iran’s nuclear sites. “If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision,” Dan Senor, Romney’s senior national security aide, told reporters.

Romney’s speech touched many key buttons for his target audience of Jewish voters in the US.” [emphasis added]

However, a recent comprehensive survey by the American Jewish Committee demonstrated that Israel (and the Iranian nuclear issue) are not nearly the most important issues for Jewish voters.

Per the following results, Israel was the most important issue for only 6% of Jews surveyed, while the Iranian nuclear issue was the top issue for only 4% of Jewish voters.  (The economy and healthcare represent Jewish American voters’ two biggest concerns.) 

Alternatively, support for Israel is a top concern for evangelical Christian voters.  This group is important for Romney both because it constitutes a large share of the American population – about 26% – and because it provided President George W. Bush with 40% of his total votes in the 2004 presidential election.

Adding additional doubt to Sherwood’s working assumption about the intent of Romney’s visit are numbers regarding the contrasting voting strength of Jews and evangelicals.

While, according to exit polls, Jews made up 2% of the overall votes in the 2008 elections, born-again/evangelical Christians made up 38%.

Further, while 74% of evangelicals voted for John McCain in 2008, 78% of Jews voted for Barack Obama.

Romney is unlikely to be specifically courting the Jewish vote in the U.S. as the vast majority of American Jews are going to vote Democratic (based on past results as well as recent polling on the upcoming November election). The great support for Israel right now is in the evangelical community, which is a huge part of the Republican base and, per many reports, is still quite skeptical of the Mormon candidate’s credentials.

So Romney’s trip to Israel is a way of firing up this enormously important Republican base. 

As Jonathan Tobin of Commentary Magazine wrote:

“Romney needs a huge turnout of evangelicals — a group that often fails to maximize its numbers at the polls — this fall if he is to beat President Obama. As conservatives work to register and mobilize conservative Christians, expect to hear more about Israel from Romney. It may be that most Jews don’t care if Romney is more sympathetic to the Jewish state, but support for Israel is an issue that a great many Christians believe is a deal breaker.”

David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel - an extremely large and well-funded pro-Israel group – told the Washington Examiner that for many evangelicals, support for Israel is a key motivating factor in elections.  On the Iranian nuclear issue, Brog added:

“Whether there’s an Israeli strike or not, the issue of Israel threatened by Iran and a perception that the administration has not confronted Iran’s march towards nuclear weapons with sufficient courage and clarity, is absolutely going to motivate the base.”

The belief – which is implicit in Sherwood’s coverage of Romney’s visit and consistent with the narrative routinely advanced by Guardian contributors – that American politicians are pandering to Jews by expressing support for Israel is simply not supported by the empirical data regarding voting habits of various religious groups.

Sherwood’s superficial take on the motivations of the American Presidential challenger demonstrates that Israel is not the only country whose politics she egregiously misinterprets.   

Palestinians call for sanctions against Britain following Olympic opening; Lieberman to consider UK request to establish more Israeli settlements

A Guest Post by AKUS

A new scandal has erupted at the Olympics in Britain. Following the singing of the new British national anthem, “Jerusalem” during the opening ceremony and a plea from British Prime Minister for Israel to consider settling the poverty-stricken East End of London, the Palestinians have called for the UN to impose sanctions on Britain.

“Al-London will remain ours forever”, said the mayor of Tower Hamlets. “We were here when the Brits were painting themselves blue and swinging from the trees, and no Zionists will take Al-London from us”.

Palestinian non-negotiator Saeb (“we will only negotiate after you first agree to our terms”) Erekat pointed out that William Blake was really a Palestinian whose name was “Balak”, and the poem he wrote in 1492 was originally called “Al Kuds”. He wrote it after he invented algebra.   

Erekat added: “The reference to “did those feet in ancient times” refers to the imprint on the Dome of the Rock where Mohamed leaped onto his magic steed, and “dark satanic mills” refers to the terrible conditions under which Arabs have forced to labor for the Zionists in Palestine for centuries. Changing the name to Jerusalem from the Al Kuds, as it has been known since the time of our father, Ibrahim, will not hide the way Jews in Palestine have persecuted us for centuries.”

Erekat was imprisoned shortly after by the Palestinian Authority for revealing that Jews had been living in Palestine for centuries.

“It is time for the Palestinians to show who is in charge of Britain”, added British MP George Galloway and an aunty from the PSC who owns 23 cats. “We support the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Britain. We call on all decent people to avoid buying mud from the Thames”.

As result of Galloway’s brave stand, a motion was introduced at the Oxford Union to debate the topic: “A British MP who calls for sanctions against Britain should have his salary doubled”. Taking the opposite approach, the Cambridge Union proposed a debate on the topic: “Mud from the West Bank of the Thames should not be boycotted in Britain”. The Cambridge motion was rejected when the mayor of Tower Hamlets shouted down support for the sale of any products from any place called the West Bank.

Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman has been dispatched to London for urgent talks over the settlement issue. Since Britain does  not recognize the real Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” , he said, we will have to see if Mr. Cameron will accept London as Israel’s capital, or, alternatively, as seems to be the case, he prefers to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the UK.”

Phoebe Greenwood of the Guardian reported that the Israeli government has a plan to build 800 settlements in East London. The Guardian later corrected the statement to indicate that the plan actually called for the building of one kibbutz.

Noting that the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood has written that the kibbutz movement is making a comeback Mr. Cameron has said he will ask Mr. Lieberman to have Israel to reconsider and build 800 kibbutzim in East London, not 800 settlements. “Britain”, he said, “is in worse economic shape than the West Bank and according to the World Bank, like Palestine, its economy not strong enough to support a state”.  

In an article in the New Economist, Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian pointed out that the difference between the East Side and the West Bank is that the Judea and Samaria have hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers. “This has greatly improved the economy, whereas most Jews who used to live in East London now live in the West Bank. Bring back the Jews to the East Side,” Freedland argued, “and you will see the area start to flourish”.

“On the other hand”, Freedland continued,” if Israel has to try to absorb 60 millions Brits that could imperil the Jewish character of the State of Israel and the original Zionist concept of Manchester as a Jewish homeland.”  The Guardian’s editors are still trying to understand his last comment and are wondering if it has anything to do with circumcision, a topic of great concern to its readers.

The Labour Party has denounced Mr. Cameron’s kibbutz initiative as a transparent ploy to get the Jewish and left-wing votes in the next election. “We supported the socialist kibbutzim when you thought the term referred to someone watching a chess match”, Ed Milliband sniffed.

Hilary Clinton and Dennis Ross have pointed out that it has been impossible get a two state solution established between Israel and the Palestinians. “How can we be expected to help the Palestinians negotiate a three state solution?” Clinton asked. Cameron pointed out that Great Britain negotiated a three state solution centuries ago, and this would actually be a five state solution. However, the head of the IRA has requested that a special UN commission be established to negotiate the inclusion of Northern Ireland into a six-state solution. Lord Peel’s great grand-daughter has offered to lead the commission.

Mitt Romney was not asked his opinion on the matter by Mr. Cameron. Nevertheless, on the flight to Israel, he laid out his plan for an Israeli leveraged buy-out of the UK. “I would break it up into its separate divisions, fire the few workers that are there, and sell off the pieces to the highest bidder”, Romney opined. “I might want to keep MI-6”. He had just finished speaking when his plane landed at Ben Gurion airport, and all the Israelis started clapping. Romney took this as a vote of support, but, in, fact, it is what Israelis do then they land safely in Israel.

Following the expansion of the proposed solution to Britain’s economic woes to a six-state solution Dennis Ross flew home in despair. As his flight was landing in Washington, the patriotic Captain piped in a rendition of “Jerusalem” followed by Hatikvah directly from the Olympic opening ceremony. The Israelis on board started clapping, thinking that they had once again successfully landed at Ben Gurion airport. The Brits on board joined in, since it was the polite thing to do. The Palestinians published an article saying that it was racist to clap after Hatikvah and called on the UN to issue a ban on playing Hatikvah on airplanes.

The end of Israel?

Cross posted by Yaacov Lozowick

(It’s Tisha b’Av, the fast day of mourning for the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem. Three years ago, in 2009, when this blog was still active, I wrote an essay wondering if Israel could be ended. I just went back and re-read it, and it’s still as relevant and essentially up to date as it was three years ago. So I’m re-posting. – Yaacov Lozowick, July 28, 2012)

Tisha’a b’Av, the Ninth day of Av, 2009. Today we mark 1,939 years since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by mourning and fasting, but also, from noon onwards, with acts of construction such as fixing something around the house. It’s hot, we haven’t had a sip of water since yesterday, but we’re puttering about with a hammer looking for something to fix. Mourning, in Jewish tradition, is as much about looking forward as backward.
There’s a growing constituency for the idea that Israel’s time is limited. Between 1949 and the early 1970s, Israel’s right to exist was openly denied by most of the Arab world, but largely unquestioned elsewhere. Then the narrative changed, and for the next quarter century the growing consensus in the West and in Israel itself was that the existential threat had passed, and if only Israel would accept the Palestinians alongside it, peace would flourish. The Green Line of 1967: if only Israel would retreat to it!
Since summer 2000 this narrative has been steadily losing ground. Most Israelis and their elected leaders have accepted the fundamental thesis if not all its details, but the Palestinians have made clear their claims begin with 1948, not 1967.
So Israel’s enemies and harsh critics are dropping the pretence of seeking partition; they are ever more openly striving for an abolition of Zionism. The Jews should have no separate state of their own, say the enemies; the Jews may end up with no state of their own, say the unconfident friends, and all call for Israeli actions which may bring this about.
Here are three random examples, all from the past 24 hours. First, the rabid antisemites at the Guardian’s Comment is Free, ranting about the urgent need for a world without Israel. Second, Andrew Sullivan, muddled thinker but very popular blogger, telling A.Jay Adler he can’t see Israel reaching its 60th anniversary (which happened back in 2008, but no matter). Finally, Jeffrey Goldberg, journalist and blogger at The Atlantic and a staunch supporter of Israel, fearing that wrong Israeli policies might cause it not to survive. The antisemites hope for Israel’s end, Sullivan is beginning to wonder, and Goldberg is beginning to fear; they all agree it’s possible.
Is it? How?


There are some seven and a half million people in Israel. 20% are Arabs or Arabic-speaking Druze, with a slowing birthrate. A few percent are Christian non-Arabs, most but not all from the former Soviet Union; culturally they are part of the Hebrew-speaking Jewish society. The rest are Jews; their birthrate is slowly rising, even the non-religious among them. The Jewish community in Israel is the world’s largest; at some point soon they will become the majority of the world’s Jews, though this will not immediately be obvious because the rest of the Jews are not easy to define nor count. The number of Jews in Israel is roughly the same as the number of Jews murdered during the Shoah. That would be one way to end Israel: by violence.
In December 2001 Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, often touted in the media as a moderate among the Iranian leaders, said in a public speech that Muslims should not fear from a nuclear confrontation with Israel: Israel is small and can be destroyed, the Muslim world is large, and can’t. (Translated by MEMRI, but also posted on the website of the Iran Press Service). Of course, such a nuclear conflagration would also kill millions of others – Palestinians, Iranians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Syrians, but some people are willing to pay a steep price to rid the world of Jews. History proves that, just as it proves that when people repeatedly announce their intention to rid the world of Jews, they may actually mean it.
I cannot say how near the Iranians are to being able to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons, nor how many of their leaders agree with Rafsanjani, but a nuclear war could indeed end Israel; moreover, it could be launched by a very small number of people. Should a group of Israel’s haters have the nuclear ability, they would not need to hold a national referendum. A few hundred willing technicians and a handful of committed mass murderers would suffice. So it must be prevented.
Sometimes I wonder if perhaps Israel shouldn’t warn, that if the day ever comes when the last of her people in some nuclear submarine realize that all is lost, their orders will be to shoot off their remaining missiles at Berlin, London, Paris and Moscow. Simply to focus minds on the cost of having a world without Israel to the nations whose forefathers often gleefully persecuted Jews.
Nuclear Armageddon is logically possible; personally I have decided to live as if it’s not going to happen. Elected leaders and a small number of specialists must spend their lives bearing the burden of preparing for the worst; the rest of us can’t be expected to do so while living normal lives.
Interestingly, the haters of Israel yearning for its destruction don’t believe in the nuclear danger. Should Israel ever take pre-emptive military action the Guardian and its ilk will shrilly denounce Israel for its paranoia; I expect the Andrew Sullivans to join them. There’s a tension at the heart of the anti-Israeli discourse, which postulates that Israel should or may go down for its crimes against the Palestinians, while denying the existence of any real danger to it from anyone else. This is the Western corollary of the tension common among many Muslims of denying the Holocaust while regretting that Hitler didn’t complete the job.
Short of nuclear war, is there any danger to Israel’s existence?
But of course, say those who fear it or yearn for it. Their favorite scenario is that someday America will turn its back on Israel, and Israel will cave in. There are other scenarios, in which British academics and politically enthusiastic activists manage to set in movement a boycott that devastates Israel’s economy and brings it to its knees, but without the active encouragement of America it’s hard to see how this might work.
For such a scenario a number of things must happen.
First, a significant proportion of American society must greatly sour on Israel. Disliking a particular Israeli leader or policy won’t be enough to make them enact anti-Israeli legislation. For that masses of Americans must decide Israel is uniquely evil, to the extent they’d be willing to take highly unusual measures. Since Israel isn’t uniquely evil, and actually is far better than many players on the international stage, this means someone will have to inculcate in masses of Americans a dislike of Israel that is irrational – in effect, they’ll need to inculcate antisemitism in a society which is largely free of it. If you assume there’s a reason America is the first large Western society to cure itself of the malaise of Jew Hatred, this means that reason must be turned back.
For all my affinity to America, I don’t live there and can’t say such a thing could never happen. I doubt it, but perhaps I’m naïve. It’s certainly a likely scenario in Europe, indeed, it’s already happening – though of course, no large European society was ever really free of Jew Hatred.
For the sake of the argument, let’s assume America participates in placing sanctions against Israel, demanding Israeli measures Israel otherwise refuses to take – i.e not dismantle settlements, for which an Israeli majority could easily be found, but accept half a million descendants of Palestinian refugees, say, or dismantle the homes of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Jerusalem. That sort of thing. Would international sanctions against Israel succeed, on an issue a majority of Israelis regard as existential?
Sanctions, as a general rule, don’t work. The world economy is too porous. People, companies and states will always be found to circumvent them for profit. Lots of European companies are past masters at the deception, but the Chinese don’t even pretend. Furthermore, while it’s just conceivable that America might roll back its history and re-acquire the taste for Jew Hatred, the Chinese and Indians never had the taste to begin with. The sole example of successful sanctions I’m aware of, against South Africa, never made a dent until the world was suddenly unipolar, in the early 1990s. It’s less unipolar now than then, which is why the various sanction schemes now running aren’t making much difference.
What if, improbable as it seems, there were to be universal sanctions against Israel, on a matter Israel felt it couldn’t compromise on. What then?
I know I wouldn’t cave in. I’ve gone to war, three weeks after my wedding, hoping to be back but knowing I might not. I went anyway, and some of my friends indeed didn’t return. I’ve lived through a period where busses and supermarkets were life threatening environments. I’ve sent my children off to war – that was probably the hardest. Why would anyone expect me to give in on something essential faced merely with, what, economic hardship? So far as I can tell, I’m no different than most people around me. We would love to have peace with our neighbors, we have absolutely no joy from our war with them, but we’re not going to relinquish the essentials we’ve acquired at tremendous cost these past few generations.


It’s Tisha b’Av. The fast will be over in a few hours, and we’ll go back to our normal routines. For today, however, we’re mourning the time, two millennia ago, when our forefathers were crushed by the mightiest military power in the world. Bad things can happen to Jews, and do, with consistent regularity. Sanguinity, as in “we’ve got a vibrant society here, nothing can ever beat us” is not warranted by history. We actually often do get beaten, and perhaps will again. Yet it’s late afternoon of Tisha B’Av, and I suppose I should take out my tools and find something around the house that needs fixing. After all, the generation of Jews who were pulverized by the Romans were also the greatest generation of Jews ever, along with their children and grandchildren. They were the ones who got up from the rubble and re-defined their world so as to get along without the Temple; they created the Mishna; they lay the foundations for the ability to survive millennia of homelessness and disenfranchisement. Why, they even managed to launch a second, even more furious revolt against the Romans. And then they got out from under Hadrian’s genocide and kept on going, until the Roman Empire was long since gone, and its successor, and its…
I’m sorry – no, I’m not sorry at all – but whoever is planning our near demise doesn’t get it. We’re not here because the Colonialists sent us and forgot to take us back.  We’re not here as revenge for the Shoah the Europeans enabled the Germans to commit on us. We’re not here on the sufferance of the Americans. We’re here because we’ve decided to be here. Short of divine plans, which I don’t pretend to be able to explain, our decisions are the most important part of the story, as they always have been.
Yaacov Lozowick
Jerusalem, July 30, 2009

On Tisha B’Av: Israel’s mission as Guardian of the Jews

The following is a revised version of an essay I wrote which was published in the journal of the South African Board of Deputies, Jewish Affairs

“People resent the Jews for having emerged from their immemorial weakness and fearlessly resorted to force.  They thereby betrayed the mission that history had assigned to them – being a people…that did not get tangled up in the obtuse narrowness of the nation-state.” – Pascal Bruckner, The Tyranny of Guilt

It is now Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout their history on the same date on the Hebrew calendar – the ninth day of the month of Av.

Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, but on this day we also reflect on the many other tragedies which occurred on this date, from the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 to the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Like many in Jerusalem, I intend to spend some time on this day at the Kotel participating in what represents a public bereavement for the many victims of our collective calamities.  Typically, however, in addition to such mourning, I can’t help but reflect on this painful annual recollection of suffering and catastrophe in the context of the Jewish community’s often ambivalent relationship with power.  Such ruminations are only heightened by my new citizenship in the state of Israel, a nation often forced to exercise power in order to prevent additional tragedies from befalling the Jewish people.

Jewish worshippers pray at the Kotel (The Western Wall) as they mark Tisha B’Av

Indeed, Israel’s rebirth can be seen as a direct response to these calamitous events – an attempt to turn history around and act instead of being acted upon. Whether defending itself in war, or aiding/rescuing endangered Jewish communities around the world, the Jewish collective has had at its disposal for the past 64 years – and for the first time in over 2000 years – a state apparatus with the means (logistically, politically, diplomatically, and militarily) to protect its people’s interests, just as other communities represented by nation-states have had through the ages.

However, with this organized exercise of strength comes a price, a unique moral burden that many Jews seem unwilling or unable to bear – as any exertion of power, or control over your own fate, inevitably carries with it a the loss of innocence often projected upon people perceived to be victims and lacking in moral agency.

Israeli military power (exercised against terrorism and small-scale regional threats, and in actual wars against state actors, and its territorial repercussions), and the relative success and political power of Jewish communities in the West – as well as the influence of a political culture which selectively eschews particularistic moral sympathies which fall on the wrong side of the arbitrary post-colonial divide – seems to instil in many Jews a loss of identification with their community. 

This chasm often finds expression in the need to identify in a way uniquely separate from such seemingly crude “ethnocentric” expressions of political and military power. Many Jews today find it more ethically comforting to identify with non-Jewish “progressive” causes than with their own community – which carries with it the necessity of physically defending a nation (one representing a very particular identity) in all the complexities and compromises that are invariably associated with even the most progressive national enterprises.

Before the birth of the modern Jewish state, German-Jewish philosopher, Franz Rosenzweig, in his pre-Holocaust book ‘The Star of Redemption’ expressed his belief that a return to Israel would embroil the Jews into a worldly history they should shun. He viewed Judaism as a supra-historical entity, whose importance lies in the fact that it is not political but presents a spiritual ideal only.  He saw the creation of a nation-state as a blow to the Jewish ideal of an apolitical spiritual life.

From the recent revival of Mussar (and other similar movements which aspire to furthering individual Jewish ethical and spiritual development) to the progressive mantra of “Tikkun Olam” (which views seeking “social justice” and performing acts of individual charity as the greatest expressions of Jewish devotion), this recurring Jewish tendency to pay greater attention to their own moral performance and good deeds than to the nitty-gritty, everyday, necessities of collective survival is an inclination that writer Ruth Wisse characterizes as “moral solipsism.”

While personal spiritual improvement is indeed admirable, and the desire to tend to the needs of “the other” (by, feeding the hungry or protecting the environment) is certainly a noble impulse, it can also represent a political pathos – a moral escapism rooted in a blindness to the undeniable political lessons of Jewish history.

Wisse, in her book, Jews and Power, argues that, historically, Jews, in displaying the resilience necessary to survive in exile, and not burdened by the weight of a military, believed they could pursue their mission as a “light unto the nations” on a purely moral plane. She demonstrates how, in fact, perpetual political weakness increased Jews’ vulnerability to scapegoating and violence, as it unwittingly goaded power-seeking nations to cast them as perpetual targets.

Throughout their pre-state history, Jews inhabited a potentially precarious position, ever exposed to the whims of rulers and the resentment of the populace. Their trust in God as the absolute arbiter of history allowed them to endure unimaginable indignities, turning inward to concentrate on their own moral excellence.  Wisse concludes that “Jews who endured the powerlessness of exile were in danger of mistaking it for a requirement of Jewish life or, worse, for a Jewish ideal.”

Indeed some Jews I have known express their disapproval of Israel, or the Jewish community at large, by lamenting this newly acquired capacity to exercise political and military power by exclaiming that (with a tone that almost approaches longing) “Jews have always been the underdog.”  Such Jews, in fetishizing weakness, fail to see the role that such powerlessness has played in the suffering that has befallen their community through the ages.

Yes, with national sovereignty there is a price that has to be paid in terms of responsibility for the occasional infliction of human suffering (even if unintentional) that invariably occurs as the result of even the most responsible and judicious use of national power. But in the lives of individual adults, as in the lives of nations, rarely is there the luxury of making choices that will allow one to live a life of puerile innocence, nor one which offers decisions which will result in perfect justice for all concerned.

Rather, with every serious decision in front of her, Israel must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of various possible acts and try to make the decision that will likely result in the most positive outcome, while also taking into account how such actions will affect the safety and well-being of future generations of Israelis, and the broader Jewish community, as well.

Israel has a profound responsibility in carrying out the arduous, thankless – but, ethically necessary – task of collective self-defense (A national Zionist vision which Theodore Herzl referred to as “The Guardian of the Jews”).  For Israel, in an era replete with concrete military threats by state and non-state actors – as well as less quantifiable, but no less dangerous, delegitimization campaigns by loosely connected political networks – an unapologetic and fiercely determined self-defense is an ethical imperative.

Protecting yourself, your family, your community, and your nation from potential harm should never be misconstrued as inconsistent with the highest Jewish ethical aspirations – an idea the broader Jewish community would be wise to take seriously while lamenting the suffering of so many throughout our history on Tisha B’Av.

Postcard from Israel – Jerusalem in 66 CE.

As Tisha B’Av ( the 9th of Av) approaches, our virtual trip this week goes back in time to Jerusalem in the year 66 CE –  the start of the Great Revolt and four years before the Roman destruction of the Temple. 

This scale model of Second Temple Jerusalem was created in 1966 by Michael Avi-Yonah – Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University – and was moved to its present site at the Israel Museum in 2006. 


The cowardly Zionism of Jonathan Freedland

Cross posted by our friend Richard Millett

In his piece Yearning for the same land in this week’s New Statesman magazine prize-winning author and columnist Jonathan Freedland cites four shades of Zionism: secular, religious, left-wing and rightist.

Make that five shades: Freedland Zionism – sitting in one’s comfortable diaspora home while joining in the delegitimisation of Israel.

A May issue of the New Statesman was devoted to Who Speaks for British Jews? This week’s issue asks Israel: the future – Is the dream of a two-state solution dead?

Israel is unique in being the only country whose future, or lack of, is constantly under discussion. And who knew that ripping the heart out of Judaism by giving up places like the Machpelah in Hebron is considered a “dream”?  A necessity in return for an elusive peace maybe, but no dream.

Freedland puts himself among the “left-leaning Zionists”. These are “true Zionists” who think that “the 45-year long occupation is jeopardising the founding Zionist goal of a Jewish, democratic state.”

Freedland doesn’t tell us why the “occupation” is threatening Israel’s Jewish and democratic status but it sounds like the scaremongering of J Street and Yachad.

Yachad, for example, claims that if Israel doesn’t withdraw from the West Bank then by 2020 the Palestinians between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will outnumber Jews. Minority autocratic rule by Jews over Palestinians will follow or, as Mick Davis, a British Jewish community leader put it recently, “Israel is heading towards an apartheid state”.

Those who cite this thesis never back it up with a source, but that is because it is just more anti-Israel propaganda; a ploy to force Israel to dangerously concede more land.

Yoram Ettinger shows how the numbers of Palestinians on the West Bank are regularly artificially inflated by at least one million and argues that Palestinians and Israeli Arabs can never make up more than 30% of those living between the River and the Sea. Freedland wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of a good story.

Freedland claims to support Israel’s right to exist. He just doesn’t like how Zionism was implemented or current Israeli policy. And he believes that “the security, viability and even the ethical character of the Jewish state matter more than its size.”

He contrasts this position with that of the “hawkish Zionists, heirs of the revisionist tradition of Vladimir Jabotinsky who are territorial maximalists, eager to fly the Israeli flag over all of the West Bank”.

So just how small does Freedland think Israel should have been?

The Peel Commission of 1937 offered the Arabs 80% of British Mandate Palestine and the Jews 20%. The Zionists accepted but Arab leaders rejected this leaving Europe’s Jews to their fate in the gas chambers.

Freedland states “Israel needs to look plainly at the circumstances of its birth and understand why Palestinians regard the event as a catastrophe.” But Arab leaders having rejected, this time, 45% of British Mandate Palestine in 1947 went on to commence hostilities against the Jews instead.

So who are the real “territorial maximalists” here?

In fact the seeds for Arab defeat in 1947-1949 were self-inflicted having been sown during the 1936-39 Arab uprising in British Mandate Palestine which was brutally crushed by the British leaving the Arabs bereft of leaders, fighters and weapons while Zionist militias used the time to build up their reserves.

Freedland then complains that there were no takers in Israel for a “national memorial day to mark the Arab dispossession”.

But why would Israelis commemorate an attempt by Arab leaders to kill them?

Despite all this Arab rejectionism Freedland then, incredibly, goes on to portray Jews and Arabs as drowning nations clinging to the same piece of driftwood. He thinks the Jews who were “gasping for breathe” were right to cling to it in 1948. After 1967, he claims Israel pushed the Palestinians off the shared driftwood and into the sea.

Freedland doesn’t bother analysing what the situation might have been like today had Israel not been in West Bank.  One need only look at the aftermath of Israel’s pullout from Gaza: rockets slamming into Tel Aviv, anyone?

Like in his piece This is Israel? Not the one I Love in the Jewish Chronicle last November Freedland doesn’t like to complicate the issue by mentioning Hamas or Islamic Jihad. No mention of Hamas’ call to kill Jews in its charter or of Hamas’ beliefs that Israel is an “Islamic waqf” and that peaceful solutions are invalid.

Freedland never asks, or answers, why he thinks the Palestinians, who rejected 80% of the territory in 1937 and 45% in 1947 would accept 22% now. In fact he doesn’t criticise the Palestinians once.

Luckily for Freedland he has never had to take a life or death decision. Sadly, he takes the coward’s way out and criticises those unlucky Jews forced to. He yearns for the perfect Israel and until then won’t stop his constant delegitimisation of the Jewish state.

But it gets worse. Alongside Freedland’s piece is a piece by Ali Abunimah.  Abunimah calls for a one state solution and the ending of “Israelis’ demand for the supremacy of Jewish rights over those of the Palestinians”. While Geoffrey Wheatcroft, in his book review How the dream died, describes the American “pro-Israel official ‘Jewish establishment’” as “elderly, rich and right-wing”.

“Supremacy of Jewish rights”, Jews described as “rich”? The New Statesman obviously has no problem with keeping sickening anti-Semitic stereotypes alive.

AccuWeather.com creates a Palestinian homeland in Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut

(This post was revised at 14:05 BST to correct an error regarding the historical boundaries of Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut. CiF Watch apologizes for the mistake)

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi, who blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind and Times of Israel

It must be a surreal experience to go to sleep in one country and wake up in another – without leaving your bed, mind you.

Yet, this is precisely what happened to the citizens of Modi’in Maccabim-Re’ut, specifically those who may have recently logged on to the AccuWeather.com website.

It turns out, much to the amazement of most of its residents, that Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut is now part of Palestine. Were we asleep at the wheel when the Palestinian Authority pitched its flag over the approximately 75,000 inhabitants currently living in Modi’in Maccabim-Re’ut and lowered Israel’s?

What we appear to have here is a failure to separate fact from narrative. And it’s the Palestinian narrative, a manufactured self-image nurtured since Israel’s founding, that has been picked up, processed and regurgitated as immutable history.

Sadly for those in the throes of delusions about a capital-free Israel, however, history tends to leave fingerprints.

Modiin itself is completely within Israel’s pre-67 boundaries. Parts of Maccabeam and Reut, which were joined to the Modiin municipality several years ago, are over the Green Line, but are located in what was no-man’s land. The city was henceforth known as Modi’in Maccabim-Re’ut.

Now, this is all well and good but doesn’t directly address the central question: whose city is it? Well, a city by definition is a series of complex systems for sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing and transportation. Furthermore, a city’s concentration of development greatly facilitates interaction between people and businesses, benefiting both parties in the process.

Regarding “occupied” Modi’in, it was little more than a pit stop between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv until the decision to was made by the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to break ground on a brand new city, located on the ancient site that was the Jewish Hasmonean seat of power when it ruled Judea in the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE and where the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Greeks started.

Back to our time, it has been Israeli tax payers, not the European Union and not the United States, who have largely financed the flowering of Modi’in. And the results have been staggering: an employment zone extending over 1,300,000 square meters, central railway station and accessibility to public transportation that enables residents to travel to their jobs throughout the center and south of Israel are but three accomplishments that are a source of much civic pride. Modi’in residents enjoy an usually high quality of life and the city continues to develop at a dizzying rate.

In the meantime, the financial problems of real Palestinian cities, that is to say those under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority, continue to grow. Outside of Ramallah, government spending and living on credit at all levels of Palestinian society is rampant and may prove to be the economy’s undoing.

While aid for the donor-dependent Palestinian Authority has slowed to a trickle, salaries for a swollen public sector again cannot even be paid in full. The productive base for the economy is shriveling while unemployment climbs along with poverty.

And foreign aid continues to wane partly because of global economic conditions and partly in a backlash to the Palestinians’ abortive bid for statehood at the United Nations last fall.

Around these parts, one man’s suburb is another man’s settlement. Ultimately, the final status of the disputed territories is best left for Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to iron out. However, it is worth noting that over two-thirds of the Jews in the West Bank live in five settlement blocs that are all near the 1967 border. Most observers believe that these blocs will become part of Israel when final borders are drawn.

While the mystique of objective news coverage has long since faded, the battle of competing worldviews has evidently spilled over into the field of meteorology. After all, if Modi’in is in Palestine, who’s to say whether London is the capital of Northern Ireland, Tibet is a part of the People’s Republic of China or if Northern Cyprus even exists?

AccuWeather.com would be well advised to spend more time on the dazzling Northern Lights and less on remapping Israel.  By politicizing the weather, the website’s own forecast can be summed up as: partly misleading with chance of torrential bias.

(You can Tweet Accuweather.com here)

Info on events to commemorate Israeli athletes murdered at ’72 Munich Olympics #justoneminute

Despite a last-minute appeal to IOC President Jacques Rogge by widows of two of the murdered Israelis, the Olympic Committee still refuses to hold an official minute of silence to commemorate the 11 victims at the opening ceremonies for the London Games.

So, two organizations, British Israel Coalition (BIC) and the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, will be holding their own events.

Here are the details:

Event in LondonRemembering Munich

“At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by terrorists.

The IOC was petitioned by the British Government, by the London Assembly and by many other organisations worldwide to acknowledge and commemorate this atrocity publicly by incorporating one minute’s silence into the official opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.  It has refused to do so.

So the British Israel Coalition has decided to hold our own public commemoration – an initiative of our senior member Clive Hyman.

Please regard this as a personal invitation to you to join with us and pay your respects to these victims of terrorism; to show to the world that while the IOC doesn’t care, we do.

If you can, please bring flags with you  –  the Israeli flag of course but also Union Jacks, the flag of Scotland or Wales or, indeed, any other country because such a mix indicates international support. 

The ‘programme’ for this event is as follows.

  • By agreement with the Metropolitan Police, we will congregate in Trafalgar Square by 10.45am on the north terrace in front of the National Gallery. 
  • When Big Ben strikes 11.00am we will lower our flags and observe one minute’s silence.
  • At the end of the silence, we will recite Kaddish, raise our flags and sing Hatikvah and God Save The Queen; and then we will disperse.

In order to ensure some degree of cohesion for reciting Kaddish and singing the national anthems, each will be started by one person with everyone else joining in.

This will be a short, simple and dignified ceremony to commemorate publicly the murder of 11 athletes by terrorists 40 years ago, to remind people that this atrocity took place and to honour publicly the memory of those who were killed  –  something which the IOC has refused to do.

So we are inviting you to come and join us.  And we’re asking you to spread the word, to use every means possible to invite and encourage everyone you know to attend and further spread the word: because everybody is welcome, regardless of colour or creed.

This is our one and only opportunity to display to the public that we care.  Please help make it a success.  Please show the IOC that we care, even if they don’t.”

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Event wherever you are: Minute for Munich

27TH JULY at 11:00 am

“As you are aware, there have been a number of campaigns urging the IOC to hold a minutes’ silence during the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics. Unfortunately the IOC has decided against this commemoration. So, The Zionist Federation is inviting you to join us in remembering the 11 murdered Israeli Athletes.

 On the morning of the Opening Ceremony, we are asking people everywhere to stop for one minute and stand in silence as a personal tribute to those who lost their lives in the 1972 Munich Massacre. Wherever you may be and whatever you may be doing, please join us and stand in silence for one minute in silence as we remember.

 We will also be holding a short memorial service that will be streamed live via a webcast from 10.45am and will include senior communal figures. You will be able to view this at www.zionist.org.uk

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CiF Watch is a proud supporter of this event.

(The documentary film about the Munich Massacre, One Day in September, which won the Academy Award in 2000, can be seen here)