How did UK Chief Rabbi get the motivation of Toulouse killer so wrong?

It typically is quite welcomed when the UK Chief Rabbi lends his moral authority – and, as in the case of the previous occupant of the office, Jonathan Sacks, profound eloquence – to an op-ed on the topic of antisemitism.  

However, though we were hoping for inspiration and clarity by the new Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, his Telegraph op-ed included a truly baffling error regarding the background of the Toulouse killer, Muhammad Merah.

Here are the first few paragraphs in Mirvis’s essay (A new strain of Antisemitism is on the rise, Aug. 27):

On Sunday a rally will take place in London to demand zero tolerance of anti-Semitism. Why is this necessary?

On March 19 2012, a teacher and three pupils were killed in a terrorist attack at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish Day School in Toulouse. For days, speculation was rife about the identity and motivation of the perpetrator.

Initially, many presumed that the killer came from the extreme Right. After all, the strengthening of extremist elements in the midst of a faltering European economy has fuelled anti-Semitism. Or, we wondered, perhaps the attacker subscribed to neo-Nazi ideology, or was influenced by radical Islam. Whatever the motivation, it seemed sadly clear that, even in the 21st century, the old aims of Hitler had not vanished from the continent of Europe.

Then the perpetrator was identified as Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French petty criminal, of Algerian descent. Merah said that he attacked the Jewish school because “the Jews kill our brothers and sisters in Palestine”. This transformation of the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict into something more sinister, and even religious in nature, has produced what some refer to as the new anti-Semitism.

It’s curious that Mirvis chose to benignly characterize Merah as a “petty criminal’ and not someone motivated by radical Islam.  There is simply no debate over the fact that he was an Islamist who murdered Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, Gabriel Sandler (age 4), Arieh Sandler (age 5), Miriam Monsonego (age 7) in an act of Jihad.  

Though Merah had previously served time in jail for ‘petty crime’, his radicalization while in prison was not surprising, given that this extremist Islamist ideology infected most of his immediate family.  Indeed, his family was reportedly obsessed by hatred of Jews, and were passionate supporters of the “outlawed Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and Armed Islamic Group) (GIA) terrorist organizations”.

In 2010, Merah traveled to Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Tajikistan to join or train with jihadists.  He later traveled to Afghanistan in hopes of joining the Taliban.

Marc Weitzmann, a regular contributor to Le Monde, in his masterful essay at Tablet about Merah, chillingly noted the following:

in August 2011…he finally met [Islamist] “the brothers” who would initiate him into terror. And here’s the credo (retold in a French that challenges a translator): “In the beginning, the brothers, they told me to kill. A brother from Arab origin. He said I should kill everything—everything that is civilian and miscreant, everything. The gays, the homosexuals, the ones that kiss each other in public. He said, ‘Shoot them down,’ see? But me, I had a message to carry. And, er… I knew that by killing only militaries and Jews, the message, it would carried better. Cuz if I were to kill just civilians, the French population they’d say, ‘Oh, he’s just another crazy terrorist.’ Even if I had the right. But now the message’s different. Now I just kill militaries and Jews, see?

Yes, we ‘see’ that Merah was clearly motivated by Islamist extremism, an ominous example of the increasing threat posed to Europe by radicalized Muslims returning from ‘theaters of Jihad’ overseas.

We’re left to wonder, however: Does the Chief Rabbi not see this?

Financial Times correspondent John Reed declares Hamas a ‘winner’

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which do not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie”

This is a quote by George Orwell about news reports during the Spanish Civil War, but, as former AP correspondent Matt Friedman explained in his masterful Tablet essay (An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth), Orwell’s words are just as apt in characterizing the media’s egregiously misleading coverage of Israel and the war in Gaza. 

The Orwell quote (cited by Friedman in his article) came to mind when we read the following passages in a report in the London-based Financial Times by John Reed titled ‘War in Gaza: Winners and Losers‘, which happened to overlap with Hamas’s own surreal assessment of the war.

Here’s the relevant passage in Reed’s report:

ft

Let’s take it apart:

Reed:

Before Protective Edge, Gaza’s ruling Islamist movement was in a corner. It was politically isolated, bankrupt, unable to pay its civil servants and forced by circumstances to reconcile with arch-rival Fatah.

And, after the war, Hamas is politically isolated, bankrupt, and still unable to pay its civil servants. Further, the current ceasefire deal which Hamas agreed to is almost exactly like the one Egypt proposed (which Israel accepted) but Hamas rejected on July 15, one week into the conflict, before the IDF destroyed their terror tunnels, and killed some of their top leaders.  

Hamas’s decision to reject the July 15th proposal represented a colossal miscalculation, and resulted in more Hamas fighters killed, a much greater depletion of their rocket capacity, and no perceivable military, strategic or political benefit.

Other Hamas ‘demands’ which haven’t been agreed to by Israel in the current ceasefire include opening a sea port and an airport in Gaza, and releasing additional Palestinian prisoners.

Reed:

In this context, the war was a welcome development. Hamas, for the third time in five years, confronted one of the world’s best armies and managed to hold on to power, calculating correctly that Israel would never embark on a longer and bloodier ground war in order to topple it.

How low can you set the bar? The mere fact that they ‘held on to power’ is a victory? Again, he doesn’t explain what concrete achievements they can reasonably boast. Also, it’s interesting that Reed fails to explain how the war was a “welcome development” for Palestinian civilians.

Reed:

Hamas rockets, built painstakingly over years by blockade-busting tactics, sent people across Israel running into shelters, killing six civilians and bringing most flights at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport to a halt for two days in July.

It’s almost as if Reed admires Hamas’s ‘grit’ in diverting humanitarian aid (which could have helped Gaza’s economy) for terror purposes. Plus, it’s interesting how such Jerusalem based correspondents covering the war, such as Reed, who almost universally downplayed the threat posed to Israeli civilians by the thousands of Hamas rockets, can now suggest that these same rockets ‘successfully’ terrorized Israel by killing six civilians, and sending them fleeing for bomb shelters. 

Reed:

Although much of Hamas’s arsenal is now depleted and many of its tunnels destroyed, fighting Israel to another ceasefire plays as a victory for many of its supporters.

Talk about burying the lead!  So, despite the fact that “Hamas’s [rocket] arsenal is now depleted and many [sic] of its tunnels destroyed”, Reed still maintains that a victory was achieved. 

Reed:

As after Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, Hamas can begin firing again if it chooses. Granted, when the dust settles from this conflict and its spoils and destruction become clearer to Gazans, they could potentially turn on Hamas. There is no sign of this happening yet, however.

Of course, one of the biggest obstacles preventing Gazans from “turning on Hamas” is not any objective assessment of the war’s “achievements’ per se, but, rather, scenes such as these:

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

Finally, here are some facts ignored by Reed in his assessment:

  • IDF attacked 5,263 targets across Gaza during the war, hitting rocket launching sites, arms and munitions factories and warehouses, as well as the offices of Hamas commanders. Several top Hamas commanders and hundreds of Hamas fighters were killed. Over 34 known tunnels were destroyed.
  • Out of the 4,564 rockets and mortars fired at Israel from Gaza, over 475 landed in Gaza, killing an unknown number of Palestinians. 3,641 exploded in Israeli territory, but only 224 actually hit residential areas, while the remaining rockets fell in open areas; The Iron Dome intercepted at least 735. Six Israeli civilians were killed.

To simply state that Reeds’s assessment of Hamas’s achievements ‘does not bear any relation to the facts’ is an understatement of enormous proportions. 

CiF Watch prompts correction to erroneous Times of London headline

On Aug. 5th, the Times of London published an article (pay wall) titled ‘Refugee camp hit as Israel admits it broke truce’.

headline times of london

However, the article didn’t include any information even suggesting that Israel had “admitted” breaking the truce.  Indeed, news sites reported that the time of the attack (aimed at a senior Hamas operative) was clearly in dispute.

After several complaints to Times editors, they agreed to revise the headline.

revisedThe print edition ran this correction:

times 2

 

We commend Times editors for their positive response to our complaint.

Guardian fauxtography: Chris McGreal pulls a Jon Donnison

You no doubt recall when, during the last war in Gaza in 2012, BBC’s Jon Donnison tweeted a photo of a girl with the title “Pain in Gaza”, to which Donnison added his own commentary – “Heartbreaking”.  It of course turned out that the genuinely heartbreaking image was actually from Syria and not from Gaza – a mistake for which Donnison subsequently apologized. 

Well, within the last hour, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal just retweeted the following, to his nearly 4,000 followers, a Tweet by Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, for Human Rights Watch.

syria

However, this photo of a boy (8 year old Eid) holding his new prosthetic leg was taken in Syria, not Gaza.

pcrf

The article posted at the site of Palestine Children’s Relief Fund explains:

Thanks to the support of donors all over the world, the hard work of the PCRF Jordan Chapter, and Mr. Charl Stenger, an orthotics specialist working in Dubai, 8-year-old Eid from Syria got his new artificial legs after losing them from a bombing earlier this year (his mother was killed and his 5-year-old sister also lost a leg).  The PCRF is dedicated to helping any child in need, regardless of their nationality, religion or ethnicity.  

No doubt, apologies from McGreal and Whitson will be forthcoming.

UPDATE: Whitson deleted her tweet and wrote this:

delete

No word yet from McGreal.

Mira Bar-Hillel falls for phony ‘IDF’ tweet ‘admitting’ to murdering children

For those unfamiliar with the British ‘journalist’ Mira Bar-Hillel (who contributes to the Independent), here are a few facts about her views on Jews and Israel:

  • She complained that Jews smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.
  • She evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.
  • She accused British Jews (collectively) of ‘bombing Gaza’.
  • She bizarrely argued that British Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community. (She later admitted that she had no evidence to back this claim up.)
  • She has admitted to being “prejudiced against Jews”. (See her exact words)
  • She believes that “the message” of Jews controlling America is “entirely true” and “increasingly so”, and that Jewish lobbyists appear to be picking up some of the ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and using them.

Now, the latest.

Here are two tweets from today by Bar-Hillel, which included a graphic purporting to represent an “IDF tweet”:

Here’s Bar-Hillel’s first tweet, with the “IDF tweet” attached.

154

And, then, 8 minutes later she asks a few more of her Zionist nemeses to justify the ‘IDF tweet':

202

We’re not sure if anyone out there, except Bar-Hillel and her motley crew of retweeters, could possibly believe in the authenticity of this “IDF” tweet “acknowledging” child murder, but, briefly:

It was clearly photoshopped from this real IDF tweet from Aug. 21:

And, the graphic was almost certainly taken from this IDF tweet

Mira Bar-Hillel wants so badly to believe that Israel murders children that she was willing to believe this absurd hoax tweet.

Tell us again why Bar-Hillel continues to pen op-eds for British newspapers (on the topics of Israel and antisemitism!) and lands interviews with the BBC and Sky News, on similar topics, as a ‘representative’ of the British Jewish community.

Guardian cartoon juxtaposes ISIS and Netanyahu

No, this is not, by a long stretch, the worst Guardian cartoon (Martin Rowson on the Bárðarbunga volcano – cartoon, Aug. 24). And by that we mean, unlike other cartoons published by the media group that we’ve highlighted, this one is not antisemitic.  

However…

rowson

Here’s a close up of the relevant section of the cartoon, which references recent news regarding a possible volcanic eruption in Iceland to make a point about ‘human sacrifice’ (a possible allusion to the row over the Elie Wiesel Anti-Hamas ‘Child Sacrifice’ Ad), violence and ‘savages’ among us:

snapshot

First, note the cartoon’s placement of evidently equally abhorrent “savages” – the ISIS jihadist, Netanyahu, the Hamasnik, Russia’s Putin, Egypt’s al-Sisi, Syria’s Assad, President Obama, Saudi’s King Abdullah and (possibly) Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau. 

Moreover, let’s remember one thing. This is the Guardian, and their cartoonist’s decision to place the Israeli Prime Minister right next to the ISIS jihadist is certainly not an accident.

Indeed, the mere absence of overt Judeophobic calumnies does not lessen the injurious editorial impact of Rowson’s graphic agitprop: by blurring the profound moral distinctions between antisemitic extremists and the Jewish target of their hate, it is hostile to the most elementary understanding of what opposing antisemitism means.

Condemning antisemitism in the abstract while failing to name, shame and condemn actual anti-Semites is the anti-racism of posers and cowards.

Economist uses ‘Fagin the Jew’ to illustrate article on criminal behavior

Cross posted from the blog of David Porush

econ

I’m usually the one around the Old Jews poker table who counsels my oversensitive friends not to over-react to perceived slights. As a former English prof, I abhor PC censorship of literature (banning Twain for his use of the”N-word” is but one example.) I’m a fan of brilliant writers who are also dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semites, such as Pound, Celine TS Eliot and, yes, DIckens. Further, paying attention to intentional hatred or sniveling bigotry just stirs the toilet and makes it smell worse.

But The Economist just published a story entitled “To Have and Have Not: A disturbing study of the link between income and criminal behavior” that pushed me over the edge. Atop the piece is very large picture of Fagin the Jew from a movie version of DIcken’s Oliver Twist.

Type “Fagin the Jew” into Google (Images or Web) and you will see how viral and anti-Semitic this character portrait is historically.

1274726515kirsch_052410_380pxB

Fagin is used by Dickens as symbol of explicitly Jewish criminality and his portrayal even in the 1948 (!) film, from which this image is taken, truly captures Dickens’ animus. See this discussion of Dickens’ anti-Semitism:

The Oxford Dictionary of English Literature describes Dickens as nationalistic often both stigmatising foreign European cultures and taking his attitude to “colonized people” to “genocidal extremes”,[3] albeit based mainly on a vision of British virtue, but not on any concept of heredity. One of the best known instances of this is Dickens’ portrait of Fagin in one of his most widely read early novels Oliver Twist, which has been seen by some as deeply antisemitic, though others such as Dickens’ biograper “G.K.Chesterton” have argued against this notion. The novel refers to Fagin 257 times in the first 38 chapters as “the Jew”, while the ethnicity or religion of the other characters is rarely mentioned.

The Economist article itself resurrects traditional anti-Jewish libels of inherent or congenital criminality by gratuitously placing a photo of a Jew to accompany a report  about a study in Sweden. The study has not one mention of Jews, literature, Dickens, the 19th century, or even crime in England. But it does suggest:

“…a family’s culture, once established, is “sticky”—that you can, to put it crudely, take the kid out of the neighbourhood, but not the neighbourhood out of the kid. Given, for example, children’s propensity to emulate elder siblings whom they admire, that sounds perfectly plausible. The other possibility is that genes which predispose to criminal behaviour (several studies suggest such genes exist) are more common at the bottom of society than at the top, perhaps because the lack of impulse-control they engender also tends to reduce someone’s earning capacity.”

This is either dumbfounding insensitivity or gratuitous stereotyping, especially at a time when passions are aroused against Jews in the UK, the EU, and elsewhere. In its choice of images, The Economist has either purposefully inflamed matters or merely, casually, offhandedly confirmed its good old upper crust Brit anti-Jew bigotry.

Further, even if it’s just a poor or thoughtless choice, it’s part of a pattern. The Economist‘s anti-Israel agenda has been clear for a long time. However, they now make clear that their bias blurs the distinction between anti-Israel and anti-Jew. Maybe I’ve gone over the edge and have become enamored of the view from here. Look, I’ll tell on myself: I cancelled my subscription to The New York Times for its clear bias after five decades of reading it religiously. Yup, this former liberal Brooklyn Jew has become a bit unnerved.

Or maybe I’m not crazy. Maybe The Economist‘s cool posture of civil, rational analysis obliges it to be held to a higher standard. Maybe I just can’t abide the UK’s and EU’s pretenses and get some bad boy frisson from ripping off their masks.

Please join me in protesting to The Economist directly at letters@economist.com and asking for an apology.

Also feel free to use any verbiage herein to help make your point.

David Porush

Dishonourable Brits: Why the Guardian can’t distinguish between Semites & anti-Semites

If a radical right-wing U.S. group possessed an ideology which was homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-democratic, and continually attempted to murder a historically oppressed minority to clean the region of their ‘pernicious influence’ – due to their fundamentalist interpretation of a religious text – anti-racist commentators at the Guardian would stand proudly on the side of the besieged minority and rightfully demonize the racist extremist group.

Transplant this scenario to the Mid-East (and replace the white sheets with black face masks and green headbands) however, and such moral clarity – which distinguishes between a racist extremist group and the minorities they’re targeting – often gets blurred.

hamas_talks_a_0305

In a review of BBC2’s The Honourable Woman, the Guardian’s diplomatic correspondent Julian Borger (Can The Honourable Woman teach us anything about the Gaza conflict?, Aug. 20) presents another example of media group’s profound moral confusion when interpreting conflicts between Israel and Islamist extremists.

Borger characterizes the show as “a tale of intrigue, betrayal and silk blouses set against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, and then adds: “Whether we will have learned anything about Gaza or the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is another matter”.

Border then writes:

So the ruthless and omnipotent assassin, a regular plot device of political thrillers, is in this case a Palestinian militant. Just like the show’s American inspiration, Homelandit revives the spectre of the Arab bogeyman as the evil genius among us, ghosting across borders on false passports. 

This is understandably vexing for Palestinians. After all, it is Mossad that has won itself the reputation in recent years for sending assassins to kill abroad on forged identity papers. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have largely fought their battles on home turf with much blunter methods.

Likewise, the agony of liberal British Jews looking on in horror at the bloodletting in Israel and the Palestinian territories is true to life. What feels like a sentimental anachronism is the central premise in the plot: that they can do anything to change it. It is hard to imagine in these dark times that it would be so easy for a well-meaning Jewish philanthropist to breeze through the West Bank and for her saccharine, slightly condescending speeches to be received so admiringly by Palestinian students. Hard to imagine, too, that Nessa Stein would have such an easy time of it in Netanyahu’s Israel. These days, there would be rightwing mobs outside her doveish events, chanting: “Death to the Arabs.”

Leaving aside Borger’s risible suggestion that Palestinian jihadist groups have shown more restraint than Israel when carrying out attacks on their enemies, the Guardian editor’s review is notable in which political actor in the Middle East is identified as the racist (Jewish mobs chanting “death to Arabs”) and which one is the unfairly stereotyped minority (the “Arab bogeyman”).

It’s important to read such passages in the context of the Guardian overall coverage of both the current war between Hamas and Israel, and the broader Israeli-Islamist Conflict.

Though Guardian correspondents sometimes note that Hamas is ‘considered’ a terrorist group by much of the West, their reporters, editors and commentators almost never explain to their readers that Hamas is an antisemitic extremist group - a reactionary racist, violent, fundamentalist movement at odds with the liberal, enlightenment values they claim to champion.

Whilst the Guardian never tires in highlighting racism (real or imagined) expressed by the most unrepresentative fringe elements in Israeli society, they almost uniformly avoid mentioning that the group currently ruling Gaza literally calls for the extermination of Jews.  It simply isn’t possible for UK news consumers to clearly understand the battles being waged in Israel and Gaza while ignorant of this fundamental fact about Hamas’s eliminationist antisemitism.

Reports about ceasefire negotiations between the two parties in Cairo which merely emphasize that Hamas demands a loosening of the Israeli blockade, while ignoring that their end goal continues to be the annihilation of the only Jewish state, are akin to media reports during WWII noting Germany’s territorial aspirations without any context regarding Hitler’s belief in Aryan racial supremacy and his wish to exterminate Jews and other ‘undesirables’.

On the other hand, it is heartening to see the support – among many Guardian contributors – for the West’s efforts to rein in an apocalyptic and genocidal Middle-East based, Sunni extremist offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood with a global expansionist worldview, which targets civilians, ruthlessly murders its enemies, possesses a pathological hatred for Jews and advocates Sharia Law over universal human rights.

However, whilst we’re of course referring to ISIS (Islamic State), we also just accurately described the fundamental ideological orientation of Hamas.

So, what accounts for such a profound moral inconsistency? Why are Palestinian jihadists not like the other jihadists?   

Though antisemitism is one factor which partly explains this phenomenon (among some Guardian contributors and journalists), the more widespread political dynamics at play are moral relativism, an egregiously skewed understanding of anti-imperialism, a glorification of ‘Palestinian resistance’ and an obsession with Jews and Israel  - in short, the signature ideological ticks of the Guardian Left.

There is, however, one more factor. 

We are often asked if we believe the Guardian to be institutionally antisemitic.  While their obsessive and almost entirely negative coverage of the Jewish State fans the flame of antisemitism, this writer, for one, does not believe the media group is compromised institutionally by anti-Jewish racism.

It may be more accurate to observe in the Guardian worldview a capacity to forcefully condemn antisemitism in the abstract, but an inability to summon such righteous indignation when doing so would require parting company with other ‘historically oppressed’ groups, and indeed challenge their very ideological identity.

In their failure to condemn Hamas, and morally distinguish antisemitic extremists from the Jews they’re trying to kill, lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places – cowardliness which continues to bring dishonour to their once proud journalistic community. 

CiF Watch prompts correction to Guardian characterization of abducted boys as ‘teen settlers’

Earlier today, we noted that the Indy responded to our complaint and corrected a passage in a June 15th articleabout the three Israeli youths abducted by Palestinian terrorists on Thursday night, which falsely characterized the teenage victims as “settlers”.

And, about an hour ago, the Guardian responded to our complaint about an article by Peter Beaumont – that we posted about yesterday – claiming that the Jewish victims were “teenage settlers”, and agreed to revise the passage (and headline) in question.

Here’s the original Guardian headline:

Here’s the original opening passage:

orig

Now, here’s the revised headline:

revised

Here’s the revised opening passage:

revisedAdditionally, the article now includes the following addendum:

addendum

Though we commend Guardian editors for the correction, as we argued in our original post, the term ‘settler’ is typically loaded with pejorative connotations, and its use in the context of Beaumont’s article about Israeli children abducted by terrorists raises troubling questions about the media’s group’s continuing pattern of blurring straight news and political agitprop.

Would the real Owain Greenwood please stand up?

H/T SantaMoniker

The Israel bashers at ‘Comment is Free’ love to accuse those supporting Israel of trolling, using multiple monikers, and so on. Well, it looks as though one of the bashers may have been a little too clever in the use of the tactics they so often accuse others of employing.

SantaMoniker sent us this interesting set of clips from the below the line thread at the article Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention – live.

She replied to Owain Greenwood just after owaingr replied to SheketVShalva and noticed the curious resemblance between the names.

Here’s “owaingr”:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/18113223

And here’s SantaMoniker’s response to  Owain Greenwood, immediately following that comment:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/18113320

Curious, SantaMoniker looked up the two “Owains”. How odd that they should both use the same picture with their rather similar monikers, and have the same commented so frequently on the same thread !!

Here’s “Owain Greenwood” – http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/user/id/10451194

And here’s “owaingr” – http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/user/owaingr

AKUS’ postcard from Israel, Day 1: The Joe Alon Center for Bedouin Culture

A guest post by AKUS

[CiF Watch regular contributor 'AKUS' recently visited Israel and will be filing a few blog 'postcards' from his trip over the next few days. This is his first installment. - A.L.] 

Who killed Joe Alon?

A few minutes before 1 A.M. on Sunday, July 1, 1973, Col.Yosef (Joe ) Alon and his wife Dvora returned to their home in a quiet Washington, D.C., suburb. Alon, the air attache at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, had been at a farewell party for an Israeli diplomat. They parked the car. Dvora went into the house and then heard five gunshots. 

Joe Alon was one of the founders of the Israel Air Force, with Ezer Weizman and Moti Hod. His murder has never been solved.

While training and commanding air force units in the Negev, Joe Alon became familiar with the local Bedouin and the special character of the Negev. The Joe Alon Center near Kibbutz Lahav, not far from Beersheva, focuses on the life and culture of the desert tribes and is dedicated to this man who respected his fellow desert dwellers and their way of life.

Ouda Abu Kahud from the Bedouin township of Hura near Beersheba is a well-known guide in the area, and guides visitors from Israel and abroad around the two-storey Joe Alon Center exhibits depicting the daily life of the Negev Bedouin and their counterparts in Sinai.

 

Ouda Abu Kahud talking to group of policeman touring the area to learn more about Bedouin culture and life about typical Bedouin customs and life and how they differ among the various tribes.  His talk is punctuated by jokes about the Bedouin themselves, and their interactions with the wider world around them, adding his dry humor to the learning experience.

He is standing  in front of a model of an encampment of Bedouin of the Negev. Particularly interesting was the section on the Jebalyia tribe (Jebal/Jabal -= mountain). Ouda Abu Kahud explained that the tribe is descended from Christian slaves s brought from Romania by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD to serve and protect the Santa Caterina monastery on the presumed Mount Sinai. Over the centuries they intermarried with the local tribes, and are now Muslim.

Some of the many exhibits:

Full-scale models illustrating the lifestyles of different Bedouin tribes

Old Bedouin farming utensils, now superseded by modern tools

Woven and embroidered patchwork quilt made by Bedouin women to illustrate their communities and to express their dreams for their lives and the lives of their children.

Finally, in a full-size example of a Bedouin tent, Ouda Abu Kahud prepares coffee for his guests while he explains the complexities of Bedouin hospitality and the coffee ritual.

If you are in the Beersheva area on your next trip to Israel, make a small detour and spend a few hours at the Joe Alon Center – it’s well worth it!

BDS is for Bully! Disturb! Spam! or: Tali Shapiro’s pathetic #BDSFAIL

Cross posted by Or, who blogs at ‘BDS Gone Bad

Despite it’s humble dimensions, Israel is both a major consumer and a significant exporter of culture.

Only in these last few months Tel Aviv was honored by great visitors such as Madonna, Guns N Roses, Chris Cornell and Morrissey who rocked the stages;  RHCP and the Prodigy are yet to come later this summer.

Alongside the “big names”, international indie artists perform in Israel every month, one of which is the Brian Jonestown Massacre band who played in Tel Aviv last week. In an interview given before the show, singer Anton Newcombe explained that he was addressed by BDS activists who urged him to cancel the gig and boycott Israel, a request he briefly  refered to as bullshit”.

The concert was covered positively by fans and critiques, a fact with which the BDS crowd just can’t accept.

The one and only infamous Tali Shapiro applied her usual methods of lies and harassment of which I’ve written in the past.

Frustrated with Newcomb’s attitude and refusal to give in, Shapiro posted on her blog on July 19th, a post  in which she once again personally harassing Anton and DEMANDS that he reads her materials, change his mind and express regret and understanding that performing in Israel is in fact an “apartheid supporting” deed. On this I shall use Anton’s own words- Bullshit.

The following Saturday, a person claiming to be a Joneston Massacre fan contacted The band’s leader on Twitter and linked to Shapiro’s post. This started a chain reaction of public harassment, which you can read over at Shapiro’s Twitter Account, and lasted for three days and countless tweets

 

This  discussion was doomed to escalate. Anton wrote repeatedly that he is being harassed by Shapiro and the others, asked them to stop mentioning him and eventually blocked her account – And still, the BDS crowd just wouldn’t let go.

 

Anton Newcomb is not the only artist who’s being spammed and bugged by the BDS network of activists. They are targeting musicians and performers in general, they systematically follow upcoming concerts in Israel, and then nag them before (and AFTER…) with Facebook pages, online petitions and twitter accounts calling them to cancel their gigs – through harassing, obsessive  Spam campaigns.

Check out their Facebook page “TAG an artist Against Apartheid”‘ which I think should have been called:  “Tag an artists and mention and message and spam him till he wants to shoot himself”.

I want to dedicate this post to brave and patient Mr. Newcombe. I don’t know him personally but I do know that if it was me being harassed like that (AFTER the goddamn show!), I’d go for massive user reports…

Just 1 minute, Mr. Rogge!

Cross posted by our friend, Richard Millett

Plaque unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in Hackney ceremony.

On 5th September 1972 inside Munich’s Olympics Village Israeli athletes were ambushed by Palestinian terrorists. Over the course of the day 11 Israelis were murdered after botched rescue attempts by the German authorities. A German policeman also died. The Games carried on.

Some of the terrorists died during the final rescue attempt at a military airbase but the others, held in German custody, gained their freedom after a plane was subsequently hijacked and a demand for their release was agreed to.

Mossad methodically went about locating and killing each terrorist, except one.

Common decency has it that those trusted into your care are remembered when tragedy occurs. British football grounds regularly resonate to a minute silence when one of the footballing community is lost.

But not where the International Olympics Committee is concerned and where Israeli blood was spilled under its auspices. Heaven forbid they should offend certain other competing nations.

At no stage has this tragedy been properly remembered since 1972; never a minute silence at any Games in the 40 years since. The only plaques to the murdered athletes are in Munich and Israel.

Ankie Spitzer, wife of Andre, the murdered fencing coach, asked the IOC for a minute silence during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics to mark the 40th anniversary of the attack but Jacques Rogge said the atmosphere of the opening ceremony made such a silence inappropriate. The IOC will, instead, go to the military airbase where the final botched rescue bid took place. Neatly out of sight and mind of those the IOC don’t wish to offend.

Anticipating this outcome the co-chairs of the Britain and Israel Olympic Plaque Committee Martin Sugarman (Chair Hackney-Haifa Twinning Association) and councillor Linda Kelly (past speaker of Hackney) raised funds for a dignified and moving ceremony yesterday morning at the Arthaus in Hackney.

Linda said she was amazed that with all the hours during the Olympics the IOC could not spare one minute for the memory of the murdered athletes.

The Conservative Party was represented by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Communities Minister Eric Picles MP, Matthew Offord MP and Councillor Brian Coleman.

Eric Pickles MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government.

Labour was solely represented by Andrew Dismore, GLA member for Barnet and Camden. The Miliband brothers were invited but one was busy and the other didn’t reply. No mainstream Liberal Democrat politicians bothered to come.

Maureen Lipman, who constantly fights Israel’s corner against the many hypocrites in the acting world, came.

Sebastian Coe, London Olympics organiser, was invited. Linda Kelly read out his reply which amounted to nothing more than “Sorry. Mad busy at moment”. Shame he couldn’t have used one of his ubiquitous VIP Olympics lanes to transport him to Hackney for even the 20 minutes or so that Boris Johnson managed to appear.

Meanwhile, the Simon Marks Primary School Choir beautifully sang Jerusalem of Gold, the Hatikvah, God Save The Queen and Oseh Shalom Bimromav, which preceeded Kaddish (Prayer for the deceased) for the athletes.

The superb Simon Marks Jewish Primary School Choir.

War veterans were there to present wreaths in front of the plaque, which was unveiled by Boris Johnson, and to perform the Last Post and Reveille either side of the minute silence for the athletes.

Jewish war veterans present a wreath.

Yosi Romano, named after his uncle who was mercilessly gunned down in Munich, spoke movingly as did Ben Helfgott, a Holocaust survivor and British Olympian, who knew the murdered Israeli athletes so well.

Yosi Romano named after his uncle who was murdered in 1972.

Holocaust survivor and ex British Olympian Ben Helfgott.

Efraim Zinger, the President of the Israeli Olympics Committee, noted that this is the third time London has hosted the Olympics; in 1908 Israel didn’t exist, in 1948 they were fighting for their lives and, so, they didn’t want to miss out on London 2012.

Boris Johnson spoke of the “numb disbelief” in which the world watched events unfold in Munich in 1972. He was eight at the time.

Boris Johnson unveiling the plaque yesterday.

The permanent plaque is available to be visited at the Arthaus in Hackney. 

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Lyn Julius responds to Electronic Intifada over Refugees and the “Right of Return”

A guest post by Lyn Julius, co-founder of Harifa UK association representing Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, and dedicated to promoting their history, culture and heritage

Lyn Julius

Not only has the issue of Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries in greater numbers begun seriously to challenge the Palestinian monopoly of victimhood, but the US Congress is mounting a pincer movement on the UN refugee agency UNWRA, questioning the right of Palestinian ‘refugees’ to pass on their status from father to son and to drink at the eternal fount of international aid. 

Such an onslaught on two sacred Palestinian cows has left their advocates seriously rattled. 

How else can one explain an article in the Palestinian warhorse Electronic Intifada by Richard Irvine?

Irvine, who teaches a course at Queen’s University Belfast entitled ‘The Battle for Palestine’, berates Israel’s “cynical campaign to pit Arab Jews (sic) against Palestinian refugees”. “After years of denial and neglect, the Israeli government has rediscovered the issue of the Mizrahi Jews”, he writes.”Deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon has instructed his diplomats to request that foreign parliaments recognise the refugee status of Jews forced from Arab countries.”

The good news is that our warrior for Palestine does not attempt to deny that many Jews were forced out by persecution and fear of persecution from Arab countries. This is progress.

(Contrast with a recent article in the Jordanian Addustour which claims that Israel has ‘fabricated’ the issue of Jewish refugees. The expulsion of thousands of Jews from Jerusalem in 1948 by the Jordanian Arab legion must have been a desert mirage.)

Equally, Richard Irvine recognises that the Arab states’ legal and moral responsibility to those who left is indisputable. So far so reasonable. 

But the embattled Irvine soon goes into emotional overdrive: it’s OK to blame Arab governments; but don’t touch the whiter-than-white Palestinian leadership. Israel alone is responsible for the 1948 ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Palestinian refugees, although contemporary press reports blamed Arab states.

Ah that old chestnut, ‘the ethnic cleansing’ of Palestinians – a cleansing so effective that one million Arabs now live as citizens of Israel. 

Behind  Ayalon’s quest for truth’, Irvine charges, is a dastardly campaign to nullify the Palestinian ‘right of return’.Yet eminent legal experts such as Ruth Gavison have proclaimed that the Palestinian ‘right of return’ does not exist in international law; it is as good as built on desert quicksand. Apparently, it also selectively applies to refugees from Israel but not to the 400,000 Palestinians expelled from Kuwait in 1991.

Enter Yours Truly in Irvine’s diatribe. In Haaretz  I accused Arab states of abusing the Palestinians by denying them basic civil and human rights. Palestinians are denied citizenship, and in many cases, the right to jobs and property.  I called the turning back of Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria at the Jordanian border ‘cynical and cruel’.

Irvine’s response is a choice piece of whataboutery:

“For stateless Palestinians facing dispossession and expulsion by Israeli forces from East Jerusalem and the Jordan valley, one can only stand in awe at the chutzpah.”

I see. Palestinian suffering is only worth pointing out when Israel can be blamed.

Irvine goes on to say that “Julius uses ‘racist terms’ to characterise the Palestinian ‘right of return’” – their right to ‘Arabise Israel by flooding Israel with millions of refugees.

It is not racist to surmise that an influx of five million Palestinians and their descendants would lead to an Arab-majority state in Israel. It is fact. Such a state would speak Arabic and be overwhelmingly Muslim. Its first act would undoubtedly be to rescind the Law of Return for Jews.

“Whether refugees have the right to return to their homeland or they do not,” Irvine declares,” that they be Arab, European, Jewish Muslim or Christian should not matter.” 

In an ideal world, perhaps, Mr Irvine.  But show me an Arab country that would permit Jews to return to their homes, restore their property to them and full civil rights, including the right to practise their religion in full security. The two sets of refugees are not being played off against each other. The Jewish refugees have rights and demands of their own. At the same time, they serve as a model for successful resettlement.  

Advocating that one lot of refugees should fester in squalid camps without rights, while denying that the other group have a right to enjoy full rights in Israel, smacks of hypocrisy – and dare I say, ‘chutzpa’.

Irvine writes:

“Those who claim to be genuinely concerned for peace, reconciliation and rights should be reaching out to both Mizrahi and Palestinian refugees and inviting them how, as two communities of dispossessed peoples they can make a new future together.”

Amen to that, Mr Irvine, but what measures is he proposing today to ease the plight of Palestinians? Reconciliation has to be based on truth. There is no turning the clock back after 60 years:  After an irreversible exchange of populations, one set is happily resettled in Israel. Time for the other set of refugees to abandon their delusional ‘right of return’ for a ‘right of resettlement’ in a state of Palestine or other Arab states.

Oxfam Distorts, BBC Reports: Jews Stealing land and water from Palestinians

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

On July 5, the BBC published the shocking results of a study recently conducted by the UK charity, Oxfam.

Regurgitating stale stereotypes, the thrust of Oxfam’s report is that Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank live in a ‘wretched reality’ as a result of settlement expansion and the related restrictions imposed on Palestinians on the use of land, water and movement – all of which, Oxfam claims, are destroying the viability of a future Palestinian state.

Oxfam is correct in its assessment of the Palestinian economy as a veritable basket case. Where this integral part of the “global movement for change” veers into tired dogma is in its singling out of Israel for approbation. Blame Israel first, investigate the facts never.

Regarding Israel’s restrictions on Palestinians’ access to water, this is an old myth that’s occasionally gussied up and tweaked for contemporary audiences. Truth is, Palestinians’ share of aquifers actually increased dramatically once control of the West Bank passed from Jordan to Israel in 1967, despite Israel’s limited water supply.  Indeed much of the water related issues in the Palestinian territories are caused by the failure of the PA to implement Israeli approved projects.  Over half of the wells approved for exploitation of the territory’s Eastern aquifer, for instance, have still not been drilled, though Israel approved permits for the project in 2000. (You can read a detailed fisking of the claim that Israel doesn’t supply Palestinians with enough water, here.)

Palestinian swimming pools in the West Bank. See more such images here: http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=12&x_article=1486

Another piece of propaganda passing for fact is the unexamined belief that Israeli settlements are being built on land that has been set aside for a future Palestinian state. While Palestinians can and often do challenge Israeli land seizures in court, the very definitions of private and state land in the disputed territories are a legal morass.  Based on titles and deeds, land that is registered becomes private property. But what if there are no documents to prove ownership?

What’s now commonly referred to as the West Bank is territory that fell under the successive administrations of the Ottoman Empire, the British mandate, Jordan and now Israel. During the Ottoman Empire, only small areas of the West Bank were registered to specific owners. Often, villagers would hold land in common to avoid taxes. The British began a more formal land registry based on land use, taxation or house ownership that continued through the Jordanian period.

Legally speaking, and in stark contrast to the BBC’s assertion that settlements are considered illegal under international law…”, it is worth noting Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a war of survival. In fact, Israel’s seizing of land in 1967 was, arguably, the ONLY legal acquisition of this territory in the 20th century. As such, the ultimate fate of all disputed territory is a matter to be left for the oft-stalled final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

While the 1993 Oslo Accords attempted to find a resolution to the issues of settlements and borders, a settlement freeze was never a precondition for peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

With regards to the Jordan Valley, its strategic importance along the eastern border of the West Bank makes Israel’s withdrawal a virtual non-starter in future peace talks with the Palestinians.

Since the end of the 1967 war, every Israeli government has considered the Jordan Valley to be the “eastern border” of Israel with Jordan. Most of the strip lying in present-day Israel and the West Bank has been declared state land by the Israeli government. As part of the Oslo Agreements, the strip was classified as Area C, with the exception of the enclave around Jericho

Next, Oxfam goes for the trifecta by reporting that the Palestinians could generate an extra £1bn ($1.5bn) a year if restrictions on their movements, along with the aforementioned land encroachment and water theft, were removed.

Like any other country, Israel must balance humanitarian and economic concerns (of Palestinians, in Israel’s case) with the very real security concerns of its citizens. Barriers, checkpoints and other limitations on mobility are an unfortunate yet vital necessity. Once a comprehensive peace agreement is signed between the Israelis and Palestinians, such security measures will become unnecessary and summarily voided.

For now, however, the best that can be hoped for is the occasional easing of restrictions on movement – dependent, of course, on the diminution of security threats. And Israel has made concerted efforts to oblige. In 2010, for example, Israel issued more than 651,000 entry permits to West Bank residents wishing to travel to Israel, an increase of 42 percent over 2009. In 2009-10, Israel removed more than 200 roadblocks and reduced the number of manned checkpoints from 41 to 14.

Going forward, Oxfam may want to consider laying off the double standards and obsessive condemnations of reasonable responses to terror vis-à-vis Israel. Continuing to do so only serves to cheapen its stated purpose of building “a future free from the injustice of poverty.”

As for the BBC, its publication of the Oxfam report lends credence to the widely held belief that the broadcasting organization relies solely on the Palestinian perspective, and consistently parrots the narrative of “partisan, agenda-driven” Israeli organizations critical of Israel.