Saturday, May 01, 2010

Address by Justice Albie Sachs to the Cape Town Press Club


The first news I got of the latest outburst of anger against Richard Goldstone came to me as I was buying some homentassen with mon [poppyseed cake] [Note: Homentashen is a poppyseed triangle shaped cake representing Haman's ear-specially eaten during Purim festivity] in a well known Sea Point deli. A customer whom I hardly knew rounded on me and asked aggressively: "Are you for or against Richard Goldstone?" I was astonished by his abruptness, but not surprised. Richard Goldstone had been the darling of the Jewish community for decades, an accomplished lawyer with an international reputation, with strong ties to Israel. Until, that is, he issued what came to be known as the Goldstone Report for the United Nations on war crimes in the Middle East conflict. "Richard is a friend of mine," I replied guardedly. For months I had declined to comment publicly on the Goldstone Report, pointing out that in fact I had not read it and was deliberately refraining from taking a position on its merits because I wished to preserve the possibility of one day contributing to mediation of a peaceful and dignified settlement of the conflic On the one occasion that I had been to that part of the world I had attended a conference on the Rule of Law organised in Gaza by the Kennedy School of Government, and found myself being embraced and called a hero by Yasser Arafat one evening, and sitting on the Bench next to Aharon Barak on the Jerusalem Supreme Court the next morning. It occurred to me that as a Jew who had lost great numbers of family during the Nazi extermination programme in Lithuania and who would have been killed if Hitler had succeeded in conquering Africa, as a person who had been through some fire in the struggle for the liberation of South Africa and as a lawyer who had been deeply involved in the process that led to what has been termed the miracle of the peaceful revolution in our country, I might have a useful role to play.

"Well, that's not good enough," my interlocutor insisted, interrupting my silence. "Goldstone has been barred from attending his grandson's barmitzvah. A man called Krengel has threatened to have a posse of twenty Jewish stormtroopers outside the shul to keep him away."

I felt sick. I knew how family-orientated Richard and Noleen were, and how proud they were of their children and grandchildren. I couldn't believe that political anger against him, which people had every right to express, had evolved into an uncontrolled and unconscionable rage that sought to violate the spirit of one of the most sacred aspects of formal Jewish tradition. Non-believers, as secular people like myself are called, tend to fall into two categories... either we aggressively repudiate all religious belief as obscurantist humbug, or we actively acknowledge that people owe much of their dignity and personhood to their consciences and beliefs. I belong to the latter group. It shocked me deeply that instead of being a sanctuary of spiritual communality that transcended, even if momentarily, the feuds of secular life, the shul was being converted into a trench of partisanship. Above all, I felt for the barmitzvah boy. He had a right to have his grandpa there on his very special day.

But my dismay was personal as well. Last year I received an award from the Jewish Board of Deputies for my contribution to human rights. President Jacob Zuma, who in the struggle days had been one of the first to greet me after I had survived a car bomb that cost me my right arm and the sight of an eye, had delayed his departure from the gathering to see me get the award. It had been a deeply moving occasion, and Mr. Krengel had played a prominent part in it. My immediate impulse was to send the medal back to him.

Fortunately, I had the good sense to consult with Arthur Chaskalson before acting on my impulse. As a friend and as Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court on which both Richard and I had sat, Arthur had often caught me in mid-air when I had been jumping to conclusions. Now, in his principled and methodical way, he had collected all the press reports, which he then emailed to me. The first thing I noticed, with considerable relief, was that there were two Mr. Krengels, and that the Mr. Krengel of the Jewish Board of Deputies had in fact issued a statement that the organisation strongly believed that diversity of opinion in the community needed to be tolerated and respected, wherever it emanated from, and that expression had to be sensitive to the forum and occasion, respecting the feeling of others so as to prevent unnecessary conflict. I was also pleased to see that Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein had spoken of the human pain of the situation, stating that it was simply a question of decency and compassion to the barmitzvah boy not to ruin his day. He had conveyed this to the shul committee and they had agreed with his approach to keep the shul open to the entire barmitzvah family and strive to make it as joyous as possible. Thus, neither had been complicit in the barring, indeed both had expressed their support for basic principles of tolerance and openness.

Yet while it was important that there had been no official exclusion of Richard from the occasion, their underlining the fact that it had been the family that had decided that Richard should not attend, undermined the moral force of their statements. Similarly, a subsequent bitter attack by the Chief Rabbi on Richard inflamed the atmosphere he was proposing should be cooled. So, on being informed by the shul committee that demonstrations were being planned, the family had no real choice. If it had been his own event, Richard could have braved the threatened demonstration. But it would be his grandchild's day, and the only way to secure appropriate privacy and intimacy for the occasion was for him to sacrifice his wish to be there. The defence of tolerance by the Board and the Chief Rabbi would have been much more meaningful if it had included a denunciation of the planned protests and an indication of the steps they respectively took to ensure that any criticism people might wish to make of Goldstone took a more rational and seemly form. I am unaware of any apology having been made to the family for the threats, or of any undertaking to abandon them. As it is, undue pressure has produced an undue result, and intolerance has triumphed, achieving through the back door what it was not able to accomplish through the front.

And so once more, unthought-through emotional rage succeeds because it can rely on the natural decorum and decency of those it seeks to target.

Like Richard's grandson, I had the fortune or the misfortune to be born into a family with a famous figure constantly in the headlines . In my case it was my Dad, Solly Sachs, a trade union leader who was loved by many and vilified by others. The wounds that affected him the most were those inflicted not by his enemies but by persons in his own circles. Just as we can't choose our parents, so we can't choose our grandparents. I only hope that the awkwardness the barmitzvah boy must feel at being dragged into the limelight by the anger directed by some people at his grandfather, is outweighed by the knowledge that the love and concern that Richard has shown for justice for all grandchildren in all countries in no way reduced his enormous interest in and affection for his own grandchildren. What must certainly be puzzling is that the anger is coming from people in the Jewish community, many of whom have been his friends, when so much of the origins of his intellectual and emotional passion comes from the fact that he is a Jew. As Freud explained, however, the intensity of emotion comes precisely from the closeness of the parties, from what he called the narcissism of small differences - it is when people are very much alike in deep ways that their points of disagreement become bitter and magnified.

What does it mean to be a Jew? From time to time I ask myself this question. As long as there is anti- Semitism in the world, I will proudly affirm myself as a Jew. But apart from the fact that I am viscerally anti-anti-Semitic, what does being a Jew signify to me in positive terms? Last year I happened to visit the United Kingdom Supreme Court while a case concerning the right of admission to the Jewish Free school was being argued. I heard counsel suggest as a rule of thumb that there were three characteristics of a Jewish family: it had a tiny scroll in a holder called a mezuzah hanging by the front door, its members went to synagogue regularly, and they contributed to Jewish charities. By that reckoning I failed all three. Yet in a tribute at the funeral of Joe Slovo a decade ago, despite the fact that Slovo was not the slightest bit religious and had no special links with the Jewish community, Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris stirringly declared that Joe was not only a good Jew but an exemplary one because of his contribution to the struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights in South Africa.

When I was detained in solitary confinement the only reading matter I had been allowed was a book containing the Old and the New Testaments. Rationing myself to two pages a day, I slowly read through the Torah from beginning to end. The parts that reached me most powerfully were the lyrical and beautiful Songs of Solomon and the magnificent poetic visions of the prophets in exile. What they extolled above all was the righteousness of the humble and the oppressed seeking to be free in an imagined new world where all would be free. I picked up similar themes poetically expressed in the Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament. The connection with the past that served as a source of courage for me in prison, came not from the passages exalting leaders who smote their enemies and destroyed every living thing in captured cities, nor from what I perceived as the inward-looking zealotry of some of the scribes. It stemmed from the way I felt myself to be immersed in an eternal striving for the achievement of knowledge that would enable the world to be better understood and human life to be made more perfect.

As I lay captive, in my mind the subsequent wandering of the Jews throughout the world could not be separated from the wondering of Jews about the world. If the universe had constantly to be re- understood, re-imagined and re-configured, it was no surprise that three of the most influential and revolutionary thinkers of our epoch had been Jews -Karl Marx, Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. A heightened sense of the link between marginalisation, migration and freedom had undoubtedly integrated itself into my Jewishness. My grandparents fled from pogroms in Lithuania, where every Easter they hid in concealed basements or ran into the forests as Cossacks swept through their villages shouting that the Jews had killed Christ, now they would kill the Jews. Many of their generation brought with them to their new country the ideals of a world of equality without oppression and exploitation, ideals which were to engulf my parents and affect my existence from birth. Though none of these ideas were exclusively held by Jews, they lay under my pillow, so to speak, because I was a Jew. And although the majority of Jews in South Africa went along with the privileges that came with their racial classification as white, the small number of whites who joined directly in the liberation struggle included a high proportion of Jews, and many Jews were represented in the larger body of whites who opposed apartheid in quieter ways.

What worries me now is that it is Jews, and not just anti-Semites , who seek to dictate to Jews how they should behave. The demand is for an uncritical loyalty based on a form tribal self-defence rather than on conscientious adherence to a position. Heaven help Jews, even those whose hearts since childhood have been deeply invested in the idea of a Jewish State, if they dare suggest that the country with which they still identify strongly in many ways, must be measured by the standards of appropriate conduct that apply to all nations. Yet it cannot be right that people are called upon to choose between being a Jew, on the one hand, and being able to express their own sense of justice, on the other. Surely they should not face excoriation and banishment if they answer that in their case it is precisely being a Jew that animates their sense of justice.

For each one of us our Jewishness will have different significance. In my case I cannot separate out the influence of my Jewish origins from the effect on me of growing up in a family involved in the struggle for race and class justice. I was not named after a Biblical figure, but after Albert Nzula, an African trade union leader who died shortly before I was born. Amongst my very first memories is that of hearing my mother Ray saying urgently to me and my little brother: tidy up, tidy up, Uncle Moses is coming. Uncle Moses was not a Jew, but our mother's 'boss,' Moses Kotane, a prominent African leader whose typist she was. And quietly, without realising it at the time or ever saying thank you thereafter, I received the great gift of African humanism, today referred to as ubuntu. As I grew up I discovered in practice rather than through logical disputation that the grand notions about the good and virtuous life are not restricted to any particular culture, religion or tradition, but overlap and fuse and enrich each other. The Prophets, the Sermon on the Mount and ubuntu, feed seamlessly into each other. What little I know of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, suggest that they contain much of the same. It is paradoxical but fortunately true that while each of the world's great traditions, including the secular tradition of the Enlightenment, claims to offer a unique set of truths to its adherents, each at the same time contains injunctions to be wise, to listen to others and to welcome strangers.

The world needs tolerance. South Africa needs tolerance. The Middle East needs tolerance. It is especially in areas of actual or potential conflict that tolerance is least found and most required. The true test of tolerance is not how much you are willing to put up with ideas that you might disagree strongly with, but which do not rage against your soul. It is in fact easy to tolerate notions that you regard as ridiculous but which do not threaten your sense of self in any serious way. The true test of tolerance is firstly your capacity to allow space for ideas that shake you up inside and challenge central notions of what you stand for, secondly to think about them and try to understand them and, thirdly, if you think they are wrong and harmful, to seek to refute them with honest and persuasive argument. The law and the Constitution will place limits on what society will regard as tolerable, but in an open and democratic society such as ours these limits will be based on discernable constitutional harms, and not just on what may be upsetting or unsettling to certain groups. And showing tolerance is not just a matter of good manners or personal propriety. It is central to democratic discourse . It acknowledges that there are different voices in a pluralistic society. Only those afraid of the truth will seek to shut down debate and excommunicate critics

Bertrand Russell once said that the strongest word in the English language is 'but'. Looking back on my own life I can see how often I adhered to a set of certainties that gave me and my comrades a measure of immediate energy and courage, but which were inflexible, un-nuanced and never allowed for 'but'. And it turned out that although many of our ideas happened to be congruent with reality and produced huge progressive change in the world, mixed in with them were profound and cruel falsehoods that produced much oppression and misery in many countries. We had a simple formula for dealing with criticism: class struggle by its very nature was based on conflict and produced enemies, so attacks on what we defended could not only to be dismissed out of hand because of their very predictability, but by their very intensity actually proved that the path we were following was correct! I later discovered a similar kind of self-protective reasoning in psycho - analytical literature. After I came out of prison I became besotted with the unconscious, and learnt to my amazement how the most erudite and scientific of psychoanalysts would rebut critical assessment of their work by charging unconscious envy to their critics. Truth lay not with proven facts understood in context, but with a fixed emotional position and world view. I took sides, not accepting that 'my side' could do wrong things. Critics never had truth, they only had motives. And it all started when we refused to countenance unpalatable questions, defining them out of the equation as forms of enemy propaganda.

Today I notice self-defences of the same kind in relation to the figure of the so-called self-despising Jew. Any Jewish person who speaks critically of Israel in any way is automatically castigated as having internalised anti-Semitism and incorporated it into his or her system as a form of self-hatred. To escape that accusation Jews are required en masse to display automatic allegiance and suppress any individual consciences they may have. A good argument is seen as one which serves as a plausible weapon to protect a given certainty, rather than as a mechanism of investigation to arrive at truth. And the irony is that what is most put at risk is the sustainability of the inflexible convictions, because they end up being self-referential and unbuttressed either by external testing or by internal self-examination.

Facing up to uncomfortable truths can be painful. It can also be liberating, as was proved by the manner in which Oliver Tambo dealt with damning findings of a commission he had established to enquire into allegations of serious violations of human rights by members of the ANC. It was during the time when his great friend and legal partner, Nelson Mandela was in prison on Robben Island and he led the ANC in exile. In 1983 when Richard was a judge doing what he could from the Bench to mitigate the effects of apartheid, and I was a law professor helping with the construction of a legal system based on non-racial principles in newly-independent Mozambique, I received a request from Oliver Tambo to visit the ANC headquarters in Zambia. On my arrival he told me that the ANC had a problem, and could I as a lawyer in the movement help find a solution? The difficulty was that the ANC had captured a number of people sent by Pretoria to destroy the organisation, but its Constitution said nothing about how captives should be dealt with. It must be very difficult, he added, to create regulations to deal with how the captives should be treated. In my rather jaunty, lawyer-like way, I answered that it was not so difficult, there were international standards that prohibited the use of torture or cruel or inhuman punishment or treatment. "We use torture," he said to me with a bleak face. I could hardly believe it... the organisation to which I belonged, which was fighting for human rights and for which I was dedicating my life, was using torture!

Some years later I learned that members of Umkhonto we Sizwe [Spear of the Nation], the armed wing of the ANC, had complained to the leadership that captured enemy agents were being brutally treated in ANC camps in Angola. A commission of enquiry had been set up and had reported that there was strong evidence to back up the complaints. It was not difficult to imagine the arguments advanced to explain the use of torture. These were traitors acting on behalf of the apartheid regime which was waging a total onslaught to wipe the ANC off the face of the world [the threat was not imagined but real - I am typing this with my left hand]. The ANC was fighting a just struggle to create a democratic and non-racial society in keeping with the values of the Freedom Charter. The agents frequently had information about imminent physical attacks being planned that could cause massive loss of life. Angola was in a state of civil war, conditions were harsh and potential infiltrators and saboteurs should know what consequences lay ahead of them if they sold their souls to the enemy. Put simply in the language of the time, ours was a revolutionary struggle to create a new society, and you couldn't make a revolution without breaking eggs.

Oliver Tambo clearly did not go along with these arguments. He told me that he had been instructed by the National Executive of the organisation to have a Code of Conduct prepared that would regulate the manner in which captives were treated, in keeping with the humane traditions of the ANC and the principles of the Freedom Charter. And so I came to help draft probably the most important legal document I have produced in my fifty years of work as a lawyer. It amounted to a comprehensive code of criminal law and procedure for a liberation movement in exile. It established that all was not fair in love, war and the freedom struggle. Accusations against alleged agents had to be proved before properly constituted tribunals, with the right to make a defence being guaranteed. The leadership of the security structures was replaced and unambiguous regulations prohibiting torture or any form of inhuman or degrading treatment were adopted. Oliver Tambo could have decreed that as President of the organisation he was ordering that the new legal regulations be published and immediately put into force. But that was not his way. The question of what standards of treatment should be applied raised deep moral and political questions that should be debated by the whole organisation.

There is a much-repeated story that the exiled leadership of the ANC in Lusaka always acted in a top - down way, developing a culture of authoritarian leadership that was quite different from the community-based leadership of the United Democratic Front inside the country. I can't speak about the situation inside the country at the time, but I can report on Oliver Tambo's style of leadership outside. He was a democrat in his heart and soul, a great listener who insisted on speaking last to sum up the discussion rather than first to lay down the line. In his view, openness, debate and dialogue, especially of painful issues, could only strengthen the organisation.

In that sense tolerance was more than just allowing different views to be expressed. It represented an active principle of taking critical ideas seriously and engaging meaningfully with them. He believed strongly in the importance of the written word, for people to be able to debate issues after having read carefully-prepared and non-prescriptive documents in advance . It was not for him to take decisions on crucial policy questions, nor for him to appoint the leadership of the organisation. Only a properly constituted conference, properly prepared and attended by properly-mandated delegates of the different branches and structures of the ANC, could do that. I recall a full day meeting in Maputo when ANC members discussed a conference paper dealing with how to step up the struggle to overthrow apartheid, followed by another on the conditions that would permit negotiations, another on revisions to the ANC Constitution which would allow non-Africans to take top leadership positions and a further one on the Code of Conduct.

The conference was held in a small town called Kabwe, with Zambian troops surrounding the hall to protect us from possible commando raids by Pretoria hit squads. It was my duty to present and explain the Code of Conduct. I was extremely anxious. It turned out that there was no problem with the general structure and values of the document. There was only one potentially contentious issue: could what were termed 'intensive methods of interrogation' be permitted in emergency situations? One by one delegates mounted the platform to say no. One member of MK said that if you gave security any leeway at all in any circumstances, they would never stop there. Another declared in a quiet voice that we were fighting for life, how could we be against life? It was one of the finest moments of my life. There were no headlines to be gained, no posts to be occupied. We were re- affirming the soul of our struggle, the kind of people we were, what it was that bound us together. Unanimously we decided that no euphemism for torture or other cruel form of treatment would be accepted.

I cannot claim that as a result all ill-treatment of captives came completely to an end, but there was certainly a major overhaul. Penuell Maduna, who went on to become the second Minister of Justice in democratic South Africa, told us some months after the conference of how he had been castigated by a member of security for successfully defending an enemy agent, and how he had replied that he had simply been doing his duty under the Code of Conduct. The central fact is that the spirit of openness had enabled the ANC at a very difficult time to face serious forms of misconduct in the eye and deal with them in a principled and effective way. Instead of the crisis leading to cover-ups and denial, it provoked fresh and productive ways of thinking. The ANC re- affirmed that it would not take its moral standards from its enemy and that its just struggle to achieve a just society would be carried out in a just manner.

The consequences were far-reaching. A culture of honest enquiry and a willingness to entertain doubt opened the way for the organisation wholeheartedly to support the notion of entrenching a Bill of Rights in a future democratic South Africa. If one person had to be singled out as the architect of our new constitutional order, it would have to be Oliver Tambo. It was he who inspired us to be on guard not only against our enemies, but against ourselves. Furthermore, by his insistence that the organisation as a whole should think the matter through and accept that no-one should be tortured, whatever they had done, he facilitated our moving away from demonising opponents and turning them into objects to be destroyed. The humanising of the Other, even the cruel Other, paved the way for eventual negotiations and the achievement of our basic goals in a relatively peaceful manner. And, of course, the need to ensure respect for internationally-agreed-upon fundamental rights was to lead to the creation of the Constitutional Court, which, as it happened, enabled me to get to know Richard Goldstone and see at firsthand how seriously he took thye need to uphold fundamental human rights. Finally, it needs to be recorded that it was internal debate inside the ANC on what to do about the report on torture in ANC camps that was to lead to the decision to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The eventual outcome was a recognition that the bad had been very bad, but that an enormous amount of good had come from confronting it openly and head-on.

The story of Richard Goldstone effectively being barred from his grandson's barmitzvah is a profoundly sad one. It is one redeeming feature is that it has led many people, myself included, to debate the issues publicly for the first time. The defeat of tolerance in one particular case has led to an outpouring of support for the principle of tolerance everywhere. This is a major blessing that will accompany the barmitzvah in two weeks time.

Albie Sachs, Cape Town,

21 April, 2010


An open letter to Judge Albie Sachs

From Maurice Ostroff April 30, 2010

cc. Judge Richard Goldstone

Dear Judge Sachs

Although I am puzzled by the title "Tolerance in a time of cholera," I was fascinated by your April 22 address to the Cape Town Press Club, not so much by your stout defense of your colleague Richard Goldstone, as by the interesting sidelights you presented of the ANC's liberation struggle.

Your description of Oliver Tambo's noble (and I use this word purposely) reaction to revelations of torture by the ANC, confirms the validity of the high esteem in which I have held the ANC's early leadership since my acquaintanceship with it as a young, low profile anti-apartheid activist and member of the Wits University Federation of Progressive Students (founded by Ruth First) as well as an active member of the radical ex-serviceman's Springbok Legion. It was then that I learned about and was inspired by the moral fiber of ANC leaders like Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Albert Luthuli and of course Nelson Mandela. In the wake of the horrors of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, on receiving the Nobel Prize in 1961 Luthuli demonstrated the high road he followed by saying,

"How easy it would have been in South Africa for the natural feelings of resentment at white domination to have been turned into feelings of hatred and a desire for revenge against the white community. Here, where every day in every aspect of life, every non-white comes up against the ubiquitous sign, "Europeans Only," and the equally ubiquitous policeman to enforce it - here it could well be expected that a racialism equal to that of their oppressors would flourish to counter the white arrogance towards blacks.

That it has not done so is no accident. It is because, deliberately and advisedly, African leadership for the past 50 years, with the inspiration of the African National Congress which I had the honour to lead for the last decade or so until it was banned, had set itself steadfastly against racial vain-gloriousness."

You spoke eloquently about the ANC fighting a just struggle to create a democratic and non-racial society in keeping with the values of the Freedom Charter and I ask in all sincerity whether you and other ANC personalities who profess a loyalty to the Palestinian cause because of the history of being fellow freedom fighters, have ever compared the ANC Freedom Charter to the charters of the PLO and Hamas. It is painfully obvious that the parallels that the ANC draws between it and the Palestinian struggle are far from congruent and deserve to be re-examined in order to gain a perspective on the lessons Israel can draw from the South African experience.

Whereas the ANC Charter states "South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war" article 9 of the PLO Charter bluntly declares the opposite, namely that for the PLO the armed struggle is not merely tactical, it is the overall strategy. (The emphasis is mine). The Hamas charter makes it even clearer that there is absolutely no room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously states, "Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.”

It is difficult to understand the ANC support for the irrationality of the Hamas concept, so different from the sober tone of the ANC Charter, as illustrated by obsessive phobia about freemasons, rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations, promising that the day Islam is in control, these organizations, will be obliterated.

Nor would the ANC tolerate the incitement to indiscriminate violence against uninvolved civilians, (women, children and invalids alike), which continues in mosques and PA controlled media and is taught in schools from the earliest age.

In fact, the ANC charter has much in common with Israel's Declaration of Independence that promises complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex and freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.

When you spoke of your late Dad, Solly Sachs, the indefatigable trade union leader, I was reminded of what Isaac Newton wrote in a letter to Robert Hooke. "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."

By sheer coincidence, your dad was mentioned when I lunched two days ago with Barbara Brown, daughter of the late Leo Lovell, who was elected South African Labor Party MP for Benoni in 1949 and who became one of the most courageous anti-apartheid voices in parliament. In discussing the chicanery that took place during the nomination process Barbara mentioned that some mischief makers had urged United Party leader Field Marshall Smuts to cancel an election agreement that then existed between the United and Labor parties unless Solly Sachs was dismissed as national treasurer of the Labor party. Lovell stood firm against Sachs' dismissal and to his relief the truce between the two opposition parties was nevertheless not cancelled.

I was intrigued too, by your understanding of what it means to be a Jew and I was surprised by the seriousness with which you treated a British counsel's shallow rule of thumb about the three characteristics of a Jewish family: the mezuzah, regular attendance at synagogue and contribution to Jewish charities. Had he read your story of buying homentassen at a Sea Point deli, he might have added that too as an essential characteristic.

More seriously, your mention of Rabbi Harris' tribute to Joe Slovo not only as a good Jew but an exemplary one because of his contribution to the struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights in South Africa was indeed highly relevant and important. In an essay "Lessons from South Africa" Joe's daughter Gillian wrote that Rabbi Harris' words have stayed with her more than most and that Joe’s political commitment that “ it was not enough to avoid harming others .. (but ) one had to strive to ameliorate widespread poverty and hardship, to build a society based on harmony and equality, in which every single individual would be respected," was at the very centre of what being a Jew is all about.

I agree with you completely that the story of Richard Goldstone effectively being barred from his grandson's barmitzvah is a profoundly sad one. In fact, although my severe criticism of the Goldstone Report is well known, I considered this linking of the barmitzvah to be a shameful act and I immediately made my views known to the South African Zionist Federation. I also wrote to Judge Goldstone expressing these views and I know that many other declared Zionists around the world did the same. In the circumstances, your broad claim that Jews seek to dictate to Jews in a uniform manner how they should behave is an unjustified generalization.

If you would visit Israel and study our vibrant free press that heavily criticizes our government daily you would soon revise the views expressed in your generalized statement "Any Jewish person who speaks critically of Israel in any way is automatically castigated as having internalised anti-Semitism and incorporated it into his or her system as a form of self-hatred."It is however, perfectly reasonable to contradict Jews and non-Jews who criticize Israel (or South Africa for that matter) based on misinformation and in some cases, more egregiously on deliberate disinformation.

You told the Press Club the true test of tolerance is not how much you are willing to put up with ideas that you might disagree strongly with, but which do not rage against your soul. With this concept in mind I ask you to please consider that it is the biased nature of the Goldstone Report that has caused outrage, not the mere fact that he dared to criticize Israel as many imply.

Although, using your own words, facing up to uncomfortable truths can be painful, I ask you in all sincerity to study the credible criticisms of the Goldstone Report leveled by highly responsible people that Judge Goldstone has refused to publicly answer. For example

Gilad Shalit

While fraternizing with his Hamas captors in Gaza, the Mission failed to take the opportunity to address the grossest blatant human rights violation being perpetrated by holding Gilad Shalit, incommunicado and depriving him even of visits by the Red Cross, in contravention of international law. It would not have required much courage to ask his captors at the very least to produce some evidence of Shalit's condition and bring some slight solace to his long-suffering family. In this omission, the Mission failed miserably to live up to the HUMAN RIGHTS banner of the HRC under which it was constituted.

Human Shields

The Mission failed to follow up on a public statement by Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Fathi Hammad, that Hamas created a human shield of women, children, and the elderly. Instead the Report acted as his defending counsel stating on his behalf, "Although the Mission finds this statement morally repugnant, it does not consider it to constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack"

Rejection of credible relevant evidence

The Report omits, without explanation, a great deal of highly relevant, credible information that would certainly have a bearing on the HRC's evaluation including inter alia a memorandum from a group of 15 eminent Australian lawyers.

Colonel Kemp

The Mission rejected recommendations to invite Colonel Richard Kemp, an acknowledged British expert on the type of warfare conducted in Gaza, to give evidence. The irrational stated grounds for refusal: "there was no reliance on Col. Kemp mainly because the Report did not deal with the issues he raised regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers in the fog of war.


Not a single word is mentioned about the daily incitement against infidels, Jews, and Israel that continues unabated in PA mosques and schools and which is a basic cause of the conflict.

Inability to distinguish between civilians and combatants

The Report misguidedly applied rules of war that were designed for conventional warfare, where armies of both sides are clearly identifiable, to guerilla warfare where the combatants cannot be distinguished from the civilian population as reported by the London Times.

A Hamas fighter told the Times that fighters wore civilian clothes, and concealed their weapons and that whole blocks of houses had been booby-trapped and that a mannequin filled with explosives was dressed in a Hamas fighter’s black uniform to attract fire. If Israeli soldiers had fired on it, it would have exploded and brought down the building. In the hallway of another house, a 30-gallon container of diesel fuel had been placed on two sacks of explosives.

Lack of freedom to investigate in Gaza

The Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported that the Mission was experiencing difficulties because Hamas-allied security forces accompanied the 15-member team. In view of this and the widely reported violent retribution inflicted by Hamas on dissidents, (including being thrown from tall buildings), the lack of testimony about storage of weapons in houses, mosques and schools cannot be accepted as evidence that this did not occur on a wide scale.

Inaccurate information

The Fact-finding Mission was extremely selective in the facts it chose to emphasize and those it chose to ignore. For example the report describes a mosque which it claims was struck by an Israeli shell with the deliberate intention of killing civilians. The report claims, further, that the mosque had no military significance whatsoever, discounting Israel's claim that mosques were used for military activities and weapons storage.

But an Israeli expert points out that the mosque was controlled by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades who used it to recruit operatives, and that several known terrorists who were operating from the mosque were killed in this attack, including Ibrahim Moussa Issa al-Silawi, an operative in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades

In addition, a great deal of credible evidence that hospitals and ambulances were used for military purposes, was ignored by the report

More detailed highly credible criticisms are available on the web site "Understanding the Goldstone Report" to be found at


See also

Since you so perspicaciously said at the Press club that facing up to uncomfortable truths can be liberating, I suggest with great respect, that rather than accepting the Goldstone Report uncritically, as you appear to have done, you address the uncomfortable flaws revealed on the web site, "Understanding the Goldstone Report", referred to above.

This open letter is being publicized and I would very much appreciate a considered reply which will be similarly published.

Friday, April 30, 2010

“We Are All Israelis”

Pajamas Media

This afternoon I spoke to a rally in New York organized by Beth Gilinsky’s Action Alliance. The big crowd, despite miserable weather, filled the sidewalk on Second Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets. Lots of terrific speakers spoke passionately about the need to support Israel against the shocking treatment from American leaders. Here are my prepared remarks: We are at war. It’s a global war. It extends from Pakistan and Afghanistan to India, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and from there towards Israel and then down to Egypt, Sudan and Somalia, and west to Europe and ultimately to America. It targets Canada and Australia, Honduras and Colombia, and all those who challenge fanatical intolerance and instead advocate freedom. It is a continuation of the ancient war of tyranny against freedom, a war that will endure so long as freedom threatens the power and legitimacy of monarchs and dictators.

That war — a war of awesome dimensions, a war with a long and bloody history — is not the consequence of this or that unpopular policy but above all of beliefs we are not even supposed to pronounce nowadays: the crazed visions of Muslim extremists who are waging jihad against us. And the beliefs of radical secular extremists who share the goals of jihad.

That war is being waged by people who hate America and Israel, as they hate Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, and those many Muslims who want to live in peace.

What? Did you forget that the Taliban destroyed statues of Buddha? Does anybody believe that they would have been spared if there were peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?

Yet there are those — people in positions of great prestige and power, some in government, some in the press, some in the universities — who insist that all would be well if only Prime Minister Netanyahu told a few Jews they can’t live in a certain neighborhood of Jerusalem. That Israel’s enemies — who are also OUR enemies — would scrap their global jihad if only there were one more Arab country in the Middle East.

To demonstrate their conviction that Israel is the problem, these people treat Israel’s enemies — who are also OUR enemies — with greater respect than they showed Israelis. Prime Minister Netanyahu is treated as an unwelcome guest at the White House while radical Islamists are constantly asked, very politely, to be reasonable and to become our friends.

Sometimes they even receive a bow.

This is folly. It is morally corrupt and strategically misguided. Consider the case of Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of terrorists. The Islamic Republic of Iran declared war on the United States in 1979, and has waged war against us for 31 years. Iranian-supported terrorists, alongside Iranian military personnel, are killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan today, at the same time that they are organizing lethal assaults against Israeli civilians and military personnel. Even today Hezbollah is receiving new rockets and missiles, new intelligence assessments, new supplies of ammunition, directly from Iran. And yet, in all these years, the United States has never directly challenged Iran, never made that dreadful regime pay an appropriate price for the murders it has committed and supported.
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Jews Turn Against Obama

Ronald Kessler

In a stunning turnaround, President Obama has lost roughly half of his support among Jewish voters.

A poll by McLaughlin and Associates found that, while 78 percent of Jewish voters cast their ballots for Obama, only 42 percent of Jewish voters would vote to re-elect him. A plurality — 46 percent — would consider voting for anyone else. That compares with 21 percent who voted for John McCain. Ever since he learned of Obama’s ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, has been warning fellow Jews that Obama would be antithetical to Jewish interests, not only as they relate to Israel but also to issues that affect all Americans.

Before Obama was elected, Klein, whose organization of 30,000 members is the oldest pro-Israel group in the country, felt like a pariah. Now, as he speaks to Jewish audiences on a weekly basis, he has found that the climate has changed dramatically.

“As I speak at synagogues now around the country, I haven’t had a single person during Q and A or after my talk ask how I could be so critical of Obama,” Klein tells Newsmax.

Klein tells his audiences they should not be surprised that Obama’s left-leaning policies appear to tilt more toward the Palestinians than to Israelis. He cites the fact that Obama and his wife, Michelle, spent 20 years listening to Wright, who routinely denounced Israel as a racist state and America for allegedly having created the AIDS virus to kill off blacks.

Wright, whom Obama described as a mentor and sounding board, even gave an award for lifetime achievement to Louis Farrakhan.

“God damn America,” Wright shouted in one of his sermons.

Obama’s speeches have been “inimical to Israel and supportive of the stream of false Palestinian Arab claims concerning Israel,” Klein says. “He is relentlessly pressuring Israel while applying virtually almost no pressure on the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its written obligations. He is worse than Jimmy Carter was when he was president. It was so obvious if you just looked at Obama’s associations before he was elected. Jews simply ignored that.”

David Remnick’s book “The Ridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama” quotes an unidentified campaign aide to Hillary Clinton as saying that, if the stories about Wright’s ties to Obama had appeared in January 2008, “it would have been over,” meaning Hillary would have won the Democratic nomination for president.

In fact, as outlined in the Newsmax story "The Media’s Blackout on Rev. Wright," those stories on Wright were appearing as early as January 2008 — at — but the mainstream media ignored them and would not pick them up until mid-March.

Before the election, Klein remembers, “If I talked about Reverend Wright in talks at synagogues, they would say I was using guilt by association. I would always explain you can’t say that. He chose this church. He chose to have a friendship with Wright because this is a person he is comfortable with and because Wright espouses views he believes in.”

Klein notes, “If a Jew was a member of a synagogue where the rabbi preached hatred of blacks, it would be clear that that Jew would be comfortable with anti-black racism. I couldn’t remain for a week at a synagogue where a rabbi made a hateful speech toward blacks. I’d quit immediately.”

But now the tide is turning, Klein says. As recently as last weekend, “At the synagogue where I spoke, two of my most left-wing lunatic friends were saying, ‘My God, Mort, you were right. I never should have voted for Obama.’”

Several Jewish leaders have turned against Obama as well, Klein says, some openly and some behind the scenes because they do not want to cut off ties with a president. Klein quotes one of the most prominent Jewish leaders as having told him recently, “It’s better if I’m on the inside than the outside. So there’s no point in my publicly criticizing him because then I won’t have influence.”

“What influence?” Klein asks rhetorically. “It felt so good to so many of liberals to be voting for the first black man to run for president that nothing else mattered,” Klein says. “They felt good proving that they are not racist.”

Only 17 percent of Orthodox Jews now would vote to re-elect Obama, according to the McLaughlin poll. Among conservative Jews, 38 percent would vote for him again. Fifty-two percent of reform Jews would re-elect him. Among Jews who have been to Israel, 36 percent now would cast their ballots for him. When polled, 12 percent responded they did not know or refused to answer.

“The majority of Jews now realize that this guy is bad for Israel, let alone bad for America,” Klein says.

The Zionist Response

David Wilder
April 29, 2010

For the past week I've felt haunted. Being very busy with tours and other necessary tasks, I hadn't found time to put down some words on paper. Actually, I began working on a very important document which I didn't even find time to finish.

But something else was eating at me. Friday night. Tomorrow night. The 17th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. Exactly thirty years ago, the 17th of Iyar was also on a Friday night. I lived then in Mevassert Tzion, just outside Jerusalem. The next night a friend of mine commented, 'I knew something was wrong, seeing helicopters flying into Hadassah hospital.' And something was very wrong. Friday night, May 12, 1980. It was just a year earlier when a group of about 10 women and 40 children had reentered Beit Hadassah in Hebron. The building, originally built in 1893, and having served as a medical clinic for Jews and Arabs in Hebron prior to the 1929 riots, had been vacant since Israel's return to the city in 1967. A week and a half following the end of Passover in 1979, the group climbed in thru a back window of Beit Hadassah in the middle of the night, reestablishing a Jewish presence in the heart of the city for the first time in 50 years.

Living conditions were non-existent, and the going wasn't easy; to the contrary, it was very difficult. But women such as Rebbetzin Miriam Levinger, Sarah Nachshon, and others were made of platinum. Not necessarily material platinum, rather spiritual platinum. Their faith, and their grasp of the significance of the return to Hebron, overcame all other factors. Together with a large group of children they defied all odds, refused to surrender to pressures, physical and mental, and maintained the Jewish presence in the city of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.

Every Friday night, following Shabbat worship at Ma'arat HaMachpela, a group of men would sing and dance their way down the street to Beit Hadassah, where they continued the festivity, joined by the women and children living in the building, adding to their Shabbat spirit.

Friday night, May 12, the 17th of Iyar, only one day before the Lag B'Omer celebrations. The men arrived as usual and began forming a dance circle…and then it happened. Shots rang out, blasts enveloped the pure Shabbat air. Arab terrorists, hiding on a rooftop across from Beit Hadassah, began 1929, all over again.

The sudden attack on the Jewish men was not the first since the Tarpat massacre. Only three months earlier a young yeshiva student from the Kiryat Arba yeshiva, Yehoshua Saloma, a new immigrant from Denmark, was shot and killed at the entrance to the Kasba while purchasing dried fruit for the upcoming Tu'B'Shvat holiday. Following the murder the Israeli government decided, in theory, to reestablish an official Jewish community in Hebron. But that decision remained theoretical; in practice, nothing was done.

Three short months later, it seemed that history was repeating itself. The terror attack was heard miles away. Even up in Kiryat Arba, residents, hearing the shots, quickly make their way into the city. Something bad was happening.

Six were killed and about 20 injured. Among the killed was a young Torah scholar from the United States studying at Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav in Jerusalem, Tzvi Glatt. Another victim was also a former America, who had fought in Vietnam and converted to Judaism, Eli HaZe'ev. Three others studied in Kiryat Arba and another at Kerem b'Yavneh. The murders left the country in shock.

I remember attending two of the funerals: that of Tzvi Glatt in Jerusalem, outside the Yeshiva. I remember that the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook attended and eulogized the martyred scholar. I don't remember what he said, but his grave presence made a deep impression on me. From there I travelled by bus to Kiryat Arba and Hebron, for the funeral of Eli HaZe'ev. Little did I know that about a year later I would move to Kiryat Arba and later to Hebron. I don't remember too much, except that many many people participated, and all were very very angry.

The day after the attack, on Sunday, the Israeli government finally decided to reestablish a Jewish community in Hebron, and this time, they did do something about it. Families were reunited; husbands were allowed to join their wives and children at Beit Hadassah. And eventually the government approved and assisted in rebuilding Beit Hadassah, adding two floors to the original structure, (and building the apartment I've lived in for the past 11 1/2 years).

That's what happened. But that's not what's bothering me. I've told the story more times than I can begin to count, and have written it a few times too. But still, something's been tugging at me.

Back in those days, even before Oslo, before the first and second intifadas, even then, Arabs killed Jews. But thirty years ago, when an Israeli was murdered, there was some kind of authentic response. Where a Jew died, another Jew would live. This was the rule. Where Jews were murdered, a building, or even a community was founded and established. This was called, 'the Zionist response.' The Arabs don't want us here and will do anything and everything to rid themselves of us, including cold-blooded murder. Normal people understood that the answer to such action was to do the opposite. Wherever they don't want us, that's where we'll be. And that's the way it was in Hebron.

I would guess that you've figured out what's bugging me. Back then, thirty years ago, that was the Zionist response. And today? Today, when Jews are killed, rather than build, the government decides to flee. If the Arabs don't want us 'there' then it's just too dangerous for us to stay 'there.' And we run, in the wrong direction. It's been called Oslo, Hebron, Wye, Gush Katif, and who knows what's next. Jerusalem? More Hebron, more of Oslo? G-d forbid.

We are in Hebron today by the grace of three factors: the grace of G-d, whose Divine Presence and assistance was (and still is) indispensable; by the grace of the women and children whose dedication and determination, whose faith and inner comprehension of Hebron kept them from abandoning their mission; and by the grace of the lives of six men, who gave their bodies for the soul of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, for they brought us back to Hebron.

I only hope and pray that those neshamot, those souls, and the thousands who have been killed since, will, wherever they are, never feel abandoned, never feel that their deaths were in vain, that they too, with their lives, brought new life and spirit to the Jewish people in their land.

May their memories be a blessing upon us, forever.

Pesach 1968 - Jews return to Hebron to celebrate Pesach.

Erev Rosh HaShana 1971 - Jews move from the Hebron Military Compound to the newly founded Kiryat Arba

Erev Rosh Hodesh Iyar 1979 - Jews Return to the city of Hebron

A week and a half after Pesach a group of 10 women and 40 children left Kiryat Arba in the middle of the night, driven in a truck through the deserted streets of Hebron. They made their way to the abandoned Beit Hadassah building, originally built in the 1870s as a medical clinic for Jews and Arabs in Hebron, abandoned since the 1929 riots.

The women and children, assisted by men, climb into Beit Hadassah through a back window, bringing with them only minimal supplies. They swept some of the decades-old dust from the floor, spread out some mattresses, and went to sleep.

When they awoke in the morning the children began singing: v'shavu banim l'gvulam - the children have returned home. Soldiers guarding on the roof of the building, coming down to investigate, were astounded at the sight of the women and children. Quickly they reported to their superiors, and soon the "Beit Hadassah women" were a national issue.

Prime Minister Menachem Begin was not in favor of Jewish settlement in the heart of the city, but opposed physically expelling the group. He ordered the building surrounded by police and soldiers, and decreed that nothing, including food and water, be allowed into the building. Begin was soon visited by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, whose wife Miriam and many of his children were among those inside Beit Hadassah.

"When the Israeli army surrounded the Egyptian third army in Sinai during the Yom Kippur War, we gave the enemy soldiers food, water and medical supplies. If this is what we supplied Egyptian soldiers who had attacked and killed our soldiers, at the very least allow the women and children in Hebron the same."

Begin had no choice but to agree. The women and children lived like this, under siege, for two months. No one was allowed in and anyone leaving would not be allowed to return.

One day a little boy in Beit Hadassah had a tooth-ache and left for a dentist in Kiryat Arba. When he arrived back at Beit Hadassah the soldier guarding at the entrance refused to allow him back in. The little boy started crying, saying, "I want my Ema (mother)." At that time the Israeli cabinet was in session, and a note was relayed to the Prime Minister that a little boy was crying outside Beit Hadassah because he wasn’t allowed back in. Following a discussion by the cabinet, the little boy was permitted to return to his mother in Beit Hadassah.

After over two months the women and children were allowed to leave and return, but no one else was allowed in. They lived this way for a year.

On Friday nights, following Shabbat prayers at Ma'arat HaMachpela, the worshipers, including students from the Kiryat Arba Nir Yeshiva, would dance to Beit Hadassah, sing and dance in front of the building, recite Kiddush for the women, and then return to Kiryat Arba. In early May of 1980, a year after the women first arrived at Beit Hadassah, the group of men was attacked by terrorists stationed on the roof of a building across from Beit Hadassah. The Arab terrorists, shooting and throwing hand grenades killed six men and wounded twenty. Later that week the Israeli government finally issued official authorization for the renewal of a Jewish community in Hebron.

On June 11 of this year, exactly twenty years after the murder at Beit Hadassah, a new building in memory of those men killed was dedicated in Hebron. Beit HaShisha, the House of the Six, will house six new families. This beautiful structure will eternalize the names of six young men who gave their lives in Hebron, and who deaths led to the return of Jews to the heart of the city. Hebron's Jewish community had to wait twenty years to memorialize these men, but that dream is now a reality.

Video: Thirty years later:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Iran, Egypt Line Up Against US, Allies at UN Nuke Meeting

Hana Levi Julian
A7 News

Iran and Egypt are lining up to fight the United States and its allies over Israel at the upcoming United Nations meeting on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has requested a visa to enter the U.S. to attend the meeting, which begins Monday in New York, but it is not yet clear whether the State Department will approve his application. The Iranian leader is hoping to lead a fight to force Israel to sign the treaty and thereby admit to possessing nuclear weapons – something the Jewish State has never confirmed or denied, but which is widely assumed to be true.

Israel will not participate in the conference, nor will India or Pakistan, who also are not signatories to the treaty.

If Ahmadinejad is granted the visa, he will face U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who heads the American delegation on nuclear non-proliferation.

The treaty, first signed in 1970, calls on those who possess nuclear warheads to abandon them, and is intended to stop the further spread of atomic weapons. Every five years the 189 signatories to the pact gather to review current compliance with its mandate, as well as the progress made towards its worldwide goals.

In 2005, neither objective was reached due to ongoing debates between Iran, the U.S. and Egypt.

The treaty has thus far failed to stop Iran from proceeding with its rush towards nuclear capability, despite a current mandate from the U.N. Security Council ordering the Islamic Republic to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Nor has it stopped North Korea from building a nuclear weapon, or blocked a Pakistani-led illicit nuclear supply network from providing materials to those who can meet the price.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, including the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany are already in New York working to draft a resolution on a new set of sanctions aimed at slowing down, if not stopping, Iran from continuing with its nuclear technology development. But the Council is far from united on the issue, as Russia and China continue to balk at the idea of imposing harsh economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic to stop its nuclear development, despite the growing threat to the nations of the world that is becoming clearer as time passes.

Russia has many investments in Iran, not the least of which is a nuclear plant of its own; China has numerous trade agreements, including several involving petroleum products.

By next week, the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council again changes hands, and for the next six months, Lebanon will be its new leader. The Lebanese government includes numerous representatives from the Hizbullah terrorist organization, which is patronized by Iran both through generous funding and shipments of arms.

Obama, are you listening?

Real problem is Palestinian desire to destroy Israel, not home construction

Dan Calic

Mr. President:

It seems you believe the central obstacle to moving the “peace” process forward is Israel’s construction of homes in east Jerusalem. If you will allow me I should like to respectfully suggest some matters you may wish to focus your attention on instead. For example, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that Israel be accepted as a Jewish State, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded by saying “I do not accept it.”

Keep in mind, Mr. President, that only 76% of Israel’s population is Jewish. 20% of the country’s 7.5 million people are Arabs who enjoy all the benefits of citizenship. Conversely, not a single Arab country is even 1% Jewish. The Arab Middle East consists of 22 countries covering five million square miles with a combined population exceeding 325 million, more than 90% of whom are Muslim. Israel has just over 5.5 million Jews and is roughly the size of the state of New Jersey (which ranks 47th out of 50 US states in size.)

Yet, as the only country on earth where Jews are the majority, if it desires to maintain this, it gets labeled as “racist.”

Mr. Abbas has demanded the right of return for all “Palestinian refugees,” saying “I won’t give up the demand.” Fulfillment of this would eliminate the Jewish majority in Israel, turning the only country on earth Jews have as their home into an Arab-dominated state. Jews would be relegated to minority status in what used to be their own country.

With an Arab majority anti-Jewish laws would likely be passed. Jews would no longer have their own military, security or police to protect them from a hostile Arab majority. They would be denied access to holy sites such as the Western Wall. Other holy sites would most likely be desecrated as they were before Israel secured east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. They would have to seek safe haven beyond the borders of what used to be their homeland, creating yet another tragic Diaspora.

Mr. Abbas has been defined by you and many others as a “moderate” compared to the more radical Hamas leadership. You, like many others, seem to believe the appropriate course of action to resolve the conflict is land for peace in the form of a “two-state solution.” In this scenario Israel must make “bold sacrifices” by giving away its biblical heartland in order to obtain “peace.”

Mr. President, are you aware that two previous Israeli prime ministers offered the Arabs at least 95% of the land they demand, including land swaps and dividing Jerusalem? In light of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offer of 60% of Judea/Samaria, the previous ones appear rather incredible. Yet both of these extraordinary offers were rejected.

Has it occurred to you why they were rejected? The reason is in writing for you and anyone to read for themselves - Article 12 of the “moderate” Abbas’ Fatah Party charter states their goal of “Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.” Article 19 states: “….this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated.”

In plain English this means they reject Israel’s right to exist – period - no matter what the borders are. It is to be replaced with an Arab-dominated state of Palestine, thus eliminating the only sovereign homeland for the Jewish people altogether.

Do these sound like the goals of a “moderate?”

Recently, Vice President Biden suggested Israel was “undermining the trust we need right now….” referring to the announcement of construction of homes in east Jerusalem while Biden was there. Yet you and Biden are silent when Mahmoud Abbas routinely attends events with the Palestinian flag covering not just Judea and Samaria but the entire country of Israel. Nor do you condemn him for naming a square in Ramallah after a terrorist who murdered 37 Israeli civilians in 1978.

A just released poll indicates a majority of Americans disapprove of your attitude toward Israel. Moreover, 75% of US congressmen recently took the unprecedented measure of signing a letter asking you to treat Israel more fairly. Are you listening, Mr. President? If so with all due respect, where is your sense of fairness?

In summary, it would appear the fulfillment of the aforementioned points, which individually and collectively amount to the destruction of Israel, are a far greater obstacle to peace than the construction of homes in east Jerusalem.

If you are interested in discussing these matters in greater detail, maybe we could arrange for a “beer summit” if your schedule permits. I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience. If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to bring a bottle of Mogen David wine for us to share.


Dan Calic

From pro-Israel to anti-Israel apologist

29/04/2010 00:24

Could Indyk’s recent op-ed in the ‘New York Times’ be the last hurrah from those Jews pressing Obama to intensify pressure?

Former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk has emerged as one of the leading Jewish apologists for President Barack Obama in his confrontation with the Israeli government. With the American public now beginning to express resentment of the anti-Israeli tilt adopted by the Obama administration, Indyk has been intensifying his attacks on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, blaming him for the crisis and slandering him as an instrument of extremist nationalist elements.

Indyk has had a remarkably successful academic and political career. Educated in Australia, he was employed by the Australian counterpart of AIPAC. In the US, he subsequently assumed a research role in AIPAC, following which he was appointed executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and taught Middle East studies in various universities.

He served as a special assistant to president Bill Clinton, and was a member of secretary of state Warren Christopher’s Middle East peace team. After adopting US citizenship, he became the first foreign-born and first Jewish US ambassador to Israel, serving two terms. Currently he is director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institute. Indyk is also an enthusiastic supporter of the New Israel Fund, and recently vigorously defended the NIF in Australia after the invitation to NIF president Naomi Chazan was revoked following the uproar concerning NIF grants to organizations collaborating in the compilation of the despicable Goldstone Report.

SO HOW are we to understand Indyk’s recent outbursts? Jewish supporters of Obama’s harsh and one-sided offensive against the current government fall into two broad categories.

There are those like J Street who are either genuinely anti-Israel or convinced they know better than Israelis what is best for Israel and are willing to lobby their government to force the Jewish state to continue making unilateral concessions. Needless to say, according to the most recent poll, more than 90 percent of Israelis are opposed to Obama imposing a solution.

The second category are the acolytes of Obama seeking to ingratiate themselves with the administration by acting as its apologists.

Indyk understands both the Arab-Israeli conflict and the nature of Israeli domestic policies, and on the basis of his ferocious criticisms of the government, one is tempted to conclude that as a member of the administration, he is not merely promoting a partisan agenda, but deliberately distorting reality.

His most recent defense of Obama’s offensive was an International Herald Tribune op-ed titled “When Your Best Friend Gets Angry.”

He accuses Netanyahu of being responsible for the current crisis. Yet he is aware that he has skillfully navigated his government to a centrist position which the vast majority of Israelis support. Indyk must appreciate that by appeasing Obama and initiating a settlement freeze, Netanyahu made a concession that none of his “dovish” political predecessors would ever have contemplated. This and other unilateral concessions to the Palestinians were neither reciprocated nor even acknowledged.

Indyk’s extreme views should perhaps be viewed in the context of his colleague Dennis Ross being reportedly accused of having dual loyalties for suggesting that the administration was making demands that could not be implemented within the democratic constraints of the Israeli system. Indyk need not be concerned about facing any such suspicions, and also implicitly distanced himself from Aaron David Miller, a long-term State Department critic of Israeli government policies, who recently also expressed disillusion with the path adopted by the Obama administration.

INDYK EVEN went to the length of reiterating that Israeli intransigence was contributing to US military casualties – a manifestly untrue accusation (as Indyk himself must know) – repudiated by Gen. David Petraeus, who emphasized the positive aspects of Israel as a strategic ally. Indyk effectively claimed that American soldiers were dying because Israelis are endangering “a vital national security interest for the United States,” presumably by building apartments in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.

In subsequent more explicit comments, Indyk said 200,000 US troops are fighting terrorism and Obama is obliged to write between 30 and 40 condolence letters a month – far more than the Israeli prime minister. Such chilling remarks from a mainstream American Jewish public figure have the capacity of inflicting enormous damage on Israel and the Jewish community.

Indyk also repeats the absurdity that by making more unilateral concessions to the Palestinians, Israel will enable the US to resolve the Iranian nuclear threat, again linking the construction freeze in Jerusalem with Obama’s ability to deal with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

This balderdash is compounded when he also urges Israel to cede the Golan to Syria – ignoring the latter’s alliance with Iran and its increasing aggressiveness toward Israel.

To top off this vicious barrage, Indyk cynically invokes the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, whom he refers to as “Israel’s greatest strategic thinker.” Yet he would be aware that Rabin exploded when Diaspora Jews sought to encourage US administrations to exert pressure on the elected Israeli government.

He would also know that Rabin would never have displayed Netayahu’s restraint had an American president treated his country like a vassal, as Obama did to his erstwhile ally.

Indyk’s recent intensified attacks on the government could be in response to the extraordinary groundswell of protest against Obama’s hostility toward Israel.

AMONG JEWS, ADL’s Abe Foxman is no longer a lone voice protesting the Obama policies. World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder, Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, Democratic Obama supporter Alan Dershowitz, former New York mayor Ed Koch and many other mainstream Jewish leaders are now raising their voices in protest. There is a groundswell of anger among Jewish Democrats who feel that Obama reneged on his pre-electoral commitments. The most recent poll (Quinnipiac University) shows that 67% of American Jews (78% of whom voted for Obama) disapprove of his policies, while only 28% approve; 73% believe that Palestinians should be obliged to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition to further negotiations.

This extends to the wider American public, the majority of whom also disapprove of Obama’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, with 66% saying he should be a strong supporter of Israel and only 19% opposed. Twice as many Americans support Netanyahu as those opposing him.

This was reflected in resolutions passed by the House and the Senate with overwhelming majorities urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to bring an end to the confrontation.

Of late, the message seems to have penetrated. The more recent statements from both Obama and Clinton not only reiterate the “unshakeable relationship” between Israel and the US, but are trying to promote the appearance that relations are on the mend.

Most Israelis and Americans would certainly welcome this. Thus, perhaps Indyk’s op-ed was a last hurrah from those Jews pressing Obama to intensify pressure. Indyk’s warning to Israelis to distance themselves from the policies of their government “or there will be serious consequences” should therefore be treated with the contempt it deserves.

"Bravo for Barkat"

Arlene Kushner

Prime Minister Netanyahu provided a "sort-of" denial yesterday, with regard to rumors of a de facto building freeze in Jerusalem: Obama and European leaders, he said, are well aware of his position, but he didn't elucidate what that position was.

But now Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat has gone on record with clarity. Barkat is currently in Washington.

He informed the Israeli Embassy that he was coming, but then proceeded to arrange his own meetings with members of Congress and the media. When speaking with reporters yesterday he told them that the rumors of an informal halt to building are erroneous. He insisted that construction will continue and all that had been observed was a "temporary slowdown" in response to the enormously negative US reaction to the announcement for new housing in Ramat Shlomo that had been made while Biden was here.

"There is no freeze. It's not true."

The temporary slowdown, he said, was misinterpreted as an unofficial freeze. However, that slowdown was simply the result of having been "slapped in the face" by the US.

"It takes some time to recover from such an attack from a friend like the US administration."

(Note: It had been announced after the flack over Ramat Shlomo that bureaucratic procedures were being reviewed and that matters would be on hold until the review was complete. Now the NY Times reports that Netanyahu has established a new committee to ensure that he would never again be surprised by an eastern Jerusalem housing announcement. According to Mark Regev, Netanyahu spokesman, the new mechanism was intended to improve oversight and coordination.)

Barkat said that local and district commissions that had responsibility for overseeing housing approvals had begun to meet again. "You cannot stop a vibrant and living city like Jerusalem from growing."

"If they [US officials] are recommending a freeze, the answer is no."


One does not sense game-playing in this statement, and I welcome its forthright "tell-it-like it-is" tone. We will know soon enough if planning committees are meeting and construction is progressing.

AP, in reporting what Barkat said, indicated that these are "comments that may complicate the Obama administration's attempts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks."


And that leads me to another observation:

There are those who were certain yesterday that Netanyahu had caved.

However, I will suggest that something else was going on: It's likely that the deliberate vagueness or reticence on Netanyahu's part was not intended to hide what he had promised the US regarding a building freeze in Jerusalem. Rather, it may well have been intended to hide what he didn't promise. He may have been avoiding an open defiance of Obama's request, hoping to not spark the confrontation that would follow if Obama felt he had "lost face." Perhaps he allowed a certain ambiguity to kick in so that there would be playing room for Obama to advance his negotiations agenda. Hey, the thinking may have gone, PA officials can say whatever they want in order to provide cover for themselves, if in the end they are not defining our real policy.

This would be Netanyahu's style. He likes to appear to play the game even as he quietly goes his own way, forever doing a balancing act. Dedicated nationalists, who prefer clear statements about our rights, have no patience with this.

Sometimes it can make one cringe, because it gives the semblance of our having made concessions and makes us seem weak. Sometimes it's a successful technique that skirts unnecessary international tensions. Sometimes there is a partial concession that leads to the proverbial slippery slope. Problem is, with Netanyahu, we often don't know exactly where we are.


In this particular instance, thanks to Barkat, we have picture that's a good deal clearer. For he has now said, according to YNet, that his positions on Jerusalem are identical to Netanyahu's. But you don't see our prime minister standing up and say, "Right on. It's true." In fact, members of our government are quite irked with the mayor. Fussed one unnamed official, Barak spoke inappropriately "at such a sensitive period in US-Israel ties, when every housing unit in Jerusalem gains prominence."

Sha still, be nice, don't tell the world what our rights are, or what we intend.


Barkat further said that Israel is sometimes confused about what signals the US is delivering. And he indicated that "bad American proposals" would be worthless in resolving the Mid-East conflict.

The nerve of him! He told the truth.

As a result of this, the US government denied his request to meet with Clinton and Mitchell.


As to our refusing to cave to US demands, another, unexpected, instance made the news today. The Jerusalem Post reports:

"Despite a 2002 road map commitment and years of pledges by successive prime ministers including Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel has no intention in the foreseeable future of dismantling any of 23 unauthorized West Bank outposts built after March 2001...

"In part, this is because the promise to dismantle the outposts was made in the framework of wider understandings with the Bush administration that provided for continued home-building [in] settlements Israel is likely to retain under a permanent accord with the Palestinians. Since, under the Obama administration, those wider understandings gave way to a demand, accepted by Netanyahu in November, for a moratorium on all new home-building throughout the settlements [according to one senior official], Israel no longer regards itself as having to go through with the outpost demolitions on the basis of that pledge to the US."

Several ministers, included Moshe Ya'alon, were cited by the Post as supporting this version of the current situation.

Likud Minister Yuli Edelstein has explained that decisions on which –- if any –- outposts would be razed "would now be determined on the basis of the legal status of the land in each specific case, and the completion of all the necessary legal procedures, not on the basis of Israel’s pledge to the US."

Declared Edelstein, “There were all kinds of understandings that the other side [the US] no longer views as valuable. As a result we do not have to blindly fulfill everything. There are legal procedures in this country and we have to follow them.”
Good for us!


A number of other issues played into this decision: One is the fact that there are no negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs going on, and that dismantling the outposts would be seen as a unilateral concession to them.

Another is the "likely internal friction with the settler community." The lesson here is that it pays to make noise. Let it not be forgotten.


This issue would be less urgent if it were not for the meddling of left wing organizations such as Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), which bring petitions to the Court demanding that the outposts be taken down.

I mention here again, as I have before, that what these organizations do would be thrown out of court in the US, for they have no standing in these cases: It is not their land, they are not affected by the building.

What the government has been doing is buying time by assessing the status of the outpost in question. The Defense Ministry has actually drawn up a memo advising that enforcement of evacuation orders against outposts be deferred.


Aside from the 23 outposts built since the road map in 2001, there are some 100 others built earlier. Discussion is being held in a couple of instances with regard to retroactively legalizing them. This is the case most notably with the Derech Ha’avot outpost near Elazar in Gush Etzion. It would represent the first such action since 1996.

A similar action might be taken with the Givat Hayovel outpost near the community of Eli in Samaria. Plans to demolish this outpost attracted wide spread attention because it is where the widows and families of IDF majors Roi Klein and Eliraz Peretz live. To take their homes away from them would be to demonstrate breathtaking insensitivity (Roi Klein threw himself on a grenade to save his men), and Defense Minister Barak finally got that message.

I mention here again, as well, that the issue of what is an "authorized" community is far more complicated than it sounds. Many ministries and agencies are involved, and in almost every instance there has been some official approval -- for a road to go in, or electric wires to be run, or whatever. What is missing is the final Defense Ministry sign-on.

In each of these two instances, what would be required would be the expansion of the neighboring community or the establishment of new communities. This, too, would contravene the original agreement with the Bush administration. If you remember, when the issue was being fought regarding a freeze in Judea and Samaria, the point was reinforced that the perimeters of the communities were not being enlarged, and all building was being done inside existing borders. (This was even though the Arabs were screaming that we were taking all of "their" land.)

Clearly now, our interaction with the US has shifted. I am pleased to see that our government is not being passive and simply acceding to Obama's demands. If he doesn't honor certain prior commitments, then we are prepared to say that neither will we honor reciprocal ones.


A note with regard to my post yesterday. (As Moti G. has pointed out) a key example of different national narratives is our celebration of Independence Day, while the Arabs who live here annually on May 15 commemorate the Nakba, which means the "catastrophe."


I strongly recommend Daniel Pipes' latest column, "Understanding Europe," in which he discusses a newly translated book by French novelist and essayist Pascal Bruckner:

"Europe exonerates itself of crimes against Jews by extolling Palestinians as victims no matter how viciously they act, and by portraying Israelis as latter-day Nazis no matter how necessary their self-defense. Thus has the Palestinian question 'quietly relegitimated hatred of the Jews.'"


For whatever it's worth, it's not only us that Obama treats shabbily. IMRA is carrying a piece from The Telegraph (UK) that lists Barack Obama's ten top insults against Britain:

"Without a shadow of a doubt, Barack Obama has been the most anti-British president in modern American history. The Special Relationship has been significantly downgraded, and at times humiliated under his presidency, which has displayed a shocking disregard for America’s most important partner and strategic ally."

Sound familiar?


But don't worry. Obama knows what he's doing. On Monday he renewed his pledge of a "new beginning" with the Muslim world.

Sometimes I think this is all a bad dream.


see my website

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MK Danon: Netanyahu Lulling Likud to Sleep

Gil Ronen
A7 News

“Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu wants to lull the Likud movement to sleep,” MK Danny Danon (Likud) warned Tuesday. The first-term parlimentarian and former World Likud head, who is one of the more prominently nationalistic Knesset members in the ruling party, said that Netanyahu wants to prevent the upcoming elections to the Likud's internal institutions so that he can “enjoy quiet on the internal front in the next two years.” "Our interest is the opposite of that.” he explained. “We must strengthen the Prime Minister by having the Likud and its institutions act in the face of the pressure by the US and [President Barack] Obama. The Likud movement will stand up and tell them – we will not renew the freeze in Judea and Samaria and we will not freeze Jerusalem.”

Danon called on Likud Central Committee members to participate in a vote Thursday on Netanyahu's proposal to change the party's constitution in a way that would put off internal elections. “One does not just change the constitution on whim,” he said. “The convention needs to take place at its scheduled date. Whoever cares about the Land of Israel and wants the Likud to stay faithful to ideology must come and vote 'no.'”

Asked why he thought Defense Minister Ehud Barak had outposts at Ramat Migron and Maoz Esther razed Tuesday morning, Danon said that the timing had to do with the fact that Barak is currently abroad.

“Barak is doing this now because he is not here,” he explained. “Why doesn't he destroy the homes of Arab lawbreakers? The Prime Minister needs to understand that the Defense Minister is sabotaging the coalition; Barak is trying to put the Prime Minister to the test and to see where his loyalty lies – with the Labor party or with the real voters in the Likud.”

General Jones Tells A Joke

Today's public culture focuses a lot more on categorization than though processes. The immediate question that arises after various incidents is whether or not they meet the criterion of categorizing something as objectionable rather than considering what it actually tells us. So it is with the joke General Jones, national security advisor to President Barack Obama. Should General Jones be fired or resign because of the joke? Of course not. He should be fired or resign because he hasn't been doing a very good job as national security advisor.

Actually, the speech itself was a good one. The goal was to mark the end of the U.S.-Israel rift after a secret understanding by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop construction in Jerusalem for a while. It is also meant to mark a need to shore up growing criticism about the administration's policy on Israel and ineptness at getting sanctions on Iran. The joke should not be allowed to block an understanding of the administration's regional policy and political maneuvers.

But it does show why the administration is in so much trouble at home and abroad in the first place and may soon be again.

Here is a brief summary of Jones's version of the joke. The scene: southern Afghanistan. Hungry Hamas militant, raving hatred against Israel, asks Jewish merchant for food. Jew counters on Israel and refuses to sell it to him. Tells him instead he will sell him a tie. Hamas guy confused. Eventually goes onward, then returns. Now I see why you wanted to sell me a tie. Your brother won't let me into his restaurant without one.

Ha! Presumably the merchant sold him at a tie at an exorbitant price or, to use the old term for such things, the merchant "Jewed" him, a word in many dictionaries until recently.

It is no secret that Jones is one of the administration officials most hostile to Israel. Thus, the joke is put into the context: is it or is it not antisemitic? That is the least interesting issue. What is fascinating and more important points is what it reveals about Jones's world view.

The incident also reminds us of something many people would find shocking but is true: Many members of the Western political and cultural elite know far less about Jews than about the "exotic" minorities that they deal with abroad or as immigrants to their countries nowadays. The ignorance about Jews springs, of course, from the assumption that they know so much. It is also augmented by assimilationist Jewish intellectuals, including those in the elite, who have never known, forgotten, or prefer not to disclose much about their own people.

Of course, one shouldn't read too much into a joke. But as another joke puts it, the issue is not just that Jones told the joke but the way he told it.

Let's first run through the introductory points:

--Jones decided to tell the joke. The issue is not whether the joke is objectively objectionable, that's a matter for debate. What's really impressive is that neither he nor his staff considered it risky. Here's a man considered to be hostile to Israel, and perhaps to Jews, involved in very delicate issues, showing poor judgment in walking along the edge of the precipice in an era where people are obsessively-I'd say insanely-sensitive to any nuance of prejudice.

Even if one concludes that the joke is not truly objectionable, it shows poor judgment in a man whose job requires dealing with the fate of millions of people, including millions of Israelis. It makes me wonder how smart and able to understand situations Jones could possibly be. And if you respond that if he weren't exceptional he wouldn't hold his current job you've spent considerably less time around Washington than I have.

--How does one evaluate the joke? This is a typical kind of Litvak Jewish joke designed to show cleverness. But in its origins the joke was sensitive. After all, the implication is that these wily merchants were taking advantage of Eastern European peasants or others in their business dealings. It was for stereotypes like this that pogroms took place, including ultimately the biggest pogrom of them all. Thus, the basic structure of this joke has both typical Jewish and antisemitic features.

This is not atypical of "ethnic" humor and what makes it different when spoken by a member of the group and someone who isn't. If you don't believe that, listen to African-Americans or others telling jokes about their own people and try repeating one yourself. In the current climate, you will soon be looking for a new job. For some reason, this doesn't seem to apply to dealings with Jewish sensitivities.

But all of this is the least interesting aspect of the situation. I could talk about more but let me focus on two that I think are inescapable and have policy consequences. It is interesting to note that both aspects relate to changes Jones made in the way the joke has been told by Jews.

First, the story is set in Afghanistan. Why there of all places where there have never been any Jews and there is only one in the whole country today? When it has appeared on Jewish sites, the joke was set in the Sahara Desert. Note also Jones insisted--part of the joke but also revealing--that it was based on a "true" story.

Well, Afghanistan is the main theatre of operations for the U.S. military, especially if one takes into account future plans. So it shows that even in Afghanistan, there are people obsessed with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. (That's not true by the way.) The idea that the conflict is the central issue in the world determining everything has become a theme of Obama Administration foreign policy. True, it is a Hamas guy and not a Taliban guy. Yet one cannot help but make the connection.

Second, instead of an individual Jew, the focus of the story is switched to Israel by making it a Hamas guy, putting in references to Israel, and making an Afghan Jew describe Israel as "my country."

The Jew, now made into a representative of Israel--in effect--rather than a generic Jew, seeks to charge (presumably overcharge) for letting the Hamas guy in to get what he needs. Indeed, Israel does demand an admissions' fee into peace for Hamas and also the Palestinian Authority: that they must show they are serious about peace as well as make compromises.

The tendency of the current U.S. government and of Europe is-and I don't want to overstate this-to say that such a barrier is unnecessary. End the sanctions on the Gaza Strip, they say, let Hamas into the talks (I'm not saying the Obama administration endorses this idea), give the PA a state. Then everything will be okay and peace will prevail.

The adaptation of this into the joke is to let the Hamas guy in without a tie and trust him to pay at the end of the meal. Indeed, that if you do so he will stop cursing Israel and want to be friends. After all, most restaurants today have given up their tie and jacket requirement.

Now here's the joke I'll tell when they ask me to speak at the National Security Council:

An Israeli is walking through a dangerous desert, beset by enemies on every side. He comes upon an American general who is national security advisor. "Please help me," says the Israeli, "I'm out of ammunition."

"I'd love to help you," says the general, "but I can only sell you a tie. It's because I'm helping you that they are all out to get me!"

"No thanks on the tie," says the Israeli, "I'd rather have your support as an ally against those antisemitic, anti-American totalitarian forces which are out to destroy you any way."

*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley)