Saturday, November 13, 2010

Securing Israel Secures America

Marcia Drezon-Tepler

As the post-election administration turns to Middle East policy, and as Palestinians threaten to bypass negotiations and beseech the United Nations to create their state, it is imperative that the United States change course and recognize that a strong Israel means a secure America. For Israel is on the front line of our fight against terrorism. Many of us have long understood that. But for years, Israel fought terrorism, and the world regarded it as Israel's problem. Unfortunately, it took 9/11 for many to realize that it is our problem, too. So, of course, Israel has a right to defend itself. But it is not enough to say that.

We need to remember that when Israel defends itself, it is defending us. For terrorism is worldwide, and when Israel acts against terrorists, it sends signals to terrorists across the Middle East and around the globe. And when we limit Israel and simultaneously coddle dictators like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar al-Assad, that also sends signals to terrorists -- that we are weak and vulnerable. But President Obama does not believe this. The administration's Middle East policy contends that if you settle the Israel-Palestinian dispute, you solve all the problems in the Middle East. Even if this approach fails, proponents of this policy argue, you at least remove the Arabs' excuse for not making peace with Israel. But Israel and we cannot afford to take chances on a failed policy. In pursuing its approach, the administration continually confronts only Israel and calls upon Israel to make concessions that jeopardize its security and sovereignty.

This administration continually sacrifices Israel on the altar of international consensus. In his Cairo speech to the Muslim world, Obama equated Jewish suffering in the Holocaust to Palestinian suffering under Israeli "occupation" and called for stopping settlements. In his 2009 U.N. speech, Obama denounced Israel's settlements as "illegitimate" and called Israel's presence in the West Bank and, notably, in eastern Jerusalem an "occupation." And the administration endorsed a resolution of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that singled out Israel to relinquish nuclear weapons. These pronouncements and policies endanger Israel and ultimately endanger us.

During the Gaza flotilla affair this past spring, the U.S. response should have been that not only does Israel have every right to defend itself, but it also has the right to take preemptive action to ensure its security and obtain the release of the Hamas-held hostage, Gilad Shalit. Instead, the president and Secretary of State Clinton called upon Israel to ease the blockade and accepted resolutions in the U.N. Security Council and U.N. Human Rights Council condemning Israel for violence. We should have vetoed the Security Council resolution and withdrawn from the so-called Human Rights Council. In the first place, we should not have entered this body, which deems Libya worthy of membership and continually condemns Israel while ignoring real atrocities around the world.

And when Israel sought to build in its own capital in March of this year, Obama and Clinton called upon Israel to stop and humiliated Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House. Emboldened Palestinians took to the streets, and there was almost a third intifada. Time and again -- in Sinai, in Gaza -- Israel has sacrificed for peace. Settlements have never been an obstacle. If the Palestinians truly wanted a state, they would have one by now. As in the past, today, the Palestinians' stand on settlements and Israel building in Jerusalem is just an excuse for not proceeding with negotiations. And the administration's confronting Israel for merely letting a settlement moratorium lapse, while overlooking the violence the Palestinians perpetrated on Israeli civilians at the start of the talks, only encourages Palestinian intransigence.

If negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians go forward, we should support Prime Minister Netanyahu's requirements for a two-state solution. He calls for a secure Israel. He wants recognition for Israel as a Jewish state. This means that any right of return for Palestinian refugees will be to a Palestinian state, not to Israel. There is to be a two-state solution, not one and a half for the Palestinians and half for Israel. And the Palestinian state must be demilitarized. These are not preconditions; they are parameters for peace.

We must eschew linkage. Israel's actions against terrorists and its just demands ensuring its existence as a secure Jewish state do not impede America's efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq or detract from the effort to prevent a nuclear Iran. Precisely the opposite is true. This administration's dancing with dictators and dithering with regard to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran affect our security and that of Israel and the rest of the Middle East.

When the United States does not stand strong with its ally, the democratic state of Israel, it erodes the efforts of the United States and Israel vis-à-vis Iran. It emboldens the Iranian proxy Hezbollah and Hamas, reduces the threat of an Israeli or U.S. strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, and discourages the opposition movement in Iran.

Further, this administration's policy of "engaging" the Iranian dictator has wasted precious time and has jeopardized us and Israel in a way that belated sanctions are unlikely to counter. Now, possible retaliation from a weapons-reinforced Hezbollah on Israel's northern border complicates and undermines an Israeli or U.S. threat to strike Iran. It is time to stop Iran from playing games with the international community. We should issue an ultimatum, setting a firm deadline for stopping uranium enrichment. If Iran does not cease enrichment activities by that date, we should use military action to take out the nuclear sites.

If there is any linkage, it is that if we cut and run from Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter the spawning ground of the 9/11 terrorist attackers, it will embolden the terrorists of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran against Israel and against us at home and abroad. Therefore, we must be committed to staying the course and doing whatever it takes to ensure the area does not again become a terrorist training camp. This means not second-guessing forces in the field and not imposing Rules of Engagement so restrictive that fighters fear facing a murder charge if they pull the trigger.

Most importantly, this means staying for as long as it takes to win. It is not prudent to tell your enemies a date and time when you will be withdrawing, as President Obama has done in Afghanistan. This limits Gen. David Petraeus in prosecuting the war and endangers our fighters.

We need a policy that promotes the forces of good in the Middle East, that supports democracy -- Israel, the opposition in Iran, forces for democracy in Lebanon, and also Turkey -- as we were doing before this administration took office. We had dictators on the run. Ahmadinejad was not embraced. Syria's Assad was isolated, suspected of involvement in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon and father of the current prime minister, and facing possible charges by a U.N. investigating committee.

But all that changed with the Obama administration. Demanding nothing in return, the United States renewed diplomatic relations with Syria in the naïve hope that it could wean Syria away from Iran. At the same time, the United States engaged with Iran, enhancing Iran's stature without at all retarding its nuclear development. As a result, the two dictators have become even closer, exchanging visits to each other's countries. Assad was welcomed to Lebanon, Ahmadinejad recently ended a visit to Lebanon, and Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon reportedly has received weapons, including SCUD missiles, from Syria. We need to reverse this policy and renew efforts to encourage the democratic forces within Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Israel's security, our security, and the security of the entire Middle East depend on it.

To bolster democratic forces in the Middle East, the United States needs to get Turkey back on track. The United States has tremendous influence with Turkey and can make it clear that Turkey is playing with fire when it gets involved with Hamas and Hezbollah. We can support Turkey in its sought-after role as a Middle East power and player but point out that it would be foolish for Turkey to choose the Israel-Palestinian issue on which to do so. Rather, Turkey has a more productive role to play. It would do better to follow the vision of its former president, Turgut Ozal, and use its influence to help the governments of the wider region, including those of the former Soviet Union, to adopt the Turkish model of democracy and moderate Islam.

While there is no linkage, our actions and policies have consequences that are interconnected, from Afghanistan and Iran to Gaza and Israel. We need to fashion a comprehensive policy and be steadfast in ensuring the security of our country and our allies.

Drezon-Tepler is a writer specializing in the Middle East and heads Language Masters, a global writing, editing, and public relations firm. E-mail or visit

Page Printed from: at November 13, 2010 - 01:17:03 AM CST

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hizbullah: We are ready for another war with Israel


Nasrallah says group will "cut the hand" of anyone who tries to arrest any member of the party in connection with Hariri assassination.

Hizbullah is ready for another war with Israel, said the group's leader Hassan Nasrallah in a televised speech on Thursday evening.

Referring to what he termed Israel's habit of becoming involved where it is not welcome, he emphasized that his Lebanese terrorist group is not at all afraid of future conflicts. With progress in the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), charged with investigating the 2005 Rafik Hariri assassination, and the Hizbullah indictments expected, Nasrallah also said that Hizbullah will "cut the hand" of anyone who tries to arrest any member of the party.

"Those who imagine that we will allow the arrest or detention of any of our fighters are mistaken," he told thousands of supporters in south Beirut through video link. "We will cut the hand that reaches out for any one of them."

The Netherlands-based tribunal investigating the killing is expected to issue indictments in the coming months.

Denying outright any involvement in the assassination, he said that the group would not accept any accusation against any of its fighters or leaders.

"Those who think that the resistance will not defend itself and its dignity against any accusation are mistaken," he added.

On Wednesday, Press TV reported that Hizbullah had urged the Lebanese government to deal with the issue of false witnesses in the investigation tribunal.

The appeal came as the Lebanese government failed to reach an agreement about the issue after a four-hour meeting on Wednesday.

Hizbullah said the tribunal is marred by witnesses who gave false information.

AP contributed to this report.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Israel after the congressional elections


Unless Obama has a miraculous last-minute change of heart and adjusts his policy, we must gird ourselves for a long, tough struggle.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will face pressure to renew the settlement freeze when he meets Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after addressing the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans.

His meeting will take place following one of the greatest electoral defeats the Democratic Party has ever suffered. But the election was an expression of “no confidence” in the Obama administration rather than an endorsement of Republican policies. From what I have learned over the past few days in meetings with American Jewish leaders, far more Jews than anticipated had defected from the Democratic camp. I encountered numerous Jewish activists expressing remorse for ever having supported Obama in the presidential election, some sadly informing me that this was the first time in their lives that they had voted against the Democratic Party. Needless to say, unless they opposed Obama’s economic policies, the majority of Jews not engaged in Jewish activities, and for whom the fate of Israel is of little consequence, continued voting disproportionately Democrat.

But Democratic politicians are fully aware that it is the committed Jews who assume the central role in the political landscape. A large proportion of major Jewish Democratic donors are strong supporters of Israel, and many, for the first time, suspended or even severed a life-long political affiliation.

However, the euphoria over the elections shared by supporters of Israel may be somewhat premature.

Of course, a strongly pro-Israel Congress is a major asset. But it is the domestic economic arena in which Congress controls the purse strings and occupies a crucial role. In contrast, foreign policy derives primarily from the White House, and Congress has a more limited capacity to modify or influence this area. Indeed, some predict that instead of confronting Congress on economic issues, Obama may even be tempted to intensify his involvement in foreign affairs and try to make his imprint in this area.

Ultimately, Obama’s policy toward Israel will be determined by whether he is motivated by ideological or pragmatic considerations.

Hitherto, a strong case could be made to suggest that he behaves like a chameleon. He repudiated undertakings about Israel he had made before he was elected. He displayed contempt for and publicly humiliated Netanyahu, but in response to pressure and anger from within his own ranks, reversed his approach and a few months later rolled out the red carpet for him.

THE QUESTION is whether Obama will now be willing to meaningfully adjust his policies, or will he continue to exercise one-sided pressure against Israel, even if in a somewhat more sophisticated manner than previously.

Until now, he has provided no indication to suggest that he intends diverting in any meaningful manner from a policy based on the premise that in order to build bridges with the Arab world, the US must distance itself from Israel and if necessary, even be willing to compromise the Jewish state’s long-term security interests on the altar of appeasement.

The formative elements which influenced Obama’s approach to Middle East issues undoubtedly have a major bearing on his current attitude. Setting aside his anti-Semitic pastor who railed continuously against Israel and Jews, a principal source seems to have been Rashid Khalidi, the intellectual leader of the PLO in the US. This impressive Palestinian academic had an intimate relationship with Obama during his early and formative political years and without doubt had a major influence in influencing his overall approach to the Middle East.

Khalidi helped launch Obama in the political arena by raising seed money when he entered politics, and in addition, the Obama and Khalidi families maintained a close social interaction over a long period.

This relationship, combined with Obama’s unquestioned left-wing and Third World orientation, probably had a major impact in developing his problematic attitude toward Israel and his effective absorption of the Arab narrative.

THERE ARE therefore grounds for concern that Israel will continue to face difficult times with this administration.

The only question is how much Obama’s desire to be reelected may mitigate his ideological inclinations.

In this context, it is likely that Biden and Clinton will exert extraordinary pressure to coerce Netanyahu into imposing another settlement freeze. In turn, while seeking to retain a problematic and crumbling coalition, Netanyahu will attempt to reinstate the arrangement which prevailed with the Bush administration, limiting construction only outside major settlement blocs.

Whether this will lead to direct negotiations with the Palestinians is questionable. The administration’s outrageous condemnation of construction in exclusively Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem (Ramot and Gilo) only days prior to the congressional elections make it difficult for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations – even in the highly unlikely event that this was his desire.

Understandably, he would prefer the Americans to bully Israel into further unilateral concessions without the Palestinians making any reciprocal gestures. Besides, by avoiding negotiations, his unwillingness or inability to make any compromise is never publicly exposed.

But short of a miracle, with or without negotiations, talks between Israel and the Palestinians will almost certainly fail. Especially with Abbas demanding that the opening benchmark for talks be the offers made to him by former prime minister Ehud Olmert (which he had spurned), despite the fact that they would never have been endorsed or approved by the people of Israel.

When a breakdown does occur, Obama may still seek to impose a solution by calling for a return to the 1949 armistice lines with minor swaps for those areas which are now entirely populated by Jews. He could also stand by passively or even give a wink to the Quartet to endorse a Palestinian request to the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state within these borders. Aside from the chaos this would engender, compromising on defensible borders could have existential implications, which no Israeli government could accept.

If Obama persists and continues to attempt to ruthlessly bend Israel to his will or unleashes the Security Council against us, the government and the principal opposition party, Kadima, should suspend short-term political in-fighting and act in the national interest by attempting to identify red lines behind which they would unite.

Cynics may dismiss this as inconceivable, but the existential threat posed by the extreme measures contemplated by some sections of the global community is so palpable that our very future is at risk. If our politicians feel even a modicum of responsibility, they must get their act together.

We also need to present a united front to ward off the concerted global efforts to demonize, delegitimize and boycott us.

The most positive element in our difficult situation is the innate decency of the American people who, as indicated by recent surveys, continue to support Israel. However, we must not take this support for granted, and should intensify our efforts to present our case to the people, knowing that unless Obama has a miraculous lastminute change of heart and adjusts his policy, we must gird ourselves for a long, tough struggle.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Arlene Kushner

We've been there, done that. Plans for building in Jerusalem east of the Green Line are announced, and the world goes slightly berserk. It is really tiresome.

Word from the government here is that 1) these building projects are just in the first stages (is this supposed to give people hope that maybe they'll never finalize?), 2) that the plans were announced many weeks ago, and, 3) that some on the left (Peace Now, which has a propensity for this behavior was mentioned) deliberately called media attention to it now to cause Netanyahu problems while he is in the States.

Could be. An editorial from the Wall Street Journal criticized Obama for taking this on all the way from Jakarta:

"...So what did President Obama talk about upon arriving in Jakarta yesterday? Israeli construction projects.

"Why Mr. Obama chose to pick this fight from the distance of Southeast Asia is anyone's guess. Israel's decision to proceed with the building of some 1,000 housing units in the Har Homa neighborhood of municipal Jerusalem—a 'settlement' only in the most jaundiced sense of the term—was made in October. Israeli governments of both the right and left have encouraged similar building projects since Jerusalem was reunified in 1967. And construction of the new housing will not begin for months if not years.

"None of that deterred Mr. Obama, who warned the Israeli government that 'this kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.'

"...All Israel has done is insist that Jews have a right to live anywhere in their capital city, something that might be controversial in Ramallah but ought not to be in Washington. Mr. Obama's public endorsement of the Palestinian view of what constitutes a settlement only puts the negotiated peace he seeks further out of reach."


Jonathan Tobin -- whose piece in Commentary is entitled "Charm Offensive Ends as Obama Panders to Muslim World" -- reflects similar and even more serious concerns:

"Obama chose to use his visit to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, as the venue for comments directly criticizing Israel...

" that the election is over, Obama is back to his old tricks, seizing upon an announcement that can have no impact on any theoretical peace deal in order to pander to a Muslim world that seeks Israel’s destruction. By making a statement about Jerusalem while in Indonesia, Obama is signaling that the United States regards Jewish Jerusalem as being no different from the most remote settlement in the West Bank: an illegal outpost that must be destroyed and its inhabitants removed. Such a statement helps fuel the Arab irredentism that has been the primary obstacle to peace since Israel’s birth in 1948.

"Obama’s pandering to the Muslim world is also a signal to Jewish Democrats that their party’s leader is once again throwing Israel under the bus in pursuit of popularity in the Third World..."


Prime Minister Netanyahu's response to Obama was pointed and on the mark, as far as it went. His office put out a statement that said:

"Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. Israel has never accepted upon itself restrictions of any kind on construction in Jerusalem...including during the ten months in which construction was suspended in Judea and Samaria.

Israel sees no connection between the diplomatic process and planning and building policy in Jerusalem, which has not changed in 40 years. All Israeli governments in the past 40 years have built in all parts of the city. During this period, peace agreements were signed with Egypt and Jordan, and for 17 years, diplomatic negotiations have been conducted with the Palestinians. These are historical facts. Construction in Jerusalem has never hindered the peace process.

The disagreements with the US over Jerusalem are well-known. They are not new and have continued for 40 years. We hope to overcome them and continue to advance the diplomatic negotiations.

In a TV interview yesterday, the prime minister elaborated:

"You are talking about a handful of apartments that really don't affect the map at all, contrary to impressions that might be perceived from certain news reports."


Mr. Netanyahu will not be holding his breath waiting for an opportunity to end the disagreements with the US over Jerusalem. That much is clear.

If I have unease it is because his statements are only about Jerusalem and say nothing about Judea and Samaria and building there. Tomorrow he meets with Clinton regarding ways to re-start the process.


As would be expected, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat has milked this for all it's worth: "The international community must respond to Israel's unilateral measures by instantly (instantly?) recognizing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders(sic)."

The international community must intervene immediately, he said, to salvage the two-state solution, which would be a "natural response" to the measures of Jerusalem. "...Palestinians could no longer remain idle in the face of Israel's practices that consolidate the occupation..."

The man's a clown, albeit a potentially dangerous one.


For a sense of deja vu about this issue, as well as an explanation of the strategic significance of Har Homa, see Lenny Ben-David's blog, here:


Also lending an air of deja vu to the news is Obama's statement yesterday (alluded to by Tobin, above) that,

"With respect to outreach to the Muslim world, I think that our efforts have been earnest and sustained...

"We don't expect that we are going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust that have developed over a long period of time, but we do think that we're on the right path."

This is going to increase US security, you see.


I wrote recently about the problem of rock-throwing by Arabs. Nothing is more perverse and difficult to explain than the fact that Israeli ambulances are attacked with rocks even though Arabs have full and equal access to Israeli medical care. An Israeli ambulance might be carrying an Arab patients -- or, actually, an Arab doctor.

Khaled Abu Toameh, who is doing a splendid series of articles with Hudson-NY, addresses this issue:


According to the Iranian news agency Fars, Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed Yousef in Gaza has extended an invitation to Iranian president Ahmadinejad to visit. This will give a boost to the "resistance front."

Oh joy.


On the brighter side, I have this from an inside source: Anne Bayefsky's report on the forthcoming Durban III to take place in NYC in September 2011 notwithstanding, there may be reason to hope that this will not materialize.

Bayefsky's information is solid in terms of what is being discussed in the halls of the UN. But my source is well enough connected to be aware of political goings-on that might "discourage" the plans.


I pondered recently whether it would be necessary sometime soon to take pre-emptive military action against our enemies at our borders. I have no information on this, but find it at least minimally reassuring that there is indication that the IDF is at work planning new strategies for the next time -- strategies that would help to protect our fighters in the context of urban fighting and deal with an enemy that uses its own people as human shields. It is felt that civilian populations will have to be evacuated from cities or towns that will be attacked, either in Lebanon or Gaza.

Presumably this will allow us to more readily hit rocket storage and launching sites.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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Transcript of Canadian PM Harper at Ottawa Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism

Prime Minister Stephen Harper -, November 9th, 2010

This article of the transcript of Prime Minister Harper's speech is the centerpiece for our latest Action Alert thanking him for this wonderful, bold stand in defense of Israel.

PM of Canada Strongly Pro Israel

“Members of the Steering Committee, fellow parliamentarians, Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by saying how delighted I am to see so many of you from around the world, gathered here in Ottawa for the second annual conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism.

“It is a sign, not only of your commitment to our common cause, but also of the momentum established at the London Conference last year. It is, therefore, a great sign of hope.“History teaches us that anti-Semitism is a tenacious and particularly dangerous form of hatred. And recent events are demonstrating that this hatred is now in resurgence throughout the world. That is why the work of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism has never been so important or timely as it is now.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I commend you and support you in the great and important work that you are doing.

“I would like to thank Minister Jason Kenney, for inviting the ICCA to Ottawa, and for his outstanding record of leadership in combating anti-Semitism.

“I would like also to thank my introducer and friend, Scott Reid, Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, and Mario Silva, Vice Chair, for organizing this conference.

“And I would like to thank all my colleagues in the Parliament of Canada here today, including Professor Irwin Cotler, for their dedication to your mission.

“Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, two weeks ago I visited Ukraine for the first time.

“In Kiev I laid a wreath at Babi Yar, the site of one of the numerous atrocities of the Holocaust. I was left there with much the same impression as I had in Auschwitz in 2008 — that such horrors defy all comprehension.

“At the killing grounds of Babyn Yar, I knew I was standing in a place where evil — evil at its most cruel, obscene, and grotesque — had been unleashed. But while evil of this magnitude may be unfathomable, it is nonetheless a fact.

“It is a fact of history. And it is a fact of our nature — that humans can choose to be inhuman. This is the paradox of freedom. That awesome power, that grave responsibility — to choose between good and evil.

“Let us not forget that even in the darkest hours of the Holocaust, men were free to choose good. And some did. That is the eternal witness of the Righteous Among the Nations. And let us not forget that even now, there are those who would choose evil and would launch another Holocaust, if left unchecked. That is the challenge before us today.

“The horror of the Holocaust is unique, but it is just one chapter in the long and unbroken history of anti-Semitism. Yet, in contemporary debates that influence the fate of the Jewish homeland, unfortunately, there are those who reject the language of good and evil. They say that the situation is not black and white, that we mustn’t choose sides.

“In response to this resurgence of moral ambivalence on these issues, we must speak clearly. Remembering the Holocaust is not merely an act of historical recognition.

“It must also be an understanding and an undertaking. An understanding that the same threats exist today. And an undertaking of a solemn responsibility to fight those threats.

“Jews today in many parts of the world and many different settings are increasingly subjected to vandalism, threats, slurs, and just plain, old-fashioned lies.

“Let me draw your attention to some particularly disturbing trends. Anti-Semitism has gained a place at our universities, where at times it is not the mob who are removed, but the Jewish students under attack. And, under the shadow of a hateful ideology with global ambitions, one which targets the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat, Jews are savagely attacked around the world, such as, most appallingly, in Mumbai in 2008.

“One ruthless champion of that ideology brazenly threatens to ‘wipe Israel off the map,’ and time and again flouts the obligations that his country has taken under international treaties. I could go on, but I know that you will agree on one point: that this is all too familiar.

“We have seen all this before. And we have no excuse to be complacent. In fact we have a duty to take action. And for all of us, that starts at home.

“In Canada, we have taken a number of steps to assess and combat anti-Semitism in our own country. You will no doubt hear from my Canadian colleagues about the measures we have taken to date.

“I will mention for the time being that, for the first time, we are dealing with Canada’s own record of officially sanctioned anti-Semitism. We have created a fund for education about our country’s deliberate rejection of Jewish refugees before and during the Second World War.

“But of course we must also combat anti-Semitism beyond our borders, an evolving, global phenomenon. And we must recognize, that while its substance is as crude as ever, its method is now more sophisticated.

“Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so.

“We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism — healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack — is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand. Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D’s, it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them.

“And I know, by the way, because I have the bruises to show for it, that whether it is at the United Nations, or any other international forum, the easy thing to do is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of ‘honest broker.’ There are, after all, a lot more votes, a lot more, in being anti-Israeli than in taking a stand. But, as long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the UN or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost. And friends, I say this not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well if we listen to it, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.

“Earlier I noted the paradox of freedom. It is freedom that makes us human. Whether it leads to heroism or depravity depends on how we use it.

“As the spectre of anti-Semitism spreads, our responsibility becomes increasingly clear. We are citizens of free countries. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act. We are free citizens, but also the elected representatives of free peoples. We have a solemn duty to defend the vulnerable, to challenge the aggressor, to protect and promote human rights, human dignity, at home and abroad. None of us really knows whether we would choose to do good, in the extreme circumstances of the Righteous. But we do know there are those today who would choose to do evil, if they are so permitted. Thus, we must use our freedom now, and confront them and their anti-Semitism at every turn.

“That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the purpose of our intervention today: our shared determination to confront this terrible hatred. The work we have undertaken, in our own countries and in cooperation with one another, is a sign of hope.

“Our work together is a sign of hope, just as the existence and persistence of the Jewish homeland is a sign of hope. And it is here that history serves not to warn but to inspire.

“As I said on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, Israel appeared as a light, in a world emerging from deep darkness. Against all odds, that light has not been extinguished. It burns bright, upheld by the universal principles of all civilized nations — freedom, democracy and justice.

“By working together more closely in the family of civilized nations, we affirm and strengthen those principles. And we declare our faith in humanity’s future in the power of good over evil.

“Thank you for all you are doing to spread that faith. And thank you for your kind attention.

“Thank you very much.”

For Israel’s Cause (and Hasbara) it was a Famous Victory, even though the Man Who Carried the Day has been Banned for Life!

Daphne Anson

In July this year, The Times (London) obtained from Iranian dissidents 500 pages of harrowing documentation regarding the Ahmadinejad regime’s gross violations of human rights, including the routine practice of punishing political dissidents with torture and rape. One case, as The Times revealed in a rather graphic leading article last Friday (29 October), concerned a young woman called Leyla, who for the “crime” of falling in love with and becoming engaged to a young man who questioned the legality of the country’s election result, was kidnapped by stooges of the regime, handcuffed and blindfolded at knifepoint, beaten, and gang-raped by five men. But rape is not only a terror device used by a repressive state against women: men are subjected to it as a form of humiliation as well. The male victims include a human rights activist who in reprisal for putting up opposition posters was raped by members of the Basij militia; a journalist who was similarly treated while in custody was re-arrested for having the temerity to report the brutality. Despite these terrifying incidents, and the recent sentencing to death of an Iranian widow by stoning, Iran is – grotesquely – posed to secure a seat on the board of a UN agency formed to promote women’s rights, while those two British “feminists” Lauren Booth and Yvonne Ridley continue to take Iran’s filthy lucre for pimping the regime on Press TV.

Grotesquely too, it is not Iran that the Cambridge Union chose to characterise as a “rogue" nation for the purposes of a debate on 21 October – it was Israel. You notice I say “grotesquely” and not “amazingly”, for these days there’s nothing remotely amazing about Israel being hauled up in the dock of public opinion. Conning the world through years of inexorable, mendacious leftwing and Islamist propaganda has achieved the desired consequence, though not as yet the intended denoument. To such an extent, in fact, that blogger Ray Cook posted an uncomfortably plausible satire entitled “The Shape of Things to Come”:

'BBC news report June 15th 2020

From our reporter at the Parliamentary Select Committee:

“Are you now or have you ever been a member of a Zionist organisation? Name names or be blacklisted”, demanded Chief Prosecutor Galloway at the recent Zionist sedition hearings.

A succession of prominent Jewish MPs, businessmen and women, rabbis, scientists and journalists were put under the spotlight by Sir George Galloway and his committee of Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone and Baroness Tonge.

Several broke under the unremitting pressure and admitted buying trees for the Jewish National Fund. A sense of outrage permeated the room. Lord Sugar, accused of brain-washing young business hopefuls to spout Zionist propaganda, told the committee in no uncertain terms what he thought of them. His whereabouts are now unknown.

Meanwhile, coalition deputy Prime Minister, Salma Yaqoob, was explaining that there was no room in Britain for any Jewish refugees fleeing from West Hamastan. “We will turn back the boats. These people originally came from Poland and Germany, it’s their problem”, she opined.'

(To read the rest

At the Cambridge Union to argue in favour of the motion that “This house believes Israel is a rogue state” was Lauren Booth herself, while opposing it was Israeli diplomat Ran Gidor. The outcome seemed predictable, had not Gabriel Latner, a second-year law student at Peterhouse, made an absolutely brilliant speech that carried the day:

"The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state: There are 195 countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular. Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish.

The second argument concerns Israel's humanitarianism, in particular, Israel's response to a refugee crisis. Not the Palestinian refugee crisis – for I am sure that the other speakers will cover that – but the issue of Darfurian refugees. Everyone knows that what happened, and is still happening in Darfur, is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab League will call it such ....There has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt – where they are treated despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the border. Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated with compassion – they are treated as the refugees that they are – and perhaps Israel's cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.

But the real point of distinction is this: The IDF sends out soldiers and medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets....To call that sort of behaviour anomalous is an understatement.

My third argument is that the Israeli government engages in an activity which the rest of the world shuns - it negotiates with terrorists. Forget the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his hands – they're in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo also used to be a leader of the PFLP – an organisation of 'freedom fighters' that, under Abed Rabbo's leadership, engaged in such freedom promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high school students. And the Israeli government is sending delegates to sit at a table with this man, and talk about peace.... That is the dictionary definition of rogue – behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal

.... Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbours. At no point in history, has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East- except for Israel. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a small measure of equality. In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, who are put to death. Israeli homosexuals can adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions, and are protected by exceptionally strongly worded anti-discrimination legislation....

Israel's protection of its citizens' civil liberties has earned international recognition. Freedom House is an NGO that releases an annual report on democracy and civil liberties in each of the 195 countries in the world. It ranks each country as 'Free' 'Partly Free' or 'Not Free'. In the Middle East, Israel is the only country that has earned designation as a 'free' country. Not surprising given the level of freedom afforded to citizens in say, Lebanon- a country designated 'partly free', where there are laws against reporters criticizing not only the Lebanese government, but the Syrian regime as well.... Iran is a country given the rating of 'not free', putting it alongside China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Myanmar. In Iran (as Ms Booth I hoped would have said in her speech), there is a special 'Press Court' which prosecutes journalists for such heinous offences as criticizing the ayatollah, reporting on stories damaging the 'foundations of the Islamic republic' , using 'suspicious (i.e. western) sources', or insulting Islam. Iran is the world leader in terms of jailed journalists, with 39 reporters (that we know of) in prison as of 2009. They also kicked out almost every Western journalist during the 2009 election .... I guess we can't really expect more from a theocracy. Which is what most countries in the Middle East are. theocracies and autocracies. But Israel is the sole, the only, the rogue, democracy. Out of every country in the Middle East, only in Israel do anti-government protests and reporting go unquashed and uncensored.

I have one final argument – the last nail in the opposition's coffin – and its sitting right across the aisle. Mr Ran Gidor's presence here is the all evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state. For those of you who have never heard of him, Mr Gidor is a political counsellor attached to Israel's embassy in London. He's the guy the Israeli government sent to represent them to the UN. He knows what he's doing. And he's here tonight. And it's incredible. Consider, for a moment, what his presence here means. The Israeli government has signed off,to allow one of their senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy. That's remarkable. Do you think for a minute, that any other country would do the same?.... Once again, behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. Behaving like a rogue state.

.... Israel willfully and forcefully disregards international law. In 1981 Israel destroyed OSIRAK – Saddam Hussein's nuclear bomb lab. Every government in the world knew that Hussein was building a bomb. And they did nothing. Except for Israel. Yes, in doing so they broke international law and custom. But they also saved us all from a nuclear Iraq. That rogue action should earn Israel a place of respect in the eyes of all freedom loving peoples. But it hasn't. But tonight, while you listen to us prattle on, I want you to remember something; while you're here, Khomeini's Iran is working towards the Bomb. And if you're honest with yourself, you know that Israel is the only country that can, and will, do something about it. Israel will, out of necessity act in a way that is the not the norm, and you'd better hope that they do it in a destructive manner. Any sane person would rather a rogue Israel than a Nuclear Iran. (Except Ms Booth.)" To read the speech in full see

And so, against expectation, the motion was defeated with 74% of the votes. A famous victory, but not one that the losing side accepted with grace. The President of the Union had Latner escorted off the premises and banned for life following a complaint from Lauren Booth that before rising to speak he’d told her: “I am going to nail you to the fucking wall up there.” Not that Latner is too perturbed. He told the student newspaper Varsity that he has no doubt that he offended Ms Booth, but doesn’t know whether it was his remark to her or the fact that he “actually nailed her to the wall” in his speech that offended her, adding “ I can guess though”. As for the ban, it was a “rash” decision of the President but “isn’t going to drastically change my life”.

Kol haKavod, Gabriel! Am Yisrael Chai!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Pseudo Pro-Israel 'J-Street U' Opens Jerusalem Branch

Gil Ronen 'J Street U' – Now in Jerusalem
A7 News

"JStreetU," a branch of the controversial J Street lobby that focuses on activity inside university campuses, has announced it is beginning operations in Jerusalem. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has broadly hinted that J Street endangers Israel's existence. In an email message, Drew and Kelly Cohen of Jerusalem announced that JStreetU recently hired them “to put together educational programs reflective of JStreetU's mission for students studying abroad in Israel, both on the undergraduate and graduate level – including rabbinic programs, education programs, or the myriad other Israel experiences (and especially Pardes)...”

“We're very excited about the launch of this program,” the Cohens said, “and the potential to impact the way American Jews use their time while in Israel, as well as to empower them upon their return to the US (…). Thank you in advance for your participation and support,

Drew & Kelly Cohen

JStreetU Jerusalem Organizers

17 General Pierre Koenig, Apt 3

Jerusalem, Israel

Cell: 054-979-5471.”

J-Street, which is partly funded by billionaire George Soros, claims to be a pro-Israel lobby but in fact has espoused views that are consistent with those of Israel's enemies. It supports negotiations with Hamas, a terrorist entity that openly seeks Israel's destruction.

J-Street recently acknowledged it received funding from billionaire George Soros after denying so for a long period of time.

Ambassador Oren has called J Street “a unique problem in that it not only opposes one policy of one Israeli government, it opposes all policies of all Israeli governments. It’s significantly out of the mainstream.”

In a speech before a Jewish American audience last December he said, “This is not a matter of settlements here [or] there. We understand there are differences of opinion. But when it comes to the survival of the Jewish state, there should be no differences of opinion. You are fooling around with the lives of 7 million people. This is no joke.”

Comment: Learn who Soros is and what his real intentions are.

At the Expense of the Survivors

Isi Leibler

This weekend, Israel Hayom, the Hebrew daily with the largest circulation in the country, published an extensive analysis by me about the Claims Conference. An English version of the article is set out below. The slightly abridged Hebrew version, as published by Israel Hayom, is linked here. uring my stay in New York I was also interviewed on the subject by Shalom TV. I will endeavor to post a link to this interview when it becomes available online.
I have received many calls from readers asking how they can assist to reform this organization, initiate a forensic audit and ensure that Holocaust survivors in need are able to live out their remaining years in dignity. I would urge those seeking redress for Holocaust survivors to canvass organizations affiliated to the Claims Conference whose representatives participate as directors in board meetings. They have the capacity to bring about change.

The Claims Conference is one of the most powerful Jewish organizations in the world

* It controls billions of dollars - earmarked for the welfare of Holocaust survivors, many of whom are living in abject poverty

* Recently, embezzlement of millions of dollars was discovered - but the organization, already facing many difficult questions regarding its allocation of funds, acts as if there is no problem

* The lesson, as far as they are concerned, is to invest in public relations

* This is what happens when the executives are not replaced

Click here to access the Hebrew version

The "Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany" (Claims Conference) is one of the most important global Jewish organizations. Founded in 1951 to negotiate with the German government for material compensation for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, it subsequently also served as the conduit for the disbursement of other postwar restitution schemes.

In recent months, widespread criticism has been voiced at the manner in which this body has been conducting its affairs. It was also charged with lacking compassion and failing to prioritize the needs of survivors, who are now elderly and many of whom are living in dire poverty.

This culminated with the recent disclosure of massive misappropriations of funds which could well prove to be the ugliest organizational Jewish financial scandal of our time.

In February, it was disclosed that the Claims Conference had dismissed three employees, one of whom was the supervisor of the Hardship Fund, over a fraud amounting to $350,000. Two of those sacked, allegedly returned to Russia. Subsequently, the New York Jewish Week published the shocking revelation that the FBI was investigating fraudulent misappropriation of at least seven million dollars from the Article 2 fund created in 1992 by the German government to provide monthly pensions for eligible Holocaust survivors.

At their subsequent annual meeting, the Board of Directors was officially notified about the fraud. The directors were informed that that the scam had been going on for more than 10 years and that the $7 million already identified related only to the facts obtained since the computerization of records initiated in 2007. The Treasurer Roman Kent added that $7 million was "only the tip of the iceberg". The board was also informed that the German government could hold the Claims Conference accountable for the missing funds.

To make matters worse, the auditors KPMG, declined to sign off on the accounts pending further clarification of the actual amount of funds misappropriated. Since then there have been rumors rampant in Claims Conference quarters that $40 million, or even more, had been stolen. Repeated attempts to obtain an estimate of the amount missing from the chairman of the Claims Conference yielded no response beyond a statement that the FBI were still investigating the matter. The rumor that in excess of $40 million had been stolen was never denied. One would have assumed that a scandal of this order involving restitution funds would have created a major stir throughout the Jewish world. Yet the response seemed muted. Indeed, the Claims Conference tried to play the whole matter down. The chairman had the chutzpa to say that "no survivor payments were affected". Of course he failed to point out that when it was discovered, Hardship Fund payments to legitimate claimants, including many in dire need, were frozen for three months.

Adding to the insult, Executive Vice President Greg Schneider blithely informed the media that there had been no failure in standard operating procedures.

Every organization is susceptible to fraud. But for a charitable organization to shrug off and trivialize a fraud involving millions of dollars over a 10 year period, insisting that nobody was responsible because there was no deviation of standard procedures, is surely unconscionable. It is, after all, obligatory for the administrators of the largest global Jewish foundation to ensure that foolproof procedures are in place. Allowing for the absence of malfeasance, there is a question of accountability, not to mention transparency. It was thus somewhat bizarre for a director, in response to this scandalous fraud, to publicly boast that "the Claims Conference is well led, well governed, well-staffed and manages its restitution funds in a manner consistent with best practice and probity".

No responsible public institution encountering a fraud of this magnitude would respond in such a cavalier manner. Such arrogance enrages those concerned with the administration of this crucial organization, especially survivors.

Haim Roet, a former Claims Conference director from Israel, insists that had the internal audits - which are undertaken by one person on a part time basis - occupied a higher priority, this multimillion dollar scam may have been averted.

Three years ago, in the wake of questions involving Avraham Hirshson, the disgraced former Israeli Finance Minister currently serving a jail sentence for fraud, relating to the use of Claims Conference funds by the March of the Living, there were calls for an independent forensic audit to review the broad spectrum of controls within the organization. The calls were ignored.

More was to come. At the most recent Board meeting, Avraham Biderman, a veteran Agudat Yisrael director, announced that in order to deal with the latest scandal, the executive had appointed Howard Rubinstein and Associates, "the biggest and the best PR organization in the United States", to refurbish the Claims Conference image. This is despite the Claims Conference already having a fully staffed public relations department. An additional $500,000 was set aside for lawyers and accountants. It is astounding that not a single board member saw fit to challenge the decision to hire the PR firm.

The distorted perspective by which the Claims Conference perceive their role as dispensers of restitution funds is reflected by the nature of tributes frequently extended to them by organizations who are beneficiaries of their largesse. Nowhere is this more offensive than at Yad Vashem where a major plaque appears naming every member of the executive of the Claims Conference in appreciation of their contribution. As the principal national Jewish institution commemorating Holocaust memory, it is entirely appropriate for Yad Vashem to be a recipient of such funds. But it is surely odious for a plaque to be erected in honor of executive members suggesting that they were donating the funds rather than acting as a bureaucratic body disbursing restitution funds provided by the German government.

The key problem confronting the Claims Conference today is undoubtedly the acute and deteriorating plight of the survivors. Chairman Julius Berman did concede that "tens of thousands of Jewish victims of Nazism throughout the world are living in need, unable to meet bare expenses or to properly care for themselves in old age".

What Berman failed to say was that this deplorable state of affairs was entirely due to years of neglect and a failure to prioritize the needs of survivors. It is indisputable that had a greater percentage of the $70 billion already allocated by the Claims Conference over the years, been set aside for survivors instead of other charities - many not even Holocaust related - we would not today face the scandal of survivors unable to meet their basic food, medical and utility bills.

Admittedly, many of these charities were worthy. But they failed to account for the desperate needs of survivors. Substantial funds were provided to hospitals, nursing homes and general welfare operations in which survivors in many cases were still obliged to pay the standard fees, and only benefited as a small percentage of the overall population. As Leo Rechter, Director of the National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors says: "That is like subsidizing the railroads because some survivors sometimes take the subway". This applies particularly in Israel where funds were provided for welfare facilities that the government would otherwise have been obliged to provide.

Substantial amounts were also paid out to worthy causes such as Birthright and even haredi Yeshivot. This was rationalized on the basis that participants to Birthright visited Yad Vashem and that the Yeshivot taught Holocaust studies! In addition to this, there were many other grants extended to organizations that were only peripherally related to the Holocaust.

The Claims Conference also has an" Investment" portfolio (defined as such in the Claims Conference Financial Statement) amounting to $1,086,810,179, which in the last financial year grew by $33 million. Whereas the President and Treasurer insist that these funds are all committed for the future, it is disappointing that not one of the 64 directors felt obliged to ask the obvious question: could not more of this one billion dollar plus sum have been set aside for the few remaining ailing Holocaust survivors, whose lifespan is now extremely limited?

In an unrelated area, there is also growing anger about the failure of the Claims Conference to protect the interests of heirs of German property and their descendants. Claims Conference leaders have adopted a Robin Hood approach in relation to this issue, arguing that the proceeds of these properties should be directed to other Claims Conference enterprises. Today they argue that diverting these funds from their rightful heirs could possibly mitigate the plight of the survivors.

Roman Kent, the Treasurer of the Claims Conference, recently provoked another storm by making the extraordinary assertion that the Claims Conference refuses to provide access to the list of German properties published in 2003 because heirs would "think that they could file claims but will not be able to do so because the Claims Conference sold many of these properties since the 1 March 2004 deadline". Denying heirs and their children access to such information for the sake of historical truth is unconscionable. However, Kent failed to mention that the 2003 list of 59,198 names, released by the Claims Conference only after pressure from the German and UK governments, were only circulated for six months after which it was withdrawn. As a consequence, many legitimate heirs only learnt of their right to reclaim their properties after the deadline had expired. In 2008, again in response to pressure, a virtually useless list of 11,500 addresses without names was released.

This should also be viewed in tandem with the huge uproar and litigation which arose over the manner in which the German properties were managed. In response to allegations of questionable practices related to the sale of properties - amounting to up to $7 billion - two internal audits were carried out, the findings of which to this day have been suppressed. And until now, the Claims Conference refuses to provide an estimate of the values of the properties it has retained or to which they still claims title.

Allegations of an absence of "transparency and democratic accountability" in these areas resulted in the current investigation of the Claims Conference by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the findings of which are to be released shortly.

All of this begs the question: How could a Board comprising of 60 distinguished well intentioned Jewish representatives from all over the world tolerate such a situation?

The reality is that despite an external façade of governance, the Claims Conference operates like a private club.

The organizational representation is outdated and completely out of sync with the current realities of Jewish life. Defunct or near defunct organizations, such as the Jewish Labor Committee and the Anglo Jewish Association retain equal representative status to a body like the Jewish Agency. It is noteworthy that the chairman of the nominations committee after many years remains the representative of the Anglo Jewish Association.

The chairman of the Claims Conference, Julius Berman, has held office for over eight years. This is unhealthy in any democratic organization, but especially so in one disbursing billions of dollars. Without implying personal malfeasance, but in the absence of adequate checks and balances after a long period in control, it is tempting, some would say inevitable, for a chairman to begin behaving as though the organization was his personnel fiefdom.

He is enabled to do so by virtue of the fact that the organizational representatives meet just once a year and are unable to absorb the complexities and intricacies of the organization. Besides, many face a conflict of interest as their organizations are frequently on the receiving end of funds from the Claims Conference and do not wish to rock the boat.

However, dissent from survivor groups and others is not tolerated. In May 2009, a $200,000 loan was withheld from the "Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel" until they were willing to undertake not to criticize the Claims Conference. The Claims Conference only relented after the Israeli media exposed the matter and Haaretz stated that "Welfare organizations in Israel are on the brink of bankruptcy and the Claims Conference is trying to take advantage of this. It is worse than offering a bribe: it's a dictatorial attempt to silence opposition".

The centralized control is augmented by the extraordinary personal power that Julius Berman has amassed. Not only is he chairman of the Claims Conference, but he has taken upon himself to act as chairman of five of the most crucial committees including the all-powerful Allocations Committee. Another is the Advisory Committee for Social Welfare Allocations - not merely for the United States but amazingly also the committee dealing with Israel. He is also a member of three other committees which do not list a chairman.

The Claims Conference argue that he does not exercise voting rights but in this context that is utterly irrelevant, especially if one takes account of Berman's autocratic style. With such concentration of power in the hands of one person, checks and balances disappear and governance inevitably becomes corrupted. It also raises major questions about the entire decision making process of allocating funds. It is thus hardly surprising that directors cannot recall a single occasion when the board has not automatically rubber-stamped all the allocation recommendations.

This was expressly why Haim Roet, a former Israeli director and himself a Holocaust survivor, resigned, stating in a letter to Berman: "I am too experienced and old to be a rubber stamp for the autocratic majority of the Claims Conference board and its management." He deplored the fact that the allocations committee had ignored recommendations by the Israel Advisory Board "as well as explicit recommendations by the Knesset". Such behavior, Roet said "is unbelievable and unacceptable" and can only be described as "chutzpah". He also bitterly protested that Berman repeatedly failed to respond to his communications or act on his repeated demands to circulate to the Board protests concerning the cavalier manner in which the Israeli recommendations had been overruled.

The issue peaked on September 28 this year, when seven key members, of the Israeli Advisory Committee for Allocations (all of whom were Holocaust survivors), wrote to Claims Conference Chairman, Julius Berman (who also chairs the Advisory Committee) and Executive Vice President Greg Schneider, informing them that they would no longer participate in future meetings.

They claimed that the Claims Conference "does not practice what it preaches", accused Berman of ignoring recommendations made by the Committee and then refusing to submit their objections to the Board as a whole. They told Berman that they considered that his behavior reflected "contempt towards survivors in Israel."

The Executive Vice President Greg Schneider responded, trying to mollify the group, expressing the hope that the matter could be amicably resolved at a forthcoming meeting scheduled for November.

As one investigates further, new issues arise. For example, I only recently learned that Burt Neuborne is one of the three members of the Claims Conference "Goodwill Fund Late Applicants Committee". This committee decides on payments for claimants who filed their claims after the German deadlines for properties which the Claims Conference had already taken possession of or received compensation. Since its inception in 1994, the fund has disbursed close to $1 billion, with more than $85 million over the past two years.

That Neuborne can be a member of this important committee is obscene. In an op-ed in the New York Post in 2006, Menachem Rosensaft, the founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust survivors, disclosed that early in 1997, Neuborne had accepted an invitation from US district judge Edward Korman "to serve in a pro bono capacity as co-counsel for the plaintiffs" in the Swiss Bank litigation. Two years later he was appointed lead counsel on the assumption that he was serving free of charge. He stated in October 2000 that "every penny in the $1.25 billion Swiss Bank case will go to Holocaust victims" and ridiculed as "absurd" another lawyer's $4 million dollar fee request. As late as September 2005, he boasted that "I am the lead settlement lawyer in the Swiss case in which I served without fee now for almost 7 years."

But suddenly in December 2005, he had a change of heart and demanded $4.7 million, finally extracting $3.1 million (aside from $4.4 million he had already pocketed from the settlement of Holocaust related claims against other German corporations). He even went to the extent of demanding that two months interest be added to his bill for late payment. Needless to say all this was at the expense of survivors.

This despicable behavior of repeatedly falsely claiming that he was working pro bono enraged Holocaust survivor groups and led to a formal resolution of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants condemning "his greed which eclipses any consideration for overriding moral and ethical concerns... His actions constitute a moral stain on the legal profession". The anger spilled over into the media, prompting an editorial in the New York Times.

The Claims Conference justifies his role on the grounds that he is performing his current task pro-bono and is an expert in the field. Yet most Jews would consider it unconscionable for a person who behaves in such a manner to be appointed to a leading position in an organization such as the Claims Conference. The treasurer of the Claims Conference, Roman Kent, who had described Neuborne's behavior as "outrageous" was apparently totally unaware that Mr. Neuborne held any position in the organization. That his nomination was not challenged is symptomatic of how the uninformed Board simply acts as a rubber stamp for every decision proposed by its chairman.

What should be done?

An independent forensic audit review should be implemented forthwith in order to allay concerns and instill confidence in the Jewish world that adequate oversight is now being applied.

The Claims Conference Board should also appoint an independent committee to review the structure of the organization and ensure that conflicts of interest are removed from the decision making progress.

The Board should be streamlined, eliminating representation from defunct organizations and co-opting new bodies with legitimate claims to be party to policy and allocation deliberations.

The Claims Conference should cease to operate as an "old boys' club" and must genuinely represent the Jewish people and Holocaust survivors.

Most importantly, term limits for senior elected officers and directors must be instituted. This would allay the fears of survivors that the money is being withheld to enable leaders and functionaries to continue maintaining and allocating funds even after the decease of survivors. This concern is reflected by the submission of the USA Holocaust Survivors Foundation to the Knesset subcommittee reviewing Holocaust restitution in 2007 which refers to the then President of the Claims Conference (who was subsequently forced to step down following disclosure of misappropriation of charitable funds of another organization) having opined that "there would be an abundance of Holocaust restitution money left over to be used for the community's needs ... after survivors were gone".

In addition, the Claims Conference should submit to full oversight by an objective regulatory authority such as the Israel State Comptroller with authority to appraise not only the flow of funds but also the decision making process in order to satisfy the Jewish public that restitution funds are being managed in an exemplary manner.

Above all, there must be a review of the criteria applied for granting assistance to survivors and the ground rules of eligibility for providing grants to worthy organizations or projects.

Instead of a public relations firm to enhance their image, the Claims Conference should appoint an Ombudsman to ensure that survivors and heirs are treated with respect.

But the absolute priority must be to immediately ease the plight of the ailing survivors. Time is of the essence. In view of the appalling suffering and indignities experienced by remaining survivors, every cent not committed to heirs should be diverted towards this humanitarian crisis. And if some projects need to be frozen, so be it. It is obscene that elderly survivors are denied the opportunity of living out their few remaining years in dignity. There is a Jewish obligation on us to raise our voices and cry Gevalt!

In this context, the New York Jewish Week recently dropped another bombshell. In October, Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Special Negotiator of the Claims Conference, hosted a concert commemorating the defiance and resistance of Jewish prisoners at Terezin. It was a gala event, including the performance of the National Opera Orchestra and in the presence of members of Obama's administration and Congressman -- surely a laudable enterprise.

But what outraged the survivor community is that instead of using this illustrious event as a vehicle to raise funds for survivors in desperate need, the Claims Conference provided a $50,000 subsidy for the occasion. In response to criticism, the Claims Conference justified the subsidy claiming that it was being earmarked for "educational materials". Admittedly, in the context of billions of dollars, this is a drop in the ocean. However, it symbolizes an attitude. And as Leo Rechter pointed out "20 survivors could have been taken care of with $50,000... and provided with a shred of dignity in their last days."

David Schachter head of the Miami Holocaust Survivors Foundation added that the Claims Conference had "blown close to $250 million on [educational research and documentation] projects in recent years, including grants to Board members which had nothing to do with survivor needs". He asked "How in God's name can the Jewish world allow this diversion of holy money while survivors are suffering?"

How indeed?

Click here for translation of Claims Conference Responses published in Israel Hayom

Monday, November 08, 2010

PA 'Moderate' Erekat Praised Ze'evi Assassination Mastermind

Gil Ronen
A7 News

Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian Authority negotiator whom Israeli leftists often depict as a moderate voice, recently sent a letter of praise to the terrorist who planned the assassination of Israeli minister Rechavam Ze'evi in 2001.
Channel 10 television reported Sunday that Erekat warmly addressed Sa'adat, the head of the PFLP terror group who is serving a 30 year sentence in an Israeli jail, as “my dear brother,” adding that he was writing him “in order to express the strongest emotions of solidarity and brotherhood.”

“The occupation is carrying out a policy of defeat and humiliation towards you [prisoners] by canceling your accomplishments,” Erekat went on. “You exhibited steadfast resistance that has become the stuff of legend, during which many martyrs fell.”

"Our beloved one, the darkness of the jail will come to an end. We believe that we will meet soon and celebrate the victory and the liberation and freedom, for all prisoners.”

Erekat responded to the Channel 10 report by saying: “My letter is not political but humanitarian. I did not praise his deeds. Just as people in Israel care about Jonathan Pollard, we care for our prisoners. The Israeli should keep their noses out of matters that are not their business.”

In September, Erekat distanced himself from an ad campaign that was being conducted by the Geneva Initiative, a leftist Israeli group. The campaign portrayed Erekat as reaching out to Israelis, addressing them by saying “Hello Israel. I know you are disappointed in us. I know we failed to arrive at an agreement during 19 years of talks.” The ad attempts to portray Erekat's words as a sort of apology for PA intransigence.

But in a statement, Erekat said that his intention was completely different than that portrayed by the organizers of the Geneva Initiative sponsors. What he meant, the statement said, was that even though the PA has been blamed for failing to make a deal, it was still possible to arrive at a resolution of the conflict. “Unfortunately, some people misinterpreted my words as an apology to Israelis in the name of the Palestinians, and this is actually the opposite of what I intended and what I believe.” The PA Arabs were the ones suffering at the hands of Israel, he said, and if anyone needed to apologize, it was Israel, he added.

MK Counsels PA on Taking Advantage of Israel

Maayana Miskin

Member of Knesset Jamal Zahalka discussed how best to “take advantage” of Israel in a meeting over the weekend with a PA Arab reporter and a former PA politician. Zahalka spoke to Maan editor Nasser Lahham and former PA envoy to Egypt Nabil Amr on a TV talk show.

His main focus was on arguing why PA Arabs should not unilaterally declare a state – not because it would violate the Oslo accords and other treaties with Israel, but because, according to Zahalka, the move would be good for Israel. If the PA were to declare a state, Israel could continue its presence in Judea and Samaria, but without taking the steps it currently takes to ensure PA Arabs' welfare, Zahalka warned. Israel currently helps the PA to collect taxes and provide water, allows tens of thousands of PA Arabs to work in Israel, provides care for PA Arabs in Israeli hospitals, and more.

The MK spoke of the PA's failure thus far to get Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to meet its demands. “We have been so far unable to truly size up Israel and take advantage of its world position,” he said, his words suggesting that he sees himself firmly in the PA camp.

Zahalka told his PA hosts that Netanyahu “desperately needs the talks to continue so he can counter international pressure.” Negotiations with Israel give Netanyahu legitimacy, he said.

Nabil Amr argued against a unilateral declaration of statehood as well, saying that doing so could give Israel justification to cancel the Oslo Accords, under which the PA was established.

Amr also called on Fatah to reunite with Hamas.

Zahalka is a member of the Balad party, which was nearly banned in the most recent Knesset elections over its support for terrorism and refusal to recognize the Jewish state of Israel. The former head of the party, Azmi Bishara, fled Israel in 2008 when it was revealed that he had passed information to Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War.

He recently traveled to India to take part in a conference urging a boycott of Israel.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

'PM won't take letter asking for Pollard's release to US'


Army Radio reports Netanyahu refuses to bring letter drafted by MKs asking for Israeli agent's release to US administration.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not take a letter to the US administration asking for the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, Army Radio reported on Saturday.

The letter, addressed to US President Barack Obama, was signed by various MKs including Interior Minister Eli Yishai. Netanyahu was scheduled to leave for a five-day visit to the US on Saturday. He is expected to meet with US Vice President Joseph Biden on Sunday in New Orleans and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday in New York.

Obama will be in Asia during the visit.

The letter came after former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, Lawrence Korb, said last week that Pollard was unjustly given a life sentence and should be granted clemency by the Obama administration.

In the letter, the MKs addressed the fact that Biden recently questioned Pollard's life sentence.

"In light of recent discoveries, there is no doubt that the US vice president will agree that the idea of leaving Pollard in jail is no longer rational and that this idea is not worthy of an enlightened, democratic nation."