Saturday, November 21, 2009


Ted Belman

The Union of Reform Judaism- the URJ- recently completed a major gathering, a Biennial, in Toronto. Rabbi Eric H. Joffie gave a speech and resolutions were passed unanimously.

Michael Diamond is a member of the largest Reform Temple in Toronto and is a strong Zionist. He constantly writes in support of Israel and visits it often. He is also a lawyer and community leader. He writes that Jews must stand by Israel and not join her enemies in criticizing Israel In the case of those who lead the reform movement, it is very clear that that viewpoint is focused on a two state solution and the elimination of whatever barriers may exist to prevent that result. Other areas of focus include equity among all citizens of Israel. The reasons for the former position are not hard to fathom- a one state solution would put in danger the Jewish majority, and perhaps eliminate it. I know that there are various views about the demographics of the region- specifically the number of Palestinians- but there is little doubt in my mind that if you add several million more Palestinians to the mix, on top of the over 1 million existing Israeli Arabs, you are not going to make the situation within a redefined Israel any easier to manage.

What is also clear is that there are only a couple of alternatives to the demographic time bomb associated with a one state solution. One of those is some form of a two state solution. Another is a solution where portions of the West Bank occupied by Arabs become part of Jordan, Gaza becomes Egypt’s problem, and Israel carries on. But since neither Jordan nor Egypt are going to accept the latter option, there is really only one option- the two state solution- which will reduce the constant pressure on Israel and in the region, pressure which is growing and threatens to envelope Israel in a number of existential ways.

But lets be careful with our throwing out the words “Two State Solution” - because there are various versions of such a solution and only some will allow Israel to be safe and secure.

And lets us also not forget the fact that a whole slew of Israel’s enemies are committed to her destruction- not to a peace solution. That much is also clear.

That’s clear enough. After commenting on the latest moves by Obama and Abbas he writes

So against that backdrop, what does Israel need from the leaders of the largest Jewish community in the Diaspora? The answer is: unequivocal support for a two state solution that is rational, that takes into account the Islamist nature of the Palestinians, and/or the danger of the creeping Islamism that has infected most of the Arab world; that appreciates that Israel has made concessions in the past, and that Israel has offered peace many times, only to be rebuffed with violence; that includes an undivided Jerusalem as its capital; and that acknowledges that the ENTIRE Arab world, including the very Palestinians who are demanding a state of their own, does not yet accept the right of the Jewish people to have its own State in Israel.

So what should the URJ be hearing from its leader in such a situation? What resolutions should hit the floor of the assembly for discussion?

The answer is NOT to present a resolution which calls on Israel to follow its own findings. What kind of arrogance is this from a group of Americans and Canadians safely sitting in North America chastising those who struggle to survive in another country about its treatment of one of its minorities? Has anyone compared the treatment and condition of the First Nations of Canada or the US with that accorded to the Israeli Arabs, or compared the condition of the Israeli Arabs with ANY OTHER GROUP of Arabs in the world?

And Israel and the Jewish people do not need to hear how the presence- already in place, nothing you can easily do about it- of 100,000 Jews in the West Bank is anti-Zionist.

He concludes with what he would have recommended.

1. There will be no resolutions which do not offer strategic support for Israel, having regard to the campaign to delegitimize Israel internationally. The Israeli Arabs will have to wait. So will our own Reform movement in Israel, which is treated with disdain by the Orthodox Rabbis who rule the roost in Israel. So will the secular Israelis who have to marry outside Israel because their marriages do not satisfy the wishes of those same Orthodox Rabbis. I have no patience for those people, for their ideology gets in the way of their morality. But that is an internal problem for Israelis, and they will ultimately solve it because they will have to in order to survive. And they do not need another group of Jews to remind them of the problems they have yet to overcome. Nor do they appreciate the largest movement in the Diaspora advertising to our enemies why Israel ought to be considered illegitimate. That simply makes no strategic sense. So we are going to be strategic here- we are going to focus on being stronger in our synagogues, on dealing with our own issues relative to intermarriage, and loss of interest in Judaism. And we are going to say and do that which helps Israel, and does not hurt her. And we are going to assume that our views relative to the presence of Jews in the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, are understood already in Israel.

2. What there will be is a series of speeches, and resolutions, that destroy the bogus claims of our enemies as to the legitimacy of Israel, that bring into focus the reality of the Islamist expansion in this world which has Israel in its sights as an initial target, and that collectively make it clear that Israel has the right to exist as a safe and secure Jewish State. WE will make it clear that we, the Reform Jews of North America, support that right without question, regardless of whether Israeli Arabs or Reform Jews or secular Jews or Christians are treated as well as “observant” Jews in Israel, and regardless of whether there are 100,000, 200,000, or 10,000 Jews living in what may become a Palestinian State when the time is right. We will make it clear that, unless and until the Palestinians, and those who support them, acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, that they cannot expect to have their own state. And we will make it clear and remind people that Israel has consistently offered the Palestinians a state, with only one material condition- that they accept Israel as a Jewish state, and live in peace. We will draw our line in the sand, we will be unambiguous, and we will be strategic. And we will not give in to our tendency, as liberal democrats, to tell others, particularly our own people, how to be better people and a better People. And finally, we will repeat, over and over again, that Israel is the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people, and that Jerusalem is the capital of that homeland.

But the Reform movement missed an opportunity here to stand up for Israel and for the Jewish people at a time when doing so would have been noticed and important and strategic at such a difficult time (alas, again) in our history.

Diamond is right to chastise the Reform Movement and is right in the course he recommends.

I will not quibble over the fact that he placed “only one material condition- that they accept Israel as a Jewish state, and live in peace” because elsewhere in his remarks he stressed “that Israel is the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people, and that Jerusalem is the capital of that homeland.

But I wonder what he will recommend should the Arabs continue to reject such minimalist demands. I have recommended unilateral action.

Ted Belman

Israel: We believe in Life; You Benefit

Barry Rubin

You may be aware that while its enemies are threatening to wipe it off the map or are attacking it with terrorism and while many of those who should be its friends slander it daily, Israel does things that benefit all humanity. When you see four such medical and technological breakthroughs announced in one day, it should be hard to ignore. There’s a now-famous Islamist slogan: We believe in death and you believe in life? Remember the implications of that for the rest of the world. But there’s also the opposite: We believe in life, including helping to save and better your life.

Here are the four latest examples:

-- A new Israeli invention allows cancerous tumors on the skin to be detected and examined before they become visible to the naked eye, Ben-Gurion University announced. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons usually diagnose skin tumors by the appearance of the tumor, normally with the naked eye, only rarely using a dermatoscope - a magnifying tool that allows tumors to be examined in detail. The newly developed instrument, known as OSPI, uses safe levels of radiation, projected at the tumor and returned to the gadget, which measures its character, including its contours and spread. OSPI also uses liquid crystals to carry out the examination.

--About 70% of all people with severe burns die from related infections. But a revolutionary new wound dressing developed at Tel Aviv University could cut that number dramatically. Prof. Meital Zilberman of TAU's Department of Biomedical Engineering has developed a new wound dressing based on fibers she engineered that can be loaded with drugs like antibiotics to speed up the healing process, and then dissolve when they've done their job. A study published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Applied Biomaterials demonstrates that, after only two days, this dressing can eradicate infection-causing bacteria. The new dressing protects the wound until it is no longer needed, after which it melts away.

--A team at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Medical Center has managed to separate platelets and adult stem cells from the blood and bone marrow of patients with fractures and inject them - causing the bones to join together three to four times faster and repairing some breaks that would have failed to heal.
• Israel's water technology, including ways to recycle and clean water better is growing quickly. One of these companies Aqwise, which has a system which breeds bacteria to break down organic waste, saw its sales increase 50% in 2009. Israel expects to export $2.5 billion worth of technology by 2011. Hundreds of millions of people around the world still have no access to clean water.

Now if you want international attention and sympathy you can carry out terrorist attacks or you can save lives through humanitarian advances. Which should garner the most support?

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), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

A General's Plan for Peace

PolicyWatch #1606: Special Policy Forum Report
A General's Plan for Peace
Featuring Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Shaul Mofaz, IDF
November 20, 2009

On November 18, 2009, Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz addressed a special Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute to discuss his new proposal for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. General Mofaz, former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff and Israeli minister of defense, as well as a former distinguished military fellow at The Washington Institute, is the current deputy leader of the Kadima Party and member of the Knesset. Following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.A Window of Opportunity
Achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians comes as a very challenging task today. Despite the illusion of calm in the region, the current situation is volatile and unsustainable. The impasse in the peace process, combined with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the growing threat from Iran and its terrorist proxies, has heightened the prospect of a breakout of violence. With no more time to lose, Israel must begin negotiations with the Palestinians immediately to secure its future as an independent and Jewish state.

Instead of using the present stalemate as an excuse not to pursue a solution to the conflict, the current Israeli leadership must move peace forward in the window of opportunity that still exists. The abiding consensus in the international community on a two-state solution leaves open the possibility of implementing a practical and viable program for peace in the region. The following proposal proceeds from this shared vision of peace.

A Two-Stage, Two-State Solution
This plan has been framed as a forward-looking strategy that takes into account the long-term security and political needs of Israelis, as well as the basic right of the Palestinian people to rule themselves with dignity. It would start with the establishment of an independent and disarmed Palestinian state with provisional borders in the West Bank, ultimately comprising a territory almost equal to that of the West Bank with 1967 borders, as well as Gaza. In a land swap, the large settlement blocs of Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion, Ariel, and the western Shomron would remain part of Israel and form the eastern border of the state.

This program involves two stages. In the first, a Palestinian state would be created on 60 percent of the West Bank and include 99 percent of the West Bank Palestinian population. During this period, no settlements would be dismantled, and Israeli law would apply in the major settlement blocs. Negotiations over the final status issues would begin immediately, through international mediation and within a limited time frame. Initiating the second stage would be implementation of the agreement on final status issues, which first would be put to the Israeli public in a national referendum. Following the implementation, both Israeli and Palestinian sides would announce that the conflict had ended, and thereafter the international community would support efforts to achieve a regional peace beginning with Syria and Lebanon. An international mechanism would be created to address the Palestinian refugee problem.

Upon the formal end of the conflict, the newly created Palestinian state would be supported in significant measures by the international community on matters of security, the economy, and governance. The Palestinian state in the West Bank would include Gaza as soon as the elected Palestinian leadership displayed the ability to govern the two territories as one state. Concerning the makeup of the Palestinian government, Israel should be willing to negotiate with any Palestinian leadership that agrees to proceed on the basis of this plan.

This plan is unique in that it would begin implementing Israeli withdrawal from 60 percent of the West Bank before the negotiations on final status issues take place, while applying Israeli law in the settlement blocs without removing any settlement anywhere in the first phase. This plan also breaks new ground by combining the gradual, step-by-step approach to land set forth at Oslo with the immediate approach to the final status issues defined in Annapolis. The Israeli government must have a plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and with no other plan on the table in Israel today, this proposal stands the best chance of being accepted by both sides.

A Call for Courage
The difficulties Israel currently faces in the Middle East recall the many hardships experienced by the Jewish people throughout their long history. To overcome these present difficulties, as their forefathers did those of the past, Jews must have the courage to look not only at the gathering threats but also at the existing opportunities. In this moment, the opportunity still exists to implement a comprehensive peace in the region -- an opportunity that Israel cannot afford to overlook.

The decision to pursue peace requires courageous leadership on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides -- leaders who are not afraid to adopt new policies and move forward despite the many obstacles they face. Summoning such courage will no doubt be difficult, not least of all because Iran will attempt to disrupt any agreement through its proxies, including Hizballah, Hamas, and other fundamentalist organizations. Yet the opportunity exists, and only through courage can a comprehensive peace be achieved.

In 1947, the French author and Nobel Prize winner Andre Gide, in a statement that now pertains to the present situation, said, "It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passion, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace." Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders must have the courage to lead their people in the more difficult of these directions. Israel, as the stronger of the two sides, has the obligation not only to defend its citizens but also to make peace.

This rapporteur's summary was prepared by Cole Bunzel.

The Amos Kennan Precedent: Why IDF Soldiers Resist Orders to Demolish Communities

Sat Nov 21 2009

This past week in Israel, Israeli soldiers from elite Israeli army units erected huge signs on their barracks which proclaimed they would refuse orders to remove Jewish communities, if ordered to do so. These soldiers were arrested and thrown into jail. The families of the soldiers expressed solid support for their sons, telling the Israeli media that an order to expel people from their homes and communities is both illegal and immoral and must be disobeyed.

The momentum behind these new protests emanates from a February 20, 2005 decision of the Israeli government to redraw the map of Jewish residency in the areas that Israel acquired in the aftermath of the 1967 war.

Click to Enlarge

In August 2005, in the first stage of implementing this new map, Israel dispatched elite soldiers from its own Israel Defense Forces, the IDF, to forcibly remove the residents from 21 thriving Jewish communities in the Katif district of Gaza, along with 4 Jewish communities in Northern Samaria.

The new maps means that an additional 63 Jewish communities may now be expelled in their entirety by the IDF. These communities are spread throughout Samaria, Judea, Hebron and the Jordan Valley, demarcated on the National Geographic Atlas as the “west bank”, alluding to the west bank of the Jordan River..

Now, with negotiations intensifying, and with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu clamping down an almost total freeze on Jewish building starts in all areas of Samaria, Judea, Hebron and the Jordan Valley, rumors abound that Israel is about to order the IDF to complete the February 20, 2005 Israel government decision to expel Jewish residents of these 63 Jewish communities.

However, Israeli law allows a soldier to refuse an order if that soldier deems the order to run against the grain of the conscience and moral code of the soldier.

Israel is the one nation that apply the letter and the lesson of the legal and moral code that emerged from the Nuremberg Trials, which established the principle that a soldier cannot just say that he was following orders, if these orders are illegal and immoral.

Two sharp precedents loom on the horizon where the Nuremberg principles were indeed applied in Israel.

The first was a 1956 incident in the Israeli Arab village of Kfar Kassam, which occurred while Israeli troops were engaged in full scale combat with Egypt. A curfew had been clamped on the village. A truckload of Kfar Kassam villagers violated the curfew, returning from war after dark. The IDF local commander gave an order to shoot the curfew breakers. More than fifty villagers were shot to death by IDF troops. The Central IDF Command determined that the IDF officer who had given this order had issued an illegal an immoral order. Every IDF soldier involved in the operation, down to the lowest private, was indicted by the IDF court and charged with carrying out an illegal and immoral order, in what came to be known as the Kfar Kassam massacre legal precedent.

The second precedent can be ascribed to activism of the Israeli writer, Amos Kennan, who passed away this past August at the age of 82..

Kennan served as a reservist in an IDF unit, north of Jerusalem. following the 1967 war. A senior IDF officer gave an order to demolish some of the Arab villages in the Latrun area where his unit was based. Kennan refused the order. Facing possible court martial, he went one step further, and

galvanized support from all walks of Israeli life in opposition to this order, and the order was reversed.

Writing in the October 1968 issue of Midstream Magazine, publication of the World Zionist Organization, Kennan wrote a seminal piece entitled A LETTER TO ALL GOOD PEOPLE, in which Kennan related that “the action that I undertook was in flagrant violation of any military law. According to military regulations I should have been court-martialed. I have not diea what would have been the sentence of a Red Army soldier were he to violate national and military discipline in such a manner...”

After the village demolition orders were rescinded by the IDF, Kennan added in the piece that he asked for and received permission from the IDF to visit every area that Israel acquired after the 1967 war, to make sure that no orders like that would ever be issued again.

In passionate support of Kennan’s assertion that Israel cannot demolish communities, Prof. Eliav Schochetman, Dean of the Shaari Mishpat Law College in Israel, testified in 2005 at Israel’s Knesset Parliament Law Committee that any decision of Israel to demolish Arab or Jewish communities would represent a clear “human rights infraction “ which violates Israel's own "Basic Human Rights Law" which oversees Israeli democratic institutions in matters of human rights and civil liberties, in the same way that the US Bill of Rights ensures that the US government can never trample on the human rights and civil liberties of American citizens.

In his testimony, Schochetman noted that this Israeli government decision to demolish Jewish communities, because of its new map, represented a blatant violation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which all democratic governments are adherents.

Schochetmen added that Israel's decision to expel entire communities also represented a violation of international human rights law.

Prof. Schochetman cited clause 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which mandates that it is illegal for sovereign governments to expel their own citizens and ethnic minorities from their homes, from their private properties or from their farms. Since the only group that Israel now slates for expulsion are Jews, it should be recalled that the government of Serbia was held liable for international prosecution at the International High Court of Justice in the Hague, under the charge of "ethnic cleansing", after leaders of Serbia singled out one ethnic minority for expulsion, solely because of their religion.

Prof. Schochetman also recalled clauses in the San Remo Treaty that was ratified by the League of Nations in 1923 and ratified by the new United Nations in 1945 which provided international recognition of the right of Jews to purchase and dwell in the "Jewish Homeland", defined by both international bodies as any land which lies anywhere east of the Jordan River.

After Schochetman's testimony at the Knesset, the Knesset Law Committee could not find a single law professor in Israel who could or would contradict Schochetman's assessment of the Israeli government's intention to destroy and exile entire communities would indeed represent a massive human rights violation

That is why the claim of some Israeli soldiers that an order to expel entire communities would present them with an illegal and immoral order that must be disobeyed.

Security and Defense: Fighting for legitimacy - against friend and foe


In the middle of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last January, the IDF decided to open a medical clinic at the Erez Crossing to treat wounded Palestinians. While the number of Palestinians who came to the facility was low, the option was available - and utilized - throughout the fighting. A visit to the Erez Crossing this week shows no sign that a clinic had ever been there, and yet the hall where the clinic used to be is one of the busiest parts of the terminal. But instead of being filled with doctors and patients, the rooms are now occupied by Military Police investigators tasked with securing testimonies from Palestinians in order to complete the 28 criminal probes of possible IDF war crimes committed during Cast Lead.

The investigations are based on over 140 different cases that were submitted to the Military Advocate General's office for review by international aid organizations, NGOs and private Palestinians, some of which even appeared in the UNHRC report based on the findings of Justice Richard Goldstone. The cases chosen for criminal investigation include allegations that IDF troops opened fire on Palestinian civilians, abused Palestinian detainees and looted Palestinian property.

Last month, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi appointed Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yuval Halamish, a former top Military Intelligence officer, to serve as the "project manager" for all IDF efforts to counter the damning report written by the Goldstone mission and recently approved by the United Nations General Assembly.

One of the first decisions Halamish made was to speed up the investigations with the goal of completing them all in the coming weeks. The hope in the IDF is that most, if not all the units under investigation will be exonerated. Either way, Ashkenazi wants to put together a report describing the investigations and their results to show the world that the IDF does not shy away from criticism and knows how to probe itself independently.

Another integral part of the "counter-Goldstone" report that the IDF is compiling is the section on the humanitarian efforts made by the army during the three-week operation. In that regard, this week the head of the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, Col. Moshe Levi, submitted a lengthy and detailed report to the General Staff listing the IDF humanitarian efforts during the operation.

Parts are already well-known, like the 37,000 tons of supplies the army allowed into Gaza during the operation, and the three-hour daily breaks from fighting implemented by Israel to allow Palestinians to move freely to replenish supplies and repair damaged infrastructure.

The report also sheds some new, positive light on the operation. Along with fighting against Hamas, IDF troops apparently found the time to feed abandoned livestock and animals, to arrange for fire trucks to enter areas that were closed off or under curfew, and, in a number of cases, even personally evacuated Palestinians in need of medical care.

One elderly woman, Ayish Tanua, called the CLA complaining that she suffered from kidney disease. Troops reached her home in northern Gaza and transported her back to the border, where she was evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. In another instance, IDF troops were sent by the CLA to the home of a Palestinian diabetic to personally deliver him insulin.

In total, the report reveals that the IDF coordinated the evacuation of over 1,200 Palestinian families during the fighting from northern Gaza to the south, arranged for over 80 maintenance crews to reach areas where fighting was taking place to fix vital infrastructure, and allowed close to 200 ambulances to cross from the south to the north, despite the blockade that the military had imposed on the north where it was conducting most of its operations.

The ambulances, the report reveals, were not always innocent. In one case, soldiers conducting surveillance from the Paratroopers Brigade spotted armed Hamas fighters getting into three different ambulances. The soldiers asked brigade commander Col. Herzi Levy what to do. His orders were to hold fire, even though the ambulances were legitimate targets. The official IDF orders during the operation stated clearly: "It is preferred to miss terrorists in order to minimize harm to civilians."

Claims that the IDF refused to transfer wounded or sick Palestinians to Israeli hospitals are also dismissed in the report. Levi spoke several times during the operation with Ramallah-based Palestinian Health Minister Dr. Fathi Abu Maghli and offered Israeli medical assistance. Abu Maghli refused.

While some critics will argue that this report is too little, too late, the IDF hopes that together with the results of the criminal investigations, Israel will be able to show the world that it is capable of running its own investigations, and - even more importantly - that it fought fairly and with the correct level of proportionality.

IT REMAINS unclear what the final outcome will be of the Goldstone report, but regardless, that is not the issue that is preventing the Palestinians from sitting down with Israel for peace negotiations. Rather, as President Barack Obama made clear this week, it is Israel's continued policy of building in settlements and the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo that is making the Palestinians "bitter." And as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continues to try and cajole PA President Mahmoud Abbas into meeting with him, the IDF is facing a problem that has the potential, if not dealt with correctly, of making any peace deal extremely difficult to implement.

If the government is serious about moving forward with peace negotiations with the Palestinians, then Ashkenazi will need to be able to prove that his military will be able to assist in a mass evacuation - like the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005 - and won't fall apart after large numbers of soldiers refuse orders. But based on a growing trend in the Kfir Brigade, such a breakdown is becoming a real possibility.

The first post-disengagement refusniks (insubordinate soldiers) appeared in August 2007 when 12 soldiers from the Duhifat Battalion refused to climb aboard a bus departing their base in the Jordan Valley meant to take them to Hebron, where they were slated to provide perimeter security during the planned evacuation of a home taken over by settlers.

Last month, two soldiers from the Shimshon Battalion pulled out a banner reading, "Shimshon does not evacuate Homesh," - a reference to the northern Samaria settlement evacuated during the 2005 disengagement - during their swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

And on Monday, in the latest act of insubordination, six soldiers from the Nahshon Battalion were suspended and punished by their commander for waving a banner reading, "Nahshon also does not expel" from the rooftop of a building on their base in the southern Hebron Hills, and shortly after the Border Police razed two illegal homes in the Negohot outpost.

The new wave of refusals stems from a number of different factors, but mainly from frustration with the outcome of the disengagement. The soldiers in the IDF today were in high-school during the disengagement, a time when many rabbis promised that it wouldn't happen and politicians argued that it would improve Israeli security. Both predictions were wrong.

"This disappointment made youth more radical, and instilled within them the belief that in order to stop something they don't agree with, they have to take action," explained one officer from the IDF's Central Command.

The main problem is that the IDF's capacity to prevent such insubordination is quite limited. While Ashkenazi has ensured that soldiers do not partake in actual evacuation, and instead has promised that they would be used just as perimeter security, this is not enough for some soldiers who feel that indirect participation is as direct as lifting a settler and carrying him out of his home.

In addition, the soldiers' punishments do not seem to be having the deterrent effect that the IDF had hoped for, and additional soldiers have already threatened this week that in the next evacuation, they, too, will refuse orders.

The alternative, punishing hesder yeshivas like the one run by refusnik supporter Rabbi Elyakim Levanon from Elon Moreh, will also likely backfire and lose the IDF an-already dwindling resource - combat soldiers.

After the disengagement and Levanon's call for refusal, then chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz made a similar threat to punish yeshivas supporting insubordination, but later backed down due to the realization that such a move would radicalize otherwise mainstream national-religious groups.

What senior officers believe is needed is a greater understanding by the soldiers and their rabbis that acts of refusal are detrimental not only to the IDF, but to the delicate social fabric that keeps this state together.

"It all boils down to one main question," the officer said. ""What kind of country do we want here?"
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1258624595976&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Article that gives an Amazing Insight into Radical Islamism, its Western Coddlers and its Cures

Barry Rubin

This is perhaps the best newspaper article I've ever read on the phenomenon of radical Islamists in Europe, written from the point of view of those who have left the movement and now discuss how they felt and what they did. Well worth reading. It is by Johann Hari and entitled, "Renouncing Islamism: To the brink and back again." The two key points are:

First, how some--in this case imprisoned leaders of the Egyptian jihad--developed an alternative Muslim perspective:

"After more than 20 years in prison, they had reconsidered their views. They told him he was false to believe there was one definitive, literal way to read the Koran. As they told it, in traditional Islam there were many differing interpretations of sharia, from conservative to liberal – yet there had been consensus around one principle: it was never to be enforced by a central authority. Sharia was a voluntary code, not a state law. `It was always left for people to decide for themselves which interpretation they wanted to follow,' he says.

"These one-time assassins taught Maajid that the idea of using state power to force your interpretation of sharia on everyone was a new and un-Islamic idea, smelted by the Wahabis only a century ago. They had made the mistake of muddling up the enduringly relevant decisions Mohamed made as a spiritual leader with those he made as a political ruler, which he intended to be specific to their time and place."

I would call this the rediscovery of conservative traditional Islam, with a bit of a liberal modernist twist. That was the view of Islam which dominated the religion for many centuries between its early era and the recent rise of Islamism.

Second, and particularly fascinating and important is how Western Political Correctness and multiculturalism has disastrously encouraged and legitimized radical Islamism:

"From the right, there was the brutal nativist cry of `Go back where you came from!' But from the left, there was its mirror-image: a gooey multicultural sense that immigrants didn't want liberal democratic values and should be exempted from them. Again and again, they described how at school they were treated as `the funny foreign child,' and told to `explain their customs' to the class. It patronised them into alienation.

"`Nobody ever said–you're equal to us, you're one of us, and we'll hold you to the same standards,' says [Ed] Husain. `Nobody had the courage to stand up for liberal democracy without qualms. When people like us at [Newham] College were holding events against women and against gay people, where were our college principals and teachers, challenging us?'''

What a devastating indictment of leftist Political Correctness and multi-culturalism that is! Those two paragraphs should be read all over the West and in classrooms. Western behavior encourages radical Islamism by failing to champion Western intellectual, cultural, and political values. The same effect results by turning off the assimilation process.

But also responsible is the behavior of most Muslim leaders in the West who spend their time criticizing Western policies and societies while complaining about how Muslims are treated but never seeming to wage the war against extremism in their own communities.

Incidentally, please note that the word "Israel" is not mentioned in this article, which shows how small a part that issue plays in this movement. It is a revolutionary movement seeking state power and the transformation of Muslim-majority societies, or even of the whole world.

On one point I differ a bit but the differences can be easily reconciled. I am willing to accept the idea that actions like the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq heated up this movement in Europe by seeming to prove that the West was trying to destroy Muslims. But it is equally valid to point out that the Afghan--though not the Iraq--action was necessary to defend against September 11. This is a choice that the Jihadists force against the United States--and regarding Hamas and Hizballah against Israel. In effect, they say: we will attack you. If you don't respond we will become stronger and win; if you do respond we will use that against you by making propaganda. The latter is ultimately less damaging than the former.

Another point of interest in the article is that the British-born radicals were disillusioned by: actual contact with the Jihad, seeing the kinds of societies it created, and coming to understand how different real Muslim-majority societies were from their own vision of the only proper style of Islam. This is important to understand but of course the majority are not persuaded away by such experiences.

At a time when the reality of radical Islamism as an international and internal threat is being explained away or silenced in Western countries--even when Jihadists shouting "Allahu Akbar" gun down their citizens, this article is an important corrective.

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), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan)

Israel poisoned Arafat

PA libel lives on
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

The PA has been disseminating the libel that Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat since Arafat's death five years ago. This accusation was reiterated this month at events commemorating the anniversary of his death.At an official Fatah-PLO commemoration of the anniversary of Arafat's death, held in Beirut and broadcast live on PA TV, Fatah Central Committee member Sultan Abu Al-Einein said:

"They [Israelis] killed the Shahid (Martyr) Yasser Arafat by poisoning, under the pretext of [fighting] terror."
[PA TV (Fatah), Nov. 15, 2009]

To view Sultan Abu Al-Einein accusing Israel of poisoning Arafat, click here.

Earlier this year, MP and senior Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan also accused Israel of killing the former PA Chairman:

"I think that we're at the end of a process of abuse of the [Fatah] movement. Israel started it with the ruining of the Fatah movement and the ruining of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions, and the killing of Chairman Yasser Arafat."
[PA TV (Fatah), July 22, 2009]

To view Muhammad Dahlan charging Israel with killing Arafat, click here.

Earlier this week, PMW reported on another official PA commemoration of Arafat's death in Ramallah. It featured prerecorded hate messages from Palestinian children, including the repeated accusation that Israel poisoned Arafat.

To view PMW's bulletin on Palestinian children's hate speech, click here.

The following is the transcript of excerpts of the children's hate speech at the PA's official Arafat memorial:

Ceremony host: "Blessings to Yasser Arafat, and here are messages from the children of Palestine."
Boy: "I was very, very sad when Arafat died as a Shahid (Martyr), because he was a good man and he was a fighter. He did things through struggle, he participated in the struggle and did not make peace and so on. He wanted to fight."
Boy 2: "He [Arafat] stood up to all the enemies and was not afraid of anyone. And anyone who approached - he managed to stop him. All the Jews and the Israelis and the people who are against us, were afraid of him. When he died, he died of poisoning."
Girl wearing pendant in the shape of Israel: "I say that he died from poisoning by the Jews. That's what I say."
Boy 3: "Arafat used to say: "They want me dead, they want me prisoner, but I say to them: Martyr! Martyr! Martyr!"
Girl 2: "He [Arafat] was our former president. He was under siege in Ramallah, and when he was under siege we were very upset. The Jews poisoned him and I hate them very much. Allah will repay them what they deserve."
Boy 4: "He [Arafat] died from poisoning by the Jews. Well, I don't know what he died from, but I know it was by the Jews."
Boy 5: "They destroyed his whole house and he was left in one room and in the end the Jews poisoned him and blamed someone else."
[PA TV (Fatah), Nov. 10, 2009]

Obama to Israelis: Jerusalem Is a “Settlement” – by P. David Hornik

Asked by Fox News in China what he thought of Israel’s plans to build 900 housing units in the Gilo neighborhood in southeastern Jerusalem, President Obama responded:

“The situation in the Middle East is very difficult, and I’ve said repeatedly and I’ll say again, Israel’s security is a vital national interest to the United States, and we will make sure they are secure. I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel’s security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbors. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous.” To most Israeli ears the statement is discordant. The avowal of commitment to Israel’s security doesn’t jibe with describing building in Gilo as “dangerously embittering” the Palestinians. Gilo, now a neighborhood of 40,000, was annexed by Israel in the aftermath of the 1967 war as part of the reunification of Jerusalem. Gilo is a fact; ordinary Israelis live in it, and calling them settlers would be laughable.

Not that Obama was breaking new ground in calling a Jewish Jerusalem neighborhood a settlement. Less than two years ago then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said of another such neighborhood, Har Homa, that “Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning” and that the United States “doesn’t make a distinction” between settlement activity in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Har Homa, however, only goes back to the 1990s and is a good deal smaller than Gilo. “Gilo” and “settlement” sounds even more jarring.

Nor was Obama, of course, alone in his statement; he was leading the international charge. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokeswoman said “such actions [as building in Gilo] undermine efforts for peace and cast doubt on the viability of the two-state solution.” The British Foreign Office said that “Expanding settlements on occupied land in east Jerusalem makes [a] deal much harder. So this decision on Gilo is wrong and we oppose it.” French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, in Israel for talks, also condemned the building plans.

And back in Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration was “dismayed” and that both parties should avoid actions that could “preempt, or appear to preempt, negotiations.”

Just as the official international reaction was unanimous in opposing the building, the internal Israeli reaction was unanimous in supporting it—and included leading figures from both the government and the opposition.

An aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote in a message to reporters that “Construction in Gilo has taken place regularly for dozens of years and there is nothing new about the current planning and construction.” Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin of Netanyahu’s Likud Party said that “new demands of the type that the Americans are airing now, pushes us toward a red line that we cannot allow ourselves to cross, and is not legitimate. The right to build in all of unified Jerusalem is not questioned in Israel….” Tzipi Livni, opposition leader and head of the left-of-center Kadima Party, told Kouchner that “Gilo is part of the Israeli consensus….”

Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem, was the least restrained, stating:

“Israeli law does not discriminate between Jews and Arabs and between east and west [Jerusalem]. The demand to specifically halt construction for Jews is not legal in the U.S. or in any other enlightened country in the world.

“I cannot imagine the American administration demanding a halt to construction in the U.S. based upon race, religion or sex, and the attempt to demand this of Jerusalem constitutes a double standard and is unacceptable. The Jerusalem Municipality will continue to enable construction in all parts of the city to both Arabs and Jews, with one law for all.”

Why did Obama and the world’s criticism evoke such strong, across-the-board indignation in Israel?

For one thing, it strikes at the core Jewish value of Jerusalem. From 1948 to 1967, when the city was divided, Israelis in West Jerusalem lived with sniper fire from Jordanian East Jerusalem. Jordan not only reneged on international undertakings to permit Israeli access to Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, but desecrated and destroyed the synagogues there. Nevertheless, Israel implored Jordan not to enter the 1967 war—in vain. With united Jerusalem now in Israeli hands for forty-two years, only Israelis well to the Left are willing to countenance a redivision of the city into Arab and Jewish areas. Even under such an arrangement, neighborhoods like Gilo (and Har Homa) would remain intact and continue to grow. They are not up for discussion.

Such criticism also implies that no Israeli concessions can ever suffice. Netanyahu, a lifelong Likud figure commonly tagged as a “hawk” and “hardliner” abroad, has gone so far as to announce his preparedness for a Palestinian state (twenty years ago still a far-Left position in Israel) and for a freeze in construction throughout the West Bank. After Netanyahu had supposedly clarified with Obama that stopping construction in Jerusalem was farther than he or any Israeli prime minister could go, the president’s reference to Gilo as an “additional settlement” where building “embitters the Palestinians” sounds to Israelis—whether or not it is intended as such—like contempt for their willingness to compromise and a message that not even their most basic rights are safe.

In a better world, the Israeli reaction would lead the administration to ask: is pushing Jews out of Jerusalem really an American interest, and is it consistent with American values? For how long do the Palestinians—who have flatly rejected every peace offer since 1937 and have refused even to negotiate with Israel since Obama has been in office—deserve such consideration? Is the pressure by the larger Muslim world to downgrade the Jewish connection to Jerusalem something the United States should submit to?

Obama's press on Gilo shows a continued misread of Israel

Obama's press on Gilo shows a continued misread of Israel This misread was evident again in the past few days by the US objection to the Jerusalem Municipal Planning Committee's approval of a plan to build some 900 new units in Gilo - not in a far-flung settlement overlooking Nablus, nor even in one of the settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, nor even a Jewish complex in one of the Arab neighborhoods of the capital, but in Gilo, one of the large new neighborhoods built in the city following the Six Day War. If Israel cannot build in Gilo without US approval, than it cannot build in Ramot Eshkol, French Hill, Ramot, Neveh Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev, East Talpiot or Har Homa.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Tuesday expressed "dismay" at the decision. The dismay, however, cuts both ways, with many Israelis clearly dismayed that the US - like Europe - now seems to be considering as settlements the post-1967 neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The EU, clearly following Gibbs's lead and then taking it one step further, released a statement on Wednesday saying, "The European Union is dismayed by the recent decision on the expansion of the settlement of Gilo."

Truth be told, this is not the first indication of US policy on this matter. Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice seemed to be giving the new neighborhoods settlement status in 2007 when she opposed a new project in Har Homa. She didn't clarify, however, whether other Jerusalem neighborhoods over the Green Line, such as Gilo and Ramot, were settlements in the eyes of the United States.

However, the Obama team's call for a complete settlement halt also included a halt to new construction in east Jerusalem, something Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to accept.

By continuing to press the issue, Obama - who recently showed nascent signs of wanting to engage the Israeli public out of an understanding that if you want to get Israel to make concessions, Israel will need to trust the US president - risks further alienating the Israeli public. According to a Jerusalem Post poll conducted in August, only four percent if Israelis consider him to be pro-Israel.

When Obama came to power in January, he apparently did so with two basic assumptions regarding Israel.

The first was that the Israeli public so cherishes its relationship with the US that it would not tolerate any daylight between Jerusalem and Washington, and that if its government was responsible for that daylight, then it would replace that government with another in order to preserve the special relationship with Washington.

The second assumption was that the Israeli public hated the settlements.

Based on those two assumptions, Obama immediately upon taking office pressed Israel hard on the settlement issue, calling for an unprecedented complete halt to all settlement construction, including in Jerusalem.

The administration's working premise seemed to be that since the Israeli public was not enamored of the settlements in any event, if Obama pushed hard on that issue, the Israeli public would pressure its own government to give rather than risk a fissure with the Obama administration.

But the assumptions were mistaken. The Israeli public does not hate the settlements. Granted, it does not like the illegal settlement outposts, or what it sees as the extremists among the ideological settlements, but the public makes a distinction between those settlements outposts and those extremists and the large settlement blocs, such as Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion, which are well within the Israeli consensus. And the public certainly doesn't view the neighborhoods of Jerusalem, as the Europeans said in their statement, as "settlements."

Pressing a construction freeze in those areas was widely viewed by the public as an unreasonable demand, especially when it was not accompanied by any demands on the Arabs or Palestinians.

Rather than rallying around Obama, Israelis have - according to polls that shows Netanyahu's popularity rising - rallied around Netanyahu. And no issue will make them rally even further around the prime minister than Jerusalem.

Netanyahu understands this, which is why his office was behind a leak during the summer about Obama's objections to Jewish building at the Shepherd's Hotel site in Sheikh Jarrah, and was also likely behind the leak this week of US objections to the Gilo plan. In the summer, the objection to the Shepherd's Hotel plan made the administration's demands seem unreasonable to the Israeli public, as the Gilo objections have done now.

The irony is that this has come at a time when it looked as if Obama understood that his much touted outreach to the Arab and Muslim world had to be accompanied by some kind of dialogue with Israel; that he needed to talk with the Israelis and the Jews. Thus he addressed the public in a video welcome aired at last month's conference in Jerusalem put on by President Shimon Peres; thus he addressed by video a rally at Kikar Rabin earlier this month on the anniversary of the Rabin assassination; and thus he had planned to address the Jewish Federation's General Assembly in Washington last week.

That address was cancelled at the last minute, however, when Obama needed to fly to Texas to participate in a memorial ceremony for the 13 servicemen killed there by Maj. Nidal Hasan. And any attempt to get off on a better footing with Netanyahu was foiled by the hesitant dance surrounding whether or not there would be a meeting, and then the clandestine manner in which that meeting took place. What looked like an attempt by the administration to positively engage Israel sputtered. And now, with the Gilo issue, these efforts risk faltering altogether.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1258566462450&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"UN Human Rights Violation!"

Arlene Kushner

As those of you who read my postings regularly are probably aware, Anne Bayefsky, director of Eye on the UN, is a diligent and responsible critic of the UN, and a reliable source of information on its activities. I am in communication with her from time to time, and rely on her information. She is passionate, and dedicated. Bayefsky -- who holds credentials as a UN observer by virtue of her position as director of the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust at New York's Touro College (an NGO) -- was present in the UN in New York on November 5, when the General Assembly voted to endorse the Goldstone Report.

Outside the General Assembly chamber a microphone is set up for delegates to speak. After the Goldstone vote, the delegate from Libya and the Palestinian observer both utilized this mike in order to speak in support of the Report. Bayefsky then approached the empty podium where the mike stood. She did not anticipate problems, she said, as representatives of NGOs have used this mike in the past without incident.


Bayefsky spoke for about five minutes, impromptu. She called the U.N. a "laughingstock" for focusing on Israel and ignoring Hamas human rights violations; she said the lack of balance in the report made it a travesty of justice.

As she finished speaking, she was surrounded by UN guards, who brought her to their office, confiscated her credentials, and escorted her out of the building. Bayefsky reported to Fox news that, as she was brought out of the building, a security officer told her, "the Palestinian ambassador [Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour] is very upset at the statement you made." According to Inner City Press, when Mansour, who had walked away, was told that a representative of a pro-Israel NGO had spoken, he asked, "Did we capture them?"

Bayefsky currently awaits either the return of her credentials or a hearing in January or February before the Committee on NGOs. If she must go before the Committee -- which is chaired by Sudan -- she figures her chances are nil. Right now she is being prevented from attending significant meetings. "The frenzy of anti-Israel activity is going on right now," she said. "There's a reason they're keeping me away - this is no accident."

The UN is presenting a very different story, it should be noted. There were claims that her pass had not been revoked, and that there was action against her because she approached the mike without permission and this cannot be permitted.


This happened on November 5. I cannot explain why Eye on the UN, where I secured the bulk of this information, only released it today. (Perhaps there had been hope of securing a quiet resolution to the matter.)

I also garnered information at,2933,575666,00.html (put out today) and (released on Nov. 5).


Sometimes matters are not as they seem, and sometimes they surprise us.

Today, for example, I was just a tad surprised when the news reported that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who is here now, told the Post that our plans to build in Gilo, as regrettable as they might be, did not have to be an obstacle to returning to negotiations.

Kouchner, who has not been a friend, seems to have chosen to refrain from leveling harsh criticism at us and instead to implicitly chastise the Palestinians for refusing to come back to the table.

Apparently he was unmoved by Ahmed Qurei's designation of the Gilo building plans as the "final nail in the peace process's coffin." And it seems he was unruffled even though Saeb Erekat called our plans a "provocation against the international community."

Kouchner said he knew this wasn't a political decision. And he's right. This didn't reach Netanyahu's desk -- it was routinely processed.

Just possibly this time the Palestinians have overplayed their hand, trying the patience even of their supporters.


We are still stymied here as to why Gilo, in particular, has made such big news. An American friend tells me that it has made considerable press in the US. Strange, with all that is going on.

Please know that it's not only the residents of Gilo who are reacting -- Israelis in general are irked. As analyst Herb Keinon has pointed out, the way Obama has handled this situation indicates a "continued misreading and misunderstanding of the Israeli public."

After all, writes Keinon, this is not about "a far-flung settlement overlooking Nablus, nor even in one of the settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, nor even a Jewish complex in one of the Arab neighborhoods of the capital, but in Gilo, one of the large new neighborhoods built in the city following the Six Day War.

"...many Israelis [are] clearly dismayed that the US - like Europe - now seems to be considering as settlements the post-1967 neighborhoods in Jerusalem."

Obama had called for a complete settlement freeze that included east Jerusalem, which Netanyahu rejected. "By continuing to press the issue, Obama - who recently showed nascent signs of wanting to engage the Israeli public out of an understanding that if you want to get Israel to make concessions, Israel will need to trust the US president - risks further alienating the Israeli public. According to a Jerusalem Post poll conducted in August, only four percent of Israelis consider him to be pro-Israel."

Says Keinon, one of the assumptions that Obama made when taking office was that the Israeli public was anti-settlement.

"But [the assumption was] mistaken. The Israeli public does not hate the settlements...the large settlement blocs, such as Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion...are well within the Israeli consensus. And the public certainly doesn't view the neighborhoods of 'settlements.'

"Pressing a construction freeze in those areas was widely viewed by the public as an unreasonable demand, especially when it was not accompanied by any demands on the Arabs or Palestinians.

"Rather than rallying around Obama, Israelis have - according to polls that shows Netanyahu's popularity rising - rallied around Netanyahu. And no issue will make them rally even further around the prime minister than Jerusalem."


In spite of the focus on Gilo, there actually are a number of matters to report with regard to housing in Jerusalem:

[] A new Jewish housing community -- a private venture on privately owned Jewish land -- is being constructed in Nof Zion, situated adjacent to the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem, on the Armon Hanatziv ridge. The first stage of building, close to 100 units, is already complete and residents began to move in some months ago.

Nof Zion buildings project in...

Ariel Jerozolimksi

Yesterday, the cornerstone was laid for the second stage of building. Construction is slated to begin in six months, and will ultimately add 125 apartments to the community.

Some 100 people gathered for the cornerstone ceremony. MK Danny Danon (Likud) was there. "I have a message for President Obama," he told the crowd. "Take your hands of Jerusalem. Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people and we have every right to live and raise our children here."

Participating as well was a group of Americans -- lead by NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind -- completing a tour of Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem, with an eye towards coming to live here.

[] Also yesterday, in spite of local resistance -- including rock-throwing -- five illegal housing structures were demolished in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Issawiya and Silwan. This is in addition to two demolished just days before and another 14 slated for demolition. The Municipality of Jerusalem reports that these buildings were all constructed without necessary permits, and at least one was on land designated for a road. The Arab residents claim they cannot get permits.

[] The Jerusalem Municipality has announced plans for the construction of more than 5,000 new housing units for Arab residents of the city:

Construction of 2,000 housing units in Tel Adasah, in north Jerusalem, and 2,500 units in a-Swahra, near Jabel Mukaber, were to begin following final approval by relevant municipal committees, while construction of 500 new housing units in Dir-al-Amud, near Beit Safafa, were in the advanced stages of planning.


An observation here: Obama has said that "Settlement building does not contribute to Israel's security."

In point of fact there are issues of security -- maintaining strategic depth around Jerusalem and holding on to the high places in Samaria, from which rockets could be shot at our airport, etc.

But what this teaches us is actually a broader and very important lesson: We should not, we must not, make our case based on security alone. We have rights to build and live in Judea and Samaria born of our heritage in the land and international law going back to the Mandate.

It is time we spoke in these terms.


"The Good News Corner"

I have been wanting to write about the economic miracle of Israel, and the amazing entrepreneurship demonstrated by Israelis. Here, instead, I provide you with a video clip of an interview of the co-author of a book called Start-Up Nation. We demonstrate some unique characteristics that do us proud.

see my website

Why Won’t the Arabs Protect Themselves from Iran by Actively Battling Against Tehran Having Nuclear Weapons?

Barry Rubin

It isn’t hard to conclude that Iran having nuclear weapons is a direct threat to Arab states, except Syria—Tehran’s ally—which would benefit. Why, then, don’t Arab states and intellectuals public express more concern?

Western observers were shaken up when at a debate in Qatar, the relatively moderate Arab audience split almost down the middle between those cheering and those jeering the idea of Iranian nuclear weapons.One member of the audience said:

“Why in the first place should Iran seek the trust of anyone? Iran is an independent, sovereign country, and it has every single right to defend itself. If it wants a bomb, definitely it should have one."

The audience cheered.

Another man said:

"There is something called balance of power. As long as there is Israel, we need a nuclear bomb."

A serious analysis would have to include three main points in explaining this seeming suicidal desire of many Arabs that the real worst enemy of the current Arab order become really, really powerful:

First, fear. Iran is strong, aggressive, close, and represents an ideology that appeals to some of their people. To stand up to Iran’s growing strength could incur costly hostility, pressure and subversion now. And once Tehran gets nuclear weapons, it will remember and take revenge on those who have tried to thwart it.

Second, there is the Middle Eastern version of Political Correctness which, unlike its Western version, has very sharp teeth. All good Muslims are supposed to love each other, hate Israel, and hate America. Much the same can be said of all good Arabs, though Iran of course does not benefit directly from that paradigm.

Consequently, if Iran can become a nuclear-armed Muslim state which views America, the West, and Israel as its enemies, then that must be good for Muslims and even Arabs too, right? How proud they all can be that one of them has made good! That will sure show the West that Muslims can have the ultimate weapon. Certainly, many of their people will be enthusiastic and so the rulers—even in dictatorships—rush to get to the head of the crowd lest it turn on them.

Third, their behavior is based on hopeful thinking, a sort of more likely version of wishful thinking. Surely, they wish, the United States or Israel will solve the problem without their having to do anything. Incidentally, this is similar to their position on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

And, of course, this is a test of U.S. power and will power. After all, if America can’t deal with Iran for them that proves the United States cannot protect them against Tehran. So they are better off keeping their mouths shut now and the option open of appeasing Iran.

In general, Arab states are content to wait it out. Some movements--Hizballah, Hamas, Iraqi clients of Tehran—and Syria are already on the Iranian team. Qatar and non-Arab Turkey are moving in that direction. Lebanon has been Finlandized, that is, forced into a posture of not doing anything Tehran doesn't like because of the power of Hizballah and other Iranian clients inside the country.

But for most—Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the remaining small Gulf states—the risk is too great of changing sides. After all, they genuinely don’t trust Iran and really don’t want it to change the strategic balance in its favor.

Yet on the other hand, their fear that Iran might become a hegemonic power in the Middle East and subvert these states a factor that should make them vigorously oppose Tehran getting nuclear weapons. The same goes for their hatred of Iran as radical Islamist and Shia Muslim and (largely) ethnic Persian.

The first set of motives, however, outweighs the second. And so they remain silent.

Here’s an obscure story that indicates the shape of things to come. A group of Iran-backed Shia rebels, called the Houthi, in Yemen are waging a guerrilla war to try to take over the country. The Saudis, who view themselves as the guardians of Yemen and don’t want another pro-Tehran state on their border, have been bombing them.

Two top-ranking Iranians have denounced the Saudi action as “Wahhabi terrorism” and openly threatened Saudi Arabia. The language they used indicated the ideological nature of the war, since the Saudis’ Wahhabi version of Islam is very anti-Shia. The Iranians said the war is a U.S.-backed effort to divide Arabs.

And for those who think that Iran’s current internal conflicts will take care of its external aggression, the identity of these two Iranians is significant. One of them is Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, introducing a military threat. But the other is Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, a leading “moderate” member of the radical ruling group who opposes President Ahmadinejad. In other words, Tehran’s ambitions have a wide base of support across faction.

Now, the way things are supposed to work, the United States should support the Saudis, signaling Riyadh that America is a reliable ally (so don’t be afraid of Iran having nuclear weapons) and Tehran that Washington won’t tolerate Iranian aggression (so be afraid and slow down or abandon nuclear weapon development).

Of course, the Obama Administration won’t say a word. Why? Specifically:

--It views normal power politics as neo-imperialistic.

--It fears that Iran will present the Yemen issue as one showing American intervention. Guess what? The Iranians already are doing so.

--It worries that such action will endanger U.S. engagement with Iran over nuclear weapons. Guess what? That’s already dead any way. And showing you are weak doesn’t give you leverage in negotiations.
But this is the pattern, isn’t it?

--The Obama Administration has not backed Iraq’s denunciations of Syria’s involvement in cross-border terrorism. (To be fair, U.S. envoys have asked Syria to stop but there aren’t any teeth behind this request.)

--The Administration isn’t giving strong backing to Israel. Indeed, after Israel agreed to a U.S. request for a freeze on construction inside settlements with the exception of Jerusalem, the Arabs complained and the Administration backed down on its own deal.

--Despite some verbal support the Administration hasn’t taken a tough position backing Lebanese moderates (March 14 coalition) against pressure from Iran- and Syria-backed Hizballah to give the radicals a bigger share of government. Indeed, the U.S. effort was so feeble that the Saudis gave up their own efforts to pressure Syria to ease off on the Lebanese.

--The U.S. government barely gave a squeak in support of the Iranian economic opposition.

--In Afghanistan the government is hanging around waiting for the United States to make up its mind whether to defend or virtually abandon the country. The indecision is not such as to promote confidence in Kabul or trembling among the Taliban.

So here's the question of the era. You are an Arab or a non-Arab Muslim (or an Israeli). You don't want your country to be taken over by Islamists who are likely to shoot you, seize your property, and force you to change your lifestyle to that of Taliban Afghanistan.

You don't ask yourself: Is President Barack Obama nice to Muslims, sympathetic, and apologizes for America being tough in the past.

Rather, you ask yourself: Can I depend on America under the Obama Administration to protect me now and in the future? Would the United States attack Iran if necessary to deter Tehran? Would it even threaten the use of nuclear weapons to shield me against any Iranian attack? Would it send troops if I decided I wanted them?

Ok, what's your answer? And if it is "no" then what alternative to appeasement is possible?

At the debate in Qatar, an Iraqi woman in the audience tried to have it both ways, pointing out that even from a perspective that thinks Israel makes the devil look like a nice guy there are good reasons to oppose Iran having nukes. Note that she didn't mention the United States at all as the solution:

"We're going to [be] between two powerful countries, Iran and Israel, with nuclear weapons. Where will this region be?"

Answer: Up the Gulf without a paddle.

By the way, if you want to get an idea of what Middle East politics is really like, watch this 32-second film about a day in the life of a railroad track inspector. And remember you can't always expect to get this lucky.

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), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

Study: Arabs retire from work at age of 40-44

Bank of Israel survey reveals Israeli Arabs retirement age lower than in European, Arab countries. One reason is high rate of Arabs employed in jobs requiring physical fitness


Only 20% of Arab women in Israel work, while Arab men retire from the workforce at the age of 40 to 44, according to a new study on the participation rate of Israel's Arabs in the workforce. The survey was conducted by Prof. Eran Yashiv and Nitza Kasir of the Bank of Israel's Research Department. The researchers note that these two patterns cannot be explained by the regular factors – such as age, education, marital status, number of children and the income of the other family members.

According to the researchers, an important factor explaining Arabs' retirement from the workforce at a relatively early age is the high rate of Arabs employed in professions requiring physical fitness.

In light of the fact that physical ability declines with age, the participation in these professions drops. The fact that many foreign workers are employed in Israel allows employers to replace the Arab workers whose physical fitness has declined with other laborers.

The researchers also note that Arab men have the option to receive an income from various governmental aid organizations, which allows them to retire once their physical abilities diminish. This is joined by characteristic influences of the Arab society, including the common phenomenon of children supporting their parents from an early age.

Working less in southern Israel

The rest of the characteristic influencing the participation of Arab men in the workforce are similar to those usually found in research literature, including the positive link between the education level and the rate of participation and the negative affect of residing in the south.

Compared to the employment of Jews and compared to international employment rates, Arab workers' early retirement is unusual. "Among the Jews in Israel, among the Palestinians, in Western economies and in economies in Muslim and Arab countries, one can see the 'classic' participation profile over life which is in the shape of a hump – going up, stabilizing and falling throughout life," the researchers explain.

"The drop in the employment of men in Europe begins after the ages of 50 to 54, while in the US there is a more gradual drop after the ages of 55 to 59. Among Israeli Arabs the hump is shorter and sharper, both in relation to Palestinian men in the territories and to other Arab and Muslim countries."

Cultural influences

As for the employment of Arab women, the study found a big variance in the participation rate, related to differences between "modern" and "traditional" women in terms of education, marital status, number of children and different skills, like English and computers.

The researchers noted that they had found a dichotomy in the employment patterns of Arab women: "Traditional" women hardly take part in the labor market, which explains the low participation rate on an international level.

There is a significant rate of "modern" women taking part in the labor market, which explains the rise in the participation level over time alongside the rise in education rates and other cultural changes.

"There is a finding that women's participation rates are much different than what is common in Western countries and among Jewish women in Israel, and are not significantly different than the rates in Muslim countries. This finding reinforces the conclusion that this is the result of cultural influences."

The researchers note that these findings stress the need for a governmental policy which will help raise women's participation levels and reduce men's early retirement among Israeli Arabs, particularly in light of the negative ramifications of the participation patterns on the Israeli Arab society's social-economic situation.

"There is room to consider a variety of policy moves to increase Arabs' participation in the workforce," the researchers state, including "reaching a wider occupation dispersal of the Arab men, in order to prevent the over-concentration in physical professions, in which retirement is early – increasing the resources for elementary and post-primary education and higher education."

Other moves include "aiding in retraining and career change ahead of the retirement from physical professions and working to remove obstacles in the demand for skilled workers among Arabs; encouraging the employment of Israeli Arabs instead of foreign workers; encouraging the employment of women through education by increasing the resources for education, as well as subsidizing daycare centers; encouraging the physical accessibility of workplaces by investing in a suitable transportation infrastructure and providing transportation to the workplace."

US-Israel relations: Is there a crisis?

Naama Lanir

In wake of recent controversy between Jerusalem, Washington over construction in Jerusalem nieghborhood, former Israeli ambassadors say issue over-hyped by media. Expert on US foreign policy notes Obama administration more demanding compared with former governments The charged relationship between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been topped with open outrage by the US administration over construction plans in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood. Does this unprecedented protest point to a serious crisis with Washington?

Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Zalman Shoval doesn't seem to think so. "In the eyes of the Israeli media we are supposedly going from one crisis to the other, week by week," he said, but admitted that "the demand not to build in Gilo seems strange and even bizarre since it has been inhabited for 30 years and over.
French Perspective
Kouchner: Gilo construction won’t necessarily hinder peace talks / Attila Somfalvi
Visiting French FM says widely criticized Israeli plan to build hundreds of housing units in Jerusalem neighborhood 'not a political decision, should not be obstacle to resuming peace talks.' Adds: We'll oppose unilateral Palestinian statehood declaration
Full story

"It's not east Jerusalem – Arabs have never lived in Gilo and its houses weren't built on private Arab land," he explained.

Shoval offered two possible explanations to the American response. "Perhaps they confused the Gilo issue with the planning of a new Israeli neighborhood between Gilo and Beit Jala. Overall, when you sit in Washington and look at the maps it's hard to tell the difference.

"The other reason could be that the US administration wants to encourage Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) and is also trying to cover up Hillary Clinton's various statements, maybe they were trying to create a balance."

Shoval said that the Americans now admit, whether in public or in confidence, that their initial insistence of viewing the settlement issue as a central focal point of the peace process was a mistake.

'Arabs have never lived in Gilo' (Photo: Reuters)

Shoval, who acted as ambassador on two terms at the beginning and the end of the 1990's, noted that the Americans have raised the demand to stop building in the territories many times, but never in a concrete way. "The Obama administration is different, and that stems both from the change in the US's status in the world and the attempts to negotiate with difficult opponents such as North Korea and Iran."

However, relations between Israel and the US have remained strong, according to the former ambassador who pointed to the Congress' support of Israel. "My estimate is that this support won't wane – just the opposite."

'Israel doesn't take orders'

Moshe Arens, who acted as Israel's ambassador to Washington in the early 1980's, also believes there is no cause for serious concern. "Crisis is too big of a word. It's not a crisis but a difference of opinion that we have shared in the past and will share in the future."

The only difference, Arens noted, was the media. "There has been a change with the Obama administration, both in tone and in music. Perhaps the demand has always existed in internal conversations, but it has not prompted such public resonance as it does today." Arens further claimed that Israel is not one to receive orders and noted that it was legitimate to reject the American administration's demands.

On the other end of the fence stands Professor Michal Pomerantz, an expert on international law and US foreign policy in the Hebrew University. Pomerantz stressed the precedent that the construction in Jerusalem now poses.

"The Jerusalem issue had not caused crises in the past, since there were no demands regarding Jerusalem. It has never existed in any other administration despite some fluctuations on the matter. The Obama administration is more demanding."

In respect to the future of the relations, Prof. Pomerantz could not predict US considerations. "They're also fluctuating. On the one hand their direction was to come closer to the Palestinian viewpoint. On the other hand, Israeli public opinion has experienced some kind of disillusionment, accepting that the US administration was becoming more hostile."

FM Liberman meets with French FM Kouchner

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman met this afternoon (Wednesday 18 November 2009) with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Jerusalem. The two ministers discussed bilateral and regional issues, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the situation with the Palestinians. FM Liberman stated that the Gilo neighborhood is an integral part of Jerusalem and Israel, and is in that respect identical to Tel Aviv and Herzliya. FM Liberman added that all the procedures required for issuing building permits in Gilo are carried out in accordance with the law by the planning and building committee, and the government does not intend to intervene in the process, which strictly adheres to the procedural regulations of the State of Israel.

FM Liberman thanked FM Kouchner for France's fundamental and consistent position regarding the necessity of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Comment: President Obama, who has said another government should not dictate a country's security, also re-stated how the building in the settlements must stop. Perhaps he did not get the "memo" that indicated no new building permits have been offered outside of Israel proper-hmm, Mr. President failed to do your homework?

"Slip-sliding in the PA"

No standing firm on the ground for these guys. With what I suppose they imagine to be nimble steps, they move this way and that. Except that their steps, seen from here, are shamefully clumsy.

Today Saeb Erekat, PA negotiator, declared that Israel was twisting Palestinian words, as they never said they were going to declare a state unilaterally. No? You could have fooled me.

All they want, he explained, is to preserve the two-state solution, as one state is not an option. And, since negotiations are stalemated (through no fault of theirs, of course), they want the Security Council to endorse the two-state solution, with the border of the new Palestinian state set at the Green (pre-'67) Line.

This strikes me as patently ridiculous. Every mention within the international community of the two-state solution or anything akin to it -- Oslo, which was formally signed, the informally agreed-to Road Map, etc., specifies that the details must be determined via negotiations.

Even SC Resolution 242, which doesn't even mention Palestinians, never mind address a "two-state solution," says Israel's borders must be determined via negotiations.

And let's look back even further than this: When Israel signed an armistice agreement with Jordan in 1949, it stated explicitly that the armistice line that was being established (which is the Green Line) would not prejudice negotiations in the future to determine the final border for Israel. The Green Line wasn't it.


At least one Israeli government source is cited as saying that the statement by Erekat is an effort to backtrack after it became apparent that the EU and the US were not supportive of a unilaterally declared state. Slip-sliding...

But I'm seeing something else, as well: "One state is not an option..."

Yet not long ago leaders in the PA were saying that if the negotiations weren't going to progress, it was time to think about one state. Of course, in voicing this threat, they were envisioning a "bi-national state" that would render it impossible for Israel to be a Jewish state -- that would, ultimately, be Arab/Muslim in nature.

But then matters shifted. WE said, well, if negotiations aren't going to progress, and there are going to be unilateral declarations from the PA, we might unilaterally move to assume full sovereignty over significant parts of Judea and Samaria. That would make the bulk of Judea and Samaria, which the Palestinians covet, very Jewish indeed, and block the very possibility of forming a viable Palestinian state.

So they, slip-sliding, said, uh oh, let's reverse tactics.

What we learn from this is the value of making offensive moves and not appeasing.


There might have been some advantage to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, however.

MK Uri Ariel, of the right wing Ihud Leumi (National Union), is one of those who sees it this way:

"I pray for Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, to declare a state unilaterally. That is the only way we can finally annul the wretched Oslo accord, which exacted a price in blood and brought the PLO terrorists into the state of Israel.

“A statement of this nature means that the government will have no choice but to annex all of the communities in Judea and Samaria. In practice, it will have to annex the entire region and formally turn it into a part of the state of Israel.”

Everything is so much in flux, it's difficult to predict what will come next. But it remains extremely unlikely that we'll extend sovereignty over even parts of Judea and Samaria except in response to some PA stance that essentially voids Oslo. More's the pity.

At very least there has been a paradigm shift of sorts -- as Israel is making it increasingly clear that return to the Green Line is not an option.


And, as the PA leaders continue to slip-slide, we must not forget the option of "armed resistance," which they maintain is their right. This past August, Fatah (the major constituent party of the PA) held a congress, its first in 20 years. This provided the party with an opportunity to genuinely moderate, by adjusting its constitution to eliminate the call for violence. That, however, is not what happened. They continue to embrace this option.


And it happens that I see the following news item as having a connection to their embrace of this option:

The PA is calling an international conference, which will be attended by representatives of such countries as Spain, Canada, Britain, Ireland, South Africa, and Sweden who are involved in international legal systems.

A major goal they intend to advance in the course of the conference: Securing a change in the status of their terrorists in Israeli prisons to "prisoners of war."

According to Israel National News, this will enable them to secure more "rights" for the prisoners under the Geneva Conventions. But frankly I find it hard to believe that it would be possible to provide them with any more rights. As it is, I'm ashamed that these terrorists are treated as well as they are. They not only can have family visitations, but also conjugal rights. And they can actually earn a degree from an Israeli university while sitting in our prisons.

I would suggest the possibility that what they really want is to redefine terrorism down. Terrorism, what terrorism? Our brave soldiers are merely engaging in "resistance against the occupation," which is their right under international law. Watch and see.


Sources in the Netanyahu government are claiming that there is no crisis with the US over our building in Gilo. Although surprised at the intensity of the US response (with the US saying it is "dismayed" about this), these sources maintain that it is understood that there will be no building freeze in Jerusalem. This reaction, they say, is a show for PA consumption.

I'm not sure if this take is quite accurate. Obama has actually given an interview to Fox news, in which he criticized the plans to build in Gilo, saying this makes it more difficult to re-start negotiations and "embitters" the Palestinians. Embitters? Give me a break.


A question occurs to me here:

The statement about how it's understood that there is no freeze in Jerusalem makes it clear that we are abiding by some informal and very quiet agreement regarding a freeze at least in major settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria (whatever the parameters with regard to completing units for which tenders have already been issued). This was supposed to be done to make the PA happy, so negotiations could begin. Obviously, Obama is still hoping -- oi! is he hoping -- this will happen. But if the PA is intransigent, and there are no negotiations, precisely how long do we wait before we say the deal is off? This is the danger inherent in these open-ended arrangements.


The articles about Fort Hood keep coming, and just when I think I've read enough, one appears that is significant enough to merit being shared. (Thanks, Dick B)

This powerful piece has a significantly different tone because it is written by an ex-army man. Lieutenant Colonel Allen B West (US Army, Ret) was actually a Battalion Commander at Fort Hood and is now running for Congress in FL.


He wrote:

"...A military installation, whether it is Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, or Coast Guard, is supposed to be a safe sanctuary for our Warriors and their families. It is intended to provide a home whereby our "Band of Brothers and Sisters" can find solace and bond beyond just the foxhole, but as family units.

"A military installation is supposed to be a place where our Warriors train for war, to serve and protect our Nation.

"On Thursday, 5 November 2009 Ft Hood became a part of the battlefield in the war against Islamic totalitarianism and state sponsored terrorism.

"There may be those who feel threatened by my words and would even recommend they not be uttered. To those individuals I say step aside because now is not the time for cowardice. Our Country has become so paralyzed by political correctness that we have allowed a vile and determined enemy to breach what should be the safest place in America, an Army post.

"...Saudi Arabia is sponsoring radical Imams who enter into our prisons and convert young men to a virulent Wahabbist ideology….one resulting in four individuals wanting to destroy synagogues in New York with plastic explosives. Thank God the explosives were dummy. They are sponsoring textbooks which present Islamic-centric revisionist history in our schools.

"We must recognize that there is an urgent need to separate the theo-political radical Islamic ideology out of our American society. We must begin to demand surveillance of suspected Imams and mosques that are spreading hate and preaching the overthrow of our Constitutional Republic……that speech is not protected under First Amendment, it is sedition and, if done by an American, treason.

"There should not be some 30 Islamic terrorist training camps in America. That has nothing to do with First Amendment Freedom of Religion. The Saudis are not our friends and any American political figure who believes such is delusional.

"When tolerance becomes a one way street it certainly leads to cultural suicide. We are on that street. Liberals cannot be trusted to defend our Republic, because their sympathies obviously lie with their perceived victim, Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

"I make no apologies for these words, and anyone angered by them, please, go to Ft Hood and look into the eyes of the real victims. The tragedy at Ft Hood Texas did not have to happen. Consider now the feelings of those there and on every military installation in the world. Consider the feelings of the Warriors deployed into combat zones who now are concerned that their loved ones at home are in a combat zone.

"Ft Hood suffered an Islamic jihadist attack, stop the denial, and realize a simple point.

"The reality of your enemy must become your own."

Share this man's words broadly, my friends.


"The Good News Corner"

From many places on the earth, there are Jews who come home to Israel. In some cases, individuals whose ancestors were Jews come here to reclaim their heritage and join with us.

See this video of descendants of the Jews of Kaifeng, China, come to Israel to re-connect with their Jewish roots and convert formally to Judaism. (Thanks, Cheryl)


see my website

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pro-Israel fliers confiscated at campus speech

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Fliers distributed by Binghamton University Jewish students outside a campus speech by a critic of Israel were collected and confiscated by event organizers during the event.

Students from the Hillel Jewish Student Union at Binghamton passed out information outside auditorium doors before a Nov. 10 speech by former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney. The New York State university's Hillel president, Rebecca Kohn, described the fliers as facts about Israel and Hamas and other points that they did not believe McKinney would address in her speech, which was titled "Black in America, Black in Palestine." But before McKinney spoke, leaders of the Binghamton Political Initiative, a graduate-student organized group, asked that anyone who had received a Hillel flier should pass them to the end of the row so they could be collected.

Kohn also said that during the question period, those who asked questions critical of McKinney's views were quickly cut off or embarrassed. For example, when one pro-Israel questioner briefly stuttered from nerves, McKinney held up the flier that Hillel passed out and said, “Do you need this?"

An article by Hillel describing the events of the McKinney speech was printed as a letter to the editor in the campus newspaper last Friday. Kohn said Hillel was reaching out to the Binghamton Political Initiative to discuss the event. The event was co-sponsored by the Multicultural Resource Center and other campus organizations.

A university spokeswoman said Tuesday that school administrators had met with the Hillel director to discuss Jewish student concerns and said the school hoped that students could work out the issue among themselves.

“While the University defends the right of event organizers to determine the content of their programs, we hope and expect that all attendees at events held on campus will be treated respectfully regardless as to the extent of their agreement with the program's message," the university said in a statement. "When that does not occur, our response is to continue to work with students and student organizations to promote a more respectful community. Part of that work is helping students to develop the necessary tools to resolve disputes effectively amongst themselves."

The statement also said that "student organizations are under no requirement to be neutral or balanced in their expressive activity and we have been made aware of concerns that the hosts of this event were not interested in presenting critiques of the guest speaker as part of the program. At Binghamton University, as at most campuses, those who stand in disagreement with a program's message certainly have many alternative avenues available to them to express their own viewpoints including hosting their own events, letter writing campaigns and rallies."

Kohn said that while the administration had met with the campus Hillel director, no one had met with any Jewish students. She said the university's statement amounted to administrators saying that while they did not approve of the disrespect shown to attendees at the McKinney speech, they were not going to take any action.

McKinney, whose father famously blamed "J-E-W-S" when she was defeated in a race for re-election to her Atlanta-area congressional district in 2002, has most recently been involved in the Free Gaza movement. She was arrested last summer by Israel for attempting to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and called Israel's operation in Gaza "full-scale, outright genocide."

During her Binghamton speech, she made comparisons between Palestinians and blacks in America, and called Israel an apartheid state.