Monday, April 12, 2010

"Never Again"

Arlene Kushner

On Yom Hashoah day, continuing the themes of last night.

Mark Prowiser, on the "Yesha Views" blog, addresses the issue of "never again," which, as he points out, typically means, "we won't let our people be methodically slaughtered again, we won’t let such a genocide take place again, against our own people." But he asks, "Who exactly won’t let this happen again?" Good question. Expanding on this theme, he then asks, "Never Again...What?

"'Never Again' will Jews be victims of violence and terror.

"'Never Again' will Jews be evicted from their land, any of their land.

"'Never Again' will Jews stand quietly by and be fooled by our enemies.

"'Never Again' will Jews be led to the slaughter.


Amen! (And thanks to Doris M. for calling this to my attention.)


The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University has just released a report:

2009 was the worst years for anti-Semitic incidents since monitoring of such manifestations began. There has been an increase in "coordinated and pre-planned attacks on Jews," as well as in spontaneous violence and instances of a hostile or violent atmosphere, with one feeding on the other (e.g., a demonstration that precipitated violence on the scene). Worldwide there was a 102% increase in violence, and much more in the way of threats, graffiti, anti-Semitic demonstrations, etc.

This is seen as a spike in what has been growing anti-Semitism over the last few years -- which makes clear that the increase is not just about our actions in Gaza.

Monitoring in the British Jewish community revealed a three-fold increase in anti-Semitic incidents since 1999, while in Canada there has been a five-fold increase since 2000.

Most violent attacks in West Europe came, unsurprisingly, from people of Arab and Muslim heritage. Attacks by extreme right and extreme left wing elements (among whites) are also increasing.

See here for further details:

We have our work cut our for us, and then some.


Not incidentally: In national elections just held in Hungary, the far right has gained more seats in the parliament than it has had at any time since WWII. Jobbik, a radically far-right party with openly anti-Semitic and anti-gypsy policies (shades of the Nazis), has gained entry into the parliament for the first time. The party is closely tied to the Magyar Garda, or Hungarian Guard, a banned paramilitary group with insignia modeled on the Arrow Cross of Hungary's wartime Nazis. Gabor Vona, Jobbik's leader, has vowed to be sworn into parliament wearing the banned uniform.


It's frustrating and bewildering.

The American Jewish Committee has just released its annual survey of American Jewish opinions. What is clear is that they "get" certain things very well, but then give knee-jerk opinions on related matters or abysmally fail to make necessary connections. What I suspect is that there are certain mantras, certain politically correct viewpoints, that are so solidly internalized that they cannot be readily released. Consider:

A full 75% of those polled agree that “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.”

And 61% believe that Jerusalem should stay united under Israeli jurisdiction.

Yet, 48% are in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian state (compared to 45% opposed), and 56% think Israel should relinquish some land. How do you favor this when you know the Arabs want to destroy Israel?

Add to this the fact that 55% approve of how Obama is handling relations with Israel, even though he is clearly not for a Jerusalem undivided and wants Israel to relinquish land acquired in '67.

Doesn't compute. Another place where we have our work cut out for us.

The consolation: 75% of American Jews voted for Obama, but now only 57% think he is doing a good job as president (across the board). The approval rate is dropping.


The nuclear summit begins in Washington today, with 46 nations in attendance. According to One Jerusalem, Netanyahu cancelled his plans to participate when US national security advisor Jim Jones let it be known that "the agenda had been modified to give two critics of Israel, Jordan's King and the Prime Minister of Pakistan enhanced speaking roles at the summit. This raised concern that Israel's nuclear program would become a central topic of discussion." (Don't know if this is accurate in all details, as Pakistan is itself vulnerable on nuclear issues. Elsewhere I have read that it was Turkey and Egypt that were going to come after Israel at the summit.)

What is clear, and disconcerting, is that State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley said last week that, "President Obama signed with Russia an important agreement of decreasing nuclear weapons that carry a future vision that includes removing the nuclear weapons in the world entirely including a vision of a Middle East empty of nuclear weapons. We shall continue in efforts of implementing this track..."


Defense Secretary Robert Gates made news yesterday when he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that it is the opinion of the US that Iran is "not nuclear capable, not yet...and in fact we are doing everything we can to try and keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons."

Sounds encouraging. Seems to indicate that the US is not resigned to a policy of containment and has all options still on the table. But let's look at what he said next, as reported by Reuters:

"'We are probably going to get another U.N. Security Council resolution' of sanctions on Iran,' Gates told NBC.

"Gates added that the United States and other countries will continue trying to convince the Iranians that they are 'headed down the wrong path' by pressuring Iran with sanctions as well as more missile defense and other military cooperation in the Gulf region.

"'At the end of the day what has to happen is that the Iranian government has to decide that its own security is better served by not having nuclear weapons than by having them,'" Gates said."

Iran has to decide that it's own security is better served by not having nuclear weapons...

Sanctions and missile defense in the Gulf region will NOT do this. Sanctions are worthless as they are without teeth, and "missile defense" smells like containment. Ultra-serious deterrence might work, but the threat of military action would have to be real, and that military action would have to be taken if necessary.

Wish I could believe that this -- ultra-serious deterrence -- is where Obama and company were going. I don't.


Many is the time that you've heard me say that PA president Mahmoud Abbas could not make peace with Israel, which would require his having to make compromises, even if he wanted to (he doesn't), because he would have no backing for it and the political climate would not permit it.

Today Khaled Abu Toameh reports in the JPost that a small Islamic fundamentalist group in Gaza, Jaish al-Umma (Army of the Nation) said it would slaughter Abbas if he collaborated with Jews. The commander, Abu Abdalah Ghazzi, said that "If it is proven that Abu Mazen [Abbas] is helping the Jews, we will slit his throat."

Ghazzi gave an interview to Al-Hayat in London, in which he said that "Our goal is to liberate Jerusalem...and to implement sharia [Islamic law] in the rest of the world." He said that while his group sometimes works with Fatah, it considers Fatah an "enemy."


According to "The Cable" a foreign policy Internet magazine, no decision has been made on the Obama administration imposing a plan for "peace" on Israel and the PA. In fact, says this report by Josh Rogin, "Obama advisors are all over the place," with a diversity of opinions on the appropriate tactic and tone. National Security Advisor Jim Jones heads up the group pumping most vigorously for direct US involvement -- this should be clear from the NYTimes article, by David Ignatius, which mentioned Jones so prominently. But even many for favor this approach in time, feel that it is premature. Envoy George Mitchell is of this opinion. There is great unease that the US will fall on its face, if both side outright reject what America puts forward.

But just because we don't have to contend with the worst case scenario right now does not mean all is well. Secretary of State Clinton, for example, says both sides need a lot of pushing to do things they don't want to do. I haven't noticed Abbas being pushed all that much, but we can be sure they're going to keep the pressure on us.


Laugh for the day (if you can laugh at this). In a meeting with the president of Kazahkstan yesterday, President Obama said that the US was still working on its democracy. An unnamed top aide said that Obama has taken "historic steps" to improve democracy in the United States during his time in office.


Please note the following points that Dr. Dore Gold, Director of Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, makes in a briefing called, "A Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations." This is information all should have, and use:

* As a result of the June 1967 Six-Day War, Israel entered the eastern parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank in a war of self-defense. It is very important to recall that Israel entered these areas after it was attacked, and after it requested that the Jordanians not join the Egyptian war effort. There were Jordanian artillery attacks throughout Jerusalem and all of Israel, as well as movement of Jordanian ground forces into areas that were previously no-man's land.

* There is presently a marked shift underway in U.S. policy on Jerusalem. True, no U.S. administration accepted Israel's annexation of Jerusalem in July 1967. Nonetheless, in the past we saw the U.S. and Israel coming to a modus vivendi with respect to Israeli policy in Jerusalem, when Israel built various neighborhoods in the eastern parts of the city, from Ramat Eshkol to Gilo to Ramot.

* A neighborhood called Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem was established in 1997 during the Clinton administration to ease the considerable shortage of housing in the Jewish sector. On two occasions, the Arab bloc initiated a draft resolution in the UN Security Council to condemn Israel for constructing Har Homa. On both occasions, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, vetoed those resolutions under instructions from the Clinton administration.

* The Oslo Agreements in 1993 do not require a freeze on construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Furthermore, under the Oslo Agreements, Jerusalem was treated as having a completely different status than the West Bank and the city was kept under Israeli control, while seen as an issue for permanent status negotiations in the future.


Gil Z. has shared an incredible blog that contains pictures from Life Magazine from Jerusalem in 1948. Fascinating and moving photos in any case. But extremely significant from an historical perspective because it shows Jews fleeing from and being pushed out from eastern Jerusalem, which has just been lost. So much for eastern Jerusalem as "Arab."

see my website

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