Saturday, September 10, 2011

Israel, Turkey and the West

Dore Gold

Why the West cares about Israel-Turkey relations

Under the surface, there have been growing concerns in the West about the general direction of Turkish foreign policy under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP party. In an extremely important 2004 cable from the U.S. State Department revealed by WikiLeaks, which was described previously in this column, an American diplomat in Turkey wrote about his concerns over Ankara's "new, highly activist foreign policy." Like many other commentators he focused on what he called the "neo-Ottoman fantasies" of Ahmet Davutoglu, who was then only an adviser and today is Turkey's foreign minister. But the American diplomat went much further in his description. He attended a meeting at the main think tank of Turkey's ruling AKP party where he heard many in the AKP saying that it is Turkey's role to spread Islam in Europe. He added that there was "the widespread belief" among the participants in the think tank that Turkey should "avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683"-- when the Ottoman armies lost to the Hapsburg Empire.

Even assuming that this American cable overstates the ideological orientation of the Turkish government by relying on impressions from a think tank of the AKP party, it nonetheless illustrates the concerns of a Western diplomat about the ideas making the rounds in ruling circles within Erdogan's Turkey. Can Turkey still be viewed as a reliable NATO ally or is it now adopting an approach toward the world based on an Islamist agenda? As a result, will it give preference to its partnerships with Middle Eastern countries, like Iran, despite its disagreements with Tehran?

These trends are not just of concern for the U.S., but for other countries who are doubtlessly monitoring trends in Turkey. In late 2009, Davutoglu spoke in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and laid out his approach for Turkey's foreign policy. According to a State Department report on the speech, Davutoglu said that, "The Balkans, the Caucuses, and the Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence." For many states that were once part of the Ottoman Empire, especially in Europe, this statement undoubtedly raised eyebrows. Across Eastern Europe, from Hungary to Serbia, there are sites that are remembered as battlefields between Christian armies and the Ottoman Empire.

Many commentators have missed another recent tendency in Turkey's approach to the Middle East, in particular. In a study by Steven Merley, an expert on the European Muslim Brotherhood networks, he points out that since 2006, when the Muslim Brotherhood wanted to convene a major international conference, it has not gone to Qatar or Saudi Arabia, which would not have granted permission for such a meeting. Instead, Muslim Brotherhood conferences have convened in Turkey, and on a regular basis.

It was also in 2006 that Turkey hosted Hamas for the first time, and welcomed its Damascus-based Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal. More recently, in 2011, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, along with the rest of the Syrian opposition, has been meeting in the old favorite resort town of Israeli tourists, Anatalya. Even if the old regimes of the Middle East fall as a result of the Arab Spring, Turkey is well-placed for exerting influence among the parties that most are likely to replace them.

What is happening to Turkey may not be just explained by Islamism, but also by geopolitics. Prior to the French invasion of Egypt in 1799, the Middle East was dominated by two powers, the Ottoman Empire and the Persian (or Safavid) Empire. The West was not yet in control of the region. During the next two centuries, the Middle East was under mostly Anglo-French hegemony that was replaced by American power. Professor Bernard Lewis has remarked on occasion that the Middle East could return to its earlier state in which Turkey and Iran once again become the dominant powers. Today, if the U.S. is seen as losing influence in the region, Turkey may well be positioning itself to resume its earlier role.

Davutoglu has many reasons to escalate his conflict with Israel. There are those who might conjecture that it is a personal conflict, since his grandfather was an Ottoman soldier who fought the British in the Gaza Strip. A few years ago the prestigious American quarterly, Foreign Affairs, published an article entitled "Is Turkey Leaving the West?" Turkey is aware of these concerns. It has sought to blunt criticism by agreeing to the deployment of a NATO early-warning radar and offering its services to the West for helping prepare the groundwork for a post-Assad Syria. Some Western politicians have been satisfied by these Turkish moves. But many others are still concerned by Turkey's overall direction. For them what Erdogan and Davutoglu do with Israel is seen as a warning sign regarding the future direction of Turkish policy. Will Turkey return to being a pragmatic ally of the West that serves as a bridge to the Middle East or will it pursue a new radical course that increasingly draws it into conflict with the countries around it?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Palestinian envoy to U.S. 'disappointed' with J Street’s objection to UN bid

Head of the PLO General Mission to the U.S. says Palestinian leadership united on Palestinian statehood issue.

By Natasha Mozgovaya

Maen Rashid Areikat, head of the PLO General Mission to the U.S., told "Haaretz" he is "disappointed" by J Street objection to the Palestinian UN bid, but added he understands their concerns. I am disappointed, because we thought J Street was going to be a different U.S. Jewish organization and play a different role, take a more courageous position, and understand why we are going to the UN, but I understand their reasons. It's obvious they wanted to issue a balanced paper. They also mentioned that they want to see the negotiations resumed, that they want to see the two-state solution. Their position on the UN Security Council resolution on settlements backfired, they were heavily criticized for it. They are in a delicate position and are trying to strike a balanced approach. But having said that, we were accustomed to J Street taking bold positions, that's what differentiated them from other Jewish groups in this country that blindly support Israeli position - they've been objective and reasonable. And they always understood the conflict and looked at it from both angles, urging both sides to work for the conflict solution. I still believe they are an important group, that they have a role to play and they can impact the thinking of the American Jewish community and the general public in this country".

Comment: translation: we thought J-Street would agree with everything we, the enemy of Israel wanted. So, we will now make them feel sorry for themselves that they have let us down, they will respond to our side because they are PC to begin with-it is a long war, not just one battle.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

"More on Campus Anti-Semitism"

Arlene Kushner

My post yesterday elicited quite a response, and I'm glad for this.

This situation on US campuses, which in many places is horrendous, must be considered simply unacceptable by all of us. This means keeping on top of what's going on and becoming activist in the interest of changing the situation. This is one of those times, folks, when numbers matter and it is possible to make a difference.


Reader Doris M. has called my attention to the work of Dee Sterling, and I share here Sterling's website, (ha-emet = the truth). Please take a look at it. It focuses in some good measure on the Olive Tree Initiative (OTI), which I mentioned in passing yesterday. OTI sponsors trips by Jewish American students to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, where they are exposed to a seriously biased perspective with regard to Israel. A prime funder of this initiative is the Jewish Federation of Orange County (CA). Other supporters include Hillel and the University of CA. This site offers ways to combat this support of OTI.

Dee is to be congratulated for her efforts, which seem to me just that: sterling.


Jerry Gordon, senior editor of New English Review, has today written a piece, "Grassroots revolt against Jewish federations' support of Israel's enemies," which has been called to my attention by Adam T.

Gordon touches on two related topics, among others, that I have already written about. He says that:

"In Orange County, local activists have mined state public records and, in the process, unearthed details of how the local Federation funded more than $60,000 in grants to U.C.-Irvine for student trips to meet with Hamas representatives on the West Bank." That's OTI he's talking about, and some of this information is on the Ha-Emet site. The more we know, the uglier it gets.


But before even getting to this, he talks about ADL and Abe Foxman. That's the guy who said there's no anti-Semitism on campuses. When I reported on this, I commented that given Foxman's recent history, his position was not surprising. Gordon takes a look at that recent history.

On August 10, Foxman placed a piece on the ADL website called "Shut Down the Sharia Myth Makers." In it, he says that:

"The threat of the infiltration of Sharia, or Islamic law, into the American court system is one of the more pernicious conspiracy theories to gain traction in our country in recent years...

"We stand at a crossroads in American society. We have the option of heading down a path toward a greater tolerance of anti-Muslim xenophobia and fear of the 'stranger in our midst,' or we can rededicate ourselves to the ideal of an America that is open and welcoming to immigrants as well as minority groups who have been here for decades. Let us hope that the better nature of America will enable us to proceed down the second path and reject those who seek to divide us for political gain, or those who wish to stereotype and scapegoat an entire people because of their religious faith."

Oi vey.

Reports Gordon:

Within a few weeks, the Foxman op-ed...had been, in lockstep fashion, printed in more than two dozen Jewish weeklies subsidized by Jewish Federation charity organizations ranging from North Jersey’s Jewish Standard to Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent to Wisconsin’s Jewish Chronicle to Los Angeles’s Jewish Journal.

See Gordon's full piece:

As far as Foxman is concerned, how about this: He should be fired and his very considerable salary utilized for pro-Israel efforts on UC campuses. (My suggestion only, but not a bad one, I think.)


Lastly for today, Shurat Ha-Din, the Israel Law Center, sent out this morning letters to university presidents in the US warning them that they have legal obligations to prevent anti-Semitism on their campuses, and to prevent university funds from being diverted to unlawful activities directed against the State of Israel. The bottom line is that the universities "may be liable for massive damages."

This campaign is being carried out because of "an alarming number of incidents of harassment and hate crimes against Jewish and Israeli students on US college campuses."

The letter alludes to a recent Supreme Court ruling in Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project that holds that it is illegal to provide any support to a terrorist organization -- even if that support appears to be relatively benign. Last year, for example, says Shurat Ha-Din, at Rutgers University, Students United for Middle East Justice applied for allocations from a student-run committee for an event in support of an organization that was trying to buy a ship to run Israel's Gaza blockade. Seems the group is monitoring campus activities carefully.


Read about Shurat Ha-Din's efforts here:

See the full warning letter here:

And the list of schools the letter was sent to here:

Shurat Ha-Din, you may remember, successfully used a legal approach to take the wind out of the sails of the second flotilla.

Law Center director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Kenneth Leitner, director of American Affairs, are top-notch and tireless attorneys doing an incredible job.


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

Palmer vs Goldstone: lessons learned


Criticism of Israel is usually foregone conclusion of any UN commission, particularly when human rights, humanitarian issues are involved.

The blog “Lawfare” began its posting on the Palmer Report – entitled “The UN vindicates Israel” – by stating that the title was neither satire nor an April 1st joke. This tongue-in-cheek reference is indicative of the low expectations of objectivity in any UN report concerning Israel.

Criticism of Israel is usually the foregone conclusion of any UN commission, particularly when human rights or humanitarian issues are involved.

However, the recent Palmer Commission report deserves special notice. It investigated events surrounding the deaths of self-styled “peace activists” who were attempting to run an Israeli naval blockade on Gaza in May 2010.

Compared to previous reports, it was evenhanded to an almost unprecedented degree. The Commission concluded that the Israeli blockade of Gaza was legal, although it criticized Israel for what it said was disproportionate use of force against the members of the IHH organization who attacked the Israeli commandos boarding the ships. This was a striking contrast to the notoriously one-sided, UN-commissioned Goldstone Report, which even Judge Richard Goldstone, its author, recently repudiated. Several factors appear to explain the contrast between the Palmer and Goldstone reports.

The first factor is that different UN bodies were behind the two reports. The Goldstone “fact finding” commission arose out of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which has 47 member states, including China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and, until recently, Libya and even Iran. The UNHRC has Israel as the only country on its permanent agenda and consistently singles out Israel for condemnations.

The record shows that activities involving the UNHRC are invariably biased.

In sharp contrast, the Palmer Commission was formed under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, reporting directly to him, and not to the UNHRC, where staff and a majority of countries hostile to Israel were unable to control the events.

This structural difference meant that the two commissions had very different mandates. Goldstone’s mandate from the UNHRC was to “investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power, Israel....” The mandate was so biased that both Mary Robinson (a former UN rights commissioner and harsh critic of Israel), and former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari refused to head the commission. Goldstone also initially refused, but agreed after claiming to have expanded the mandate to include human rights violations by all parties to the conflict. The broader mandate never received formal authorization from the HRC, in part explaining Israel’s decision not to cooperate with Goldstone.

The Palmer Commission’s mandate, however, was straightforward and honest – to “examine and identify the facts, circumstances and context of the incident; and consider and recommend ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future.” This mandate encouraged Israeli participation.

Another factor is the difference in the makeups of the two commissions. Sir Geoffrey Palmer is a former Prime Minister of New Zealand, with no history of bias on either side. Similarly, former President Alvaro Uribe from Colombia assumed this task without a prejudicial record. The commission also included representatives from both Turkey and Israel, which further insured cooperation.

By contrast, the bias of the Goldstone Commission was obvious from the beginning. Prior to joining the commission, three members signed an Amnesty International petition calling for Israel to be investigated for possible war crimes.

The fourth (Christine Chinkin) went further and signed a public letter alleging Israel had acted “contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law.”

Goldstone later acknowledged that “If it had been a judicial inquiry, that letter she’d signed would have been a ground for disqualification.”

Finally and most importantly, the methodology and sources which the two commissions relied upon were entirely different. The Palmer report, as per its mandate, was based mainly on reports submitted by the governments of Israel and Turkey. As a result, the analysis was informed by numerous details and a credible summary of the events. Where the Palmer Commission could not fully reconcile or verify the submissions, they modestly acknowledged this fact.

The Goldstone Report however, relied heavily on submissions from highly politicized, mainly pro-Palestinian NGOs. The claims and so-called eyewitness testimony, quoting Palestinians whose allegations could not be verified, resulted in highly dubious conclusions. Highly distorted NGO analyses of international law were also reflected in the controversial interpretations of law in the Goldstone report. The weight given to such suspect sources is evidenced by over 500 references to NGOs in Goldstone’s publication, while Palmer cited NGOs in three places, without accepting their claims.

Overall, the structure of the Palmer Commission and its report, while not perfect, is a major improvement over Goldstone and the UNHRC’s kangaroo courts. In the future, human rights fact finding, whether on Israel or on other countries and conflicts, should build on Palmer’s solid foundation.

The writer teaches political science at Bar Ilan University and heads NGO Monitor; Gidon Shaviv is an Israel Research Fellow.

"Anti-Semitism on US Campuses"

Arlene Kushner

Days go by, and life intervenes, but here I am at my computer and prepared to write.

Please follow this posting to the end for a link to a video on this issue, and information on how you can be involved.


On Monday, I attended a presentation at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin on anti-Semitism on the campuses of the University of California.

Rossman-Benjamin, who lectures in the Jewish studies department at the Santa Cruz campus of the university, focused on such UC campuses as Santa Cruz, Berkeley, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Irvine. But her words apply in at least some measure to a host of other N. American universities, as well. "Anti-Semitism," as it is referred to here, appears in the guise of anti-Zionism. This is the new anti-Semitism: A double standard is applied to Israel; comparisons are made between Israel and the Nazis; claims are made that the Holocaust is invented or exaggerated.

While many of us are broadly familiar with the problem, the details, as provided by Rossman-Benjamin, are bone-chilling. Her report makes you want to shake your head in incredulity and ask, THIS is happening in America? Sadly, alarmingly, the answer is, yes.

Muslim groups supported by ethnic minority groups on the campuses speak about Israeli "crimes against humanity;" promote BDS campaigns; publicly display bloodied Israeli flags; call for the destruction of Israel; sponsor hostile films and lectures; and engage in harassment of Jewish students (interrupting Jewish programs, following Jewish students to their cars, etc).

The primary Muslim groups involved are Muslim Student Association, which had Brotherhood links at its inception and has come out in support of Hamas and Hezbollah, and SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine). They are officially university student organizations. There are documented instances of members of these groups involved in intimidation of and physical encounters with Jewish students and faculty. (See a report from Steve Emerson on this: )


What must be understood, however, is that sometimes faculty is also complicit. Anti-Israel conferences are sponsored by academic departments within the university, anti-Israel books are assigned in some classes. Some lectures are blatantly anti-Israel and refer to such things as "The Holocaust in the Holy Land."

As one academic put it, what is being encountered is "propaganda spun to look like academic research."

Implications of this academic influence are considerable, as graduates of these classes enter the business and government worlds.


Anti-Israel faculty claims protection under the aegis of academic freedom. But academic freedom does not sanction lies and misrepresentations posing as scholarly research.

If all of this is alarming, I find at one level nothing more reprehensible than the fact that some of the faculty members participating in the attacks on Israel are Jews. No reason for surprise here: we see leftist Jews taking inherently anti-Jewish and anti-Israel positions in many contexts. But it is no less shameful for it.

There is, for example, Santa Barbara campus professor William Robinson, who sent out an e-mail to his students with a lengthy series of pictures comparing Nazis to Israelis: a picture of Gaza and a picture of a concentration camp juxtaposed, etc.

Some of the Jews taking these positions actually are members of Jewish studies departments.

While it is not uncommon to think of such persons as self-hating, there is reason to believe that in this situation they are, rather, self-aggrandizing. Their position is actually better accepted in the left wing climate of California than staunch defense of Israel's rights would be. These anti-Zionist faculty members benefit from speaking engagements and enhancement of their professional careers. Professor Gerald Steinberg, head of NGO-Monitor, who was at the presentation, talks about some individuals who receive funds from Europe.


The effects of this anti-Semitic activity are two-fold, although the two cannot be entirely separated.

On the one hand, there is delegitimization of Israel, with tens of thousands of students affected by the propaganda being presented in the guise of academic perspective. It is now considered academically legitimate to discuss Israel's right to exist, although no other nation is discussed in these terms.

Secondly, the creation of a hostile environment for Jewish students on the campuses renders them less able to effectively defend Israel. Pro-Israel Jewish students not only feel intimidated, but fear that the climate will ultimately generate violence. They are also convinced that the university administration functions in an unfair manner: they don't feel that they have official support.


Action to combat what is going on takes several forms. Pro-Israel students, faculty and concerned citizens are working to counter the delegitimization. Speakers are brought onto the campuses, information is distributed, etc.

The battle against anti-Israel faculty is also being undertaken, but is difficult. Efforts are underway to raise the awareness of administrators and academic faculties with regard to abuses of academic freedom. However, the administration is not always willing to enforce the university's own rules, and faculties are not always willing to apply standards of scholarship.


Rossman-Benjamin, who is to be congratulated for her efforts in this regard, has decided to take on the issue of the protection of Jewish students on the campuses of UC.

This is, in some part, a legal battle, with regard to federal law under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Federally funded educational institutions must be free of bias with regard to race, color or national origin, but religion was not originally included and Jews were without this legal protection.

After a protracted struggle with regard to this matter -- with a decision made to grant protection to Jews under Title VI in 2004, and then subsequently withdrawn again -- the federal Office of Civil Right in October 2010 ruled that Jews were entitled to legal protection.

The ZOA was involved in this matter, having filed an appeal at one point, as is Rossman-Benjamin, who filed a complaint that OCR has agreed to hear. In the run-up to the OCR decision, 13 Jewish organizations urged the Secretary of Education to include Jewish students in federal protection under civil rights law, Several Congressmen have followed suit, and additionally have introduced legislation on the matter that is currently pending.


In the course of a campaign to mobilize Jewish organizations on the issue, 12 groups agreed to send a letter to UC President Mark Yudof, recommending that clear guidelines be established. Yudof ignored the recommendation.

Additional attempts are being made to rally Jewish organizations to support the Jewish students on the campuses -- the goal is to get these groups to put aside divisive issues and present a united front, recognizing that attacks against the Jewish state are attacks against the identity of Jewish students.

There have been some positive responses. A courageous student group called Tikva, for example, works on the campuses.

But to some not inconsiderable measure this effort has been problematic.

Both ADL and the American Jewish Committee refused to sign the letter to Yudof. ADL's Abe Foxman says there is no anti-Semitism on CA campuses (which, I will observe, given his recent history, is no surprise). Kenneth Stern, who is associated with AJC, signed on to a letter charging that federal law is being misused for political purposes to prevent legitimate criticism of Israel -- which AJC Executive Director David Harris disavowed. The Orange County Federation supports the biased Olive Tree Initiative.

All of this, which is shameful and painful, marks the organized Jewish community as divided and easy to dismiss.


Rossman-Benjamin has been instrumental in establishing an Investigative Taskforce on Campus Anti-Semitism, which will be investigating and documenting incidents across the country, and making recommendations -- especially with regard to behavior on campuses that defies university policies and federal law. This is planned as an initiative with teeth.


Most significantly, Rossman-Benjamin has established the Amcha Initiative, which is seeking to rally Jews at a grassroots level across the country to come out for the safety of Jewish students on campuses. People are being asked to sign on to a letter that will be presented to Yudof.

The Initiative website can be found at . Please visit the site to see a video on the problem and learn more about the initiative.


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

see my website

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Jerusalem Schools Refuse to Teach Israeli Revised Textbooks

JERUSALEM, September 7, 2011 (WAFA) – Principals and teachers of occupied East Jerusalem schools Wednesday refused to teach Palestinian textbooks that have been revised and altered by the Israeli Ministry of Education, according to a Palestinian official.

Samir Jibril, a Palestinian Authority official in charge of Jerusalem education, said that 90% of the Palestinian students in Jerusalem bought the Palestinian version of the textbooks, which will be copied and distributed among the rest of the students. He said that every Palestinian school must only teach the Palestinian version of 2011 curricula textbooks that are produced by the Palestinian Ministry of Education.

He described the Israeli measure as “provocative,” accusing Israel to attempting to distort historical facts and misinform students about the Palestinian identity and history.

Ahmad Rweidi, in charge of the Jerusalem file in President Mahmoud Abbas’ office, considered the Israeli decision as “illegal because Jerusalem is an occupied city.”

The Israeli government revised Palestinian textbooks and removed poems by Palestinian poet Haroun Hashim Rashid, terminology relating to the Palestinian Intifada and any reference of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

It also replaced information in the Islamic religion and Arabic history books by introducing what officials have described as false information about the history of Jews in Jerusalem.


Will blogger Silverstein face criminal charges?

Yisrael Medad

Has anti-Zionist progressive blogger Richard Silverstein admitted to possible criminal behavior? Will he be now prosecuted?

According to this New Tork Times story on Shamai Leibowitz, - and on Shamai, read this - it might seem that Richard Silverstein was indeed complicit in criminal behavior. Was he “Recipient A”? Should he have been prosecuted? Should he now be prosecuted?

From the NYTimes report:

When Shamai K. Leibowitz, an F.B.I. translator, was sentenced to 20 months in prison last year for leaking classified information to a blogger, prosecutors revealed little about the case. They identified the blogger in court papers only as “Recipient A.” Mr. Leibowitz, a contract Hebrew translator, passed on secret transcripts of conversations caught on F.B.I. wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington...according to the blogger, Richard Silverstein...Mr. Silverstein offered a rare glimpse of American spying on a close ally. He said he had burned the secret documents in his Seattle backyard after Mr. Leibowitz came under investigation in mid-2009, but he recalled that there were about 200 pages of verbatim records of telephone calls and what seemed to be embassy conversations.

...Mr. Silverstein, 59, writes a blog called Tikun Olam, named after a Hebrew phrase that he said means “repairing the world.” The blog gives a liberal perspective on Israel and Israeli-American relations. He said he had decided to speak out to make clear that Mr. Leibowitz, though charged under the Espionage Act, was acting out of noble motives...Mr. Silverstein said he got to know Mr. Leibowitz, a lawyer with a history of political activism...“I see him as an American patriot and a whistle-blower, and I’d like his actions to be seen in that context,” Mr. Silverstein said...Mr. Silverstein took the blog posts he had written based on Mr. Leibowitz’s material off his site after the criminal investigation two years ago. But he was able to retrieve three posts from April 2009 from his computer and provided them to The New York Times.

The blog posts make no reference to eavesdropping, but describe information from “a confidential source,” wording Mr. Silverstein said was his attempt to disguise the material’s origin...

So, Silverstein, to my reading, who has a problematic public posture, and has been embroiled in blogosphere contrtemps and who has blocked me from his site, admits, one could think, to being a chief participant in the events that sent Leibowitz to prison. He seems to be, upon his own confession, the recipient of and still the possessor of classified US intelligence information. He is, it appears, the previously unnamed “blogger.”

Silverstein claims to have burned the transcripts when Leibowitz came under investigation. Is that a fair case to be prosecuted for obstruction of justice?

Is Silverstein's claims that Leibowitz’s motives were pure and good, because they were to hurt Israel rather than hurt the United States, a defense against prosecution and eventual conviction?

They didn't help Leibowitz. Why then should they assist Silverstein?

Will the US Attorney-General or another federal prosecutor now initiate criminal proceedings against Silverstein?

And if not, why?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

For God Goes with You to War

Ari Bussel

“When you go forth to battle against your enemies, and you see a horse and a chariot, a people much more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord, your God, is with you, He who brought you from the Land of Egypt.

“And as you get near to the war, the priest will approach and talk to the people. And he shall say to them: Hear O, Israel, you are getting near today to war upon your enemies. Your heart should not soften. Do not worry and do not hasten and do not affright from them.

“BECAUSE THE LORD YOUR GOD IS HE WHO WALKS WITH YOU. TO FIGHT FOR YOU WITH YOUR ENEMIES, TO SAVE YOU.” Deuteronomy 20:1-4 Israelis are a strange bunch. At the moment, they seem confused, bewildered, otherwise smartly occupied.

It was before the land incursion into Gaza, that Rabbis and Commanders talked with the soldiers who were about to enter into the Devil’s Inferno. They would risk their lives, and fourteen of them would die. Why? Simply, because the Israeli military protects the lives of the innocent, even at great risk to its own soldiers.

Many would contest the presumption of “innocence” of the Gazans. For them, one simple answer was and is given: A person is a human being, created in the image of the Almighty, and Israel, despite all the blood libels, and unlike any of her enemies, holds the sanctity of life above all else.

Crazy those Israelis.

Indeed, there were many investigations. Most were prompted by lies propagated by Jews and Israelis, haters of Israel. They cannot fathom the very existence of the Jewish state, so they called what happened in Gaza, from the comforts of their homes at the center of the country, a “Blood Bath.” Interestingly, while they may have been the most vocal opponents of Israel, there are the silent voices of the Gazans, who in their hearts knew and know to give thanks that their sworn enemy is neither Muslim nor Arab but the Jewish People. Anyone else, especially Arabs or Iranians, would have butchered them in an instant. Not so the Israelis.

The Israelis called their cell phones and monitored their positions. They knew that Hamas controls their every move and purposely inhabited every kindergarten, school, hospital and mosque throughout Gaza. Those damn Israelis, those pigs and apes that have infested the holy land of the Muslims, they fired warning shots and directed the civilians to clear areas, where they would not be hurt. They did everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.

Indeed, so many maligned Israel, the “Goliath” who with phosphorus bombs inflicted horrors on the population, that we started believing all the wrongdoings and did not stop for a second to think if reality can even be reconciled with the accusations. The truth is drastically different, for any army that did not care about human life, and every army that was determined to end a conflict without risk to its own, would have finished the job in a matter of hours, or even in minutes. Not so the Israelis.

The Gazans know that fact well. The Israeli soldiers know that. But there are those vocal “Peace Activists,” enemies of Israel in disguise, who want us to believe otherwise.

If I did not witness it for myself, I too would have laughed out loud in utter disbelief. There were voices in Israel who criticized Rabbis and Commanders for strengthening their soldiers and preaching the right of way. Why would some Israelis have an issue with going to war prepared? Fret not, for all is done to undermine Israel’s own conviction that its fight is right, that her way is moral. But these voices could not succeed for not only is there nothing to be ashamed of when the war is just, but it is also a necessary condition.

Israel has suffered greatly from Gazans’ firing at will into her cities and population centers. She suffered long, all too long. No other country would tolerate rockets and missiles fired from across the border, but Israel for some odd reason remained quiet for eight long years.

The reason is likely that those living farther away in Tel Aviv, the pretty-ultra-liberal-most-progressive-souls, did not feel the wrath of living under constant, unpredictable bombardment. They continued their lives while those in the south, predominantly from weaker economic segments of society, had no other place to go than their homes, so they stayed and did their best to cope.

Those in Tel Aviv and their media-savvy friends knitted a net of lies and deceit that sounded too good: The “Plight” of the “Palestinians,” the “Apartheid Rule” of Israel, give peace a chance. It is thus not a great surprise that many of their children avoided services, although it is mandatory. It is not at all amazing that most of their children did not visit Jerusalem even once, and one wonders how Israelis today can “give up so easily on Jerusalem.” Give up? Why, when you do not view something as yours. Protect? Not when it happens so far away, in a different land, and you sit at a café or have just returned from the beach in Tel Aviv.

However, Israel is tiny, and what happens in the very north, not far away from the border where Katyusha rockets fall, has a tendency to advance toward the center. In the summer of 2006 the advancement stopped at Haifa, or a little bit further south.

Likewise, what happened across the border with Gaza spread to cover all cities in southern Israel.

From Lebanon in the North and Gaza in the South, the totality of Israel is now in range of very accurate and highly destructive missiles.

So between Hezbollah and Hamas, their unwavering determination to destroy the Jewish state and the new missiles and training they both received from Iran, there is not a single part of Israel that is now a safe haven for fools.

And this is exactly the miracle that is Israel. Israelis may have ignored for too long the plight of those in the north or those in the south, but there is no difference whatsoever between one Israeli and another. Allow me to make this point even stronger: THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ONE ISRAELI OR ANOTHER, EVEN IF THE OTHER IS NOT JEWISH. There you go. This is exactly what our Torah – the Jewish Bible – teaches us, that those foreign to us, the widowed and the orphaned are to be treated equally. So we are commanded, so it is expected. And we are reminded, lest we forget, “for slaves you have been in Egypt.” We, too, have been foreigners in a foreign land once, a land not ours, a land to which we are not to return.

There is something unique about the Jewish State in the Land of Israel. It is the only Jewish country in the world, the only place a Jewish person can, by right, call home. And thus, even if one mistakenly hears or thinks that we have lost our way, we have not. Our conviction is as deep as our history is old. Attempt to take it away, and you will find the lion roaring beneath.

It is only a question of the lion needing awakening, exactly like the people going to war need to be reminded by the priest, encouraged by our history and focus their attention on the fact that we fight in order to exist, and we exist in order to do good. The Almighty, Lord of Hosts, our God, will deal with the enemy, for the enemy is vile, vicious and evil—the enemy is the Enemy of God.

We, Israelis and Jews who seem so divided and lost, will emerge victorious once we realize we are one. We knew it all along, but we were otherwise distracted by chaos, noise and other temptations. Priests and Commanders are needed to direct us properly, to remind us of the path in which we must proceed.

May we live to see the end of chaos, a time when Jewish People reside in the Land of Israel and are allowed to live their lives in peace. May we be part of making that happen, and may we always protect all that has been given to us in trust for safekeeping and passage onto future generations.

The series “Postcards from America—Postcards from Israel” by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager is a compilation of articles capturing the essence of life in America and Israel during the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The writers invite readers to view and experience an Israel and her politics through their eyes, Israel visitors rarely discover and Israelis often ignore.

This point—and often—counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.

© “Postcards from America — Postcards from Israel,” September, 2011


Roger Cohen Plays Dumb

My Right Word

Iran apologist and all-around ASHamed Jew, Roger Cohen, tries to further isolate Israel.

He also seems to lack translation skills for he writes about the UN Palmer Report on the flotilla affair of last year, when Turkish terror-supporters attempted to kill Israeli soldiers who were engaged in a legal act, so:
My rough translation of its conclusion would be this message to Israel: You had the right to do it but what you did was way over the top and just plain dumb.

Cohen, roughage is something you really need to get rid of.

He never misses an opportunity to misinterpret anything to do with Israel.

He further asserts

Israel, increasingly isolated, should do just that. An apology is the right course and the smart course. What’s good for Egypt — an apology over lost lives — is good for Turkey, too.

Mr. Cohen, by the way, when has Turkey apologized for the Armenian Massacre? Wasn't that just a bit heavy-handed and disproportionate?

Comment: Of course these kind of people never answer the obvious questions as they have no defense and know it to be so. This simply discredits them as having any journalistic integrity.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Turkey doesn't deserve an apology

Eli Avidar

Long before the Palmer report was released, initial leaks made it clear why Turkey was demanding an apology from Israel and trying to forestall the report's publication. Even then, everyone understood that the Palmer report's committee had unequivocally accepted Israel's position that the naval blockade of Gaza is legal. The report even established that Turkey had done too little to stop extremists aboard the Mavi Marmara from setting sail in the first place. Turkey understood that once the report was published they would have no chance of squeezing an apology out of Israel, so instead they launched a diplomatic offensive. Israel commendably withstood the pressure. There was nothing to apologize for. Turkey should be satisfied with the fact that the U.N. Palmer Commission gave their country a pass by disregarding its government's relationship with the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, as well as that organization's role in the election of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Still, the bottom line is obvious. Despite some criticism of IDF conduct, the report takes Israel's side. It's difficult to describe how humiliating this is for Ankara. For the past few months, Turkey has been proclaiming in every international forum that Israel violated international law. In light of this comeuppance, it is no surprise that Erdogan chose to declare our ambassador in Ankara a persona non grata.

Some have proposed that despite the fact that Israel's position was justified, it would have been better to end the crisis with an apology, if only for the sake of broader geopolitical considerations. This would have constituted a grave mistake. No apology would have ended the crisis. Turkey demanded that we lift our blockade on Gaza, a step that would have earned Erdogan the status of Leader of the Arab World. This would have come at the expense of Israel's citizens, who would have then found themselves under an even greater threat of missile and terror attacks. The analysts who continually harped about Israel's need to ingratiate itself with Turkey are the very same people who helped Turkey paint itself into a corner.

The best way to improve relations with Turkey, using language that Middle Easterners understand, is to exact a heavy diplomatic price. Israel must attack the portion of the Palmer report that downplays Turkey's responsibility in the flotilla crisis, as well as make it clear to the world that Erdogan's government has a negative influence on the Middle East. We must make it clear that Turkey is not a stabilizing force in the region or part of the solution. Rather, it is a provocateur that undermines stability.

Expelling the Israeli ambassador from Ankara is a move that will likely hurt Turkey in the end. Erdogan could learn a lesson from Oman and Morocco, both nations that hosted international conferences and leaders from all over the world in the 1990's, but disappeared from the diplomatic map after severing ties with Israel in 2000. Likewise, Turkey is a former key player that has been taken over by radical, irresponsible ideology. Not only has Turkey failed in its efforts to join the European Union, but its latest steps are pushing it further away from moderate Muslim states and closer to extremists like Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. The deterioration of its relations with Israel is tantamount to a public confession that this is, in fact, the case.

In Ankara's view, no counterweight currently exists in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and certainly not in the Gulf states. The rejuvenated Arab world views Erdogan as an impulsive leader in the cast of Moammar Gadhafi. The loss of its alliance with Syria and the latter's weakening are liable to cause the long-forgotten Kurds to rise up and force Turkey to deal with its internal problems before it can continue to sow chaos internationally.

Israel must shift from a policy of absorbing blows to taking the diplomatic offensive. While the most natural thing for Israelis to do is wait out the storm, in the Middle East, diplomacy doesn't work that way. Relations with Turkey will improve only once Israel realizes that the current crisis is exacting too high an international price and condemning it to isolation and irrelevance in the region.

The Palmer report has shed light on the extremism and isolation Erdogan has brought to Turkey. Only continued diplomatic pressure will propel Ankara to change direction and, in the long run, restore its former friendly relations with Israel.

Eli Avidar is currently the managing director of the Israel Diamond Institute Group and a former official in the Foreign Ministry.

The Arab Conquest -- Massacre, Enslavement, Population Transfer, and the like

Emet m'Tsiyon

Descriptions written nowadays of the Arab/Muslim conquest of the Fertile Crescent lands [633-642] often paint a benign, mild picture of the conquest, which supposedly did not cause major inconvenience or disruption in the daily lives of the inhabitants and made few changes. Even a respected historian like Bernard Lewis leaned towards this edulcorated or embellished view in his The Arabs in History. Carl Brockelmann, the German, does likewise, writing: Emperor Heraclius [of the Byzantine Empire]. . . In 632. . . installed Cyrus . . . both as patriarch of Alexandria and head of the civil administration at the same time. His ecclesiastical policy and his tax demands weighed so heavily on the Copts that they necessarily greeted the Arabs as emancipators, just as their Syrian fellow [monophysite] believers had done. . . In return for the promise of a fixed payment of tribute [jizyah] the Muslims bound themselves to leave the Christians in possession of their churches and not to interfere in the administration of their communal affairs. . . [C Brockelmann, History of the Islamic Peoples (New York: Capricorn 1960), pp 56-57]

In Egypt, as in the other provinces, the Muslims took over the substance of their predecessors' administrative system; they even left all their functionaries at their posts, which were generally administered by Copts later also. [This seems generous, but the Arabs, nearly all of them illiterate, were not fit for administration] [p 57]
. . . `Umar dispatched Khalid ibn-Thabit to conquer Jerusalem, which soon surrendered; `Umar himself approved the rather mild terms [p 55]
The cities and rural areas which had submitted to the Muslims without a struggle retained their freedom and their property. . . Localities which had had to be taken by force of arms fell to the victors as booty [p 61]

Brockelmann rightly points out that Muslims placed the conquered cities in two classes, those that had surrendered and those taken by force. However, despite what Brockelmann says, even those who surrendered might be dispossessed, as we shall see below.

In short, there is a common tendency to whitewash the Arab conquest. These mild portrayals of the Arab Conquest often serve the policy needs of 21st century empires, just as today's "neo-colonialism theory" and anti-Zionism often serve those same interests.

The edulcoration notwithstanding, documents from the early period of Arab rule often depict a brutal murderous conquest. Now, Milka Levy-Rubin, an Israeli historian has thoroughly examined Arabic and non-Arabic sources, as well as archeological findings, to show that whereas in some places --typically inland and hilly areas-- the conquest was relatively rather mild, along the coastal plain of the Levant, from Ashqelon to Antioch, there were population transfers, enslavement and massacres of recalcitrant cities and towns, flight by masses of inhabitants, especially Christians, but others as well, induced emigration of non-Arabs soon after the conquest, the takeover by Muslims of homes abandoned by the refugees, who had often hoped to return if the Byzantine Empire had succeeded in retaking their cities, confiscation of homes for the sake of Arab warriors, new populations replacing the old ones, etc. She cites one case where Jews were brought in to replace Christians. One can imagine that these Jews had also been forcibly uprooted from their homes and brought to a coastal city for the conquerors' purposes.

Levy-Rubin makes clear that the reason why inland areas suffered less change in their daily lives and less oppression is that the conquerors feared that if the Christian population --Greek and Aramaic-speaking-- stayed in place in the coastal cities and towns, they might aid a future Byzantine attempt at reconquest. The Jews on the other hand could be trusted more by the Arabs since they had their own resentments of Byzantine anti-Jewish policy. Nevertheless, Jews too suffered from the conquest as in this Syriac account which depicts Jews being massacred along with Samaritans and Christians east of Gaza. Levy-Rubin writes that even after conquest of a town or city had been completed, the conquerors might try to induce the native population to leave. This policy succeeded in several places and in some places freed up the homes formerly housing the departed natives for Arab settlement. We know that many Jewish homes in Tiberias --for example-- were taken over by Arab settlers, although it is not certain that the Jews had left before their homes were taken over.

Here are some passages quoted from Milka Levy-Rubin's article. It represents important, thorough research:

We learn from the words of al-Baladhdhuri [Muslim historian writing in Arabic, died ca. 892] that the northern coastal strip was mostly evacuated of its inhabitants. . . Among the cities of which many of the inhabitants left, he counted. . . Gabala [not to be confused with Gbal = Byblos], Antarados (Tartus), Trablus (Tripolis), Beirut (Berytos), Tyros (Tyre, Sour [= Tsor]), Sidon. [M Levy-Rubin, "The [Arab] Conquest as a Shaper of the Map of Settlement in the Land of Israel in the Early Muslim Period," Cathedra (September 2006; Jerusalem, Yad Ben-Zvi, in Hebrew), p 56]

Meanwhile, Antioch [Antiochia, Antakiya] and Laodicea [Latakiya],

were partially abandoned [p 56]


Caesarea was conquered by the sword [that is, it did not surrender] and its inhabitants were taken captive [and sold as slaves], and it seems that `Akko and Ashqelon too were mostly evacuated of their Christian inhabitants in the end. At the end of the process, the coastal strip was emptied of the overwhelming majority of its previous inhabitants, and the latter were replaced by a new population. [p 56]

What can we learn about the way in which the Christian population was evacuated from the coastal cities? At which stage of the conquest and in which way was it evacuated? . . . In many cases, the city was conquered first and only afterwards abandoned by its inhabitants. [p57]

Milka Levy-Rubin continues her article with details illustrating what happened in particular cities. We will return to her picture of events which vitiates much of Brockelmann's mild depiction, and the claims of other embellishers and edulcorators as well. And her main source is al-Baladhdhuri, a Muslim historian.

At a time, when charlatans like the late Edward Said have demanded adherence to an embellished picture of Arab and Islamic culture in the name of "leftist" political correctness --in the name of "anti-imperialism," God save us-- yet often serving the contemporary policies of empires, the ugly truth is a necessary corrective.
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NYT op-ed defends Sharia in America without ever addressing its contents

Jihad Watch

As is often the case, we hear what Sharia supposedly isn't. We don't hear about what it is. This editorial depends entirely on an analogy of Sharia to Jewish laws, without ever addressing a single tenet of the former system of laws. The author doesn't even take the usual time to dismiss concerns about its specific contents, like a woman's testimony being half that of a man (Qur'an 2:282). Or the double standards in women's ability to get out of a marriage. The Qur'an's endorsement of wife-beating (4:34, which really does say to hit one's wife). The death penalty for apostasy. The subjugation of non-Muslims. The inability to propagate non-Islamic religions. And so on. Defenses of Sharia consistently avoid specifics, or deny the existence or importance of controversial rulings. They depend instead on platitudes and flawed analogies to other legal systems that do not share the unique combination of Sharia's abusive tenets, and supremacist and totalitarian impulses. The fact remains that wherever Sharia gains a foothold, it does not stop at "just a little," and its observable effects are consistently bad for tolerance and civil liberties, whether in Aceh or Tower Hamlets. Indeed, consider how swimmingly things have gone in Britain's experiment with Sharia.

That won't stop Islamic supremacists and their multiculturalist allies from wanting to try it here, of course. It will be "different" this time, they will argue, because America is "different." But one cannot casually invoke the rights, liberties, and values Sharia does not respect as the hope of reforming it -- so much less as Western societies are robbed of their ability to resist and even to criticize Sharia.

"Don’t Fear Islamic Law in America," by Eliyahu Stern for the New York Times, September 3:

More than a dozen American states are considering outlawing aspects of Shariah law. Some of these efforts would curtail Muslims from settling disputes over dietary laws and marriage through religious arbitration, while others would go even further in stigmatizing Islamic life: a bill recently passed by the Tennessee General Assembly equates Shariah with a set of rules that promote “the destruction of the national existence of the United States.”

Supporters of these bills contend that such measures are needed to protect the country against homegrown terrorism and safeguard its Judeo-Christian values. The Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has said that “Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.”

This is exactly wrong. The crusade against Shariah undermines American democracy, ignores our country’s successful history of religious tolerance and assimilation, and creates a dangerous divide between America and its fastest-growing religious minority.

The suggestion that Shariah threatens American security is disturbingly reminiscent of the accusation, in 19th-century Europe, that Jewish religious law was seditious. In 1807, Napoleon convened an assembly of rabbinic authorities to address the question of whether Jewish law prevented Jews from being loyal citizens of the republic. (They said that it did not.)

Fear that Jewish law bred disloyalty was not limited to political elites; leading European philosophers also entertained the idea. Kant argued that the particularistic nature of “Jewish legislation” made Jews “hostile to all other peoples.” And Hegel contended that Jewish dietary rules and other Mosaic laws barred Jews from identifying with their fellow Prussians and called into question their ability to be civil servants.

The German philosopher Bruno Bauer offered Jews a bargain: renounce Jewish law and be granted full legal rights. He insisted that, otherwise, laws prohibiting work on the Sabbath made it impossible for Jews to be true citizens. (Bauer conveniently ignored the fact that many fully observant Jews violated the Sabbath to fight in the Prussian wars against Napoleon.)

During that era, Christianity was seen as either a universally valid basis of the state or a faith that harmoniously coexisted with the secular law of the land. Conversely, Judaism was seen as a competing legal system — making Jews at best an unassimilable minority, at worst a fifth column. It was not until the late 19th century that all Jews were granted full citizenship in Western Europe (and even then it was short lived).

Most Americans today would be appalled if Muslims suffered from legally sanctioned discrimination as Jews once did in Europe. Still, there are signs that many Americans view Muslims in this country as disloyal. A recent Gallup poll found that only 56 percent of Protestants think that Muslims are loyal Americans.

This suspicion and mistrust is no doubt fueled by the notion that American Muslims are akin to certain extreme Muslim groups in the Middle East and in Europe. But American Muslims are a different story. They are natural candidates for assimilation. They are demographically the youngest religious group in America, and most of their parents don’t even come from the Middle East (the majority have roots in Southeast Asia). A recent Pew Research Center poll found that Muslim Americans exhibit the highest level of integration among major American religious groups, expressing greater degrees of tolerance toward people of other faiths than do Protestants, Catholics or Jews.

Given time, American Muslims, like all other religious minorities before them, will adjust their legal and theological traditions, if necessary, to accord with American values....

We're to accept a flawed, abusive system on the promise of a reform that could, would, should happen, but has not happened.


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Report: Hizbullah Establishes Cuba Base

Gavriel Queenann
Arutz 7

According to reports, Hizbullah is founding a Cuba-based terror cell to seek vengeance on Israel for the 2008 death of Imad Mughniyah.

Mughniyeh, a senior commander and head of Hizbullah's security section, was killed when a car bomb he was passing in the Kfar Suseh neighborhood in Damascus, Syria detonated. Hizbullah has long alleged Israel was behind the attack and has sworn it would avenge him.

To this end, Hizbullah has reportedly established a center of operations in Cuba, thereby expanding its foothold in the region while hoping to facilitate an attack on an Israeli target in South America, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported. According to the paper, three HIzbullah members have already arrived in Cuba with the purpose of establishing the terrorist cell. It is to include 23 operatives, hand-picked by Talal Hamia, a senior member tasked with heading the covert operation.

The operation, titled "The Caribbean Case," was reportedly allocated a budget of $1.5 million. The Cuba base is to be initially used for logistics purposes, including intelligence collection, networking and document forgery.

Hizbullah has been active in South America for quite some time, primarily in Paraguay, Brazil and Venezuela.

However, Israel is not the only nation that had reason to target Mugniyeh, who in intelligence circles is known to have been involved in the bombing of the US Marine Corps barracks and Embassy in 1983, dozens of kidnappings and murders of foreigners - as well as the 2001 Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Ares.

Prior to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States, Mugniyeh was considered the terrorist credited with having slain the most Americans (over 350) and topped the FBI Most Wanted Terrorist List with a USD 5 Million bounty.

The FBI maintained Mugniyeh was responsible for "all but eliminating the US military presence in Lebanon."