Saturday, January 28, 2012

Into The Fray: A study in impotence


Israel’s diplomatic reaction to recent charges that its water policy is racist exposes a preference for passivity over preemption.
The politics of water in the Middle East By Courtesy
Water reveals a new apartheid in the Middle East. The 450,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank use as much or more water than some 2.3 million Palestinians… even if only a few dare to use the word, all indications are that the Middle East is the scene of a new apartheid…. And in this situation, water is a particular element of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. – Excerpt from the French parliamentary report on “The Geopolitics of Water”

My most recent columns have been devoted to analyzing Israel’s public diplomacy, the reasons for its manifest ineptitude, and the mechanisms that produce this abysmal performance.

Last week, by coincidence, an illustrative example, underscoring precisely what I have been trying to convey, broke into the headlines.

It came in the form of a French parliamentary report on Israel’s water policy, authored by Jean Glavany, a Socialist member of the National Assembly, and accusing Israel of using water as an instrument of apartheid and oppression against the Palestinians. Responses, recriminations, repudiations
The report sent Israeli officialdom into a tizzy.

The media were peppered with responses, repudiations and recriminations. Foreign Ministry officials claimed to have been unaware of the document until several days after its posting on the National Assembly website.

One diplomatic source characterized the report as “a serious mishap that… has seriously damaged Israel’s image in France.” The embassy in Paris was accused of falling asleep on the job for not alerting the Israeli authorities of the impending publication and the malevolent nature of its contents.

Israel robustly repudiated the report. The Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned it – correctly – as “unacceptable,” “loaded with the language of vicious propaganda, far removed from any professional criticism” and tainted with “blatant tendentiousness.”

Moreover, according to official Israeli sources, some members of the working group involved in compiling the report disassociated themselves from its anti-Israel tenor.

However, the damage had already been done. Israel had – once again – been linked to the dreaded “A-word.”

Cyberspace was replete with websites seizing on the report as yet another affirmation of the odious nature of the Jewish state and its dastardly discrimination against the “other.”

Delusional derogatory drivel
Israel’s firm rebuttal of the report was factually correct and morally justified. This was a document that comes as close to unadulterated, uninformed drivel as the written word can get, with accusations as malicious as they were mendacious.

Its allegations range from the highly implausible to the totally impossible. For example, one of its more ludicrous allegations is that Israel’s security barrier – “the wall”– “prevents Palestinian access to the Jordan River.”

However – as the most cursory glance at any map will show – the “wall” is located along, or close to, the 1967 Green Line, so it cannot constitute an impediment of any kind to Palestinian access to the Jordan River.

The river has anyway been reduced to a highly polluted trickle south of the Kinneret.

As such, it has been insignificant as a water source for decades, and access to it – or lack thereof – is irrelevant to Palestinians’ hydrological situation. So contrary to the impression the report creates, it has no bearing on the quantity of water available to them.

Only marginally less absurd is the document’s supposition that avaricious hydrological calculations lay behind the construction of “the wall,” to ensure Israeli supplies and to prevent Palestinians from extracting water from sites in the adjacent “buffer” zone.

In fact, construction of the security barrier was undertaken solely in response to the horrific Palestinian terrorism that took place between 2000 and 2003. It seems that a few “minor” details eluded Monsieur Glavany’s memory when forming his opinion of the function of the security barrier and the events that lead to its construction – such as the Passover massacre at Park Hotel in Netanya, and the carnage at the Sbarro restaurant and the Moment Café (both in Jerusalem), the Dizengoff Center and the Dolphinarium (both in Tel Aviv), and at the Beit Lid and Meggido junctions, to name but a few.

Had it not been for Palestinian terrorism there would have been no barrier. To suggest otherwise is either ignominious or ignorant.

Passivity over preemption
Despite all this, the French hydro-report episode was indeed a diplomatic debacle for Israel, not because of what was done after its publication, but because of what was not done before it.

Once again, Israeli diplomacy was seen to be slamming the stable doors long after the horses had bolted, reacting to events rather than anticipating them. It was a classic illustration of what I described in last week’s column, of “Israeli [diplomatic] endeavors [being] reduced to defensive tactical responses, chasing events rather than preempting them, and doomed to failure.”

There is little room for excuses, particularly when it comes to the water issue.

For while it may not have been possible to predict publication of this particular report at this particular time, the appearance of some similar document from some source or other was a near certainty, which should have been foreseen and preempted.

Sense of déjà vu
The situation that has arisen in the wake of the Glavany report has an eerie sense of déjà vu about it. It was barely two years ago that a similar document was produced by Amnesty International, brandishing similarly baseless accusations berating Israel’s water policy as an instrument of apartheid.

The report immediately became a centerpiece of a US lecture tour by Omar Barghouti, arguably the most prominent leader of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. Flyers billing his talks splashed the title: “Thirsting for Justice: Israel’s control of water as a tool of apartheid and means of ethnic cleansing.”

The Israel diplomatic establishment had ample warning of Barghouti’s appearances.

Despite this, no action was taken on suggestions – including from this writer – to preempt his appearances with the massive distribution of factual material, refuting the cavalcade of distortions, falsehood, exaggerations, omissions and half-truths that comprised his talk.

Lessons unlearned
The lessons of the Amnesty/Barghouti episode remained unlearned.

Rather than adopt an offense strategic initiative to remove Israel’s water policy for the list of topics that can be used to denigrate the country, those charged with the conduct of its public diplomacy have opted for defensive tactical responses to hostile initiatives. Rather than launch an ongoing enterprise to set, a priori, the context in which later events are interpreted/perceived, they have opted to fend off individual accusations and condemnations, made in the inimical context prevailing today.

This is particularly exasperating in the case of water, which is one of the topics most amenable to mounting such an preemptive enterprise.

For while it is always possible to find heartrending anecdotal evidence involving highly localized incidents in which an elderly Palestinian may have been inappropriately treated, or in which the IDF damaged a cistern, these in no way reflect the intent or consequences of Israeli policy. This can only be fairly assessed by the overall impact that policy has had on the Palestinians’ water situation.

Here the facts are unequivocal. They should be used to quash any allegation of discriminatory deprivation, as part on an ongoing proactive initiative to inform opinion-makers, hydro-professionals and the general public, and to create a context in which any accusatory documents are likely to be dismissed with the contempt they richly deserve.

Facts, figures, fabrications
The Palestinians’ hydrological situation improved beyond all recognition under Israeli administration, not only in absolute terms compared to initial pre-“occupation” conditions, but in relative terms compared to that of Israelis.

Whether one focuses on overall consumption of fresh water; per capita consumption of fresh water; consumption of fresh water relative to Israelis; accessibility of running water to households; the area under agricultural cultivation; or the size of the agricultural product, the conditions for the Palestinians have been dramatically enhanced by Israeli rule.

Between 1967 and 2006, the overall annual consumption of fresh water by “West Bank” Palestinians grew by 300 percent, from 60 million cubic meters to 180 The annual per capita consumption in the same period rose by almost 15%, from 86 cubic meters to 100 cu.m.

Overall consumption by Israel dropped by 15% (from 1,411 to 1,211, while the per capita consumption plummeted by 70% (from 508 cu.m to 170 cu.m.), a remarkable decrease made possible not only by more efficient usage but also by massive replacement of fresh water by recycled sewage for irrigation, and of naturally occurring fresh water by desalinated water for domestic use.

By contrast, the Palestinians have steadfastly refused to undertake agreed-upon sewage purification projects, allowing untreated effluents to endanger “downstream” Israeli supplies.

Palestinian claims that it is Israel which has prevented the construction of recycling plants are preposterous. For what twisted logic could conceivably induce the fiendishly cunning Zionists to oppose the construction of installations that would protect their own water resources from Palestinian pollutants?

The wimpiness of ‘Zionist oppression’?
Moreover, from 1967 to the years just before Oslo, Palestinian household consumption rose dramatically – by almost 600%, significantly higher than the 230% in Israel.

Similarly, water-conveyance to households also increased impressively.

Whereas in 1967 only 10% of the “West Bank” Arab population was connected to a running water system, the figure today stands at 95%. So much for discriminatory deprivation.

Palestinian agricultural performance improved dramatically as well, even though water allocations were not increased. (In recent years Israeli farmers have had their freshwater allocations slashed by 50% and more.) This was facilitated by the introduction of more advanced methods of irrigation and cultivation, resulting in an increase of the area cultivated by about 160% and of the agricultural product by 1,200%.

As world-renowned soil-physicist and hydrologist Daniel Hillel observes, by the 1990s, farming “was transformed from a subsistence enterprise to a commercial industry.”

Furthermore, the inflammatory claims that luscious lawns and shimmering swimming pools in Jewish settlements unfairly and provocatively deprive Palestinians of water are belied by a single statistic: Israel conveys more water (nearly 56 from inside the pre-1967 borders into the “West Bank” than the total consumption of the entire Jewish population in the settlements across the “Green Line” (just over 48

In other words, there is a net inflow of water from pre-1967 Israel to the Palestinians which more than compensates for the much-maligned lawns and pools.

Demand – not discrimination
While claims that per-capita consumption of water by Israelis is much higher than that of the Palestinian population are true, this is principally a result of differences in demand – not supply – because of differences in lifestyles. (Clearly, the fact that a millionaire in an opulent penthouse in Manhattan will use far less water than equally affluent owner of a sprawling estate in Bel Air is not a matter of discriminatory deprivation).

Different rates of consumption are found between the Jewish and Arab populations within pre-1967 Israel – and between different socioeconomic groups within the Jewish population – without anyone raising the claim that this is the result of purposeful deprivation.

Interestingly, per-capita consumption in the frequently vilified settlement of Kiryat Arba is 25% lower than in the Beduin city of Rahat – and 90% lower than in up-market Savyon). What perverse discrimination does that indicate?

The perils of PC-diplomacy
These facts and many others should be assertively and proactively inserted into the public discourse, not only as a response to attacks, but as part of an ongoing endeavor to mold public awareness and perception of the realities that pertain to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

One of the principal reasons that this is not occurring is the PC (Palestinian-compliant) perspectives of the Israeli civil society elites, discussed in my previous columns, who exert a dominant influence on the conduct of our public diplomacy.

These entrenched elites cannot permit accurate portrayal of Palestinian society without undermining their own worldview.

(With regard to the water issue, I can attest to this personally.) After all, this would entail exposing the fundamental reasons why the Palestinians find themselves in the miserable state in which they are today: a) a chronic and cavalier disregard for the truth; b) an enduring propensity to blame others for their fate; and c) an obdurate refusal to take responsibility for their own actions – and inaction.

And that is something one does not say in polite company.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Former IDF Chief: Israel Must Prepare for War

Gavriel Queenann

Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi warned, Thursday, that Israel could not afford to cut its defense budget and should prepare itself for war.

“In comparison to 10 years ago, the possibility of a conflict is not something that we just need to talk about," Ashkenazi said during a lecture at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

"We never saw it coming. It happened on my watch, so it must be said. But if it's any consolation, Egypt never saw it coming either," Ashkenazi said of the so-called Arab Spring protests that have no turned into an Islamic winter in elections throughout the Arab world. "The Middle East's plates are shifting. What the Egyptian army didn't know, I couldn't have known. (Egypt's) leaders did not know either," he said, adding the ultimate strategic picture was still changing.

Ashkenazi told attendees that confronting Iran's nuclear ambitions required a multi-disciplinary approach that included covert, economic, and potentially military action.

"In my opinion, the strategy vis-à-vis Iran should be to do whatever is possible under the radar coupled with painful and crippling sanctions. However, we should also keep a viable military option on the table," he said.

While Ashkenazi said sanctions were having an effect on Iran, he warned that time was running out since the Iranian nuclear program was moving forward at a rapid pace.

“Our mission now needs to be to slow down the clock and to speed up the clock of sanctions and hope that it works,” he said.

Ashkenazi cautioned that Iran's strategic acumen should not be overestimated, saying Tehran had made some strategic blunders and was threatening to make others as pressure mounts.

"I believe Iran would be making a strategic mistake if it blocks the Strait of Hormuz. Another mistake was trying to kill the Saudi ambassador at a restaurant in the US capital. The Iranians are liable to make more mistakes under pressure," he said.

Ashkenazi served as IDF chief of staff from 2007 until 2011 and certainly played a key role in preparing the military for a possible attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities. A 2007 strike against Syria’s nuclear reactor widely ascribed to Israel also happened on his watch.

Ashkenazi, who oversaw operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, said the new regime in Cairo made a new Gaza incursion a "complex" undertaking.

"The possibility of conducting another extensive operation in Gaza has become more complex following the events of the past year in Egypt and the change of government in that country," he said.

"I think that this government will not act like Mubarak. I do not think he was a Zionist, but you cannot ignore the fact that he was an anchor of stability in the region considering the not-so simple tests he passed – the wars in Lebanon or the intifada."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gilad Atzmon takes aim at CiF Watch, accusing us of running “a Jewish supremacist site”!

CiF Watch

Gilad Atzmon takes aim at CiF Watch, accusing us of running “a Jewish supremacist site”!

As I’ve noted previously, merely characterizing Gilad Atzmon as antisemitic doesn’t do him justice. Atzmon advances hateful, demonizing rhetoric about Jews which is on par with the most vile Judeophobic charges ever leveled, and which is often as crude and malevolent as what would be heard at a meeting of neo-Nazis or Islamist extremists.

In brief, he repeatedly refers to Judaism as “supremacist“‘ faith, a term popularized by David Duke, and, indeed Duke, the former grand wizard of the KKK has strongly praised Atzmon’s writings. Atzmon also has questioned whether the Holocaust occurred, while simultaneously arguing that, if Hitler’s genocide did occur, it can partly be explained by Jews’ villainous behavior. On this latter note, he claimed that Hitler’s views about Jews may one day be proven right.

Atzmon also explicitly charges that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world, and has endorsed of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, arguing about the document that “it is impossible to ignore its prophetic qualities and its capacity to describe” later Jewish behavior.

The Guardian has brief history with Atzmon, which includes; a 2009 review of his music (Atzmon, is an Israeli born Jazz artist now living in the UK), which barely touched on, as the Guardian’s John Lewis so carefully put it, Atzmon’s ”provocatively anti-Jewish rhetoric”. Additional reviews of Atzmon’s music in the Guardian, in pieces published in 2011, 2006, 2004, 2003 and 2001 virtually ignored his politics altogether.

Then following a CiF essay by Andy Newman last September which including Atzmon in his (rather mild) criticism of leftist antisemitism, the Guardian published a letter by Atzmon in response, defending the ideas in his book, The Wandering Who? – a work which the CST has characterized one of the most antisemitic book published in the UK in years.

Shortly after that incident, CiF Watch discovered and subsequently posted about the fact that the Guardian’s online bookstore was selling Atzmon’s book, which included this chilling synopsis:

“An explosive unique crucial book tackling the issues of Jewish identity Politics and ideology and their global influence.“

Evidently embarrassed, and unable to defend their decision to carry and promote such hate, the book was removed form their site within 24 hours of our post.

The latest incident involving Atzmon involved an essay at CiF by Khaled Diab published last week which positively cited an Atzmon observation in the context of what Diab characterized as Israeli surprise over the alleged Saudi hacking of computers at El Al and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Here’s this passage:

Some commentators went even further. “The Jewish state is pretty devastated by the idea that a bunch of ‘indigenous Arabs’ are far more technologically advanced than its own chosen cyber pirates,” Israeli jazz musician Gilad Atzmon observed wryly on his blog.

After we objected to Guardian editors about both the positive reference to Atzmon, as well as his specific pejorative reference to Jews as “chosen” – which, per the Deborah Orr affair, they had acknowledged was antisemitic – the piece was amended and the passage removed, noting that the language was inconsistent with their standards.

Well, sometime after the piece was amended, Atzmon learned of the incident and wrote about it in his blog, beginning:

Two days ago, I discovered that CIF Watch, a Jewish supremacist site interested solely in cleansing British press of any criticism of Israel and Jewish power, was boasting that the Guardian surrendered to their pressure and removed an Atzmon passage [which included the "chosen" comment]. [emphasis added]

Interesting. While we now only typically check our blogs rankings in Technorati’s world politics categories (where we’ve been consistently ranked within the top 25), it looks like we’d now be wise to similarly check our listings in the evidently new category of “Jewish supremacist blogs” – a blog niche I must admit that I never previously considered!

Atzmon continues:

Shocking but typically, the Guardian surrendered immediately to the Zionist’s demands.

Yes, Guardian editors consistently, and cravenly, succumbing to Zionist demands! What only appears to the untrained eye as a media group viscerally hostile to the Jewish state is, in fact, yet another institution bullied by Jews into Zionist subservience.

Turning to his book, Atzmon writes:

The book attempts to grasp the bizarre continuum between Israeli barbarism…the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign surrender to rabid Zionist bodies and the ‘Guardian’s regulation’. [emphasis added]

In conclusion, Atzmon writes:

I’m not one bit surprised by the surge of Jewish power. I wrote a book about it. But, being intimately familiar with Jewish history, I know exactly where it will lead. Jewish political arrogance has always proved to be, above all, devastatingly dangerous for Jews.

For the sake of peace, both Jews and gentiles must confront the prominence of Jewish identity politics. We should never be afraid to question ideologies and lobbies that impose a threat to peace, our value systems, freedom of thought, humanity and humanism. [emphasis added]

In that comically gratuitous passage lay the rhetorical thread which runs through much of the hardcore antisemitic bravado through the ages – their belief that they are not just criticizing Jews and Judaism, but speaking truth to power, and boldly defending civilization from a dangerous, yet furtive, Jewish onslaught.

CiF Watch may appear to be merely a media watchdog blog, but Atzmon’s piercing intellect sees us for who we really are: a threat to freedom of thought, world peace and humanity itself.

On a shoestring budget, a group of dedicated volunteers, we have managed to become larger than ourselves:

Grassroots pro-Israel activism no more.

The Protocols of the Elders of CiF Watch Zionists have arrived!

Death Threats Against Female Arab.

Jameel @ The Muqata at 1/26/2012

"A," a female Arab living in the "Triangle" Area of Israel expressed her support on the Migron hilltop community facebook page, writing that in her opinion, Jews are entitled to settle and live anywhere in Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

"You may be surprised, and might even curse me, but I wanted to express my opinion. Yes, I am an Arab and despite that I love the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. I believe in the responsibility of Arabs to be loyal to the State of Israel and I believe that Jews should be able to settle everywhere in Israel, including Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. After I have read many sources, I have reached this conclusion. My conclusion is that Migron, and all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are a Jewish asset [to Israel]. I am willing to offer support if you want [articles] translated to Arabic or from Arabic to Hebrew. Thank you, and I fully support your struggle." Unfortunately, as the Srugim website reports, within hours of posting her opinion on the Migron Facebook page, "A" was forced to cease all her facebook activity....due to death threats against her life, ostensibly from other Arabs in her community. Such a shame.

I would hope that all the advocates of Rights for Arabs in Israel, including NIF, 972 Mag, Haaretz and Richard Silverstein will all condemn these death threats against this brave Arab woman, and advocate that she be allowed to freely voice her opinion that Jews should be able to live freely, anywhere in the land of Israel.
Don't hold your breathe.

Belatedly Recognizing Heroes of the Holocaust

HORASHIM, Israel — When 20 people gathered for a modest ceremony in the tranquil cemetery of this kibbutz in central Israel last month, the intimacy and quiet dignity of the event belied the tumultuous historical forces coursing beneath it.

The occasion was the reinterring of the remains of Samuel Merlin, a founder of a small but brazen band of militant Zionists and Holocaust rescue activists who shook America and challenged the Jewish establishment in the 1940s, but who until recently have been largely excluded from official Holocaust history. The activists, known as the Bergson group, have been credited by modern historians with playing a pivotal role in rescuing hundreds of thousands of European Jews.
But the group was rejected by the Jewish establishment it challenged, both in the United States and in Israel, where its militant tactics and right-wing Zionism clashed with the mainstream. Mere mention of the group stirs up old passions and painful questions about what America did or did not do to save European Jewry, and the extent to which schisms within Jewish ranks hampered more effective action.
More recently, prominent historians have begun to recognize the group’s achievements. On July 17, Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust remembrance authority in Jerusalem, which had ignored the Bergson group in its exhibits, held a symposium on it for the first time.
For those attending the reburial of Mr. Merlin a few days earlier, including some widows and children of the group’s members, the event was a symbolic start of a process of reconciliation.
“This is a moment of healing for American Jews and Israeli Jews,” Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington, said shortly after reciting Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over Mr. Merlin’s grave.
The institute, which has been instrumental in promoting the Bergson group’s legacy, co-sponsored the conference at Yad Vashem.
The Bergson group formed in 1940 when about 10 young Jews from Palestine and Europe came to the United States to open a fund-raising and propaganda operation for the Irgun, the right-wing Zionist militia. The group was organized by Hillel Kook, a charismatic Irgun leader who adopted the pseudonym Peter H. Bergson. Mr. Merlin was his right-hand man.
The group began by raising money for illegal Jewish immigration to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine and promoting the idea of an army composed of stateless and Palestinian Jews. But the mission abruptly changed in November 1942 after reports of the Nazi annihilation of two million European Jews emerged. Like earlier reports of the mass killing of Jews, the news barely made the inside pages of major American newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post.
The Bergsonites were appalled by what they saw as the indifference of the Roosevelt administration and the passivity of the Jewish establishment, which staunchly supported the administration and largely accepted its argument that the primary American military objective was to win the war, not to save European Jews. The group embarked on a provocative campaign to publicize the genocide and to lobby Congress to support the rescue of Jews, roaming the hallways of Capitol Hill and knocking on doors, displaying a degree of chutzpah that made the traditional, pro-Roosevelt Jewish establishment uncomfortable.
The group took out a series of fiery, full-page advertisements in The New York Times and other major dailies highlighting the mass murder, soliciting donations at the bottom of each one to pay for the next. With help from celebrity supporters like the director and writer Ben Hecht, the impresario Billy Rose and the composer Kurt Weill, they staged a flamboyant pageant called “We Will Never Die,” filling Madison Square Garden twice before sending the show on the road.
In October 1943, the Bergson group organized a march of 400 Orthodox rabbis on the White House, most of them in traditional black garb, a spectacle the likes of which had never been seen in Washington.
Finally, in January 1944, under heavy pressure from the Treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau Jr., President Franklin D. Roosevelt set up the War Refugee Board by executive order, leading to the rescue of 200,000 Jews.
“Without Hillel Kook and the Bergson group,” said David S. Wyman, author of the book “The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945,” which first re-evaluated the role of Bergsonites, “there would have been no War Refugee Board.”
Yet the American Jewish leadership at the time fought the newcomers, saying their tactics would lead only to increased anti-Semitism. Rabbi Stephen Wise, the Jewish community’s chief representative, wrote to a colleague in 1944 that the Bergsonites “are a disaster to the Zionist cause and the Jewish people.”
Jewish American leaders were apparently afraid of making waves, and of losing their own prominence.
“This was an era in which militant civil action was just not done, certainly not by Jews,” said Charley Levine, an Israeli-based international communications and public relations expert who has studied the Bergson group. “This was before Vietnam.”
The Bergson group was no less ostracized by the leaders of Israel after its founding in May 1948. An early showdown came that June when the group dispatched a ship called the Altalena to Israel loaded with weapons for the Irgun in violation of an agreement with the new state to stop independent arms acquisitions.
David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, ordered his troops to fire on the ship. Sixteen Irgun members and three soldiers were killed in the confrontation. Mr. Merlin, who was on board, was shot in the foot.
Mr. Merlin and Mr. Kook went on to serve as members of Israel’s first Parliament, but the Bergsonites soon had an ideological falling out with their own political leader, Menachem Begin, the Irgun leader who later became Israel’s prime minister. They remained at odds with the left-wing Mapai and Labor leaders who dominated the state for its first 30 years.
The dissension led to the Bergson group’s being blanked out of the early histories of the Holocaust. “My father and his group went against the grain of those writing the narrative of the war,” said Mr. Kook’s daughter, Rebecca Kook, now a political scientist at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
But with the perspective of time and the opening of additional Holocaust era archives, including Mr. Merlin’s, the Bergson group has begun to be reworked into Jewish history. After years of campaigning by Mr. Medoff and others, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington included a small exhibit on the group in 2008.
Mr. Merlin’s detailed account of the rescue campaign was published posthumously last month. Mr. Merlin died in the United States in 1996.
In a foreword to the book, Seymour D. Reich, a veteran leader of major Jewish organizations, wrote, “The time has come to acknowledge, unequivocally, that Rabbi Wise and his colleagues were wrong.”
Instead of attacking Mr. Bergson, they should have focused on the rescue mission, he wrote, adding, “That was their obligation, and they failed.”


The National Conference on Jewish Affairs joins Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in condemning the public call to kill Jews made by the supreme religious leader of the Palestinian Authority.

The PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein urged Muslims to ensure Islam's destiny by fighting and killing Jews. He said that “Palestine [sic] in its entirety is a revolution,” that “continues today,” and then quoted from what he decreed is an authoritative statement of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, that while Jews “will hide behind stones or trees,” those objects will say to Muslims: “there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.” The Mufti stated that the trees invoked in the statement are like the modern day trees surrounding current Israeli towns and colonies. He explained that fighting and killing Jews will usher in the Muslim "Hour of Resurrection."
“When an Arab Palestinian leader calls upon his people to kill Jews in order to fulfill Islam’s religious destiny, all people of good will must stand up and denounce the incitement,” said Lori Lowenthal Marcus, NCJA executive committee chair.

NCJA calls on President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Leadership of the House and Senate and the Chairmen and Ranking Chairmen of the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committee to also condemn this explicit call to murder Jews.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres both called for a criminal investigation into the incident, which was initiated on January 24th. The British Foreign Officer for the Middle East Alistair Burt has joined them in condemning the Grand Mufti’s incitement.

The Mufti gave the speech on January 7, 2012, to supporters of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas who were celebrating the Fatah political movement's 47th anniversary. Abbas appointed Hussein as the Mufti in 2006. The speech was carried on official Palestinian Authority television, and was translated and aired by Palestinian Media Watch.

In response to charges that he was advocating a Jewish genocide, the Mufti and the PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud al-Habbash, claimed the Mufti was not engaging in current incitement, but merely repeating theological dictates. “But the Mufti’s invocation of these 'dictates' as the source of a Muslim religious duty to kill Jews is the dictionary definition of incitement,” said Marcus, "he clearly was talking about now, not the past, and not the future, by referring to the trees from the hadith as being the same as those surrounding current Israeli cities and villages," she added.

NCJA also exhorts the Secretary General of the United Nations as well as leaders of all human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to join in this condemnation. Organizations which profess to care deeply about the rights of people in Israel, such as the World Council of Churches, must not miss this opportunity to demonstrate their concern. All peace-loving and all pro-Israel groups must also make public statements strongly denouncing the Mufti's hateful and irresponsible statement.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Will Mahmoud Abbas Return to Ramallah?

Challah Hu Akbar

Arabic news sites are buzzing today over a report from a UAE paper that Mahmoud Abbas has decided that he will not return to Ramallah following his European trip, which currently has in him Russia, and will instead rule from abroad.

According to the report, the source is an Israeli MK (Member of Knesset). Rumors are swirling that Ahmad Tibi is the MK.

According to the source, Abbas is not returning to Ramallah because he fears that he will face the same fate as Yasir Arafat.The report seems very skeptical, and has been around for at least a couple of days already.

Nimer Hammad, one of Abbas’ advisers, has denied it saying that “the news about Abbas leaving Palestine due to fear of being targeted by Israel, as happened to Arafat, is not true at all.”

Abbas has been in Russia since Thursday and is scheduled to be there for six days. I guess we will find out whether the report is true after his trip.

The Scourge of Jewish Self-Division

David Solway on Jan 25th, 2012

I have often written, sometimes bemused, sometimes incensed, about what is surely the strangest fact of Jewish life, namely, its self-division. Since time immemorial, the Jewish people have been at war with themselves, both in the Holy Land and the Diaspora, allowing themselves to succumb to one of history’s most mordant ironies. In turning against themselves, they have effectively collaborated with those who would suppress, conquer or extinguish the Jewish community. The template was already established in the Book of Genesis, where we read how one brother slew another in jealousy and resentment and a group of conspiratorial brothers sold their sibling into slavery. From that point on, the biblical archive presents a saga of recrimination, envy, hatred and fratricidal strife that in different degrees has imperiled the very survival of the Jewish “nation.” The pattern was consolidated in the story of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, the three rebels who “rose up” before Moses and challenged his authority. As the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen these people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people” (Exodus 32:9).

Brother against brother, prophet against people, king and priest, and even nation against nation form an indelible part of the Jewish chronicle. The history of the Two Kingdoms provides a continuingly relevant object lesson. After the death of King Solomon, the Israelite communality broke apart into the two warring monarchies of Israel and Judah. The shedding of kinship blood critically weakened the two kingdoms, leading to the conquest of Israel by the Assyrians and the reduction of Judah first by the Chaldeans, then by the Egyptians, and finally by the Babylonians. The Jewish epic may be described as: divide and be conquered. Indeed, surah 59:14 of the Koran tells us something very true about Jews: “There is much hostility between them: their hearts are divided…” It seems that the wise counsel of Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah has no resonance for the backsliders: “All of Israel and those who are joined to it are to each other like brothers. If brother shows no compassion to brother, who will show compassion to him?”

The fault line in the Jewish sensibility is tectonic in its dimensions and destructive in its effect. Perhaps the single most resonant case study in self-division involves the institutional founder of the Christian faith. The story of St. Paul is too well known to require much in the way of comment, yet it is richly instructive. A rabid persecutor of the followers of Jesus, Saul of Tarsus experienced a blinding conversion to the new faith and was shortly thereafter called by the name of Paul (Acts 13:9). He then became the Apostle of Christianity, considering his Jewish identity a mere rehearsal for a larger identity and at times expressing strong disapproval of Jews who held to their traditional beliefs and identity. (His quarrel with the Desposyni, the “servants of the Lord,” led by James the brother of Jesus who wished to preserve the purity and exclusivity of the original faith, is a matter of historical record.)

But the details of the Apostle’s former activities and subsequent religious convictions are specific to the time. Jews today do not persecute Christians. Indeed, they are the ones who are relentlessly persecuted—by Muslims, by secular antisemites and unhinged fanatics from both sides of the political spectrum (though massively from the Left), and by several Christian denominations associated with The World Council of Churches, replacement and liberation theologians, and the Quaker-Presbyterian axis promoting its BDS campaigns. More to the point, and the most indigestible perversion of all, countless Jews harry and denounce their own congeners. The tendency to a kind of binary kinesis seems inherent in the Jew, whether it is himself he loathes or his own people he reproaches and undermines. It is the psychic split itself, not its local content, that transcends the ages. In this respect, the Saul/ Paul fracture represents a longstanding Jewish archetype.

This history of self-estrangement, political strife and cultural rupture has been played out from the biblical era through the centuries of religious factionalism and reciprocal excommunication culminating in our own epoch. The profound antipathy between assimilated Jews and their irredentist counterparts in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Safed and Hebron, as well as the caste-like contempt of Western Jewish intellectuals for the Ostjuden, that is, their assumed “plebeian” and “uneducated” East European brethren, are facts of modern Jewish history. The shame of many of the Jewish Councils in Nazi Europe that collaborated with their murderers (not all, as Gershom Scholem justifiably argues in On Jews and Judaism in Crisis) cannot be forgiven, despite attempts to explain it away as the least of worst alternatives. The legacy of the celebrated Jewish philosopher Martin Buber and the equally acclaimed Jewish political writer Hannah Arendt, who could never forget their German patrimony and were corrosively suspicious of the Zionist project, has been broadly and unambiguously noxious. In the present moment we observe their offspring, that is, left-wing “peace activists,” liberal rabbis and “post-Zionist” intellectuals, who strive to erode the Jewish character of the state of Israel and so deprive it of its legitimacy. The Jewish Left, as it dances around the golden calf of a fictitious peace, represents perhaps the gravest danger to the survival of the country.

Many Jews, as I wrote in Hear, O Israel!, tend to transpose the fight against iniquity and oppression to other nations and communities rather than press for the rights of their own people. Or they believe, “in traditionally Marxist fashion,” as Sol Stern writes in City Journal, “that the way to fight anti-Semitism was through the broader struggle for international socialism.” Thus they pursue their fugitive merit. Like Paul, their main focus falls on the Corinthians and Ephesians et al. of the time. Indifferent to the reality of their own condition—ignoring the rain clouds until they are drenched and catch pneumonia, as the 19th century Jewish philosopher Max Nordau noted—these are the ostensibly benevolent Jews who wish to “repair the world” (Tikkun Olam). That it would be a world in which their place would nevertheless remain precarious escapes them entirely.

The benevolent Jews are bad enough. Their spirit of pharisaic charity, however, is exceeded by that of the reprobate Jews, who take their “idealism” to the next level of unctuous self-effacement. They struggle against injustice by reprehending, for example, not Palestinian terrorists and Hezbollah jihadists but Israeli Jews themselves whose right to national legitimacy they perceive as an affront and do everything in their power to misrepresent. Again, like Paul, they regard their own people as “those who please not God, and are contrary to all men” (1 Thessalonians 2:15).
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"MIGRON in the spotlight"

Arlene Kushner

My readers have heard from me about Mitzpe Avichai, and now it is time to turn our attention to Migron -- which presents some very serious issues. You will learn things here that it is unlikely you've heard from your mainstream media sources.

Migron is a Jewish community on a hilltop in the Binyamin Regional Council in Samaria, north of Jerusalem. With 49 families, it is the largest of the communities that are frequently referred to as "unauthorized settlements." In order to properly understand the situation of this community, we will need a bit of background, which has been provided by a resident of Migron who serves as a spokesperson:

In 1960, the king of Jordan divided the area where Migron is now located into some 60 plots and gave them to individual families. It was, however, with the proviso that they begin farming within three years, or the land would revert back to the kingdom. No farming was done, not for three years and not for seven years -- which is when the land came under Israeli control.

Land that reverted back to the kingdom should have become Israeli state land. This should have been the end of the story. (As I understand it, to ensure there would be no problem, the Jews who came to establish Migron purchased the land in any event.)


In 1999, establishment of Migron began with the set-up of the first caravans. The very first residents were actually part of an archeological expedition in the area, which, it should be noted, provided evidence -- including a winepress -- of an exclusively Jewish presence.

The community, as it grew, worked with a host of government ministries that provided support for phone lines, electricity, water, staff of day care and nursery schools and more.

In point of fact, the government saw a need for a Jewish community in this location for security reasons. A by-pass road had been established at the foot of the hill on which Migron is situated so that Jews would be able to travel -- via route 60 -- while avoiding entry into Ramallah. It was understood that without Jews on this hill, Jews traveling the road below would be at risk. (It is certain that Arabs would be up there, if Jews were not.)

Additionally, from the height of that location Jews are able to overlook the north of Jerusalem and communities situated between Migron and the Dead Sea.

But, for all the sanction the government gave to the establishment of this community, what was missing was the final authorization from the Ministry of Defense. From mid-1999, and for two years subsequent, Ehud Barak was Defense Minister, and so it is possible that he was the one who would have had to sign off on this. (What a surprise!) Or, as these approvals take time, perhaps the very leftist Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who followed him.

This is a common story. It feels rather schizoid -- with one hand not knowing, or approving, what the other is doing. This is a function of the nature of the administration of Jewish communities beyond the Green Line. Were civil law to be applied, the Ministry of Defense would not be involved.


In 2006, Peace Now got into the act, going to the High Court and claiming that the land Migron was situated on belonged to Arabs. Ostensibly, Peace Now spoke on behalf of a group of Arab plaintiffs, who were from local villages. Residents of Migron observed that these plaintiffs, who seemed to have been drafted by Peace Now, were "without a clue."

Migron residents, I have been told, have never had a problem with their Arab neighbors, and it seemed to them more than a bit strange that, if the Arab plaintiffs knew that Jews were occupying their land, they would have waited the seven years since Migron had been established before registering a claim.

My Migron source tells me that various documents were provided to the Court that were never taken into consideration. With various legal delays, it was not determined until early last year that Migron was to be demolished by the end of March 2012.


In the meantime, the Arabs who were claiming that Migron was on their land brought a suit into the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, demanding that the State provide them with compensation for the years in which they were deprived of their land. (Never mind that in the years before Migron was established they had not in any way utilized this land.) But this court demanded of the plaintiffs that they provide proof of ownership of the land and gave them a deadline, which recently expired.

Just last week, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court ruled that the plaintiffs, as they could not provide proof of land ownership, had to pay compensation to the residents of Migron for their trouble and were forbidden from bringing further lawsuits on this issue.


Now, I asked myself, if the Arab plaintiffs that Peace Now was representing could not prove their right to the land of Migron, why is it that the High Court order to demolish Migron stands.

Today I posed that question to a representative of the Legal Forum of the Land of Israel. The answer is stunning:

This issue, I was told, is political, not legal. For the Court did not rule that the government had to demolish Migron. The government volunteered to do it. Let me repeat this: The government volunteered to do it.

What happened is that the Court turned to the government and said, these claims are being made against Migron, how are you going to handle this? And the answer from the government was, we'll demolish Migron by March 31, 2012.

The government said this? Even though government ministries had helped to establish Migron and there was clear recognition on the part of the government that putting a Jewish community on that hill was a wise thing to do from a security perspective?

So I have been advised.


If you are totally confused, it is understandable. But I believe I can explain what's happening here.

It is exceedingly unlikely that the government would have taken action against Migron if not for the petition of Peace Now, which acts as the "impetus" in many of these cases.

But once a petition such as this one is filed, the representatives of the government show themselves to be without the courage of their convictions. Or perhaps better put, they have no convictions. That is, they are not guided by a determination to stand by Jewish rights and to fight for those rights. They are guided by pragmatics and not by principle or ideology. They cave, out of fear of being criticized by the international community for taking Arab land, etc. etc.

And fairness to the residents of Migron, who were assisted by government agencies in establishing their community? What does this have to do with anything?


Right now this is a very hot political potato, with many incensed at the notion of taking down Migron. Speaker of the Knesset Ruby Rivlin (Likud) has spoken out on this with vehemence. I'm told Shas is with the residents of Migron. And Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says this is a red line for his party, Yisrael Beitenu, which will leave the coalition if Migron comes down.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, then, is between a rock and a hard place politically, and realizes that if a satisfactory solution is not found for Migron his government is at risk.

Thus, there is an attempt to strike an agreement with Migron residents that would provide an out for the government, which would not have to demolish the community.


But even this is a complicated and infuriating matter.

Not long ago, legislation was introduced that to prevent communities in Judea and Samaria from being destroyed unless the Arab(s) claiming ownership produced documentation of that ownership -- and if documentation were produced beyond a certain number of years, there would be monetary compensation instead.

This legislation would protect Migron. But it is frozen in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation at the request of Netanyahu. He, in turn, has done this at the behest of Minister Benny Begin (Likud). If I live to be 100 I will not understand what is driving Begin at this point. He is heading negotiations that the government is holding with the representatives of Migron, regarding a so-called compromise. He doesn't want to see them protected by this legislation; he wants them to feel that they have no choice but to accept what he offers. In light of what I had previously understood to be his political orientation, the fact that he wants this confuses me totally.

The compromise, which is being urged on Migron by Netanyahu, would move the community to the bottom of the hill on to land that is universally acknowledged to be state land. It is better, the residents are being told, than having their community simply demolished.


But the community is not buying this. You may have read in recent news reports that a deal was reached. I was told today, however, that there is no deal.

The position of the Migron residents is that they have a right to be where they are, that they are not located on Arab land. If they move to the bottom of the hill, they say, it denies their purpose in having been put (by the government) on the hill for security reasons in the first place, and it ignores the involvement of multiple government ministries in helping them to be established there.


The question, then, is whether, when push comes to shove, the prime minister will actually allow the destruction of Migron, as this may bring down his government.

Apparently there are at least a couple of avenues he can take to remedy the situation. He can permit the release of the legislation from committee. Or, I was told by the legal forum, the government can return to the High Court and say that in the light of new evidence it withdraws its commitment to take down the community.


I would like to see as many of my readers as possible give a boost to the residents of Migron, as they wait to see if the prime minister blinks.

Please! write to Netanyahu.

Tell him that you are convinced that the residents of Migron are in their current location by right, that they were helped by the government as they were established, that they serve a legitimate security purpose, and that there is absolutely no reason to believe that they are on Arab land.

Tell him that you are watching his government closely in this regard, and that you expect him to do what is honorable and principled, and not what is convenient politically.

Say you expect him to return to the High Court and, based on new information, reverse the commitment to take down Migron. And that you further expect the legislation that is currently frozen in committee regarding the demolishment of communities to be released for vote in the Knesset.

Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)

E-mail: and also (underscore after pm) use both addresses


Then, please, write to the following Likud ministers and urge them to push the prime minister to take action to remedy the situation in Migron properly. Ask them to remind Netanyahu that the government may fall if he fails to do this.

Keep it simple for yourself. Compose a short message that says "Dear Minister," followed by text, click on each minister's e-mail address in turn, paste in the message and send. Do NOT send a group message; each should be separate.

Minister of Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein

Minister of Improvement of Government Services

Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan

Minister of Welfare Moshe Kahlon

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz

Minister of Culture Limor Livnat

Minister Yosi Peled

Minister of Education Gideon Saar

Minister of the Development of the Negev Silvan Shalom

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon


© 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.

The Diplomatic Process

Ted Belman

Who better than Dennis Ross to explain the diplomatic process as it pertains to the ME.

Ross explains in his Foreign Policy interview just below that “We’re not on the brink of any kind of breakthrough.” and he explains that therefore diplomacy focuses preventing the climate from worsening and possibly improving it.

There’s no such thing as a status quo, particularly in this part of the world. It’s never static. What you can’t afford is to have a stalemate when those who reject the very idea of a two-state solution are able to exploit it to increasingly undermine the prospect of it. I think the premise of your question is right — we’re not on the brink of a breakthrough. And yet it’s important to try to find ways to overcome the stalemate.

Abu Mazen represents the constituency that prefers non-violence and moderation.

If those who believe in nonviolence and coexistence can point to the fact that Israeli control is being reduced and that their way is ultimately going to be the one that produces a state, then there’s a payoff. Thus there is pressure on Israel to encourage belief that a deal is possible so that the Palestinians won’t turn to the UN,which would solve nothing, and don’t turn to violence and the Hamas way.

Evidently Israel accepts the need to provide “gestures” and she even refrains from large scale building except for the odd bone that they give the hawks to appease them and keep they quite more or less.

It was explained to me today by insiders that the the Israeli public and the current government really wants to cut a deal and have peace. But they assured me that Israel won’t compromise on Security. I countered that there was a sizable Israeli public and growing steadily, that they prefer to pursue peace through strength and to keep the land. Why give it up?

They countered that Israel constantly assuages the wrath of the Manin stream Media, the Europen Union and the US. She fears that it could get out of hand and that the US won’t necessarily protect them with a veto. Let’s say Israel provokes them by following some of the policies our commenters espouse, and as a result a resolution is put before the UNSC declaring that sanctions or military force should be used because in their opinion Israel’s actions threaten peace.

Just as Ross says,

There isn’t a Republican or Democratic approach to Israel; there’s an American approach to Israel. I think that’s been consistent,

there is also an Israeli approach, rather than a Labour/Kadima approach v a Likud approach, which has been consistent since the ’67 victory namely, land for peace. This will not change no matter who is in power.

Without a game changer event, this will not change.

When the ruler says to the Jew, teach my camel to talk or I’ll kill you, the Jew says give me a year to do it and the ruler agrees. Another Jew asks how can you agree to that and the Jew says lots of things can happen. Either the ruler dies within the year or I teach him to talk or the camel dies. In the meantime, I bought a year.

And maybe the Palestinians will take over Jorda and invite all Palestinians to move there.

Ancient Jewish scrolls found in north Afghanistan

Ancient Jewish scrolls found in north Afghanistan

By Amie Ferris-Rotman

KABUL | Mon Jan 23, 2012

(Reuters) - A cache of ancient Jewish scrolls from northern Afghanistan that has only recently come to light is creating a storm among scholars who say the landmark find could reveal an undiscovered side of medieval Jewry. The 150 or so documents, dated from the 11th century, were found in Afghanistan's Samangan province and most likely smuggled out -- a sorry but common fate for the impoverished and war-torn country's antiquities.

Israeli emeritus professor Shaul Shaked, who has examined some of the poems, commercial records and judicial agreements that make up the treasure, said while the existence of ancient Afghan Jewry is known, their culture was still a mystery.

"Here, for the first time, we see evidence and we can actually study the writings of this Jewish community. It's very exciting," Shaked told Reuters by telephone from Israel, where he teaches at the Comparative Religion and Iranian Studies department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The hoard is currently being kept by private antique dealers in London, who have been producing a trickle of new documents over the past two years, which is when Shaked believes they were found and pirated out of Afghanistan in a clandestine operation.

It is likely they belonged to Jewish merchants on the Silk Road running across Central Asia, said T. Michael Law, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Oxford University's Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

"They might have been left there by merchants travelling along the way, but they could also come from another nearby area and deposited for a reason we do not yet understand," Law said.


Cultural authorities in Kabul had mixed reactions to the find, which scholars say is without a doubt from Afghanistan, arguing that the Judeo-Persian language used on the scrolls is similar to other Afghan Jewish manuscripts.

National Archives director Sakhi Muneer outright denied the find was Afghan, arguing that he would have seen it, but an advisor in the Culture Ministry said it "cannot be confirmed but it is entirely possible."

"A lot of old documents and sculptures are not brought to us but are sold elsewhere for ten times the price," said advisor Jalal Norani, explaining that excavators and ordinary people who stumble across finds sell them to middlemen who then auction them off in Iran, Pakistan and Europe.

"Unfortunately, we cannot stop this," Norani said. The Culture Ministry, he said, pays on average $1,500 for a recovered antique item. The Hebrew University's Shaked estimated the Jewish documents' worth at several million dollars.

Thirty years of war and conflict have severely hindered both the collecting and preserving of Afghanistan's antiquities, and the Culture Ministry said endemic corruption and poverty meant many new discoveries do not even reach them.

Interpol and U.S. officials have also traced looted Afghan antiquities to funding insurgent activities.

In today's climate of uncertainty, the National Archives in Kabul keep the bulk of its enormous collection of documents -- some dating to the fifth century -- under lock and key to prevent stealing.

Instead reproductions of gold-framed Pashto poems and early Korans scribed on deer skin, or vellum, are displayed for the public under the ornate ceilings of the Archives, which were the nineteenth century offices of Afghan King Habibullah Khan.

"I am sure Afghanistan, like any country, would like to control their antiquities... But on the other hand, with this kind of interest and importance, as a scholar I can't say that I would avoid studying them," said Shaked of the Jewish find.

(Additional reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Rob Taylor and Sanjeev Miglani)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Give the ultra-Orthodox some space

Gabi Avital

Tell the truth: Do you really want thousands of ultra-Orthodox men to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces tomorrow? Do you really intend to have female soldiers sing to them when they finish basic training? This is not the "docile," low-key national religious crowd. These men will leave the hall the first second a woman soldier sings. And what then? Will they be sent straight to the brig? Dear friends: Take a deep breath and give this another thought. The commotion surrounding the extension of the Tal Law (which exempts ultra-Orthodox Jews from mandatory military service but aims to encourage voluntary enlistment) is clearly another part of the recent anti–ultra-Orthodox hate campaign, disguised as enthusiastic Zionism. True, the Tal Law was rejected – it has been a decade since Defense Minister Ehud Barak put it up for a vote – and still, the second thought I am asking for relates to human nature, and to nature.

There are no phenomena, whether man-made or natural, that occur in one fell swoop and cause absolutely no lasting damage. Adaptation and assimilation are by nature gradual processes. Any attempt to accelerate the process of "saving the ultra-Orthodox from themselves" (as the average secular citizen believes) is bound to fail. So many resources and so many good intentions have been invested in gradually integrating ultra-Orthodox soldiers into the Israel Air Force, and with one stupid command (the decision not to exempt ultra-Orthodox soldiers from ceremonies in which female singers perform) all that glorious effort went down the drain.

To those of you still pondering the issue, ask their commanding officers about these national treasures, living not in some far off land but in the next neighborhood or adjacent town. They will tell you that they have nothing but admiration for the ultra-Orthodox soldiers' extraordinary output and their ability to quickly master new skills.

The opponents of extending the law, meaning those who opposed it from the get go, very well may be appalled by their own projection of the future. In their mind's eye they see battalions of soldiers, wearing black or crocheted kippahs, carrying out operations at the borders and, heaven help us, teaching the next generation of soldiers. How unbearable!

But what I find unfathomable is the fact that some military commanders, as well as leaders of the anti-ultra-Orthodox campaign, would rather have an obedient applauding audience at a singing performance than first-rate combat soldiers whose only request was not to be forced to witness a girl prancing on stage.

This is unfathomable because for many years – including during my own personal mandatory service, the service of my two sons and of the sons waiting to be drafted, those of my brothers and sisters – we all dreamed of a military that fulfills its one goal: being a well-oiled war machine, one that banishes the thought of war from our enemies' minds.

Coercing the ultra-Orthodox public to enlist will not advance the goal that I dreamed of and fought for. Let these Jews, the victims of automatic anti-Semitism reminiscent of other times in our history, process Israel's sovereignty at their own pace, and realize that it is a country they can feel allegiance to. An ultra-Orthodox youngster who hears everyone talking about tolerance toward everyone but himself, will distance himself from this hypocrisy.

And if anyone still thinks that this battle – in which the ultra-Orthodox man is given a choice of taking part in anti-religious coercion or joining the draft-dodging camp – will have a positive outcome, they are probably living in a bubble of election-year campaigns. Give the ultra-Orthodox community some space – it is undergoing welcome changes even from its own perspective. We, as Jews, will all benefit.

Dr. Gabi Avital is the chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Arab Illegal Settlement?

MY Right Word

Arab sources, via IMRA, are reporting:

Israeli forces Sunday handed two Palestinians from Joreish village, south of Nablus notices to evacuate their land and demolish water wells, according to local sources.

Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of the settlements file at the Palestinian Authority in the northern part of the West Bank, said that Israeli soldiers gave the village’s residents 45 day notice to demolish the wells and evacuate the land.Joreish or better, Jourish, is right near Shiloh, north of us.

It's where the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Development Programme/Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP) has requested bids from eligible contractors to perform Construction of the Jourish Women Community Center - Jourish Village – Nablus Governorate.

In any case, since Daghlas is an inveterate misconstruer, we'll wait until all the facts are in.

Or at least while the jury on Jurish is out.

After all, could it be that Arabs are engaged in illegal settlement?

United States Guilty By Association and Aloofness

MY Right Word

Do you remember this item? the same time that the Obama administration is assiduously courting the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian regime, according to Channel 2, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has refused to meet with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during his upcoming trip to Washington. Channel 2 reported that senior US officials said that “Lieberman is an obstacle to peace. We don’t want our pictures taken with him and with what he represents.”That was in a Caroline Glick column at the Jerusalem Post on January 19.

Well, what you think of photos of Anne Patterson, US Ambassador to Egypt, with top Muslim Brotherhood officials, who just met with Hamas' Meshal and Haniyeh, yesterday and in December?

Check out IsraellyCool.

Here's another photo:

From the official Muslim Brotherhood statement:

...Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said that US Ambassador to Cairo Anne Patterson met with the group’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie on Wednesday, and reportedly told her that Sharia law, or Islamic law, “ensures personal freedoms for all.”

...Patterson expressed her gratitude for the meeting and congratulated the group for their political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), victory in the recent parliamentary elections, and stressed that the United States is looking forward to cooperate with “whoever is chosen by the Egyptian people and a democratic government...”The Supreme Guide criticized the successive US administrations and accused them of “controlling people through their support to the dictators,” which made the popularity of the United States decline across the region...Badie explained that the principles of Islamic Sharia law is the m”ain source of legislation and the biggest guarantee of public and private freedoms, as it ensures the freedom of belief, religion and personal rights to all citizens equally.”

For her part, Ambassador Patterson admitted that US administrations have committed some mistakes, but called for overcoming them and to “learn from them to avoid their recurrence in the future.”

She pointed out that democracy always brings stable partners.



The Media’s Entrenched Hostility Towards Israel

Ted Belman

Laura: The fact that a writer can spin her experience receiving superior prenatal care in Israel into a narrative of Israeli society as “racist” and “militaristic”-never mind that she as a gentile foreigner temporarily residing in Israel received the same quality care as Jewish Israeli citizens-just goes to show the inherent anti-Israel and yes even antisemitic bias in leftist media circles. Her column was sheer lunacy. Some supporters of Israel blame the lack of Israeli hasbara for the bad publicity Israel receives worldwide. But no amount of hasbara will be able to counter such entrenched hostility toward the Jewish state. How do you counter the kind of hostility which motivates members of the media to twist even the most positive aspects of Israel into a story representing something dark and sinister about Israeli society?

The Three Rules of Western Discourse and Why The Media Must Always Blame Israel

By Barry Rubin, PJ MEDIA

It is truly astonishing how, it often seems, Western media coverage must blame Israel for everything that “goes wrong” in the Middle East, including murderous hostility to Israel.
Sentences often seem carefully formulated to push this claim and exclude any possibility of balance, much less accuracy. And no matter what the subject, it seems, this message must be snuck in.
Consider these two paragraphs in a Washington Post story about the Egyptian government’s cancellation of a Jewish pilgrimage to a site in Egypt:
The government’s move underscores the changing relationship between Israel and post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt. The former president maintained relations with Israel, as laid out in the 1979 Camp David peace treaty, in part by curbing civil liberties with his expansive police force. Since his ouster last winter, anti-Israeli sentiment driven by Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has risen to the surface, and Israeli-Egyptian tensions have grown.

Relations soured further in the fall after a mid-August cross-border attack from Egypt led to the killing of at least five Egyptian border guards as Israeli troops pursued alleged militants. Many activists called for revisions of the peace treaty and protests outside the Israeli Embassy turned violent when some demonstrators stormed the building.

Let’s list the subtle points made in these few sentences:

1. Egyptian resentment toward Israel and the treaty supposedly emerges from the use of repression to maintain it. So is Israel or peace with Israel responsible for the lack of democracy and free speech in Egypt under Mubarak? In fact, of course, there was a huge amount of criticism of the policy toward Israel and the latter country was continually attacked in the strongest language by both opposition and government circles. Since Mubarak was the dictator he could maintain relations with Israel if he wanted to do so. Hence the statement that he maintained them by repression is just false.

2. In fact, the relationship was called a “cold peace” precisely because the Mubarak government limited it (official boycotts of Israelis; harassment of Egyptian firms that wanted to do business with Israel; continual extremist anti-Israel propaganda in the state-controlled Egyptian media; denial of visas to Egyptians — mainly Christian pilgrims — who wanted to go to Israel, etc.)

2. Why has anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt risen in the last year? Because, we are told, Israel treated the Palestinians so badly. What about the ideological changes in Egypt? If Israel had done nothing, the same result would have happened. And how has Israel treated Palestinians badly in the last year? It has been a relatively quiet year actually.

3. No mention of historic levels of hatred toward Israel and Jews in Egypt, or of the emergence of revolutionary Islamist groups that — including the two leading parties in the election — openly call for Israel’s extinction and use extensive antisemitic rhetoric.

4. Eight Israelis, six of them civilians on a bus, were killed by terrorists operating from Egypt. Those terrorists enjoy wide popular support because of the worldview and politics of most Egyptians. But we are to believe that hatred only rose because Israel accidentally killed Egyptian soldiers during the ensuing battle? The terrorists wore Egyptian army uniforms and were being pursued in the same area. Moreover, Israel even hushed up the deliberate murder of an Israeli soldier inside Israel by Egyptian soldiers in order to try to reduce tensions. Incidentally, the article says “at least” five Egyptian soldiers were killed. I don’t think there is any doubt as to the number but it is hinted that there might have been more. What was a terror attack on Israel is thus turned into an Israeli attack on Egypt by the article?

And here is the rest of it.

SHAME ON YOU ED KOCH! Shame On You For Flip-Flopping About Obama

Yid With Lid

As Mayor of New York, he was a strong "take no prisoners" leader. As he has aged, Ed Koch has become a foolish political hack. Few remember that in early 2008 he blasted then-Senator Obama's anti-Israel stances. But most remember that without any changes in Obama's positions, he helped elect the man who became the most anti-Israel president since 1948 by convincing Jews that Obama would be a friend of Israel.

After three years of criticizing Obama's anti-Israel policies, Koch has once again decided to be an advocate for Obama in the Jewish community. Again with any changes in Obama's positions. During the 2008 Democratic Party primary season Koch worried that a Barack Obama would not be a friend to Israel.

Hillary recently attempted to warn Iran that were it to launch nuclear weapons against Israel, the U.S. “would be able to totally obliterate them.” Hillary’s comments were totally in keeping with the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction which kept the Soviet Union at bay during the Cold War when it threatened its European neighbors and members of NATO.

Instead of joining Hillary in a similar warning to Iran, Senator Obama on “Meet The Press” criticized Hillary stating, “It’s language reflective of George Bush…This kind of language is not helpful.”

Koch concluded:

We now know just how far Senator Obama is prepared to go to defend our friends and allies. It is not far enough.

Just four months later, without any change in Obama's positions, Koch endorsed Barack Obama.

Then he went off to heavily Jewish states convincing many American Jews that Israel should not be an issue in this campaign because Obama and McCain were equal in their support of Israel.

Once Obama was elected and proved to be horrible for America and Israel, Ed Koch became a leading critic of the POTUS and his anti-Israel policies. In March 2010 he wrote a commentary for the progressive Huffington post called Never Again Should We Be Silent.

Now, in my opinion, based on the actions and statements by President Obama and members of his administration, there is grave doubt among supporters of Israel that President Obama can be counted on to do what presidents before him did - protect our ally, Israel. The Arabs can lose countless wars and still come back because of their numbers. If Israel were to lose one, it would cease to exist.

In April 2010 Koch doubled-down, telling Neil Cavuto on Fox News;

"I have been a supporter of President Obama and went to Florida for him, urged Jews all over the country to vote for him saying that he would be just as good as John McCain on the security of Israel. I don't think it's true anymore," Koch told Fox News' Neil Cavuto.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got a chilly reception at the White House last week after Israel announced plans to build 1,600 new apartments for Jews in East Jerusalem during a visit from Vice President Biden. The announcement drew sharp condemnations from Washington and calls to cancel the construction plans – requests that Netanyahu says he will not heed.

Koch said he believes Obama "orchestrated" what happened in Israel.

"What they did is they wanted to make Israel into a pariah," he said. "It's outrageous in my judgment. "

Koch said he's shocked that Congress, which largely supports Israel hasn't "stood up and said to the president, 'you're wrong on this, Mr. President.'"

Koch went on to say the self-serving Chuck Schumer explained to him he wouldn't speak out against Obama's Israel positions publicly because he was working behind the scenes to get Obama to change is policy (it didn't work). The former mayor continued by saying Schumer promised to speak out against Obama publicly should he not change his policies (Schumer hasn't). He concluded by saying:

"I believe that the Obama administration is willing to throw Israel under the bus in order to please Muslim nations."

Just this past September, Koch was a big part of the GOP victory in the special election to replace Anthony Weiner in NY-9. Koch's reason for supporting the Republican Bob Turner was to send a message to President Obama.

If Jewish New Yorkers and others who support Israel were to turn away from the Democratic Party in that congressional election and elect the Republican candidate to Congress in 2011, it might very well cause President Obama to change his hostile position on the State of Israel and to reestablish the special relationship presidents before him had supported. His own reelection will be decided next year in 2012. The outcome of the 2011 congressional special election in the 9th Congressional District will certainly get his attention.

The former Mayor made this threat to the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave:

But if he doesn't read the tea leaves and change his position, you can be certain I will continue to bang my drum. I will campaign against him not only in New York, but in other parts of the country next year. I'll be loud and clear about what I believe. There are many Floridians who are concerned about the Obama administration's treatment of Israel, and Florida will be crucial to the President's reelection.

This week however, the once strong-minded Mayor made the same flip-flop he made in 2008 as he hosted an Obama fundraising event which raised a half a million dollars from 100 members of the Jewish community.

Koch's change of heart comes the same week as the release of multiple reports of the Obama administration warning Israel not to defend herself against Iran.

President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Even though I disagreed with many of his positions, Ed Koch was one of my political heroes. He seemed to be a different kind of politician--- one who put convictions in front of party affiliation.

I should have known better. Ed Koch has turned out to be nothing but a political hack, bashing Obama until he sees the election coming and suddenly any backbone is replaced by a wet noodle.

No voter should ever pick a President solely based on their position about Israel, and I could understand if the former Mayor said that other issues were much more important than Israel in the coming election. That is not what happened.

In 2008 he reversed himself lying about Obama to Jewish voters; saying the future President was McCain's equal on the issues of terrorism and Israel. Now he is trying to do it again, first promising "But if he doesn't read the tea leaves and change his position, you can be certain I will continue to bang my drum,"then breaking his promise. Despite the fact that Obama has not budged in his anti-Israel positions, Ed Koch is trying to fool us once again and convince Jews that Obama is a Zionist.

SHAME ON YOU ED KOCH! Shame On You For Flip-Flopping on Obama! When Koch was mayor he used to walk around the NYC saying "How am I doing?" The answer today is.... lousy!