Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bernie Sanders Has Family Living in Israel -- Just Like Hamas Terrorist Leader Haniyeh

Update: Sanders suspends Jewish outreach director who blasted Israel, Netanyahu

Just how does one prove their pro-Israel credentials these days, especially if you are a politician looking for the Jewish vote?

Well, if you are Bernie Sanders you might be expected to have an easier time than most.

During the Bernie Sanders interview with The Daily News Editorial Board, he certainly did seem to hit all the right notes, and then some:
  • “Here’s the main point that I want to make. I lived in Israel. I have family in Israel. I believe 100% not only in Israel’s right to exist, a right to exist in peace and security without having to face terrorist attacks..."

  • "Israel will make their own decisions. They are a government, an independent nation..."

  • “There are going to be demands being made of the Palestinian folks as well...for a start, the absolute condemnation of all terrorist attacks. The idea that in Gaza there were buildings being used to construct missiles and bombs and tunnels, that is not where foreign aid should go. Foreign aid should go to housing and schools, not the development of bombs and missiles.”
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Anthony Delmundo / New York Daily News Speaking with Sanders

One could question how much weight having family in Israel should carry -- after all, Hamas terrorist leader Ismail Haniyeh has three sisters secretly living in Israel as full citizens -- and 35 years ago, he used to visit his sisters in Israel as well. Of course, Haniyeh does not go around bragging about this. That's probably because Ismail does travel in different political circles than Bernie.

Then again, during that same interview, Sanders found another way to outdo Hamas, saying that
my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right? I don't have it in my number...but I think it's over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don't think I'm alone in believing that Israel's force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.
The Sanders number of "over 10,000" civilians killed exceeds the Hamas figure of 1,617 civilians killed. According to the UN the number was 1,462 civilians killed, and Israel estimates the number of Gazan civilians killed as 762.

Odd.

As Varda Epstein writes, If You Love Israel You Don’t Exaggerate Civilian Deaths by a Factor of Ten. Nor do you allow yourself to be ignorant of what was happening at those schools and hospitals in Gaza and what Israel did to minimize casualties there.

And if you love Israel, you generally don't hire people to be in charge of Jewish outreach who hate Israel.

It turns out that the Sanders campaign’s newly hired Jewish outreach director condemned Israeli PM Netanyahu as a mass-murderer:


Zimmerman later cleaned up her post, substituting the words "politician" and "Shame on you" where appropriate.

In her favor, when she rounded up the number of Gazans killed, Zimmerman did not exaggerate as much as Sanders did.

Sanders does seem a bit tone deaf when it comes to Israel. Take for example the incident at the Apollo Theater when Bernie Sanders was challenged with an antisemitic statement:
“As you know,” opened the questioner, “the Zionist Jews–and I don’t mean to offend anybody–they run the Federal Reserve, they run Wall Street, they run every campaign.” As this unfolded, Sanders began wagging his finger in dissent, and interjected to deem “Zionist Jews” a “bad phrase.” His interlocutor, pressed to articulate a question, concluded by saying, “What is your affiliation to your Jewish community? That’s all I’m asking.”

“No, no, no, that’s not what you’re asking,” Sanders quickly replied, in a nod to the question’s underlying prejudice. “I am proud to be Jewish,” he declared, to cheers from the audience. But then Sanders did something odd. Rather than using the question as a teaching moment to address and rebuke its anti-Semitic underpinnings, Sanders instead immediately pivoted to his stump speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Talking about Zionism and Israel,” he said, “I am a strong defender of Israel, but I also believe that we have got to pay attention to the needs of the Palestinian people.” He never challenged the actual contents of the question, let alone labeled it anti-Semitic.
While there may be valid reasons to try to explain his reluctance to address this antisemitic slander head on, the fact remains that Sanders did not address the comment and failed to take advantage of the moment. Instead, he changed the topic to Israel in order to push his claim of balance by blaming both Israel and the Palestinians equally.

Bernie Sanders does not make an issue of his Jewishness, and that is fine. Nor is he the most outspoken defender of Israel -- and that is OK too. But when he addresses Israel as a political issue in his run for for presidential nomination, Sanders should not be given a pass on his stands and statements on Israel. The fact he lived on a kibbutz for a few months in 1963 or that he has family there is not relevant.

But what Bernie Sanders says about Israel, that he hires people who accuse Israel of mass murder and how he hides behind the issue of Israel rather than address antisemitic slanders -- that is relevant.
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Monday, March 21, 2016

James Joyce, Van Gogh, and The Unique Use of US Customs To Make Their Work Legal

Here I am in the hospital, after hurting my knee, and my roommate is a 92 year old retired professor of literature who can describe at length the background and details of the lives of past literary figures.

Like James Joyce.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hamas Terrorists Exploits Arabs in the West Bank As Well As Those in Gaza

When Evelyn Gordon asks Are Palestinian Stabbings Ending?, she points out that the Palestinian stabbing attacks will continue only so long as the perceived reward outweighs the cost.

And the numbers indicate that a turnaround has begun. Thus:
in a poll taken just three months ago, fully 67 percent of Palestinians supported the stabbing attacks, including 57 percent of West Bank residents. Yet in the latest poll, not only did overall support fall to 56 percent but, in the West Bank, 54 percent of respondents opposed the stabbings.
Gordon explains that this cost of the stabbings -- to the West Bank Arabs -- is three-fold:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In Blooper, State Department Spokesman Claims Demolitions in Southern Israel Prevent A Two-State Solution

In southern Israel, the problem of the Bedouin homes there is a complex problem, combining the issue of Bedouin claims with the Western media's willingness to unquestioningly publish them and the European Union to honor them.

Legal Insurrection discusses Negev Bedouin problems – real and imagined and Akiva Bigman discusses in an article for The Tower why the Bedouin's claims to the Negev are outrageous.

A central claim of the Bedouin is that they are indigenous to the Negev, thus deserving of special consideration and rights under international law.

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Bedouin village in the Negev. Photo: Nati Shohat / Flash90 

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Three Ways Israel Faces Isolation -- Yet Succeeds In Making Friends and Influencing People

I'm unmoved by the hand-wringing over Israel's "isolation." When I came to the country 30 years ago, Israel had no relations with the USSR (and Eastern Europe), China, and India. There was no foreign investment and a UN General Assembly resolution still stood, condemning Zionism as racism. It will take more than a Cairo mob, a truculent Turk, and another UN resolution to make me feel "isolated."
Middle East expert Martin Kramer, quoted by Todd Warnick in The "Isolation" Canard


For decades, claims are periodically trotted out that Israel -- by virtue of its actions -- is being faced with the threat of being isolated.

In describing Jerusalem's Decreasing Isolation, Efraim Inbar delineates 3 ways to measure a county's isolation:

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

3 Examples Of The Growing Trend To Label Stories Of Campus Antisemtism As "Crying Wolf"

There seems to be a new trend developing in the face of the growing incidents of antisemitism reported on college campuses -- outright denial along with claims that such reports are mere exaggeration.

Take Vassar for example, where the president of Vassar, Catharine Hill claims social media misrepresents tensions as incidents of antisemitism.

What kind of "tensions"?

Legal Insurrection has been tracking the spread and increasing appearance of antisemitism on college campuses. At Vassar, here are some examples:

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The UN Resolution Equating Zionism With Racism Has Roots In The Cold War in 1965

Joel Fishman writes that UN Resolution 3379, claiming that Zionism is a form of racism, did not just appear out of nowhere. Though passed in 1975, the roots of the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism can be found in the UN in 1964. Back then, the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities was engaged in discussions aimed at recognizing Antisemitism as a form of racism -- along with apartheid and Nazism.

At the time, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency had the story of what happened next:
Russia Asks U.N. to Condemn Zionism Along with Anti-semitism, Nazism

The Soviet Union called formally upon the United Nations today to condemn Zionism along with anti-Semitism, Nazism and neo-Nazism as a policy of “colonialism and race hatred.” The step was taken in the General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee where a draft convention was being debated calling for the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Steven Salaita's Academic Activism Against Israel Leaves No Stone Unturned

"Moreover, all journalism is a form of activism. Every journalistic choice necessarily embraces highly subjective assumptions — cultural, political or nationalistic — and serves the interests of one faction or another."
Glenn Greenwald, quoted in "Is Glenn Greenwald the Future of News?"


If the future of journalism really is that it will be reduced to emotional assumptions instead of fact-based assertions, we can also ask if that is the future of other formerly respected endeavors as well.

Take for instance Steven Salaita, described by Wikipedia as an American scholar, author and public speaker currently holding the Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

MEQ: Efraim Karsh: Obama's Middle East Delusions

The following by Efraim Karsh is reposted here with the permission of The Middle East Forum:


Saturday, February 20, 2016

The J Street Version of Israeli History -- Coming To a Jewish School Near You

J Street's activities extend from politics and advocacy -- to education:
J Street University is circulating a map that restores the Green Line and working to get it into synagogues, Hebrew schools, and summer camps. Good for them. Of course, fighting (nonviolently) over maps is preferable to shooting over the borders of the territories they represent, but there’s no substitute for a one-map solution.
Here is the map:

J Street has a lesson plan to go along with the map. I embedded a copy of the lesson plan at the end of the post.

The introduction in the lesson plan introduces what they see as the issue behind maps of Israel today: