Jewish Right To Israel

Jewish Right To Israel
Jewish Right To Palestine (click on image)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Love For Terrorists Is Not Out Of Ignorance

Jay Nordinger at The Corner writes in response to Democratic Congresswoman Diane Watson who heaped praise on Castro, Che Guevara and Cuban health care--and called anyone who opposed Obama's health care plan a racist.

Nordinger writes:
I’m afraid that mythologizing about Guevara, Castro, and the Communist dictatorship will never end. Indeed, it will get worse after the Castros and Cuban Communism pass. I used to think — I’ve had arguments with Armando Valladares about this (he is the heroic Cuban dissident who wrote Against All Hope) — I used to think that Castro-lovers in the United States were merely ignorant: They knew not what they said or did. How could all these “liberal Democrats” support a police state? A totalitarian dictatorship?

But, some years ago, I stopped thinking that: I had to swallow that these people — certainly some dismaying percentage of them — actually like it: actually like the dictatorship and all the murderous oppression that goes with it. You can’t remain entirely ignorant or naïve after 50 years of this dictatorship. And that is a very, very bitter pill to swallow.

Read the whole thing.

The question is whether the same applies to those who unquestioningly praise and defend Palestinian terrorists. Gaza is a dictatorship--a fascist 'state' which trains youngsters to hate and kill, brutally silences opposition, and maintains a military outlook which welcomes skirmishes with Israel (until events prove how callous and incompetent Hamas really is).

Perhaps that is the secret to the silence that greets Palestinian vs. Palestinian violence: it is not that the apologists for the Arab Palestinians don't care. On the contrary, they do care--but they are willing to excuse the 'excesses' of Hamas against their own people in the name of 'the greater good'.

There was a time people gave Hitler the benefit of the doubt for the same reason.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Women And Jews Are Equally Blind In Their Allegiance To The Democratic Party

In Why Women Continued to Support Ted Kennedy, Ann Althouse quotes from an article by Eleanor Clift who writes:
Organized women's groups overlooked a lot to stand by the senator from Massachusetts. Feminists who proclaimed "The personal is the political" made an exception for Kennedy.
Althouse adds:
And for Clinton. Face it. Liberal politics always came first for the so-called women's groups, which is why they are not really women's groups at all.
Well, it's good to know that Jews are not alone in their near-blind allegiance to the Democratic Party.

I've written before about a 1997 poll by CNN that indicated that while Jews surveyed talked big about their concern for Israel and how much it means to them, when it came to ranking the issues that matter most to them in the upcoming presidential election, Israel ranked 5th--behind the war in Iraq, the economy, terrorism/national security, and health care.

Similarly, after the Lewinsky affair, women's groups were silent.
It's time for these different groups--and others--to stop blindly paying homage to the Democratic Party and have it earn their respect.

Something which, under the current administration, it has clearly failed to do.

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Check It Out: Reuters Middle East Watch

There is a new blog on the block: Reuters Middle East Watch.
Here is their first post from August 25, by way of introduction:

Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
That's how Reuters describes itself at the bottom of its primary news website. Ten years of careful analysis of Reuters' coverage of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs reveals a media titan that is certainly large, certainly powerful, but one that while purporting to be "fair", in fact, consistently slants its reporting in favor of one of the warring parties.

At R-MEW, we will examine Reuters' stories on the Middle East conflict appearing on its news and information websites as well as its blog devoted to events in Israel and the Palestinian territories. We will employ a variety of tested and respected analytical methods to expose in these stories, instances of bias, errors of commission, errors of omission, and the use of propaganda tactics intended to manipulate public opinion. We will also show how the accounts of Reuters' correspondents are frequently at odds with the facts.

Check out their latest posts.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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"Inglourius Basterds" And The 'Jewish Lust For Revenge'

In Inglourious Basterds: A German Fantasy, Not a ‘Jewish’ One, John Rosenthal writes about the theme of Jewish vengeance which appears not only in Tarantino's movie, but is also a theme found in the German media and attributed by them to actions of the US (in regards to 9/11, for example).

Rosenthal anticipates the response--and has an answer of his own:

But, it will be objected, the Germans who are mutilated and murdered by the Jewish-American “Basterds” are Nazis, after all. Shouldn’t we all rejoice in seeing them get their just deserts in Quentin Tarantino’s signature blood-splattering detail? Well, I suppose it can be left to everyone’s individual conscience whether they enjoy seeing anyone have his head smashed in with a baseball bat or a swastika carved on his forehead with a hunting knife. But the fact of the matter is that most of the victims of the Basterds’ brutality and sadism are precisely not Nazis. They are members of the Wehrmacht: the regular German armed forces.

The point is even highlighted in the film. Thus, “Sgt. Donny Donowitz” notices a medal on the uniform of a Wehrmacht officer and asks him, “Get that for killing Jews?” “No,” the man coolly replies, “bravery.” Donowitz proceeds then to smash the officer’s head in. Many of the other Germans who are slaughtered and/or maimed by the “Basterds” are simple enlisted men. What possible satisfaction could be taken in that?

Read the whole thing.

I have no plans to see the movie, and have no idea if Rosenthal is correct about what kinds of German soldiers appear in the movie. However, if he is right, it would put a different spin on the movie--feeding into the claim that Jews/Israelis kill innocents too.

Considering the financial backing Tarantino received from Germany, he may be right.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Protocols Of The Elders Of Hypocrisy

So, who are these Elders? According to their website:

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

Among the members whose names stand out are Kofi Annan (who was cited by a UN investigation for corruption), Jimmy Carter (who made the Iran of today possible), Mary Robinson (who presided over the Durban I debacle), Desmond Tutu (whose anti-Israel bias is well documented), and Nelson Mandela. Mandela, who founded the Elders, wrote an autobiography that separates the myth from the man:
Fortunately for readers, not to mention for South Africa, the Nelson Mandela who emerges from his memoir, "Long Walk to Freedom," is considerably more human than the icon of legend. He is a naive and headstrong youth, a neglectful husband, a distracted father. He misleads his allies and manipulates his followers. He is uncritical of despots who support his liberation struggle. Time after time, he chooses tactics over principles. Mr. Mandela is, on the evidence of his amazing life, neither a messiah nor a moralist nor really a revolutionary, but a pragmatist to the core, a shrewd balancer of honor and interests. He is, to use a word unhappily fallen into disrepute, a politician, though one distinguished from lesser practitioners of his calling mainly by his unwavering faith in his ultimate objective, ending white minority rule.
...In the most dramatic of many tacks, Mr. Mandela, in 1953, was among the first African National Congress leaders to argue for a shift from peaceful civil disobedience to armed insurrection. Even after his colleagues rejected violence as premature, he arranged an unauthorized mission to China to request weapons for the cause. The A.N.C. leadership finally endorsed armed struggle in 1961, just a few weeks after Mr. Mandela and his compatriots, in the course of winning acquittal on charges of treason, had insisted that nonviolence was an inalterable principle of the organization. "For me," he writes, "nonviolence was not a moral principle but a strategy; there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon."
And now the Elders are in the Middle East "to listen to the people affected by the conflict and to offer their support to all those working for peace."

So how is that supporting "all those working for peace" thing going? In a letter to the editor of the Jerusalem Post, Jacob Shrybman of Sderot Media Center writes:

Sir, - Re "Int'l Elders to meet cross-section of Israeli and Palestinian societies" (August 25): Three weeks ago, the organizer of the Elders NGO contacted the Sderot Media Center about bringing a Sderot resident to Jerusalem to talk to the influential group.

Wouldn't they, we asked, visit not only the worst Arab parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also come to Sderot to meet with some of the countless families whose lives have been terrorized by the near-decade of rocket fire? The visit wouldn't take them far out of their way, we explained, reminding them that it takes only 15 seconds for a Kassam rocket from Gaza to hit Sderot.

The Elders organizer, while insisting that the trip was structured "to show both sides of the conflict," replied that they had no time to visit Sderot and refused a small donation to the Sderot resident who would lose a day's work in order to travel to Jerusalem.

For all the platitudes these Elders dish out, the fact remains that giving a fancy title to some of the corrupt, incompetent, and dishonest leaders of yesteryear doesn't change their biases in the least.

The following quote is prominently placed on the Elder website:
"The Elders can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes. They will reach out to those who most need their help. They will support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair." Nelson Mandela.
If nothing else, they still talk a good game.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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About That Story That Israel Steals Palestinian Organs For Transplants...

Jan Helin, the editor of Aftonbladet, has claimed that in publishing the story--that Israel stole organs from dead Palestinian for transplants--the intent was to ascertain the validity of the story:

Helin explained he had sent reporters to the West Bank to ask the family if it stood behind its story. "There were many rumors about the truth of the claims and we wanted to refute them," he said. "It may not prove anything factual, but the claims remain and this is why we published the story."

When asked why the paper did not verify the claims with the IDF Helin answered, "This is not a news report, but the opinion of a reporter who looked at the situation and held a debate on what he thought. Organ trafficking is a question he thought worth investigating. It may be considered a good or bad idea, but it's not anti-Semitic propaganda."

Apparently the use of common sense and some scientific fact did not occur to Mr. Helin:

...The story now comes full circle back to its Palestinian source to be confirmed by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an (which is, incidentally, financed by Denmark and Holland). The feature cites a certain “expert” whose evidence for the claim consists of a rather peculiar factoid, namely, that Israel returns the bodies of Hezbollah fighters minus their organs! The obvious question remains unasked: why would Israel send back these scavenged bodies if it wished to avoid detection and avert a scandal? The absurdity is palpable, but logic and common sense are clearly beyond the cognitive abilities of anti-Semites. And then, as we know, there is the inconvenient medical fact that the organs of people who do not expire under clinical conditions, when organs can be removed immediately, are not viable for transplant.

That medical fact is explained by a Palestinian doctor in a video:

It seems that Helin and his Aftonbladet take the idea of journalism in general and refutation in particular just so far.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

So Who Was The First American Leader To Talk About A 'Two State Solution'?

Apparently it was Hillary Clinton back on May 6, 1998.

In Déjà Vu Diplomacy, Rick Richman writes about how it seems that whenever Netanyahu is Prime Minister, the Palestinians start talking about unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state. He notes this little piece of history:

On April 28, 1998, Hanan Ashrawi, then the Palestinian minister of higher education, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington and said Palestinians would declare statehood in one year regardless of where the peace process then stood.

At the time, no American administration had ever endorsed a Palestinian state. A week later, as Dennis Ross was traveling to Israel to meet with Netanyahu, Hillary Clinton spoke (via satellite hookup arranged by the State Department) to Arab and Israeli teenagers attending a “peace summit” in Switzerland. In response to a student who asked about her use of the word Palestine, Hillary used the word state nine times, saying it would be “very important” for “Palestine to be a state.” In case Israel missed the significance of her words, the American embassy in Tel Aviv immediately released a report entitled “Hillary Clinton: Eventual Palestinian State Important for Mideast Peace.”

The White House said she was “not reflecting any administration policy”—only a “personal view.” But William Safire wrote in the New York Times that the explanation was “laughably implausible” and was “a calculated move by both Clintons to ratchet up the pressure on Israel” by warning that American policy might change if Netanyahu did not promptly move the process forward.

Read the whole thing.

This came a year before Hillary's famous kiss of Yassir Arafat's wife.
Those who are confused about Clinton's 'metamorphosis' from a strong supporter of Israel to Obama's right hand 'person' in pressuring Israel about the settlements should realize that Obama is not the only politician adroit at masking his politics and positions.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Great News! Obama Still More Popular In Israel Than Olmert!

Remember when Olmert's approval rating in 2007 was in the single digits?
If elections were held today, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would suffer a resounding defeat at the hands of a number of political rivals, according to a Channel 10 poll broadcast Wednesday.

When asked who would be their preferred prime ministerial candidate, 30 percent of those polled said Netanyahu, while 18 percent picked Labor MK Ami Ayalon.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak (Labor) came in third with 12 percent, followed by Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman (7 percent), Olmert (3 percent) and Defense Minister Amir Peretz (1 percent).
These days, even when he is not Israel's all time favorite American president, Obama still can beat that.
Barely.
Only four percent of Jewish Israelis believe US President Barack Obama's policies are pro-Israel and 50 percent oppose a temporary freeze of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a poll out on Friday showed.
Speaking of the settlements, they constitute a rough spot in what has been Netanyahu's strength till now:
Seventy-four percent of the public believes it is “not OK” that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made unilateral decisions regarding a building freeze instead of consulting with his cabinet and coalition...

The public also opposes the government policy of demolishing unauthorized Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria. Some 61 percent of those surveyed thought that the issue of unauthorized Jewish outposts should be solved by granting the outposts official government approval, instead of destroying them.
Well, at least Netanyahu is still more popular than Obama!
This week.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

A List Of Measures Israel Is Taking To Boost The West Bank Economy

The following is an article from the AIPAC website:
Israeli Measures in West Bank Boosting Economy

Israeli steps to improve travel and boost economic activity are having a significant impact on the economy of the West Bank. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the West Bank will grow at a seven percent rate this year amid one of the worst global recessions in decades. As the security situation in the West Bank has improved, Israel has removed nearly 150 roadblocks and checkpoints, including two dozen manned barriers, opened major crossings to spur trade and allowed significantly more Palestinian businessmen and workers to enter Israel. U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell praised Israel's efforts, saying during his visit to Jerusalem this week that "Israel has taken meaningful steps in the West Bank."

Israel has taken major steps to improve the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank despite ongoing security risks.

  • Israel has decreased the number of manned roadblocks within the West Bank by over 70 percent-from 35 to 10-in the last several months, dramatically enhancing freedom of movement and reducing travel time for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians despite real security risks.

  • Palestinians can now travel throughout most of the northern West Bank without encountering security checks, including in Nablus, which is subject only to occasional security checks.

  • In Ramallah, the main checkpoint north of the city is no longer permanently staffed. In Qalqiliya, Israel has completely dismantled one of the two major checkpoints maintaining access into the city, and the other is no longer permanently staffed.

  • Israel also took a major step to increase business activity and improve the lives of Palestinians by opening the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank 24 hours a day to commercial traffic.

  • Israel has dramatically increased access to Israel for key Palestinian businessmen and is boosting the number of Palestinians working inside Israel.

  • The Israel Defense Forces is considering additional measures to boost the Palestinian economy and ease West Bank movement and access, including the removal of more than 100 dirt security barriers.

  • In addition, the Israeli government has spearheaded a variety of economic development projects in the West Bank and limited military action in Palestinian cities.

  • U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell praised Israel's efforts, saying during a recent visit to Jerusalem for meetings with top leaders that "Israel has taken meaningful steps in the West Bank."

  • The U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a recent report that "initial field observations indicate that these measures have significantly reduced the amount of time required for Palestinians to access these cities."

  • While some, including the United States, have noted and applauded Israel's major bottom-up effort, Quartet envoy Tony Blair says Israel is receiving insufficient international credit for its work to stimulate the Palestinian economy.

The economy in the West Bank has improved amid a series of Israeli steps designed to spur business activity.

  • The Israeli measures have helped dramatically improve the West Bank economy. Amid the worst global recession in decades, the IMF is forecasting a 7 percent growth rate for the area for 2009.

  • Improved economic activity in the West Bank that began last year amid steps by the previous government is being further strengthened. In 2008, trade between Israel and the West Bank grew by more than 40 percent to more than $4 billion. The increase in trade was facilitated by improvements at major cargo crossings, which saw an 82 percent increase in truck crossings.

  • In one of the worst global real estate markets in decades, Palestinians are planning to start building the first new Palestinian town in decades early next year, while a high-end home furnishings chain, Herbawi Home Furnishings, is investing tens of millions of dollars to open several stores.

  • The greater loosening of travel restrictions for Israelis entering the West Bank has allowed thousands of Israeli Arabs to travel to Palestinian cities to shop and dine, significantly boosting the economy in Jericho, Jenin and Nablus. On Saturdays, more than 50 percent of the merchants' income in Nablus comes from Israeli Arabs, according to local businessmen.

  • A doubling in foreign investment in West Bank infrastructure has created jobs and improved living conditions. The U.S. is spending tens of millions of dollars to upgrade nearly 20 roads, while Germany is providing more than $50 million in funding for sewage treatment plants.

The improved security situation in the West Bank is allowing Israel to take risks by easing security and travel restrictions.

  • Israel is working closely with the United States and the PA to enhance the capabilities and effectiveness of security forces in the West Bank.

  • In concert with U.S. Security Coordinator General Keith Dayton, Israel has supported the training of more than 3,000 Palestinian security personnel at a Jordanian training base.

  • Israel's support for such high-level training of Palestinian security forces does not come without risk. During the height of Palestinian terrorism against Israel in the early 2000s, Palestinian security forces were heavily involved in attacks against Israeli civilians.

  • Despite this risk, Israel has worked with Palestinian security officials to extend the hours Palestinian forces can operate in four key cities-Ramallah, Qalqiliya, Bethlehem and Jericho. The forces now operate freely 24 hours a day to handle criminal activity and maintain order.

  • Israel has facilitated the transfer of a substantial quantity of arms to the PA, including 900 rifles, one million bullets, and logistical equipment, including surveillance and communication gear. In the past, such equipment has been used in attacks against Israel.

  • Israel has approved the establishment of 20 new Palestinian police stations in the West Bank, 19 of which have opened.

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World Reaction To Massacre Of Palestinian Arabs

Tim Marshall, writing for Sky News, notes the reaction of the world to the killing of Palestinian Arabs this past August 15th:

Thirty Palestinians killed. Women and children caught in the crossfire. Missiles fired at a Mosque. Muslim prisoners 'executed' in cold blood. A massacre. Media restrictions.

A familiar tale? Indeed. International outrage and demonstrations in the streets of London? Nope.

And why might that be? Why it's simple. The Palestinians were were killed by Palestinians and, it would appear from the lack of reaction that in those circumstances their lives are cheap, but when they are killed by Israelis it is an outrage.

On August 15th Hamas militiamen attacked a Mosque in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Inside were extremists from the Jund Ansar Allah group (JAA). JAA were so extreme they viewed Hamas almost as liberals.

They had declared Gaza an Islamic state and challenged Hamas to enter the Mosque. 'No problem' said Hamas.

In the assault Hamas desecrated holy ground, firing rocket and after rocket at the Mosque, some hit surrounding houses. It would be reasonable to assume that at least one Holy Koran may have been damaged.

After they took the building they rounded up the survivors. Mobile phone footage shows what appears to be Hamas men 'executing' some of them.

It is not hard evidence, but local reporters say that is what happened, and the footage is certainly of the aftermath of the attack. Audio material has Hamas commanders ordering the killings.

I put 'executed' in quotation marks as in this context, ie, the killing of someone, it is a legal term. But in the context of what Hamas did, perhaps it should be substituted for murdered.

And where is the outrage about these murders. The marches, the petitions, the calls for a boycott, the conspiracy theory of a war against Muslims, ad infinitum? I hear just the wind blowing across the freshly dug graves. Because unless the Israelis kill them, people don't care.

Clearly it is not the deaths of Palestinian Arabs that gets the world into an uproar--and as a result both Israel and the Palestinian Arabs suffer.

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Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank Do Their Best Work When Abbas Sits and Does Nothing

"I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements..."
Mahmoud Abbas

In Pajamas Media, Michael Weiss writes that where attempts at political peace have continued to fail, it appears that Netanyahu's 'economic peace' is taking hold:
The International Monetary Fund has recently concluded that the West Bank’s economy has improved dramatically in the last year. Michael Oren, Israel’s newly-minted ambassador to the United States, recently pointed out in a Wall Street Journal editorial that six thousand new jobs have been created since 2008, trade with Israel has increased 82%, tourism to Bethlehem has increased 94%, and agricultural exports are up 200% — all the result of a fusion between smart Palestinian planning, the Netanyahu government’s relaxed trade policies, and its continued dismantling of military checkpoints.

In that article in the Wall Street Journal, Michael Oren gives other details, including that more than 2,000 new companies have been registered in the West Bank with the Palestinian Authority since 2008. And the reason for the success?

Much of this revival is due to Palestinian initiative and to the responsible fiscal policies of West Bank leaders—such as Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad—many of whom are American-educated. But few of these improvements could have happened without a vastly improved security environment.

While Oren gives credit for the improvement in security to General Dayton's Palestinian security forces, the fact remains that Israeli steps first created the potential for security out of the chaos that is was(!?) the West Bank.

Oren also describes the difference between the political and economic pursuit of peace:

The West Bank's economic improvements contrast with the lack of diplomatic progress on the creation of a Palestinian state. Negotiators focus on the "top down" issues, grappling with legal and territorial problems. But the West Bank's population is building sovereignty from the bottom-up, forging the law-enforcement, civil, and financial institutions that form the underpinnings of any modern polity. The seeds of what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called "economic peace" are, in fact, already blossoming in the commercial skyline of Ramallah.

And don't forget that this is not the first time that the Palestinians have had the means and the opportunity to flourish during the past 60 years.

For instance, Efraim Karsh has written about the success of Palestinian Arabs before the Intifada:

The larger part, still untold in all its detail, is of the astounding social and economic progress made by the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli "oppression." At the inception of the occupation, conditions in the territories were quite dire. Life expectancy was low; malnutrition, infectious diseases, and child mortality were rife; and the level of education was very poor. Prior to the 1967 war, fewer than 60 percent of all male adults had been employed, with unemployment among refugees running as high as 83 percent. Within a brief period after the war, Israeli occupation had led to dramatic improvements in general well-being, placing the population of the territories ahead of most of their Arab neighbors.

...During the 1970's, the West Bank and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world-ahead of such "wonders" as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. [emphasis added]
CAMERA also notes that:
the Palestinian territories had one of the ten fastest growing economies during the 1970's, just behind Saudi Arabia (which benefitted from the oil shock of 1973), and ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. (World Bank, ratio of real per capita GNP in 1980 to real per capita GNP in 1970)
This is not based on idle speculation either. It is backed up by the publication by The World Bank: Developing the Occupied Territories: An Investment in Peace

Despite the Intifada, during the 1990's, things were looking up again. Check out this article from March 1995, Soon The Gaza Strip Will Be Competing With Singapore, all about
the industrial parks which the leadership of the [Israeli] Foreign, Industry and Finance Ministries is planning at this very moment, under total secrecy. The goal: to establish between 8 to 11 such parks on the cease-fire line between Israel and the autonomous areas, which the Palestinian Authority will control within the next few months.

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is the one who envisioned all this, and those close to him say with pride: We are getting closer to Singapore, Taiwan and Hong-Kong, in huge steps.

And then, after the vision arrives to develop the cities Gaza, Dir Al- Balah, Ofakim and Sderot it will be copied in the cease-fire line between Afula and Jenin, to Mt. Hebron and Tul-Karm, and will reach the entrance of Kochav Yair.

Each industrial park will be established for about 10,000 employees, and will sit on 2,000 dunam of land, with considerable financial assistance from foreign investors and also governmental subsidies. The Palestinians will run them, and be its workers, for the most part.

The difference between what was possible then and what Gaza suffers from now under the Hamas terrorists is stark--and the difference today between Gaza and the West Bank will not be lost on the Palestinian Arabs suffering under Hamas rule. After all, there are just so many times that Hamas can blame Israel for its failures--especially when Israel is creating the possibility for the West Bank's successes.

Oren writes:

The vitality of the West Bank also accentuates the backwardness and despair prevailing in Gaza. In place of economic initiatives that might relieve the nearly 40% unemployment in the Gaza Strip, the radical Hamas government has imposed draconian controls subject to Shariah law. Instead of investing in new shopping centers and restaurants, Hamas has spent millions of dollars restocking its supply of rockets and mortar shells. Rather than forge a framework for peace, Hamas has wrought war and brought economic hardship to civilians on both sides of the borders.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank there is perhaps a growing realization that Netanyahu's 'economic peace' may be succeeding where others--including Obama--have failed:

Fayyad told Haaretz this month that he realized that “security was the glue between a thriving economy and proper government and achieving liberty for the Palestinian people.” (On the question of whether or not Israel is a “Jewish state” — an admission Netanyahu has been adamant about getting from the Palestinians and which he has hitherto been denied officially — Fayyad sounded more Zionist-friendly than the New York Review of Books typically is: “The character of Israel, as the total character that Israel would like to have, is Israel’s own choice.”)

Back in May, Abbas said in his interview with Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post:

"I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements," he said. "Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life." In the Obama administration, so far, it's easy being Palestinian.

Abbas will continue waiting, assuming that everything he wants will fall into his hands. However, if it is not Israeli concessions but rather Israeli contributions to the reemerging Palestinian that make the news, Abbas will find that the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank are growing tired of waiting for him.

On a cautionary note, George Gilder writes in The Israel Test that historically foreign aid intended for economic recovery is conducive to corruption and failure, rather than economic growth. When I emailed him about the apparent challenge that the West Bank poses to that rule, he responded:

Hey, when you have a 40 to 60 percent drop in output in the midst of violence, it is relatively easy to get a rebound when calm returns and you have Netanyahu both standing firm against more concessions to terrorists and declaring his determination to open new opportunities for enterprise in the territories.

If Netanyahu's broad based economic recovery for the Palestinian Arabs is successful--and Gilder is a big admirer of Netanyahu's economic know-how--then maybe this time around the apparent Palestinian economic renaissance will be permanent, and auger better times to come in the region.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today Is The Day: Tweet4Shalit! #GiladShalit

On August 28th, Gilad Shalit will celebrate his 23rd birthday. However, instead of celebrating his birthday with family and friends, Gilad Shalit will be 'celebrating' his birthday in terrorist captivity in Gaza, courtesy of the terrorist group Hamas.

In order to raise awareness of Gilad Shalit’s story and to get support for his immediate release, various groups have organized “Tweet4Shalit”, which will take place from Wednesday, August 26th at midnight until Thursday, August 27th.

The goal is to make “Tweet4Shalit” into an event where thousands of people will tweet the hashtag #GiladShalit on Twitter and make Gilad a top 10 Twitter “Trending Topic.”

For more information about “Tweet4Shalit,” click here.

Please take part in this important event.

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Obama's Double Standard On Visas: Israel vs Honduras

Apparently, the United States is very unhappy that Israel has instituted new restrictions on the visas of people visiting the Palestinian Authority:

Under the new policy, Israeli authorities have frequently begun stamping passports of tourists intending to visit areas in the West Bank with "Palestinian Authority only" stamps, restricting visitors' ability to enter Israel, or even to board returning flights from Ben-Gurion Airport.

"We have let the government of Israel know that these restrictions unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab American travelers and are not acceptable," the State spokesman's office said in a statement responding to a reporter's question earlier in the day.

"We have repeatedly told the government of Israel that the United States expects all American citizens to be treated equally, regardless of their national origin or other citizenship."[emphasis added]

Generally speaking, the US makes a very valid point: "these restrictions unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab American travelers" and the US has every right to expect"all American citizens to be treated equally, regardless of their national origin or other citizenship"

However, there appears to be one point the US government is studiously avoiding:

Israeli officials have defended the policy as necessary on security grounds, as a means of insuring that individuals who pose security risks aren't able to wander around Israel. In the past, some foreign terrorists were able to attack Israelis after first rendezvousing with contacts in Palestinian-controlled areas.

Of course, the question arises as to just how the US itself deals with the issue of visas and the like. Apparently the US does not hesitate to use visas and passports for political purposes. For instance, last month the US Court of Appeals rejected the plea of parents who wanted Israel listed as their son's country of birth on his passport. And why is it that the State Department will not allow this--because their son was born in Jerusalem. Apparently, the implication would be that the US recognizes Jerusalem as part of Israel, thus jeopardizing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

It's an odd decision, considering the whole point of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act--even if the president signs a waiver delaying the moving of the US embassy--clearly recognizes Jerusalem as the capital: and capitals generally are part of the country of which they are the capital.

Among the findings of the bill:

(1) Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital.

(2) Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.

(16) The United States conducts official meetings and other business in the city of Jerusalem in de facto recognition of its status as the capital of Israel.

More explicit is Section 21 of HR 1646 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003:

SEC. 214. UNITED STATES POLICY WITH RESPECT TO JERUSALEM AS THE CAPITAL OF ISRAEL.

(a) CONGRESSIONAL STATEMENT OF POLICY- The Congress maintains its commitment to relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and urges the President, pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-45; 109 Stat. 398), to immediately begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

(b) LIMITATION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR CONSULATE IN JERUSALEM- None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be expended for the operation of a United States consulate or diplomatic facility in Jerusalem unless such consulate or diplomatic facility is under the supervision of the United States Ambassador to Israel.

(c) LIMITATION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR PUBLICATIONS- None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be available for the publication of any official government document which lists countries and their capital cities unless the publication identifies Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

(d) RECORD OF PLACE OF BIRTH AS ISRAEL FOR PASSPORT PURPOSES- For purposes of the registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen's legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.
The bill was signed by President Bush, but has been interpreted as advisory, rather than mandatory--a simple way to get around a law that requires the government to recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel and have passports that recognize it as such.

But let it not be said that Obama is going to play favorites when playing games with visas and the like. Apparently Obama has still not gotten over Hondurans insisting on following their constitution in deposing Manuel Zelaya as president--so Obama has chosen to place limitations on Honduran visas.
Temporary Suspension of Non-Immigrant Visa Services in Honduras

Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 25, 2009

The OAS Foreign Ministers mission is in Honduras seeking support for the San Jose Accord, which would restore the democratic and constitutional order and resolve the political crisis in Honduras. In support of this mission and as a consequence of the de facto regime’s reluctance to sign the San Jose Accord, the U.S. Department of State is conducting a full review of our visa policy in Honduras. As part of that review, we are suspending non-emergency, non-immigrant visa services in the consular section of our embassy in Honduras, effective August 26. We firmly believe a negotiated solution is the appropriate way forward and the San Jose Accord is the best solution.
Unlike the manipulation of visas and passports for political ends, Israel's restrictions on passports are an issue of security and the safety of it's citizens. US feelings about "restrictions that unfairly impact" travelers are apparently very fluid.

Note: Will the US be as brave in playing the visa card with Ahmadinejad as it is with Honduras?

[Hat tip: Hot Air]

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Losing Ground Domestically, Obama Looks For A Big Win--Israel Better Look Out

Obama is falling deeper and deeper into unfamiliar territory: disapproval of his political performance


Jennifer Rubin writes about the astonishingly unexpected turn in Obama's presidency:
Now the adjective most associated with his administration is “chaos.” Liberals are amazed he has frittered away the opportunity of a generation to pass the Democratic dream of nationalized health care. Conservatives marvel that he could have delegated the drafting process to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

In sum, anyone hoping Obama would usher in a new era of idealism, bipartisanship and effective governance must be sorely disappointed. It is now about brute power and bare knuckle politics. The issue of the day now is: Can the president muscle through his increasingly unpopular health care plan by skirting congressional tradition and ignoring any angry electorate?
Questions are being raised about past and current measures that have been pushed through by Obama and how they reflect on measures still under discussion--witness the challenges to his proposed health care reform--and Obama's foreign policy is not going any more smoothly, not even when it comes to an issue that seemed to only need more American pressure in order to be resolved: the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Obama needs a clear victory. If he cannot bully the Republicans into backing--or at least not opposing--his policies, Obama may think that perhaps his first real success lies overseas, with the one country he feels he can bully: Israel.

All that was needed was more pressure on Israel while paying more attention to the Arabs in order to achieve what has escaped so many previous presidents. Instead, Obama has found that Israel is resistant and challenging US pressure. Meanwhile:
Obama has also left some Arab leaders with whom he recently met confused and doubtful about his intentions on Middle East peace. They have reported to aides that the president acknowledged that he has failed thus far to secure matching concessions from Arab countries and Israel as the basis for new negotiations.

The Arabs complain that they have been offered no tangible incentives to move toward normalizing relations with Israel before an Israeli-Palestinian deal is reached. They dismiss both Obama's publicly undisclosed demand for a one-year freeze on Israeli settlements and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's counteroffer of a six-month freeze as equally meaningless.

"Incrementalism and the step-by-step approach has not, and we believe will not, achieve peace," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told reporters in Washington on July 31. The comments by Saud, who did not see Obama, echoed the broad Arab consensus that Obama has not been bold enough. "Temporary security, confidence-building measures will also not bring peace," the Saudi prince added.

The president promised his Arab interlocutors that he would spell out his Middle East strategy in a major address in mid-to-late September.
One Jerusalem has reason to believe that the major address will be given next month at the United Nations:
Several sources have informed One Jerusalem that the Obama Administration is planning to significantly step up the pressure on Israel by announcing a comprehensive plan for Israel and the Palestinians at the opening of the United Nations General in September.

Picture this: The anti-Israel nations of the world surrounding President Obama as he demands that Israel give up sovereignty over Jerusalem, abandon settlements, and recognize a terrorist state on the West Bank.

If this happens, Israel will be isolated from the rest of world in a very dramatic manner.

The first sign that something was up came when Egyptian President Mubarak said that the Obama Administration was ready to propose a plan in September and the White House rushed to dampen expectations by declaring that they are nowhere near to readying a plan.
Unlike Congress, the UN is united in its bias against Israel and will be sure to cheer Obama while sneering at Israel if it fails to follow through--the perfect setup for Obama as he tries to get what has thus far escaped him in politics: an accomplishment.

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Human Rights Watch Can Never Be Viewed The Same Way Again (Updated)

Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein puts it just right:

From what I can tell, the various revelations over the last few weeks about Human Rights Watch--the fundraising trip to Saudi Arabia, the anti-Israel activist backgrounds of its Middle East staff, the contemptuous attitude toward pro-Israel critics (who often turn out to be right) contrasted with the obsequious attitude toward anti-Israel critics, and so on--has cost the organization its credibility among a very broad swath of Israeli and Western pro-Israel public opinion, including the moderate left.

From now on, every HRW report on Israel is going to be greeted with "you mean the Saudi-funded HRW," or "you mean the report written by the woman [HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson] who is a great admirer of Norman Finkelstein and lobbied Kofi Annan against Israel in the middle of the Second Intifada" or "you mean the report written by the guy [Stork] who supports the anti-Israel boycott movement and has been venting his hostility to Israel for almost forty years" or "you mean HRW, the organization that fails to take down from its website anti-Israel reports even when it has admitted they are inaccurate," and so on. [emphasis added]

Last week, Maariv's Ben-Dror Yemini wrote an in-depth report of HRW's Joe Stork's long history of bias and outrageous statements against Israel (available both in Hebrew and in English) Now, Yemini has fisked Stork's reply--showing how Stork's counter is only a further condemnation of Human Rights Watch. Again, this article--printed below in its entirety--is available both in Hebrew and in English:

CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY

Ben-Dror Yemini, Maariv, 21.8.09

HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS BECAME THE PROBLEM OF HUMAN RIGHTS

On Sunday (16.8.09), I wrote an article entitled "Author of Report Against Israel Supported Munich Massacre" which dealt with Joe Stork, the man who presented the severe Human Rights Watch (HRW) report last week (13.8.09) which said that 12 Palestinian civilians, including children, were shot to death by IDF soldiers even though they were waving white flags.

The article received widespread coverage and many references, and apparently struck a very sensitive chord with the organization. Up until now, the organization did not respond to claims of anti-Israel bias; on occasion, it arrogantly belittled the claims. This time the organization deviated from its habit. Two days later (18.8.09), Stork sent a letter to Maariv in which he tried to deal with the claims that were made against him. The letter is presented in full below, both for reasons regarding the right of response and in order to make it clear that the letter, in effect, only strengthens the claims against the organization in general and against Stork in particular. Following is Stork's letter in full, with remarks added in order to set the record straight.

***

"The Israeli government and Ben-Dror Yemini ['Author of Report against Israel Supported Munich Massacre'] seem to share a “shoot the messenger” approach when it comes to addressing painstakingly researched criticisms of the Israel Defense Forces’ actions in Gaza. Instead of addressing these detailed findings, they spread malicious misinformation about me and my organization, Human Rights Watch.

Stork is right. One must deal with the message, not the messenger. But sometimes, in extreme cases, there are grounds for focusing on the messenger. Let us assume that a former Ku Klux Klan activist would issue a report against Afro-Americans. Would the report be important or the messenger? The comparison is not far off the mark in the current case. Stork opposed the recognition of Israel and was even one of the founders (!) of a group that admired the murder of the Israeli athletes in Munich. Stork also recommended that the left-wing body should withdraw if the PLO decided to negotiate with Israel. May we not doubt the objectivity of such a man?

"On August 13, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing instances in January in which Israeli soldiers killed Palestinian civilians who were waving white flags to convey their civilian status. Government spokespersons sought to dismiss the report by calling Human Rights Watch biased. But to date no critic has disputed the facts about the seven incidents in the report, in which soldiers shot and killed 11 unarmed civilians, including four children and five women."

One of the main stories in the HRW's report relates to Abd Rabbo family, that three of her daughters were shot in cold blood, despite the fact that they raised a white flag, and despite the fact that fighting was not in the area. The case was published extensively on many newspapers around the world. A special report of Tamar Sternhal from CAMERA found out significant contradictions in the testimonies of the family members and the neighbors. Sternhal test was much more meticulous than the HRW report, and was posted on 4.2.09 - long before the publication of the report of HRW. It was ignored by the HRW team. Even the “Times Magazine” published a contradicting testimony about the Abed Rabbo affair>, but again, it was ignored by HRW.

And indeed, it is becoming clear that HRW carried out negligent and non-serious work. All of the incidents appearing in the report were known to the IDF. The report itself did not add anything. Moreover, the claim that, "no critic has disputed the facts about the seven incidents," is a total lie. On the contrary, regarding five of the seven incidents, it was decided to open Military Police investigations, meaning that the IDF is carrying out a serious inquiry. If there are discrepancies – they are being thoroughly examined.

HRW adopts the opposite method. Videos have been published of Hamas personnel exploiting civilians and hiding behind white flags. These were even published on YouTube. Is there even one word – one! – about this in the HRW report? Of course not.

In the same video, it should be pointed out, the terrorist hides in a house from which civilians are waving white flags. The terrorist was apprehended. The civilians were not hurt. It is no coincidence that the film's findings were not refuted in the HRW report because when the target is painted in advance – the delegitimization of Israel – the facts will not confuse Stork and his people. While photographic testimony that refutes the findings of the report receives no comment, the testimony of Palestinians living in the shadow of Hamas's reign of terror receives top billing. Is this testimony serious? NGO Monitor responded to this and refuted HRW's claims. But Stork, as is his custom, takes no notice.

Many claims have been made against Israel. Israel did not ignore them. On the contrary, many of these claims were refuted in detail, in a 163-page Foreign Ministry report that was issued on 29.7.09. The HRW report, which was issued two weeks later (13.8.09), ignores most of them, just as the video was ignored because this is what HRW does. Stork is not even interested in checking; he wants delegitimization.

"Now, again instead of addressing our research, Mr. Yemini has launched a personal attack on me, which the Israeli government has dutifully translated and distributed. The quotes he attributes to me are more than 30 years old. Most of them I do not recognize, and they are contrary to the views I have expounded for decades now. For instance, selective excerpts about the Munich massacre come from an unsigned editorial that appeared 37 years ago where at the time I was one of seven volunteers that produced the publication. All my work since then shows that I would never support such an attack. For nearly 40 years, I have been documenting, writing, and speaking out on injustices by virtually all of the governments and many non-state armed groups in the Middle East. This work is readily available – including at Middle East Report magazine, which I edited through 1995, and at Human Rights Watch since then – but Mr. Yemini did not include these many statements, undoubtedly because they did not support his claims. Had he looked at the hundreds of statements, articles and reports I’ve written since the 1970s, he would have found exposés of Saddam Hussein’s murderous regime and my report for Human Rights Watch on war crimes by Palestinian suicide bombers. I have dedicated much of my adult life to the protection of human rights for all and to fighting the idea that civilians can be attacked for political reasons. Ma'ariv and Mr. Yemini owe me an apology."

Indeed, it is clear that Stork does not deny even one of the claims that I raised. He simply claims that there are his remarks from many years ago. Has Stork disavowed his very problematic past with the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP)? Indeed, in an article he wrote in 1993 on US-Israel relations, Stork expresses very similar positions to those he expressed in his MERIP days. Moreover, many footnotes in the same article direct the reader to remarks written in MERIP years before. This means that not only has there been no turning point but a reiteration and continuation of the past. And it should be clear that Stork was for the Israelis just as the KKK activist would be for the Afro-Americans.

Let us continue. Stork claims that HRW published condemnations of Saddam Hussein and Palestinian suicide terrorists. This is the case, there indeed were additional reports. But these reports do not pass the proportionality test. Among countless human rights violations around the world in which Israel has a marginal and small place, HRW sees fit to issue countless reports precisely on Israel, a disproportionality that indicates a pre-selected goal and Stork's special logic. Even when HRW issues a condemnation of a Palestinian action, Stork adds clarifications of his own [in a 2001 BBC report]: "Most of the [Palestinian] security officers have been in Israeli jails." Yes, the Stork of the past is no different from the Stork of today.

Stork's headline-grabber has to do with the equivocal support issued by MERIP in the wake of the Munich massacre: I was "one of seven volunteers," he tries to claim. Not exactly. Stork was one of MERIP's founders and the chief editor of the journal which published a statement in support of the massacre. It is a pity that Stork does not read his own CV as it appears on HRW's official website. The determination that the action was "an important boost in morale" for the Palestinians is part of the sequence of other remarks, including opposition to recognizing Israel, encouraging Arab countries to struggle against Israel, etc.

*

I believe that today, Stork would not issue a statement in support of massacring athletes. But Stork has merely gone from the highest rung on the anti-Zionist ladder to the next one lower down. But he is still on the same scale. He was and remains in the ranks of the anti-Israel Left. NGO Monitor and Prof. Gerald Steinberg will soon publish a book that analyzes a decade's worth of HRW publications and the people behind them, including Stork himself. But Stork is above criticism. It is possible to assume that he did not bother to study NGO Monitor's detailed response to the HRW report. This allows Stork to claim that there were no responses. This is what he does. When Steinberg previously issued a biting and substantive criticism, Stork arrogantly responded that he is not at all interested in criticism against him.

Israel, in contrast to Stork, takes notice of the criticism against it. It checks itself. Not all criticism of Israel deserves to be dismissed. Israel also makes mistakes. But Stork is a special personality. He is both radically anti-Israeli and unwilling to be criticized. Is it possible to accept the "criticism" of such a man?

*

Stork is not alone. When he began to work at HRW, he had no special expertise in the field. His only talent was a series of articles that were exceptionally hostile to Israel. That is not surprising. The Director of the Middle East Department, Sarah Leah Whitson, arrived at HRW after having been in a pro-Arab body. This is legitimate. Is there a chance that someone from the Anti-Defamation League would be accepted to HRW?

Global human rights are in a predicament. The UN Human Rights Council has turned into the Dark Regimes Rights Council. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Libya have an automatic majority. Non-governmental organizations, such as HRW, were supposed to stand against such bodies. But in reality a sad thing happened, Whitson flew to Saudi Arabia recently to raise funds for HRW. And they don't even understand that they have a problem. This is how non-governmental bodies have transformed antagonism towards Israel to the main issue. They are biased to the extreme. They place Israel in the same category as Sudan, and publish weak protests on the suicide and rocket industries, just to discharge a perfunctory obligation.

Israel is contending with the Hamas regime, the official covenant of which is the closest thing to Nazi ideology. This is a group that calls for the elimination of the State of Israel, the malicious murder of Israeli citizens, gratuitous Jew-hatred, and many of its speakers talk candidly about taking over the West. How exactly is a democratic country supposed to confront such an entity, indoctrinated in the ideology of hatred, murder and incitement? Why is Europe permitted to fight the Taliban – which threatens Germany or Spain much less – with much harsher measures, but Israel is prohibited from fighting a body like Hamas?

It is permitted to criticize Israel. But HRW has lost the moral right to do so. He who in the past has called for the elimination of Israel; he who supports, directly or indirectly, the boycott of Israel, cannot become an objective critic. There is a need for an international struggle for human rights. But bodies such as HRW hurt this important struggle. They become the prop of the world's darkest regimes. Instead of saying unequivocally that such a regime, such an ideology, such an element – has no right to exist, the HRW is waging a struggle that is not a criticism of Israel, but rather wild slander against Israel. True, there is marginal criticism against Hamas. But criticism of Israel is the main point. And therefore, for the sake of returning human rights to its proper standing, it is time for HRW to cleanse its ranks.

The very existence of a group like Hamas is a crime against humanity. Stork and HRW find it difficult to understand this. On the contrary, in their crude attack, in their delegitimization of Israel, they are parties to this crime.

Ben-Dror Yemini is a senior editorialist in Maariv (bdyemini@gmail.com)

And HRW, of course, is not alone.

UPDATE: I was late noticing that Omri Ceren of Mere Rhetoric has a piece, Human Rights Watch earns its pay, appearing in the Jerusalem Post.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

One Jerusalem--End Of The Week Review August 23, 2009

From an email from One Jerusalem

Weekly Review: August 23, 2009

Dear Friend of Jerusalem,

Here are the latest headlines from the One Jerusalem Blog:

RED ALERT RED ALERT: OBAMA PLANNING ISRAEL AMBUSH AT OPENING OF UN ASSEMBLY: Several sources have informed One Jerusalem that the Obama Administration is planning to significantly step up the pressure on Israel by announcing a comprehensive plan for Israel and the Palestinians at the opening of the United Nations General in September.Picture... (read more)

Obama's Plans For Israel Become Clearer: Today, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told the press that President Obama is finishing up a plan to bring about a diplomatic end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Mubarak also made clear that he told Obama that any... (read more)

World Jewish Congress Defends Israel, Takes on Obama: In light of a Fatah convention that confirmed that these "moderate Palestinians" will not recognize a Jewish State, and growing evidence that the Obama administration is preparing to launch a full scale diplomatic offense on behalf of the Palestinians, at... (read more)

Sincerely, The One Jerusalem Team

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When Israelis Denounce Israel: Legitimate Criticism of Israel or Arrogant Self-Delusion

Going beyond what they say to why they say it.
When Israelis Denounce Israel: Legitimate Criticism of Israel or Arrogant Self-Delusion

Dr. Alex Grobman

Dr. Alex Grobman is a Hebrew University trained historian. His is the author of a number of books, including Nations United: How The U.N. Undermines Israel and The West, Denying History: Who Says The Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? and a forthcoming book on Israel's moral and legal right to exist as a Jewish State.

Critics of Israel abound. Some are antisemites who seek the demise of the Jewish state. Others have legitimate concerns about particular Israeli policies. Among the most vocal are a number of Israeli intellectuals who challenge the country’s raison d’être.

In an August 20, 2009 editorial in the Los Angeles Times, Neve Gordon, a professor of political science at Ben-Gurion University, accused Israel of being an apartheid state. He said a two-state solution was the “more realistic” way to end this inequity. Since only “massive international pressure,” will bring about this state and thus save Israel, Gordon recently joined the Arab sponsored Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement founded in July 2005.1

Vilification of Israel by Jews is not a new phenomenon. As early as May 1, 1936 Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson asked: “Is there another people on earth whose sons are so emotionally twisted that they consider everything their nation does despicable and hateful, while every murder, rape and robbery committed by their enemies fills their hearts with admiration and awe? As long as a Jewish child…can come to the land of Israel, and here catch the virus of self-hate…let not our conscience be still.”2

For Katznelson this was aberrant behavior, not the norm. Today, criticism of Israel has become ubiquitous among a significant portion of Israeli intellectuals.3

In the 1950s, psychologist Gordon Allport explained that Jewish self-hate is the process in which the victim identifies with his aggressor and “sees his own group through their eyes.” The Jew “may hate his historic religion…or he may blame some one class of Jews…or he may hate the Yiddish language. Since he cannot escape his own group, he does in a real sense hate himself—or at least the part of himself that is Jewish.”4

Self-hating Jews play a significant role in anti-Israel campaigns of the Western media. Historian Robert Wistrich noted that Jews highly critical of Israel are featured in the British media.5

Manfred Gerstenfeld, chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, found that the French elite and media adore Jews and Israelis who are highly critical of Israel. A number of marginal Jews, who are not known in Israel, are presented as part of the Israeli mainstream. 6

Israeli’s condemnation of their country is a result of living under “a state of chronic siege,” posits Kenneth Levin, a historian and psychiatrist. Israelis have been abused for so long, that they escape their pain by espousing anti-Israel sentiments. Appeasing the terrorists, they believe, will end hostilities. Israel only has to acquiesce to Arab demands, cease obsessing about defensible borders and other strategic issues, and peace would ensue and such concerns would become irrelevant.7

Sol Stern, a former editor of the New Left Ramparts magazine, adds that this assumes both sides act rationally. According to this scenario, when Israel’s concessions are considered equitable, amity will compensate for any remaining differences. Didn’t the enmity between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union end in détente? Hadn’t President Richard Nixon gone to China? Aren’t “the Arabs rational” people? 8

Any “peace process” is intrinsically superior to war. Regardless of all previously failed attempts, isn’t another peace overture worth trying? To suggest there might be “something inherently violent and unreasonable in Arab Muslim political culture” could be interpreted as racist.9 Instead, Israeli intellectuals began disparaging their own culture and re-writing their country’s history. When they concluded that the Arabs had legitimate grievances, they decided “it was time to try again to split the difference.”10

In the 1980s and 1990s two different Israeli administrations offered “land for peace’ to Syria, but were rebuffed. Under terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Israeli government permitted terrorist organizations to return to the West Bank and Gaza and gave tens of thousands of weapons to Yasser Arafat’s security services, before he signed a peace treaty or an irrefutable security agreement. Arab failure to rescind the Palestine National Covenant’s demand for Israel’s demise and replacement by a Palestinian state was either ignored or minimized.11

“No nation in the world has taken so many mortal risks for a putative peace with its most implacable enemies,” Stern observes. Even after the Oslo Accords were shattered when the Arabs began blowing up civilians in pizza shops and on buses, Ehud Barak offered another proposal at Camp David. Instead of accepting this offer, Arafat unleashed “yet another savage wave of extermination against Israel’s civilian population” with weapons Israel had provided him.

Stern credits neoconservatives with understanding that Israel’s right to exist as a democratic Jewish state has always been the main problem for the Arabs, not the “disputed territories.” Arab attempts to bring their case to the attention of the world are not arbitrary. Suicide bombings are a cleverly planned strategy that has produced considerable advantages. After the first series of attacks against Israeli supermarkets, cafés, malls and buses, the Arab cause was championed by European governments and on American campuses.12 Israeli victims receive little sympathy, historian Tony Judt and a severe critic of Israel claims, because they are not seen as victims of terror, but as “collateral damage of their own government’s mistaken policies.”13

Israeli offers to exchange land for peace have not succeeded. Appeasement has only increased hatred of Israel. Yet Israel is continually pressured to make concessions. The reason, Stern believes, is that progressive critics cannot acknowledge a fundamental truth: “that there can be political movements, like Islamic terrorism—in which the jihad and the intifada merge—that are so pathological in their hatreds that we can solve the problems they purport to care about only after they are defeated.” 14

Levin sees an element of arrogance in “this self-delusion” by Israelis who believe they can affect change. Jews assume a responsibility for something over which they have no control, to ward off despair. This is similar to an abused child who feels responsible for his plight and views himself as “bad.” The child maintains, “the fantasy that if he becomes good enough,” his father will stop hitting him, his mother will give him attention and whatever other form of abuse he suffered will end. In the same way, some Israelis are delusional when they assume they can control Arab behavior.

--------

1. Neve Gordon, “Boycott Israel: An Israeli comes to the painful conclusion that it’s the only way to save his country,” latimes.com (August 20, 2009).
2. Edward Alexander, “Israelis Against Themselves.” In The Jewish Divide Over Israel: Accusers and Defenders. Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor, Eds. (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2006), 35.
3. Ibid., 35-36.
4. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Jews Against Israel,” Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs No.30 (March 1, 2005).
5. Ibid.
6. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “European-Israeli Relations: Between Confusion and Change? An American Watching Anti-Israeli Bias in France, Interview with Nidra Poller.” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (September 2006).
7. Kenneth Levin, The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege (Hanover, New Hampshire: Smith and Kraus Global, 2005), vii-viii, xv, xix-xx.
8. Sol Stern, “Israel Without Apology.” City Journal. (Summer 2003), Online.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Tony Judt, “The country that wouldn’t grow up.” Haaretz. (May 5, 2006), Online.
14. Stern, op.cit.
15. Levin, op.cit. xvi-xx.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Israeli Response To Swedish Slander Blasted By Swedes--And Jews!

...Our research clarifies that in recent years part of the societal elites, particularly in Sweden and Norway, have been responsible for many pioneering efforts to demonize Israel. Prominent among the perpetrators are leading socialist and other leftist politicians, journalists, clergy, and employees of NGOs. This demonization is based on the classic motifs of anti-Semitism, which often also accompany its new mutation of anti-Israelism.
Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews,
by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld (available free online)


Israel can never seem to catch a break.

Last week, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, published an article accusing Israel Defense Forces soldiers of harvesting organs from Palestinians. Israel responded by demanding that the Swedish government condemn the disgusting article.

Jan Helin, editor-in-chief of the paper responded that he was disappointed in the Israeli government and that he was "saddened to see extreme rightist populists using this article as vulgar propaganda."--
"Rightist populists in Israel, especially Lieberman, took advantage of the publication for their own personal aims," he said. "The government of Israel is becoming more and more isolated from the world in its views. I think the official responses should be understood as related to the local and internal opinions in Israel, which are harming Israel."
Just to make point, Aftonbladet went ahead and published another article on the subject yesterday. Helin claimed that the intent was to ascertain the validity of the story:

Helin explained he had sent reporters to the West Bank to ask the family if it stood behind its story. "There were many rumors about the truth of the claims and we wanted to refute them," he said. "It may not prove anything factual, but the claims remain and this is why we published the story."

When asked why the paper did not verify the claims with the IDF Helin answered, "This is not a news report, but the opinion of a reporter who looked at the situation and held a debate on what he thought. Organ trafficking is a question he thought worth investigating. It may be considered a good or bad idea, but it's not anti-Semitic propaganda."
Helin is unclear:
  • Is Aftonbladet in the habit of publishing unsubstantiated claims?
  • How does going back to the Palestinian Arabs who made the claim constitute a refutation?
  • Just what kind of debate did the reporter have--and with whom?
  • Which is it: was the article just the reporter's opinion, or the result of investigation (without talking to the IDF?)?

Helin claims "I don't regret publishing the story, but I couldn't imagine the amount of publicity we'd get and it wasn't my intention."--well, at least I can belief the first half.

Jews in Sweden have also taken a stand in reaction to this story--against Israel:

[L]eaders of the Jewish community in Sweden believe that Israeli elements are responsible for inflaming the situation.

According to Lena Posner, head of the Jewish community in Stockholm and president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, "Israel caused all this mess."

Posner told Ynet, "The article was published here on Monday, but no one paid any attention to it. It wasn't a news report and was buried in the back pages of a tabloid. The writer is known to many of us as anti-Israel, and so it the entire paper. This is why no one took it seriously – until Israel got involved."

Now the focus has changed from the story itself to a debate on freedom of speech--instead of the content of that speech. With the self-righteous indignation that Sweden will be able to conjure up, Israel will lose this fight.

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