Commentary From the Mile High City

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Joshua Sharf

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June 11, 2009

Calling Victor Davis Hanson

Of all the calumnies hurled against Israel, perhaps the most damaging is the claim that its self-defense measures showhow equate with its being an apartheid state.

In 1999, Victor Davis Hanson wrote The Soul of Battle, which described the marches of three great democratic armies to destroy apartheid states.  The Theban Epaminondas detroyed Spartan society and freed the Helots.  Sherman wrecked the Southern economy and exposed its internal contradictions, while freeing the black slaves.  And George Patton detroyed the Nazi state's ability to wage war, and could have prevented the Soviet takeover of central Europe had he been allowed to get there first.

Hanson notes that the unique quality of the armies is matched by the particular enmity that democracies have for apartheid societies, and their massive, collective injustices.

While Barack Obama and Condoleeza Rice may not have intended to compare the Israelis to Southern slaveholders or segregationists, by comparing the Palestinians to American Blacks, they have guaranteed that the Arabs will do just that, and with renewed gusto and confidence.

By virtue of his particular work and his strong moral sense, as well as his understanding of how the real world works, Prof. Hanson may well be uniquely qualified to rebut such charges.

How about it Professor?

May 2, 2009

Israel Appoints Michael Oren Ambassador to the US

The new Israeli government has appointed Michael Oren as its new ambassador to the United States.  It's a home run appointment.  (Soccer Dad is also approving.) One assumes his ability to talk to our government, but it is his ability to communicate directly to the American public that will prove his greatest asset.  It's the sort of fluency and articulateness that Israeli PR has been lacking since, well, since Bibi was here.

Oren is a fellow at the Shalem Center, and has a deep knowledge of both contemporary Middle East history and the long US involvement in the region, dating from our inception in the 18th Century, having written serious books on both - Six Days of War; and Power, Faith, and Fantasy.  His writing for Azure reveals a thinker, informed by historical documents more than ideology.

Merely having such knowledge probably wouldn't be of much help with an administration that seems both ignorant and apathetic about history.  But he's also demonstrated an understanding of current politics and policies.  Oren knows what mischief Jimmy Carter is up to, and has written with caution about the prospects of talking to Iran.  Oren also fought in the recent Gaza incursion; to the extent that this administration is willing to listen, he can speak from experience they wouldn't have seen on CNN or Al Jazeera.  (Listen to his contemporaneous interview with Hugh Hewitt here.)

April 24, 2009

Clinton Strikes Back at Israel

Israel's new government has adopted the position that it will not seriously engage the Palestinians until serious progress has been made on curbing the Mad Mullahs' nuclear ambitions. It's been pointed out that this makes a great deal of sense for Israel. The Palestinians are clearly a lower-order threat, lacking the means to immediately eradicate slightly less than half of the world's Jewish population. The Israeli populace realizes this, and it may well make it possible for Netanyahu to successfully confront this increasingly hostile administration, where his previous encounter with a Clinton failed.

Secretary of State Clinton has responded by taking a harder line, and invoking the need to get the other Arab states on board before confronting Iran:

Clinton noted that every Arab official she has met with "wants very much to support the strongest possible policy toward Iran." But, she said, "they believe that Israel's willingness to reenter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran."

She said the Obama administration was seeking to coordinate the Arab and Israeli positions so the unusual dynamic of unity on Iran could be exploited.

She must realize this is nonsense on stilts. The only thing more frightening is if she doesn't. Seriously curbing Iran would have the effect of undermining its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, easing any progress there is to be had between Israel and the Palestinians.

Acutal unity on the dynamic of Iran would come from the Arab governments' realizing that a nuclear Iran poses a serious existential threat to them, not independent of the effect it would have on Israel. The Arab regimes - far from actually wanted a resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli issue - have repeated used it to avoid progress on all sorts of issues. That they should do so now shouldn't come as a surprise with anyone who's not suffering from extremely serious memory loss. It certainly shouldn't come as a surprise to a Secretary of State who tried to use her alleged foreign policy experience to sell her Presidential campaign.

What's going on here is serious doubt that the US has staying power in the region, something that Obama's prostrations - both figurative and literal - have only served to promote. He has clearly shown he has no appetite for confronting Iran over either its repression or its aggression, even as Iran continues to build up its ability to deter us from doing so.

The Arab states realize that Iran's possession of a bomb would be used to chase the US from the region, forcing a most unpleasant - and surely temporary - accomodation with a regime that has proved canny in pursuit of its religious agenda. Their linking their support for a hard line against Iran with the Palestinians is a semi-polite way of not putting themselves on what they believe will be the losing side.

March 29, 2009

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Periodically, we hear about events like this one, which are supposed to give us hope for the future:

The Palestinian youths from the tough West Bank refugee camp stood facing the elderly Holocaust survivors Wednesday, appearing somewhat defiant in a teenage sort of way. Then they began to sing.

The choir burst into songs for peace, bringing surprised smiles from the audience. But the event had another twist: Most of the Holocaust survivors did not know the youths were Palestinians from [Jenin], a rare sight in Israel these days. And the youths had no idea they were performing for people who lived through Nazi genocide - or even what the Holocaust was.


The event, held at the Holocaust Survivors Center in the tree-lined central Israeli town of Holon, was part of "Good Deeds Day," an annual event run by an organization connected to billionaire Shari Arison, Israel's richest woman.

So what was the Palestinian response to this event, in this new era of hope and US involvement in seeking peace?

They dismantled the youth group and banned the woman who orchestrated the performance.

The event drew strong condemnations from refugee camp leaders and political activists, who accused the organizers of exploiting the children for "political purposes."

Adnan al-Hinda, director of the Popular Committee for Services in the Jenin refugee camp, said that the participation of the children in the concert was a "dangerous matter" because it was directed against the cultural and national identity of the Palestinians.

He accused "suspicious elements" of being behind the Holon event, saying they were seeking to "impact the national culture of the young generation and cast doubt about the heroism and resistance of the residents of the camp during the Israeli invasion in April 2002."

The "leaders" also leafleted Jenin, threatening those who might think about perpetrating such events in the future.

One hardly knows where to begin. Acknowledging the Holocaust undermines the "narrative" of the fight in Jenin in 2002? Having them play for old Jewish Holocaust survivors puts them in a "dangerous" situation?

As for using them for political purposes, I think the Palestinian Authority is just upset about their monopoly being broken.

Good luck with that persistence groveling, Mr. President.

March 10, 2009

Chas Freeman - Exit Stage Trap Door

Chas W. Freeman, President Obama's pick to chair the National Intelligence Council, has It's thoroughly understandable that an administration that denies the existence of a special relationship with Britain, seeing it as, "just another country," (what language do we speak, again, Mr. President?), would be happy appointing an avowed enemy of Israel to head up its intelligence council. What's less understandable is appointing someone on both the Saudi and Chinese payrolls, and who serves as an apologist for both governments.

Naturally, the only possible defense available to someone like that is that he was done in by those with a loyalty to a foreign government.

The possibility that someone who was disappointed that the Chinese government "had"
to resort to murder at Tienanmen Square because it didn't shut its people up earlier, and who considers the incoming Prime Minister of Israel to be a "right-wing yahoo," might not be the best person to be interpreting intelligence for the president apparently never crossed his mind. (Then again, it apparently never crossed Tim Geithner's mind that the Treasury Secretary should pay his taxes, either.)

For the record, we note that "A Chas W Freeman" is an anagram of both "Scares few: Haman," and "Hamas War Fence," and that he bit the dust on Purim.

February 26, 2009

I Don't Want to Say, "I Told You So..."

Just before the election, I was invited to an Obama campaign event at a private home, with Gloria Steinem as the featured speaker. The theme was, "Why Obama Will Be Good For the Jews."

Now, Gloria's good - as in competent - on exactly one issue, abortion. That's it. Get her off that subject and it's all newspaper quotations and secondary sources, which is exactly what happened when someone in the crowd asked her about Obama and Israel. Later, a friend of Gloria's from California explained to me that all these friends of hers - people who had helped found the very liberal New Israel Fund - knew Obama and trusted him.

"They are fooling themselves," I replied.

With Obama now having appointed a Saudi asset - bought and paid for, but no less willing, for all that - to head the National Intelligence Council, a man who thinks that Tienanmen Square was a result of excessive patience on the part of the Chinese government, a man who things that US Jews who support Israel are disloyal to the US, I think it's safe to say those people are asking themselves what the hell just happened.

What just happened is that your fellow Obama just showed you what he really thinks of you.

January 15, 2009

Shoe, Meet Other Foot

So Monday, after the rally on Sunday (yes, that's usually how the days are ordered...), a friend of mine calls me to complain about media coverage of the event, and how equal press was given to both sides, even though we had about 5 times as many demonstrators on our side.

I had to walk him through how you deal with those situations, how you work the press even though they're clearly hostile, and how you get your message out, even though they'll ask 10 minutes' worth of questions and print one sentence.

This reliably liberal (although not insanely leftist) Democrat was completely flummoxed at being treated unfairly by the press.

Shoe, meet other foot.

January 5, 2009

The Good Guys Gather

Inside the Hebrew Educational Alliance, the pro-Israel speakers and community members met to promote moral clarity. I had been afraid that it would be heavy on the peace and light on the moral distinctions between the two sides, but I was pleasantly surprised. Below, Rabbi Bruce Dollin gives a strong defense of Israel (I missed the first 30 seconds or so). Gil Artzyeli, the Deputy Consul from LA, also addressed the group, and his video is at my YouTube channel.

Towards the end, the assembled recited the prayers for the IDF and for the State of Israel. I think it's important to reprint the IDF prayer here, so you can see what a Jewish prayer for the military looks like:

Bless the soldiers of Israel's Defense Forces, and every one who stands guard in order to protect our people. May the Holy One, Blessed be He, protect them and save them from all troubles and afflictions, from all sickness and injury, and send blessing to all their endeavors. May the words of the Prophets come to fruition through them, "and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. And each shall sit under the vine and under the fig tree and none shall be afraid," and let us say, Amen.

That's slightly different from the sentiments expressed by the pro-Hamas demonstrators outside the synagogue:

Note the one sign that says, "Live by the sword, Die by the sword," featuring a mushroom cloud. Can anyone find me any interpretation other than a naked threat of annihilation?

I also like the claim that "750,000 were murdered by the 'Israelites.'" Unless they're out there representing the Canaanites, Amalekites, and Moabites, I have no idea what they could be talking about.

And of course, for some reason, the chants of "Allahu Akhbar" went unremarked by the media.

January 4, 2009

Gathering For Israel

Tomorrow evening at 5:30 PM at the Hebrew Education Alliance, at 3600 S. Ivanhoe St. in Denver, the Jewish community is sponsoring a "Gathering for Israel." It has three sponsoring and 20 co-sponsoring organizations, including synagogues of every denomination and Faith Bible Chapel.

I don't have any more information at the moment about the program, but to paraphrase the old ad, you don't have to be Jewish to come.

December 31, 2008

Hamas's Friends in Colorado

Last night, Denver had its very own pro-Hamas rally on the steps of the state capitol building, mostly involving sign-waving, chanting, and evening prayers. Yes, organized in some small part by, well, she who doesn't use that last name any more since she got married.

"We have a neighbor who is active with Hamas. The entire neighborhood has evacuated. They are afraid of being attacked."

Good for them. I have an even better idea.

Shemsadeen Ben-Masaud, a youth director with the Muslim American Society, led the crowd in chants: "Hey, hey, ho, ho - the occupation has got to go" as well as "Long live Palestine."

Ah, yes, that Muslim American Society. Maybe that explains the chants the Rocky didn't mention:

They keep this sort of thing up and Islam is going to have an image problem.

As well as some of the other signs that somehow didn't make it into the paper.

Because nothing says, "a free people," like a bloody red fist punching through the bottom of their flag:

Ah, the police here aren't like the police in Gaza:

For the Powerline guys, yes, it seems as though the domestic political affiliations and hopes are the same here as in Minneapolis, just two sides of the same sign:

The obligatory appropriation of Jewish holidays and horrors:

Which for some reason isn't as bad as appropriating their food. Look, sushi, pizza, and hamburgers aren't American, either, but you don't see those countries going out and attacking the US, do you?

No American flags in evidence, for some reason, but the baby blues were there for all to see:

As I said, a fair amount of the chanting was in Arabic, there were public prayers, and there are plans for Friday public prayers to be held there either this Friday or on an upcoming Friday. Not a prayer vigil. Friday public prayers, as in, "which way to the wudu?" prayers.

But...I didn't think this had anything to do with religion.

December 29, 2008

Stirred, Not Shaken

That's what we ought to be after a molotov cocktail attack on a Chicago synagogue. The AP is reporting that the police are investigating it as a hate crime, but, "Officials say they don't know if there's a link between the incident and increased violence in the Middle East."

No, of course not. Probably no connection whatsoever. Obviously, it could just as easily have been a white supremacist as an Arab, but I'm guessing this wasn't just someone who thought it would be cool to light up a shul on the last night of Channukah.

December 26, 2008

The Crucifixions Will Continue Until Morale Improves

According to a report in the London-based Al Hayat:

The Hamas parliament in the Gaza Strip voted in favor of a law allowing courts to mete out sentences in the spirit of Islam, the London-based Arab daily Al Hayat reported Wednesday. Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh...

According to the bill, approved in its second reading and awaiting a third reading before the approval of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as the Palestinian constitution demands, courts will be able to condemn offenders to a plethora of violent punitive measures in line with Sharia Law.

Such punishments include whipping, severing hands, crucifixion and hanging. The bill reserves death sentences to people who negotiate with a foreign government "against Palestinian interests" and engage in any activity that can "hurt Palestinian morale."

Naturally, Hamas is denying the report, but Palestinian Media Watch has collected a number of previous statements by Hamas, promising to introduce such a code.

Doubt, or at least the attempt to create confusion, about Palestinian legislative proceedings is pretty much a constant in their affairs. When the Palestinian Parliament supposedly voted to amend its charter removing statements hostile to Israel's existence, nobody could be sure how the vote had been taken, if it had been taken, or produce a reliable text of the new charter or agree on what changes had been made.

Then again, even when the western media bother to report their proceedings, they can't even get such basics as the time of day correct, falling for midday candlelight vigils.

Real governments with actual parliaments don't behave this way. Propaganda machines run by dictators do. Hamas isn't serious about governing, any more than the Palestinian Authority is. It does appear serious about maintaining its vicious grip on its own people, and of course, it's most serious about killing Jews.

December 3, 2008

J-Street Suicide

The Israeli journal Azure has emerged as the best center-right English-language Israeli journal out there. Its mission is to provide the intellectual and ideological underpinnings for the revival of Zionism as an active force in Israeli life. (It also carries some religious commentary, tending towards the modern Orthodox)

In the current number, Michael Oren examines the complex relationship between Israeli Jews and American Jews. In one paragraph, he describes the transformative effects of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War:

The victory also accorded American Jewry immense clout in domestic politics, primarily via Congress, which ratified ever-expanding aid packages for Israel. Indeed, though established in 1953, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee--AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby--emerged as an influential force in American foreign policymaking only in the mid-1970s, after Israel became the world's foremost recipient of American largesse. Contrary to the often asserted anti-Zionist charge that Israel owes its strength to American Jewish power, in fact, American Jewish power was forged by Israel.

While Oren overstates the Jewish clout in American poitics (the gigantic aid packages are but a miniscule fraction of the federal budget), this rings true to me. Americans can and do respect those who fight for themselves, especially those who do so successfully. That American Jews would both absorb and benefit from that attitude after 1967 is unsurprising.

It also suggests that in the face of military reverses, Israel's stature, that of American Jews, and the effectiveness of the "Israel Lobby" could all suffer seriously. Likewise, the effectiveness of the Arab Lobby and the arabists in our foreign policy apparatus would increase substantially.

The fact that liberal American Jews don't believe this order of cause-and-effect has both explanatory and predictive power. It goes a long way to explaining why they continue to vote overwhelmingly Democrat in national elections: we don't feel as though we're in exile, therefore don't need Israel to rescue us. We can plausibly deny the link between Israel's fate and our own, and can also persuade ourselves that nothing catastrophic can really happen to Israel, and that should catastrophe appear imminent, we can persuade the US government to prevent it.

That those on the left, such as J-Street, don't understand their own countrymen well enough to understand that, by and large, Americans will only help those who help themselves, is pathetic. That they seek to influence US policy so as to pressure Israel into making concessions that would make catastrophe all but inevitable is suicidal.

November 27, 2008

But Don't Call Them Anti-Semitic, or Anything

It's not just westerners:

From the NYT:

The Chabad-Lubavitch center, the local outpost of a global group that promotes Judaism, is located in Nariman House, one of the buildings that has been attacked in Mumbai.

The whereabouts of Rabbi Gavriel, who runs the center, and his wife, Rivka, remain "unknown," according to the group.

And the Moderate Voice is also following the story.

Just remember, to these barbarians, Jews anywhere, anytime, are fair game.

November 24, 2008

Moshav Motorola

Among the tactics used by the End the Israel crowd are economic and academic blackmail against companies that do business with the Jewish state. Two companies in particular were named, Caterpillar and Motorola. (I didn't get a chance to ask whether Caterpillar had earned a reprieve because one of its construction bulldozers was used in the Jerusalem terror attack a few months ago.)

Motorola, on the other hand, seems to have committed the sin of supplying the IDF with communications equipment. So when I went to go purchase my bluetooth earpiece and my cable modem yesterday, it was Motorola all the way.

The earpiece is a dream - I barely notice it's there, the sound is clear, and gosh darn, people can hear me. Not to mention that I look like that security guy from Empire Strikes Back, only with hair. I'll be checking the cable modem this evening when I get home.

In any event, Motorola costs a little more, but keep it in mind when you're buying electronics. And maybe send the company an email or a letter to let them know why.

November 21, 2008

The Oldest Hatred, The Newest Slander

You'd think that after, oh, 3300 years, there wouldn't be much new for the anti-Semites to say.

You'd be wrong.

The meme started by History's Greatest Monster, that Ariel Sharon is Jan Smuts with a kipah, has gotten new traction from a group called, "End the Occupation." You might remember. It was in all the papers. Which is why pretty much everyone Jewish who had even looked at the Carter Center from the parking lot walked out of the place in early 2007.(It's a measure of how poorly the Republicans did in 2006 that even Carter couldn't get them re-elected.)

So now, along comes Diana Buttu, and her presentation, taking the ball and running with it. Bringing her Separate Is Not Equal Travelling Road Show and Snake Oil Pharmacy to Boulder on Monday, she showed how effective an unopposed and disingenuous attorney can be when presenting her case.

If repetition is the soul of propaganda, then her main themes were:

1) The Ideology of Superiority
2) There are no "Israeli Arabs," only "Palestinian Citizens of Israel"
3) We are all "privileged."

These are powerful ideas taken together. She refers repeatedly to, "theological underpinnings" of, "apartheid," which can only mean the concept of chosenness. I have been told, but cannot confirm, that she has made that connection explicitly in previous Tour Stops.

She repeated the phrase, "ideology of superiority" at least 11 times. By repeating that theme over and over, it not only demonizes Israel and Israelis, it also deligitimizes anything that Jews might do to defend themselves.

Her reference to "Palestinian Citizens of Israel" makes it easy to identify where she thinks their loyalty ought to lie. Can you say, "Fifth Column?" I knew you could. Never mind that every time rumors surface about turning over eastern Jerusalem start circulating, Jerusalemite Arabs vote with their resident applications concerning which government they prefer. Again, it's intended to deligitimize Israel's control over the Galil and other Arab-majority areas.

As for 3), "privileges" are a left-wing buzz-word of the first order. Just remember that you can be "privileges" and not even know it. And privileges, unlike rights, can and need to be revoked.

The Q&A was more distinguished for the questions Ms, Buttu didn't answer than for those she did. Among those:

  • What solutions do you propose?
  • Do you support a 1-state or a 2-state solution?
  • What can Israel do to defend itself? (The good reverend, accompanying Ms. Buttu as her warm-up act, implied that surrender would be a good start.)
  • What about the Egyptian and Jordanian occupations of Palestine-outside-the-Green-Line?

These, of course, are the tough questions, the ones that might prove embarassing to one of her many constituencies.

Interestingly, among those most-targeted constituencies would be American blacks, those for whom a comparison to apartheid might resonate. All of three showed up.

I'm working on uploading the video of her presentation. It's truly chilling, but forewarned is forearmed.

UPDATE: I'm reminded that Bridget Johnson over at the RMN was there was well.

November 2, 2008

My Dinner with Gloria

Gloria Steinem was in Denver this evening, at a house party designed to get Jews excited about carrying the Obama-message to their friends.

So was I.

While Ms. Steinem proposed to talk about, "the issues," in reality, the one issue on which she appears to actually be qualified to comment is abortion, but it wasn't the issue I was interested in discussing. She had opened her remarks commenting on how wonderful it would be if we could raise "just one generation without violence, since we now know that it is violence in the home that leads to violence in the streets and violence between nations."

Leaving aside the dubious proposition that all the world's wars are a result of corporal punishment, I asked the following: given the crowd assembled, Israel would certainly rank high among its concerns. And yet, it is not the Israelis who train their children to be suicide bombers, dress them up in little uniforms with genocidal slogans printed on their bandanas. It is, instead, Hamas in Gaza and the PLO in the West Bank that does such things. Why then has there been no clear statement of a moral difference between the two sides, not simply an attempt to draw lines this way or that way on a map, to split differences that don't even exist?

"You mean you don't hear that coming from the two candidates?"

"No, I mean I don't hear it from one candidate." Especially given that that one candidate has surrounded himself with people who feel quite comfortable talking to Hamas, including Rashid Khalidi." Because of time, I failed to mention Zbignew Brezezinski, Samantha Power, and others who have quite clearly been hostile to Israel.

Ms. Steinem read a number of supposedly strong pro-Israel quotes. Including the following, "...Israel's greatest security will come from peace." Of course, this reverses the formula exactly. In fact, Israel's peace will follow from its security. The difference is telling.

A friend of mine asked about the LA Times's suppression of a videotape of Obama toasting Mr. Khalidi. Ms. Stieinen professed ignorance of the tape. You know, I actually think it's possible that she lives in a such a bubble, and that the media has so thoroughly ignored this story, that she really might not know about the tape. To her credit, she promised to talk to the Times editors and get back to me, but I doubt she'll learn anything.

Afterwards, I also brought to Ms. Steinem up the fact that Obama hadn't been present for one version of the Iran sanctions bill, but had written a letter saying he would have voted against it. He then claimed in a speech in Israel, credit that "my committee, the Banking Committee," on which he doesn't serve, had passed an Iran sanctions bill. "That," I said, "is why I don't trust him."

"Well," retorted Ms. Steinem, "I don't trust McCain because he's the original go-to-country clubs white male Republican who sits around telling anti-woman and anti-semitic jokes."

Yes. I asked about an instance where Sen. Obama had at least left serious doubt, through his public policy statements, about how seriously he takes a nuclear Iran. And Ms. Steinem responded with an unsubstantiated, and unverifiable ad hominem attack on Sen. McCain.

You may draw your own conclusions.

August 6, 2008

(Not) Lost In Translation

More from Rima Barakat Sinclair's big adventure, the email chat session with the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yawm . The following is a translation of one of her answers to a question from a reader, and consists entirely of her own words:

We are aware that the Arab media influence on Western society is limited, and we also know that the Arab issues are not fairly covered in the western media. There are many Arab American organizations that provide activities aimed at the definition of truth and justice the Palestinian cause.

The source of activities in non-Arab countries, which were founded some 20 years ago, has remained limited within the point of view and vision of the founding members of those organizations. Most have focused their efforts in Washington DC, leaving their influence on public opinion and American media deflated.

There are several factors affecting the ability of Arabs to launch publicity campaigns to explain the issue and win the American people to their side. One of them was the lack of interest by Arab tycoons or companies in producing films or television program available for worldwide sale. This is the reverse of the actions taken by a number of wealthy Jewish supporters of Zionism like Robert Maxwell and Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch. So media campaigns advocating for Arabs or Muslims in America are limited to the efforts of individuals or small enterprises that suffer most from financial difficulties and limited distribution.

The reality of a Western media hostile to Arab and Islamic issues will not change as long as Arabs are only waiting for the West to see the "right," one day, without developing an integrated effort to deliver their message. A dialogue of religions is needed, and part of the Divine message is that the powerful should have compassion for the weak.

Ideally, morality starts with tolerance of others and self-understanding. If people applied this principle in their own lives, it would solve many of their problems. What applies to individuals applies to relations between nations. But reality dictates that the strong decide what is "right." It is the duty of the victim to remind the strong that he didn't consider the effects of his unjust abuse. Therefore, it remains important that one talk with a strong knowledge of his thinking and point of view. This does not mean forgetting or abandoning the right.

The Saudi Madrid initiative has received wide and positive media coverage, especially by the one rabbi invited to the conference. And since Saudi Arabia began and will continue this initiative, it is preferable to encourage religious scholars and Islamic institutions to study and support such initiatives, instead of having the positive reaction only or participating in conferences organized to discuss Islam by non-Muslims.

Well, at least it isn't the weird paranoid theories about McCain and Obama conspiring to turn Jordan into a holding cell for Palestinians.

Note also the purpose of the interfaith activity. Some of us have been called some pretty nasty names for bringing this up. Some of us are owed an apology. None of us expects one.

On the other hand, it does have that bit in it about the Jews running the media. It might be a little more convincing if she had found some actual Jews. Maxwell, yes, but Murdoch & Black, no.

You know, one time I was in Johnstown, Pa., site of the flood, for work. I took the afternoon off and went to a local very minor league baseball game. Of course, I was wearing the yarmulke. So two guys come down, sit on either side of me, and say, "You're not from around here, are you?"

Frequently, those words, directed towards someone wearing a yarmulke are quickly followed by, "and would you please go back." In this case, it turned out to be a couple of local yiddin who worked sports for the local radio station and newspaper. They wanted to let me know about the minyan.

"So," I said, "it's true. We really do control the media."

Back then, it was funny.

UPDATE: The newspaper has been named, and it has been made clear that all the indented comments are Mrs. Barakat Sinclair's own.

September 25, 2007

Men On Horseback

Over at the Washington Post's Post Global, journalist Daoud Kuttab continues to exhibit the Palestinians' debilitating tradition of hitching their wagons to increasingly toxic foreign leaders, hoping to rescue them from themselves:

Columbia University was correct to invite the Iranian president, and those opposing the invitation include individuals who do not tolerate any viewpoint other than their own, whether domestic or international. Iran is a major player in a region of strategic importance to the U.S.. American diplomats are willing to meet with their Iranian counterparts to talk about Iraq; certainly American academics and students (and hopefully the public at large, via CSPAN's television coverage) will get to hear the Iranian president’s opinions from his own mouth, rather than through the filters and spin doctors of the U.S.’s pro-Israel lobby.

Ahmadinejad is no saint; plenty of what he says reflects intolerance and can be considered hate speech. Iran’s role in the Iraq conflict can be debated, but compared to what President Bush and his administration and army have done in Iraq, Guantanamo, and in other parts of the world, I think that the Iranian president doesn't look so bad. I, for one, plan to hear what he has to say.

Assad, Nasser, Sadat, Arafat (what, you thought he was Palestinian?), Saddam, and now Ahmedinejad. Kuttab understands all too well that the real target of yesterday's propaganda wasn't the US, but the Middle East. So much for the unbridgeable Shia--Sunni divide.

September 6, 2007

Watchdog? No, Scared Puppy

Human Rights Watch likes to style itself as a fearless watchdog, especially where Israel is concerned:

In a statement issued before the report's release, the human rights organization said there was no basis to the Israeli claim that civilian casualties resulted from Hezbollah guerrillas using civilians as shields. Israel has said it attacked civilian areas because Hezbollah set up rocket launchers in villages and towns.

HRW notes that Hezbollah didn't wear uniforms, fired from next-door to UN positions, and fired weapons from on top of apartment buildings, but somehow falls short of condemning these as violations of the laws of war. (I will merely note that, as a result of these violations, by law, Hezbollah forfeits all rights under the Geneva Conventions.)

Then, this:

The full report was being released Thursday at a news conference in Jerusalem. Human Rights Watch had to cancel a similar news conference in Beirut last month because of threats of Hezbollah protests. That report accused Hezbollah of firing rockets indiscriminately at civilian areas in Israel.

Apparently, the irony escapes HRW.

August 1, 2007

The Saudis Recognize Israel?

Not exactly. Now now. Likely, not ever. And recognizing Israel was supposed to be one of the preconditions for attending President Bush's proposed Middle East railroading peace conference later this year. That requirement was the linchpin of the usually reliable Michael Oren's argument in the WSJ, where he claimed that this was not a fundamental change in the administration's Mideast policy. So, this from the AP:

Saudi Arabia will attend a Middle East peace conference proposed by President Bush for later this year, the Saudi foreign minister said Wednesday.

"We are interested in the peace conference," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

"When we get an invitation from the minister (Rice) to attend, when this takes place, we will discuss it and we will make sure that we attend" the conference, al-Faisal said.

Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and its presence at a peace conference with the Jewish state would be a diplomatic breakthrough (emphasis added).

Yes, for the Saudis. I believe that we had diplomatic relations with the Japanese right up until kickoff of the Redskins-Giants game that Sunday.

It's good to see Rice holding form firm from the get-go.

July 16, 2007

A Stupefyingly Bad Idea

Under the "More Evidence that the Bush Administration Has Ended" file, we have this report from Beitbart/AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush on Monday announced an an international conference this fall to include Israel, the Palestinian authority and some of their Arab neighbors to help restart Mideast peace talks and review progress in building democratic institutions.

He said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would preside over the session. Bush said the conference would include representatives from Israel, the Palestinians "and their neighbors in the region" and said participants would include just those governments that support creation of a Palestinian state.

Bush also pledged increased U.S. aid to the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas and called for the convening of a meeting of "donor" nations to consider more international aid, including the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Bush said the past few years had see "some hopeful, some dispiriting" changes in the Middle East. And he called the present time "a moment of clarity for all Palestinians. And now comes a moment of choice."

If I had a dime for every time I heard some Administration official over the last 20 years talk about how it's time for the Palestinians to make a choice, I could retire and blog full time. The Palestinians have have decades to have a change of heart, and have consistently made the same choice - war by some means or another.

The only evidence that anything has changed is evidence that it's changed for the worse. Hamas has turned Gaza into an Iranian client and given al Qaeda a seaport. Hezbollah is eating out Lebanon from the inside. Abbas - whose doctoral thesis consists of Holocaust denial - is being promised more money to steal, the same program that gave Gaza to Hamas in the first place.

Some will see significance in the fact that this announcement was made at the beginning of the Nine Days, a heightened period of mourning over the loss of the two Temples and the destruction of the Jewish Commonwealth by the Roman Empire. Others will just see a flight to fancy by the well-intentioned, and glee by the ill-intentioned.

Those with long memories will remember the Madrid Conference as the real beginning of the Oslo Process, bringer of death and destruction to Jews on a scale not seen since before there was an Israel. Now, we see the same self-deluding psychotic pattern, with concessions to murderers expected to produce - something. Since the criteria for participation isn't acceptance of Israel but rather acceptance of the Palestinians' desiderata, the Conference is clearly set up to repeat the pattern of pressuring Israel for actual concessions in return for more false promises from the Palestinians. The only question is what concessions will be expected to drain strength from one set of enemies, or to prop up another set of enemies.

July 11, 2007


If I say the S stands for "Scholars for," and the P stands for "Peace," you're probably thinking that the "ME" stands for "through Moral Equivalence."

You would be wrong.

I just wish there were more non-Jews signing this thing. Especially since you don't have to be an academic to sign.

April 15, 2007

Yom HaShoah

Tonight marks Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Its full name, though, is actually Yom HaZikaron HaShoan V'Hagvurah - translated as Day of Remembrance the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes. The difference is telling.

In shul on Shabbat, the rabbi's drash focused on Zionism, and tried to bridge the gap between the Zionist and the, ah, less-than-Zionist wings of Orthodoxy. More on that another time. But at the end of the drash, in the course of encouraging us to go to the community Yom HaShoah event this evening, he made reference to the notion of Hitler as a tool of God. Evil beyond measure to be sure, but still a tool of God. (I should point out that this is the younger rabbi, not the head of the school where the minyan meets.)

At the time, I wasn't quite sure how to go about discussing with him the reason this reference didn't work well, to say the least, but I think I've now got a handle on both the personal and the philosophical failings of this approach.

Essentially, what I think he was trying to do was to place Hitler in the Tisha B'Av context. That's the context that says that all the great villains in Jewish histoy were evil to be sure, but were also tools of God, serving His purposes, which we can't fathom, but which generally call for Heshbon ha-Nefesh - literally, an "accounting of the soul." There are two problems with this approach as regards Hitler and Yom HaShoah.

The more obvious problem is that Pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar, the Crusaders, and Torquemada didn't exist within living memory. To put Hitler in the Tisha B'Av context is profoundly disturbing to people who are the close relatives of victims and survivors, because they saw up-close a monster and a pathological people, not the hidden hand of God's will.

The less obvious problem is that the Yom HaShoah context isn't the Tisha B'Av context. The Tisha B'Av context is essentially passive when it comes to the outside world. It comes from millenia without a country, without a homeland, and without power. It comes from accepting a subordinate role in the world and in history, one where the primary actors are not Jewish, or Jews acting on behalf of non-Jewish powers.

Yom HaShoah, in Israel, is actually called Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day. It, along with Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut (stay tuned for next week) stress the importance of taking positive action, as a people and as individuals, to prevent evil and promote good. This means prayer and study, but also means picking up a gun and defending your country and your family. It is a message that is compatible with, but different from, the message of Tisha B'Av.

I'm afraid that the fact that Israel focuses on the Heroes and that American Jews tend to focus on the Martyrs says something unsettling about American Jewry - that we haven't really overcome the Galut, or Exile, mentality. That we are more comfortable seeing the world through the lens of victimhood than the lens of self-reliance. Which pretty much condemns us to relive that experience, too.

January 12, 2007

Openings at the Carter Center

It's like something out of the Onion: "Carter Canvassing Local Home Depot for Replacement Board Members."

OK, not quite. But 14 members of the Carter Center board have resigned in protest over Carter's increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments:

Your book has confused opinion with fact, subjectivity with objectivity and force for change with partisan advocacy. Furthermore the comments you have made the past few weeks insinuating that there is a monolith of Jewish power in America are most disturbing and must be addressed by us. In our great country where freedom of expression is basic bedrock you have suddenly proclaimed that Americans cannot express their opinion on matters in the Middle East for fear of retribution from the "Jewish Lobby" In condemning the Jews of America you also condemn Christians and others for their support of Israel. Is any interest group to be penalized for participating in the free and open political process that is America? Your book and recent comments suggest you seem to think so.

In the past you would inject yourself into this world to moderate between the two sides in the pursuit of peace and as a result you earned our admiration and support. Now you repeatedly make false claims. You wrote that UN Security Council Resolution 242 says that "Israel must withdraw from territories" (p. 38), but you know the word "must" in fact is not in the resolution. You said that since Mahmoud Abbas has been in office there have been no peace discussions. That is wrong. You wrote that Yassir Arafat told you in 1990 that, "The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel" (p. 62). Given that their Charter, which explicitly calls for Israel's destruction, was not revised until the late 1990s, how could you even write such a claim as if it were credible?


As a result it seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy. We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or the Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support. Therefore it is with sadness and regret that we hereby tender our resignation from the Board of Councilors of the Carter Center effective immediately.

Read the whole thing. And then fill out an application. We've often been told that racism - or anti-Semitism - is a virus, and It turns out they have a position available for an epidemiologist. When they get around to posting the requirements for Board Member, they'll already have your resume on file.


ISIME has just sent an email announcing that their planned January 23 showing of Obsession has been canceled, but not giving a reason. Details as they become available.

January 9, 2007

The Syndicate

Then again, what do I know? I'm just here representing the New York Money People:

Clark is talking about the possibility of military action against Iran:

"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?" said Clark. "It's outrageous. We're the United States of America; we don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the military option is off the table - but diplomacy is not what Jim Baker says it is. It's not, 'what will it take for you boys to support us on Iraq?' It's sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."

When we asked him what made him so sure the Bush administration was headed in this direction, he replied: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided, but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."

Best of the Web was all over this on Friday.

So the three questions bear repeating:
1 - Why don't the Democrats seem to care?
2 - Why doesn't the MSM seem to care?
3 - Why doesn't the MSM seem to care at least that the Democrats don't care?

November 27, 2006

The Empire Strikes Back

My good friend, Dr. Neil Dobro has responded to Rima Barakat's execrable op-ed of a week ago.

Barakat characterizes the terrorist Qassam rockets as "firecracker rockets." Since Israel removed all Jews from Gaza a year ago, more than 1,500 thank-you rockets and artillery bombs have landed in Israel from there. Eleven people have been killed and more than 100 wounded. Last week alone, a mother of four was killed, one man in the Israeli town of Sderot was killed and a factory worker there was critically wounded while another man's legs were blown off. If those rockets had landed in our great country, Barakat would have a hard time telling Americans that it was just an overgrown Fourth of July event. The notion that the United States would just sit back for the next 1,500 attacks would be absurd; and Barakat's counsel notwithstanding, it is no less absurd for Israel.

Read the whole thing.

November 22, 2006

The Return of Holger Jensen?

Longtime Denver newspaper readers - of whom there seem to be fewer and fewer every year - will remember someone called, "Holger Jensen" who used to edit the Rocky's foreign coverage. Jensen had a thing about Israel. He didn't much like it. Eventually, his bias got the better of him when he allowed it to overwhelm his journalistic ethics and he printed an easily-fact-checkable-and-yet-un-fact-checked slander against Ariel Sharon. The Rocky had no choice but to can him, and he was last seen writing fishing articles.

This morning, the Rocky has printed what is easily one of the most dishonest pieces of Islamist propaganda ever to disgrace its pages. Then again, "dishonest" and "Islamist propaganda" are quite reundant.

Rima Barakat accuses Israel of deliberately murdering a random, innocent, Palestinian family for the crime of practicing for the 4th of July. She then calls on the world to hold the Jewish community here in the US accountable for this. Really.

Barakat begins with a bill of particulars against the IDF. Here's how it starts:

The latest massacre in Gaza of 18 members of the Athamna family, including eight children, who were sleeping in their beds, is another example of the level of contempt with which the Israel government views Palestinian lives. The regular use of disproportionate firepower against a trapped population not only violates international law but also contradicts the basic civilized conduct of any responsible government.

One might well think that the "basic civilized condust of any responsible government" would include preventing its citizens from launching armed missiles into schools, homes, cars, ice cream stands, and whatever other "soft targets" are in their way. One might be forgiven for thinking they include not launching cross-border raids to capture and murder soldiers. But such strictures apparently don't apply to the Hamas government of the Palestinian territories.

Of course, I suppose it's possible that the IDF troops, seeing a group of small children picking strawberries, just decided to pick up and machine-gun them all, although if they wanted the strawberries, they probably could have just taken them after the kids were finished.

No, this tragedy, like so many others, is a result of deliberate cynical Palestinian strategy - the placement of Qassam rocket launchers in civilian areas, in order to maximize the deaths of their own people for propaganda purposes. People like Ms. Barakat are mouthpieces for this sort of calculating blood libel, making hay on the deaths of the very people they purport to support. People like Ms. Barakat ought to be ashamed of themselves, yet apparently are beyond shame.

In fact, the Palestinians in question make use of the very humanity of the Israeli soldiers - which they then seek to deny. The Jerusalem Post reported the other day that masses of people flocked to the home of a targeted Hamas murderer, in order to prevent him from being killed or arrested by Israeli troops. I know Gaza has turned into a large school for martyrs, but my guess is that most of those people were there knowing they were safe from the depradations of the IDF.

Israel justifies these attacks as military responses to a simple homemade device called the Qassam "firecracker" rocket. But Israeli politicians do not believe that the Qassam creates a threat to Israeli security. In fact, Shimon Peres, has commented that "This hysteria over the Qassams must end."

Well, when you're quoting Shimon Peres, you know you've run out of options. I'm surprised she just didn't go all the way and quote Jimmy Carter. Let's make a deal - when the Qassams stop killing people in Sderot, and turning that and other border settlements into ghost towns, Israel will stop trying to uproot them. Until then, it's not really up to a government whose charter foresees the complete destruction of Israel in every paragraph to decide what constitutes a security threat.

Brutality has never brought peace to any country or people. Slavery, apartheid and Nazi concentration camps have eventually brought ruin and disgrace upon the perpetrators. All acts of mass slaughter of innocent civilians must be condemned by people of all faiths.

A special responsibility sits with people belonging to the Jewish tradition. After all, these atrocities continue to be committed in their names. It is time that they stand up and defend the Jewish faith from being associated with acts of heartlessness. We have yet to hear even a whisper of disapproval coming out of the American Jewish leadership. This silence from the Jewish community about Israeli atrocities is unconscionable.

One might well conclude that yes, in fact, Palestinian brutality, from Arafat to Abbas to Hamas, hasn't really gotten the Palestinians very much, and that they might want to take a different tack.

As for the call for American Jews to stop defending Israel, Barakat knows perfectly well that's not going to happen. Certainly not as long as Israel remains under existential threat from its Muslim neighbors. In fact, given Barakat's recent hosting of the Mufti of Jerusalem and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, such a call could be construed as a thinly veiled threat to bring that existential threat Stateside.

Ms. Barakat is apparently beyond shame. But the Rocky ought to know better.

November 13, 2006

All Fundamentalisms Are Not Created Equal

Bookworm Room wonders what happens when you have the left’s favorite oppressed groups at each others’ throats.

The Left likes underdogs. Gays are underdogs. Palestinians are underdogs. Muslims are underdogs. What happens when you throw all three into the mix? This:
A group of gay Palestinian Americans canceled a planned pride march in East Jerusalem on Friday after one of them was beaten unconscious by a local man who said he was from the Waqf Muslim religious authority.

The beating incident occurred on the same day an Israeli gay pride rally went ahead as scheduled, though without a planned march through city streets. The march had been called off after threats by religious and right-wing opponents to mount huge counterdemonstrations. Only minor violence marred the event.


In the East Jerusalem beating, two men — one wielding a knife — came looking for the group of gay Palestinian Americans who were staying at the Faisal Hostel near the Damascus Gate of the Old City. One of the assailants identified himself as being from the Waqf, the clerical trust that administers Muslim religious sites in the city.

“I’m pretty terrified right now,” said Daoud, an MBA student from Detroit who declined to give his full name. “We left the hostel immediately, but when my friend went back to collect some things, they were waiting for him. They asked if he was with ‘the homos’ and then started beating him.”

I'm sure someone is citing this as evidence of the intolerance of both Orthodox Judaism and Islam. Note, however, that the rabbis aren't actually going around turning their yeshivas into training sites for anti-gay street gangs.

(Hat tip: American Thinker)

October 24, 2006

Reporters Without Borders Redux

Apparently, for the Reporters Sans Frontiers who decided that France has a freer press than the US, the definition of a "free press" includes the right to slander entire countries, and then to haul into court anyone who bothers to question that right. Richard Landes reports on the Paris trial of Philippe Karsenty, who questioned France 2's coverage of the Mohammad al-Durah Pallywood Production. Karsenty has been found guilty of libeling France 2.

Landes, tartly:

After all, the definition of honor-shame culture is one in which you are allowed, expected, even required to shed the blood of another for the sake of your own (alpha-male) honor. And the definition of a civil society is one that systematically substitutes a discourse of fairness for violence in dispute settlement. When a civil society uses the very courts that were created to make that transition from violence to discourse, in order to unfairly protect the honor of dishonest people who pump poisons into its information stream, it corrupts the very life-blood of its republic.


Vanity of Vanities

Haveil Havelim #90 has arrived. Thanks to Soccer Dad once again for spending way too much time reading and evaluating blogs.

October 23, 2006

Fate and Destiny

Over Shabbat, I finished reading Rav Joseph Soloveitchik's Fate and Destiny, his defense of and definition of religious Zionism. In short, the Rav equates Fate with the isolation that happens to the Jewish people, represented by the Covenant with Abraham. He equates Destiny with the moral role of the Jewish people that they have a hand in creating, defined by the Covenant at Sinai.

The Rav uses as his base text the line, "Kol Dodi Dofek," from Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs). At that point in the story, the maiden hears her lover knocking at her tent and she responds - tragically, too late. Fate and Destiny hears God knocking at the Jewish people's tent, and calls for us to respond by rallying around and helping to build Israel before it's too late. It's brilliant, accessable, and required reading for anyone whose Zionism is rooted in religious faith.

The book is a translation of one of the Rav's Israeli Independence Day lectures, and contains this astonishing line:

The State of Israel today is isolated in precisely the same manner that the Jewish people has been isolated during the thousands of years of its history. If anything, the isolation of the State today is even more striking than the isolation of the Jewish people in the past, for the present-day isolation manifests itself in the international arena.

This lecture was delivered in 1956.

The notion of Israel as the Jew among the nations has gained some currency among thoughtful commentators in the last year or so. Just a f ew weeks ago, Mark Steyn wrote in MacLeans:

The energy expended by the world in denying this particular regional crisis the traditional settlement is unique and perverse, except insofar as by ensuring that the "Palestinian question" is never resolved one is also ensuring that Israel's sovereignty is also never really settled: it, too, is conditional -- and, to judge from recent columns in the Washington Post and the Times of London, it's increasingly seen that way in influential circles -- tolerated as a current leaseholder but, like Anthony Hope's Jew, it can never truly own the land. The Jews are once again rootless transients, though, in one of history's blacker jests, they're now bemoaned in the salons of London and Paris as an outrageous imposition of an alien European population on the Middle East. Which would have given Aaron Lazarus a laugh. The Jews spent millennia on the Continent without ever being accepted as European. But no sooner are the Continent's Jewry all but extinct than suddenly every Jew left on the planet is a European.

The Rav saw it coming 50 years ago.

August 16, 2006

Truly a Jewish State

Too little time today - finishing up another compny report. So I'm leeching off of Mr. Steyn.

From MacLeans:

This isn't about who's right and who's wrong: there are regional flare-ups all over the map -- Ivory Coast, Congo, Bosnia -- and, regardless of the rights and wrongs, for the most part the world just sits back and lets them get on with it. There are big population displacements -- as there were, contemporaneous to the founding of Israel, in Europe and the Indian subcontinent -- but one side wins and the dust settles. The energy expended by the world in denying this particular regional crisis the traditional settlement is unique and perverse, except insofar as by ensuring that the "Palestinian question" is never resolved one is also ensuring that Israel's sovereignty is also never really settled: it, too, is conditional -- and, to judge from recent columns in the Washington Post and the Times of London, it's increasingly seen that way in influential circles -- tolerated as a current leaseholder but, like Anthony Hope's Jew, it can never truly own the land. The Jews are once again rootless transients, though, in one of history's blacker jests, they're now bemoaned in the salons of London and Paris as an outrageous imposition of an alien European population on the Middle East. Which would have given Aaron Lazarus a laugh. The Jews spent millennia on the Continent without ever being accepted as European. But no sooner are the Continent's Jewry all but extinct than suddenly every Jew left on the planet is a European.

July 18, 2006

Canada Finds Spine - Globe and Mail Perplexed

The Anglosphere's Northern Front used to be known for more than peacekeeping. It used to be known for peace-making, something it's practicing again with great success in Afghanistan. A decade-plus of Liberal rule pushed much of that history into the old-age home, but now Stephen Harper has decided that it's time for Canada to rejoin the rest of the English-speaking world.

Harper was one of the G-8 countries backing the US in its support of Israel.

Harper, on his first major international foray, hadn't even touched down in Europe before aligning himself firmly with the United States and Israel in the latest conflagration.

"Israel has the right to defend itself," the prime minister told reporters aboard a Canadian Forces Airbus en route to London, where he's starting a week-long diplomatic mission.

"I think Israel's response under the circumstances has been measured."

Naturally, the Canadian MSM (Can-MSM) doesn't get it.

That same pre-G8 summit article quoted above continues:

Harper's unabashed pro-Israel stance, is sure to prove divisive at the G8 summit this weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia, which anchors Harper's first major overseas foray as prime minister.

Russia and France have both criticized Israel for using disproportionate force in its attacks on Lebanon.

So Russia and France find something to agree on other than hemming in Germany, but when Canada takes the opposition position, by definition, it's the one being divisive. To paraphrase a famous politician from south of the 48th parallel, divisiveness in the defense of liberty is no divice.

Naturally, the Canadian Left doesn't quite see it that way:

Canada is in danger of losing its role as a mediator and peacemaker in the Middle East, Liberal Leader Bill Graham said Tuesday. Graham,a former foreign affairs minister, told a Vancouver news conference that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has moved Canada away from its traditional non-aligned stance, and said while he supports Israel's right to defend itself from attack, be believes Canada needs to keep some distance so it can be part of a diplomatic solution to the current Mideast conflict.

"Canada has always had a proud tradition in the Middle East of being able to work with all parties in a way to establish the conditions of a long and lasting peace," Graham said.

I can understand why Graham wouldn't want to abandon a position that's shown such success up until this point, After all, where would we be without Canadian leadership in establishing lasting peace?

"If we act in a way that interferes with our credibility in that respect, we will not be able to be an effective ally of Israel or of Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East where we call have an extraordinary stake."

In other words, if we want to be Israel's ally, we can't really be Israel's ally. The NDP - the "Democratic" being optional - has a similar point of view:

He also said it was "regrettable" that Canada is still in the process of planning the evacuation of Canadian nationals from Lebanon, while a number of other western countries have already begun bringing people out.

NDP Leader Jack Layton echoed Graham’s sentiments, saying his party called for an evacuation to begin Friday and is disappointed with the government’s response so far.

"We’re particularly concerned with the situation facing Canadians in south Lebanon and this has not been adequately addressed," Layton told a news conference in Ottawa.

"The prime minister must insist that Israel provide safe passage for civilians attempting to escape the south and must ensure that evacuation efforts by Canada reach the south," he said.

Well, if the Liberals and the NDP hadn't spent the last 10 years breaking helicopters into subsidized plowshares, Canada might have the lift capacity to do something about its citizens caught in the cross-fire. In the meantime, that last plaintive bleat for Israel to do something - maybe air-drop IFF beacons with little maple leaves on them - is ironic in light of this story:

The IDF has found that Hizbullah is preventing civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebanon. Roadblocks have been set up outside some of the villages to prevent residents from leaving, while in other villages Hizbullah is preventing UN representatives from entering, who are trying to help residents leave. In two villages, exchanges of fire between residents and Hizbullah have broken out.

Seems Hezbollah's hostage-taking skills aren't limited to actual hostages, but extend to most of the civiliam population south of the Litani.

At the moment, the Globe and Mail can't decide whether Prime Minister Harper is guilty of good policy and bad politics, or good politics and bad policy. To the extent that it's catering to the "lower-income" "evangelical Christians" who were foolish enough to vote for him, Harper's policy isn't "nuanced" enough.

Although a more nuanced position might be to suggest that Israel react with more restraint, Mr. Harper almost certainly believes that the more easily understood message is to back the country that reflects the mores of Canadian society.

By doing so, he probably appeals to a portion of the lower-income mainstream that voted for his party earlier this year, say his supporters.

I'm sure the Globe and Mail would be happy for Mr. Harper to nuance himself right out of office on lack of principle, but why is the moral equation of the murderers and the murdered more satisfying to the paper? And note that it's not right to back Israel, just "more easily understood."

But then the Can-MSM, demostrating a lamentable lack of independence from its US brethren, argues that the position it doesn't like isn't even good politics:

One senior Tory believes that Mr. Harper has made a bad calculation.

There are not, for example, enough votes among Canadians of Jewish background to make up for those other voters who are upset with the idea that Canada has given up some of its independence by hewing to the U.S. line.

But to believe that Mr. Harper didn't say what he meant is to ignore several years of evolving conservative ideology.

"I don't think it's positive growth material," said the source. ". . . But this isn't necessarily winning politics. It's sound policy."

Unlike the Globe's article, at least Harper's position and statements have the virtue of coherence. Harper believes in democracy and doesn't believe in genocide. He believes that this is another front in the same war Canada's fighting in Afghanistan, and doesn't believe it's good policy to abandon allies who are doing your heavy lifting for you. He happens to head a party that also believes these things, and has for some time. And he happens to think that a democracy like Canada is more likely to sympathize with another democracy than with theocratic butchers whose ideological cousins just tried to decapitate that country's parliament - literally.

What, exactly, is so hard for the Globe or the Liberals to understand about this?

July 17, 2006

Israel Rally Report

I wasn't able to be there, but from all reports, the rally Sunday evening was a success. We got 1500 people - so many that the main sanctuary couldn't hold them all, and they had to open the doors to include the social hall in the back.

The speeches were, by and large, uncompromising, more concerned with winning than with a false peace, which is a real change in tenor for some of the speakers involved.

The Rocky's report this morning was fairly accurate as far as the rally went, and fairly negligent in terms of the local Muslim response.

Mohammad Noorzai, executive director of the Colorado Muslim Council, cautioned Sunday against a herd mentality that supports any one side in the conflict.

"If everyone sticks with their own clan - no matter what they do - we'll never get anywhere," he said.

Noorzai said the vastly stronger Israeli military should "restrain itself" and make a concerted effort to stop killing and hurting Lebanese civilians who have nothing to do with the conflict.

Armando Elkhoury, a native of Lebanon and pastor of St. Rafka's Maronite Catholic Church in Englewood, faulted both sides.

""What Hezbollah did is not acceptable: crossing into Israel and attacking Israelis."

But Elkhoury criticized Israeli military leaders as well.

"The response by Israel is disproportionate," he said. "They've taken a whole country hostage."

Now, Noorzai may have said something like, "Hezbollah needs to disarms and place itself under the control of the Lebanese government that it's joined. Coordinated rocket artillery barrages and kidnappings against a country that's not occupying any Lebanese territory doesn't help matters. Hezbollah needs to realize that Jews have a right to their own country, too. If everyone sticks with their own clan - no matter what they do - we'll never get anywhere."

But I don't think so.

In the meantime, the Rocky completely fails to mention that Hezbollah has been using private patios as rocket launching pads, and that the Israelis have been dropping leaflets trying to get civilians to move the hell out the way. And of course, there's no contrast with Katushyas and other rockets that are only good for hitting cities and killing civilians.

July 14, 2006

If You're Looking to Help

If you're hoping to do something a little more concrete, there are ways to help directly.

The Magen David Adom, the Red Star of David, has an American friends arm. This is the Israeli emergency services, like the Red Cross, only because it's not a cross, they wouldn't let them into the ICRC for decades. They're in now.

Friends of the IDF provides rec tents, care packages, and canteens (Stage Door-type, not metal, water-bearing-type) for the soldiers. This may sound trivial, but if you haven't been in the military, you may have no idea how important this sort of morale-booster is.

This may sound even more trivial, but you can have pizza delivered to soldiers or units. I have this image of the delivery guy dodging incoming Katushyas, getting to the foxhole, and then collecting a combat-pay enhanced tip for his efforts. Seriously, this stuff matters to kids getting shot at.

And for those of you who want to buy a tank, whose wish right is that the last thing some Hezbollah cockroach sees is your name spinning at him on the tip of a rifled artillery shell, well, you can't do that. At least not directly. But you can buy Israel Bonds, which help support the state. They're real bonds, with real coupons (except for the zero-coupon bonds), and they've never missed a payment, which probably means there are some United employees wishing they had invested in those instead.

Thank you for your support.

Israel Solidarity Rally

This Sunday, at the BMH-BJ Congregation here in Denver, there's going to be an Israel Solidarity Rally, organized by the local Jewish community. The rally will be 6:30-7:30 pm, and the shul is located at 560 South Monaco Pkwy.

I'm not going to go on about how important it is to be there, since you already know that. I will point out that there's plenty of room, and plenty of parking. (Not only do the synagogue and GW High School have large lots, it's right across the street from my house; if those lots get filled up, I have two spots in my driveway, and I won't charge. Or at least, not very much.)

I'm going to be on air with John Andrews, but I'll be looking for pictures, so if anyone has a camera, feel free to send them to me, and I'll be happy to post them.

OK, I lied. Guys, it's game on now. This is serious business, with Haifa and now a ship getting hit. The Air Force is, ah, preparing the battlefield, as they say, but eventually it's going to take boots on the ground to play Orkin Man to Hezbollah's cockroaches. We need to make sure that Israel has the time it needs to do the job it needs to do.

Be there.

Palestinians Enter Gaza From Egypt


Hundreds of people poured into the Gaza Strip from Egypt on Friday after Palestinians blew a hole in the border wall separating the two places, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.

People carrying suitcases crossed into Gaza through the hole. Some walked through on crutches, others ran and walked.

The border has largely been closed since June 25 when Palestinian militants carried out a cross-border raid on a military outpost, killing two Israeli soldiers and capturing one. Hundreds of people have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the border, unable to get to their homes in Gaza.

(Hat Tip: Pajamas Media)

Gee, how much you want to bet that some of those suitcases contained dinars, riyals, shekels, dollars, and whatever the Palestinians are using for cash these days - seashells, maybe?

This seems to happen with some regularity, reinforcing the impression that Egypt's border patrol has been taking lesson from ICE. Or maybe, they're just carrying on their tradition to aiding whatever enemy of Israel happens to be most useful.

The Palestinian government is cash-poor but HX rich, so this would have been a fairly simple thing to orchestrate. I'm not certain what the Egyptian side of the border looks like - it looks as though Rafah may be a divided city -, but it still seems unlikely that this was, "spontaneous."

UPDATE: On the other hand, makes you wonder why they just didn't use the tunnels.

July 13, 2006

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Blames the Jews

The Iraqi Parliament speaker has decided that the US and "the Jews," are conspiring to keep Iraq under US control:

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani hinted that the Americans and Israelis did not want to see officials of Sunni and Shi'ite parties running the country because "this is not their agenda."

"They will say that we brought you in a democratic way to the government but you are sectarian people. One of you is killing the other and you don't deserve to become leaders because you are war lords," al-Mashhadani told reporters after a parliament meeting.

Al-Mashhadani is a member of the Sunni Muslim Iraqi Accordance Front while Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a member of the Shi'ite Dawa party.

"Some people say 'we saw you beheading, kidnappings and killing. In the end we even started kidnapping women who are our honor,"' al-Mashhadani said. "These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew."

"I can tell you about these Jewish, Israelis and Zionists who are using Iraqi money and oil to frustrate the Islamic movement in Iraq and come with the agent and cheap project."

"No one deserves to rule Iraq other than Islamists," he said.

Emphasis added, of course.

Some were hoping that the Sunni decision to join the political process meant that they were committed to that process. Apparently they, like Mookie al-Sadr on the other side, joined it in order to hijack it for their own ends. (This is also the logical conclusion of not insisting that Iraq be Israel-friendly from the beginning.)

The notion that Islamists - Sunni or Shiite - were going to join the government, and then, having gotten comfortable with "the process," were going to abandon religious fanatacism in favor of budget earmarks was naive beyond belief. Now, the wolf is in the fold. We can't leave, because we can't let the Islamists run the country. We can't throw this monster and his whole party in Abu Ghraib, because they part of the Legitimately-Elected-Government-Of-Iraq.

This isn't some backbencher looking for a headline. This is the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, people.

May 10, 2006

AP and Reuters: It's Israel's Fault

In an ironic twist of Sophoclean proportions, an Israeli company has cut off - get this - gasoline supplies to the Iranian-funded Palestinian territories for non-payment of bills:

An end to fuel supplies could cripple hospitals, halt food deliveries and keep people home from work - a devastating scenario for an economy already ravaged by Israeli and international sanctions.

Right. The "economy" has been "ravaged" by Israeli sanctions. It's nothing whatever to do with the fact that Arafat and his friends - and that includes the current President, the Holocaust-denying, walking Hamas assassination target, Mahmoud Abbas - have spent the last fifteen years shipping everything that's not nailed down (and if they can pry it loose, it's not nailed down) out of the country. Which, as of the last AP report, was the reason that Hamas got elected in the first place, not their hostility to Israel, if you remember.

In Nablus, a line of taxi drivers said they had stopped working because they had no fuel. One driver, Mahmoud Tourabi, said he would try to drive to a nearby Jewish settlement in hopes of filling his tank.

``They may kill me there, so I will be the martyr of the gas,'' he quipped.

Oh, that Mahmoud! What a card! Why hasn't he quit his day job yet? But seriously folks, when was the last time you heard of an Israeli crowd torching Arab cars?

Asaf Shariv, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said Israel would ``absolutely not'' bail out the Palestinians in this case. Dor has threatened to cut off supplies twice before this year - only to be paid at the last minute by the Palestinians.

This will be important in a moment, as we examine the Reuters-fueled Washington Post version of events:

The fuel shortage, caused by a cash liquidity crunch, threatened to worsen an economic crisis that began when Western countries froze aid and cut most diplomatic ties after the Islamic militant group Hamas came to power in March.

So this has happened before. The crisis didn't just suddenly descend from the skies. What Reuters stringer Mohammed Assadi (now there's a surprise!) forgets is that while the current - er, liquidity crunch - is a result of sanctions, there's a gigantic difference between a government solvency crisis and an economic mess. Governments all over the US, including the one in Washington (and no, I don't mean the one Formerly Known as Marion Barry's Glorious Patronage and Coke Machine) shut down all the time over budget disputes, and it doesn't bring the economy to its knees.

The real problem here, the reason that taxi-driver Mahmoud is contemplating suicide by buying gas from Jews, is that the Palestinian Authority has no business being the fuel supplier for whatever remains of the "private" economy in a state consciously patterned after Stalin. It only does this so they get a couple of more chances to skim the scum off the top of the barrel on the way to the pumps.

Naturally, no Reuters piece would be complete without a discussion of how Hamas's intentions are good, please don't let them be misunderstood:

Hamas, winner of a January parliamentary election, is formally sworn to destroy Israel although it has largely abided by a truce for over a year.

Oh, those pesky formalities. It's not as though every paragraph in the Hamas charter refers to Israel's destruction, or anything like that, as though Hamas's entire reason for being were the takover of everything between the Jordan and the Med.

Aside from that. I suppose that the sentence is accurate, if by "largely," you mean "except for the daily cross-border Kassam rocket attacks, and the daily dispatching of suicide bombers to the Green Line like a game of 'Red Rover,' which, incidentally, many of the would-be martyrs are young enough to be playing during recess."

Ironic for Reuters, then, that as the US and Israel buckle to international pressure to fund Hamas's recruiting activities, no doubt to prevent them from becoming radicalized from their association with Iran, that:

Hamas's political chief in exile, Khaled Mashaal, while on a visit to Qatar on Wednesday, asked "Hamas supporters throughout the world, as well as Arab states, to send weapons, fighters and money to the Palestinian Authority."

And to think that in our day, it was only "lawyers, guns, and money."

May 8, 2006

Walt and Mearsheimer In Europe

Apparently, the "Jewish lobby" has undue influence even in countries that aren't particularly sympathetic to Israel:

CHRIS DAVIES, the leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs (Members of European Parliament), resigned under pressure last night after attacking the “influence of the Jewish lobby” in politics during an intemperate exchange of e-mails.


Mr Davies’s outburst came in an increasingly aggressive exchange of e-mails with the reader of a Jewish newspaper, who wrote to the MEP objecting to criticisms that he made of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians after visiting the Palestinian Authority with a group of MEPs.

In his original criticism, to which the reader objected, Mr Davies accused Israel of “posing as a victim” while pursuing “racist policies of apartheid”.

A reader of the Jewish News, which published his comments, sent Mr Davies a letter via e-mail accusing him of belittling the humiliation, torture and murder of Jews in the Holocaust and asking why liberals attacked Israel but supported Muslim extremists who were homophobic, misogynistic and intolerant of other religions.

The reader, a woman who asked to remain anonymous, sent a second e-mail calling the MEP a disgrace for not having the decency to reply properly to her letter as an elected representative. Within an hour, Mr Davies e-mailed back that he answered to the electorate, saying: “I shall tell them that I intend to speak out against this oppression at every opportunity, and I shall denounce the influence of the Jewish lobby that seems to have far too great a say over the political decision-making process in many countries.”

Mr Davies issued a partial apology when Zeddy Lawrence, the Editor of Jewish News complained on the reader’s behalf, saying that her e-mail arrived at the same time as a number of other abusive e-mails so that after a while he stopped reading their contents in detail. He offered to apologise if the reader disagreed with the policies of the Israeli Government.(emphasis added -ed.)

Now, he'll have plenty of time to read those emails in detail.

May 3, 2006

Yom HaAtzmaut Sameach

Israel is 58 today. Amazingly, roughly three generations into its existence, Israel's neighbors still publish maps with the borders airbrushed out.

Yom HaAtzmaut, or Independence Day, is reckoned according to the Hebrew calendar, as are all holidays in Israel. And yet, everyday life, business, and government appointments are all on the English calendar. It's a bifurcated personality that almost all Jews live with.

I'm not sure if they still do this, but when I was there, silly string and little plastic hammers, good for bopping your neighbor over the head, were the celebratory items of choice.

I notice this year where what had been called the 1948 "War of Independence" is now being referred to as the "War of Liberation." This doesn't strike me as a very good change. The war came after the British had left, granting notional independence to both Jewish and Arab states. Since Israel didn't gain independence from Arab rule, the War of Liberation would have had to be against Britain. Exodus aside, the real fighting was after Independence, against the Arabs, and I'd prefer to see the emphasis on that.

On the other hand, with the existential threats posed by Hizbollah on the north, the Palestinians on the east and southwest, and the Iranians from less-and-less-far-away, perhaps a reminder that the alternative to liberation is slavery isn't a bad thing.

April 2, 2006

...And When You Don't Have the Facts Or the Law...

If she's not careful, young Rima Barakhat is going to acquire quite a name for herself. Probalby one she wants, but that the rest of us could do without.

A little while back, I mentioned the visit of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to Denver, and Ms. Barakhat's somewhat, er, defensive reaction to the AJC and the ADL's calling an anti-Semite an anti-Semite. Since Ms. Barakhat lives in America, and not the Islamic state envisioned by the Mufti, papers like the Rocky often offer space for alternative viewpoints, and she took her chance to, well, change the subject.

Instead of defending the indefensible, she decided to attack the Indispensible MEMRI, supposed source of all the confusion about the Mufti's gentle nature and kind-hearted spirit. Fine. We all make mistakes; MEMRI is included in, "we all." Then, this:

Today, the standards of Israeli-Palestinian political and religious discussions have been redefined by pro-Israeli organizations that are working amongst us.

"Working amongst us." Ah, yes, those shadowy cabals, meeting in dark alleys and at Bingo Night down at Rodef Shalom. No doubt many of the Men's Clubs and all of the Ladies' Auxiliaries - not to mention most editorial boards - have been infiltrated, even compromised, by those "working amonst us." Soon, she'll be accusing doctors at Rose Hospital of infecting Muslim youths with AIDS.

She goes after a translation here, a missed word there, not because MEMRI is wrong, but because they perform a valuable service. The imams and muftis they translate say one thing on Friday morning and another thing Sunday morning, and here, she perceives a threat.

Of course, this is a diversion. The real issue, that being what in God's name a "moderate" group in the middle of the United States is doing inviting a bigot to come speak, is too embarassing to deal with. Ah, you want non-MEMRI proof. Fair enough:

"It is shocking to hear a mufti say that there was never a temple there," Palazzi said. He was referring to recent comments by Jerusalem Mufti Sheikh Ekrima El Sabri in which he said "there is not even the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish temple on this place in the past. In the whole city (of Jerusalem) there is not even a single stone indicating Jewish history." (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

Sabri, addressing this week's Friday congregation in the Aqsa Mosque, said that all Zionist governments ever since occupation of the eastern sector of Jerusalem in 1967 were indulging in a series of excavations underneath the holy site in a desperate attempt to find whatever could prove their illusions (on presence of the remains of the first and/or second Jewish temples). (Palestine Info.)

Speak ing at a press conference at his office on the Temple Mount, Sabri said the Western Wall and the plaza in front of it are part of the holy Mount and are also Waqf property. He stressed there were no political overtones in the timing or content of the fatwa , but that the fatwa compelled a billion Muslims around the world to act accordingly. (Haaretz)

Sheikh Sabri, in his weekly sermon at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque on September 12, 1997, declared: "Oh Allah, destroy America, her agents, and her allies! Cast them into their own traps, and cover the White House with black!"
The speech was broadcast on the PLO's Voice of Palestine Radio, immediately after it broadcast a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. (Likud)

The figure of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust is exaggerated and used by Israel to gain international
"It's true, the number was less than 6 million and Israel is using this issue to get sympathy worldwide," Sabri said in an inter

He repeated his accusations to other media outlets.

"Six million? It was a lot less," Sabri told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. "It's not my fault if Hitler hated the Jews. Anyway, they hate them just about everywhere. The Jewish people has found a formidable means of winning solidarity from the world."

He told Reuters that he does not deny the Holocaust, but "I think the figures have been exaggerated. We denounce all massacres, but I don't see why a certain massacre should be used for political gain and blackmail." (JPS)

The mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Akrameh Sabri, says that suicide bombings are justified and should be encouraged, according to a report published on Friday in the international Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat. (Haaretz)

Wow, no wonder MEMRI thought he said all those terrible things. Jews have no right to Israel. Jews have to reason to be in Israel. Jews were lucky enough to have to the Holocaust to so they could get to Israel. These are not criticisms of Zionism; they're barely criticisms of Judaism; they're attacks on Jews. If Barakat wants to pretend that they're not, she'll have to perform contortions that I'd pay to see.

Americans like tending to their own gardens, and I can't begin to tell you how much I hate having to write these pieces. I would rather be writing about baseball, design, business, or finance. I'd rather be photoblogging my latest roadtrip. I'd much rather be hanging out someplace warm trying to keep my attention on a good book in the face of delightedly un-burkha-ed babes. The fact that we have to spend time engaged in intellectual combat with people whose intellect stopped creating around the year 700, and who have a conveniently post-modern idea of truth, isn't just annoying, it's stealing my life, and yours.

And next time, if they're as interested in getting along with Jews and Israel as they pretend, they could invite this guy instead. They might actually learn something.

March 19, 2006

Jimmah Strikes Out

At the risk of repeating myself, I'd like to point out that Hamas has apparently proven impervious to the entreaties of our worst ex-President, Jimmy Carter. Despite his pleas to keep the money flowing, in order not to radicalize Hamas (really!), the Islamofascists have decided to form a government "without moderates." While this may come as a disappointment to the Carters and the James Wolfensohns of the world, it's unlikely to change their opinions.

Keep an eye out for any MSM reference to these requests - essentially honored - and their failure to "moderate" Hamas in any future reporting. I doubt they'll be there. Instead, watch for the same post-Gulf-War-I dance to be repeated, this time with Hamas. Watch for the MSM to latch onto anything, anything at all, to avoid coming to the conclusion that Hamas means what it says.

Included in the AP report is this little gem:

The Palestinian Authority is highly dependent on foreign aid to prop up its economy, which has suffered a near fatal blow during five years of fighting with Israel.

In fact, the Palestinian economy has been destitute from at least the time of the first intifada, suffering first from a greater interest in making bombs than making, well, much of anything else. Also unmentioned is the complete lack of evidence that the foreign aid that flowed in like Niagara was going anywhere but into the pockets of Arafat and his Abu Buddies. Inasmuch as this corruption is the most-often-cited rationalization for why the Palestinians didn't really mean it when they voted for these thugs, it's an odd omission at best.

March 17, 2006

Vacating the Field

Take a look ah the Issue groups focused on the Middle East that Project Vote-Smart tracks:

  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA)
  • American Muslims for Jerusalem
  • Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel
  • U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

    See a pattern? Yes, I thought so.

    I'm fairly sure this isn't a bias Vote-Smart's part; every other section of the site has both sides represented where they exist. Since Israel's security isn't (or shouldn't be) particularly controversial among Jewish groups, why do the ADL, AJC, and AIPAC (AIPAC, of all people!) not publish ratings of their own on this matter?

    The standard answer is that we don't want, and can't afford, for Israel to become a partisan issue. It's not without merit. Since people vote on many issues, you don't want an election to turn on, say, the economy, and find that you've got a Foreign Relations committee taking campaign contributions from Hamas fundraisers. But I'm pretty sure than abandoning the field to the bad guys is having the opposite effect, and may eventually make Israel a bi-partisan issue, the other way. And I'm not even sure it's a completely honest answer.

    By allowing the other side to drive the ratings, you're creating an incentive for one party to seize the issue as soon as they think the bad guys may have some strength. And in a hyper-partisan era, when one party thinks that impeachment is a winning campaign issue, this becomes a real possibility. In the short run, you encourage it to become a partisan issue. In the long run, your friends start to ask why they're supporting you in the first place. That's how politics works.

    I think there's also something else at work here, though. I think there's a reluctance on the part of a traditionally Democratic leadership to admit that that party has become the (still uncomfortable) home of anti-Semitism, a la Cynthia McKinney and Al Sharpton. I think they and their largely Democratic membership don't want to face that fact, and the fact that conservative Republicans are now Israel's most reliable supporters, in part because they've been listening to their own press clippings about "theocracy." In the meantime, the actual theocrats are busily enrolling in Yale where they can take a census of gay and Jewish students to see how large the swinging wall has to be.

    Further, it's too easy to just write off Republican support as "those evangelicals." Maybe, somewhat. (Evangelicals aren't a majority of the party; they aren't even really driving the agenda.) But if you do that, then you have to explain why you can't carry the Democrats anymore, why you can't appeal to them on their terms, and that's profoundly embarassing, as well.

    Either way, the Jewish leadership isn't doing its job here.

    For statistical geekery, continue reading below.

    Continue reading "Vacating the Field" »

  • March 6, 2006

    Hamas to Jimmy Carter: Drop Dead

    Hamas has used its outright majority in the PA legislature to emasculate alleged "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas. (Abbas, who prefers his nom de guerre, "Abu Mazen," was last seen complaining that Israel was killing Islamic Jihad mililtants death-squadders who were taking refuge among children.)

    Hamas has 74 seats in the new parliament and Fatah just 45, and the first order of business for Hamas was to cancel the powers the outgoing parliament gave to Abbas, the Fatah leader, authorizing him to cancel laws passed by the new parliament and appointing Fatah officials to key positions.

    Now, as I recall, ex-President Jimmah Carter, the Democrats' shadow Secretary of State, was arguing that the EU and the US should keep right on funnelling money to the PA, in order not to radicalize the new government. The EU rushed to move money in under the deadline, and the US promised to find ways to help free up money for guns by funding essential services recruiting tools such as schools and hospitals.

    Wow, I'm sure glad that worked out as planned.

    January 27, 2006

    Hamas & "Negotiation"

    CNN is reporting that by a margin of 48-43, Israelis want to leave the door open to negotiations with Hamas. The reporter claims that this is because the Israelis "don't want to believe that there's no partner on the other side."

    He's got it completely backwards: such a result is only possible because Israelis have already given up on the Palestinians. It also suggests that public grasps and accepts the logic behind Kadima's platform.

    It's a mark of how effectively Sharon changed the political equation by taking the initiative, promoting disengagement behind the security fence. Israelis don't really believe they'd be negotiating peace with Hamas; they understand they'd be negotiating temporary accomodations, which they'd be doing with Abbas as well. The election of Hamas isn't going to alter the strategic balance between the two sides.

    January 19, 2006

    What Cease-Fire?

    The Jerusalem Post is reporting that an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber has wounded upwards of 30 people at a Tel Aviv shwarma stand near that city's old Central Bus Station.

    In the meantime, ISIME at DU is promoting a panel discussion with optimistic poll results, including one that claims that 2/3 of Palestinians support continuing the "cease fire." To paraphrase, with cease fires like these, who needs war?

    December 2, 2005

    American Jews & Israel: A Vicious Circle

    Over at the American Thinker, Clarice Feldman has noticed a disturbing trend - the re-emergence of the so-called "dual loyalty" accusation, the myth that American Jews are appendages of the Israeli Foreign Ministry first, Americans second. (That this myth has been perpetrated by Citizens of the State Department and Citizens of the World, whose own loyalty might be questioned, is ironic if not surprising.)

    At the same time, the Israel Project has commissioned a survey which finds that American Jews, while strongly supportive of Israel, don't spend a lot of time actually defending it in conversation.

    No doubt, some of this reticence comes from wanting to avoid arguments with non-Jewish co-workers and friends, many of whom have been fed a on steady diet of the Crescent News Network. At the same time, I can remember growing up being confronted with the dual-loyalty question, and having to find an answer. So there's some reason to believe that many American Jews, even if they don't doubt their own loyalties, don't want to push the question for fear of having it doubted by others.

    This silence lets hostile Muslim-American and Arab-American groups have it both ways. Their existential opposition to Israel is overwhelmingly more monolithic and intractable than is American Jewish support for Israel. But the repetition of the Bie Lie of Jewish Dual Loyalty makes it possible for the LA-area leader of CAIR - a group whose loyalty lies solely with Islam and not at all with America - to accuse Frank Gaffney of being in the pay of the Israeli government on the air. Gaffney's more than able to defend himself, but many more of us are not.

    The problem is that by lying low, we don't reverse the problem but reinforce it. After all, if your opponent is silent on a question, the most natural thing in the world is to assume that they're hiding something. When Jews do support Israel, their arguments are immediately suspect because of who they are. In effect, failing to support Israel now makes it much harder to do so later, when that support may be even more critical. After all, what happens if a democratic Lebanon and a democratic Iraq still find themselves opposing Israel? You'd better have serious arguments ready, and you'd better have an audience willing to take them seriously.

    Right now, evangelical Christians are among the most vocal and strongest supporters of Israel. In fact, this support, while welcome, may be allowing some Jews to duck their responsibilities to hone arguments and engage in debate. After all, the obvious answer to the dual-loyalty charge is twofold: 1) there are Jews who don't support Israel much, and 2) there are non-Jews who do. But ultimately this is not their fight. It saddens and perplexes the evangelicals I know when it turns out that Jews don't automatically rise to defend Israel. Americans will eventually tire of fighting for someone who won't take risks for themselves, no matter the eschatological consequences.

    This is still a reversible problem. And the best way to reverse it is for American Jews to have confidence in the rightness of Israel's cause, and to be willing to defend it when necessary.

    December 1, 2005

    Kadima Platform Emerges

    Like a bad penny, Shimon Peres just won't go away. Even though he has quit the Labor Party, he would join any new Sharon government as "senior minister in charge of peace talks with the Palestinians and developing the Galilee and Negev regions." Showing a dangerous ignorance of recent history, "Responding to charges that Peres would scare right-of-center away voters from Kadima, a Sharon associate said, 'Peres has joined us, not the other way around, and he has to accept our platform.'"

    This is the man who set about undermining the foreign policy of a government he belonged to.

    Then again, maybe it's not an ignorance of history, but part of an emerging platform for Sharon's new Kadima party. Consider the following:

    Meir Sheetrit, the Transportation Minister and Likud veteran who has joined Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new Kadima party, believes that not a "single additional house" should be built in Judea and Samaria because the "true Zionism of tomorrow" is to settle the Galilee and the Negev.


    He indicated that he thought it would be "fair enough" were Israel to permanently control the 5%-10% of the West Bank covered by the major settlement blocs.

    But "from my point of view," Sheetrit stressed in the interview, "People who want to build homes should build only in Israel. Build in the Negev and the Galilee. I think that the true Zionism of tomorrow is not to build a single additional house in Judea and Samaria. Only in the Galilee and the Negev."

    In my view, this begins to form the core of a dangerously delusional foreign policy for Israel - the adoption of the notion that the Palestinians and the EU will let Israel move "Forward" (the English translation of "Kadima") in peace, and focus on its internal growth.

    In fact, the EU has already recently been making troubling noises about Jerusalem. Perhaps Sharon is hoping that sufficient Israeli resolve will result in the EU pressuring the Palestinians to accept "facts on the ground." I wouldn't hold my breath.

    November 30, 2005

    It Really Is All One War

    You know those new hostages in Iraq? The ones whom the Washington Post describes as working for a "peace" group? You know, the one with lots of experience going into war zones?

    Turns out they've got lots of experience in one particular war zone that the AP doesn't bother to mention, and it's earned them a pretty interesting set of friends:

    On 30 November 2005 the National and Islamic Forces in Hebron held a press conference to ask for the release of four CPTers being held by an Iraqi armed group. They released a joint statement expressing their "sorrow at the kidnapping of four of the peace advocates from the CPT in Iraq."

    The first speaker was Sheikh Najib Al Ja'abri, who hosted the press conference at the Ali Baka'a Mosque in the Haret e-Sheikh neighborhood of Hebron. He spoke of his warm sense of working together with CPTers over the years. The second speaker was Abdul 'Alim Dana of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, followed by Fahmi Shahin, Coordinator of the National and Islamic Forces in Hebron, representing the Palestine People's Party. (emphasis added -ed.)

    Here's the JCPA backgrounder on these charmers.

    Look, I hope they alll get back safely, although it's probably too much to expect that they'll have learned anything from the experience. After all, they're not anti-war; they're just on the other side.

    November 22, 2005

    BBC: Israel Defends Self, Violates International Law

    The BBC has a funny view of international law - make sure the obligations fall on Israel.

    Yesterday, Israel responded to a broad Hezbollah attack - including artillery-supported cross-border raids - by, well, responding:

    Hizbullah launched a failed attempt to kidnap soldiers Monday in an assault on Mount Dov and the northern town of Rajar and a coordinated mortar and rocket barrage on northern Galilee towns and kibbutzim.

    A fierce Israeli response killed four infiltrators and struck at Hizbullah targets in south Lebanon, but at least 12 soldiers were wounded and a house severely damaged in Metulla by Hizbullah mortar fire.

    Now, here's the BBC on the matter:

    Israeli troops have killed three Hezbollah fighters during a guerrilla attack near the Lebanese border, which also left several Israelis wounded.

    It was the heaviest fighting in the disputed Shebaa Farms area since 2000, when Israeli troops left south Lebanon.

    Hezbollah fighters launched a major assault on Israeli army posts, triggering retaliatory air strikes.

    Israel captured the area from Syria in the 1967 war but it is now claimed by Lebanon with Syria's backing.

    Eyewitnesses reported at least 250 explosions in an intense two-and-a-half hours of rocket duels.

    Scores of fighters were observed taking part in the Hezbollah operation, which Lebanese security sources said was aimed at taking Israeli hostages.

    Israeli aircraft overflew south Lebanon as far north as Tyre, in defiance of repeated calls by the United Nations for an end to violations of Lebanese air space.

    Israeli TV said Hezbollah's artillery barrage was designed to divert attention from a raid on the Druze village of Ghajar to capture Israeli soldiers.

    The majority of residents in Ghajar are reported to have taken Israeli nationality after Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967.

    The water-rich Shebaa Farms area lies at the convergence of Lebanon and Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    The UN has ruled that the area belongs to Syria - not Lebanon - and says its fate is linked to the Golan Heights.

    In 2004, UN Resolution 1559 called for the disarmament of Hezbollah, but the Lebanese government has so far refused to act.

    So, in 246 words, the Beeb manages to:

    1. Start the story with Israel killing Hizbollah fighters
    2. Mention twice that Shebaa farms is "disputed," while leaving until the next-to-last paragraph the news that the only people disputing its status are those who want to keep killing Israelis
    3. Refer to Israeli overflights as "defiance," while waiting until the last paragraph to note that the Lebanese government apparently has different definitions of "sovereignty" for different parts of its territory
    4. Not note the irony in those two facts.
    5. Ignore completely Hizbollah rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in towns far from the attempted raids...
    6. ...leaving the impression that almost all the fighting was at Shebaa Farms

    Naturally, it's not only the BBC. Reuters does pretty much the same thing, waiting 10 paragraphs to note the nature of the "dispute" over the area.

    November 21, 2005

    Remembrance of Disengagements Past

    One of the refrains from the Left about Israel's disengagement from Gaza was to compare it to Lebanon. After all, the argument went, since Israel pulled out from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has been quiet. Obviously, the violence there was solely a result of Israel's occupation.

    Not now:

    Following an afternoon of escalating violence along the northeastern border between Israel and Lebanon, residents of the north from the Mediterranean to Mount Hermon were ordered into bomb shelters Monday evening for the first time in years.

    In the latest development, Hizbullah extended the fighting across the entire northern border, as mortars landed near the towns of Nahariya and Shlomi.

    Earlier in the evening, mortar and Katyusha barrages hit the northern Galilee towns of Kiryat Shmona and Metulla during which one house in Metulla was directly hit by a Katyusha. While family members were in the house at the time, no injuries were reported. Extensive damage was caused to the building.

    While it's tempting to think that everything your enemy does is in response to what you do, this may or may not have anything to do with Israel's announcement of early elections next March.

    More importantly, it should remind us that the Islamist war on Israel isn't circumstantial, but existential.

    November 9, 2005

    Iran: Worse Than You Think

    How is that possible? Well, it turns out that the conference at which the Iranian President declared his intention to, uh, redraw the map of the Middle East has a website. I admit, I'm at something of a disadvantage here, since most of the juicy bits are in either Arabic or Farsi, but they do have an English section.

    Now, the English section doesn't actually have much English, which ought to be a tipoff that we're not likely to get the subtle, nuanced, witty political discourse of Jonathan Swift or Chuck Schumer. Instead, we get a lot of cartoons and pictures. Now admittedly, the state-sponsored conference & rally garnered fewer people that typically show up when a guy with a bullhorn yells "panty raid" at a frat party, but this is what the Iranian government wants you to know about them:


    OK, ready?

    First of all, anyone care to tell me now that anti-Zionism isn't anti-Semitism? The Jewish noses all look like they were borrowed from Jimmy Durante, and I haven't seen that many black coats since, well, shul this weekend, which is kind of the point. Moreover, the Jews-not-in-uniform are all religious Jews - haredi - as though that were the driving ideology of Zionism. Aside from the endless irony of that assertion, what on earth is going on here?

    These are Jewish representations, that have nothing whatever to do with the secular Jewish state and parties that runs the show. Now, maybe the mullahs just have an affinity for guys with beards dressed in black caftans, but by picking religiously Jewish symbols, they make it clear who exactly in their eyes is providing the intellectual backing for Israel. They make Judaism their enemy, and legitimize attacks on Jewish targets all over the world. So when it comes to criticizing Israel without being anti-Jewish, apparently that memo wasn't written in Farsi.

    The other message is that War on Israel is all about the kids. But only very special kids. White ones. How many Arab kids have you seen with freckles? Now we know what's substituting for all those English words they left out. And for those of you who still think that the Religion of Peace is also the Religion Without Racism, check out this winning entry from a government-sponsored contest on, ahem, "Justice." (Speaking of Justice, or rather, not speaking of it, those crickets you hear are the Jesse Jacksons, Al Sharptons, and Cynthia McKinneys.)

    As a side note, the URL is right there on the poster. Here. Small print at the bottom. Evidently a little too small for most western reporters to read.

    October 23, 2005

    Some Rachels Are More Equal Than Others

    Tom Gross notes in this week's Spectator (London) that for some reason, if you're Jewish, your death in a terror attack is likely to get a lot less attention ("Dead Jews Aren't News"):

    ven though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.

    Rachel Corrie, on the other hand, an American radical who died in 2003 while acting as a human shield during an Israeli anti-terror operation in Gaza, has been widely featured in the British press. According to the Guardian website, she has been written about or referred to on 57 separate occasions in the Guardian alone, including three articles the Saturday before last.

    The cult of Rachel Corrie doesn’t stop there. Last week the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, reopened at the larger downstairs auditorium at the Royal Court Theatre (a venue which the New York Times recently described as ‘the most important theatre in Europe’). It previously played to sold-out audiences at the upstairs theatre when it opened in April. (It is very rare to revive a play so quickly.)

    On 1 November the ‘Cantata concert for Rachel Corrie’ — co-sponsored by the Arts Council — has its world premiere at the Hackney Empire.

    But Rachel Thaler, unlike Rachel Corrie, was Jewish. And unlike Corrie, Jewish victims of Middle East violence have not become a cause célèbre in Britain. This lack of response is all the more disturbing at a time when an increasing number of British Jews feel that there has been a sharp rise in anti-Semitism.

    Thaler is by no means the only Jewish Rachel whose violent death has been entirely ignored by the British media. Other victims of the Intifada include Rachel Levy (aged 17, blown up in a grocery store), Rachel Levi (19, shot while waiting for the bus), Rachel Gavish (killed with her husband, son and father while at home celebrating a Passover meal), Rachel Charhi (blown up while sitting in a Tel Aviv cafe, leaving three young children), Rachel Shabo (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 16 while at home) and Rachel Kol, 53, who worked at a Jerusalem hospital and was killed with her husband in a Palestinian terrorist attack in July a few days after the London bombs.

    While we have the blogosphere to cover these things, the British press apparently has been less than vigilant. While Charles Johnson has been all over the story about the ISM & its anti-Semitism, and exactly what it was that Rachel Corrie was "defending" when she put herself in front of a bulldozer,

    However, in many hundreds of articles on Corrie published in the last two years, most papers have been careful to omit such details. So have actor Alan Rickman and Guardian journalist Katharine Viner, co-creators of My Name is Rachel Corrie, leaving almost all the critics who reviewed the play completely ignorant about the background to the events with which it deals.

    No wonder he's a natural for Snape.

    Sadly the American press doesn't do much better. The Denver Public Library has an extensive full-text newspaper search archive. Here's the score:

    Rachel Corrie 685 Rachel Thaler 3 Rachel Levy 19 Rachel Levi 2 Rachel Gavish 0 Rachel Charhi 0 Rachel Shabo 26 Rachel Kol 2

    Even this overstates the case. Most of the mentions of Miss Levy come either from reports of the First Lady condemning terror attacks, or from an infamous New York Times piece equating her and her murderer. Rachel Shabo is only mentioned in the context of the Israeli response to the infiltration that killed her, again, carefully juxtaposed to her neighbors' desire for "revenge." And Rachel Kol is only mentioned in one news piece (the other is an oped by Uri Dan), which focuses on the Palestinians' anticipation of the Gaza pullout.

    Rachel Corrie's memory is the beneficiary of an active propaganda campaign, by her parents and by sympathetic leftists, aided and abetted by a media too lazy and biased to question the official story line. Meanwhile, if Israel doesn't respond, or doesn't capitulate, its victims barely get a mention at all.

    September 27, 2005

    Cheap Imitations

    So in checking this morning's emails, I found a gem in there from something called the "Arabs Against Discrimination." Going to their website, we find that:

    Arabs Against Discrimination is a non-governmental organization legally registered in France. AAD was established by a group of concerned Arabs with the aim of exposing and combating all forms of discrimination and racism which contravene human rights covenants and established international law, using all possible media, legal and cultural channels to achieve this aim.

    AAD really should be renamed "Ayman George's Bad News from Israel." It's little more than a news digest from the English-language Israeli press, a cheap, lazy imitation of MEMRI, trying to portray Israel in the most unflattering light possible.

    Ayman George is the administrative conatct for AAD, listed in Giza, a suburb of Cairo, now swallowed by the expanding city. A quick Google search reveals that there's an Ayman George who edits and reports for the "independent" Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram. MEMRI reveals that, in fact, Al Ahram and its foundation are Egyptian government organs. Al Ahram also publishes a monthly Arabic-language digest of the Israeli print media. Ayman George may be a common Egyptian name, but I didn't get any hits other than this one, and it sure is a good fit.

    So, this means that the Egyptian government is clumsily and covertly subsidizing a project whose job is to discredit Israel. Given that Israel actually has a free press, they just pick out anything that's not complimentary, and file it "discrimination again [insert non-Jewish group here]."

    Is anyone surprised that such a group would interpret "human rights convenants and international law" as applying only to Jews, and only to Israel?

    No, I didn't think so.


    Power, Faith, and Fantasy

    Six Days of War

    An Army of Davids

    Learning to Read Midrash

    Size Matters

    Deals From Hell

    A War Like No Other


    A Civil War

    Supreme Command

    The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

    The Wisdom of Crowds

    Inventing Money

    When Genius Failed

    Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

    Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

    How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

    Good to Great

    Built to Last

    Financial Fine Print

    The Day the Universe Changed


    The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

    The Case for Democracy

    A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

    The Italians

    Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

    Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

    Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud