Saturday, 31 May 2008
"The irony of great tragedies is that their smallest moments are the ones that truly touch us. Statistics and death-counts impress strategists and historians. But the image of a terrified boy crouching behind his father in the crossfire of armed fighters -- and then dying in his father's arms -- has the power to melt hearts, ignite fury, and move people to action.
Such was the case with Mohammed al-Dura, the Palestinian boy supposedly killed by Israeli soldiers in September 2000 during a gun battle with Palestinians. His story sparked outrage around the world and added fuel to a raging fire that exploded into an even greater inferno after news of the 12-year-old's death. But what if the tragedy did not happen? What if it was all a hoax? History cannot be undone. Perhaps we can at least avoid repeating it.
The impact of the al-Dura story is difficult to exaggerate. The look of terror in the boys' eyes as he and his father take cover behind a barrel amid a shootout at the Netzarim Junction in Gaza has become indelibly etched in the collective mind of the Middle East. The unforgettable video -- an amazing exclusive for a French reporter and his cameraman -- became a powerful symbol that mobilized public opinion and spurred many more killings.
In the first terrorist decapitation video of our gruesome era, the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, young al-Dura plays a key role. The boy's image is superimposed as the killers show Pearl declaring "I am a Jew," just moments before they brandish their sharp knives and perform their unspeakable act. Throughout the Muslim and Arab worlds, there are countless roads and parks and monuments named for al-Dura. Egypt, Tunisia and even Belgium released stamps with the poignant picture. Al-Dura was the rallying cry for the Intifada of 2000, which left thousands dead.
As it turns out, the al-Dura story may be less sad but even more infuriating than we thought. An appeals court judge in France has just ruled against the France 2 television station and its celebrity reporter Charles Enderlin, the journalist who told the story to the world although, he admits, he was not there when it happened. Enderlin filed a defamation lawsuit against Philippe Karsenty, a media watchdog who argued the reporting was so filled with inconsistencies, gaps and misinformation, that the evidence indicated the whole thing had been a propaganda hoax. The judge agreed that Karsenty has presented a "coherent mass" of information casting legitimate doubt on the reporting.
The famous video clip lasted only 57 seconds. Enderlin says his Palestinian cameraman shot 28 minutes. The clip amounts to a montage of a few images, with Enderlin's narration declaring the boy dead and accusing Israel of killing him. The entire world took Enderlin at his word, despite his well-known record as a fervent foe of Israel. When the judge demanded the full raw video, Enderlin mysteriously showed only 18 minutes. The boy is seen walking away after he's declared dead, and there is no blood on the father, whom Enderlin claims was seriously wounded. Nowhere is the killing shown. Independent observers who have seen the film say the whole thing appears staged. One French reporter says the first 20 minutes look like Palestinians are "playing at war," repeatedly falling and getting up.
Detailed ballistic reports say it would have been physically impossible for an Israeli bullet to reach al-Dura. Perhaps Palestinians killed him. But the whole performance could have been a grand display of street theater.
Not surprisingly, news of the French judge's ruling against the activist anti-Israel journalist received almost no attention in the Arab world, in France, or in any of the countries where the story cemented a version of history that says Israelis are to blame for all the suffering in the Middle East.
There is no shortage of suffering among Palestinians and Israelis, and there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides. In this case, however, bad journalism shares in the responsibility for much of the pain -- and the deaths -- that followed. Unfortunately, we cannot undo history.
The dead are gone, and a distorted version of the conflict will remain with many who saw the deceptive clip of the al-Dura story. Millions will reject doubts about the killing. Future students of journalism should study this event, however, even as they review the story of their slain colleague Daniel Pearl. It's a lesson for all of us: Bad journalism can kill."
"With court cases and wide debate surrounding the linkage between certain Islamic Charities and the funding of terror organisations, it is interesting to note that even the Palestinian Authority is worried enough to take action.
Ha'aretz reported earlier this week (full article): "The [senior Israeli security] source noted that the PA has outlawed 300 charity organizations, most of them affiliated with Hamas, and its security forces have stepped up their monitoring of imams in West Bank mosques."
And who should know better than the Palestinian Authority on this particular topic?"
Friday, 30 May 2008
"Google founder Sergey Brin, who stayed on in Israel for a few days after the conclusion of last week’s 60th anniversary celebrations, has told the Israeli daily Ha’aretz that “anti-Semitism was the main reason his family left Russia.”
As I mentioned in a previous dispatch, Brin, 34, was in Israel for President Shimon Peres’ presidential conference “Facing Tomorrow,” and took the opportunity to visit Google’s growing Israeli offices. He said Google is also considering buying some Israeli hi-tech start-up companies.
Brin was born in Moscow in 1973 to Jewish parents. His father, a would-be physicist, was banned from Moscow University under a Communist Party decree banning Jews from physics departments.
Ha’aretz writes: “Mikhail Brin decided to study mathematics instead, and was offered a place although the entry exams for Jews were sat separately, in rooms that were notoriously known as ‘the gas chambers.’ In 1970, he graduated with distinction. Later, he gained his PhD from the University of Krakow, and worked for the Russian economic policy-planning agency.
“Sergey’s mother, Evgenya, worked in the research lab of the Soviet gas and oil institute. Like her husband, she had struggled against the anti-Semitic discrimination which prevailed in the Soviet academia, and defied it.
“... The Brins decided to leave Russia in 1977. Despite the fear of being declared “refuseniks,” Evgenya was adamant to leave.
“In 1978 they applied for emigration permit, and as a result Mikhail was fired and Evgenya had to resign. The family barely got by for several months until their application was approved in 1979. Shortly afterwards, the gates of the Soviet bloc were hermetically closed for emigration.”"
Thursday, 29 May 2008
A group of Belgian self-proclaimed "Socialists", in ostensible Israeli army uniforms, descended from a jeep and other vehicles bearing Israeli flags to assault keffiyeh-bedecked local Arabs in the town's commercial centre.
Samuels described the scene as "barking orders while pushing elderly people to their knees, grabbing a baby from its carriage, the message was registered in the faces of innocent shopkeepers and passersby."
- See video '"Psychodrame Nakba" à Nivelles'
The Centre added, "Those Belgian onlookers, last Saturday, lost their innocence as they were mentally raped. They know that there are no Israeli military operations in their town, but they and their children will always remember the Star of David on the vehicles, the snatching of babies. The demons of medieval blood libels are, thereby, subliminally reinforced. The organizers will have succeeded in dramatically reigniting fear of their fellow Jewish citizens."
The letter continued, "Following the mayhem in which the 'soldiers' drove the 'Arabs' into the 'Bethlehem Deheishe Refugee Camp', the microphone was taken by Socialist City Councillor and former Defence Minister, André Flahaut. Under Palestinian banners, he drew parallels between the performance and Nazi atrocities against the Jews."
Samuels noted that "the same minister had, reportedly, excused the vandalism of the Anderlecht Holocaust Memorial as due to Israeli policy and, allegedly, proposed shooting down any American plane overflying Belgium en route to Iraq."
The Centre suggested that "Belgian politicians must be reminded of the short distance between Nivelles and Malines (Mechelen), the transit point for the deportation of Belgian Jewry to Auschwitz."
The letter also emphasized that "Saturday's street defamation of Israel was not only a disturbance to public order; it was a violation of Belgium's commitment to the OSCE Berlin Declaration (2004), and the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism's Working Definition of Antisemitism (2004), both of which include Holocaust revisionism and the demonization of the State of Israel, by analogy with Nazism, as incitement to contemporary Jew-hatred."
The Centre called on the Belgian government "to publicly denounce such group libel, prohibit any repetition and to condemn the behaviour of Councillor Flahaut and his co-speaker, Ecologist Federal Deputy Thérèse Snoy."
"Mr Prime Minister, pardon our astonishment that of all countries, such a provocation was organized in Belgium – hardly the place nor the time to import a conflict in which peacemakers are focussed upon a two-state solution," concluded Samuels."
"A former Belgian Defense Minister sparked the ire of the Jewish community after he reportedly compared Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians to the fate of the Jews during World War II.
In a speech last Saturday at a pro-Palestinian gathering in Nivelles, near Brussels, André Flahaut, a Socialist MP and city councillor, compared Israel to a Nazi state, according to CCOJB, the umbrella representative group of Belgian Jewish organizations.
He was quoted as saying: “Like any normal person, I am revolted when I see children suffering, when I see maltreated women, who are raped, when I see maltreated men and freedoms ridiculed. During the twelve years and half I was minister, I left no stone unturned so that the atrocities against the Jews during WWII be remembered and not forgotten. I also ask that one have the same commitment, the same determination to make that the voice of those who suffer today is heard and to avoid banalization. I am determined to fight against all exclusions, all nazisms, all fascisms wherever they are.”
In a statement, the “Union of Deported Jews in Belgium-Daughters and Sons of the Deportation”, urged Flahaut to publicly retract his comments.
Flahaut, who was Defense Minister in the former government of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, denied later that he made anti-Jewish comments.
He said the gathering on Saturday was organized by a group advocating dialogue between Israel and Palestine.
When he arrived at the meeting, Flahaut was heckled by a Jewish representative who blamed him for his presence.
The former minister added: "I answered that I am in favour of dialogue and that I have always been determined to fight all forms of violence, racism and extremism. My speech remained general and balanced. I never questioned any state."
During the gathering, pseudo-Israeli soldiers wearing weapons staged a mock repression of Palestinians to illustrate what organizers called in their leaflets the "expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 when Israel was created."
An Ecologist MP, Thérèse Snoy, denounced "pressure from certain Jewish groups" on the city's authorities to ban the demonstration."
For Belgian Minister Israeli military operations in Gaza are "shocking"
In 2008 lots of events hostile to Israel will be hosted - or have already taken place - ... to coincide with Israel's 60th birthday. Here is a small sample:
Norman Finkelstein at Brussels Nakba commemoration day
Israelis compared to Nazi SS on Belgian radio blog
Zionism, a "Tumour in the midst of Judaism", Belgian radio forum
Masarat, Belgium in the Middle East, by the Islam in Europe blog
Content of Belgian-sponsored Palestinian festival irks Jews, JTA
Zan Studio of Ramallah - anti-Israeli artists invited to Belgium
Palestinian festival sparks controversy - Belgium
Israel on trial in Brussels: Iranian and Syrian Ambassadors give standing ovation to judges
Lebanon war mock tribunal condemns Israel and U.S.
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
"The following was sent recently to the Irish Times in response to a long letter that had appeared there. (...)
Despite Tomas McBride (Letters, 22 May), supporters of Israel do not need to resort to myth in order to justify the existence of a modern Jewish state. Let's leave the Torah to one side for a moment. Israel came into being, not from a mythical 'Jewish invasion' of British mandate Palestine, but as the result of a long political process that started in the late 19th century as the Ottoman empire drew to its end. After the second world war and a long debate, the United Nations voted by a majority for the creation of a small Jewish state alongside other mandate or ex-mandate states. In other words, Israel was carved out of the old empire much as modern Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, or Jordan. This happened in part because post-war re-apportionment of land in general is commonplace, but for the greater part because the UN was a new way to administer international law and the necessary adjustments between nations. The nearest parallel was the resettlement of 2 million people following the partition of India to create Pakistan (and, later, Bangladesh) — oddly enough, no Muslim voices are raised to complain about this.
Unfortunately, nations in the modern form, modelled on the concept of the Westphalian state, had never existed in Islam (though various forms of Arab nationalism, like Jewish nationalism, were being advocated in this period). This is why the Arab states who invaded Israel with the expressed intention of driving all Jews into the Mediterranean simply refused to behave like UN member states at all. That Jews had taken control of even a tiny sliver of Islamic territory was anathema, giving rise to what was in essence a religious animus calling for genocide. By that time too, Palestinian politics had been irredeemably tainted by association with the Third Reich. The Reich's leading Arab collaborator, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Palestinian leader, had fled after the Nazi defeat and was feted in Cairo as a hero of the Arab people.
To dismiss Jewish longing to return to Israel as merely a myth-centred nonsense displays an absolute insensitivity to aspirations, whether religious or national. All peoples, religions, and nations have founding myths. The Jews have one of the strongest. Their belief in a land that was given them by God may or may not be historically true, but it is a vivid, enduring, and necessary expression of the significance Jews have placed in Israel for thousands of years. Jerusalem is sacred to Jews much as Mecca and Medina are to Muslims. It is certainly much better attested than the historically invalid attempt of modern Palestinians (a hybrid group) to assert Palestinian occupation of that land for a similar length of time; or to claim a link between modern Palestinians and the ancient Philistines; or, most glaringly, that the Jews have never had a historical connection to the land. Pull the other one.
For two thousand years, Jews have expressed a daily hope of return to the Holy Land. That sense of belonging, that connection to history, are something greater than myth, though often inspired by it. We do not mock other religions for holding non-rational beliefs, we do not try to make political capital out of national struggles based on a longing for a returnto a Golden Age. The statue of Cuchulainn outside the General Post Office is there for a reason. Or consider the opening words of the Proclamation of Independence: 'IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.' Or all those murals of King Billy crossing the Boyne.
Jews trace their origins back as far as that and further. That is why they chose and were given a homeland where every town, every hill, every river, every archaeological excavation, and every stone in the Western Wall resonates. And given the momentous horror of the Holocaust and how close mankind came to witnessing an extermination of the Jewish people, that resonance could not have been greater. Persecuted though we may have been by the British occupation, we were never in danger of being wiped out. Since 1948,the Palestinian Arabs have increased from 1,700,000 to 2.5 million (with claims of over 3 million). That is the truth of the 'Palestinian Holocaust', another myth that is swallowed too readily. If I am to believe in the right of the Irish people to a homeland where Cuchulainn may or may not have walked, how can I deny the Jews their unarguable right to seek refuge for the first time in two millennia in a land they have prayed for every day of their lives? By contrast, Jerusalem has little resonance in Islam: soon after migrating to Medina, the prophet Muhammad, who had prayed towards Jerusalem in imitation of the Jews, turned his back on the city and chose instead to pray towards Mecca, as all Muslims do today. Jews recite the words of the Psalm: 'If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I donot remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above myhighest joy'. The Qur'an doesn't even mention Jerusalem.
The Arabs cannot have it both ways. They cannot belong to the United Nations and work to undermine its very principles. Their states are dictatorships and absolute monarchies, they deny their citizens basic human rights, they reduce women to an inferior status, they deny religious minorities the freedoms called for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet they denounce Israel, the only country in the Middle East that implements those rights in a democratic state. What are we looking for, in the end? Stability, democracy, the rule of law, rights for everyone regardless of colour, sex, or creed? Or genocide by Hamas and Hizbullah, followed by theocratic rule that will bring executions, stonings, and the minimum of rights for any remaining religious minorities? Israel has achieved great things. It has some way to go, but every time we attack it or snipe at it or give terrorists succour, we undermine the very things we claim to stand for."
Monday, 26 May 2008
"English Parliament debates growth of anti-semitism in Britain, and calls on the BBC and the Church of England to do more
(...) the parliamentary debate about the growth of antisemitism in Britain. It took place last week, on Thursday, May 15th.
If you go to the comments section on the Engage webpage, you will find out how to access the video of the debate.
Here is part of what two MPs from different parties said about the matter of antisemitism in today's Britain. I have reversed the order in which they appeared:
Andrew Dismore (Hendon, Labour)
"The threat and reality of anti-Semitism is with us ... Jewish people are the only community in our country who live in a permanent state of siege and underlying fear ... although I am not Jewish, I am targeted because I am seen as someone who stands up for the Jewish community. I have had hate mail and death threats. I have been on the receiving end of action by the Muslim Public Affairs Committee..."
Mark Prichard (The Wrekin, Conservative)
" ... in some, but not all, parts, the BBC is still institutionally biased against Israel.... I welcome the comments that Pope Benedict made in his Cologne speech. I think the Church of England should do more; it should speak out against anti-Semitism."
This was an important debate, which took place on the date by Gregorian calendar of Israel's 60th anniversary. The debate linked antisemitism in Britain to the way Israel is reported in the media, specifically mentioning bias in the BBC as a Government-funded organisation, and calling on the Church of England to do more to speak out.
The most obivous cause for concern still remains the atmosphere and reality of campus life for Jewish students and staff in many universities. However, the BBC and the Church of England - pillars of the establishment - could do a great deal more to influence the pervading ambience in the country. This might go some way to assuage the feeling 'of permanent state of siege and underlying fear' experienced by the Jewish community of this country, correctly expressed by the non-Jewish Labour MP for Hendon, NW London.
Another worrying feature is the universities' admission policy, which many feel discriminates against the Jewish community as an ethnic minority.
Contrast with President Bush's speech of congratulations to Israel on her 60th, which he gave in the Israeli Knesset (originally modelled on the British parliament), which took place on the same afternoon as the parliamentary debate on anti-Semitism in London."
Saturday, 24 May 2008
"Yaakov at Breath of the Beast calls out the man at France 2 with so much blood on his hands:
Thank You Charles Enderlin and France2.
"We have to admit we were angry with you for libeling Israel that we wanted to get you to take it back. It wasn’t just anger. We wanted to make it impossible for you to ever release such a tidal wave of violence and blood on us again. After the disastrous aftermath of your al Durah report, so many people suffered and died, we have come to think of you more as a war criminal than just an unethical journalist. Really, we do not feel that you deserve to be thought of as an honorable journalist. Fortunately for us your character flaws have relieved us of the responsibility to attack you. If you had ignored our criticism, let the whole thing drop and not sued anyone you would still be on top of the world today and Israel and the Jewish people would still be blackened by your libel.
Your restless guilt and vanity would not let you do the smart thing, though, and you sued Philipe Karsenty. Only those blinded by self-importance and its underlying insecurity, on the one hand, and driven by a need to deny fault on the other, would have felt the need.
So you showed your weakness and hubris just by filing the suit. Even more important though, from your law suit flowed the healing drama in the French courtroom in March. First, you demeaned yourself by bringing obviously altered tape into evidence into the courtroom. Then you further revealed your self delusion by pretending not to notice the derisive laughter of the gallery or that even the judge who was questioning you was treating you and your evasive explanations with amused disdain.
Now that the judgment is published, Charles, we are very pleased to see that you are going to do your best to help us to help you to complete your self-destruction by taking it to a higher court. We never had the stomach for the dirty fight you are waging we do not like to destroy other people- no matter how richly deserved. We, therefore are especially grateful to you that you have not had the moral fiber to resist you darker instincts and have thereby undertaken to do the job yourself.
We are not character assassins - but we are enjoying immensely watching your character commit a spectacularly public suicide.
Yaacov Ben Moshe
Friday, 23 May 2008
“A “pretty strong degree of anti-Semitism” in Europe is at the root of the hostile coverage Israel receives in parts of the European media, Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation global media chief, charged on Thursday.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post following his appearance at Jerusalem's “Facing Tomorrow.” presidential conference, Murdoch said it was hard for Israel to obtain fair media coverage in Europe because it was forced to “start off behind.”
Elaborating, Murdoch said: “If you go to the BBC, the French press, places like that - they start as hostile, and it's very difficult to overcome. But you've just got to press on and do what you can.”
In a series of characteristically striking assessments, Murdoch went on to say that “the whole of Europe has gone soft. You've got a degree of disintegration - though that's too strong a word - of society.””
Al-Dura Affair: “Stop the Israel Bashing in the Media and the Jews Will No Longer Be Hated”, says Philippe Karsenty
“A few hours ago, a French Appeals Court finally decided that Philippe Karsenty did not libel Charles Enderlin of France’s Channel 2 in the matter of Mohammed Al-Dura. One wonders whether the world which was so eager to lap up the base, visual propaganda against Israel, will now just as eagerly lap up the truth. Somehow, I doubt it. Even if the world’s mainstream media now covers this legal victory widely, respectfully, and accurately, it may still not be able to reverse the revulsion towards Israel that this staged photo of the twelve year-old Mohammed al-Dura, (allegedly shot to death by Israeli soldiers), managed to provoke–and to keep on provoking as it was repeatedly aired, copied onto tee shirts, coffee mugs, posters, and banners at demonstrations.
Primed to believe the worst about Israelis, this staged event at the Netzarim Junction has already done its vast and dirty work. Can a carefully rendered legal decision–many words on the page–compete with a soul-stirring staged photo in the Arab speaking world? How about in the Israel-bashing French speaking world? How about in America’s mainstream media?
Can the families of all the Israelis who were murdered and maimed during the Al-Aqsa intifada sue France’s Channel 2 and Charles Enderlin for money damages? Enderlin and his Palestinian cameraman knowingly perpetrated a hoax. Having just lost, Enderlin is now vowing to appeal the decision. (...)
Q: How has fighting this case changed you? How has it continued to effect your family and social life? Your political and intellectual conclusions?
A: This fight has changed me a lot because it helped me to understand that the world was not a fairy tale (I believed it before…) and that people can lie and cover others people lies without shame. During the first years of this fight, I was disinvited from many ceremonies and parties. Things have changed when some US organizations paid attention to the fight and when some people agreed to consider and monitor our evidence.
Q: Do you believe that the Jews must leave France? Europe?
A: I don’t believe that Jews must leave France or Europe now. But, it is a question that has to be addressed by the European authorities pretty soon. Jews can’t live in fortresses like they now have to do. Synagogues are protected like banks, or even better. This is not acceptable. And the only reason is because of the brainwashing (Israel bashing) that European people are subjected to. Stop the anti-Israel propaganda in the media and the people will stop hating the Jews. If this cannot be done, then the Jews will have to leave, sooner or later. This particular case of the media propaganda will may be solved soon if media start to correct their bias, starting with the al-Dura fraud.
Q: I understand that you are working on a film about your struggle. Why document your struggle in a film? When do you think such a film will come out?
A: It is important to document this struggle in a film for our people now, and for our children, that they understand how such an anti-Semitic lie (easy to prove) was so fast to grow in everybody’s mind at the beginning of the 21st century. And how it was (and is still) difficult to have people admit. If we work hard enough, the film will come out in 2010.”
Read Karsenty’s own statment at Pajamas Media
Thursday, 22 May 2008
The book cover photo was taken in 1912 and depicts the menagerie of the Sultan of Morocco, where around 2 000 Jews found refuge after a pogrom in the city of Fez left between 60 and 100 men, women and children dead.
The Sultan "protected" his Jewish subjects by putting them in his menagerie, next to the lions cage. Such undignified protection was meant to underline their dhimmi status and his power over them.
In 1948, 900 000 Jews lived in the Arab world. Today there are barely 4 500 left.
Read the transcript in English of an interview the author gave to Information juive in Point of no return.
Related to the subject:
Jihad and Jew-Hatred, Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, by Matthias Küntzel, Telos Press Publishing (2007) - won the 2007 London Book Festival grand prize
The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, by Andrew Bostom, Prometheus Books (2008)
Elimination of the Jewish National Home in Palestine: The Einsatzkommando of the Panzer Army Africa, 1942, by Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers, Yad Vashem
Middle East Anti-Semitism, in A Liberal Defence of Israel blog
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
"Andrew Bostom's new book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, brings massive evidence to show that Jews suffered greatly in Moslem societies due to an antisemitism intrinsic to the Moslem religion. In this he goes against the commonly held belief that Jews under Islam suffered relatively little for being Jewish and that Islam itself is relatively tolerant, ideas put forward by the philosophes of the Enlightenment as part of their battle with the Catholic Church, by Jewish historians who contrasted a mythical Muslim past with their own lachrymose conception of the history of their own people in Christian Europe and by contemporary historians of Islam, many of whom tend to view Moslem antisemitism through rose-colored glasses. (...)
One might have heard of the 1839 forced conversion of the Jews of Meshed, Iran (...) but know nothing of the 4,000 Jews killed in Moslem riots in Grenada in 1066, the 6,000 Jews massacred in Fez in 1033, the hundreds of Jews slaughtered in Muslim Cordoba between 1010 and 1015, the Almohad depredations of Jews and Christians in Spain and North Africa between 1130 and 1232, the 1834 pogrom in Safed where raging mobs killed hundreds of Jews, the 1888 massacres of Jews in Isfahan and Shiraz Iran, the oppressive conditions imposed on Jews in Hamadan Iran in 1892, the 1910 pogrom in Shiraz, the pillage of the ghetto of Fez Morocco in 1912, the pillage and destruction of the Casablanca ghetto in 1907, the 1679 expulsion of 10,000 Jews of Yemen to the unlivably hot and dry Plain of Tihami from which only 1,000 returned alive in 1680.
One might have heard of the 1941 pogrom in Iraq but be unaware of the 1291 pogroms in Baghdad and its environs.
Readers will be familiar with the Koran's description of Jews as descendants of apes and pigs but probably not be aware of numerous other ugly and antagonistic references to Jews in Islam's sacred writing: that Jews are the greatest enemies of Islam, that Jews are associated with Satan, the Jews killed Mohammad, that the Jews falsified their sacred books in order to expunge all references to Mohammad and more.
One might know that under Islam's rules dhimmis (Christians and Jews) are not allowed to ride horses but be unfamiliar with numerous other restrictions, limitations, humiliations, indignities and abuses they prescribe: the poll tax (jizyah) required from each dhimmi and paid in a manner calculated to demean the payer, the dress codes that enforce on dhimmis undignified attire, the compulsory wearing of a colored patch of cloth to identify the wearer as a Jewish or Christian dihmmi, the requirement to address Moslems with honorific terms, the denial of the right of self defense against attack by a Moslem and more.
It is fairly well known that before Israeli rule of the Old City of Jerusalem it was common for Jews coming to pray at the Western Wall to be pelted with stones by Moslems. From Bostom's book one learns that throwing stones at Jews was common throughout the history of Islam, as was spitting upon them, hitting them, and pulling their beards. (...)
Employing a genetic approach, Bostom shows that Islam's holy books, the Koran, the hadith and the sira all have sharply negative things to say about Jews, that these have been emphasized and reinforced by Moslem thinkers, jurists and preachers throughout the history of Islam, and that the attitudes and ideas engendered by them have directly influenced the actions of Moslem rulers, clergy and mobs both in their oppression of Jews as dhimmis and their aggressive excesses against Jews which have included pogroms, forced conversion, pillage and expulsion. The status of dhimmi to which Jews and Christians are relegated under Islamic law is one entailing serious suffering and indignity in the best of circumstances. Frequently circumstances were far from the best."
Read the article in full
Monday, 19 May 2008
"It is a moral idiot who thinks that anti-Semitism is a threat only to Jews. The history of civilization demonstrates something rather different: Judaeophobia is an unfailing prognosis of barbarism and collapse, and the states and movements that promulgate it are doomed to suicide as well as homicide, as was demonstrated by Catholic Spain as well as Nazi Germany. Today's Iranian "Islamic republic" is a nightmare for its own citizens as well as a pestilential nuisance and menace to its neighbors. And the most depressing and wretched spectacle of the past decade, for all those who care about democracy and secularism, has been the degeneration of Palestinian Arab nationalism into the theocratic and thanatocratic hell of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, where the Web site of Gaza's ruling faction blazons an endorsement of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This obscenity is not to be explained away by glib terms like despair or occupation, as other religious fools like Jimmy Carter—who managed to meet the Hamas gangsters without mentioning their racist manifesto—would have you believe. (Is Muslim-on-Muslim massacre in Darfur or Iraq or Pakistan or Lebanon to be justified by conditions in Gaza?) Instead, this crux forces non-Zionists like me to ask whether, in spite of everything, Israel should be defended as if it were a part of the democratic West. This is a question to which Israelis themselves have not yet returned a completely convincing answer, and if they truly desire a 60th, let alone a 70th, birthday celebration, they had better lose no time in coming up with one."
Sunday, 18 May 2008
"We Westerners have become the stand-bys, the people who protest about everything and never actually do anything useful. (...)
It is a mockery of the international system that Israel, a member state of the UN, has fought wars and terrorist attacks for 60 years, yet not one other member state has come to its aid. Nato was founded on the basis that an attack on any member country was to be considered an attack on everyone, and that retaliation would follow from all member states. That is still true. Similar alliances exist elsewhere. Of course, the UN is not a military alliance; but it still makes no sense to me that there can be no role for the UN when Israel is attacked by wholly illegal entities like Hamas or Hizbullah. It's not even a case of asking the UN to send in fighting troops to go into battle alongside Israelis, simply wondering why the UN chooses not to enforce international law when it is so blatantly broken by a group like Hizbullah that was founded and is backed by a regime who record in human rights or in international relations is consistently black. What do you have to do to get the UN, to which you pay your membership dues, to do what it was set up to do?
It matters hugely to the West that Hizbullah does not set the Middle East alight, that Iran and Syria do not take joint control of Lebanon, that they do not use their alliance with Hamas to engage in another war with Israel, and that Syria does not try to drag Jordan into it. But surely this is the point. It is precisely because the West (like the UN) stood aside during the last war in Lebanon, and put heavy pressure on Israel to end the war prematurely, that Hizbullah was able to come out of the conflict ready to re-arm and re-group. thereby creating the present situation. To be honest, if the West (or the UN) had acted years ago, Hizbullah could have been flattened before they got the missiles they now use. The same with Hamas.
Everyone is afraid - and rightly afraid - of starting a war with Iran. Attacking Hizbullah could lead to that. Taking out Iran's nucleaer installations could lead to it. Iran is a big country with difficult terrain and a large population. A war would be foolish and Western troops would get even more bogged down than they are now in Iraq or Afghanistan. US blunders in Iraq have made life easier for Ahmadinezhad and his generals. I cannot suggest the right course of action. Perhaps no-one in the West really cares: if Israel is all that's at stake, no doubt a lot of people can live with that. We don't reward heroism any longer, not if it ruffles feathers in high places. We are politically correct, which means we hate Israel and love the terrorists masquerading as freedom fighters who want to destroy her body and soul. They want to destroy Israel's spirit, and they know no-one out there has a spirit like it, and that no-one dare trespass the laws of 'do not speak', 'do not call on others to speak', 'do not act', and 'do not urge others to take action'. Let us prove them wrong."
Friday, 16 May 2008
Belgium has quite a few homegrown anti-Israel bashers, though none has achieved world celebrity status. To make up for this and to give a touch of excitement to what otherwise would have been a lacklustre and poorly attended event, Norman Finkelstein has been invited to participate and give a talk entitled "60 years of dispossession, 40 years of occupation".
Another "celebrity" speaker will be Israeli Michel Warchawski, a sort of Ilan Pappé French-speaking alter ego.
Oddly (but it could be just posturing, as the programme indicates "subject to confirmation"), Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Karel De Gucht is also due to make an appearance at the Nakba commemoration to take part in a debate on the theme: "When will Belgium play the Palestine card?" ("Quand la Belgique jouera-t-elle la carte de la Palestine?") - this implies that despite the huge brouhaha it hasn't, so far.
By the way, in 2008, Brussels has and will be hosting lots of events hostile to Israel ... to coincide with Israel's 60th birthday. Here is a small sample:
Masarat, Belgium in the Middle East, by the Islam in Europe blog
Content of Belgian-sponsored Palestinian festival irks Jews, JTA
Zan Studio of Ramallah - anti-Israeli artists invited to Belgium
Palestinian festival sparks controversy - Belgium
Israel on trial in Brussels: Iranian and Syrian Ambassadors give standing ovation to judges
Lebanon war mock tribunal condemns Israel and U.S.
Thursday, 15 May 2008
From Spiegel on line
"Israel's right to exist is questioned on a daily basis -- not just by radical Palestinians, but also by prominent intellectuals. As the country celebrates its 60th anniversary, they are sending their case against Israel in messages disguised as birthday greetings. But their supposed concern about the Middle East is really just a cloak for their own guilt complexes."
"Israel's existence is called into question day after day -- not just by militant Palestinian organizations such as Fatah and Hezbollah and the president of Iran, but also by congenial European intellectuals who devote themselves to the "Middle East question" with the dedication of someone who has long since completed all his other homework.
Recently a group of German thinkers including the political scientist Johano Strasser, Green Party parliamentarian Claudia Roth and writer Gert Heidenreich published a paper to mark Israel's 60th birthday entitled "Congratulations and Concerns."
In it they praise Israel's "development, the cultural diversity, the scientific and technological successes, the intellectual productivity and the democratically organized pluralism." But they also voice doubt about whether the Israelis are really doing enough to settle the conflict with their neighbors.
Israel, the writers warn, is endangering "its own existence", "making a fool of the whole world," and "deceiving itself." The paper calls on German politicians "not to lose sight of the connection between the extremely difficult economic and political situation of the Palestinians on the one hand and the uncertainty and menace facing Israel on the other."
The entire paper is a collection of cheap platitudes concocted by hobby astronauts zooming through virtual space on their games consoles, convinced that everything hinges on their navigation skills.
The paper "Congratulations and Concerns" was preceded by another position statement: "Friendship and Criticism," written by 25 political scientists who accuse Israel of instrumentalizing the Holocaust for its own political ends and who call for a rethink of the "special relationship" between Germany and Israel in order to render the "internal German discourse" between "non-Jewish, Jewish and Muslim Germans" broader and more impartial.
An open letter signed by 120 academics caused a Europe-wide stir in 2002. The letter called for academic relations to be frozen between Israel and European countries in protest against Israel's policies. In other words, the cultural and scientific cooperation between the countries should be stopped. The letter went largely unnoticed in Germany, for a very simple reason -- only two of the 120 signatories were German.
Meanwhile, there is hardly any well-known writer who has not made some kind of statement about Israel. Jostein Gaarder, the Norwegian author of the bestseller "Sophie's World," wrote Israel out of the pages of history with the words: "We no longer recognize the State of Israel." Gore Vidal, the American author who lives in self-imposed exile in Italy, South Africa's Breyten Breytenbach and the Portuguese author José Saramago have all also expressed their opinions, with latter comparing the situation in Ramallah to Auschwitz. When asked where the gas chambers were, he reportedly replied: "There are no gas chambers, yet." (...)
The most striking thing about such statements is not just the total self-assurance with which they are made, but also the total lack of historical substance: The same people who feel responsible for the fate of the Palestinians and feel driven to give Israel advice, want to be released from the historical responsibility for the fate of the Jews, which has weighed on them for over 60 years as a heavy burden. As early as the late 1960s, the Berlin revolutionary Dieter Kunzelmann called on the Germans to get over their "Jewish problem."
And little changed has until now, except that the language has become a little more subtle. Significant parts of the German intelligentsia see it as their task to watch day and night to make sure that the Jews (in other words, Israelis) do not backslide and do not gamble away the moral credit that they gained by being the victim of the Nazis. But Israel's original sin isn't its poor treatment of the Palestinians but rather the fact that it makes it so hard for those nice Germans to like the Jews.
Many years ago, an article appeared in German weekly Die Zeit, with an appeal to the "responsible men of the government of Israel." The author said they should pause and recognize "how far they have already come along that path which recently led another people to doom."
That was on Sept. 23, 1948, just four months after the founding of Israel. The author? The German journalist and intellectual Marion Dönhoff."
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Monday, 12 May 2008
|Johann Hari Saw a Pipe, and Robert Fisk Cheers for the Enemies of Civilization, by Martin Solomon, posted @ Solomonia|
"End of last month The Independent's columnist Johann Hari wrote a calumny against Israel, quoting Ilan Pappe, no less, as an authority on the state's founding. Now personally, I happen to think that it's not unlikely that Hari simply wanted an excuse to use the word "shit" in the pages of a major publication -- oh how British English standards have fallen.
See, sewage is a problem in the West Bank. One may jump to various conclusions on the causes. The most obvious is the one we've noted many times here for the lack of a decent civil infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza -- because a lot of people have been more interested in stuffing their pockets, paying out graft, building McMansions, funding terror groups and dreaming of destroying the Zionist Entity than they have been interested in building a fully functional civil society.
Now, I don't discount the possibility that some Jews living in the West Bank may actually be callously, even intentionally pumping their poop out over the fence and into their neighbor's yard. I don't know. I'm not an expert, and I can only go by what smells right and what doesn't.
Thing is, same with Johann Hari, even though he, after all, informs us with all vehemence that he smelled the shit! He smelt it! It filled his nostrils says Hari, and, fortunate for him, why he had a Palestinian expert there to guide him on his odor-rama adventure and explain just whose fault it all was. No prize for guessing whose...
Honest Reporting, among others, called him out on the many problematic issues with his piece, and out man Johann was none-too-pleased to be criticized. Seems it's all a big conspiracy by you-know-who to silence columnists. After all, he was only being "critical," how dare he be criticized in turn? The nerve of those Je...people! Honest Reporting has come back with another response, taking on Hari's claims to persecution (and Jews know persecution Johann, and this ain't it).
In fact, Hari's colleague at The Independent, Howard Jacobson came back with his own rejoinder:
"...to invoke the spectre of a campaign, a front mobilised with aforethought to defame anyone who speaks ill of Israel. Indeed, accusing your detractors of carrying out a campaign often amounts to carrying out one in return - for it is a smear in itself to accuse people who disagree with you of acting out of no other motive than malice. He who says I smear him when I don't smears me.
Something else doesn't feel quite right to me about Johann Hari's unearthing of this "campaign", and that is his assertion that "it is an attempt to intimidate and silence - and to a large degree it works". To my ear, that answers intimidation with intimidation, since it impugns the intellectual honour of those of whom he speaks, and coerces us into thinking the worst of them.
Furthermore, it is patently untrue that "intimidation" has worked. Johann himself is demonstrably not intimidated. Nor is it easy to see who else is. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, it cannot surely be argued that the Palestinian case is not heard..."
Funny thing, that. It would seem quite natural for a flawed thesis, perhaps disgracefully flawed, delivered in unmeasured tones as Hari's was, to meet with a like response. In fact, given Hari's original, I'd say the response was muted in comparison. Seems quite natural for any group, not just a national or religious group neither, to rise to their own defense, or others who know the truth or are at least ready to be honest to do likewise on their behalf, and Jews have labored long and hard to master the intellectual Western traditions -- gained great notoriety at universities, founded them, even -- and have cast the critical eye inward perhaps more than any other People.
Yet here they go, speaking out, and no matter how factual their argument, no matter how reasoned their defense, no matter how justified their indignation, or studied their positions...and they're still just saying that because...well, they would, they're Jews after all. It's all a bit exasperating.
People become upset about some of the "criticisms" printed against Israel because some of those criticisms aren't criticisms at all, they're smears. Smears from a sewer. And some of us have gotten past the ghetto Jew (or the silence of the country club token if you prefer) mentality and we will speak our minds about what we hear. It ain't a conspiracy, you're not being silenced, and Mr. Johann Hari will just have to lump it...."
Sunday, 11 May 2008
|Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed Gidi Grinstein for The Atlantic|
"Gidi Grinstein is one of Israel's most interesting thinkers. The founder and president of the country's leading think tank, the Reut Institute, he is a former negotiator in the government of Ehud Barak. I sat down with him recently to talk about Israel's future. Here are some excerpts. Gidi blogs, by the way, at www.blogidi.com
I have a simple question: has Zionism worked?
Tremendously. I believe that we are one of the most successful national movements of the 20th century and moving forward into the 21st century.
Are the Palestinians one of the least successful national movements?
Probably. The secret of Zionism - the resilience of Zionism - is its ideological agility. Zionism has been driven by… ideas that are inconsistent with each other. So Zionism has been and remains a balancing act.
First I'd like to give you the concept. If there was rigidity in Zionism, there would be no way Zionism could survive the tremendous turmoil of the last sixty or seventy years. But these ideas are not in a hierarchy with each other - they are on a platform, they have equal footing and in every window of time there is a realignment of these ideas to meet the challenges of the day with new priorities.
What are these ideas? First there is the commitment to a special place on the face of this Earth - the land of Israel, the cradle of our civilization. The second big idea was about security for Jews. The third was about the well being of Jews. Not necessarily about wealth but more about economic independence, economic self determination. Then it was a whole nexus of ideas about humanism, liberalism, democracy. The Zionist movement since its inception has been democratic to a fault. That is still reflected and projected into the Knesset, which is a highly ineffective body.
It was about leadership among the family of nations - tikkun olam - repairing the world. It was about being light unto the nations, and the quest to create a model society. It has been about the Jewish character of the state of Israel - which means its language, its national day of rest, the Shabbat, its national holidays. This is the only place on the face of this earth where Jews experience being a majority. We assume full responsibility. This is a radically different existence than being a minority - as economically and politically powerful as a minority can be. Here we take care of sewage, we're responsible for security. (...)
Talk about the importance of settling the Palestinian problem.
I think that we have been very successful in containing the Palestinian issue. What I mean by containing is that day-to-day decisions of the vast majority of the Israel population are unaffected by our conflict with the Palestinians. This is precisely the opposite of what the Palestinians wanted to achieve. They wanted to bring chaos."
Friday, 9 May 2008
"The European Union on Thursday also congratulated Israel on the 60th anniversary, with officials vowing to forge even closer ties with the Middle Eastern state.
The head of the bloc's executive, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, said Israel's significance for Europeans went "beyond normal forms of cooperation with a close neighbour."
"Both the European Union and the state of Israel were born out of the same great convulsion of the Second World War and the Shoah," Barroso said in a message.
"In its 60 years as an independent state, Israel has had to contend with many challenges. Yet through it all it has continued to adapt, develop and prosper.
"We now take almost for granted impressive Israeli achievements in fields such as science and technology, industry, agriculture, education and the arts. In retrospect, we can only wonder at how all this was achieved under such difficult circumstances," Barroso added.
The commission chief noted that the EU and Israel were already cooperating on a range of issues such as climate change, counter-terrorism "and the fight against racism and anti-Semitism".
The EU is Israel's main trading partner and Israel is the only non-European country to participate in the EU's Research and Development programme, noted External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
"Hundreds of project proposals by Israeli researchers have received EU funding, for example developing innovative cancer diagnostic techniques, hydrogen cars, machine translation techniques. Also, Israeli students are benefiting from scholarships under the EU's Erasmus Mundus exchange programme," Ferrero-Waldner told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
And Israel is now close to being granted "special status" within the EU's neighbourhood policy, officials in Brussels said.
Such a special status might include deals in the area of air transport, higher education, trade in agricultural products and services, social security, customs, information society, environment as well as consumer protection.
"The EU and Israel are closer now than they were ever before," the commissioner said.
Other European dignitaries on Thursday also sent their well wishes to Israeli President Shimon Peres."
Thursday, 8 May 2008
From Morocco to Afghanistan, from the Caspian Sea to Aden, the 5.25 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League is home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only eight thousand square miles, and is home to seven million citizens, one-fifth of whom are Arabs. The Jews of the Holy Land are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and sixty times their population, yet their last, best hope of ending two millennia of international persecution – the State of Israel – has somehow survived.
When during the Second World War, the island of Malta came through three terrible years of bombardment and destruction, it was rightly awarded the George Medal for bravery: today Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught that has lasted twenty times as long.
Jerusalem is the site of the Temple of Solomon and Herod. The stones of a palace erected by King David himself are even now being unearthed just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Everything that makes a nation state legitimate – blood shed, soil tilled, two millennia of continuous residence, international agreements – argues for Israel’s right to exist, yet that is still denied by the Arab League. For many of their governments, which are rich enough to have solved the Palestinian refugee problem decades ago, it is useful to have Israel as a scapegoat to divert attention from the tyranny, failure and corruption of their own regimes.
The tragic truth is that it suits Arab states very well to have the Palestinians endure permanent refugee status, and whenever Israel puts forward workable solutions they have been stymied by those who interests put the destruction of Israel before the genuine well-being of the Palestinians. Both King Abdullah I of Jordan and Anwar Sadat of Egypt were assassinated when they attempted to come to some kind of sane accommodation with a country that most sane people now accept is not going away.
The process of creating a Jewish homeland in an area where other peoples were already living – though far fewer of them than anti-Israel propagandists claim – was always going to be a complicated and delicate business, and one for which Britain as the Mandated power had a profound responsibility, and about which since the Balfour Declaration of 1917 she had made solemn promises.
Yet instead of keeping a large number of troops on the ground throughout the birth pangs of the State of Israel, Britain hurriedly withdrew all her forces virtually overnight on 14 May 1948, thus facilitating the Arab invasions the very day, one of which was actually commanded by a former British Army officer, John Glubb (known as Glubb Pasha). Less than four years earlier, Britain had landed division after victorious division in Normandy, now “Partition and flee” was the Attlee government’s ignominious policy, whose consequences are still plaguing the world half a century later in Kashmir and the Middle East.
“We owe to the Jews,” wrote Winston Churchill in 1920, “a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all wisdom and learning put together.”
The Jewish contribution to finance, science, the arts, academia, commerce and industry, literature, philanthropy and politics has been astonishing relative to their tiny numbers. Although they make up less than half of one per-cent of the world’s population, between 1901 and 1950 Jews won 14% of all the Nobel Prizes awarded for Literature and Science, and between 1951 and 2000 Jews won 32% of the Nobel Prizes for Medicine, 32% for Physics, 39% for Economics and 29% for Science. This, despite so many of their greatest intellects dying in the gas chambers.
Civilization owes Judaism a debt it can never repay, and support for the right of a Jewish homeland to exist is the bare minimum we can provide. Yet we tend to treat Israel like a leper on the international scene, merely for defending herself, and threatening her with academic boycotts if she builds a separation wall that has so far reduced suicide bombings by 95% over three years. It is a disgrace that no senior member of the Royal Family has ever visited Israel, as though the country is still in quarantine after sixty years.
After the Holocaust, the Jewish people recognised that they had to have their own state, a homeland where they could forever be safe from a repetition of such horrors. Putting their trust in Western Civilisation was never again going to be enough. Since then, Israel has had to fight no fewer than five major wars for her very existence. She has been on the front line in the War against Terror and has been fighting the West’s battles for it, decades before 9/11 or 7/7 ever happened. Radical Islam is never going to accept the concept of an Israeli State, so the struggle is likely to continue for another sixty years, but the Jews know that that is less dangerous than entrusting their security to anyone else.
Very often in Britain, especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we fail to ask ourselves what we would have done placed in their position? The population of the United Kingdom of 63 million is nine times that of Israel. In July 2006, to take one example at random, Hizbullah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed eight patrolmen and kidnapped two others, and that summer fired four thousand Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further forty-three civilians.
Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what WE would do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire thirty-six thousand rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 387 British civilians, after killing seventy-two British servicemen in an ambush and capturing eighteen. There is absolutely no lengths to which our Government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right too. Why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?
Last month I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, researching a book about the Second World War. Walking along a line of huts and the railway siding where their forebears had been worked and starved and beaten and gassed to death, were a group of Jewish schoolchildren, one of whom was carrying over his shoulder the Israeli flag, a blue star of David on white background. It was a profoundly moving sight, for it was the sovereign independence represented by that flag which guarantees that the obscenity of genocide – which killed six million people in Auschwitz and camps like it – will never again befall the Jewish people. Happy birthday, Israel and Shalom.”
Via Ted Belman @ Israpundit
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
"In order to provide a cheerful note to a somber day, here is a picture of a feline Hitler-lookalike, found here via the weblog of a Dutch journalist-blogger who today will tell Dutch-Jewish teenagers how as a young girl she lived in hiding from the Germans and their Dutch collaborators.
By the way, the son of such a collaborator, who is a respected and successful historian and journalist, wrote a book on the occasion of Israel's 60th anniversary, titled Israel, an irreparable mistake.
Last week I saw him - online - on Dutch television being interviewed about the book. That his father was a very senior member of the most notorious and anti-Semitic part of the Dutch National-Socialist Movement (another son - a famous actor, playwright and screenwriter - tells us about their father's wartime past on his website) is of course not the man's responsibility, and normally a person's parents' past is not necessary relevant when judging that person's work. Nevertheless, I could not help noticing that this historian - who became famous with his book Grey Past, in which he fervently argues in favor of a balanced, non-judgemental approach towards the history of WWII and attacks the ways in which the Dutch until the 1980s and 1990s divided the players of that history rigorously into goed and fout (right and wrong) or white and black - has no problem whatsoever with a black-and-white-approach when it comes to judging (the genesis of) the state of Israel (and the immediate aftermath of that genesis).
I have no idea about Chris van der Heijden's expertise in history of Zionism and/or the Middle East, but from what he said on television and from the available online information about this book it is crystal clear that for him Israel is not white or grey but pitch-black. In the interview he tells about a Palestinian girl who was raped and murdered by Israeli soldiers during Israel's War of Independence (1948-9). This sad and shameful episode of Israel's history, which appears in Ben Gurion's diary, was made public in the fall of 2003 through an article in Ha'Aretz ( and not only three years ago, as VdH claims ).
I am sure that Israeli soldiers committed more criminal acts during that war than that single one (a war is a war, which is a fact, not an excuse), the most (in)famous act being Dir Yassin. But why does this historian pick out only one sad horror story that highlights the guilt and cruelty of only one side, and not also mention the massacre - perpetrated by Jordanian and other Arab soldiers and 'irregulars' - of the defenders of Kfar Etzion after they had surrendered, on the eve of the declaration of Israel's independence? Or the massacre of 79 civilians, among them many nurses and doctors, who traveled in a civilian convoy to the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, one month earlier?
A friend of mine sent me a quote by Hans Teeuwen, a popular Dutch comedian, a quote which illustrates very well the contrast between Chris van der Heijden's passionate plea for a balanced approach to the history of WWII and his utterly one-sided view of the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian conflict, and which might shed some light on the rationale behind his work: "Well, people talk all the time about those Jews and everything, but those Germans were no angels either!"."
Tuesday, 6 May 2008
"Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has expressed disappointment that no one from the Swiss government has been invited to Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.
Switzerland will be represented at the festivities through its ambassador in Tel Aviv, she told the Swiss ‘SonntagsZeitung’ newspaper.
"Personally, I am disappointed that our country was not invited at government level," she said.
Israeli President Shimon Peres has invited heads of state, ministers, scientists, philosophers and artists for a three-day conference to mark the Jewish state's 60th birthday on May 14.
Among those invited are President Bush, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, former Czech President Vaclav Havel, Abdurrahman Wahid, former president of Indonesia, a country that has no diplomatic ties with Israel, and Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress.
The relationship between Israel and Switzerland has been strained since a recent visit by the Swiss Foreign Minister to Iran to witness the signing of a multibillion-dollar natural gas supply contract between Swiss company EGL and Iran's state-owned National Iranian Gas Export Company.
The deal prompted angry reactions from US Jewish groups because Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel.
Earlier this month the New York-based Anti-Defamation League took out full page adverts in Swiss and international newspapers describing Switzerland as "the world's newest financier of terrorism".
Israel had summoned the Swiss ambassador and lodged a complaint over the deal.
Alfred Donath, outgoing president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities said that by signing the gas deal Switzerland sent the wrong message at the wrong time.
But he called the Israeli measure towards Switzerland “exagerated.” Donath told EJP he regrets that "sixty years of friendship between Switzerland and Israel are deleted because of a gas deal." (...)
In March, Switzerland was the only European member of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council to vote in favour of a resolution condemning the Israeli military action in Gaza. The action was prompted by Palestinian groups escalating their rocket attacks against Israeli cities."
Another Tack: No Swiss surprise
Swiss blasted for anti-Israel UN vote
Monday, 5 May 2008
|Excerpts from Hillel Neuer's essay, Ziegler’s Follies, in Azure:|
“On March 26, 2008, to cheers and acclaim, Jean Ziegler was elected by the newly formed United Nations Human Rights Council to serve as one of its expert advisers. It was hardly an unexpected development. Switzerland had announced his nomination in December 2007, beginning an unprecedented lobbying campaign by the Swiss government on behalf of its nominee, featuring, among other things, a glossy booklet sent to capitals around the world documenting his “unwavering commitment to,” “excellent knowledge of,” and “unstinting support for” human rights. (…)
Besides being one of Europe’s most successful celebrity activists, Ziegler is also one of the continent’s most industrious anti-American and anti-Israel ideologues as well as a prominent apologist for a rogues’ gallery of Third World dictators, including Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. During Ziegler’s tenure as Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, the cause of world hunger consistently took a backseat to the promotion of his anti-Western ideology. (…)
Ziegler has also helped to promote and protect the careers of several European intellectuals with questionable if not disturbing reputations. In April 1996, for instance, he came to the defense of Roger Garaudy, a former French Stalinist and convert to Islam whose book The Founding Myths of Modern Israel denies the Holocaust. In response to the public controversy provoked by the book, Ziegler wrote a letter of support to Garaudy, which the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (codoh) - a group dedicated to the promotion of Holocaust denial - published in full on its website:
“I am outraged at the legal case they are making against you.... All your work as a writer and philosopher attests to the rigor of your analysis and the unwavering honesty of your intentions. It makes you one of the leading thinkers of our time.... It is for all these reasons that I express here my solidarity and my admiring friendship.” (…)
There are several reasons Ziegler’s official conduct remains largely unchallenged: First, there is the role that major NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, play at the UN. Few people outside the institution realize just how influential NGOs have become within the UN’s Byzantine human rights system. In fact, they wield immense power: They initiate the creation of new mandates, nominate the mandate-holders, and supply much of the data then cited by the newly appointed experts, who are unsalaried and understaffed. In short, the legitimacy of every UN human rights official lies in their hands. Among the major NGOs, some have openly endorsed Ziegler, while others have been complicit through silence. Many of them have refused to protest Ziegler’s support for such tyrannical regimes as those of Castro and Qaddafi even after being explicitly asked to do so by dissident groups. Instead of using their enormous influence to counteract Ziegler’s questionable conduct, the leading NGOs have enabled it.
Second, there is the peculiar culture of the UN itself. Among European officials, more than a few may secretly admire Ziegler’s forthright anti-Americanism and his rhetorical broadsides against Israel. Moreover, in what may be a strategic move on his part, Ziegler has largely refrained from criticizing specific European governments at the UN, thereby disarming potential opposition to his anti-American statements. Most important, however, is the fact that UN diplomats prefer a certain measure of vice over bad publicity for the world body as a whole, leading them to indulge even the most problematic conduct by their peers. To be a UN diplomat is to be a member of an exclusive club that has the potential to reward loyalty with lucrative jobs and benefits from an array of interconnected foundations and organizations. This practically requires that members “go along to get along” - or face the loss of their professional future. For all these reasons, UN officials such as High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, despite repeatedly being asked to speak out against Ziegler’s politicization of his mandate, have - with one exception in 2005 - chosen to remain silent. Whatever Jean Ziegler may say or do, he is still one of their own. It is this same climate of impunity that has led to such serious abuses of UN power as the Oil for Food scandal and the cycle of sexual abuse perpetrated by UN peacekeepers in Africa and Haiti.
It is therefore highly unlikely that the newly formed UN Human Rights Council will change the direction set by its predecessor. Libya, for example, has recently been elected to chair the council’s anti-racism program, which is scheduled to culminate in a 2009 “Durban Review Conference,” likely to be a repeat of the notorious anti-Western and antisemitic colloquium held in 2001. Condemnation of Israel remains the council’s first and, it often seems, only priority.”
Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch in Geneva
Sunday, 4 May 2008
"This image was created by Dzeni. It contains the names of 1,692 victims of the Shoah. These names were found on the Yad Vashem Central Database of Shoah Victims. The boy in the image is taken from the famous Warsaw Ghetto Photograph.
This image is also special for another reason. It is part of the Holocaust Yellow Badge in Art Exhibit which opens in Safed (Israel) today. This is the first time Dzeni's work has been exhibited.
The really large image can be seen at the preceding link."
Source: Simply Jews
"In Holland, these days you will hear and read comments about Israel and the Jews that - unless my memory deceives me - you would not hear and read ten, fifteen years ago. I do not know if what is behind that is anti-Semitism (old or new, indigenous or 'imported'), anti-Zionism, an anonymity (provided by the internet) that did not exist or was not very common yet in the 1990s, the effect of 9/11 and Islamist terror, a false sense of solidarity with the Palestinians or a combination of all that. Still, in Dutch online media which offer the possibility of providing feedback you will almost always encounter anti-Jewish verbal violence whenever a subject comes up that involves Israel or the Jews. And I am not talking about (one-sided, or balanced and totally justified, even welcome) criticism of Israel here. It appears to me that in this context there is no real difference between Right and Left, even though in Dutch politics anti-Israel bias has more and more become a characteristic of the Left. A good example of the tone of anti-Jewish comments I just found on the website of the Dutch free daily De Pers, underneath an article that is titled "Israel remembers Holocaust". I will translate the two first comments, even though they do not deserve that and should be ignored. Someone 'named' Tuurke, registered at the website since December 2007 and the writer of 540 posts since then, commented:
"Holocaust is a word that the Jews have appropriated unlawfully. As if Gypsies, gays and many more do not fall in that category. Typical "Jews' trick"."
"From my mother I heard about the Jews. In the war a Jewish family had to leave (*). That is why they left the main household effects with neigbors. With one neigbor they left a box of with shoes. A few streets further down they also left a box with shoes. After the war, when those Jews did not come back (**), the box was checked more closely. In one box there were only left shoes, and a few streets there were only right shoes in that box. My mother always said after that: "... those are real 'Jews' tricks' "."
(*) Notice the euphemism.
(**) You can almost hear Tuurke think: "Good riddance!". Many if not most Dutch Jews who wrote or spoke about their return from the camps or from hiding mentioned neighbors who refused or were quite unwilling to return valuables, clothes and other effects that the Jews left with their neigbors before they went into hiding or were deported. The cynical term for these neighbors is "Bewarier", a combinatie of the Dutch words for 'to keep/save' (bewaren) and 'Aryan' (Arier)."
Note: The comments on the De Pers website have since been removed.
In neighbouring Belgium:
Israelis compared to Nazi SS on Belgian radio blog
Zionism, a "Tumour in the midst of Judaism", Belgian radio forum
Friday, 2 May 2008
© Le Soir, April 29, 2008, p. 17
Luckily European newspapers not have not, so far, succumbed to the charms of morbid voyeurism when reporting on the Israel-Arab conflict. Le Soir, known for its steadfast hostility to the State of Israel, has just done that by showing the gory picture of four dead Palestinian children. It is indeed a deplorable precedent.
On the incident: 'Beit Hanun mother and children not killed by IDF fire', TJP
"A blast in northern Gaza that killed a Palestinian mother and her four children on Monday was not caused by the Israeli Air Force, a probe into the explosion conducted by the IDF Southern Command concluded on Friday.
Col. Shai Alkilai from the Southern Command conducted the probe over the last few days under orders from OC Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant and IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Elazar Shkedi.
The blast under investigation occurred Monday morning in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun, when according to Palestinians, an IDF tank shell hit the home of the Abu Meatak family, as the mother Miyasar was preparing breakfast for her children. She was killed together with the four children.
According to the findings of the probe four terrorists were spotted carrying weaponry and explosives on their backs. The IAF fire was on target and only hit the armed terrorists. As a result there occurred secondary explosions which destroyed the home and killed the mother and her children.
The IDF probe ruled out the possibility that the family was hit by IDF fire. The IDF probe also revealed that the secondary explosion was far greater than the type of explosion caused by the initial IDF bombing and the munitions it had used.
The IDF said that it was unfortunate that innocent people were killed in the incident, but stressed that the blame lay with Hamas which operated from populated areas, using civilians as human shields."