Sunday 29 June 2008

Berlin forum calls for Israel's destruction, by Benjamin Weinthal

How many such conferences are being held in Europe with the cynical support of State authorities, political parties, churches, foundations, NGOs, journalists etc of which one never hears? See here and here.

Benjamin Weinthal reports in TJP:

"Representatives of Germany's foreign and economics ministries are fumbling the hot potato of who, exactly, backed a conference in Berlin last week that became a mouthpiece for anti-Semitic Iranian propaganda and a call for Israel's destruction.

Iran's former deputy minister of foreign Affairs, Dr. Muhammad Javad Ardashir Larijani, told the Third Transatlantic Conference - whose stated purpose was to address "common solutions" in the Middle East - that "the Zionist project" should be "cancelled" and "has failed miserably and has only caused terrible damage to the region."

Representatives from Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia also attended the conference and voiced brazen anti-Israeli statements. (...)

"That neither the Foreign Office, nor Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier personally, forcefully contradicted Larijani's crude comparisons shows the double standards and complacency in dealing with the mullah regime," said Stephan J. Kramer, the General Secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

In an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post, a spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry wrote that "the Foreign Ministry did not financially support the event." However, she did not respond to a query by the Post last Thursday as to why the ministry had supported the conference.
Kramer said "the fact that Larijani, an accomplice in the mullah regime, was invited at the suggestion of the Foreign office is bad enough." (...)

Additional German sponsors of the event were Peace Research Institute Frankfurt; the Berlin representative of the State of Hessen; the German Protestant Church (EKD); and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) - a think tank with close ties to the Social Democratic Party (SPD). "It is nothing new that the FES is dealing with very weird anti-Israeli organizations and people," Middle East expert Thomas Von der Osten-Sacken told the Post. Von der Osten-Sacken, who heads the non-profit relief organization Wadi in northern Iraq, blew the whistle on the FES's joint Beirut International Conference on the The Islamic World and Europe with the Hizbullah in 2004.

In addition to Hizbullah, Hamas was heavily represented at the FES-sponsored conference in 2004. The conduct of the Social Democratic aligned foundation FES prompted the Simon Wiesenthal Center to urge the Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to publicly condemn the conference. Steinmeier was then-chancellor Gerhard Schröder's chief of staff during the FES-Hizbullah conference in Beirut. "It is scandalous," said Von der Osten-Sacken about the government providing a platform in Berlin for Iranian officials to demand "the extinction of Israel."

The conference's location - close to both the Holocaust memorial and the former Nazi center of power - carries great weight in Germany because of its history. While visiting Israel in March, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared the security of Israel to be part of Germany's overall national interests.

Kramer said that "anti-Israel statements and the renewed denial of the Holocaust at a conference supported by German tax money, by the FES, the Foreign Office, the SPD and EKD, and held in Berlin on the 70th anniversary of the Reich Pogrom Night call into question the official government expression of solidarity with Israel."

Larijani, whose brother Ali was Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator and its current parliament speaker, said "denial of the Holocaust in the Muslim world has nothing to do with anti-Semitism." Although Holocaust denial is unlawful in Germany, German officials have not commenced a criminal prosecution against Larijani. Meanwhile, the Peace Research Institute in Frankfurt has written that the organization "endorses the criticism" of Germans and Israelis who objected to the "anti-Israeli remarks made by Mr. Larijani.""

Israel wants action against academic who defamed Munich athletes
Berlin exhibition singles out Israel's security barrier

Ben Heine's cartoon provokes stream of anti-Semitic abuse

Ben Heine is the only Belgian who took part in the infamous international Teheran cartoon contest mocking the Holocaust, while pretending to have been misguided by the organisers. One of the cartoons (entitled "Welcome Home") he presented illustrates the Auschwitz extermination camp morphed into an orthodox Jew. His side locks are linked to railway tracks, a swastika and a Star of David. It is Heine's contention that there is nothing antisemitc about the drawing - and that he intended it to be educational...

In April this year, Heine posted the above drawing on Flickr provoking a stream obnoxiously anti-Semitic comments. Typically Heine has not seen fit to delete or disavow any of this filth. Once again he has shown his true colours and revealed the neo-Nazi types who admire his work.

Appropriately, and much to his embarrassment (he kept quiet about it...), most of his stuff was removed from Wikipedia.

There is the usual "FUCK OFF ISRAEL ..". But disturbingly there is also this:

"Germans. (At least the majority of them went down fighting, and not snivveling in a ditch waiting for someone to save them.) (...) Last a checked, Germany is still ALIVE and if you wont let the past move on, the past will stay and re-occur, only with the support of many other nations."

"screw those fucking israelies i hope they all rott away and get killed in the most grewsome way ass bitches"

"Say this to the jewish trash - the real terrorists....i hope the final solution came soon."

"The only chance to free the world is killing all the jews...A L L, at the last one....parasites,lairs and murders!!!"

"what the wars,murders and massacres promoted by your trash people....israel is the great evil on earth...and the evil must be exterminated!!"

"I have a HUUUGGGEEE archive about your criminal acts - masscres,executions,killers, atrocities, banking and financial manipulations, mind control mechanisms, hate hoaxes, slavery industry....the list is lloonnngggg maybe the flickr space is not enough and for solution this i will create a site to alert the world to the jews real face...."

"The Fuhrer don´t have the necessary time, but the fight continues.The final victory will be ours.... "

- Jesus, Ben Heine, Mary Sparrowdancer and Jeff Rense (Philosemitism)
- Serge Gainsbourg's portrait by Ben Heine deleted from Wikipedia (Philosemitism)
- Iran's "Holocaust" cartoonists whine, wheedle and above all, LIE (Joshua Pundit)
- Cartoonist Ben Heine portrays Avigdor Lieberman as Zionist Hitler and Zionist Pig and Ahmadinejad as Iranian President (Philosemitism)
- Is it possible for antisemitism to be considered acceptable by antiracists? (Engage)
- Attention Zionists at Work !!! (Simply Jews)
- Media Without Conscience (Judeosphere)
- Cartoonist Ben Heine draws a Zionist "Myriam" (Tlaxcala blog) (Philosemitism)
- Fausto Giudice and Ben Heine and their motto for Israel ... in German (Tlaxcala blog) (Philosemitism)

Friday 27 June 2008

UK Conservative leaders hail Israel

Jonny Paul @ TJP writes:
"Conservative MP and shadow chancellor George Osbourne [photo] paid tribute to Israel's achievements on Wednesday, saying a trip to the Jewish state in 2004 in which he experienced the aftermath of a suicide-bombing shaped his understanding of the country.
"It's an objective view of what Israel has achieved during its existence and the way it represents freedom and democracy in a part of the world that is not familiar with freedom and democracy," Osbourne also said when asked the source of his views.
Osbourne was speaking with Daniel Finkelstein, columnist and comment editor of the Times, and shadow foreign secretary William Hague, at the Conservative Friends of Israel's annual business lunch at the Dorchester Hotel in central London.
More than 500 guests, including Israel's ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor, members of Parliament, European Parliament, the House of Lords, and the Greater London Assembly attended the event.
On November 1, 2004, Osbourne saw at first hand the results of a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine attack in Tel Aviv's Carmel Market that killed three people and wounded more than 35. He said it made "a very powerful impression on what Israel is up against."
During that trip, he added, he and four MPs including current-London Mayor Boris Johnson ended up singing patriotic Israeli songs in a Tel Aviv karaoke bar.
Speaking about Iran, Osbourne said: "We should not rule out military options. It's not the same as ruling in military options, but it does mean not ruling them out, and I think we have to be very hard-headed and realistic about the world in which we live."
"We would have like to have seen a more energetic approach by the current [UK] government and we are critical of them," Hague said. "Gordon Brown announced sanctions on Iranian oil and gas last November; he announced it again last week, and still nothing has taken place."
Hague also said that Britain or Israel should not negotiate directly with Hamas."

Jewish teens victims of gang violence in Paris 19th district

Le Monde and Le Figaro reported that on the same day as Rudy Haddad was lynched by a gang, two other Jewish adolescents were victims of serious assaults in the same area (19th district of Paris). Kevin was attacked with a machette and suffered cuts to his arm which necessitated hospital treatment. The other youth was hit on the back. It seems that in these alleged "brawls" between gangs, it is mainly young Jews who are the victims.

From the EJP:

"Five youths detained after a Jewish teenager was beaten into a coma by a gang in Paris have been released without charge, AFP reported Wednesday quoting judicial officials.

The minors, aged 14 to 17, were held for questioning as witnesses following Saturday's attack in the multi-ethnic 19th district of the capital.

The Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said Tuesday the 17-year-old victim, Rudy Haddad, was beaten by a gang after street brawls between Jewish teenagers and youths of north African and sub-Saharan descent.

The boy was so badly beaten by a gang wielding metal bars that he went into a coma from which he only emerged on Monday.

According an informed source, he is slowly recovering but remains “very traumatized” and is encountering memory problems.

A probe for "murder attempt aggravated by its anti-Semitic character” has been launched against the perpetrators, a group of six or seven youths of black African origin, who remain at large.

The prosecutor has confirmed the anti-Semitic character of the aggression and said anti-Semitic insults – like "dirty Jew" - were shouted during the aggression.

Sources quoted in the press reported that several brawls broke out in the area Saturday afternoon between Jewish and North Africans and black youth groups and that Haddad was attacked later on the day when he was walking alone in Rue Petit, near the Haya Mouchka Lubavitch synagogue."

See also:
The Murder of Ilan Halimi A Jewish man is kidnapped in Paris, tortured for 24 days and then dies, by Nidra Poller in the WSJ

Thursday 26 June 2008

Jean Bricmont and The De-Zionization of the American Mind - The anti-US ravings of an arrogant man

Prof. Jean Bricmont of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, has an ugly paper in Counterpunch (see Counterpunch: A Neo Nazi Magazine) in which he advocates the de-Zionisation of the American mind. He deems this would have a “greatly humanizing effect on American culture” and has the gall to lecture the American people, the American Government, the “unsavory people” of the American Right and even … the American Left! All have superbly ignored the ravings of an unsufferably arrogant man for whom Americans are Zionized brainwashed fools who have relinquished self-determination to the benefit of the Lobby.

Bricmont wants Israeli’s feeling of superiority shattered and believes that “Americans have a great responsibility is doing half of the job, the one concerning kneejerk U.S. support.” One can only guess who should be doing the other half of the job. Another ominous remark: “And that is also why it is easy to dismiss its strength by saying, for instance, that, obviously, Jews don't control America. Sure, but direct control is not the way it works”. There we go!

The Israel Lobby by Walt and Mearsheimer pales in comparison with the violent and contemptuous anti-American (not to mention Jews and Israelis) tone of Bricmont’s paper. His great achievement is that every single sentence smacks of smugness, self-importance and contempt - the give-away words “hate” and “hatred” crop up ten times ...

The Professor also pairs up with Martial Demunter to give sparsely attended “cycles of conferences” in Brussels on “The USA, Zionism and Israel” while Demunter holds forth on “Guilt and Holocaust Manipulation”! A nice pair.

Here are some excerpts from How to Deal with The Lobby, The De-Zionization of the American Mind

“… the level of hatred that leads a large number of people to applaud an event like September 11 is peculiar to the Middle East. Indeed, the main political significance of September 11 did not derive from the number of people killed or even the spectacular achievement of the attackers, but from the fact that the attack was popular in large parts of the Middle East. That much was understood by Americans leaders and infuriated them. Such a level of hatred calls for explanation.

And there can be only one explanation: United States support for Israel. It is indeed Israel that is the main object of hatred, for reasons we shall describe, but since the United States uncritically supports Israel on almost every issue, constantly praises it as “the only democracy in the Middle East” and provides its main financial backing, the result is a “transfer” of hatred.

Why is Israel so hated? (…) the basic cause lies in the very principles on which that state is build. There are basically two arguments that have justified establishing the State of Israel in Palestine: one is that God gave that land to the Jews, and the other is the Holocaust. The first one is deeply insulting to people who are profoundly religious, like most Arabs, but of another creed. And, for the second, it amounts to making people pay for a crime that they did not commit.

Both arguments are deeply racist, with their claim that it is right for Jews, and only Jews, to set up a state in a land that would obviously be Arab, like Jordan or Lebanon, if not for the slow Zionist invasion. This is illustrated by the “law of return”: any Jew, anywhere, having no connection with Palestine whatsoever, and not suffering from the slightest persecution, can, if he so wishes, emigrate to Israel and easily become a citizen, while the inhabitants who fled in 1948, or their children, cannot. Add to that the fact that a city claimed to be Holy by three religions has become the “eternal capital of the Jewish people" (and only them) and one should start to understand the rage that all this provokes throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

It is precisely this racist aspect that infuriates most Arabs, even if they do not have any personal connection to Palestine (if they live, say, in the French banlieues). This situation delegitimizes the Arab regimes that are impotent in the face of the Zionist enemy and, after the defeat of the region's two main secular leaders, Nasser and Saddam Hussein (the latter thanks to the US), leads to the rise of religious fundamentalism. (…)

What protects the Israel lobby is the fact that anyone who would denounce an opponent funded by the Lobby as a quasi-agent of a foreign power would immediately be accused of anti-Semitism. In fact, imagine that Big Business is unhappy with the current U.S. policies (as it well may be) and wants to change them--how could they do it? Any criticism of Lobby influence on U.S. policy would immediately trigger the anti-Zionism-is-anti-Semitism accusation. (…)

Associated with this identification comes a systematically hostile view of the Arab and Muslim world, which both increases the lobby's effectiveness and is in part the result of its propaganda. Despite all the talk about anti-racism and “political correctness”, there is an almost total lack of understanding of the Arab viewpoint on Palestine, and, in particular, of the racist nature of the problem. It is this triple layer of control (selective funding, the anti-Semitism card, or rather canard, and the interiorization) that gives the lobby its peculiar strength. (And that is also why it is easy to dismiss its strength by saying, for instance, that, obviously, Jews don't control America. Sure, but direct control is not the way it works.) (…)

What should the Left do? Well, simple: treat Israel as it did South Africa and attack the Lobby. The reason Israel acts as it does is that it feels strong and that, in turn, is for two reasons: one is its “all-powerful army” (currently being tested in Lebanon, not conclusively yet); the other is the almost complete control over Washington policy-making, specially the Congress. Peace in the Middle East can only come when this feeling of Israeli superiority is shattered, and Americans have a great responsibility is doing half of the job, the one concerning kneejerk U.S. support.

Now, there are, in principle, two ways to do that: one is to appeal to American generosity, the other is to appeal to their self-interest. Both ways should be pursued, but the latter is not enough emphasized by the Left. (…) Also, if the United States were to distance itself from Israel, it would pursue policies opposed to the traditional ones, and far more humane. The other problem is that a large part of the Right (from Buchanan to Brzezinski) correctly sees American interests as being opposed of those of Israel, and the Left (understandably) does not like to make common cause with such people. But if a cause is just (and, in this case, urgent) it does not become less just because unsavory people endorse it (the same argument applies to genuine anti-Semitic hostility to Israel). The worst thing that the Left can do is to leave the monopoly of a just cause to the Right.

The Left cannot expect the American people to change radically overnight, abandon religious fundamentalism, give up oil addiction or embrace socialism. But a change of perspective in the Middle East is possible: the strength of the lobby is also its weakness, namely the naked king effect-everybody fears it, but the only reason to fear it is that everybody around us fears it. Left alone, it is powerless. To change that, one should systematically defend every politician, every columnist, every teacher, who is targeted by the lobby for his or her views or statements, irrespective of their general political outlook (to take an analogy, act as civil libertarians do with respect to free speech). (…)

Rolling back the lobby would necessitate a change of the American mentality with respect to the people of the Middle East, and to Islam, like ending the Vietnam war required a change in the way Asians were looked at. But that alone would have a greatly humanizing effect on American culture. (…)

It is true that a change in the U.S. policy with respect to the Israel-Palestine conflict would change nothing about traditional imperialism-- the United States would still support traditional elites everywhere, and press countries to provide a “favorable investment climate”. But the conflict in the Middle East, involving Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, has all the aspects of a religious war-with Islam on one side and Zionism as a secular Western religion on the other. And wars of religion tend to be the most brutal and uncontrollable of all wars. What is at stake in the de-Zionization of the American mind is not only the fate of the unfortunate inhabitants of Palestine but also unspeakable miseries for the people of that region and maybe of the rest of the world. The ultimate irony in all this is that the fate of much of the world depends of the American people exercizing their right to self-determination, which, of course, they should.”

Israel on trial in Brussels: Iranian and Syrian Ambassadors give standing ovation to judges

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Israel: Reality and Perception, by Francisco Gomes

"Ruling another nation is neither an ambition nor is it a policy of Israel. Peace is at the core of Jewish tradition and is also at the centre of Israel’s goals as a state."

Francisco Gomes wrote a remarkable and exceptionally well-researched article on Israel - it is well worth reading in full. It appeared in the May edition of The Brit, a monthly newspaper published in Madeira.

"There is little doubt that the perception that people have of the world they live in and of the actors that shape it is influenced by media coverage as well as by the opinion-makers that are chosen by the major news channels to comment the various events that define life on the planet. In other words, the world, as we know it, is not, for the most part, the result of our direct contact with this or that reality, but the outcome of what we hear and see reported in regional, national and international media. This fact must encourage us to think critically about the news reported to us on an almost-constant basis and to question what is reported by journalist and commentators around the world.

At the present time, very few issues have been more debated, analysed, studied, discussed, revised, described, considered, reported on or commented on than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ever since the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence – which we celebrate this month – and the ensuing conflicts between the state of Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinians and Hezbollah, the unstable relation between Arabs and Jews has dominated international news. However, with the exception of some media channels in the United States and Europe, which have consistently thrived to provide their audience with an objective depiction of Israel, the image that is projected to the international arena of that state is a far cry from reality.

It is a well-known fact that the accuracy of any conclusion – regardless of whether it is taken at the international political level or at the local level – is intrinsically associated to the quality of the information on which it is based. So, it is only fair that we take our time to divulge some interesting facts about the history of Israel, the relation between Jews and Arabs and the impacts of the often-miscalled “Israeli occupation” of the Palestinian territories and its people. We feel such information is necessary in order for the general public to gain a more honest understanding of the human, social and political dynamics that shape that region of the world.

Concerning Israeli history, a theme that is often discussed in that of nationhood. In this regard, it is important to note that the notion of a Jewish nationhood was formed at about 1312 BCE, two thousand years before the rise of Islam. In contrast, Arab refugees in Israel only began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

Likewise, since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, Jews have had dominion over the land they presently occupy for one thousand years, with a continuous presence in the territory for the past three thousand years. Arabs only have had control of Israel twice, namely from 634 until the Crusader Invasion in June 1099 and from 1292 until 1517, when they were displaced by the Turkish Empire. Moreover, for over three thousand years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. It has never been the capital of any Arab entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied the city, they never sought to make it their capital.

Concerning the relation between Jews and Arabs, one of the critical issues that has opposed both identities is that of refugees. On this topic, it is worth remembering that, in 1948, Arab leaders encouraged Arab refugees to leave Israel with the promise of purging the land of Jews. About six hundred thousand left the territory, sixty percent of which never saw an Israeli soldier. In contrast, Jewish refugees were forced to flee Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.

Also, Arab refugees were intentionally not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. In fact, out of the one hundred million refugees that have been created by events that occurred since World War II, Arab refugees are the only group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people’s lands. This fact demonstrates a lack of understanding and thoughtfulness that is uncommon among people who basically share the same historical, cultural, racial, religious and ethnic bonds. In contrast, Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the American state of New Jersey.

Moreover, in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arabs have been represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians or Arab extremist organisations. These initiated all five wars that have been fought with the state and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won. Despite this situation, the diplomatic position of Israel has evolved and, in recent times, the Israeli government has embraced a diplomatic strategy that implies the establishment of two separate states, one Arab and one Jewish, living side-by-side. This position has not been reciprocated and, to this day, Article 15 of the Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization still calls for the destruction of Israel, or, as it is phrased in the document, “the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.”

Furthermore, despite the much-talked international support for the Israeli cause, global response to the goals and needs of the Jewish people has been, in most cases, dismal. For example, of the one hundred and seventy five resolutions passed by the Security Council of the United Nations before 1990, ninety seven were directed against Israel. In addition, of the six hundred and ninety General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, four hundred and twenty nine were directed against Israel. What’s more, the United Nations was silent while fifty eight Jerusalem synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians during their occupation of the territory, while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and while they enforced an apartheid-like policy that prevented Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

Concerning the impacts of the “Israeli occupation” of the Palestinian territories, the deep contrast of the Palestinian living conditions before and after Israeli administration clearly suggests that it has been beneficial to the Palestinians living in the territory. For example, during twenty years of Arab rule, Palestinian male life expectancy grew from 42 to 44; during the next twenty years of Israeli administration, Palestinian male life expectancy grew from 44 to 63. Also, during twenty years of Arab rule, Palestinian female life expectancy grew from 45 to 46; during the next 20 years of Israeli administration, Palestinian female life expectancy grew from 46 to 67. Moreover, during twenty years of Arab rule, Palestinian infant mortality rate decreased from 200 per thousand to 170 per thousand; during the next twenty years of Israeli administration, Palestinian infant mortality rate decreased from 170 per thousand to 60 per thousand. In addition, during twenty years of Arab rule, Palestinian crude death rate decreased from 21 per thousand to 19 per thousand; during the next twenty years of Israeli administration, Palestinian crude death rate decreased from 19 per thousand to 6 per thousand. Finally, malaria, which existed in the Palestinian territories before 1967, was eliminated during Israeli administration.

At the infrastructural level, Israeli administration has also benefited the lives of many Palestinians. For example, before 1967, when Israel’s rule began, only 113 hospitals had been built in the territories. But, at the present time, that number has more than tripled, to about 400 hospitals. Also, before 1967, only 23 motherhood centres had been established. Today, more than six times as many can be found.

Israeli also more than tripled the number of Palestinian teachers and boosted the Palestinian educational system by establishing a number of universities. Among those universities were the College of Scientists, established in Abu Dis in 1982, the College of Social Welfare, established in El Bira in 1979, the College of Religion, established in Beit Hanina in 1978, and the Islamic College, established in Hebron in 1971. Nonetheless, this was not the only effect Israeli administration has on the Palestinian educational system and the Palestinian people. Before 1967, the percentage of illiterates on average had been 27.8% among men and 65.1% among women. At the present time, Israel has helped reduce illiteracy to less than 13% among men and to less than 35% among women.

In March 2008, in a speech before the Massachusetts state legislature, Tzipi Livni [photo], the Israeli Foreign Minister, stated, “Sometimes, there is a very big difference between Israel’s international image and its realities.” An objective consideration of the historical relation between Jews and Arabs and of the effects of Israeli administration on the Palestinian territories and its people amply confirms this assertion. Ruling another nation is neither an ambition nor is it a policy of Israel. Peace is at the core of Jewish tradition and is also at the centre of Israel’s goals as a state."

Posted with the permission of the author

Tuesday 24 June 2008

BBC distorts Jewish refugee issue on website

From Point of No Return blog:

"The good news is that the Jewish refugees issue has made the BBC website at last. The bad? The BBC has managed to distort and belittle their plight. Here are one reader's angry comments, interposed with the BBC article.

Jewish groups from around the world are meeting in London to highlight the plight of Jews who left their homes in Arab nations after Israel was founded.

[They did not 'leave their homes' - they were actively oppressed by the states in which they were citizens. Many were imprisoned, and their belongings confiscated. It would be more honest to say "driven from their homes"]

The conference organisers, Justice for Jews, say they want to ensure the story of Jewish refugees is told, alongside that of Palestinians.The American-based group says around 850,000 Jews lived in Arab nations before Israel was founded in 1948.

[It is not just "the American-based group" who gives these figures - these figures are widely and reliably documented. This phrasing gives an intimation that it could be an exaggeration - I can provide you with links to sites that document precisely how many Jews were driven from each country.]

It says most were forced to flee due to hostility when Israel was created.

[There are plenty of personal accounts online. If you wish I can put you in touch with some of those who were driven out in this way and have ended up living here in the UK]

Justice for Jews, which campaigns for compensation for Jewish refugees from the Middle East, says the international community has always focused on Palestinian refugees and never given due attention to Jewish refugees.The BBC's Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi says the subject is highly controversial as the numbers of Jews who left, and the conditions under which they left, are disputed.

[This is the first I have heard that that this is "highly controversial". Of course it does spoil the narrative of Palestinian refugees now it transpires that there were so many Jewish refugees, and they were actually absorbed into communities rather than kept as a political pawns. Could it be that the only refugees Magdi Abdelhadi wishes the world to know about are Palestinian?]

He says one undisputed fact is that Jews were part of Arab societies for centuries, where they were fully integrated in their societies, until Israel was established.

[They were part Arab societies, although many had dhimmi status. Dhimmi status, that of being a strictly second-class citizen, is not the same way as we understand 'fully integrated' in the UK. Magdi Abdelhadi is being disingenuous by somehow 'forgetting' this salient and crucial fact]

Some left because they were Zionists, others because of growing hostility towards them after the Arab-Israeli wars in 1948 and 1967, and there were also those who were encouraged to leave by the new Israeli state, our analyst adds.

[Jews, who had resided in the surrounding Arab states for centuries were 'reclassified' by the Arab states as Zionists, particularly at the time of the Six Day War. Having been thus labelled gave the Arab states a reason to oppress their loyal Jewish citizens. I feel you should maybe talk to some refugees who now reside here in UK because I know this flip assessment on the BBC site is both offensive and untrue.]

He says not all of them went to Israel - many went to France and America, where some of them still feel very passionately about the Arab cultures they grew up in."

An interesting anecdote from Ben Cohen on Z-Blog
See also:
How the Arab world lost its Jews, a book by Nathan Weinstock

French anger over anti-Semitic attack, by Devorah Lauter

Full article from JTA here

Latest brutal attack on a French Jewish teenager has reignited fear and anger in the local community.

"Angry and frightened Jewish youth gathered in the 19th district of northern Paris on Monday evening to show support for a 17-year-old Jewish boy who was brutally beaten with metal bars while on his way to synagogue Saturday evening.

Hospital officials said Monday that Rudy Haddad was temporarily out of a medically induced coma and was “doing better.”

But his improved conditon did little to quell anger among French Jews over the latest shock to their community. (...)

While Jewish leaders in the 19th district were discussing the possibility of an organized response to the incident, 150 Jewish youth and some adults spontaneously met near the scene of the crime on Monday for a second consecutive evening to protest the attack.

“It was senseless, and it could just as well have been me because I’m Jewish,” said David Sebban, 17, who spoke with his hands clasped before him, visibly angered and saddened.

As he spoke, a crowd of young Jews rushed to testify of their growing fears for their security in the neighborhood. Some said they would like to take revenge on the next group of “Arabs” they crossed, referring to Muslim immigrants of North African origin.

“When I go out, I go out with a big group, and if someone calls us a 'dirty Jew’, we fight them,” said David, 15, who declined to give his last name.

Most of the kipah-wearing boys and observant girls spoke soberly of increasing tensions in the neighborhood, which includes the largest Jewish community in Paris.

Though no official statistics exist, community leaders estimate that 25,000 to 30,000 Jews live in the 19th district, while roughly 200,000 live in Paris and its suburbs. (...)

Haddad's violent beating is a reminder of the 2006 anti-Semitic killing of Ilan Halimi, who was kidnapped and tortured before his body was left on a Paris street.

The latest incident has prompted some to question the French government’s response to the ever-present threat of anti-Semitism in French society. Some Jews in the 19th district expressed their frustration Monday with officials and the French media for declining to identify Saturday’s incident as clearly anti-Semitic.

“The government makes an effort,” said Joseph Cattan, 60. “But if everything they’ve done until now still hasn’t worked, it means they need to do more.” (...)

Other Jews said that police authorities and newspapers such as the daily Le Monde tended toward a purely gang-related explanation for the attack because they were ashamed of their failure to ensure the safety of the country’s Jewish population.

“They’ll try to do everything to turn this into a common offense,” said Rabbi Michel Bouskila, the 19th district Jewish Community Council president. “If we say it is anti-Semitic, it means they have failed, it says the government hasn’t done anything.” (...)

Some of the adults gathered around a tree-shaded intersection in the rue Petit, beside a kosher cafe, said they were aware that many of the country’s non-Jews accused them of “overreacting” to the threat of anti-Semitism.

“In the press they don’t talk about so many of the daily anti-Semitic incidents that happen because they’re not important enough, and because we’re so used to it, we don’t report most of them," said Patricia Tahar, 56, a mother of two. "It’s only the big, violent attacks that make it into the press, so of course the French don’t understand why we are scared.

“But if they knew what we lived through every day, the French would understand," she said. "I can’t take any risk with my children.”"

Read also by Devorah Lauter in JTA:
Jewish residents not surprised by jihadis in their neighborhood
Jews fleeing Paris suburbs for 'ghettos' where life is safer

Monday 23 June 2008

Despite Sarkozy's good intentions, not much has changed

President Sarkozy's stance on Israel is indeed an improvement on his predecessors, but French media obsession with Israel remains unabated and their negative reporting feeds anti-semitism.

From TJP:

"Anti-Semitism contributed to Mimi Marks's decision to leave France 10 years ago, so it was with mixed feelings that she observed the pomp and ceremony surrounding the Israeli visit of French President Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife this week.

"I left France nearly 10 years ago, and every time I go back [anti-Semitism] gets worse and worse... it did affect my decision to come [to Israel]... We feel the situation [there] is out of control."

Still, Sarkozy's visit struck a chord with many French immigrants like Marks. She is one of 21,000 Jews who have made aliya from France in the last 10 years, according to The Jewish Agency.

In light of France's sometimes fragile relationship with its own Jewry, Sarkozy's support is especially significant.

"Jewish people like Sarkozy in France and also here," said Raphael Aouate, who made aliya from France three years ago. "He said good things about Jews and Israel. It's quite new, because [Jacques] Chirac was not at all like that. He was aggressive with Israel."

Sarkozy's agenda for his three-day trip contrasts significantly from that of his predecessor, whose presidential visit in 1996 was criticized in some quarters for directing its focus on the Arab population.

Many French Jews celebrate Sarkozy as a notable improvement for Israel and for the Jewish people, and are encouraged by his presence in the country.

"We all voted for [Sarkozy] because we thought he was able to bring a change to anti-Semitism and crime," Marks said. "He has a strong opinion against it."

But despite the public support of Sarkozy, many French olim believe it naive to claim that the situation for French Jews has improved since his election. In fact, just hours before Sarkozy's plane touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport, a Jewish Parisian teenager was left comatose after what was deemed an anti-Semitic assault [Barbarism in Paris, Z-Word blog].

"I'm almost sure it would be an error to think things have changed," said Aouate, "You can't say that one man, even if he is the president of a nation, can change mentalities."

The visit to Israel by Sarkozy, a self-proclaimed friend of Israel, reflects the increasingly positive relationship between Israel and France, something many French Jews are happy about.

"Obviously it's good for France to have a good relationship with Israel," said Marks."

Coexistence: 77% of Arabs say won't replace Israel, by Reuven Weiss

Ynet News reports on findings pointing to peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between Israeli Jews and Arabs:

"Seventy-seven percent of the State of Israel's Arab citizens would rather live in the Jewish state than in any other country in the world, according to a new study titled "Coexistence in Israel".

The survey was conducted by the John Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with the assistance of researchers from Haifa University.

The study was aimed at examining the relations between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens on the State's 60th anniversary, and included 1,721 respondents.

The findings also revealed that a great majority of Israel's citizens (73% of the Jews and 94% of the Arabs) want to live in a society in which Arab and Jewish citizens have mutual respect and equal opportunities.

The study went on to show that 68% of Jewish citizens support teaching conversational Arabic in Jewish schools to help bring Arab and Jewish citizens together, and 69% believe contributing to coexistence is a personal responsibility.

Sixty-six percent of Jewish citizens and 84% of Arab citizens believe the Israeli government investments should begin now, and not wait until the end of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The project's lead researcher, Professor Todd L. Pittinsky, research director of the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership (CPL), said in a press release, "These data support what we’ve found in our allophilia research around the world—evidence of interest, comfort, and affection among some, even in communities in conflict."

Pittinsky notes that much media coverage focuses on the divisions between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, and not enough on the sincere and concerted efforts to coexist peacefully."

London parley to highlight plight of Jews from Arab lands, by Jonny Paul

Full article in TJP:

"A conference highlighting the plight of the Jews who left, or fled, Arab countries will take place in London this week, along with the first ever hearing in Parliament on Jewish refugees from Arab lands. (...)

"When the issue of refugees is raised within the context of the Middle East, people invariably refer to Palestinian refugees," Justice for Jews said in a statement. "There is almost no awareness of the fact that 850,000 Jews living in Arab countries were forced out of their homes during the period surrounding Israel's creation."

The congress aims to highlight the human rights violations and the individual and communal losses suffered by members of Jewish communities that had lived for centuries in the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf and who "were stripped of their jobs, businesses, homes, passports and ancient heritage by most Arab governments," according to the organizers of the two-day conference.

The conference's aims include conducting public education programs on the heritage and rights of former Jewish refugees from Arab countries, registering family history narratives, and cataloging communal and individual losses.

"Jews are one of the indigenous peoples of the Middle East and there have been ancient Jewish communities in countries such as Iraq for over 2,500 years, more than a millennium before the rise of Islam," organizers said.

"Today these historic Jewish communities have been effectively destroyed, with almost no recognition from the international community or the Arab countries themselves. From a Jewish population in the Arab Middle East of 886,000 in the year 1948 in places like Algeria, Morocco and Yemen, now there are less than 8,000 Jews living in Arab countries."

Organized by Congress of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries in association with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the joint parliament hearing will be convened by Labor Party MP John Mann and Labor peer Lord Anderson of Swansea.

This joint briefing will highlight that two refugee populations emerged as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict and will look at the most viable and appropriate role the UK should play in seeking to resolve issues affecting all Middle East refugees, the congress said."

How the Arab world lost its Jews, a book by Nathan Weinstock

Sunday 22 June 2008

Young Jewish man violently attacked in Paris

A 17-year-old Jewish man was attacked yesterday in Paris during the 27th edition of the annual music festival and is said to be in a coma. The young man, whose identity has not been revealed, was found unconsicous on the pavement. He had been set upon by six or seven "youths" who beat him on the head with iron bars. Five arrests were made. His was the only serious aggression reported during the festival.

More here and here

Exploiting Anne Frank, by Alvin H. Rosenfeld

Article in The Weekly Standard:
I want to go on living even after my death. -Anne Frank
"In January, a stenciled image of a smiling Anne Frank wearing a red and white kaffiyeh appeared on the walls of buildings in Amsterdam. Soon after, an enterprising Dutch business firm called Boomerang transferred this image to designer T-shirts and postcards. The cards were distributed free throughout the Netherlands, no doubt to boost sales for Boomerang's politically chic new line of shirts. But it was a risky marketing move to promote a product featuring the face of Amsterdam's most famous martyr made over to look like Yasser Arafat's daughter.

The Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands expressed outrage. So did Dutch Jewish organizations. But that response was not universal. Some were drawn to the newfangled Palestinian Anne Frank and endorsed the artist's political point, which one blogger interpreted to be that "the Zionists, in the name of Jewry, [were] doing to the Palestinians what was done to Jews in Europe." This simplistic formula has become a staple in the rhetoric of contemporary anti-Zionism. The charge it makes is baseless, but it is rhetorically catchy and now routinely employed to tar Israel with the Nazi brush. (...)

Yet contemporary political iconography has matched it with another image of Anne that is equally obscene: A drawing featured in a 2006 Holocaust cartoon contest sponsored by the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri shows a wasted-looking young girl sinking desolately under the bed sheets, while propped up next to her, a bare-chested, swastika-laden Hitler crows, "Write this one in your diary, Anne!" Above the head of the Führer's victim, a wordless bubble registers the grief of the devastated girl.

The fact that this graphic is vile has not kept it from being widely distributed by, among others, the Arab European League, a Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization headed by the popular leader Dyab Abou Jahjah. In the wake of the Danish cartoon controversy, Jahjah was offering payback, declaring, "Europe too has its sacred cows."

Indeed it does, but Europe's murdered Jews are not among them. Anne Frank, dead before she had turned 16, was no saint but rather one more addition to the mounds of anonymous corpses at Bergen-Belsen. One need not sacralize her memory in order to pay it a decent respect. Until recently, most people have found it proper to do so, but in an age of resurgent anti-Semitism, respect for even the Jewish dead has become a dwindling commodity.

It gets worse. A few years ago, a writer quoted on the website presented the following scheme to copycat Anne Frank's story for partisan purposes:

"Consider. A propaganda book [Anne Frank's diary] that is designed to elicit sympathy for the Jewish people, via the mechanism of a young girl who is hiding from bad men, is required reading in many USA schools. That got me thinking. If it works for Jewish people, why will it not work for someone else... ? If a Palestinian writer were to take the story [of a Palestinian girl] and give it the same treatment and the same style as The Diary of Anne Frank, maybe the book would become as popular as The Diary of Anne Frank.   It would not hurt to try."

Actually, there are writers who have been trying all along, appropriating the memory of Anne Frank and turning Jews into Nazis and Palestinians into Jews. The equation is fraudulent--one more instance of applying the symbols of Jewish suffering to anti-Jewish ends--but repeated often enough, it begins to catch on. And so we now have a plethora of Anne Frank lookalikes.

"Meet today's Anne Frank," wrote Yusuf Agha in an article entitled "The Anne Franks of Palestine" on a few years ago. Agha quoted one Suad Ghazal declaring, "I am the Palestinian Anne Frank, and Israeli Hitlers who are all around me take pleasure in torturing me." Others write in this same self-pitying, self-deluded vein.
What does it all signify? Anti-Semitism is back, sometimes packaged anew. One especially cruel innovation is to convert the victims of Nazi slaughter into advocates for causes they had nothing to do with and never would have condoned. These Anne Frank makeovers exemplify this trend and also point up its morally corrosive side.

To bed Anne Frank with Hitler and drape her in Yasser Arafat's trademark headscarf is tantamount to killing her a second time. And to substitute made-in-the-Middle East counterfeits for the real Amsterdam diary is to lie against history itself."

Saturday 21 June 2008

When it Comes to Al-Dura, Journalists Are Against Free Speech, by John Rosenthal

Full article in Pajamas Media:

Despite the Al-Dura ruling, reporter Charles Enderlin can still count on his colleagues to stand by his story.

"Earlier this month, the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur launched a surreal “Appeal for Charles Enderlin” in response to a French court judgment clearing media critic Philippe Karsenty of charges of having “defamed” Enderlin and his employer, France 2 public television. The court thus overturned the October 2006 condemnation of Karsenty by a lower court. (...)

As I discussed in my analysis of the original judgment against Karsenty two years ago, what has always been at stake in the Karsenty case is not the authenticity or otherwise of the Al-Dura report but the very right to freedom of opinion. As a public figure discharging a highly public function affecting a matter of obvious public interest - and for a public television channel no less - Charles Enderlin can hardly claim to be immune from public criticism of his work. Nor, of course, can France 2, as the public television channel in question.

It is this insight - an insight that one would expect to be entirely banal in a democratic society - that underlies the higher court’s ruling. The court did not find that the fraudulence of the Al-Dura report had been “proven,” but it found that Karsenty offered sufficient and sufficiently serious grounds for the claim of fraudulence to make it a legitimate matter of public debate.

To have ruled otherwise - as the lower court did in its original ruling - would be, in effect, to institute a sort of crime of lèse majesté protecting journalists and news organizations from criticism: placing them above society and the mere “lay persons” who are then supposed to accept the claims of the “news professionals” without question. Le Nouvel Observateur’s “Appeal for Charles Enderlin” positively exudes such a sense of corporate privilege, as Richard Landes and his commentators on Augean Stables were quick to point out.

The judgment “surprises us,” the authors of the “Appeal” complain, “since it gives the same credibility to a journalist known for the seriousness and rigor of his work…and to his detractors…who have no knowledge of the reality on the ground and no experience of reporting from a war zone.” (As so happens, many of Enderlin’s principal critics have as much if not more experience “on the ground” as Enderlin and some, like retired Le Monde correspondent Luc Rosenzweig, are also well-known “professional” journalists.) (...)

Regarding the signatories of Le Nouvel Observateur’s “Appeal” Richard Landes has written that “in the future, [they] will be part of a list of ignominy.” It is interesting to note some of the names on this list.

Among the sixty or so original signatories, one finds at least two journalists who have themselves gained notoriety as the authors of extravagant, unverified reports concerning alleged Israeli misdeeds. Thus, in March 2002, Sylvain Cypel of the daily Le Monde published an article announcing the “dismantling” of “a vast Israeli spy network operating on American territory.” The “network” was supposed to have comprised some 120 persons who had already been “arrested or expelled.”

Citing details from a Fox News report and the supposedly independent research of French “intelligence expert” Guillaume Dasquié, Cypel declared the alleged operation to be “undoubtedly the most important Israeli espionage affair in the United States” since the Jonathan Pollard case and he mused darkly about circumstantial evidence apparently connecting the Israeli “spies” and several of the hijackers responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

The second name that stands out in this regard among the journalists is that of Sara Daniel: (...) In November 2001, Ms. Daniel would provoke controversy by publishing an article in Le Nouvel Observateur in which she accused Israeli soldiers of raping Palestinian women “while perfectly cognizant of the fact” that the women would later be killed by their families as a matter of honor. Ms. Daniel described the alleged Israeli practice as a “war crime.” She and her father would later claim that the passage was the result of a “technical” error.

The most prominent of the “personalities” featured in the list of signatories is none other than former French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine. Védrine was French Foreign Minister in September 2000, at the time the French public television broadcast its Al-Dura report and offered the controversial footage free of charge to other news organizations around the world. Barely a year and a half later, in January 2002, he would respond to the first manifestations of what would become a massive upsurge of anti-Semitic incidents in France by archly observing: “One shouldn’t necessarily be surprised that young French people from immigrant families feel compassion for the Palestinians and get agitated when they see what is happening” (Radio Classique, 12 January 2002).

But what if what the young French people “see happening” — notably, on the nightly news — is not in fact happening? As one of the most dogged partisans of France’s traditionally pro-Arab Middle East policy, it is not hard to appreciate how Védrine would have an interest in suppressing criticism of France 2 and its Al-Dura report. (For Védrine on French “Arab Policy,” and many other things, see here.)

Perhaps the most notable member of this “list of ignominy” is Robert Ménard, the founder and Secretary General of the Paris-based NGO Reporters Without Borders: or “RSF” as per its French acronym. Ostensibly dedicated to the defense of press freedoms and freedom of speech around the world, RSF’s reports are frequently cited in the American press and blogosphere: including by “pro-American” and “pro-Israeli” bloggers. In recent years, RSF has specially cultivated the goodwill of the blogosphere by launching initiatives like the “First Online Free Expression Day” and compiling a list of countries it designates as “Internet Enemies.”

As I noted in a recent exposé of the organization, however, RSF has maintained a conspicuous silence on the Al-Dura affair and France 2’s prosecution of Karsenty. At first glance, this might seem surprising, since Karsenty would appear to be the very model of what RSF colorfully refers to as a “cyber-dissident” in other contexts and the prosecution of him by France 2 would appear to be a textbook example of an attempt by a state agency to suppress speech. It is far less surprising, however, when one realizes that RSF receives a substantial chunk of its annual budget from the French government — including direct subsidies from the French Foreign Ministry — and major financial contributions from the European Commission as well. (On the RSF financials, see part I of my exposé here.)

It is on account of this massive funding by France and the European institutions that I have suggested that RSF be referred to not as a “non-governmental organization” (NGO), but rather as a “para-governmental organization”: a “PGO” whose supposedly objective assessments of the situation of press freedoms around the world are in fact largely and obviously influenced by the political agendas of its principal state sponsors. (See part II of my exposé here.)

Robert Ménard’s attitude to the Al-Dura affair is just further confirmation of the “PGO” status of Reporters Without Borders. By breaking his silence and signing the Nouvel Observateur “Appeal,” Ménard has now explicitly come out in favor of suppressing Philippe Karsenty’s right to criticize Enderlin and France 2. He has thereby pulled off the remarkable feat of outing himself and the “press freedoms” organization he heads as, in effect, enemies of free speech."

Friday 20 June 2008

European Union has taken an unbalanced stance on Israel, says Franco Frattini

Article in Haaretz (via Solomonia)

"Italy's newly appointed foreign minister said Tuesday that the European Union has in the past taken an unbalanced stance on Israel, at times blurring the line between legitimate criticism and anti-Semitic sentiments.

Speaking before a forum on Israel-European relations in Berlin, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said: "I have to admit, if I look at the past, EU has taken on some occasions an unbalanced stance visa vis Israel, even by making an unacceptable confusion between the legitimate political criticism of the Israeli gut and the sentiment of intolerance against Jewish people that can become anti-Semitism."

Frattini, who was appointed by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is considered a supporter of Israel. His predecessor, Massimo D'Alema, often took a harsh line against Israel, particularly with regard to the Second Lebanon War and the situation in the Gaza Strip.

In his speech to the Israel-European forum, Frattini criticized the EU for delivering aid to Palestinian organizations which have incited against Israel.

"We ever found money given to NGOs close to Hamas using it to indoctrinates children against Israelis," he said, but added:

"Now things are changing completely. More awareness of the risk of growing anti-Semitism. Firmness vis a vis with Hamas. Support for the legitimate request of security of Israeli vis a vis the increasingly dangerous activities of Iran in the nuclear field.""

Read also:
European Commissioner Franco Frattini expresses regret at EU treatment of Israel

Iran and the Problem of Evil, by Michael Leeden

From the WSJ :

"Ever since World War II, we have been driven by a passionate desire to understand how mass genocide, terror states and global war came about – and how we can prevent them in the future.

Above all, we have sought answers to several basic questions: Why did the West fail to see the coming of the catastrophe? Why were there so few efforts to thwart the fascist tide, and why did virtually all Western leaders, and so many Western intellectuals, treat the fascists as if they were normal political leaders, instead of the virulent revolutionaries they really were? Why did the main designated victims – the Jews – similarly fail to recognize the magnitude of their impending doom? Why was resistance so rare?

Most eventually accepted a twofold "explanation": the uniqueness of the evil, and the lack of historical precedent for it. Italy and Germany were two of the most civilized and cultured nations in the world. (...)

The failure to understand what was happening took a well-known form: a systematic refusal to view our enemies plain. Hitler’s rants, whether in "Mein Kampf" or at Nazi Party rallies, were often downplayed as "politics," a way of maintaining popular support. They were rarely taken seriously as solemn promises he fully intended to fulfill. (...)

By now, there is very little we do not know about such regimes, and such movements. Some of our greatest scholars have described them, analyzed the reasons for their success, and chronicled the wars we fought to defeat them. Our understanding is considerable, as is the honesty and intensity of our desire that such things must be prevented.

Yet they are with us again, and we are acting as we did in the last century. The world is simmering in the familiar rhetoric and actions of movements and regimes – from Hezbollah and al Qaeda to the Iranian Khomeinists and the Saudi Wahhabis – who swear to destroy us and others like us. Like their 20th-century predecessors, they openly proclaim their intentions, and carry them out whenever and wherever they can. Like our own 20th-century predecessors, we rarely take them seriously or act accordingly. More often than not, we downplay the consequences of their words, as if they were some Islamic or Arab version of "politics," intended for internal consumption, and designed to accomplish domestic objectives.

Clearly, the explanations we gave for our failure to act in the last century were wrong. The rise of messianic mass movements is not new, and there is very little we do not know about them. Nor is there any excuse for us to be surprised at the success of evil leaders, even in countries with long histories and great cultural and political accomplishments. We know all about that. So we need to ask the old questions again. Why are we failing to see the mounting power of evil enemies? Why do we treat them as if they were normal political phenomena, as Western leaders do when they embrace negotiations as the best course of action?(...)

Then there is anti-Semitism. Old Jew-hating texts like "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," now in Farsi and Arabic, are proliferating throughout the Middle East. Calls for the destruction of the Jews appear regularly on Iranian, Egyptian, Saudi and Syrian television and are heard in European and American mosques. There is little if any condemnation from the West, and virtually no action against it, suggesting, at a minimum, a familiar Western indifference to the fate of the Jews.

Finally, there is the nature of our political system. None of the democracies adequately prepared for war before it was unleashed on them in the 1940s. None was prepared for the terror assault of the 21st century. The nature of Western politics makes it very difficult for national leaders – even those rare men and women who see what is happening and want to act – to take timely, prudent measures before war is upon them. Leaders like Winston Churchill are relegated to the opposition until the battle is unavoidable. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to fight desperately to win Congressional approval for a national military draft a few months before Pearl Harbor. (...)

This time, ignorance cannot be claimed as an excuse. If we are defeated, it will be because of failure of will, not lack of understanding. As, indeed, was almost the case with our near-defeat in the 1940s."

Via Tom Gross's Mideast Dispatch

Thursday 19 June 2008

The dangerous naivety of the well-intentioned, by Melanie Phillips

Melanie Phillips finds at last encouraging signs among Europeans, but also a worrying disposition to minimise the existential threats facing Israel:

"The conference in Berlin which I’ve been attending, organised by the Weidenfeld Foundation and the Axel Springer corporation, was about relations between the EU and Israel. It was simultaneously encouraging — touching, even - and dismaying. Encouraging because here was a Europe which – in the form of the German and Czech foreign and interior ministers at least, along with sundry diplomats and business people - had stopped hectoring Israel for its crimes and instead was pledging never to abandon it to its enemies; and it was touching to see the painful awareness of the Germans of their duty to ensure that their own history should never again be repeated elsewhere in the world. (Indeed, on the very day of this meeting the EU-Israel Association Council – the body headed by foreign ministers which conducts the bilateral relations between Israel and European Union member states – announced an upgrade in relations between Israel and the EU.) What a difference from poisonous Britannia. The reason for the change in the European attitude is said to be twofold. First, and most important, the perspective of Europe’s elite has changed under the pressure of its own crisis of Islamist colonisation. As a result, it looks upon Israel, the front line of defence against this attack, in a new and more sympathetic light. Second, it approves of Israel’s apparent determination to hammer out a ‘two-state solution’ with the Palestinians.

But here was the rub. Speaker after speaker extolled Israel’s negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas and spoke of the 'sparks of hope' from such talks that must not be extinguished. But this hope was based on a high level of wishful thinking, not to say historical amnesia. For the two-state solution can hardly be a solution, given that two-states was the original compromise proposition put forward in the 1930s to appease Arab rejectionism of the proposed restored Jewish state – which is still rejected to this day, not just by Hamas but by the ‘moderate’ Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Abbas. Only recently he declared that the Palestinians would never accept Israel as a Jewish state; and yet he is being feted by Israel, America and Europe as a genuine interlocutor for peace. Moreover, as I have noted before, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza would mean that Iran was at the doorstep of Jordan and Egypt – a fact that causes the ‘two-state solution’ to fill them with undiluted horror. Far from providing ‘sparks of hope’ therefore, the ‘two-state solution’ would more likely spark a conflagration with an Iran whose quest for regional domination poses such a threat to the wider world."

Read the full article.

Wednesday 18 June 2008

HRW’s Letter to President Bush on Gaza: The “Collective Punishment” Hoax

NGO Monitor on Human Rights Watch's constant accusations against Israel:

"In the first five months of 2008, HRW has issued thirteen statements condemning Israel’s response to deliberate attacks aimed at Israeli civilians launched from Gaza. These statements exploit international legal terminology, repeat incomplete or false analyses of international law, and minimize or omit Hamas’ attacks on Israeli border crossings where humanitarian aid is delivered, as well as the diversion of this aid by Hamas. In contrast to carefully written, accurate and well-sourced legal analyses, these publications reflect a dominant political agenda. HRW’s May 13, 2008 open letter to US President George Bush, signed by Joe Stork and published with highly politicized NGOs Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, (both of which have had to admit false factual claims in recent weeks) highlights this practice more"

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Open Thread on Tibet and the Middle East, Modernity Blog

From Modernity Blog :

"News from Tibet, unlike other countries, is restricted and what we hear from that country is very limited, snippets about Tibetans being murdered or enforced Chinese rule, but not a great deal and often what comes out has been censored or made such that the Chinese occupation is portrayed in the best possible light.

The BBC highlights the tight grip that China keeps on the Tibetan’s neck:

“China appears to be maintaining a tight grip over Tibetan areas, nearly three months after a series of anti-Beijing protests and riots.

The government suggests life in areas inhabited by Tibetans is returning to normal, but evidence suggests otherwise.

Security is tight, Tibetans face travel restrictions, and monks and nuns have been forced to attend re-education classes.

Chinese tourists are once again being allowed to visit the Himalayan region, but not many are making the trip.

Foreigners are banned. It is difficult to get information about what is going on in Tibet and nearby provinces that are home to large numbers of Tibetans.

Chinese central and local government officials - who keep a tight rein on information at the best of times - are saying little. (...)

There are also roadblocks on highways leading into Tibet.

The Chinese crackdown follows unrest that began in Lhasa on 10 March.

Monks from several monasteries began a series of protests to mark the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

These protest turned into riots, during which Tibetans targeted Han Chinese people who had moved into Lhasa.

Tibetan students living in India hold a rally on 28 May 2008

China says 18 innocent civilians and one police officer died in the riots.

The Tibetan government-in-exile said about 250 died, most of whom were Tibetans killed in the ensuing crackdown.

Over the last couple of months, hundreds of Tibetans have been arrested, with the first batch of 30 tried and jailed earlier this month.

China said they received fair trials, but this is contested by Tibetans abroad and human rights organisations.

Even on this one issue, there is no agreement on the facts of what is currently going on in Tibet.”

But contrast that situation with the Middle East, leaving aside the various quasi-dictatorships and authoritarian regimes which are fairly numerous, there is no shortage of news about conflict in the region. If we were to look at nearly any Israeli newspaper there would be very critical coverage of the Israeli government and the military’s own conduct in the region.

Which is strange, isn’t it? Barely a critical voice against brutal Chinese oppression in Tibet, but the Israelis often scourge themselves over these issues. What a difference?"

The European Union to upgrade its relations with Israel.

From the JTA:

"E.U. foreign ministers announced Monday that the 27-nation bloc would improve its marketing and policymaking ties with Israel, satisfying a long-standing request from Jerusalem.

"The European Union is determined to develop a closer partnership with Israel," the ministers said in a statement.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was to seal the deal in later talks with her European counterparts in Luxembourg.

The Palestinian Authority had urged the European Union to put off any upgrade because of Israel's policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The E.U. ministers said the updated ties with Israel should include encouraging a framework for "the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the implementation of the two-state solution."

Israel currently has an "association agreement" with the European Union setting out a schedule of political meetings, regulating trade ties and cooperating in areas from internal security to education."

Monday 16 June 2008

'Ailing' war criminal spotted celebrating Euro soccer championship

YNet News reports:

"Milivoj Asner, a wanted Nazi war criminal who was deemed unfit to stand trial by Austrian authorities due to his "failing health", has been spotted in one of the Euro 2008 soccer championship gatherings, looking fit as a fiddle for his age, the English Sun reported Monday.

Asner, 95, holds the number 4 spot on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's most wanted Nazi criminals' list. He served in the Croatian police during WWII and is believed to have taken an active part in the persecution and deportation of hundreds of Serbs, Jews and gypsies to death camps.

Croatia formally appealed to Austrian authorities for Asner's extradition in 2005, citing that he was wanted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity; but Vienna declined, saying he was in poor health. Asner is also on the Interpol's most wanted list – they currently have an international warrant out for his arrest.

Asner has been living in Klagenfurt for several decades now, under an assumed name. The Sun 's photographer followed him around town for several hours, as he strolled through local cafés, showing no signs of failing health.

Wiesenthal Center Director, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, slammed what he called Austria's "shameful shielding of a suspected war criminal", adding "He is clearly enjoying a life that many hundreds of victims were denied when they were sent off to be murdered… The Sun found him healthy enough to stroll happily round his home town for hours. This is highly significant.

“Austria has long had a reputation as a paradise for war criminals and now they’ve been caught in the act. It is time for them to do what is right and help bring Nazi war criminals to justice. If this man is well enough to walk around town unaided and drink wine in bars, he’s well enough to answer for his past.

“He’s shown absolutely no remorse. It is our intention to bring this to the attention of the Austrian Minister of Justice Maria Berger and call for his immediate extradition,” said Zuroff."

Saturday 14 June 2008

European Union states support upgrading relations with Israel - after all...

Compare this article in Haaretz on 11 June:

EU diplomats: We're not ready for major upgrade of Israel ties

with this one two days later in Haaretz too (so much for journalistic coherence):

EU supports boosting ties with Israel, debates linking relations to peace talk progress :

"European Union states support upgrading relations with Israel but some want the move to be linked to progress on Middle East peace, EU diplomats said before talks with Israel on Monday.

Diplomats said all EU member states supported the idea of upgrading relations with Israel in areas such as social policy, regulatory issues and access to the EU single market.

"The point of disagreement has been whether and to what extent to link closer EU ties to progress in the Middle East Peace Process," one EU diplomat said, adding that envoys would seek to overcome differences before EU foreign ministers meet their Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni in Luxembourg.

Last year Israel proposed a range of possible upgrades in relations, including regular summits of EU and Israeli leaders, and meetings with EU sectoral ministers in addition to the current single annual session at foreign minister level.

It also wanted a high-profile joint declaration at the Luxembourg meeting on boosting ties and giving Israel greater access to EU markets, agencies and spending programmes. (...)

Arab League ambassadors in Brussels expressed concern this week that discussions on upgrading EU ties with Israel were going ahead "in the absence of any settlement and establishing permanent and just peace in the Middle East."

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wrote to Brussels last month urging the EU not to boost relations with Israel, which he accused of "flagrant disregard" of Palestinian rights by continuing to build Jewish settlements.

Diplomats say Egypt has also lobbied the EU against boosting ties with the Jewish state when there was scant progress in the Middle East peace process."

Have the anti-Zionists overdone it?, by Haviv Rettig

Are these genuine initiatives on the part of Europeans or just the usual window-dressing exercises that makes them feel good?

Article by Haviv Rettig in TJP:

"Are we witnessing the beginning of a backlash against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, at least in the English-speaking world?

On Wednesday, the UK's minister for higher education, Bill Rammell, told Britons that only a small minority of the country's academics support a boycott of Israel.

Coming a day after Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor's accusation that "Britain has become a hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views and a haven for disingenuous calls for a one-state solution," the minister's confidence should offer some reassurance to worried Jews, right?

Perhaps it was merely bad timing, then, that the following day Prosor was the subject of a new boycott, with the refusal of Welsh Assembly Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas to meet the ambassador when he arrives in Cardiff at the end of the month to meet with First Minister Rhodri Morgan, head of the Welsh government.

Invited to a reception for Prosor hosted by another assembly member, Elis-Thomas replied that "I am unwilling to accept the invitation to meet the ambassador, because of my objection to the failure of the State of Israel to meet its international obligations to the Palestinian people of the Holy Lands [sic]. I would invite other colleagues to [do] the same." (...)

His excuse - a broad, ill-defined dissatisfaction with Israeli fulfillment of obligations - is targeted at a country that has withdrawn from 89 percent of the land it conquered in 1967, and he fails to deal with the complexity of a Gaza Strip controlled by ruthless radicals who mete out death penalties to gays.

Worse, the notion that there is nothing an Israeli could say that would be worth hearing - the language of boycott - seems to be respectable.

The bigotry may not surprise readers of The Jerusalem Post. But this might: Next February, the British Foreign Office, together with the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, will host a conference on anti-Semitism for parliamentarians from around the world.

The conference is the first fruit of the newly-established Inter-Parliamentary Coalition, and is intended to be an international response to "the longest hatred," a hatred manifested most recently in the hysterical demonization of Israel with which Prosor has become so familiar.

They key to this project: Though Irwin Cotler, the Canadian MP and jurist who helped initiate it, is Jewish, the initiative is not.

Similarly, late last month, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski lent his name and credibility to a new European Forum of Tolerance. While the forum was the brainchild of the European Jewish Congress, it has found resonance with a non-Jewish Kwasniewski and other non-Jewish European leaders.

It is significant that the slow growth in non-Jewish advocacy against anti-Semitism comes with an understanding that an unfair obsession with Israel tends to overlap with - and is often motivated by - anti-Semitism.

Are we witnessing the beginning of a response? Have the anti-Zionists gone too far, becoming impossible to ignore and so, finally, impossible to tolerate?"

Friday 13 June 2008

American Zionism, in Jewish Current Issues

Article posted by Rick Richman @ Jewish Current Issues:

"Walter Russell Mead (Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations) has a fascinating article that will appear in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, entitled “The New Israel and the Old: Why Gentile Americans Back the Jewish State.”

Widespread gentile support for Israel is one of the most potent political forces in U.S. foreign policy, and in the last 60 years, there has never been a Gallup poll showing more Americans sympathizing with the Arabs or the Palestinians than with the Israelis.

Over time, moreover, the pro-Israel sentiment in the United States has increased, especially among non-Jews. The years of the George W. Bush administration have seen support for Israel in U.S. public opinion reach the highest level ever, and it has remained there throughout Bush's two terms. The increase has occurred even as the demographic importance of Jews has diminished. In 1948, Jews constituted an estimated 3.8 percent of the U.S. population. ... By 2007, Jews were only 1.8 percent of the population of the United States ...

In the United States, a pro-Israel foreign policy does not represent the triumph of a small lobby over the public will. It represents the power of public opinion to shape foreign policy in the face of concerns by foreign policy professionals. ... [T]he ultimate sources of the United States' Middle East policy lie outside the Beltway and outside the Jewish community.

Mead’s article addresses the subject from the time of the Founders through the administration of George W. Bush. Here is an example of some of the rich details in the article (links and emphasis by JCI):

In 1891 ... Methodist lay leader William Blackstone presented a petition to President Benjamin Harrison calling on the United States to use its good offices to convene a congress of European powers so that they could induce the Ottoman Empire to turn Palestine over to the Jews.

The 400 signatories were overwhelmingly non-Jewish and included the chief justice of the Supreme Court; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee; the future president William McKinley; the mayors of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington; the editors or proprietors of the leading East Coast and Chicago newspapers; and an impressive array of Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic clergy. Business leaders who signed the petition included Cyrus McCormick, John Rockefeller, and J. P. Morgan.

At a time when the American Jewish community was neither large nor powerful, and no such thing as an Israel lobby existed, the pillars of the American gentile establishment went on record supporting a U.S. diplomatic effort to create a Jewish state in the lands of the Bible.

Theodor Herzl’s book “The Jewish State” did not appear until 1896. (See also: The NeoChristian Lobby)."

Read also:
1921: Anti-Semitism is “un-American and un-Christian”