Anna Blech at TEDxHunterCCS
Downplaying the Holocaust — Sulzberger & NY Times:
November 18, 2014
Reacting to Terror: Words Matter
Council on Foreign Relations
Elliott Abrams Pressure Points
The horrifying terror attack on Jerusalem synagogue, where four rabbis were murdered during morning prayers, has elicited widespread condemnation. And yet….
The words that are used to condemn terror matter. Let us compare those of the President of the Palestinian Authority, the President of the United States, and the United States Secretary of State.
Mahmoud Abbas could not bring himself to condemn this horrific attack.
The Palestinian news agency WAFA instead issued this statement:
The Presidency condemned the killing of civilians regardless of the party committing the attacks, stressing the need to end the causes of such attacks and current tension through ending the Israeli occupation.
It also condemned the killing of Israeli civilians in the West Jerusalem synagogue attack and called for the immediate cessation of the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque Complex by extremist Jewish settler groups as well as an end to provocations of settlers and incitement of some Israeli ministers.
This is a vile and cowardly response. “The Presidency” condemned the attack? Is that a building, an office, a microphone? Where is Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president? His refusal to speak in his own voice, to appear on camera doing so, to tell Palestinians that such acts bring shame and repudiation on all of them, speaks far more loudly than the press statement that was issued. In the aftermath of this act of heartless brutality, Abbas simply hid.
The White House issued this statement from the President:
I strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack on worshipers at a synagogue in Jerusalem, which killed four innocent people, including U.S. citizens Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky, and injured several more. There is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians. The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence. At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.
Here again the speaker just issued a statement and did not appear on camera. And what a statement! Complete equivalence between Palestinian and Israeli leaders, as if they were in both cases democratically elected representatives of the people, and as if they had similar positions when it came to terror. But in fact, Palestinian official media have been inciting violence and anti-Semitism ceaselessly in recent months. “Palestinian leaders” are part of the problem, and Mr. Obama seems unable or unwilling to admit that fact.
Contrast what John Kerry said, during a press conference with the British foreign secretary:
I am, first of all, delighted to be in London with my friend Philip Hammond. I think the fact that we are meeting on a regular basis now, almost weekly since he has become the foreign secretary, is an indicator of the importance of our relationship and the degree to which we rely on each other as we face some very, very complicated and challenging issues.
But I want to say something first, if I may. The reason I was delayed walking in here: I was just on the phone to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. This morning, today in Jerusalem, Palestinians attacked Jews who were praying in a synagogue. And people who had come to worship God in the sanctuary of a synagogue were hatcheted and hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder.
I call on the Palestinian leadership at every single level to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere, and particularly after a discussion that we had just the other day in Amman, where the prime minister of Israel flew to Amman, sat down with the Custodian of the al-Aqsa Mosque, King Abdullah of Jordan, and went to the extent of restoring in absolute terms the status quo with respect to the management of that mount, including lowering the age, taking away any age limits on people who could visit, guaranteeing that there were peaceful, completely uninterrupted visits over the weekend. And to have this kind of act, which is a pure result of incitement of calls for days of rage, of just an irresponsibility, is unacceptable.
So the Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people’s language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path. Our hearts go out to all Israelis for the atrocity of this event and for all the reminders of history that come with it. This is – simply has no place in human behavior, and we need to hear from leaders who are going to lead – lead their people to a different place.
This was, first of all, the voice of a human being, not a press bureau. And on camera, live. And Kerry did not seek a false moral equivalence, but instead made some demands of the Palestinians. He noted that the terrorism was the “pure result of incitement of calls for days of rage” and he told us where it came from. He then added that “the Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people’s language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path.” He made it clear that this is not just the fault of Hamas or other groups and called “the Palestinian leadership” to task for “their language.” And he demanded not more press statements but “serious steps” to get the incitement stopped.
Bravo for Kerry. It’s too bad President Obama could not have reacted in a similarly way–both very human and quite tough. And it is of course scandalous, though unsurprising, that Abbas said nothing useful at all.
Does it matter? Are these just word games? I think not. How we react to such acts of terror tells a great deal about who we are and what we think of the terrorism. Abbas’s reaction will surely persuade many more Israelis that he is no partner for peace.
August 1, 2014
New York Times Slams Its Own Pulitzer-Prize Winning Photographer In Gaza
Says Legendary Photojournalist Tyler Hicks is Bad at His Job
Tablet: A new read on Jewish life
An Israeli soldier runs infront of an Israeli Merkava tank at an army deployment area on the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, on August 1, 2014. (Getty Images)
If you have ever wondered why the New York Times photo coverage from Gaza has almost exclusively consisted of dead and bleeding Palestinian children in Shifa Hospital, with nary a Hamas gunman or missile launch from a school or a mosque to fill out the narrative of events on the ground, the newspaper of record has an astonishing answer: Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Tyler Hicks really sucks at his job.
For anyone who knows anything about photojournalism, the Times’s answer raises some very serious questions about the sanity of the people who are running the newspaper, as well as the paper’s loyalty to one of the greatest photographers of his era who has put his life at risk for the newspaper time and time again in global hot spots and conflict zones.
But according to Eileen Murphy, the Times Vice President for Corporate Communications, the paper’s photographers in Gaza, led by Hicks, are the sole reason for the radical imbalance in the Times photo coverage of the war. Or at least that’s what she told Uriel Heilman of JTA, when he asked the Times to explain why, out of the 37 images that made up the paper’s last 3 slideshows from Gaza, there wasn’t a single image of a Hamas fighter or rocket launch or anything else that might signal to readers that Israel hadn’t simply decided to maim and murder Palestinian children in the coastal enclave for sport.
Incredibly, the first part of Murphy’s answer blamed Times photographers for apparently submitting only a handful of low-quality images:
Our photo editor went through all of our pictures recently and out of many hundreds, she found 2 very distant poor quality images that were captioned Hamas fighters by our photographer on the ground. It is very difficult to identify Hamas because they don’t have uniforms or any visible insignia; our photographer hasn’t even seen anyone carrying a gun.
Is this really how a legendary photojournalist like Tyler Hicks operates? Two very distant low-quality images, and nary a sight of a single person carrying a gun in all of Gaza during a three-week long conflict in which over 1500 people have died? If Hicks’ assignment took him anywhere else besides Gaza, one might suspect him of holding up the hotel bar.
The rest of Murphy’s answer provides only a tiny bit of insight into why Hicks’ performance has been so poor:
I would add that we would not withhold photos of Hamas militants. We eagerly pursue photographs from both sides of the conflict, but we are limited by what our photographers have access to.
The key word in the second part of Murphy’s response, of course, is “access.” Tyler Hicks is hardly lying down on the job: He’s doing incredibly hard and dangerous work in a combat zone where photographers are hardly free to take pictures of whatever they want. Which is the key point that Murphy and her bosses are determined to elide.
What the Times and other mainstream news outlets seem determined to hide from their readers is that their photographers and reporters are hardly allowed to roam freely. In fact, they are working under terribly difficult conditions under the effective control of a terrorist organization which–as the war itself indicates–doesn’t hesitate to maim, kidnap, and kill people that it doesn’t like.
How does being dependent on Hamas for your daily access–not to mention your life–potentially impact coverage? Well, the fact that the Times has only two distant, grainy, unusable images of Hamas gunmen from Tyler Hicks tells you all you need to know, doesn’t it.
If your imagination needs more help, here’s Liel Liebovitz’s column in Tablet:
In recent days alone, we’ve heard the account of Gabriele Barbati, an Italian journalist who, once leaving Gaza, tweeted: “Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris.” We’ve also heard from Radjaa Abou Dagga, a former correspondent for France’s Liberation whose attempts at practicing honest journalism got him summoned by Hamas thugs, accused of collaborating with Israel, and told to stop working as a reporter and leave the strip at once.
By playing coy with readers about the reasons why coverage is so imbalanced, the Times may think that it’s defending the work of its reporters and photographers. In fact, it’s making them and the paper look foolish–while serving as the propaganda arm of a terrorist organization. Someone at the paper needs to devote some serious attention to the reasoning that has transformed difficult working conditions on the ground into a glaring editorial failure.
July 28, 2014
“Palestine Makes You Dumb”
To argue the Palestinian side, in the Gaza war, is to make the case for barbarism.
Wall Street Journal
Of all the inane things that have been said about the war between Israel and Hamas, surely one dishonorable mention belongs to comments made over the weekend by Benjamin J. Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
Interviewed by CNN’s Candy Crowley, Mr. Rhodes offered the now-standard administration line that Israel has a right to defend itself but needs to do more to avoid civilian casualties. Ms. Crowley interjected that, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Jewish state was already doing everything it could to avoid such casualties.
“I think you can always do more,” Mr. Rhodes replied. “The U.S. military does that in Afghanistan.”
How inapt is this comparison? The list of Afghan civilians accidentally killed by U.S. or NATO strikes is not short. Little of the fighting in Afghanistan took place in the dense urban environments that make the current warfare in Gaza so difficult. The last time the U.S. fought a Gaza-style battle-in Fallujah in 2004-some 800 civilians perished and at least 9,000 homes were destroyed. This is not an indictment of U.S. conduct in Fallujah but an acknowledgment of the grim reality of city combat.
Oh, and by the way, American towns and cities were not being rocketed from above or tunneled under from below as the Fallujah campaign was under way.
Maybe Mr. Rhodes knows all this and was merely caught out mouthing the sorts of platitudes that are considered diplomatically de rigueur when it comes to the Palestinians. Or maybe he was just another victim of what I call the Palestine Effect: The abrupt and often total collapse of logical reasoning, skeptical intelligence and ordinary moral judgment whenever the subject of Palestinian suffering arises.
Consider the media obsession with the body count. According to a daily tally in the as of July 27 the war in Gaza had claimed 1,023 Palestinian lives as against 46 Israelis. How does the Times keep such an accurate count of Palestinian deaths? A footnote discloses “Palestinian death tallies are provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.”
OK. So who runs the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza? Hamas does. As for the U.N., it gets its data mainly from two Palestinian agitprop NGOs, one of which, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, offers the remarkably precise statistic that, as of July 27, exactly 82% of deaths in Gaza have been civilians. Curiously, during the 2008-09 Gaza war, the center also reported an 82% civilian casualty rate.
When minutely exact statistics are provided in chaotic circumstances, it suggests the statistics are garbage. When a news organization relies-without clarification-on data provided by a bureaucratic organ of a terrorist organization, there’s something wrong there, too.
But let’s assume for argument’s sake that the numbers are accurate. Does this mean the Palestinians are the chief victims, and Israelis the main victimizers, in the conflict? By this dull logic we might want to rethink the moral equities of World War II, in which over one million German civilians perished at Allied hands compared with just 67,000 British and 12,000 American civilians.
The real utility of the body count is that it offers reporters and commentators who cite it the chance to ascribe implicit blame to Israel while evading questions about ultimate responsibility for the killing. Questions such as: Why is Hamas hiding rockets in U.N.-run schools, as acknowledged by the U.N. itself? What does it mean that Hamas has turned Gaza’s central hospital into “a de facto headquarters,” as reported by the Washington Post? And why does Hamas keep rejecting, or violating, cease-fires agreed to by Israel?
A reasonable person might conclude from this that Hamas, which started the war, wants it to continue, and that it relies on Israel’s moral scruples not to destroy civilian sites that it cynically uses for military purposes. But then there is the Palestine Effect. By this reasoning, Hamas only initiated the fighting because Israel refused to countenance the creation of a Palestinian coalition that included Hamas, and because Israel further objected to helping pay the salaries of Hamas’s civil servants in Gaza.
Let’s get this one straight. Israel is culpable because (a) it won’t accept a Palestinian government that includes a terrorist organization sworn to the Jewish state’s destruction; (b) it won’t help that organization out of its financial jam; and (c) it won’t ease a quasi-blockade-jointly imposed with Egypt-on a territory whose central economic activity appears to be building rocket factories and pouring imported concrete into terrorist tunnels.
This is either bald moral idiocy or thinly veiled bigotry. It mistakes effect for cause, treats self-respect as arrogance and self-defense as aggression, and makes demands of the Jewish state that would be dismissed out of hand anywhere else. To argue the Palestinian side, in this war, is to make the case for barbarism. It is to erase, in the name of humanitarianism, the moral distinctions from which the concept of humanity arises.
Typically, the Obama administration is hedging its bets. The Palestine Effect claims another victim.”
June 10, 2014
Further Ugly Vibes From the Obama Administration
Candidly Speaking from Jerusalem
The gloves are off. The White House has now unequivocally designated Israel as the scapegoat and is meting out punishment for the disastrous outcome of the peace negotiations it initiated. The process began in March when President Obama publicly lambasted Prime Minister Netanyahu in a brutal and offensive manner the day before their scheduled meeting in Washington. It climaxed last week when the White House reneged on its commitment to Israel, announcing that it would continue business as usual with the new PA government after the merger with the genocidal Hamas, the terrorist organization which remains utterly committed to the destruction of Israel.
Prior to this, administration spokesmen had been campaigning behind the scenes to undermine the standing of Israel with the American public. That Israel had frozen settlement construction for nine months and conceded to an abhorrent release of bloody Palestinian terrorists were facts they simply ignored. Conversely, the Palestinian refusal to make a single concession or agree under any circumstances to an end of conflict was rarely mentioned.
Even following the announcement of the PA-Hamas union, Secretary of State John Kerry continued blaming Israel, making bizarre predictions about it becoming an “apartheid state”, which followed his earlier warnings of an impending “third intifada” and “international boycotts” – all of which he subsequently retracted.
Kerry’s views were echoed by his envoy, Martin Indyk, whose feral hatred of Netanyahu should have disqualified him from assuming any mediating role. When Netanyahu agreed to the wretched terrorist release, he made it clear to both the US and the PA that construction in the settlements would resume. Yet, in a series of “background” and open briefings, Indyk laid the primary blame for the collapse of the peace negotiations on Israel for having announced building tenders for 700 homes, not in some obscure or isolated settlement, but in Gilo, a suburb existing for over 40 years in the heart of Jewish East Jerusalem. And so it was that this “provocative action”, the “poof” which scuttled negotiations, became the basis for condemning Israel by the administration.
To make matters worse, unsubstantiated allegations were circulated that Israel was engaging in massive espionage activity against the United States. Despite angry disclaimers from Netanyahu and leading government officials, the Administration failed to refute the charges which were even used to justify denying Israel eligibility for the US Visa Waiver Program.
However, with Obama’s current catastrophic ratings and the impending congressional elections, it was assumed – mistakenly – that at least in the short term, the White House would avoid a frontal confrontation and merely give Europeans the wink to intensify the pressure and avoid a frontal confrontation.
But the Administration shocked Israel by accepting the new PA-Hamas government even before the consummation of the union. This was in flagrant breach of former undertakings, betraying its long-standing ally by announcing disingenuously that it would work with the new PA- Hamas government, as long as it “abides by the principles mandated by the US”. Yet, far from renouncing terror, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal boasted that “the reconciliation will actually consolidate the resistance… from one of intifada to another until the liberation of Palestine”.
The US initiative was clearly designed to pave the way for Israel’s further global isolation. It was immediately endorsed by the European Union, the United Nations, the UK and France and of course China, Russia and India all of whom praised the union as an important step towards “Palestinian reconciliation”.
AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and other Jewish agencies immediately condemned the “charade” stressing that “US law expressly prohibits funding to a Palestinian government in which Hamas participates”. They urged Congress to conduct a review of assistance to the PA and ensure implementation of the law denying support to the PA if it cooperated or bonded with Hamas.
There were senior lawmakers – Democrats as well as Republicans – who also condemned the move and insisted that the Palestinian anti-terror act passed in 2006 specifically precludes the US government from funding any government in which Hamas is involved or exercises influence.
Although there is no certainty that Congress will, in the short term, force the White House to back down, public opinion unquestionably opposes the Obama policy. Despite the hostility generated by the anti-Israeli liberal media, opinion polls all indicate record levels of support for Israel amongst the American people. The most recent, conducted last month by Paragon Insights on behalf of the Israel Project, showed that a 2-1 majority blame the Palestinians for the breakdown in negotiations and agrees that Israel cannot be expected to deal with a PA which merges with genocidal Hamas terrorists.
Over recent months, Congress has also displayed a lack of confidence in the Obama administration’s lack of accountability and transparency in foreign relations. This has created major tensions, particularly amongst Democrats who do not wish to be obliged to choose between abandoning their President or supporting Israel.
That is the reason why Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a powerful supporter of Israel, temporarily withdrew the US Israel Strategic Partnership Act from the agenda. He did so out of concern that an amendment, introduced by Republican Bob Corker reflecting congressional distrust of the president’s handling of nuclear talks with Iran and demanding greater accountability, could create major splits in the ranks of the Democrats. The bill, which designated Israel as a “strategic partner” and had already been passed in the House of Representatives by 410 to 1 majority, was designed to expand US weapons stockpiles in Israel and extend areas of joint US Israel collaboration in areas such as energy, water and homeland security.
Ultimately a compromise will be found, but this behavior reflects the turmoil – even amongst President Obama’s Democratic supporters – concerning the administration’s appeasement of the Iranians and pressure against Israel.
In the meantime, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act which included major boosts for Israel’s missile-defense programs as well as sections highlighting concern about negotiations with the Iranians and was carried on a bipartisan majority of 325 to 98.
It is indicative of the direction in which the wind is blowing when potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in her new memoir, signals her disapproval of President Obama’s policies when referring to the “tactical error” in trying to “enforce a hardline on settlements”. She also criticized Obama’ Iranian policy, telling a gathering of the American Jewish Committee: “I personally am skeptical that the Iranians will follow through and deliver… No deal is better than a bad deal”.
After the November midterm elections, the president will increasingly become a lame-duck and with the onset of primaries and campaigning for the next presidential election, there is every probability that the Senate and Congress will act against Obama if he makes further excessive demands on Israel or totally capitulated to the Iranians. However, it should be noted that, despite the Obama administration’s harsh political behavior towards Israel, it has in fact strengthened the crucial US-Israel defense relationship.
Israel must weather the remainder of Obama’s presidential term, diplomatically balancing resistance to the negative pressures without severing its crucial relationship with the US. It should simultaneously seek to further strengthen the public support it currently enjoys amongst the American people and throughout Congress.
June 18, 2014
For the New York Times, it’s the Palestinians who are Suffering
Three Israeli boys have been kidnapped yet the New York Times is still more concerned with Palestinian “suffering.” It’s only been a few days since the IDF launched a major operation to find the three kidnapped Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frankel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16. Judging from Jodi Rudoren’s report for the New York Times, you’d think that Hebron had been “under siege” for months or even years.
We hear how the Jaber brothers are “worried that Monday’s wedding party for Kayed’s 17-year-old daughter would be ruined.”
We are told that the local radio station is playing “warlike anthems interspersed with bulletins about how many tanks were invading what neighborhood” and how along “the main thoroughfare, sweet shops and cellphone stands, car dealerships and clothing boutiques all sat idle behind roll-down gates or wooden shutters.”
Hebron’s mayor is quoted about the misery of the Palestinian people who are “all in a big jail.”
The only Israeli response are a soldier’s reference to a sniffer dog and another telling a reporter to “go away.” Nowhere is it suggested that the Israeli military operation could come to an end if and when the three teens are liberated. Israel’s actions are portrayed as punitive, designed solely to cause Palestinian misery.
And for the icing on the cake, a Palestinian is quoted giving his opinion that the kidnapping didn’t even happen:
But many here and elsewhere in the Palestinian territories questioned whether the abduction even happened. Leaders referred to the “alleged kidnapping” in some of their official statements, and social networks were filled with conspiracy theories of how Jewish settlers staged the event or the Israeli government was using it as a pretext to oust Hamas from the West Bank and thwart the Palestine Liberation Organization’s recent reconciliation with Hamas.
Ahmad Abu Eisheh, 27, noted that no credible claim of responsibility had yet emerged.
“Hamas announces when they kidnap,” said Mr. Abu Eisheh, who works at a cleaning company. “For sure it’s a film. They want to destroy the reconciliation.”
When the New York Times considers the inconvenience for the Palestinians of Israel’s attempts to find its boys to be the moral equivalent of the terrorist act that led to this situation, there is clearly something wrong. This article shows a serious lack of balance.
June 3, 2014
Should New York Taxpayers Fund Pro-Terrorism and Anti-Semitism at
The Metropolitan Opera?
There is some understandable outrage about the Metropolitan Opera’s decision to stage The Death of Klinghoffer.
Some rightly fear that between this and the American Studies Association resolution, European style anti-Semitism thinly disguised as anti-Zionism is being pipelined into the United States.
As alluded to above, the opera is based on the 1985 murder of a helpless 69-year-old American Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, confined to a wheelchair—shot in the head while vacationing with his wife on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea. He was murdered by Palestinian Arab hijackers belonging to the Palestine Liberation Front, a component of Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, and his body dumped into the water…
The opera opens with these words sung by the Chorus of Exiled Palestinians: “My father’s house was razed—In nineteen forty-eight—When the Israelis passed—Over our street.”
So we already know where this is going.
Hijacker Rambo invokes anti-Semitic canards: “Wherever poor men—Are gathered they can—Find Jews getting fat”
Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters were outraged and disgusted by the production.
We are outraged at the exploitation of our parents and the coldblooded murder of our father as the centrepiece of a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic…
Even the New York Times ran an essay after September 11 indicting the theatrical production for its bigotry.
The Death of Klinghoffer is a production that only a Goebbels could love.
And what’s striking is how much it stands out in the Met’s season. The tawdry piece of pomo bigotry is sandwiched between the work of Verdi, Mozart, Offenbach, Bizet, Rossini, Puccini and Wagner. It’s completely out of place and out of time.
The Metropolitan Opera has been having serious financial problems. Its programs regularly mention support from public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. Its website mentions help from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Arts website shows six figure funding going to the Metropolitan Opera every year under General Opera Support. There are also other grants. That means that when a terrorist screams about the Jews on stage, he’ll be doing it with funding from New York taxpayers.
Maybe it’s time to put a stop to that.
If the Met wants to promote the murder of 9 percent of the population of New York City, New Yorkers shouldn’t have to pay for it.
That means eliminating all city and state funding for the Metropolitan Opera. The most obvious place to start is by killing the annual six-figure New York State Council on the Arts giveaway.
It’s something that a New York State Senator or Assemblyman can do.
At the Federal level, the Met receives funding from a variety of agencies, including $1 million from the State Department and from the usual suspects such as the Department of Education.
Anti-Israel opera to be viewed live by hundreds of thousands
By Myron Kaplan/JNS.org
An open letter to the New York Metropolitan Opera general manager concerning “The Death of Klinghoffer,” an anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera: reasons to reject it and viable replacements for it in HD transmission.
The Metropolitan Opera
New York, NY 10023
Dear Mr. Gelb,
As a longtime fan of grand opera, I have attended numerous superb live Met performances both at Lincoln Center and via live Saturday matinee performance HD transmissions to theaters (not to mention listening to numerous Met Saturday matinee live radio broadcasts)—and have greatly admired your accomplishments at the Met. So it was with great dismay and disappointment that I learned that the Met had scheduled for the 2014-2015 season its first-ever performances of John Adams’s “The Death of Klinghoffer.” Mediocre music is the least of the work’s problems. Even more serious is a tendentious story line and an inflammatory libretto that falsely maligns Israel and the Jewish people.
This story line can be characterized fairly as “Understandably aggrieved Palestinian Arabs wreak vengeance on disabled Jew standing in for all his perfidious co-religionists.” This is an obscene inversion of the reality that was the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking and subsequent terrorist murder of passenger Leon Klinghoffer. In this regard, it must be noted that the librettist, Alice Goodman, during the writing of the opera rejected her American Jewish heritage by joining the Anglican Church, the leadership of which is known for its hostility toward Israel. Goodman is now a parish priest in England.
The most troubling aspect of the Met’s scheduling of “The Death of Klinghoffer” is the live HD transmission of this opera, set for November 15, 2014—one of 10 such transmitted opera performances planned for the coming season—to more than 2,000 theaters in 66 countries (including more than 700 U.S. theaters). This would make the live performance immediately available to hundreds of thousands of people (and potentially millions according to the Met), giving wide international distribution to what is, at its heart, an anti-Jewish slander.
I’m aware that it may not be feasible at this juncture to cancel all or any of the eight performances of this opera scheduled during the period of October-November 2014, but in order to minimize the harm, the Met should substitute another opera for the HD transmission.
As alluded to above, the opera is based on the 1985 murder of a helpless 69-year-old American Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, confined to a wheelchair—shot in the head while vacationing with his wife on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea. He was murdered by Palestinian Arab hijackers belonging to the Palestine Liberation Front, a component of Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, and his body dumped into the water. The choice of the title, “The Death of Klinghoffer” and not “The Murder of Klinghoffer,” signals the work’s moral evasion and misrepresentation. In a sense, it is consistent with the PLO’s initial comments on the murder, that either Klinghoffer had died of natural causes or his wife pushed him overboard to be able to claim life insurance. The title’s sanitizing of murder is, however, also consistent with the opera’s anti-Jewish tone. Instead of properly characterizing the Palestinian hijackers of the cruise ship as permanent prisoners of their own rage originating from cultural indoctrination, Adams/Goodman impart idealism to them.
The opera opens with these words sung by the Chorus of Exiled Palestinians: “My father’s house was razed—In nineteen forty-eight—When the Israelis passed—Over our street.” Here, Israelis are likened to the avenging Angel of Death in the biblical story of the original Passover, exacting punishment on the ancient Egyptians after Pharaoh, breaking a promise, refused to let the Jewish people leave Egypt. This amounts to an artistically licensed slander, falsely suggesting that the Israelis, besieged by the armies of five Arab countries and Palestinian Arab “irregulars” bent on driving them into the sea, exacted widespread revenge upon Arabs residing in the ancient Jewish homeland.
Hijacker Rambo invokes anti-Semitic canards: “Wherever poor men—Are gathered they can—Find Jews getting fat—You know how to cheat—The simple, exploit—The virgin, pollute—Where you have exploited—Defame those you cheated—And break your own law—With idolatry.” Rambo’s lyrics, with virtually no artistic embellishment, could have been lifted from Nazi publications like Der Sturmer, as even a casual glance at the archives would confirm.
Repeatedly, the Palestinians are portrayed as humane idealists. Hijacker Molqi sings: “We are—Soldiers fighting a war—We are not criminals—And we are not vandals—But men of ideals.”
Hijacker Mamoud appears gentle and grieving as he tells of his mother and brother: “She was killed—With the old men—And children in—Camps at Sabra—And Shatilla— Where Almighty God—In His mercy showed—My decapitated—Brother to me—And in His mercy—Allowed me to close—My brother’s eyes—And wipe his face.”
This tear jerker falsely implies that Israelis, rather than members of the Lebanese Christian Phalange militia, massacred hundreds of Palestinian Arabs on Sept. 16-18, 1982 in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee districts. It gives no hint that the Phalangists acted in retribution for massacres of Christian Lebanese by the PLO and the September 14 assassination of the country’s Christian president-elect, Bashir Gemayel.
Mamoud shows himself to be consumed with seemingly permanent hate and a vision of martyrdom: “The day that I—And my enemy—Sit peacefully—Each putting his case—And working towards peace—That day our hope dies—And I shall die too.” But even this negative portrayal is mitigated by Mamoud’s meditation on the birds in the air— which may encourage the viewer to sympathize with him.
Leon Klinghoffer’s aria expressing his humanity and railing against the terrorists is insufficient to mitigate the harmful impression left by Goodman’s biased libretto and may even be seen as unnecessarily agitating the terrorists: “I came here with—My wife. We both—Have tried to live—Good lives. We give—Gladly, receive—Gratefully, love— And take pleasure—In small things, suffer—And comfort each other—We’re human. We are—The kind of people—You like to kill—Was it your pal—Who shot that little girl—At the airport in Rome?—You would have done the same—There’s so much anger in you—And hate.”
Goodman’s biased libretto condemns Jews and Israelis as a group, while the Arab hijackers, when condemned, are characterized as violent or revengeful individuals without regard to their ethnic/religious group. If Adams/Goodman intended some semblance of balance in this respect then they would have included, as well as anti-Jewish canards, anti-Arab/Muslim charges such as “Muslims want to destroy all infidels—their Koran tells them to do this.” But there is no semblance of this in this opera.
Then there is the matter of the renewed cruelty this Met production, not so much fiction but rather propagandistically manipulated facts, is likely to inflict upon the Klinghoffer family. After the 1991 premieres of the opera, The Telegraph (London) reported that Mr. Klinghoffer’s two daughters, Lisa and Ilsa, attended a New York production of the opera in 1991, which they described as “appalling” and “anti-Semitic.” A New York Times article reported on the antipathy toward Adams/Goodman by Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer: “We are outraged at the exploitation of our parents and the cold blooded murder of our father as the centerpiece of a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic.”
If it’s necessary to provide at least one first-time HD transmission of a modern opera composed after 1930, there are two excellent candidates already in the Met’s 2014-2015 schedule: Shastikovich’s ‘Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk” and Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress,” both of which, according to critics, have excellent productions, conductors and singers. The Shastikovich substitution would involve merely a replacement of November 15 on the HD schedule with November 29 currently scheduled as a Saturday matinee performance of this opera. The Stravinsky substitution would involve replacement of November 15 on the HD schedule with May 9, 2015 already scheduled as a Saturday matinee performance of this opera.
Otherwise, classic operas already scheduled at the Met in 2014-2015, but not scheduled for HD broadcast, include “Aida”—currently scheduled for a Met evening performance on the same day, November 15, as the HD transmission. Why not substitute it on that day with the Adams opera? This magnificent Verdi opera is one of the favorites of opera fans worldwide. Certainly it would be a much greater drawing card than the Adams opera in all or nearly all of the countries. Other possibilities include “La Traviata,” “Magic Flute,” and “Barber of Seville.” For “La Traviata,” replace November 15 on the HD schedule with December 27, currently scheduled as a matinee performance of this opera. For “Magic Flute,” replace November 15 on the HD schedule with November 8, currently scheduled as a matinee performance of this opera. For “Barber of Seville,” replace November 15 on the HD schedule with November 22, currently scheduled as a matinee performance of this opera.
Mr. Gelb, I trust that you will reverse an unfortunate decision just as you did in 2012 when, displeased with Opera News reviews of Met productions, you barred the magazine from subsequent reviews. Following an uproar from opera fans, you reversed the brief ban, forthrightly admitting to having made a mistake. Live transmission of “The Death of Klinghoffer,” a slanderous anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli concoction, is much more grave than the contretemps over Opera News. Mr. Gelb, we urge you, for the sake of the Met’s reputation and the constant struggle against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, to at least provide an HD transmission substitution.
Senior Research Analyst
CAMERA (Boston-based 65,000-member Committee for Accuracy in
Middle East Reporting in America)
April 6, 2014
Is Israel Really Isolated?
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference on March 3, 2014. Photo: Algemeiner.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that “if we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis, if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel.”
However, a thorough examination of Israel’s international standing reveals an increasingly splendid integration of the Jewish state — economically, technologically and scientifically — irrespective of the Palestinian issue.
Contrary to the Kerry school of thought, and based on a reality check, the Palestinian issue has never been a core cause shaping the Middle East, a crown jewel of Arab policymakers and the crux of Israel’s relations with the Arab countries and the international community. While the diplomatic talk highlights the Palestinian issue, the diplomatic, commercial and industrial walk reveals that policy-makers and the international business community do not embrace Kerry’s “Palestine First” assessment and his “Isolation Warning/Threat.”
Thus, the Turkish Statistics Institute documented an expansion of the Turkey-Israel trade balance, despite the brutal anti-Israel ideology of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The institute reports a 56 percent export increase, to Israel, during the first five months of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, while imports from Israel increased by 22% during the same period. The Israel-Turkey trade balance was $3.4 billion in 2008, rising to $4 billion in 2012. Turkey’s requirements in the areas of industry, medicine, health, agriculture, irrigation, education, science, technology and defense — and Israel’s unique innovations in these areas — have prevailed over Erdogan’s anti-Western, anti-Israel, and pro-Hamas Islamist orientation.
The London Financial Times reported that “in six hours of [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s] talks with the Chinese leadership, they spent roughly 10 seconds on the Palestinian issue, while revealing an unquenchable thirst for Israeli technology.”
Highlighting Israel’s intensified and diversified global integration, the China-Israel 2013 trade balance exceeded $10 billion, providing a tailwind to the currently negotiated free-trade agreement, and inspired by Chinese investments in some 50 Israeli high-tech companies. The Japan Times reported a growing Japanese interest in Israeli business opportunities, tripling the number of reviews of Israeli companies.
Moreover, foreign investments in Israel soared in 2013 to a seven-year high of $12 billion, including $4 billion in acquisitions of Israeli companies by global giants such as Google, IBM, Cisco, AOL, Facebook, Apple and EMC. Furthermore, since January, Israeli companies have raised over $500 million on Wall Street, and Deloitte Touche, one of the world’s top CPA firms, crowned Israel as the fourth most attractive site for foreign investors, behind the U.S., China and Brazil.
According to the British Economist Intelligence Unit, “Israel’s cluster of high-tech companies, investors and incubators is enjoying a boom which has not been witnessed since the global tech bubble burst more than a decade ago.” Neither Kazakhstan’s billionaire Kenges Rakishev, nor Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim allowed the “Isolation Warning/Threat” to stop their flow of investments in Israel’s high-tech sector.
In fact, Israel, the “Start-Up Nation,” has become a critical Pipeline Nation which transfers to the American high-tech industry a plethora of cutting edge technologies and applications developed by Israeli brain power, providing some 200 U.S. high-tech giants with an edge over their global competitors and contributing to U.S. employment, research and development and exports. As stated by Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella: “The two Microsoft research and development centers in Israel constitute a strategic factor, enhancing Microsoft’s capabilities in many areas.”
This was echoed by Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt, who invests in Israel also through his private venture capital fund, Innovation Endeavors: “Israel will have an oversized impact on the evolution of the next stage of technology. Israel has become a high-tech hub. Israel is the most important high-tech center in the world after the U.S.”
Unlike Secretary of State John Kerry, businessman Warren Buffett does have confidence in Israel’s long-term viability, realizing that Israel’s economic and technological capabilities are the derivatives of Israel’s brainpower and fiscal responsibility (since 1985), independent of the Palestinian issue.
Hence, on the eve of Israel’s 2006 war against Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Buffett invested $4 billion in an Israeli company, located next to the Lebanese border, recently expanding that investment by $2 billion. Buffett followed in the footsteps of Intel, which has invested $11 billion in its four research and development centers and two manufacturing plants in Israel; IBM, which just acquired its 13th Israeli company; Motorola, which established in Israel a research center second only to its Houston center; Hewlett-Packard, which owes 55% of its 2012-2013 development to its seven Israeli research and development centers; and the leading Silicon Valley venture capital funds, Sequoia, Benchmark, Greylock and Accel, which operate successful Israel-dedicated funds.
Astute observers of the Middle East — who do not subordinate reality to their wishful thinking — are aware that the Arab tsunami is not an Arab Spring; that the Arab street in general, and Egypt in particular, are not transitioning towards democracy; that Iran is committed to the pursuit of military nuclear capabilities; that Syrian President Bashar Assad has not been forsaken by Russia and Iran; and that Arab leaders are apprehensive of Palestinian subversion and terrorism.
Likewise, astute investors have realized that the ongoing wars and terrorism that have beset Israel since 1948 have been but bumps on the road of Israel’s unprecedented surge and integration into the global economy and technology, bolstered by Israel’s Leviathan-size offshore natural gas explorations.
March 21, 2014
J Street Endorses Palestinian Refusal to Recognize Israel as Jewish State
Washington Free Beacon Staff
In a development that is not sending shockwaves through the pro-Israel community, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” advocacy group J Street has declared its support for the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
In a statement posted on the group’s website, executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami says that to “keep moving forward, both [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] now need to give a little.”
Netanyahu, he says, must drop his insistence that Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish State because “it is simply unrealistic and unreasonable to expect any Palestinian leader to consent” to such a demand.
Ben-Ami never goes on to say what Abbas “needs to give.”
J Street’s advocacy for the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state follows a nearly unbroken period of advocacy for Palestinian and Iranian interests since the group’s founding in 2008. J Street took the Hamas position on Israel during Operation Cast Lead later that year, accusing the IDF of war crimes and promoting the discredited Goldstone Report. It lobbied for the Iranian regime’s position against Iran sanctions. It defended the terrorists who attacked IDF soldiers on the 2010 Gaza flotilla. J Street also took the Palestinian and Arab League position on a UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements in 2011.
Think again: The demand for recognition as a Jewish state: Is it just? Is it wise?
January 9, 2014
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will never get an even break from The New York Times. After the tentative – and as yet unimplemented – agreement between Iran and the P5+1, the Times treated Netanyahu’s “bellicose” criticisms of the agreement as if were the only barrier to a spirit of amity breaking out all over between Iran and the rest of the world, and suggested that the prime minister of the only country whose annihilation has been repeatedly called for by Iran should just keep his mouth shut.
The paper takes the same dim view of Netanyahu’s approach to peace talks with the Palestinians: But for Netanyahu – inevitably described as “right wing” – peace would have long since broken out.
Jodi Rudoren’s January 1 “Sticking Point in Peace Talks: Recognition of a Jewish State” is by no means the most egregious or one-sided of the Times’s offerings on the subject. But once again Netanyahu stands accused of “catapult[ing] to the fore an issue that may be even more intractable than old ones like security and settlements: a demand that the Palestinian people recognize Israel as a Jewish state.” Unnamed critics are quoted as accusing Netanyahu of having inserted a “poison pill” in order to scuttle the negotiations, knowing that the Palestinians will never agree.
It is possible, even likely, that Netanyahu does not expect the Palestinians to acquiesce on this point. But that does not make the demand unjustified. Netanyahu’s task as prime minister is not to sign peace accords with the Palestinian Authority, but to achieve security and peace for Israel. And the two should never be conflated, as they have so often in the past when “peace process” became a substitute for “peace.”
Netanyahu’s demand flows from a recognition that since the outset of Oslo the Palestinian leadership has not even begun to educate its people for peace. They have never told their people that a Palestinian state cannot be achieved without “painful concessions,” including renunciation of the “right of return” by the Palestinians and the acceptance of limitations on Palestinian sovereignty necessary to ensure Israel’s ability to defend itself.
Rather the official Palestinian education system and media has whipped the population into a frenzy of hatred for Israel worse than what preceded Oslo. The hero’s welcome accorded by Mahmoud Abbas to perpetrators of the most heinous crimes against Israeli civilians, who were freed by Israel under American pressure, is but the most recent example. (The sheer evil of forcing a country to pardon the murderers of its citizens was tacitly admitted by the Americans when they protested the return of a Palestinian who murdered an American citizen.) The failure of peace education has rendered Palestinian leaders incapable of negotiating seriously about peace because they know that as soon as they compromise a single holy principle they are dead men walking.
Arafat told Clinton at Camp David that he was asking him to commit suicide, and if that was true of Arafat, the symbol of the Palestinian national movement, how much more so the far less popular Abbas? But without such an education for peace Israel is being asked to agree not to a two-state solution – something to which a majority of Israelis consent in principle – but to a two-stage solution in which the Palestinians receive their state as a launching pad for eventually regaining what they consider their patrimony. Islam views any concession of even an inch of land ever under Islamic sovereignty – so-called dar al-Islam – as strictly forbidden.
And that is still the view promoted by the Palestinian Authority in both secularized and religious forms.
Yuval Steinitz, minister of intelligence and international affairs, laid out the four intertwined strands of the Palestinian Authority’s failure to educate for peace in an excellent op-ed in The New York Times last October, “How Palestinian Hate Prevents Peace.” The first strand consists of denial that there exists a Jewish people with any connection to the Land of Israel. Arafat’s refusal to acknowledge that a Jewish Temple ever stood in Jerusalem, which so dumbfounded president Clinton at Camp David, is one example. The second strand portrays Jews and Zionists as the most inhumane and corrupt people on the face of the earth.
The third strand of official Palestinian propaganda promulgates the message that the struggle must continue until the replacement of Israel by an Arab-Palestinian state, and the fourth that all means are legitimate in pursuit of that goal, including terrorist murders. The repeated references in Palestinian textbooks to all of Israel as Palestine, including cities such as Haifa, Tiberias and Safed, are examples of the third strand, and the idolization of even the most savage of released terrorists by Palestinian leaders from Abbas on down of the fourth.
ACCORDING TO Rudoren, Netanyahu’s emphasis on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state raises several profound, unresolved questions, such as, “Can Israel preserve its identity as a Jewish democratic state while also providing equal rights to citizens of other faiths and backgrounds?” But Israel has been doing that for 65 years. Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a growing Christian population. In every Muslim country, including the Palestinian-controlled city of Bethlehem, terrorized Christian populations are fleeing.
Israel’s Arab population enjoys more democratic rights than they would in any Arab state, including the Palestinian Authority. Only 25% of residents of the West Bank and 18% of those in the Gaza say they feel free to criticize the government, according to Palestinian polls. Journalists who criticize the government regularly find themselves in prison or worse. And both Abbas and Haniyeh have pushed off new elections for years.
The Palestinian claim that recognition of Israel as a democratic state would disenfranchise Israel’s 1.6 million Arab citizens is completely bogus. Arab citizens have been living in a self-proclaimed Jewish state for 65 years already. Every time a proposal is floated to exchange heavily populated Arab areas from Israel into a Palestinian state as part of a peace deal Israeli Arabs lash out against the instigators of such evil plans. They prefer their lives as Israeli citizens to anything they could expect in a Palestinian state.
The claim that Israeli Arabs might ever be disenfranchised is nothing more than projection by the Palestinians, who never tire of insisting that their state will be entirely judenrein, without a single Jewish resident. One could well ask why that demand is always treated as self-evidently just.
The West, in general, has consistently reduced any hopes of peace by treating the Palestinians as spoiled children to whom all must be given but from whom nothing can ever be expected. Thus they are by far the largest per-capita recipients of foreign largesse from Western countries despite both the PA and Hamas-controlled Gaza being run as kleptocracies, and an entire UN apparatus, UNRWA, exists solely to care for Palestinian refugees and their descendants in perpetuity, even as tens of millions of other refugees from ethnic strife since 1948 have long been removed from the refugee rolls.
By failing to treat Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israel as an issue of the highest importance fundamentally undermining Israelis’ capacity to trust Palestinian intentions, the West has reduced the possibility of any final status agreement being signed any time in the near future. Prime Minister Netanyahu is insisting Palestinian education for peace as a basic Israeli requirement for a peace agreement.
WHILE THE demand for recognition is both wise and strategically required, it is still possible to ask whether as a tactical matter it is being given too much prominence.
What would happen if, miraculously, a Palestinian leader were prepared to sign off on such recognition? Would Israel, having placed such emphasis on the importance of recognition, then find itself under greater pressure than before for concessions on other issues no less important for its long-term survival? Such recognition without a preceding revamping of Palestinian education and media to educate for peace and without a popular Palestinian referendum would remain not credible in the eyes of most Israelis. Rudoren points out that Palestinian support for such recognition of Israel has dropped dramatically over the last decade – from 65% to 40% – influenced in large part by the continued official PA propaganda.
Overemphasis on Palestinian recognition of Israel’s Jewish character must also not be expense of the no less intractable security issues, of which Israel maintaining security control over the Jordan Rift Valley is only one part. The greatest concern about a Palestinian state in the West Bank is that it would simply become a failed-state haven for terrorism against Israel, like Gaza or Southern Lebanon.
The three great “game changers” that keep Israeli strategists up at night are anti-tank missiles and short-range rockets, says former national security adviser Gen. Giora Eiland. Only the Israeli security presence in Judea and Samaria has prevented this from taking place so far.
TO PREVENT a return to the situation of the pre-1967 “Auschwitz borders,” Israel needs to retain control over the high ground overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport, the Tel Aviv Jerusalem highway and the narrow coastal plain in which most of Israel’s population and industrial capacity is located. It would also have to retain full control of Palestinian air space – it is only four flight minutes from the Jordan River to Jerusalem – and the electro-magnetic spectrum to prevent jamming. It is even more doubtful that the Palestinians would ever agree to these limitations on their sovereignty that they will recognize Israel as a Jewish state. But Israel cannot live without them.
Israel must ensure that it does not set itself up for concessions on its most basic security needs as the price for formal Palestinian recognition of its Jewish character that might not be worth the price of the paper it’s written on. The writer is director of Jewish Media Resources, has written a regular column in The Jerusalem Post Magazine since 1997, and is the author of eight biographies of modern Jewish leaders.
Strains With Israel Over Iran Snarl U.S. Goals in Mideast
As Netanyahu Embraces Hollande, State Department Weighs Another Kerry Visit
Wall Street Journal online
Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee Connect
November 17, 2013
WASHINGTON—The Obama administration’s overtures to Iran are straining the U.S. alliance with Israel in ways not seen in decades, compounding concerns about the White House’s ability to manage the Middle East’s proliferating security crises, said current and former American diplomats.
François Hollande, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embrace on Sunday during the French president’s visit to Israel. Sipa PressIn a sign of Israel’s growing disaffection with Washington, French President François Hollande was given a hero’s welcome when he arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday for a three-day visit that would showcase Paris’s hard line against Iran’s nuclear program ahead of international talks in Geneva this week.
Mr. Netanyahu reiterated his criticism that the U.S.-backed compromise was a “very bad deal” while hailing Mr. Hollande for his opposition to the agreement at a joint news conference Sunday evening in Jerusalem.
“Your support and your friendship is real. It’s sincere. You were one out of six,” he said, referring to the six world powers participating in talks with Iran.
Both the U.S. and Israel insist the relationship is strong enough to sustain even a pronounced disagreement. But the State Department said on Sunday that it was considering sending Secretary of State John Kerry back to Jerusalem for the second time this month to try and repair the breach with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr. Kerry irked Israel’s government during a trip this month when he appeared to publicly challenge its commitment to the peace process.
Few Middle East experts see any short-term solution to the pronounced rift between the U.S. and Israel. Mr. Netanyahu, these experts said, has defined his political career by confronting Iran and its nuclear program and is unlikely now to back down. And Washington’s position is weakened by the fact that its other primary Middle East allies, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, also are challenging the White House’s outreach to Tehran.
“When the U.S. and Israel are at fundamental odds, it weakens U.S. power in the region and sends very bad signals to America’s other allies,” said Aaron David Miller, a former senior State Department official now at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “Israel has more in common now with Saudi Arabia. It exacerbates an already fractious region.”
The signs of rupture, analysts fear, will imperil Washington’s ability to navigate other pressing security issues: Egypt’s civic unrest, Syria’s civil war and Mr. Kerry’s drive to secure a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement.
The discord between Israel and Washington was rekindled on Sunday with Mr. Hollande’s visit and an interview Mr. Netanyahu gave CNN criticizing the agreement being negotiated between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, a diplomatic bloc called the P5+1.
The pact, which U.S. officials said could be cinched as early as this week, would cap parts of Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the West easing some of its economic sanctions on Tehran.
But Mr. Netanyahu repeated his charge that the U.S. shouldn’t provide any economic relief to Tehran until it completely dismantles its nuclear facilities, rather than curbing some of their activities. “I think you should increase the pressure, because it’s finally working,” he said on CNN. “If you continue to pressure now, you can get Iran to cease and desist.”
Mr. Hollande appeared to back the Israeli leader’s hard line in remarks given upon arriving in Tel Aviv. Paris publicly broke from the other P5+1 countries this month by challenging as too soft the terms of a text agreement presented to Tehran.
“For France, as long as we don’t have certainty Iran will renounce nuclear weapons, we will maintain all our demands and the sanctions,” Mr. Hollande said.
Mr. Netanyahu has annoyed the Obama administration by rallying U.S. lawmakers and pro-Israel groups as well to contest the White House’s Iran policy and to press for new economic sanctions on Iran. Some U.S. officials say they consider those moves as blatant interference in Washington’s internal affairs.
Last week, Mr. Kerry and other administration officials briefed the Senate Banking Committee on its Iran policy and urged lawmakers not to enact new sanctions on Tehran while the negotiations in Geneva take place. But many senators cited information from Israel that concluded the benefits of the deal were much less attractive than what the White House was claiming.
“The administration very disappointingly said [to] discount what the Israelis say, and I think that was wrong as a policy matter. I think the Israelis have a very good intelligence service,” said Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.).
Senior U.S. officials have pushed back in recent days on the idea of there being any rupture between the U.S. and Israel. They said the two countries intermittently have differences—such as over policies on Israeli construction in contested areas—but that the overall relationship remains strong.
“This is a tactical disagreement,” said a senior administration official. “We can manage it.”
Longtime Middle East watchers, however, said they would have to go back to the 1980s to find a dispute between the U.S. and Israel that rivals the current one.
Then, the Jewish state clashed with the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan over the settlement issue and the Middle East peace process.
But even those dust-ups appeared mild compared with the dispute over Iran, because of the ramifications for the broader region.
“In many ways, this is uncharted waters for the bilateral relationship,” said Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “This is very dangerous for both sides.”
The international response to Iran’s nuclear program going forward is one area were a rift is particularly dangerous, said Mr. Satloff and others close to the Israeli government.
Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly threatened to strike Iran’s nuclear infrastructure if Tehran’s capabilities continue to expand. And the Israeli leader has said in recent days that his government won’t be bound by any agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran.
U.S. officials said they envisage an initial agreement between Iran and the international community to last six months. During this time, the two sides would seek to forge a final deal. But if they don’t, Israel could move quickly to strike Iran, even if the U.S. doesn’t support military action, analysts said.
“I think Israel will respect the 180-day time period,” said Mr. Satloff. “But I’d watch out for Day 181.”
Mr. Kerry’s hopes of forging a Mideast peace agreement is a top Obama priority that stands to be undercut by the friction over Iran.
Mr. Netanyahu’s government and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have entered into a nine-month negotiating framework which the U.S. hopes will end with establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
But the talks have stalled in recent weeks, with some Palestinian negotiators quitting their posts following the announcement of new Israeli building in contested areas.
On Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu offered a sober assessment of the prospects for near-term peace with the Palestinians.
“We’re talking. But I would like to see some movement from the Palestinian side,” Mr. Netanyahu told CNN. “You want us to recognize the Palestinian state for the Palestinian people. How about recognizing the Jewish state for the Jewish people?”
—Joshua Mitnick in Tel Avivcontributed to this article.
Write to Jay Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org and Carol E. Lee at email@example.com
NYT: Where are your bloody photos?
Times of Israel
November 20, 2013
Public Editor of the New York Times, Margaret Sullivan took the bold, and important step in acknowledging the volume of reader outrage following the cold blooded murder last week of 19 year old Eden Atias as he slept. The NYT admitted an error of judgment. So why have they chosen to leave the offensive news item unchanged?
Sullivan was responding to our collective horror at not only the newspapers inability to frame the report around the appropriate context of the murder (we had to suffer much ink decrying settlements as the catalyst for current tensions and the cloudy outlook for peace) but the lead photo was not related to the victim as would be expected in any news environment when reporting such an event. The photo editor’s choice? The murderers’ mother surrounded by supporters at home.
You read that correctly. At the time of writing – the photo remains full column width at the top of the news item, with a thumbnail size photo insertion less than 25% as large three paragraphs below, of a policeman walking inside the bus where the attack took place. Would I, as a bystander have a reasonable chance of inferring the real story by my first impression of this news item? The answer is a resounding ‘no’.
The Times acknowledged the photo being a ‘poor choice’ for the story (whose main thrust they concede was indeed the murder), but that the image of the grieving mother was arrived at in part to provide ‘the other side of the story’ and for lack of a timely image of the victim at the time of publication. It was also they claim ‘artistic’. And ‘dramatic’. Do those qualities make for accurate news reporting? Again. No.
For those who recoil or simply find it hard to believe that major news outlets behave this way, it is important to understand that the idea of ‘balance’ in journalism is not unique to the field. We just happen to notice the consequence of certain values when they impact the stories that we receive through the lens of others, obscured by the thoughts and agendas of intermediaries. The drive for balance however, undermines the other golden objective – accuracy. When reporting, the incessant search for ‘the other side of the story’ compromises those instances in which frankly – there isn’t one.
Sullivan reveals, in a rare acknowledgement by a New York Times photo editor, “The selection of the Palestinian mother’s image with the article was an effort to achieve balance, but such an effort was not appropriate in this case”
To those who understand the power of media to shape opinions acutely in the context of Israel and the Middle East – this is a big and important statement. This recognition not only acknowledges the breakdown of relativistic post-modern values when caught up in the making of current event news: It also speaks to the heart of what many in the media are coming around to understanding, namely the possibility of there being a right and a wrong. In other words, that objective truth has a place in the newsroom. THAT is newsworthy.
To force a balance where there is none in the immediate context of the story necessitates the creation of a moral equivalence harming the readers’ relationship to the subject and conferring inappropriate attention to another. In this case the brutal, callous murder of a young Eden Atias in his sleep is diluted to half of the consideration demanded of the reader. That is wrong. And thousands of us have made that clear in this case.
Cultural relativism affords the ‘other side’ a platform and legitimacy through media coverage alone, which makes media complicit to the credibility enjoyed thereafter. Many are starting to wake up to the unjust operational philosophy of Western news journalism, as it has existed for almost a century. We need to be a part of that continued awakening.
Are we comfortable sitting on the fence when many –New York Times photojournalists included – are increasingly aware that even neutrality can sometimes be wrong? I believe it is time to support those emerging lone voices in the field such as LA Times Letters Editor Paul Thornton who broke that big industry taboo recently in claiming there is such thing as verifiable truth.
That is huge, if you understand the challenge it poses for example to former New York Times editor Bill Keller who champions impartiality as indispensable for forcing newsmakers to test all assumptions. Glenn Greenwald (of Edward Snowden news breaking fame) takes another view of impartiality. As Neal Gabler states so eloquently in a recent Reuters posting, “Greenwald, however, countered that impartiality didn’t test assumptions as much as confer authority to each of them.”
It is a view that I share, and I encourage others to support vocally in our changing media landscape. Now is the time to encourage a new direction in standards that respect the breadth of opinion and style whilst acknowledging the ethical and social-psychological impact of the words, images and opinions we are all exposed to. It is upon us to acknowledge the media recognition of failure, and call for more than corrections, photo replacements and apologies. HonestReporting.com exists to amplify our individual voices – as a community of concerned citizens.
An image cannot be unseen, but we must call for corrections and retractions to ensure future readers don’t fall foul of the same biases. We should further support those newsmakers open to improved standards. United we’ve been able to initiate a conversation not only on the substance of the biased report, but to a wider dialogue of what journalistic integrity should look like in the future. The power of media to change minds must not go unmanaged by responsible newsmakers and consumers. We have the power and the responsibility to make ourselves heard. In this instance we also have the duty to make known the pain of Eden Atias’ family to those who were denied the only side of this story.
It must be easy for the editorial board of the New York Times viewing the world from the New York Times Building in Manhattan. The view from Jerusalem is quite different, especially when considering the prospect of an Iranian nuclear bomb.
In a staff editorial on Iran, the NY Times gives the paper’s official view, hauling anyone over the coals who might stand in the way of a deal with the Iranians as if reaching a deal is more important than the contents of that deal. And the NY Times reserves special opprobrium for Israel’s prime minister:
Unfortunately, the inconclusive negotiations have given an opening to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who excoriated the proposed agreement as the “deal of the century” for Iran before it is made public, to generate more hysterical opposition.
Netanyahu has pointedly not opposed negotiations with Iran. But he is entitled to express his legitimate concern and to oppose any deal that may leave the threat of a nuclear Iran hanging over Israel like a proverbial sword of Damocles.
But why does the NY Times believe that Netanyahu is responsible for generating “hysterical opposition?” The term would imply some sort of irrational behavior and perhaps is indicative of the NY Times’ general disdain for the Israeli prime minister.
Even Time Magazine, also not known for its favorable treatment of Netanyahu, acknowledges “even if Netanyahu has worn out his welcome, some of the West’s leading experts on nuclear proliferation are making much the same case,” before quoting Olli Heinonen, a former deputy director of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, now at Harvard, and David Albright, an American former IAEA inspector, who runs the Institute for Science and International Security, the Washington think tank that does the most-quoted independent research on Iran’s nuclear program.
Does the NY Times also believe that two former IAEA inspectors are also “hysterical?” Or is the only hysteria on show the NY Times’ apparent desperation see an Iranian deal signed at almost any cost?
This latest shot at Netanyahu is part of an identifiable trend on the part of the NY Times, which, as Israeli commentator Avi Issacharoff wrote, “seems to be directing a campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” while Dror Eydar points out that “The Times has a long history of supporting even the faintest of hopes when it comes to reconciliation with ruthless dictators.”
November 4, 2013
J Street Not a “Pro-Israel” Organization
October 8, 2013
At its fifth annual national conference last week, J Street advanced its objective of gaining recognition as a mainstream Jewish organization with the inclusion of a wide range of prominent American and Israeli political figures amongst its speakers. These included Vice President Joe Biden, Special Envoy Martin Indyk, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and representatives from most Knesset parties. Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, in one of his last acts prior to retiring, conveyed greetings by video. Even prominent Likud MK, Tzachi Hanegbi and Shas MK, Yitzhak Vanin participated.
Vanin introduced a comic element when he boasted to participants that he was urging Shas rabbis to recognize non-orthodox streams of Judaism and cease protesting against gay pride parades.
Hanegbi also played up to the crowd, justifying his participation on the grounds that despite disagreeing with many of its views, J Street was a “pro-Israel” organization towards which he felt an obligation to engage in “dialogue”.
He endorsed a two state solution and opposed the Arab right of return, but astonished participants by stating that he favored handing over Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinian Authority stating , “we will not be sovereign in the places where our people were born, in the places where Jewish kings and prophets used to live centuries ago”. He also referred to the duplicitous Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a “genuine peace partner” and was quoted by the JTA as describing Iran’s diplomatic overtures as “the fulfillment of our dreams”.
Of course Hanegbi is neither naïve nor a fool and would be aware that the issue relating to his participation is not about “dialogue” but over whether red lines should apply towards providing legitimacy to organizations systematically engaged in undermining Israel from within the Jewish mainstream. With J Street, the issue is not merely its views but its preposterous actions. Hanegbi must be conscious of how ridiculous it is to describe as “pro-Israel” an organization which actively lobbies the US government to undermine the policies of the democratically elected government of Israel.
The audience response to other speakers at the conference was quite revealing. Labor leader Shelli Yachimovitch received enthusiastic applause when she expressed support for gay rights but encountered a chilly silence when she stated that “we believe in a free and democratic Israel with a strong army and secure borders to defend not only our people but their views… the true Zionist dream”. Minister Tzipi Livni received a similarly cool response when she condemned “the process of delegitimization against Israel” and demonization of the IDF.
Consistent with J Street’s recent promotion of a Congressional petition urging Obama to accept Iranian President Rouhani’ s proposal regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions, applause was muted when Vice President Joe Biden spoke of sanctions against Iran.
Yet, attendees were unequivocal about their allegiances. They applauded Fatah’s spokesman Husam Zomlot’s call for Israel to give “formal recognition of the Nakba” and offered sustained and enthusiastic applause when he demanded the right of return of Arab refugees to their former homes in Israel.
J Street leaders castigated Prime Minister Netanyahu after his UNGA address for concentrating on Iran rather than the Israeli-Palestinian issue in his UN General Assembly speech.
Such displays provided further evidence that J Street’s claims that it is “pro-peace” and pro-Israel” are disingenuous, if not outright absurd. Virtually the entire Israeli political spectrum passionately yearns for peace.
During Operation Cast Lead, J Street described Israel’s action as an “escalation” that was “counterproductive” and “disproportionate”. It ascribed moral equivalency to Israel and Hamas, stating that it found difficulty in distinguishing “between who is right and who is wrong” and “picking a side”. One J Street leader described the operation as being an “unjust and even criminal act” and claimed that Gaza represented a “mythic threat to Israel”.
In 2011 J Street urged the White House not to veto a one-sided United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel. It called the behavior of IDF commandos on the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla ship “cruel brutality”. It encouraged the US administration to force Israel to freeze residential construction in the east Jerusalem Jewish suburbs. While the liberal media gushes over a Jewish organization which constantly condemns Israel and defines it as moderate, J Street remains a magnet to the anti-Zionist chic.
J Street’s approach is arrogant and paternalistic. Its leaders have the chutzpah to claim that they know better than Israelis what is good for Israel. Out of touch or indifferent to the existential threats Israel faces, ignorant of history and unwilling to grapple with the complexities of our situation, they compare us to drug addicted children who require “tough love” for our own welfare.
The tone is set by J Street’s leadership which manipulates history and reality with dangerous rhetoric. Founder and President, Jeremy Ben Ami, refuses to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” referring to it as a “Jewish democratic home, in the state of Israel”. Co-founder Daniel Levy has described Israel’s creation as “an act that went wrong”. It is noteworthy in this respect that Ben Ami was also proven to be a serial liar when despite his repeated denials to the contrary, the anti-Israeli George Soros was exposed as one of his major contributors
In contrast to AIPAC whose charter explicitly states that it supports the policies of the Israeli government holding office, J Street actively lobbies the US government to undermine policies that are enacted by Israel’s democratically elected government. It continuously fiercely disparages AIPAC and has gone to the extent of fanning anti-Semitism by warning that AIPAC’s “blind support” for Israel will give rise to hostile feelings that American Jews harbor dual national loyalties.
In presumably closing a blind eye to Tzachi Hanegbi’s participation in the J Street conference, Netanyahu has effectively provided credibility and given a green light to Jewish organizations to lobby their lawmakers to pressure the democratically elected government of Israel to change policies which it considers vital to its security.
In the past, Labor leaders, including Yitzhak Rabin, considered it unconscionable for Jews living outside Israel to publicly engage in issues impacting on Israeli security from which neither they nor their children would reap the life or death consequences.
That such an erosion of the Zionist ethos was sanctioned during the term of office of a government purporting to represent the national camp, reflects its disfunctionality and failure to maintain collective responsibility.
With the current unprecedented global escalation of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism, we must divorce ourselves from the enemy within. There is plenty of room in the Jewish tent for legitimate dissent and freedom of expression. But “pro-Israel” Diaspora Jews, are morally barred from intruding and in particular from lobbying governments to pressure Israel to take actions which impinge on its national security.
The writer’s website can be viewed at http://www.wordfromjerusalem.com.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD
October 1, 2013
New York Times Op-Ed Pushes Demise of Jewish State
Lustick displays an incredible disconnect to the reality of Israel and its people. Going way beyond a critique of the two-state solution,
Lustick suggests that the best way of achieving peace would be to dissolve Israel in its current form and replace it with an Arab-majority state.
New York Times
Ian S. Lustick
September 14, 2013
The last three decades are littered with the carcasses of failed negotiating projects billed as the last chance for peace in Israel. All sides have been wedded to the notion that there must be two states, one Palestinian and one Israeli. For more than 30 years, experts and politicians have warned of a “point of no return.” Secretary of State John Kerry is merely the latest in a long line of well-meaning American diplomats wedded to an idea whose time is now past.
True believers in the two-state solution see absolutely no hope elsewhere. With no alternative in mind, and unwilling or unable to rethink their basic assumptions, they are forced to defend a notion whose success they can no longer sincerely portray as plausible or even possible.
It’s like 1975 all over again, when the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco fell into a coma. The news media began a long death watch, announcing each night that Generalissimo Franco was still not dead. This desperate allegiance to the departed echoes in every speech, policy brief and op-ed about the two-state solution today.
True, some comas miraculously end. Great surprises sometimes happen. The problem is that the changes required to achieve the vision of robust Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side are now considerably less likely than other less familiar but more plausible outcomes that demand high-level attention but aren’t receiving it.
Strong Islamist trends make a fundamentalist Palestine more likely than a small state under a secular government. The disappearance of Israel as a Zionist project, through war, cultural exhaustion or demographic momentum, is at least as plausible as the evacuation of enough of the half-million Israelis living across the 1967 border, or Green Line, to allow a real Palestinian state to exist. While the vision of thriving Israeli and Palestinian states has slipped from the plausible to the barely possible, one mixed state emerging from prolonged and violent struggles over democratic rights is no longer inconceivable. Yet the fantasy that there is a two-state solution keeps everyone from taking action toward something that might work.
All sides have reasons to cling to this illusion. The Palestinian Authority needs its people to believe that progress is being made toward a two-state solution so it can continue to get the economic aid and diplomatic support that subsidize the lifestyles of its leaders, the jobs of tens of thousands of soldiers, spies, police officers and civil servants, and the authority’s prominence in a Palestinian society that views it as corrupt and incompetent.
Israeli governments cling to the two-state notion because it seems to reflect the sentiments of the Jewish Israeli majority and it shields the country from international opprobrium, even as it camouflages relentless efforts to expand Israel’s territory into the West Bank.
American politicians need the two-state slogan to show they are working toward a diplomatic solution, to keep the pro-Israel lobby from turning against them and to disguise their humiliating inability to allow any daylight between Washington and the Israeli government.
Finally, the “peace process” industry — with its legions of consultants, pundits, academics and journalists — needs a steady supply of readers, listeners and funders who are either desperately worried that this latest round of talks will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, or that it will not.
Conceived as early as the 1930s, the idea of two states between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea all but disappeared from public consciousness between 1948 and 1967. Between 1967 and 1973 it re-emerged, advanced by a minority of “moderates” in each community. By the 1990s it was embraced by majorities on both sides as not only possible but, during the height of the Oslo peace process, probable. But failures of leadership in the face of tremendous pressures brought Oslo crashing down. These days no one suggests that a negotiated two-state “solution” is probable. The most optimistic insist that, for some brief period, it may still be conceivable.
But many Israelis see the demise of the country as not just possible, but probable. The State of Israel has been established, not its permanence. The most common phrase in Israeli political discourse is some variation of “If X happens (or doesn’t), the state will not survive!” Those who assume that Israel will always exist as a Zionist project should consider how quickly the Soviet, Pahlavi Iranian, apartheid South African, Baathist Iraqi and Yugoslavian states unraveled, and how little warning even sharp-eyed observers had that such transformations were imminent.
In all these cases, presumptions about what was “impossible” helped protect brittle institutions by limiting political imagination. And when objective realities began to diverge dramatically from official common sense, immense pressures accumulated.
JUST as a balloon filled gradually with air bursts when the limit of its tensile strength is passed, there are thresholds of radical, disruptive change in politics. When those thresholds are crossed, the impossible suddenly becomes probable, with revolutionary implications for governments and nations. As we see vividly across the Middle East, when forces for change and new ideas are stifled as completely and for as long as they have been in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, sudden and jagged change becomes increasingly likely.
History offers many such lessons. Britain ruled Ireland for centuries, annexing it in 1801. By the mid-19th century the entire British political class treated Ireland’s permanent incorporation as a fact of life. But bottled-up Irish fury produced repeated revolts. By the 1880s, the Irish question was the greatest issue facing the country; it led to mutiny in the army and near civil war before World War I. Once the war ended, it took only a few years until the establishment of an independent Ireland. What was inconceivable became a fact.
France ruled Algeria for 130 years and never questioned the future of Algeria as an integral part of France. But enormous pressures accumulated, exploding into a revolution that left hundreds of thousands dead. Despite France’s military victory over the rebels in 1959, Algeria soon became independent, and Europeans were evacuated from the country.
And when Mikhail S. Gorbachev sought to save Soviet Communism by reforming it with the policies of glasnost and perestroika, he relied on the people’s continuing belief in the permanence of the Soviet structure. But the forces for change that had already accumulated were overwhelming. Unable to separate freedom of expression and market reforms from the rest of the Soviet state project, Mr. Gorbachev’s policies pushed the system beyond its breaking point. Within a few years, both the Soviet Union and the Communist regime were gone.
Obsessive focus on preserving the theoretical possibility of a two-state solution is as irrational as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic rather than steering clear of icebergs. But neither ships in the night nor the State of Israel can avoid icebergs unless they are seen.
The two-state slogan now serves as a comforting blindfold of entirely contradictory fantasies. The current Israeli version of two states envisions Palestinian refugees abandoning their sacred “right of return,” an Israeli-controlled Jerusalem and an archipelago of huge Jewish settlements, crisscrossed by Jewish-only access roads. The Palestinian version imagines the return of refugees, evacuation of almost all settlements and East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
DIPLOMACY under the two-state banner is no longer a path to a solution but an obstacle itself. We are engaged in negotiations to nowhere. And this isn’t the first time that American diplomats have obstructed political progress in the name of hopeless talks.
In 1980, I was a 30-year-old assistant professor, on leave from Dartmouth at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. I was responsible for analyzing Israeli settlement and land expropriation policies in the West Bank and their implications for the “autonomy negotiations” under way at that time between Israel, Egypt and the United States. It was clear to me that Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s government was systematically using tangled talks over how to conduct negotiations as camouflage for de facto annexation of the West Bank via intensive settlement construction, land expropriation and encouragement of “voluntary” Arab emigration.
To protect the peace process, the United States strictly limited its public criticism of Israeli government policies, making Washington an enabler for the very processes of de facto annexation that were destroying prospects for the full autonomy and realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people that were the official purpose of the negotiations. This view was endorsed and promoted by some leading voices within the administration. Unsurprisingly, it angered others. One day I was summoned to the office of a high-ranking diplomat, who was then one of the State Department’s most powerful advocates for the negotiations. He was a man I had always respected and admired. “Are you,” he asked me, “personally so sure of your analysis that you are willing to destroy the only available chance for peace between Israelis and Palestinians?” His question gave me pause, but only briefly. “Yes, sir,” I answered, “I am.”
I still am. Had America blown the whistle on destructive Israeli policies back then it might have greatly enhanced prospects for peace under a different leader. It could have prevented Mr. Begin’s narrow electoral victory in 1981 and brought a government to power that was ready to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians before the first or second intifada and before the construction of massive settlement complexes in the West Bank. We could have had an Oslo process a crucial decade earlier.
Now, as then, negotiations are phony; they suppress information that Israelis, Palestinians and Americans need to find noncatastrophic paths into the future. The issue is no longer where to draw political boundaries between Jews and Arabs on a map but how equality of political rights is to be achieved. The end of the 1967 Green Line as a demarcation of potential Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty means that Israeli occupation of the West Bank will stigmatize all of Israel.
For some, abandoning the two-state mirage may feel like the end of the world. But it is not. Israel may no longer exist as the Jewish and democratic vision of its Zionist founders. The Palestine Liberation Organization stalwarts in Ramallah may not strut on the stage of a real Palestinian state. But these lost futures can make others more likely.
THE assumptions necessary to preserve the two-state slogan have blinded us to more likely scenarios. With a status but no role, what remains of the Palestinian Authority will disappear. Israel will face the stark challenge of controlling economic and political activity and all land and water resources from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The stage will be set for ruthless oppression, mass mobilization, riots, brutality, terror, Jewish and Arab emigration and rising tides of international condemnation of Israel. And faced with growing outrage, America will no longer be able to offer unconditional support for Israel. Once the illusion of a neat and palatable solution to the conflict disappears, Israeli leaders may then begin to see, as South Africa’s white leaders saw in the late 1980s, that their behavior is producing isolation, emigration and hopelessness.
Fresh thinking could then begin about Israel’s place in a rapidly changing region. There could be generous compensation for lost property. Negotiating with Arabs and Palestinians based on satisfying their key political requirements, rather than on maximizing Israeli prerogatives, might yield more security and legitimacy. Perhaps publicly acknowledging Israeli mistakes and responsibility for the suffering of Palestinians would enable the Arab side to accept less than what it imagines as full justice. And perhaps Israel’s potent but essentially unusable nuclear weapons arsenal could be sacrificed for a verified and strictly enforced W.M.D.-free zone in the Middle East.
Such ideas cannot even be entertained as long as the chimera of a negotiated two-state solution monopolizes all attention. But once the two-state-fantasy blindfolds are off, politics could make strange bedfellows.
In such a radically new environment, secular Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank could ally with Tel Aviv’s post-Zionists, non-Jewish Russian-speaking immigrants, foreign workers and global-village Israeli entrepreneurs. Anti-nationalist ultra-Orthodox Jews might find common cause with Muslim traditionalists. Untethered to statist Zionism in a rapidly changing Middle East, Israelis whose families came from Arab countries might find new reasons to think of themselves not as “Eastern,” but as Arab. Masses of downtrodden and exploited Muslim and Arab refugees, in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel itself could see democracy, not Islam, as the solution for translating what they have (numbers) into what they want (rights and resources). Israeli Jews committed above all to settling throughout the greater Land of Israel may find arrangements based on a confederation, or a regional formula more attractive than narrow Israeli nationalism.
It remains possible that someday two real states may arise. But the pretense that negotiations under the slogan of “two states for two peoples” could lead to such a solution must be abandoned. Time can do things that politicians cannot.
Just as an independent Ireland emerged by seceding 120 years after it was formally incorporated into the United Kingdom, so, too, a single state might be the route to eventual Palestinian independence. But such outcomes develop organically; they are not implemented by diplomats overnight and they do not arise without the painful stalemates that lead each party to conclude that time is not on their side.
Peacemaking and democratic state building require blood and magic. The question is not whether the future has conflict in store for Israel-Palestine. It does. Nor is the question whether conflict can be prevented. It cannot. But avoiding truly catastrophic change means ending the stifling reign of an outdated idea and allowing both sides to see and then adapt to the world as it is.
Ian S. Lustick is a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of “Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank-Gaza” and “Trapped in the War on Terror.”
PBS Includes Vicious Anti-Semites in Show About Mohammad
Dexter Van Zile
August 23, 2013
Note: The following article was published in the Algemeiner on Aug. 22, 2013.
The mufti’s views about relations between Jews and Muslims can be understood by what he told Saudi Al-Majd TV on February 20, 2005: “Anyone who studies ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and specifically the Talmud will discover that one of the goals of these protocols is to cause confusion in the world and to undermine security throughout the world.”
Sabri, who testifies to Mohammed’s cosmic flight to Jerusalem or “Night of Power,” in the PBS series spoke with Jeffrey Goldberg in 1999. Goldberg reported the following:
“If the Jews want peace, they will stay away from Al Aksa,” Sabri told me when I met with him in his office near the Temple Mount. “This is a decree from God. The Haram al-Sharif belongs to the Muslim. But we know the Jew is planning on destroying the Haram. The Jew will get the Christian to do his work for him. This is the way of the Jews. This is the way Satan manifests himself. The majority of the Jews want to destroy the mosque. They are preparing this as we speak.”
One year later, Sabri insisted in another interview that far fewer than 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust and stated that the Catholic Pope “will free us from the Jews.” The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) quotes him as follows:
“Six million Jews dead? No way, they were much fewer. Let’s stop with this fairytale exploited by Israel to capture international solidarity.It is not my fault if Hitler hated Jews, indeed they were hated a little everywhere. Instead, it is necessary to denounce the unjust occupation endured by my people. Tomorrow I will ask John Paul II… to support our cause.”
The man has also endorsed suicide bombings. Writing for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East in 2006, Yaniv Berman reports the following: “Asked to express his view with regard to suicide bombing, the mufti answered: “It is legitimate, of course, as long as it plays a role in the resistance.”
Another commentator for the PBS series about Muhammad is Abdur Raheem Green, a Catholic convert to Islam who lives in Great Britain. Stand for Peace, a British anti-hate group, reports that Green, the founder of Islamic Research and Education Academy, posits that there is a permanent state of war between Islam and the West (a message that clearly contradicts the message offered in the PBS series). Stand for Peace reports that Green “does not attempt to hide his hatred of Jews.”
In one video, Green has said, “Why don’t you take the Yahudi [Jew] over there, far away, so his stench doesn’t disturb us, okay?”
Green also claims that Turkish leader Ataturk was “an extremely, thoroughly unpleasant, nasty kaﬁr. He was a Jew, he was a Jew. And not only was he a Jew, he belonged to a sect of the Jews that even the Jews think are far astray.”
A compendium of his public statements can be seen here.
Viewers who watch the PBS series will recognize it as a clear attempt to indoctrinate people with the idea that the violence being done in the name of Islam is contrary to what Muhammad taught his followers.
It’s an arguable point, but one thing is for sure: The show’s producers might want to do a better job of picking out their sources when making their case.
Gulliver Tied Down by Lilliputians
David P. Goldman
September 2, 2013
One in five applicants for jobs at the Central Intelligence Agency have ties to Muslim terrorist organizations, according to the latest round of Snowden leaks. And Israel is a major target of American counterintelligence. Washington is insane.
Three years ago, the Washington Post sketched the elephantiasis in the U.S. intelligence establishment without, of course, access to the detailed numbers leaked by Edward Snowden last week. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend if you can’t hire people you can trust. If you spend $52 billion in the “black budget,” you create so many conflicting bureaucratic interest groups as to cancel out any possible signal with a wave of noise.
As I pointed out in a 2010 post at First Things, at last count there were fewer than 2,500 Americans studying Arabic at advanced university courses (not counting, of course, the internal training of the U.S. military). Fewer than 250 were studying Farsi. The total pool of truly competent Arab speakers coming out of American universities per year probably is in the low hundreds. How many of these can U.S. intelligence agencies recruit? If we can’t recruit translators among Americans whose background is verifiable, we rely on first- and second-generation immigrants from Arab countries whose background is not verifiable. We should assume that our intelligence services are riddled with hostiles. We are Gulliver tied down by Lilliputians.
Israel, by contrast, has a surfeit of Arabic translators — the language is taught in every Israeli high school, and is easy for Hebrew-speakers to master. Israeli friends of mine who were trained as Arabic translators for intelligence work were sent to guard duty in the Negev because the military had too many skilled linguists.
The U.S. has relied extensively on friendly Arab intelligence services, above all the Egyptians, to fill the gap — except that the Obama administration did its best to bring down the Egyptian military in 2011 and install the Muslim Brotherhood. The Israelis have plenty to tell, but little that Washington wants to hear: Israel never fell victim to the mass delusion about the so-called Arab Spring, and has warned throughout (along with Saudi Arabia) that Iran’s nuclear ambitions must be crushed. Israel therefore is treated as an intelligence target rather than as a collaborator, while the Arab intelligence services who most might help us — Egyptian and Saudi — must regard us with skepticism in the best of cases and hostility in the worst.
America is flying blind into a hurricane. Americans who write about the Middle East now depend on what other countries choose to leak to us. Washington isn’t in the loop any longer.
Mr. Goldman, president of Macrostrategy LLC, is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and the London Center for Policy Research.
August 23, 2013
Clinton’s gimmick was meant to show that under President Barack Obama, American foreign policy would be fundamentally transformed. Since Obama and Clinton blamed much of the world’s troubles on the misdeeds of their country, under their stewardship of US foreign policy, the US would reset everything.Around the globe, all bets were off.Five years later we realize that Clinton’s embarrassing gesture was not a gimmick, but a dead serious pledge. Throughout the world, the Obama administration has radically altered America’s policies.And disaster has followed. Never since America’s establishment has the US appeared so untrustworthy, destructive, irrelevant and impotent.Consider Syria. Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of Obama’s pledge that the US would seek the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime if Assad used chemical weapons against his opponents.On Wednesday, Assad’s forces used chemical weapons against civilians around Damascus. According to opposition forces, well over a thousand people were murdered.Out of habit, the eyes of the world turned to Washington. But Obama has no policy to offer. Obama’s America can do nothing.America’s powerlessness in Syria is largely Obama’s fault. At the outset of the Syrian civil war two-and-a-half years ago, Obama outsourced the development of Syria’s opposition forces to Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. He had other options. A consortium of Syrian Kurds, moderate Sunnis, Christians and others came to Washington and begged for US assistance. But they were ignored.Obama’s decision to outsource the US’s Syria policy owed to his twin goals of demonstrating that the US would no longer try to dictate international outcomes, and of allying the US with Islamic fundamentalists.Both of these goals are transformative.In the first instance, Obama believes that anti-Americanism stems from America’s actions. By accepting the mantel of global leadership, Obama believes the US insulted other nations. To mitigate their anger, the US should abdicate leadership.As for courting Islamic fundamentalists, from his earliest days in office Obama insisted that since radical Islam is the most popular movement in the Islamic world, radical Islam is good. Radical Muslims are America’s friends.Obama embraced Erdogan, an Islamic fascist who has won elections, as his closest ally and most trusted adviser in the Muslim world.And so, with the full support of the US government, Erdogan stacked Syria’s opposition forces with radical Muslims like himself. Within months the Muslim Brotherhood comprised the majority in Syria’s US-sponsored opposition.The Muslim Brotherhood has no problem collaborating with al-Qaida, because the latter was formed by Muslim Brothers.It shares the Brotherhood’s basic ideology.Since al-Qaida has the most experienced fighters, its rise to leadership and domination of the Syrian opposition was a natural progression.In other words, Obama’s decision to have Turkey form the Syrian opposition led inevitably to the current situation in which the Iranian- and Russian-backed Syrian regime is fighting an opposition dominated by al-Qaida.At this point, short of an Iraq-style US invasion of Syria and toppling of the regime, almost any move the US takes to overthrow the government will strengthen al-Qaida. So after a reported 1,300 people were killed by chemical weapons launched by the regime on Wednesday, the US has no constructive options for improving the situation.A distressing aspect of Obama’s embrace of Erdogan is that Erdogan has not tried to hide the fact that he seeks dictatorial powers and rejects the most basic norms of liberal democracy and civil rights.Under the façade of democracy, Erdogan has transformed Turkey into one of the most repressive countries in the world. Leading businessmen, generals, journalists, parliamentarians and regular citizens have been systematically rounded up and accused of treason for their “crime” of opposing Turkey’s transformation into an Islamic state. Young protesters demanding civil rights and an end to governmental corruption are beaten and arrested by police, and demonized by Erdogan. Following the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt last month, Erdogan has openly admitted that he and his party are part and parcel of the Muslim Brotherhood.Obama’s approach to world affairs was doubtlessly shaped during his long sojourn in America’s elite universities.Using the same elitist sensibilities that cause him to blame American “arrogance” for the world’s troubles, and embrace radical Islam as a positive force, Obama has applied conflict resolution techniques developed by professors in ivory towers to real world conflicts that cannot be resolved peacefully.Obama believed he could use the US’s close relationships with Israel and Turkey to bring about a rapprochement between the former allies. But he was wrong. The Turkish-Israeli alliance ended because Erdogan is a virulent Jew-hater who seeks Israel’s destruction, not because of a misunderstanding.Obama forced Israel to apologize for defending itself against Turkish aggression, believing that Erdogan would then reinstate full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Instead, Erdogan continued his assault on Israel, most recently accusing it of organizing the military coup in Egypt and the anti- Erdogan street protests in Turkey.As for Egypt, as with Syria, Obama’s foreign policy vision for the US has left Washington with no options for improving the situation on the ground or for securing its own strategic interests. To advance his goal of empowering the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama pushed the Egyptian military to overthrow the regime of US ally Hosni Mubarak and so paved the way for elections that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power.Today he opposes the military coup that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood government.The US claims that it opposes the coup because the military has trampled democracy and human rights. But it is all but silent in the face of the Muslim Brotherhood’s own trampling of the human rights of Egypt’s Christian minority.Obama ignores the fact that Mohamed Morsi governed as a tyrant far worse than Mubarak.Ignoring the fact that neither side can share power with the other, the US insists the Brotherhood and the military negotiate an agreement to do just that. And so both sides hate and distrust the US.Wresting an Israeli apology to Turkey was Obama’s only accomplishment during his trip to Israel in March. Secretary of State John Kerry’s one accomplishment since entering office was to restart negotiations between Israel and the PLO. Just as the consequence of Israel’s apology to Turkey was an escalation of Turkey’s anti- Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric, so the consequence of Kerry’s “accomplishment” will be the escalation of Palestinian terrorism and political warfare against Israel.As Jonathan Tobin noted Wednesday in Commentary, to secure Palestinian agreement to reinstate negotiations, not only did Kerry force Israel to agree to release more than a thousand Palestinian terrorists from prison. He put the US on record supporting the Palestinians’ territorial demands. In so doing, Kerry locked the US into a position of blaming Israel once the talks fail. When the Palestinians escalate their political and terrorist campaign against Israel, they will use Kerry’s pledges as a means of justifying their actions.The current round of talks will fail of course because like the Turks, the Syrians and the Egyptians, the Palestinians are not interested in resolving their conflict.They are interested in winning it. They do not want a state. They want to supplant Israel.Clinton’s Reset button was played up as a gimmick. But it was a solemn oath. And it was fulfilled. And as a result, the world is a much more violent and dangerous place. The US and its allies are more threatened. The US’s enemies from Moscow to Tehran to Venezuela are emboldened.The time has come to develop the basis for a future US policy that would represent a reset of Obama’s catastrophic actions and attitudes. Given the damage US power and prestige has already suffered, and given that Obama is unlikely to change course in his remaining three years in power, it is clear that reverting to George W. Bush’s foreign policy of sometimes fighting a war on nebulous “terrorists” and sometimes appeasing them will not be sufficient to repair the damage.The US must not exchange strategic insanity with strategic inconsistency.Instead, a careful, limited policy based on no-risk and low-risk moves that send clear messages and secure clear interests is in order.The most obvious no-risk move would be to embrace Israel as America’s most vital and only trustworthy ally in the region. By fully supporting Israel not only would the US strengthen its own position by strengthening the position of the only state in the Middle East that shares its enemies, its interests and its values.Washington would send a strong signal to states throughout the region and the world that the US can again be trusted.This support would also secure clear US strategic interests by providing Israel with the political backing it requires to eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Moreover, it would bring coherence to the US’s counter-terror strategy by ending US support for Palestinian statehood. Instead, the US would support the institution of the rule of law and liberal norms of government in Palestinian society by supporting the application of Israel’s liberal legal code over Judea and Samaria.Another no-risk move is to support former Soviet satellite states that are now members of NATO. Here, too, the US would be taking an action that is clear and involves no risk. Russia would have few options for opposing such a move. And the US could go a long way toward rebuilding its tattered reputation.Low risk moves include supporting minorities that do not have a history of violent anti-Americanism and are, in general, opposed to Islamic fascism.Such groups include the Kurds. In Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran, the Kurds represent a national group that has proven its ability to self-govern and to oppose tyranny. With certain, easily identified exceptions, the stronger the Kurds are, the weaker anti-American forces become.Then there are the Christians. The plight of the Christians in the Islamic world is one of the most depressing chapters in the recent history of the region. In country after country, previously large and relatively peaceful, if discriminated against, Christian minorities are being slaughtered and forced to flee.The US has done next to nothing to defend them.Strong, forthright statements of support for Christian communities and condemnations of persecution, including rape, forced conversions, massacre, extortion and destruction of church and private Christian-owned property from Egypt to Indonesia to Pakistan to the Palestinian Authority would make a difference in the lives of millions of people.It would also go some way toward rehabilitating the US’s reputation as a champion of human rights, after Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood.Under Obama, America has made itself worse than irrelevant. In country after country, it has become dangerous to be a US ally. The world as a whole is a much more dangerous place as a consequence.Nothing short of a fundamental transformation of US foreign policy will suffice to begin to repair the damage.Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
American Jewish Leaders: Stop the Rot Now
April 23, 2013
Visiting New York this week, I sought to assess the broader implications of the recent “International Peace Award” bestowed on former president Jimmy Carter by Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law School. This unsavory display of groveling by a major Jewish institution to a committed foe of the Jewish people is not merely a stain on the entire Jewish community but highlights a dramatic erosion of Jewish values and Jewish dignity.
Many consider it a wake-up call and believe that alarm bells should be ringing in the conference rooms of major Jewish organizations.
Yeshiva University, created 127 years ago, is the crown jewel of America’s modern Orthodox establishment. Its Rabbinical Seminary was headed by the revered Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. Its Cardozo Law School has evolved into the one of the most pre-eminent legal educational institutions. Although it caters for all Americans, Cardozo prides itself on being a Jewish institution, serves only kosher food and is closed on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
Since his electoral defeat, Carter has emerged as one of the most vicious opponents of the Jewish state whose vile bias appears to stem from traditional Christian anti-Semitism. His theological approach even retains the odium of Jewish deicide and he is on record stating that Jews hate Christians because they are “unclean, uncircumcised” and view them as “dogs”.
He was one of the principal architects of the campaign to demonize Israel as an “apartheid state” which led to14 members of the Carter Center including his former close advisor, Kenneth Stein, resigning and unequivocally accusing him of maliciously lying about Israel. Carter meets and embraces Hamas leaders, urging the US to negotiate with them. He also opposes efforts to deny Iran nuclear weapons.
Alan Dershowitz said that he could not “imagine a worse person to honor for conflict resolution”. He accused Carter of being “significantly responsible for the second intifada… He just prefers terrorists to Israelis” and “encouraged terrorism and violence by Hamas and Hezbollah”. He accused him of having “more blood on his hands than practically any other president” and could not understand how such a person who “never met a terrorist he didn’t like” could become the recipient of such an award.
Yet the administrators of Yeshiva University refused to rescind or even condemn the award to Carter. Their principal concern was to display political correctness and avoid being accused of restricting “academic freedom” or infringing on the rights of their students.
Chancellor Richard Joel declined to endorse the decision and unlike the Dean of Cardozo, Professor Matthew Diller, Joel “courageously” announced that he would absent himself from the proceedings. But he stressed that “Yeshiva University both celebrates and takes seriously its obligation at the University to thrive as a free marketplace of ideas, while remaining committed to its unique mission as a proud Jewish University”.
Needless to say, it would have been highly unlikely for Yeshiva University authorities to have stood aside and mumbled clichés about academic freedom had one of their student affiliates sought to honor a racist or right wing extremist.
The event was announced only four days in advance because the organizers knew that honoring such an inveterate anti-Semite would enrage many members of the Jewish community.
There were major protests from Yeshiva University alumni and students. But the Jewish leadership establishment itself was incredibly restrained. Other than the Zionist Organization of America, no Jewish organization of substance called on the authorities at Yeshiva University to intervene or rescind the award.
ADL‘s Abe Foxman remarked that the award was wrong, it was inappropriate to honour Carter and that there was a need to “instill values” to ensure that “future mistakes like this will not be made”. But he stressed that “the University responded properly” by not intervening.
Even the outspoken Simon Wiesenthal Center, whilst blaming the students for failing to “exercise due diligence”, avoided calling on the University authorities to rescind the award.
In contrast, when a Jewish institution invites or honors controversial personalities on the radical political right or anyone out-of-favor with the liberal chic, there are invariably widespread protests and condemnations. This was exemplified by the recent histrionic pressures and threats employed which led to the cancellation of the invitation to Pamela Geller, the outspoken campaigner against Islamic fundamentalism, to address Jewish organizations. Had the students at Yeshiva University invited her, it is highly unlikely that the authorities would have been as accommodating as they were to Carter.
Regrettably, when it comes to those demonizing and delegitimizing Israel, the trend is for mainstream leaders to bury their heads in the sand, babble about freedom of expression and the need for dialogue and avoid confrontations. They rationalize this by insisting that the overriding objective must be to create a “big tent” encompassing the widest possible range of viewpoints, including those previously considered beyond the pale of the mainstream Jewish community.
During the Cold War, Jewish communists served as apologists for Stalinism and even applauded the execution of Jews on trumped up charges. But they were deemed rogue elements. In contrast, their successors who today engage in vicious anti-Israeli rhetoric, promote BDS and campaign to persuade the American administration to exert pressure on Israel, are becoming integrated as legitimate components of the mainstream Jewish community or simply regarded as just another facet of a “pluralistic” Jewish community.
Yeshiva University is one of the most committed bastions of the Jewish community. When its management declines to overrule the unconscionable decision of its students to honor an anti-Semite, it highlights the extent to which the rot has already advanced and penetrated organizations purportedly promoting Jewish values and Jewish interests.
Thus one should not be surprised to learn that Hillel branches on some campuses host disgusting groups demonizing Israel like “Breaking the Silence” and engage in kumbaya with Muslims hostile to the Jewish state.
Even a number of Federations have set aside funds for anti-Israeli institutions and initiatives. Increasingly, radical rabbis, synagogues and Jewish cultural organizations are hosting speakers who shamelessly defame Israel.
Most current Diaspora Jewish religious, political and cultural leaders were molded during an era when the Holocaust and the struggle to create a Jewish state still dominated public consciousness. Now, many of these are reaching the age of retirement. If they are loath to speak out when such degradation of Jewish values takes place on their watch, the situation may worsen dramatically when the next generation of leaders emerge whose background is likely to make them even less sensitive to these issues.
When Jewish leaders stand aside or remain silent as elements hostile to the Jewish people and Israel are hosted or honored within the Jewish community, this invariably impacts on their core values. It will also legitimize and embolden Israel’s adversaries to intensify efforts to impose BDS as exemplified last week when UC Berkeley student senators carried a resolution to that effect.
Jewish leaders committed to Jewish continuity who proclaim their love for Israel must agree upon certain codes of conduct. This has no bearing on freedom of expression. Nobody seeks to deny anyone the right to say what they please. But if a community fails to draw red lines for its constituents, it will face chaos and anarchy and undermine the shared values which enabled the Jewish people to survive throughout the ages.
What FDR said about Jews in private
April 11, 2013
In May 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the White House. It was 17 months after Pearl Harbor and a little more than a year before D-Day. The two Allied leaders reviewed the war effort to date and exchanged thoughts on their plans for the postwar era. At one point in the discussion, FDR offered what he called “the best way to settle the Jewish question.”
Vice President Henry Wallace, who noted the conversation in his diary, said Roosevelt spoke approvingly of a plan (recommended by geographer and Johns Hopkins University President Isaiah Bowman) “to spread the Jews thin all over the world.” The diary entry adds: “The president said he had tried this out in [Meriwether] County, Georgia [where Roosevelt lived in the 1920s] and at Hyde Park on the basis of adding four or five Jewish families at each place. He claimed that the local population would have no objection if there were no more than that.”
Roosevelt’s “best way” remark is condescending and distasteful, and coming from anyone else it would probably be regarded as anti-Semitism. But more than that, FDR’s support for “spreading the Jews thin” may hold the key to understanding a subject that has been at the center of controversy for decades: the American government’s tepid response to the Holocaust.
Here’s the paradox. The U.S. immigration system severely limited the number of German Jews admitted during the Nazi years to about 26,000 annually — but even that quota was less than 25% filled during most of the Hitler era, because the Roosevelt administration piled on so many extra requirements for would-be immigrants. For example, starting in 1941, merely leaving behind a close relative in Europe would be enough to disqualify an applicant — on the absurd assumption that the Nazis could threaten the relative and thereby force the immigrant into spying for Hitler.
Why did the administration actively seek to discourage and disqualify Jewish refugees from coming to the United States? Why didn’t the president quietly tell his State Department (which administered the immigration system) to fill the quotas for Germany and Axis-occupied countries to the legal limit? That alone could have saved 190,000 lives. It would not have required a fight with Congress or the anti-immigration forces; it would have involved minimal political risk to the president.
Every president’s policy decisions are shaped by a variety of factors, some political, some personal. In Roosevelt’s case, a pattern of private remarks about Jews, some of which I recently discovered at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem and from other sources, may be significant.
In 1923, as a member of the Harvard board of directors, Roosevelt decided there were too many Jewish students at the college and helped institute a quota to limit the number admitted. In 1938, he privately suggested that Jews in Poland were dominating the economy and were therefore to blame for provoking anti-Semitism there. In 1941, he remarked at a Cabinet meeting that there were too many Jews among federal employees in Oregon. In 1943, he told government officials in Allied-liberated North Africa that the number of local Jews in various professions “should be definitely limited” so as to “eliminate the specific and understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany.”
There is evidence of other troubling private remarks by FDR too, including dismissing pleas for Jewish refugees as “Jewish wailing” and “sob stuff”; expressing (to a senator ) his pride that “there is no Jewish blood in our veins”; and characterizing a tax maneuver by a Jewish newspaper publisher as “a dirty Jewish trick.” But the most common theme in Roosevelt’s private statements about Jews has to do with his perception that they were “overcrowding” many professions and exercising undue influence.
This attitude dovetails with what is known about FDR’s views regarding immigrants in general and Asian immigrants in particular. In one 1920 interview, he complained about immigrants “crowding” into the cities and said “the remedy for this should be the distribution of aliens in various parts of the country.” In a series of articles for the Macon (Ga.) Daily Telegraph and for Asia magazine in the 1920s, he warned against granting citizenship to “non-assimilable immigrants” and opposed Japanese immigration on the grounds that “mingling Asiatic blood with European or American blood produces, in nine cases out of ten, the most unfortunate results.” He recommended that future immigration should be limited to those who had “blood of the right sort.”
FDR’s decision to imprison thousands of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II was consistent with his perception of Asians as having innate racial characteristics that made them untrustworthy. Likewise, he apparently viewed with disdain what he seemed to regard as the innate characteristics of Jews. Admitting significant numbers of Jewish or Asian immigrants did not fit comfortably in FDR’s vision of America.
Other U.S. presidents have made their share of unfriendly remarks about Jews. A diary kept by Harry Truman included statements such as “The Jews, I find, are very, very selfish.” Richard Nixon‘s denunciations of Jews as “very aggressive and obnoxious” were belatedly revealed in tapes of Oval Office conversations.
But the revelation of Franklin Roosevelt’s sentiments will probably shock many people. After all, he led America in the war against Hitler. Moreover, Roosevelt’s public persona is anchored in his image as a liberal humanitarian, his claim to care about “the forgotten man,” the downtrodden, the mistreated. But none of that can change the record of his response to the Holocaust.
The observance of Holocaust Memorial Day begins Sunday night. It is the annual occasion to reflect on the Nazi genocide and the world’s response to it. In the case of the United States, it is sobering to consider that partly because of Roosevelt’s private prejudices, innocent people who could have been saved were instead abandoned.
Link to original article: http://tiny.cc/eu2dvw
Is Bible Teacher Jimmy Carter an Old-Fashioned Jew-Hater? But How Can a True Christian…
April 11, 2013
Well–not exactly. Seven years ago I began writing about the ways in which anti-Zionism is indeed today’s “new anti-Semitism” and about how left-liberal progressives in the west were increasingly, perhaps unwittingly, allied with Islamist propagandists and terrorists in their joint betrayal of both the truth and the Jews.
The savage denunciation of the Jewish state has become an almost psychotic world-wide phenomenon. In fact, this coming weekend, the Hudson Institute is hosting a conference about the demonization of Israel at the United Nations.
Now, back to our former President Jimmy.
In the late 1990s and into the twenty-first century, President Jimmy taught a series of Bible classes titled Sunday Mornings in Plains. Simon and Schuster has published a three volume set of compact discs that are available for sale online. A student at Columbia, Michael Miller, listened to these CDs and partially transcribed them with commentary galore.
Miller told me that he was so alarmed by what he heard that he tried to interest many major Jewish organizational leaders and journalists. For whatever reason, no one got back to him. Miller tells me that he focused on material that critics of Carter’s work have not yet discussed. Miller also points out that Carter has backtracked on some of what he has written: (I didn’t exactly mean that, perhaps that was a poor choice for a title, etc.). Here, while Carter may have said these things spontaneously, in a Bible class, he has nevertheless allowed a publisher to release the CDs for widespread use. He stands by what he has said.
I must admit, getting into the selected transcription and commentary was a daunting task. I nevertheless persevered. HERE is a brief excerpt from the transcription with Miller’s commentary.
I still believe–and have written as much many times–that now is the time for Jews and Christians to forge a radically new alliance. (I am not at all opposed to similar alliances with moderate Muslims). So, what I am about to say does not represent a change-of-policy on the subject.
Nevertheless, Carter sure sounds like one heck of a Jew-hater. Invidiously, almost hypnotically, he uses ancient Jesus-era history in order to demonize current day Jewish Israel and Israelis. He also uses this painful and tragic history as the basis for scapegoating contemporary Jewish Israelis for the the Islamic persecution of Christians in the Arab Middle East. Carter repeatedly whips up hatred towards modern-day Israeli Jews by telling lies, half-truths, and ancient, out-of-context truths. For example, he insists that (all) Jews view (all) Christians as “dogs” and despise and persecute (all) Christians because they are “unclean, uncircumcised.”
Anyone familiar with Middle Eastern realities will understand that it is Muslim fanatics who view Christians as unclean infidels and it is Muslims who persecute, exile, lynch, and be-head Christians. Palestinian Islamists have desecrated churches and murdered Christians. The very Israeli Jewish government whom Carter is railing against in his Bible classes has protected the holy sites of all religions. And, it is ethnic Arab Muslims who have been murdering black African Christians and Muslims in Darfur. Jewish Israelis have not mass-murdered Palestinian civilians or even those Palestinians who have been waging a fierce terrorist and propaganda war against them.
President Jimmy also presents the allegedly great power of Roman-occupied Jews in Jesus’ time as the emblem for the contemporary cabal of power wielded by Jewish and Israeli Zionists today. In his teachings, the stench of Messiah-murder clings to every possible Jewish deed.
Based on the transcription of these Bible classes, it seems that Carter’s Jew-hatred is classical Jew-hatred. It is theologically based. And its purpose is to stir up hatred for contemporary Israelis, not merely to teach an historical or religious lesson.
Yes, it is true: Jews did not and do not accept that Jesus is the Messiah or even the son of God. But so what? This should not be the source of resentment and enmity between Jews and Christians. Has Carter learned absolutely nothing from the Holocaust? Ah, maybe he has learned everything he needs to know: That the Jews were vulnerable, that their slaughter (in the Holy Land) might occasion no outcry until it is too late.
In my view, Carter might not be saying what he is saying in Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid because the Saudis have paid him off big-time (although the pay-off may certainly play a role). Carter may be the kind of old-fashioned Christian who believes that Jew-hatred is a sacramental article of faith. Most Christians, beginning with the Pope, have re-visited this issue. Perhaps Carter has yet to do so.
Of course, in America, anyone (Jimmy Carter, Ann Coulter, Ward Churchill) has the absolute right to express their political and religious views. And yet, Jew-hating views such as Carter’s have historically led to the persecution and mass murder of Jews.
And this man was once the President of the United States?
Maybe the crime of the Jew is that of having been there first, of being both the Mother and Father of religious monotheism. Maybe our descendents, whether they are rebellious followers or detractors, need to get out from under our looming parental shadow. But a true Christian is not supposed to hate. In fact, he is supposed to forgive even those who torment him. To demonize and scapegoat an essentially innocent people is so un-Christian that we might not only ask whether Jimmy Carter is a Jew-hater but whether he is really a good Christian.
What do you think?
Link to original post: http://www.phyllis-chesler.com/236/is-bible-teacher-jimmy-carter-jew-hater
Sanctimonious Jewish Bleeding Hearts
April 8, 2013
I was somewhat taken aback by a letter released in the wake of President Obama’s visit to Israel, signed by 100 American Jews including a number of rabbis, communal leaders and academics, many, if not most of whom are politically inclined to the left but regard themselves as committed Zionists. It urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “work closely” with Secretary of State John Kerry to “devise pragmatic initiatives, consistent with Israel’s security needs, which would represent Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace”.
The petition was orchestrated by the ‘Israel Policy Forum’ (IPF), a declining left wing Jewish group which is seeking to revive itself. It is the same organization which in 2005 provided the platform for former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to deliver his notorious speech justifying the disastrous Gaza disengagement. His deplorable statement that “we are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of defeating our enemies” is likely to haunt him for the rest of his life.
The IPF letter is by no means stylistically confrontational. It even congratulates Netanyahu for displaying “leadership” in his yet unfulfilled efforts to achieve a “rapprochement” with Turkey.
It also praises President Obama’s visit to Israel and urges Netanyahu to respond to his call by “taking concrete confidence building steps designed to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to a ‘two state for two peoples’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.
Yet as I read and mulled over this letter, I became increasingly angered.
Is it not somewhat of a chutzpa for American Jewish ‘leaders’, especially those who consider themselves to be Zionists, to provide unsolicited advice to the Israeli Prime Minister, calling on him to make further “painful territorial sacrifices for peace”?
Have we not made sacrifices? And have territorial compromises brought us any closer to peace? Are these American Jewish leaders not aware of the disastrous consequences of unilateral territorial concessions such as the Gaza disengagement?
‘Zionist’ Diaspora activists would never have had the gall to publicly convey such public declarations to Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin or Menahem Begin. They would have been excoriated. One need only recollect Rabin’s violent denunciation of certain right wing AIPAC officials who dared question Israel’s security policies when the Oslo Accords were instituted.
Such remarks are particularly offensive coming from a group like the IPF which the conservative ‘Emergency Committee for Israel’ justly pointed out had “from the safety of America, in the past recommended trusting Arafat, dividing Jerusalem, surrendering the Golan Heights to Syria, and withdrawing from territory that today is controlled by Iranian-backed terrorist groups”.
To what purpose is the IPF now placing the onus on Israel to make concessions in advance of negotiations? Has not the PA continuously spurned Israeli government offers to negotiate without any preconditions?, Even President Obama has now been obliged to tell Abbas that his tactic of seeking to extract concessions before negotiations were even in place was ludicrous and obliged him to endorse Israel’s call to the Palestinians to negotiate without preconditions.
How can these American Jews justify preaching to Israeli leaders concerning the virtues of peace? They must be aware, that whatever their failings, Israelis who over successive generations with their families, have or are serving in the IDF, do not require patronizing lectures from “friends” abroad concerning the virtues of peace and making sacrifices to achieve it.
Perhaps the IPF seeks to pressure Netanyahu to renew or up the ante on the offers of Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert to the PA when they offered to cede 95% of the territories over the green line but were totally rebuffed by the Palestinians.
The letter incorporates the usual ritual incantation to Palestinian leaders “to take similar constructive steps including a return to the negotiating table”.
Were the signatories aware that even disregarding Hamas, in recent years Mahmoud Abbas and the PA have not agreed to a single meaningful reciprocal concession? And that Abbas and other Palestinian leaders repeatedly reiterate that the disavowal of violence was based on pragmatic rather than moral grounds and frequently allude to reverting to the “armed struggle” if considered tactically advantageous.
Besides, the deteriorating relationship with Gaza and the renewed launch of missiles against civilian targets makes meaningful negotiations with the PA – which proclaims its determination of reuniting with Hamas – an Alice in Wonderland absurdity.
The timing of the IPF letter was undoubtedly designed to impact on Secretary of State John Kerry’s impending visit to the region.
In the course of his visit to Israel, President Obama made a series of highly positive statements regarding the US commitment to Israel as well as personally expressing unprecedented praise of Zionism.
But at his address to a predominately left-wing student audience, he alluded to his earlier formula which, in terms of boundaries, paralleled the so-called Arab League peace initiative, originally orchestrated in 2002 by Saudi Arabia, which proposed a settlement based on the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and a return to Israel of the millions of descendants of so-called Arab refugees.
It is rumored that Kerry is planning to promote this formulation which no responsible Israeli government could ever conceivably adopt and would be vehemently opposed by the vast majority of Israelis.
One is therefore entitled to ask who would be the beneficiaries from such a letter? Clearly, especially as it emanates from purported Zionists, it exerts pressure exclusively on Israel.
If concerned Jews genuinely sought to make a constructive contribution to the peace process, in lieu of writing letters to Netanyahu, they should send messages to Mahmoud Abbas (copying Secretary of State Kerry), demanding an end to the PA sponsored anti-Semitic incitement which is virtually indistinguishable from that of Hamas and urge him to recognize the Jewish state.
We are accustomed to demented anti-Israeli Jews and IPF or J Street apparatchiks seeking to exert pressure on the Israeli government to make further unilateral concessions. But we are surely entitled to expect Jewish activists, especially those who regard themselves as Zionists, to pause and reflect on the ramifications of endorsing letters promoting policies impinging on security to an Israeli government under siege politically and militarily from its adversaries. Such initiatives serve no purpose other than to weaken Israel’s ability to negotiate and undermine its security.
Were the signatories living in Israel and calling on their government to take “confidence building measures”, they would be acting within their legitimate democratic rights. But they would also be sharing the impact of such decisions on the security and lives of their families.
We are entitled to expect Zionists not to behave like the naïve “fellow travelers” who during the Cold War blindly endorsed communist peace petitions which ultimately only promoted the interests the Evil Empire.
It is unethical and unconscionable for bleeding heart American Zionist “friends” to display disrespect and intervene to thwart the policies determined by the democratically elected leaders of Israel or offer them patronizing advice on how best to ensure their security.
The United States And The Muslim Brotherhood In Egypt
by Elliott Abrams
April 2, 2013
Egypt’s situation is in many ways immensely complicated. But in others, it is simple: Egypt’s new government is restricting human rights in ways that no American should ever support. During the Mubarak years we often did support, or show indifference, to violations of the basic rights of citizens, and we should not repeat that error yet again.
Today there is a simple case. The comic Bassem Yousef, who is known as Egypt’s Jon Stewart, is being prosecuted for various non-crimes: insulting the president, spreading rumors, propagating lies–all charges that mean only that the powers that be don’t like what he is saying. Those powers know that his prosecution is under assault internationally, yet they have continued to pile on new charges.
We cannot prevent this, but we can make our attitude clear. In fact the Obama administration has, somewhat late and somewhat weakly, expressed disagreement, but we should be condemning these efforts to bring Egypt’s brief moment of freedom of speech and press to an end. To put it starkly, the United States has no interest in the success of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt or anywhere else. The Brotherhood does not share our values, nor does it share our aspirations for the region. Its success is nothing we should seek or facilitate. There is of course a counter-argument, that if the Brotherhood fails worse will follow–Salafis, for example. In truth we do not know nor will we have any say in what is next for Egypt if and when citizens conclude that the Brotherhood cannot deliver the freedom or the economic progress that Egyptians appeared to seek when they drove Hosni Mubarak from power. Disorder is possible; a new dictatorship may arise; the Army may take power; or Egypt may become an Arab Pakistan, where the Army rules behind the facade of civilian politicians.
Egyptians and not we will determine all of this, so the best we can do –and it is important that we do this– is to stand for our own principles of freedom of speech, press, assembly, trade unions, religion, and free elections. The Bassem Yousef prosecutions (one must now use the plural) are indefensible and should be met with loud and repeated U.S. protests. We do not know where Egypt is heading, but we know what we believe and we ought to know that we must support those Egyptians who seek a truly democratic Egypt.
Obama’s mysterious visit
March 20, 2013
Why is US President Barack Obama coming to Israel today? In 2008, then president George W. Bush came to celebrate Israel’s 60th Independence Day, and to reject Israeli requests for assistance in destroying Iran’s nuclear installations.
In 1996, then-president Bill Clinton came to Israel to help then-prime minister Shimon Peres’s electoral campaign against Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.
It is possible that Obama is coming here in order to build up pro-Israel bonafides. But why would he bother? Obama won his reelection bid with the support of the overwhelming majority of American Jews. Their support vindicated his hostility toward Israel in his first term. He has nothing to prove.
It is worth comparing Obama’s visit to Israel at the start of his second term of office, with his visit to Cairo at the outset of his first term in office.
Ahead of that trip, the new administration promised that the visit, and particularly Obama’s “Address to the Muslim World,” would serve as a starting point for a new US policy in the Middle East. And Obama lived up to expectations.
In speaking to the “Muslim World,” Obama signaled that the US now supported pan-Islamists at the expense of US allies and Arab nationalist leaders, first and foremost then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Moreover, in castigating Israel for its so-called “settlements”; channeling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by intimating that Israel exists because of the Holocaust; and failing to travel from Cairo to Jerusalem, preferring instead to visit a Nazi death camp in Germany, Obama signaled that he was downgrading US ties with the Jewish state.
In sharp contrast to the high expectations the Obama White House cultivated in pre-Cairo visit statements and leaks, Obama and his advisers have downplayed the importance of his visit to Israel, signaling there will be no significant changes in Obama’s policies toward Israel or the wider Middle East.
For instance, in his interview with Israel television’s Channel 2 last week, on issue after issue, Obama made clear that there will be no departure from his first term’s policies. He will continue to speak firmly and do nothing to prevent Iran from developing the means to produce nuclear weapons.
He will not release convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from federal prison despite the fact that Pollard’s life sentence, and the 28 years he has already served in prison are grossly disproportionate to all sentences passed on and served by offenders who committed similar crimes.
As for the Palestinians, Obama repeated his fierce opposition to Jewish communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and his insistence that Israel must get over its justified fears regarding Palestinian intentions and withdraw from Judea and Samaria, for its own good.
Given that all of these are positions he has held throughout his presidency, the mystery surrounding his decision to come to Israel only grows. He didn’t need to come to Israel to rehash policies we already know.
Much of the coverage of Obama’s trip has focused on symbolism. For instance, the administration decided to boycott Ariel University by not inviting its students to attend Obama’s speech to students from all other universities that is set to take place on Thursday in Jerusalem. In boycotting Ariel, Obama’s behavior is substantively the same as that of Britain’s Association of University Teachers. In 2005 that body voted to boycott University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. But while the AUT’s action was universally condemned, Obama’s decision to bar Israelis whose university is located in a city with 20,000 residents just because their school is located beyond the 1949 armistice lines has generated litte attention.
Then again, seeing as Obama’s snub of Ariel University is in keeping with the White House’s general war with anyone who disputes its view that Judea and Samaria are Arab lands, the lack of outrage at his outrageous behavior makes sense. It doesn’t represent a departure from his positions in his first term.
The only revealing aspect of Obama’s itinerary is his decision to on the one hand bypass Israel’s elected representatives by spurning the invitation to speak before the Knesset; and on the other hand to address a handpicked audience of university students – an audience grossly overpopulated by unelectable, radical leftists.
In the past, US presidents have spoken before audiences of Israeli leftists in order to elevate and empower the political Left against the Right. But this is the first time that a US president has spurned not only the elected Right, but elected leftist politicians as well, by failing to speak to the Knesset, while actively courting the unelectable radical Left through his talk to a university audience.
Clinton constantly embraced the Israeli Left while spurning the Right – famously refusing to meet with then prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1997 while both leaders’ jets were parked on the same tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport.
Clinton’s assiduous courtship of Israel’s Left enabled him to portray himself as a true friend of Israel, even as he openly sought to undermine and overthrow the elected government of the country.
But Clinton always favored leftist politicians – Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak – over rightist politicians. He did not spurn leftist politicians in favor of even more radical unelectable leftists.
So what does Obama seek to achieve with this novel practice? Clearly he is not attempting to use the opportunity of addressing this audience to express contrition for his first term’s policies. In his interview with Channel 2, Obama spoke of the instability on Israel’s borders – but never mentioned the key role he played in overthrowing Mubarak and empowering the Muslim Brotherhood, thus emptying of meaning Israel’s peace treaty with the most populous Arab state.
He never mentioned that his feckless handling of Syria’s civil war ensured that the moderate opposition forces would be eclipsed by radical Islamists affiliated with al-Qaida, as has happened, or expressed concern that al-Qaida forces are now deployed along Syria’s border with Israel, and that there is a real and rising danger that Syria’s arsenals of chemical and biological weapons, as well as its ballistic missiles, will fall into their hands. Indeed, Tuesday it was reported that the al-Qaida infiltrated opposition attacked regime forces with chemical weapons.
Obama will not use his speech before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s most outspoken critics to express remorse over the hostility with which he treated Israel’s leader for the past four years. He will not admit that his decision to coerce Israel into suspending Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria in his first term gave the PLO justification for refusing to meet with or negotiate with the Israeli government.
So since he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, and he intends to continue the same policies in his second term, why did he decide to come to Israel? And why is he addressing, and so seeking to empower the radical, unelectable Left? Obama’s speech in Cairo to the Muslim world was held at the Islamist Al-Azhar Univerity. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama weakened Mubarak in three different ways. First, Al-Azhar’s faculty members regularly issue religious rulings calling for the murder of non-Muslims, prohibiting the practice of Judaism, and facilitating the victimization of women. In stating these views, Al-Azhar’s leadership has demonstrated that their world view and values are far less amenable to American strategic interests and moral values than Mubarak’s world view was. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama signaled that he would reward the anti-American Islamists at the expense of the pro-American Arab nationalists.
Second, in contempt of Mubarak’s explicit wishes, Obama insisted on inviting members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend his speech. In acting as he did, Obama signaled that under his leadership, the US was abandoning its support for Mubarak and transferring its sympathies to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Finally, by addressing his remarks to the Muslim nation, Obama was perceived as openly rejecting Egyptian nationalism, and indeed the concept of unique national identities among the various Arab states. In so doing, Obama undercut the legitimacy of the Egyptian regime while legitimizing the pan- Islamic Muslim Brotherhood which rejects nationalism in favor of a call for the establishment of a global caliphate.
As subsequent events showed, the conditions for the Egyptian revolution that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power were prepared during Obama’s speech at al-Azhar.
It is possible that in addressing the unelected radical Left in Jerusalem, Obama seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli government. But if that is the plan, then it would bespeak an extraordinary contempt and underestimation of Israeli democracy. Such a plan would not play out the same way his Egyptian speech did.
There are two possible policies Obama would want to empower Israel’s radical, unelectable Left in order to advance. First, he could be strengthening these forces to help them pressure the government to make concessions to the Palestinians in order to convince the Palestinian Authority to renew negotiations and accept an Israeli peace offer.
While Obama indicated in his interview with Channel 2 that this is his goal, it is absurd to believe it. Obama knows there is no chance that the Palestinians will accept a deal from Israel. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat both rejected Israeli peace offers made by far more radical Israeli governments than the new Netanyahu government. Moreover, the Palestinians refused to meet with Israeli negotiators while Mubarak was still in power. With the Muslim Brotherhood now in charge in Cairo, there is absolutely no way they will agree to negotiate – let alone accept a deal.
This leaves another glaring possibility. Through the radical Left, Obama may intend to foment a pressure campaign to force the government to withdraw unilaterally from all or parts of Judea and Samaria, as Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. If this is Obama’s actual policy goal, it would represent a complete Europeanization of US policy toward Israel. It was the EU that funded radical leftist groups that pushed for Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005.
And in the past week, a number of commentators have spoken and written in favor of such a plan.
The is truth we don’t know why Obama is coming to Israel. The Obama administration has not indicated where its Israel policy is going. And Obama’s Republican opposition is in complete disarray on foreign policy and not in any position to push him to reveal his plans.
What we can say with certainty is that the administration that supports the “democratically elected” Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and did so much to clear all obstacles to its election, is snubbing the democratically elected Israeli government, and indeed, Israel’s elected officials in general. Obama’s transmission of this message in the lead-up to this visit, through symbols and action alike does not bode well for Israel’s relations with the US in the coming four years.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
Explaining Obama’s Fixation with Israel
by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
March 19, 2013
Nor did he subsequently let up. In June 2009, Obama announced that “The moment is now for us to act” to ease tensions between Israel and its neighbors and declared “I want to have a sense of movement and progress. … I’m confident that if we stick with it, having started early, that we can make some serious progress this year.” In May 2011 he announced impatience with regard to Arab-Israeli diplomacy: “we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace.” The new secretary of state, John Kerry, repeated these sentiments in his Jan. 2013 confirmation hearing: “We need to try to find a way forward.”
Why this fixation on the Arab-Israeli conflict, which ranks only 49th in fatalities since World War II? Because of a strange belief on the Left, rarely stated overtly, that this issue is key not just to the Middle East but to world problems. For an unusually frank statement of this viewpoint, note the spontaneous, awkward comments of James L. Jones, then Obama’s national security adviser, in Oct. 2009. Addressing J Street, he mentioned “pursuing peace between Israel and her neighbors” and continued:
James L. Jones addressing J Street.
Some people still see Jerusalem as the center, or epicenter, of the world.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Our Director of National Intelligence,
James Clapper saying Muslim Brotherhood Largely Secular, Has Eschewed Violence
U.S. Arabs: Obama Blames Israeli Govt, U.S. Congress for Lack of Peace Progress
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
March 12, 2013
Most reports about the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and several representatives of various Arab American organizations which took place on Monday, March 11, have been fairly sketchy.
But at least some participants at that meeting provided three rather startling revelations to an Arabic news source.
First, they said the U.S. president blamed the stalled peace process on the Israeli government for refusing to offer concessions, and second, that he blamed the U.S. congress for providing cover to the Israelis whenever the president tries to apply pressure on the Jewish State. The implication the sources came away with was that Obama said he will get around those problems when he is in Israel by bypassing the Israeli government and going directly to the Israeli people.
The third surprising revelation from the meeting was that President Obama plans to hand over half a billion dollars in additional aid to the PA during his visit.
As with Obama’s meeting with representatives of Jewish organizations a week ago, his get together with Arab and Muslim leaders was not part of the president’s public schedule, and participants had been asked not to comment about the confidential conversations which took place.
Most reports about the meeting merely mentioned the names of some of the participating organizations, which included the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Task Force for Palestine, the Arab American Institute, the Arab Federation of Ramallah, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
As was also the case with the Jewish representatives’ meeting, there were some Arab American participants who discussed some details of the meetings, a few with attribution and others on condition of anonymity. Several sources at each meeting told members of the media that the president told their group that he was not going to attempt to kickstart a new Arab-Israeli peace initiative.
But one story in an important Arab media outlet quoted participants as having provided a reason for the U.S. president’s unwillingness to push a peace initiative during this trip. That anonymous Arab and/or Muslim participant told Al Arabiya.net reporters that Obama said to the group: “since the Israeli government has not been willing to make concessions, there is no point in pushing [for negotiations] right now.”
In addition, the U.S. president expressed solidarity with the plight of the Arab Palestinians. “‘The only people more frustrated than me,’” Obama was quoted by a source as saying, are the ‘”Palestinians living in West Bank and Gaza – it’s a legitimate frustration,’” Al Arabiya‘s source said.
The U.S. congress also came in for criticism by the U.S. president. “Every time the pressure gets to the Israelis, they go to Congress.”
The message understood by that source who was present at the March 11 meeting was that Obama believed he could get around the interference of the U.S. congress and the obstructionist Israeli government by speaking directly to the Israeli people. The source said, “He wants to find a way around that, that’s why he wants to talk to the Israeli public directly.”
In other words, the Israeli elected government should be sidelined because President Obama believes he knows what is best for Israel, and he will deal directly with the Israeli people this time, rather than with their elected government. At least that is the message some meeting participants either believed or want others to believe.
There was one additional piece of information in the Al Arabiya article that was not reported elsewhere.
President Obama, who has been railing against what he describes as the Republican-imposed sequester, “will take with him a cash infusion of $500 million – which Congress will soon release – of much needed financial aid to the Palestinian Authority.”
A condition-free gift to the PA of half a billion dollars in additional aid from the U.S. is hard to imagine given all the cuts being imposed because of the sequester. For one thing, several hundred million dollars is due to be cut from Israel’s portion of the defense budget, but more importantly, as this is U.S. taxpayer money, are the statements made by the president that the U.S. is reducing naval warpower in the Persian Gulf because of the sequester. This came up recently in the context of a dust-up between the White House and liberal journalist Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.
The Hagel Nomination: An Open Letter to Sen. Charles E. Schumer
February 19, 2013
I write to encourage you to review and reconsider your endorsement of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. The new information that has appeared since your meeting with him on Jan. 14 suggests that his weak policies vis-à-vis Iran and his reprehensible views toward Israel run even deeper than we realized at that time.
We now know that he referred to Israel’s self-defense in 2006 as a “sickening slaughter.” That he preposterously stated in 2007 that “The State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister’s office.” That he obnoxiously said in 2010 (according to a paraphrase) that Israel was “risking becoming an apartheid state.”
Chuck, you and I go back to our many long dinners and debates in the college dining room in the late 1960s, when your sensible moderation first became evident. A hallmark of your career since then has been consistently to show good sense and courage on Middle Eastern issues.Rep. Eliot Engel has characterized Hagel’s outlook as having “some kind of endemic hostility toward Israel.” I have written that Hagel “is known for only two foreign policy/defense views: being soft on Iran and hostile to Israel.”
As you noted with pride in an April 2010 interview, your family name “comes from the word shomer, which means guardian” in Hebrew. You mentioned that your ancestors were guardians of the Jewish ghetto in the Ukraine, adding: “I believe HaShem [God], actually, gave me my name, as one of my roles that is very important in the United States Senate is to be a shomer for Israel. I will continue to be that with every bone in my body.”
You expressed having had “genuine concerns” about Hagel prior to your White House meeting with him; now is the moment for you to follow the dictates of your conscience. I hope you will now come out against the Hagel nomination, a shift that will have profound repercussions for the country and secure your reputation as a shomer for U.S.-Israel relations.
Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel
Emergency Committee for Israel
Carney Refuses To Identify Capital Of Israel Twice In White House Press Briefing
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)
Hearing Reveal More Hagel Horrors – U.S. Is “World’s Bully, Israel is War Criminal and Committed “Sickening Slaughter”
January 31, 2013
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to further alarming statements from Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. During Hagel’s confirmation hearings, it emerged that Hagel, during a 2009 Al-Jazeera interview, agreed with a questioner that the U.S. was “the world’s bully”; that Palestinians were the victims of Israeli war crimes; and, also in a 2006 speech, asserted that Israel had committed a “sickening slaughter” in Lebanon. (Israeli forces entered Lebanon in 2006 following the cross-border kidnapping by the Lebanese Hizballah terrorist group of Israeli soldiers and a Hizballah barrage of rockets into northern Israel).
In the Hagel confirmation hearings last week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) played a recording of Hagel in a 2009 Al Jazeera interview in which Hagel said in response to a questioner who asserted among other things that “if you look at Palestine there is a war crime,” Hagel responded, “Well, I think you’re exactly right.” In the same interview, in response to another questioner who asserted that the U.S. was both perceived to be and was in fact “the world’s bully,” Hagel replied, “Well her observation is a good one and it is relevant, yes to her question.” In the confirmation hearing, Hagel claimed not to have heard the questioner make this assertion about America and also claimed contradictorily that he had merely agreed there was a perception of the U.S. as a bully but had not endorsed that view, which he had in fact obviously done. Senator Cruz also referred to a speech delivered in the Senate in 2006 by Hagel in which he stated that Israel’s 2006 military campaign against Hizballah attacks from Lebanon was a “sickening slaughter” (‘ Sen. Ted Cruz Is On Fire! decimates Hagel during Confirmation on America,’ Youtube, January 31, 2013).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA issued some weeks ago a detailed list of Chuck Hagel’s alarming views on Israel and the Middle East and we have had to issue further press releases pointing to yet more alarming statements he has made as they have come to light. Now, in his confirmation hearings, we have heard additional, disturbing Hagel statements and his unconvincing and sometimes incoherent attempts to explain them away.
“The idea that the U.S. and Israel are rogues is not only indicated by the 2009 Al Jazeera interview that was played in the hearings. Hagel has taught a course at Georgetown University with a syllabus that includes numerous harshly anti-U.S. and anti-Israel writers, including Parag Khanna’s How To Run The World, which accuses Israel and America of violating the laws of war.
“Can we really afford a Defense Secretary who thinks that the U.S. is ‘the world’s bully’? Will such a person do his utmost to keep America strong and ready to repel threats to its vital interests? Will such a person be ready to defend America’s allies, like Israel?
“It is increasingly clear, as new revelations add to what was already known about Chuck Hagel’s terrible record on Israel and the Middle East, that Chuck Hagel would be one of the worst choices for the post that could be made. We reiterate our call for senators to vote against confirming him.”
Kerry calls PM, Abbas, vows commitment to peace
New US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to discuss the diplomatic process, in an early sign he intends to make this a top priority on his agenda.
In both conversations he commended Netanyahu’s decision last week to release some NIS 400 million in tax revenues to the PA and praised it as a positive step.
The calls followed Kerry’s phone conversation Saturday with President Shimon Peres, who said the election results in Israel provided new opportunities in the diplomatic process.
Kerry is expected to visit the region on his first trip abroad in the middle of the month.
A US State Department communiqué said that Netanyahu updated Kerry on his efforts to put together a new government.
The statement also said Kerry “underscored his personal commitment and that of President [Barack] Obama to support Israel’s security and to pursue a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Kerry and Netanyahu also spoke about Iran and Syria, and – according to the statement – pledged to work closely together during Kerry’s tenure.
Kerry spoke to Abbas of his “personal commitment and hope for continued efforts to pursue peace,” and pledged to continue efforts with Congress to release budget support for the PA.
According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, Kerry conferred with Abbas about the necessity of holding meetings in the near future with the ultimate aim of restarting the peace process.
Citing PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Wafa reported that Kerry assured the PA head that Obama “cares about the peace process” and is eager restart the stalled talks.
Last week, Kerry suggested that time was running out for a twostate solution with Israel living alongside a sovereign Palestinian state, and said such an eventuality would be “disastrous.” • BARAK Continued from Page 1 spoiled child should expect anything from them, at any time,” AFP quoted Erdogan as saying on Sunday.
“As I say time and again, Israel has a mentality of waging state terrorism. Right now, there is no telling what it might do and where it might do it.”
The Turkish prime minister said that “we cannot regard a violation of air space as acceptable,” and added “what Israel does is completely against international law…
it is beyond condemnation.”
Erdogan’s comments followed by a day Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressing disappointment that Syria has not taken action against Israel.
“Why didn’t Assad even throw a pebble when Israeli jets were flying over his palace and playing with the dignity of his country?” he was quoted as saying by the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
“Why didn’t the Syrian Army, which has been attacking its own innocent people for 22 months now from the air with jets and by land with tanks and artillery fire, respond to Israel’s operation? Why can’t Assad, who gave order to fire SCUD missiles at Aleppo, do anything against Israel?” Davutoglu said, adding that Turkey would not stay unresponsive to an Israeli attack against any Muslim country.
In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor tersely said, “These statements can be described in many ways, and diplomatic is not one of them.”
Ironically, Palmor articulated support for Turkish military action against Syrian army positions in October following a cross-border mortar attack from Syria that killed five Turks in a city near the Syrian border.
“Turkey’s reciprocation to Syria was right and justified according to international law,” Palmor was quoted widely at the time as saying in the Turkish press. “Surely the Turkish government has the right to take measures to protect its citizens and all others must respect Turkey’s decisions on the matter. We respect Turkey’s right to self-defense.”
The vote on Jerusalem at the Democratic Convention of 2012
Liberal Jewish Israel Bashers: Ignorant or Malicious?
by Isi Leibler
17 January 2013
I must confess to a rising sense of frustration and rage when observing the increasing number of ill-informed and fallacious critiques of Israel by liberal Diaspora Jews.
This is not in reference to the loathsome so-called anti-Zionist Jews who call for boycotts of Israel. Nor even to jaundiced far-Left Jewish groups like J Street, that inflict considerable damage on the Jewish state by calling on the US government to pressure Israel, or orchestrate petitions such as those recently circulated among liberal Jewish clergy demanding that Israel cancel plans for residential construction in Jerusalem’s Jewish suburbs and the E-1 area.
I refer to those Jews who, when it was fashionable, were enthusiastic supporters of Israel. But the estrangement of many of their liberal non-Jewish friends from the Jewish state encouraged them to also assume politically correct attitudes, even adopting an “anti-Zionist chic.” Some were swept up in the tide of post-modernism with its often espoused view that Israel was born in sin and represents one of the last bastions of colonialism.
This was an evolutionary process which began with the progressive application of moral equivalence to Israelis and Arabs and climaxed with Binyamin Netanyahu’s election and demonization as an extremist nationalist. At this point, these Jewish liberals began chanting the mindless mantra that Israel had become obsessed with maintaining “the occupation.”
They adopted the Arab narrative that settlements represented the greatest obstacle to peace, dismissing the fact that settlements comprise only two percent of territory over the Green Line and that since Oslo, every territorial concession from Israel merely emboldened Palestinian radicals and resulted in intensified terror.
AS A rule, these liberal Jewish critics ignored the facts that the PA, no less than Hamas, consistently refused to make reciprocal compromises and that the conflict was not related to territorial compromise but over ongoing Jewish sovereignty in the region. They also downplayed the ongoing missile attacks and vicious incitement and anti-Semitism infusing all levels of Palestinian society.
Israel is now more isolated than at any time since its creation. We are surrounded by anti-Semitic Islamic regimes bent on our destruction and Iran is on course to becoming a nuclear power. Most European countries, whose soil was drenched in Jewish blood, are again standing on the sidelines as they did prior to and during the Shoa when Jews were being slaughtered. Surely, at such a time, even liberal Diaspora Jews could be expected to unite in support of the Jewish state. Yet alas, increasing numbers of them are distancing themselves further from Israel.
A recent example was the condemnation by the North American Board of the Union of Reform Judaism of housing construction in the exclusively Jewish suburbs of east Jerusalem and E-1. This undermined a central Israeli policy, endorsed by the vast majority of Israelis.
Were the Reform Jewish leaders not aware that this area had always been designated to remain within Israel and that the Bush administration even acknowledged this in a letter to prime minister Ariel Sharon in the wake of the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the forcible uprooting of Jewish settlements?
Were they unaware that the uproar instigated by the Palestinians over residential construction is a ploy to undermine our vital interests in areas which until now were never in dispute? That they are seeking to impose upon us, as an opening benchmark to negotiations, indefensible borders based on the 1949 armistice lines? That this formula would deem the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem occupied territories?
Or the subsequent extraordinary outburst by the progressive rabbis of BnaiYeshurun, one of New York’s most prominent temples, who proclaimed that “the vote at the United Nations was a great moment for us as citizens of the world… an opportunity to celebrate the process that allows a nation to come forward and ask for recognition.” This, in the immediate wake of the UN speech by PA head Mahmoud Abbas, who accused Israel of killing innocent Palestinians during the Gaza war and indulging in ethnic cleansing.
Aside from also endorsing the 1949 lines as future borders for Israel, were these rabbis not aware that Abbas was calling for reunification with Hamas, whose leader had just proclaimed that “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north… there is no legitimacy for Israel… We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.”
THE EXTENT of the breakdown among Jewish liberals was highlighted when even David Breakstone, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a devoted Zionist, recently provided a Kosher certificate to Peter Beinart, one of Israel’s most biased and hostile Jewish Diaspora critics.
Breakstone stressed that while strongly disagreeing with Beinart’s call to boycott Israeli settlement products, he was attracted to him because he is a committed Jew, sends his children to Jewish day schools and provides a service to Zionism by criticizing our failure to sufficiently promote peace and uphold the ethical high ground because we maintain the “occupation.”
Few would dispute our obligation to be self-critical and expose injustices in our midst. But this is not what Beinart and other liberal Jews like New York Times columnist Tom Friedman promote. They produce distorted one-sided evaluations demonizing Israel as the principal obstacle to peace. They promote anti-Israeli politicians like Chuck Hagel and accuse Jewish leaders of promoting McCarthyism. They call on the US and other governments to exert pressure and force Israel to conform.
How can Breakstone possibly describe such people as “champions of good old-fashioned Zionism”?
THERE IS also an increasing tendency among Jewish liberals to hijack the memory of assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as a means of discrediting Netanyahu. This is outrageous. Rabin, whom I knew and admired, was a genuine patriot. His “gamble for peace” proved disastrous. But at no stage did he even come close to promoting the views attributed to him today by liberals.
He was adamantly committed to the unity of Jerusalem and initiated the E-1 project. He would never have contemplated delaying its construction or freezing residential building in Jewish Jerusalem. It is therefore unconscionable to shamelessly exploit his name to promote views he himself bitterly opposed.
The reality is that Netanyahu has made more concessions and is far more accommodating to the Palestinians than Rabin.
One would wish to believe that much of the condemnation of Israel by liberal Jews, compounded by purportedly being grounded on Jewish values, is not malicious but based on ignorance. The blame for such behavior could then be directed solely toward Israel’s failure to convey the reality of our situation.
Yet sadly, one becomes increasingly convinced that many Jewish liberals have closed minds and do not wish to be enlightened, because their principal motivation is to demonstrate to their “progressive” friends that they are more open-minded, universal and tolerant than their “bigoted” Israeli kinsmen.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom
Isi Leibler on Obama, Beinart, Shalit
CAIR Named as a Defendant in 9/11 Terror Lawsuit
by Daniel Pipes
December 30, 2004
A class action lawsuit in the name of John P. O’Neill, Sr., stemming from the 9/11 atrocity, has named the Council on American-Islamic Relations as a defendant. (For those confused about the multiple 9/11 court cases, there is help on the way at http://www.september11terrorlitigation.com/.) Here are the paragraphs of Estate of John P. O’Neill, Sr. et al. vs. Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporationdealing with CAIR’s role in the events of September 11, 2001, from the second amended class action complaint, filed today:
86. Council on American Islamic Relations and CAIR Canada (collectively, CAIR), have aided, abetted, and materially sponsored and al Qaeda and international terrorism. CAIR is an outgrowth of the Hamas front group the Islamic Association of Palestine. The FBI’s former associate director in charge of Investigative and Counter-Intelligence Operations described the Islamic Association of Palestine as an organization that has directly supported Hamas military goals and is a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants. It has produced videotapes that are very hate-filled, full of vehement propaganda. It is an organization that has supported direct confrontation.
87. CAIR and CAIR-Canada have, since their inception, been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism. These organizations play a unique role in the terrorist network. They emanate from the notorious HAMAS terrorist organization and like so many of the terrorism facilitating charities named and indicted by the United States government they are engaged in fund raising under the guise of assisting humanitarian causes they are, in reality, a key player in international terrorism. The unique role played by CAIR and CAIR-Canada is to manipulate the legal systems of the United States and Canada in a manner that allows them to silence critics, analysts, commentators, media organizations, and government officials by leveling false charges of discrimination, libel, slander and defamation. In addition, both organizations have actively sought to hamper governmental anti-terrorism efforts by direct propaganda activities aimed at police, first-responders, and intelligence agencies through so-called sensitivity training. Their goal is to create as much self-doubt, hesitation, fear of name-calling, and litigation within police departments and intelligence agencies as possible so as to render such authorities ineffective in pursuing international and domestic terrorist entities.
88. The role of CAIR and CAIR-Canada is to wage PSYOPS (psychological warfare) and disinformation activities on behalf of Whabbi-based [Wahhabi-based, DP] Islamic terrorists throughout North America. They are the intellectual “shock troops” of Islamic terrorism. In the years and months leading up to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 these organizations were very effective in helping to ensure that North American law enforcement and intelligence officials were sufficiently deaf, dumb, and blind to help pave the way for the attacks on the United States. The role played by these entities is an absolutely essential part of the mix of forces arrayed against the United States as they help soften-up targeted countries so as to facilitate and enhance the likelihood for a successful attack.
Comment: (1) This filing explicitly ties CAIR to “the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism” that carried out 9/11, a first to the best of my knowledge.
(2) If the suit is successful, CAIR (1) will have been legally tied to Al-Qaeda and (2) will be partially responsible for damages amounting to US$100 billion.
(3) This filing, when added to Anti-CAIR’s counter suit, suggest that despite CAIR’s growing litigiousness, it will find itself legally more on the defensive than the offensive in coming months. (December 30, 2004)
Aug. 15, 2005 update:
The plaintiffs in Estate of John P. O’Neill, Sr., et al. v. Al Baraka, et al. have provided more specifics today in their “Amended RICO Statement Applicable to Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and CAIR-Canada,” a 22-page document. It contains new information (for example, concerning Mohammad Nimer) and new claims. Some excerpts (the first and last of these are the most dramatic and novel):
[CAIR] knew that the Enterprise in which it was participating, Radical Muslim Terrorism, and/or al Qaida and/or the International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, planned to and would commit an act of deadly aggression against the United States in the near future, using the resources and support supplied by CAIR. (p. 4)
CAIR agreed to form and associate with the Enterprise and agreed to commit more than two predicate acts, i.e., multiple acts of murder and arson. (p. 5)
Radical Muslim Terrorism, and/or al Qaida and/or the International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, does not feature a centralized hierarchy, because the lack of a centralized hierarchy is essential to the Enterprise’s clandestine nature and its success. Thus, although al Qaida, for example, had its own membership roster and a structure of “committees” to guide and oversee such functions as training terrorists, proposing targets, financing operations, and issuing edicts, the committees were not a hierarchical chain of command but were instead a means for coordinating functions and providing material support to operations. CAIR fit neatly into this framework by raising funds for and providing funding to an otherwise providing material support for the members of the Enterprise who engaged in the Attack [on 9/11]. (pp. 6-7)
The Enterprise conducts terrorism all over the world; the racketeering activity conducted by CAIR funds that activity, which activity culminated in the Attack. (p. 7)
After being turned out of the Sudan in May 1996, al Qaida established itself in Afghanistan, and relied on well-placed financial facilitators, including CAIR, who laundered funds from Islamic so-called charities and corporations and raised money from witting and unwitting donors. (p. 8)
The money raised from these various sources (the “Funds”), including CAIR, were used by the Enterprise to accomplish its goals, with the knowledge and awareness of CAIR, of both those goals and the uses to which the Funds were put. (p. 9)
CAIR has long provided financial support and other forms of material support to terrorist organizations including Radical Muslim Terrorism, or the al Qaida, and/or the International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders. (p. 12)
the true purpose for CAIR is to legitimize the activities of Islamic militants and to neutralize opposition to Islamic extremism. They serve as perception management in support of Radical Muslim Terrorism, and/or al Qaida, and/or the International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders. (p. 12)
As the foregoing demonstrates, CAIR thereby knowingly has, for a period of many years, provided critical financial and logistical support to al Qaida, and/or Radical Muslim Terrorism, and/or the International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, to support the terrorist organization’s global jihad. The September 11th Attack was a direct, intended and foreseeable product of CAIR’s participation in the jihadist campaign for al Qaida, and/or Radical Muslim Terrorism, and/or the International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders. (pp. 19-20)
Sep. 30, 2005 update: The “Plaintiffs’ More Definite Statement as to Defendant Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and CAIR-Canada” has just been filed with the U.S. District Court, Southern District Of New York, and it spells out in great detail the connection between CAIR and the 9/11 conspiracy. It is too long to post here, so I have posted it complete in Adobe Acrobat format.
|CAIR Leader Runs for New York City Councilby David J. Rusin
February 1, 2013http://www.islamist-watch.org/12244/cair-leader-runs-for-new-york-city-councilZead Ramadan, board president of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), is eyeing a bigger platform from which to promote his Islamist agenda: a seat on the New York City Council. If he prevails, the city that endured 9/11 will count among its lawmakers a senior official in an organization linked to the financing of terrorists and intent on frustrating law enforcement efforts to foil the next jihad plot.A Democrat and member of Community Board 12, one of 59 local representative bodies serving neighborhoods across New York, Ramadan has formally announced his candidacy to succeed the term-limited Robert Jackson in northern Manhattan’s District 7. He has gotten off to a quick start infundraising and an even quicker start in playing the victim card, no doubt hoping to preempt criticism of his association with CAIR. “Ready 2 get attacked 4 my faith but I am not first or last,” Ramadan tweeted on January 13.The opening salvo was a January 2 article by Azi Paybarah, published at CapitalNewYork.com. Relaying Ramadan’s description of himself as a “lightning rod,” the piece explains that he “has been a frequent target of local anti-Muslim commentators, and several times during the interview Ramadan predicted opponents of CAIR would turn their attention to his campaign,” because “CAIR has been a frequent target of Republicans and conservatives, who accuse it of being tolerant of terrorism, or worse.” Paybarah’s follow-up report states that “CAIR, a civil-rights group, says it exists in part as an antidote to radicalism, and condemns terrorism and religious violence.” A more thorough journalist would have mentioned that “CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists,” in the words of federal prosecutors; that CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), whose leaders were convicted of funneling money to Hamas; that a federal judge, citing “ample evidence” of CAIR’s ties to HLF and Hamas, upheld the designation; and that the FBI ended outreach activities with CAIR as a result. Of course, these inconvenient facts might have ruined the witch-hunt narrative.Paybarah emphasizes the Arab-Israeli conflict and the “politics in staunchly pro-Israel New York,” assuring readers that Ramadan “said he wanted to avoid using his Council campaign to refocus the dialogue in New York on Middle East foreign affairs” and would not prioritize such issues if elected. “I can’t affect the Middle East problem,” Ramadan told him. “I’m not condemning anything, OK? You want me to condemn one side or the other in a one thousand, two thousand-year dispute, what are you, insane?”This is not the only time that Ramadan has passed on an opportunity to denounce Hamas. “Sir, do you consider Hamas a terrorist organization?” asked an Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) reporter at a press conference in 2011. After trying to change the subject to anti-jihad activist Pamela Geller, Ramadan offered nothing but bromides: “Islam, myself, and I think all people of conscience are opposed to all terrorism in all of its forms against all the people of the world. Anyone who is innocent that is killed, it’s not the way of the Islamic people or people of conscience or people who stand for liberty and justice. Thank you very much.” His evasiveness is consistent with CAIR’s long history of refusing to censure Hamas by name. Further illuminating his sympathies, an IPT article reveals that “Ramadan contributed $1,000 to Viva Palestina, an organization led by noted anti-Semite George Galloway, that supports Hamas financially and politically, in 2010.”Though reticent to rebuke Hamas, Ramadan has no shortage of harsh words about life in the U.S. and sometimes disseminates them on Iranian-controlled Press TV, just as other CAIR figures have done. Ramadan employed the following hyperbolic analogy to peddle the Muslims-under-assault meme on the channel last year: “In Nazi Germany, they targeted the minority, the Jewish minority, and unfortunately it went from only philosophy to rhetoric to action. And that’s not where we want to go in America. I don’t think we’ll ever get there, but I don’t think we should allow the road to continue to be built towards that direction, because the comments that are being made against Muslims are very eerily echoing the comments that were made against Jews by Nazis.” During an earlier Press TV appearance, he painted Congressman Peter King’s hearings on Muslim radicalization as “an attempt to demonize the Islamic faith” and downplayed the danger of Islamic terrorism, suggesting that Jews are as great a terrorist threat as Muslims. He sparred with King on NBC in 2010, likening resistance to the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero to the internment of the Japanese, segregation, and slavery.Ramadan has toed the CAIR party line on the New York Police Department’s surveillance program to identify potentially violent radicals, calling it“f—ked up” for “basically equating Muslim with terrorism, which is outrageous.” He previously chided the department for its use of The Third Jihad, a documentary that exposes Islamism in America and is narrated by reformist Muslim Zuhdi Jasser. According to a 2011 CAIR news release, “Ramadan compared The Third Jihad to past propaganda such as the Nazi-era film Triumph of the Will or Birth of a Nation, which vilified African-Americans.” As CAIR was protesting Jasser’s appointment to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom last spring, Ramadan penned a Facebook post smearing him as an “extremist” and asking, “Are David Duke and Pamela Geller on this panel too?”Ramadan and CAIR-NY also participate in the Islamist pushback against vital FBI sting operations to nab budding terrorists. The aforementionedpress conference at which Ramadan ducked the Hamas query was arranged by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. Additionally, CAIR-NYco-hosted an event with the author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism at Columbia Law School on January 31. Attorney General Eric Holder criticized such rhetoric before a Muslim audience in 2010: “Those who characterize the FBI’s activities in this case as ‘entrapment’ simply do not have their facts straight — or do not have a full understanding of the law.”Finally, Ramadan has overseen one of CAIR’s more radical branches. A CAIR-NY Facebook entry from February 2012 “urges everyone to come out and support Dr. Aafia Siddiqui by attending her appeal for an unjust 86 yr jail sentence”; Siddiqui, a suspected al-Qaeda facilitator, was found guilty of trying to murder U.S. personnel in Afghanistan. Ramadan’s CAIR-NY colleague Cyrus McGoldrick infamously tweeted pro-Hamas messages, advocated the destruction of anti-jihad ads, and promised that “we’ll blast” police informants, whom he branded as “snitches“; he recently left the group, perhaps due to bad publicity. Furthermore, CAIR-NY board member Lamis Deek has warned Muslims of an “NYPD-CIA-Israeli alliance” out to get them and, upon the election of Islamist Mohamed Morsi as president of Egypt, praised the supposed liberation from America’s “proxy-imperialist (colonialist) wrath.”Notable on its own, Ramadan’s campaign also highlights the trend of American Muslims with Islamist track records seeking elected office. For instance, Esam Omeish, a former president of the Muslim American Society (MAS), described by federal prosecutors as “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America,” pursued a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates four years ago, but he finished third in the Democratic primary. Minnesota’s Keith Ellison has been more successful. A Democratic congressman since 2007, he regularly collaborates with CAIR and similar groups; saw parallels between 9/11 and Hitler’s Reichstag fire; savaged Jasser on Capitol Hill in 2009, effectively calling him an Uncle Tom who “give[s] people license for bigotry”; and enjoyed a pilgrimage to Mecca funded by MAS. Despite this, Ellison defeated his challenger by nearly 50 points in 2012.Though Islamists who enter the halls of power through the back door have drawn most of the headlines of late — particularly the many unelectedMuslims with alarming histories currently populating the Obama administration — one must not forget to keep an eye on the front door as well. Will Zead Ramadan be the next to walk in, securing a New York City Council seat that would provide a vehicle for shaping key issues, from police counterterrorism programs to religious accommodations in public institutions, and bestow unearned legitimacy on CAIR itself?The decision will rest with the voters of District 7. They deserve to be given the facts about Ramadan and CAIR — to offset the steady diet of puffpieces and sob stories — before making it.David J. Rusin is a research fellow at Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.
This lobby group reminds me of the Jewish communists who defended Stalin’s antisemitism in the guise of a peace campaign
October 26, 2009
Antony Lerman falsely accuses me of calling for the “excommunication” of liberal lobby group J Street like the “Jewish apostates of the Middle Ages” who “fabricated blood libels”. I have never proposed denying freedom of expression to groups hostile to Israel. I do, however, challenge J Street’s duplicity in trying to masquerade as a Jewish mainstream “pro-Israel” organisation while consistently campaigning against the Jewish state. J Street represents a mere fringe group whose views are totally at variance with the attitude of the overwhelming majority of American Jews.
J Street policies are even more extreme than the most radical Israeli leftwing groups. The fighting with Hamas in Gaza, which was endorsed by all Jewish political parties in the Knesset, was criticised by J Street as “counterproductive” and “disproportionate”. This, of itself, is no issue. What is unacceptable is the moral equivalency made by J Street between the policies of Israel and Hamas and its difficulty in distinguishing “between who is right and who is wrong”.
It was recently disclosed that Arab and pro-Iranian elements were providing approximately 10% of J Street funding, a somewhat bizarre situation for a genuinely “pro-Israel” organisation. One donor and member of the organisation’s finance committee, Genevieve Lynch, participated in the National Iranian American Council, the unofficial lobby group for the Iranian government. Judith Barnett, a former registered agent for Saudi Arabia, is a donor and serves on the J Street advisory council. Nancy Dutton, until 2008 an attorney for the Saudi Arabian embassy, donates to J Street’s political action committees, which actively finance anti-Israeli congressional candidates.
In summary, J Street displays a consistent track record of hostility towards Israel. One has yet to see a single statement backing Israel on any substantive issue. It vigorously lobbies the US government to be “tough” to exert pressure on Israel’s democratically elected government to make unilateral concessions. It opposes sanctions against Iran. It financially supports the election of anti-Israeli congressmen and raises the spectre of dual loyalties for American Jews who support Israel. In the process, it defames mainstream Jewish organisations, depicting them as extremists and misrepresents itself as a unique promoter of a “two-state policy” – despite the fact that a virtual consensus favouring this prevails among Israelis and diaspora Jews alike. It receives financial support and praise from foes of Israel. For an organisation of this nature to promote itself as “pro-Israel” is utterly preposterous.
Today the Jewish state is facing unprecedented pressures far beyond calls to freeze settlements. In the aftermath of the toxic Goldstone report, Israelis travelling abroad now face the threat of prosecution as war criminals, not least in Britain itself, where universal jurisdiction is cynically exploited by anti-Israel elements. Israel also faces the danger of a nuclear Iran. In these and other existential threats to Israel’s very legitimacy and survival, Israel is largely dependent on US support, which J Street seeks to undermine.
No one seeks to deny critics of Israel freedom of expression. What is contemptible is the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” pretensions of J Street, reminiscent as they are of the Jewish communists who defended Stalin’s state-sponsored Soviet antisemitism in the guise of promoting bogus “peace” campaigns.
The committed global Jewish community encompasses a wide range of opinions on many matters related to the Jewish state. However, it fervently supports Israel’s broad struggle to defend its citizens against terror campaigns orchestrated by the mullahs of Iran through their surrogates, Hamas and Hezbollah. J Street is thus utterly dishonest when it lobbies the Obama administration to impose unilateral concessions on Israel, while misleadingly posing as speaking on behalf of the American Jewish mainstream. This is misrepresentation plain and simple.
The Failure of the American Jewish Left
by David Brog
Middle East Quarterly
In early September 2012, many in the pro-Israel camp were disturbed by a series of events at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. First, the committee drafting the party platform eliminated traditional language recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Next, the party elders chose to restore the language and called for a pro forma voice vote from the delegates in support of this amendment. Instead, what looked and sounded like an angry majority of the delegates voted against recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
This hostility should not have come as a surprise. For many years, the liberal base of the Democratic Party has been steadily turning against the Jewish state. So much so that for the first time since 1948, one of America’s two major parties has begun to abandon its commitment to Israel. This trend has less to do with the behavior of President Obama or other national party leaders than with the far more troubling phenomenon of changing opinions at the grassroots. The Jerusalem flap at the Democratic convention was not a warning sign. It was the final bell.
The Democratic Decline
Freeze the frame right now, and you could still imagine that all is well. True, President Obama seems to identify with Israel less passionately than the Republican who preceded him, George W. Bush. But then again, Republican George H.W. Bush also seemed to lack the warmth toward Israel of his Republican predecessor, Ronald Reagan. And even if one believes that Obama has erred in ways that have endangered Israel, this alone is not evidence of a more permanent grassroots shift.
When one moves from the White House down the street to Congress, the support for Israel only grows stronger. The bipartisan nature of this support was clearly displayed in May 2011 when Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress and received repeated standing ovations from both sides of the aisle. Outspoken defenders of Israel on Capitol Hill still come from both parties. Pro-Israel resolutions continue to pass by overwhelming bipartisan majorities.
Yet the signs of a shift are evident. And they are too clear—and too alarming—to ignore. While Congress is still overwhelmingly pro-Israel, the list of those who dissent from this consensus is growing. And these dissenters are overwhelmingly Democrats. To cite just a few recent examples:
In November 2009, the House of Representatives passed U.S. House res. 867 criticizing the U.N.’s Goldstone report, which accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza (and which was later criticized by Goldstone himself). The resolution passed the House by a vote of 344 to 36, with 52 abstentions. Of the 36 who voted against the resolution, 33 were Democrats. Of the 52 who abstained, 43 were Democrats.
On January 26, 2010, 54 congressmen sent a letter to President Obama urging him to pressure Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza. All were Democrats. A U.N. investigation has since concluded that the blockade is legal under international law.
In March 2010, the administration was outraged when Israel advanced an East Jerusalem building project during a visit by Vice President Biden. In response, 333 members of the House signed the Hoyer-Cantor letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirming the U.S.-Israel alliance. Only 7 Republicans declined to sign this letter. But a full 91 Democrats—more than one third of the entire Democratic caucus—refused to sign.
Even more troubling than this shift in Washington is the shift at the grassroots. On Capitol Hill, at least, most Democratic congressmen still stand with Israel. Out in the grassroots, only a minority of Democrats continue to do so.
Over the years, a series of polls has asked variations of the following question: “With whom do you sympathize more, the Israelis or the Palestinians?” The results increasingly indicate a broad partisan divide with only a minority of Democrats siding with Israel. For example:
A March 2006 Gallup poll found that 72 percent of Republicans and only 47 percent of Democrats sympathized more with the Israelis than the Palestinians.
A July 2006 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 81 percent of Republicans and only 43 percent of Democrats sympathized more with Israel than the Arab nations.
A February 2010 Gallup poll found that 85 percent of Republicans and only 48 percent of Democrats sympathized more with the Israelis than the Palestinians.
An October 2011 Quinnipiac poll found that 69 percent of Republicans and only 36 percent of Democrats sympathized more with the Israelis than the Palestinians.
Other measures of support demonstrate an even greater disparity. A March 2010 Zogby International poll, for example, found that 92 percent of Republicans—and only 42 percent of Democrats— had a favorable opinion of Israel.
As Gallup summed up the situation in 2011, “Over the past decade, Republicans have consistently shown greater support than Democrats for Israel; however, the partisan gap has widened.”
For decades, historian Daniel Pipes has been carefully monitoring these trends on the basis of ideology—conservatives vs. liberals—rather than party. In 1984, he concluded that there was no ideological divide, stressing that “conservatism does not predispose an American to favor one side, nor does liberalism.” Writing almost twenty years later in 2003, Pipes recalled his earlier observation and wrote, “Today all that has changed. The Middle East has replaced the Soviet Union as the touchstone of politics and ideology. With increasing clarity, conservatives stand on one side of its issues and liberals on the other.”
As the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg observed in April 2011, “Particularly among liberals, Israel’s reputation is waning dramatically.”
The Flight of the Left
The response of most pro-Israel liberals to the erosion of support for Israel among the Democratic base has been to surrender. With limited exceptions, there has been no effort to make the case for Israel on the merits. As the Jewish state stands accused of the worst of crimes, many have waved the white flag at best and joined in the attacks at worst.
Pro-Israel liberals are not cowards. On the contrary, many are failing to defend Israel because they believe that it is guilty as charged. Like Israel’s critics, they blame it for the failure to achieve peace through a two-state solution. Like Israel’s detractors, they see it as a flawed democracy on the verge of apartheid. They are unashamed to state that they—Jewish liberals living in America—will save Israel by dispensing tough love to Israeli Jews who have lost their way. But their tenuous grasp of Middle Eastern reality makes a mockery of their messianism. A prerequisite to saving Israel is that one knows at least as much as most Israelis.
To the extent that pro-Israel liberals have identified villains outside of Israel, they are the pro-Israel conservatives here in the United States. Liberals have sought to scapegoat those who have worked to ensure that America’s conservatives stand with Israel. Rather than emulate these efforts, they prefer to blame conservatives for their own failures. Instead of doing the hard work of ensuring that the progressive movement remains solidly within the pro-Israel camp, they prefer to expel conservatives from that camp.
There are certainly exceptions to this sorry state of affairs. Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz is a proud progressive who does not shrink from defending Israel. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) remains staunchly bi-partisan and effectively makes the case for Israel to both sides of the aisle. Liberal members of Congress such as Harry Reid, Robert Menendez, Shelly Berkley, and Elliott Engel remain among Israel’s most outspoken defenders on Capitol Hill.
But the real problem is not with current party leaders or the current Congress. The problem is with the rising generation of liberal leaders—the people who will fill these roles in the coming decades. And the self-appointed leaders of this new generation have been quick to condemn Dershowitz and AIPAC as part of the pro-Israel establishment they seek to replace.
The Kids Are Not All Right
The problem is best exemplified by the two most high-profile spokesmen for the disaffected Jewish Left, Peter Beinart and Jeremy Ben Ami. Both men have received enormous attention within the American Jewish community. Both men care deeply about Israel. And both have led the retreat from reality that has enabled the collapse of left-wing support for Israel.
In the summer of 2010, The New York Review of Books published an article by Peter Beinart entitled “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.” The article stirred a whirlwind of debate that turned Beinart into a mini-celebrity in Jewish circles—he is now invited to address the very Jewish establishment he disdains. He has since released a book—The Crisis of Zionism—expanding upon the article’s themes.
The article in particular focuses on Jewish youth. Beinart suggests that the rising generation of Jews is increasingly apathetic towards Israel. He then concludes—with sparse supporting evidence—that since most Jewish youngsters are liberal, this alienation must be the result of Israel’s abandonment of liberal ideals.
Beinart has done a great service by sounding an alarm about the declining passion of young Jews. But while Beinart’s descriptions may be valuable, his prescriptions are disastrous. When confronted with these negative attitudes toward Israel, Beinart does not seek to correct them; he fetishizes them. Beinart hangs the feelings of Jewish students as his moral north star.
Speaking of these alienated Jewish youth, Beinart writes, “The only kind of Zionism they found attractive was a Zionism that recognized Palestinians as deserving dignity and capable of peace, and they were quite willing to condemn an Israeli government that did not share those beliefs.”
Note the divorce from reality explicit in these words. Jewish youth purportedly want a Zionism that recognizes Palestinians as “capable of peace.” But what if the facts of the conflict cast doubt on this capability? What if Israelis have come to the conclusion—through repeated trial and error—that Palestinian leaders are not currently interested in peace? Beinart presumes that Jewish students are simply not interested in such details.
Another prominent exponent of this view is Jeremy Ben Ami, the president of J Street. In his 2011 book, A New Voice for Israel, Ben Ami makes clear that he is likewise prepared to bow down before the altar of student sensibilities. He states, “The problem is that the policies of the State of Israel and the behavior of parts of the Jewish community in Israel are simply tremendously disturbing to large numbers of students and even to their professors. A response grounded in denial that there is anything wrong with the ongoing occupation of the West Bank simply deepens the anger rather than alleviating it.”
But what if Israel has tried repeatedly to end this “occupation?” What if Israeli troops left almost all Arab population centers in the West Bank only to be forced back in to stop a new wave of suicide bombers?
The elevation of emotion in political discourse is the abandonment of reason. And it also sells America’s students short. One should not be surprised that so many students blame Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East. Few people are telling them otherwise. College campuses are increasingly hostile places where myths about Israel are spread by both faculty and students. America’s students have a lot to learn, and most are actually quite hungry to do so. The Arab-Israeli conflict is far more complex than either Israel’s leading detractors or critics like Beinart and Ben Ami care to concede. There is history—much of it very recent—that casts serious doubt on their one-sided claims.
Intellectually speaking, Beinart and Ben Ami are frozen in 1999. They express perfectly the views that most American Jews and most Israelis held at the close of the twentieth century. Jews not only supported a two-state solution in the abstract but believed that the time was right to aggressively pursue it. Simply give the Palestinians a state of their own in the West Bank and Gaza, it was argued, and there will be peace in the Middle East.
The consensus of that hour was best expressed by the man who embodied it: Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Barak. In a 1999 meeting with Barak, then-senator Arlen Specter (Rep.-Pa.) asked him why he was pursuing a two-state solution so aggressively when there were so many causes for concern with his Palestinian partner, Yasser Arafat. Barak replied, “We all know what the ultimate two-state solution will look like. So we have two choices. We either sit down and negotiate this deal now, or we fail. If we fail, there will be a war. And after that war we will bury our dead and return to the very same table to discuss the very same deal.”
Barak was right. There is a general consensus on where most of the borders of a two-state solution should be drawn. And when Arafat rejected Barak’s proposal of these borders at the Camp David summit in July 2000, and his even more generous offer at Taba in 2001, there was another war—the so-called second intifada. And after the war was over, each side buried its dead and returned to the same table to discuss the same deal.
Barak was only wrong about one thing. He overestimated Arafat’s desire and ability to end the conflict. Arafat was not moved by Barak’s powerful logic. Instead, he was motivated by an alternative logic that reminded him that if he agreed to this deal he would have to end the conflict with Israel and give up the Palestinian “right of return.” And the Palestinian leader who made these concessions would likely not live very long.
Barak made a mistake about his partner for peace. But to his credit, he learned from this mistake, recognized the reality, and changed his policy accordingly. And most Israelis learned along with him. After 2000, even the Israeli Left—a robust band of progressives—largely recognized that a two-state solution would have to await a real partner.
Those who hoped that Arafat’s successor—Mahmoud Abbas—was such a partner have since been disappointed. In 2008, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert offered Abbas an even better deal than Barak had offered Arafat at Taba. Abbas’s response was to turn the offer down. He made no counter offer. And he has since abandoned negotiations altogether and instead asked the United Nations to recognize unilaterally a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Such recognition would give Abbas all of the benefits he seeks without requiring him to make those dangerous concessions regarding ending the conflict and relinquishing the right of return.
These events changed the views of most Israelis and American Jews. While many of Israel’s supporters might continue to believe in a two-state solution in the abstract, they cannot blame Israel for the failure to achieve it on the ground. While they might not like the presence of Israeli troops near Arab population centers, they remember what happened the last time they were withdrawn in the name of peace. And they realize that they have a duty to inject this historical reality and polemical nuance into a debate dominated by the black-and-white assertions that Israel alone is to blame.
Given this painful reality, one becomes quite interested to see what Beinart and Ben Ami might have to say on the topic. These are bright men. So upon what insights do they base their conviction that the Palestinians are now ready to accept the deal they have repeatedly rejected?
Anyone looking for such insights from these sources will be disappointed. Beinart blames Israel’s ongoing presence in the West Bank—and a host of other sins—on a flawed Zionism that is so blinded by past Jewish traumas that it is incapable of moral behavior today. But, in his article, he never mentions Arafat’s rejection of Barak’s offer, the Aqsa intifada that followed it, or Abbas’s rejection of Olmert’s offer.
Even worse, Beinart slips the bounds of intellectual honesty to portray Netanyahu as an opponent of a two-state solution. In his article, Beinart quotes from Netanyahu’s 1993 book, A Place among the Nations, in which the future leader expressed his opposition to a Palestinian state. But Beinart completely ignores Netanyahu’s 2009 Bar Ilan University speech, in which he called for the creation of a Palestinian state, and his frequent reiteration of this position since then.
The fact is that a significant transformation has taken place in the Israeli body politic. The two-state solution that had once been the policy preference of the far Left became the policy of the center Left and has now even been embraced by the center Right. But Beinart prefers to quote opinions from almost twenty years ago in his effort to portray Israel as the problem.
Ben Ami does no better. Earlier this year, he issued his manifesto entitled A New Voice for Israel.Yet the reader will search the 240 pages of this volume in vain to find anything that is new. Ben Ami’s core thesis is one that has already been voiced by Israeli prime ministers and embraced by a majority of the Israel public: Israel should accept a two-state solution with the Palestinians to avoid presumed disasters of demography and democracy. There is nothing new at all about stressing the desirability of this solution in theory.
What is new is that unlike most Israelis, Ben Ami ignores Israel’s experience with the two-state solution over the course of the past two decades. He blithely dismisses Arafat’s rejection of Barak’s far reaching offer at the Taba summit by claiming that the “clock simply ran out on the Clinton effort before the negotiators could push the deal to the finish line.”Sprinting from the false to the ridiculous, he adds: “Let’s remember that Arafat himself has been dead since 2004. To the extent that failure was related to his personal failings or flaws as a leader, it’s time to move on.”
Ben Ami does not mention Arafat’s flat rejection of Barak’s offer. Nor does he mention Arafat’s bloody counteroffer: competing with Hamas to see who could blow up more Israelis. Nor does he mention Olmert’s more recent and more generous offer to Abbas and its summary rejection. When dreams confront reality, it seems, reality must bend.
Henry Wallace Lives
This is hardly the first time that some in the American Left have been slow to recognize troubling realities from abroad. Luckily, a prior generation of liberals rose to the challenge far more effectively and responsibly than the current one.
After World War II, many on the American Left felt a deep kinship with the Soviet Union. The Soviets had been a U.S. ally in the war against Nazi Germany. They had suffered enormous losses and were thus entitled to obsess over their security. And the Soviets were ostensibly dedicated to the same general principles as our progressives: helping the working class and creating a more equitable society. Yet in the months and years following the war, evidence began to mount that the Soviet communists were fundamentally different from American liberals. At home, the Soviets were totalitarian. Soviet premier Joseph Stalin was interning and murdering his people by the millions. Abroad, the Soviets were imperialistic. They were subverting democracy in their sphere of influence while simultaneously seeking to expand that sphere by exporting revolution.
What was a reasonable position toward the Soviets during the war and in its immediate aftermath became increasingly untenable with the passage of time. In March 1946, the U.K.’s Winston Churchill presciently alerted the West to the Soviet threat in his famous Iron Curtain speech. A year later, President Harry Truman changed U.S. policy to contain this threat when he promulgated the Truman doctrine.
Yet a core of the Democratic base found this mounting evidence too troubling to internalize. They continued to ignore the facts and blame Soviet aggression on insufficient U.S. will for peace. Blaming Washington would mean that the West did not face a long twilight struggle with a determined ideological foe. Blaming the United States—like blaming Israel—held out the possibility of “peace in our time.”
Former vice president Henry Wallace emerged as the leader of this fantasy movement. He persisted in the view that if U.S. officials only understood the Soviets and addressed their legitimate concerns, they could maintain the World War II alliance and avoid conflict. As the record of Soviet abuses and atrocities mounted, Wallace’s search for excuses and scapegoats grew more desperate.
Wallace went so far as to challenge Truman for the presidency in 1948 as a third-party candidate. He kicked off his campaign by warning that Truman’s “reactionary war policy” would make “inevitable the day when American soldiers will be lying in their Arctic suits in the Russian snow.”Asked about the 1948 coup in which Soviet-backed communists seized control of the Czechoslovakian government, Wallace blamed the Truman doctrine and U.S. foreign policy.
The same scenario is playing out again. Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian Authority have not lived up to the hopes and dreams of Israel’s supporters. Thus most have abandoned these dreams and begun to face the grim prospect of a longer struggle for Israel’s survival. But there are many who refuse to let this reality percolate into their politics.
In 2006, an up-and-coming liberal intellectual framed this tendency to flee from reality as follows: “From Henry Wallace in the late 1940s to Michael Moore after September 11th, some liberals have preferred inaction to the tragic reality that America must shed its moral innocence to act meaningfully in the world.”
This intellectual was none other than Peter Beinart. Wisdom often comes more easily in hindsight.
The Conservative Triumph
The fact that the Democratic Party is the one distancing itself from Israel is still surprising to those who remember a different era. There was a time when the Democratic Party was solidly pro-Israel. Indeed, the party’s base—young activists, academics, and unionists—were among Israel’s most passionate supporters in America.
The Republicans, on the other hand, were cold toward the Jewish state. In Israel’s early years, the party still had a strong isolationist wing. The party was populated by business Republicans who seemed willing to sell Israel for access to Arab oil. And predominant in the party were the Cold War pragmatists who appeared ready to sacrifice Israel for strategic gains in the far more populous Muslim world.
This “pragmatic” wing of the Republican Party produced President Eisenhower, and later President George H. W. Bush, Secretary of State James Baker, national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, and Pat Buchanan. With the exception of Buchanan, these men were not inimical to Israel. But they lacked an ideological commitment to the Jewish state. And when decisions come down to dollars and numbers instead of ideals, Israel has rarely fared well.
Facing this establishment discomfort with Israel, pro-Israel conservatives blamed neither Israel nor Israel’s liberal supporters. Instead, they began the hard work of making the case for Israel on the merits. To security hawks, pro-Israel conservatives stressed that the Jewish state was a Cold War ally. To fiscal conservatives, they demonstrated the true bargain that is U.S. aid to Israel. And to social conservatives, they highlighted that supporting Israel was a religious and moral imperative.
The current generation of pro-Israel conservatives has continued this work. Most are well aware of Israel’s shortcomings. But they are not so myopic that Israel’s faults blind them to the overwhelming justice of its struggle for survival. Nor do these conservatives presume to be saviors of Israel’s soul. They instead focus on the job they are best suited to perform—ensuring that the conservative base knows the truth about Israel.
In the process, pro-Israel conservatives have welcomed key friends and core constituencies into the pro-Israel coalition. When Christian conservatives began to emerge as a powerful pro-Israel voice in the 1980s, many liberals sought to bar them from the pro-Israel camp by spreading myths about their motives. Instead, conservatives made the effort to know them and, in the process, came to understand them, their theology, and ideology. Today, men like Pastor John Hagee and Gary Bauer, and groups like Christians United for Israel, play a prominent role in the pro-Israel coalition.
Over the summer of 2011, the same tactics of vilification were brought to bear against a new entrant into the pro-Israel camp: media giant Glenn Beck. On the flimsiest of evidence, Beck was accused of being an anti-Semite. Pro-Israel conservatives made the effort to know Beck and to experience firsthand his deep love for Israel and the Jewish people. He has now taken his rightful place within the pro-Israel camp.
Pro-Israel conservatives have not only welcomed friends but have taken on opponents within their own house. A non-Jew, William F. Buckley, led the successful effort to excommunicate Pat Buchanan from the conservative movement for his anti-Semitism. When Jesse Helms emerged as a last stalwart of old-school Republican opposition to Israel in the 1980s, pro-Israel conservatives brought him to Israel and challenged his assumptions. He returned as one of Israel’s greatest friends in the U.S. Senate.
Today, the few remaining conservative opponents of Israel reside in the libertarian wing of the party and look to Ron Paul and Rand Paul for leadership. Thus pro-Israel conservatives are taking on these two opponents. Christians United for Israel has generated tens of thousands of emails to each of them stressing that the conservative base wants them to stand with Israel. Citing his “misguided and extreme views,” the Republican Jewish Coalition refused to invite Ron Paul to a presidential candidate forum featuring all of the other major contenders.
Go and Do Likewise
Israel must never become a partisan issue like abortion or the Department of Education. The Jewish state’s supporters must do everything in their power to avoid a situation where the U.S.-Israel relationship is alternatively strong when one party is in power, then abandoned when the other party rises. In such a world, Israel’s enemies will simply build their bombs, stockpile their missiles, and await the inevitable swing of the U.S political pendulum.
At this dangerous juncture, pro-Israel liberals have an opportunity and a responsibility. Of everyone in the pro-Israel camp, it is Israel’s liberal supporters who are best positioned to fight this battle. They are the ones who can most effectively defend Israel by invoking progressive principles to their progressive colleagues. But they are largely shrinking from the fight and are offering up the weakest of excuses for their failure. In the process, they are doing severe, possibly irreparable, damage to the U.S.-Israel relationship.
This failure is tragic. Now is not the time to abandon the battle of ideas. Nor is this the time to seek to purge from the pro-Israel camp those with different views on other, unrelated issues. America’s pro-Israel activists must instead redouble their efforts to expand the pro-Israel coalition and ensure that all major streams of American political thought have a home there.
If Israel ultimately becomes a partisan election issue, it will not be Israel’s fault. And it will not be the fault of Israel’s conservative friends in America. It will be the result of a Left that has focused on the wrong fight in the wrong context at the wrong time. This failure will be the result of an American Jewish liberalism which, to quote liberal theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, “would renounce the responsibilities of power for the sake of preserving the purity of our soul.”
David Brog, the executive director of Christians United for Israel, is the author of In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity (Encounter, 2010).