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'Grey's Anatomy' And 'Nurses': Negative Portrayals Of Orthodox Jews Are Symptomatic Of A Bigger Problem

mar, 02/03/2021 - 18:05
I still remember when our family went to Disney World, years ago, and we went to the exhibit for "It's A Small World After All." To illustrate the point, the exhibit contained caricatures of every nationality. 
The typical Israeli was depicted as -- a Chassid. Maybe the people at Disney had trouble figuring out what an Israeli is.  Or perhaps they thought their visitors did.
Times haven't changed.Depictions of Jews in the media are often accurate.
As an extreme example, take the new show on NBC called Nurses: Set in Toronto, "Nurses" follows five young nurses working on the frontlines of a busy downtown hospital, dedicating their lives to helping others, while struggling to help themselves. In a recent episode -- which NBC has now pulled off its digital platforms-- one of the subplots is that a Chassidic boy requires a bone transplant in order to be able to walk again.
The boy, with his father at his side, refuses the transplant because the bone might be from an Arab or a woman, or -- as the nurse sarcastically chimes in -- an Arab woman.

First @nbcsnl now @nbc 'Nurses' airs a viciously antisemitic episode filled with lies about Orthodox Jews.

"A dead goyim leg ... from an arab, a woman, G-d forbid an Arab women ... Israel ... without this next step you won't walk again".

Lies and libels lead to VIOLENCE! pic.twitter.com/BvRA4Xiq9e

— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) February 23, 2021 Elder of Ziyon outlines the extent to which the show Nurses mischaracterized Orthodox Jews as:
  • Being against any modern medical procedures
  • Being against grafting bone or tissue from non-Jews
  • Being against having women's organs or bones placed in men
  • Jewish men not directly addressing female nurses
  • Saying that prayer and medicine are incompatible
Against that background, we can understand The Wiesenthal Center's reaction: The writers of this scene check all the boxes of ignorance and pernicious negative stereotypes, right down to the name of the patient, Israel – paiyous and all.

In one scene, NBC has insulted and demonized religious Jews and Judaism.

Overreaction? Orthodox Jews are targeted for violent hate crimes – in the city of New York, Jews are number one target of hate crimes in US; this is no slip of the tongue. It was a vile, cheap attack masquerading as TV drama. What’s NBC going to do about it? (Note: Apparently the name of the patient is Ezriel, not Israel.)
It is insulting not only for the deliberately negative slant the show casts on Orthodox Jews, but the show's writers couldn't even be bothered to do the minimal research necessary to realize that under the circumstances, no Orthodox Jew and no Orthodox rabbi would object to such an operation.
The website TV Fanatic does offer a possible context for this sub-plot and what it was intended to do -- draw a comparison with the nurse, who is a religious Christian: I understand what they were going for. Ashley [the nurse] comes from a religious background. She has issues with her conservative Christian home and with her conservative Christian mother.

They were trying to draw a parallel and stir up some feeling for her with this push-button topic. Stir up some feeling? Mission accomplished!
But even so, the thinking behind the plot of this episode is not even new.
In 2005, Grey's Anatomy ran an episode with a similar sub-plot: a 17-year-old girl who has recently become more religious finds out that she has a potentially threatening heart condition that could kill her. The good news is that her life can be saved with an operation that will provide her with a new heart valve.
But the valve is from a pig.
The subplot revolves around her refusal to accept the operation because of the source of the valve.
As Rabbi Avi Shafran wrote in response to the show at the time: That Jewish law in no way forbids such use of pig parts (only their consumption – and not even that when life is endangered) is not noted; quite the contrary, the viewer is led to believe that the girl’s refusal would be the natural stance of any observant Jew. The silliness of the scenario is only compounded by the casting of a woman as the Orthodox girl’s rabbi (and the episode’s “good guy,” of course).

...But the most egregious element of the fantasy is the character’s, well, character. The Orthodox youth is portrayed as, in the words of one viewer, “a crazy fundamentalist fanatical Jew [who] was rude and behaved horrendously to the doctors who were only trying to help her.” The character belittles her less-observant parents, cursing like a sailor in the process. Just your standard-fare nice, newly religious Jewish girl. [emphasis added]
Realism and accuracy clearly were not considerations. The writer admitted to The Forward, "Whenever there is a story that has a rabbi I never see a woman, I just see old men. I wanted to clash with the stereotype a bit."
But there is more going on in this episode on Grey's Anatomy than just a clash in stereotypes of what a rabbi looks like. As in the episode in Nurses, in this episode of Grey's Anatomy, the writer deliberately created a character who was obnoxious because of her religiosity.
As Rabbi Shafran points out:
...If the character is a positive one, or even a neutral one, no one, save perhaps an anti-Semite, would complain. But if he or she is consciously crafted to be obnoxious – and not merely obnoxious, but obnoxious in her dedication to her ostensible religious beliefs – does that not border on provocation? [emphasis added]
So what is going on here?
In 2005, Wendy Shalit examined the books written about the ultra-Orthodox world, many of which painted a negative picture, and wondered aloud about the audience for such books: What is the market for this fiction? Does it simply satisfy our desire, as one of Mirvis's reviewers put it, to indulge in "eavesdropping on a closed world"? Or is there a deeper urge: do some readers want to believe the ultra-Orthodox are crooked and hypocritical, and thus lacking any competing claim to the truth? Perhaps, on the other hand, readers are genuinely interested in traditional Judaism but don't know where to look for more nuanced portraits of this world. Does the same desire to undermine the Orthodox Jews motivate the writers of these kinds of episodes on Grey's Anatomy and Nurses?
In response to criticism of her article, Shalit writes: For whatever reason, many writers today like to create immoral haredi and newly-religious characters. The truth is, I don't know why. Perhaps because they are not from these worlds, they fail to appreciate the idealism that's there. Or perhaps it's because, as Ms. Mirvis has admitted, nowadays "there is a great deal of discomfort with religiosity, and I have to admit, I feel it myself as well."

...But when all your Orthodox characters are cold and dysfunctional, and unlike anything this group understands itself to be, then I think one must ask what else might be going on. [emphasis added] Shalit ends this article with a challenge: Let's turn the tables. Suppose there is a new genre in American Jewish literature, in which Reform Jews are vilified regularly. There is the temple's secretary who kills one of her Hadassah sisters in order to get the latest Judith Lieber bag, and a gay Reform rabbi who seduces younger male congregants. There are idealistic college coeds who want to escape Reform life, but are daunted by the prospect of learning Hebrew, so they abuse drugs instead. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that there is such a genre. And suppose further that these novels are a bit short on character development, that they are primarily driven by page after page of weirdo Reform characters, and mouth agape, one must turn the pages in order to satisfy one's curiosity: what will this bad Reform bunch do next? The authors, who are not Reform themselves, are celebrated in the non-Jewish world and their Reform-bashing literature is translated into multiple languages.

How would we feel about such novels? My guess is that they would not be so popular, and the fact that we have toasted such literature about Orthodox Jews for so long might -- just might -- tell us something about our prejudices. [emphasis added] There was a time that simple curiosity was the driving force in the depiction of Orthodox Jews. In his review of the book This Ain't Kosher, Elliot Gertel reveals that "the (Jewish) producers of [the TV show] Kung Fu originally thought of making the martial arts master a Hasidic rebbe."
But those were simpler days that are long behind us.


Catégories: Middle East

What Does "The Jewish Vote" Even Mean -- And Is There Enough Of It To Go Around?

jeu, 19/11/2020 - 19:05
This past election, once again the perpetual question that inevitably came up was about 'the Jewish vote': which candidate won it -- and why does it even matter? The Democrats consistently brag that they own the Jewish vote, while the Republicans just keep on claiming that they are just on the verge of acquiring it.
This bipartisan fight over the Jewish vote can be traced back to Herbert Hoover.
In their 2012 book "Herbert Hoover and The Jews," Rafael Medoff and Sonja Wentling, propose that the Jewish vote became a thing in the leadup to the 1944 presidential election, when Roosevelt ran for his 4th term, against Thomas Dewey. 
A review of that book notes that in contrast to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it was Hoover -- 10 years after he was voted out of office -- who stood up for European Jews. Hoover publicly advocated for the US to open its doors to Jewish refugees and repeatedly spoke out for Jews during the Holocaust years.
The book also reveals that although, at the time, Rabbi Stephen Wise and the Jewish leadership were wary of Republican politicians in general and of Hoover in particular, Republicans such as Hoover himself, Senator Robert Taft and Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce espoused strongly pro-Zionist and pro-rescue planks that were incorporated into the Republican convention’s 1944 platform. Only this threat to their monopoly of the “Jewish vote,” Medoff and Wentling argue, forced FDR and the Democrats to adopt similar planks, which have ever since remained unshakable for both parties. [emphasis added] But why would anyone ever bother with the Jewish vote to begin with? After all, for a voting bloc, there is not a lot to recommend it:
  • Jews are about 1.5% of the American population o That percentage is about half of what it was 50 years ago
  • And this percentage is continuing to shrink
  • As a bloc, it is not even unified -- with religious Jews tending to vote Republican and non-religious voting Democratic
  • While the vast majority of Jews support Israel, come election time Israel does not rank as a major issue
So what is the big deal?
In a 2016 video, Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis, listed some of the reasons why politicians vie over the Jewish vote, even despite its small size:
  • Despite their small numbers, Jews turn out to vote in high numbers -- according to one estimate, 85% of all eligible Jews vote in presidential elections o Jews historically contribute large amounts of money to political parties -- both Democratic and Republican.
  • Jews happen to live in key states that presidential candidates want to carry, such as Florida
  • There are indications that the Democratic party is moving away from Israel, which may present an opportunity for Republicans to capture more of the Jewish vote

Four years earlier, in a 2012 article, Shmuel Rosner added another reason why politicians consider  is important, and why the attention to the Jewish vote is out of proportion to its numbers:
One would say it's the influence that Jews have in the media and their solid presence in notable positions. Others would point to their presence in celebrity circles and the arts, while still others would look to the over-representation of Jews in American politics, as advisors, consultants, pollsters, analysts and elected officials.

But you can really just call it the bellwether factor. Jews are seen as major political players because they believe that their vote really counts, because they project self-importance. They might not tip elections, but they appear as if they can.  Going further back to 2010, Pew Research found indications that the perpetual prediction of Republican gains among the Jewish vote might actually be happening: The religious landscape is far more favorable to Republicans than was the case as recently as 2008. Half of white non-Hispanic Catholics (50%) currently identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, up nine points since 2008. Among religiously unaffiliated voters, who have been stalwart supporters of Democrats in recent elections, 29% currently identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, up from 25% in 2008 (the proportion identifying as Democrats has fallen seven points since then). And 33% of Jewish voters identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, up from 20% in 2008. [emphasis added] In a different article, Rosner finds indications that Jews are not actually trending Republican -- they are trending libertarian, meaning that losses in the Democratic share of the Jewish vote are not necessarily translating straight into Republican gains.
But either way, Democrats cannot take the Jewish vote for granted anymore -- despite what they may say publicly.
In 2006, a Washington Post featured an article Future of Orthodox Jewish Vote Has Implications for GOP, based not only on the conservative views of Orthodox Jews, but also on their higher birth rate.
To which Jill Jacobs, executive director of T'ruah, responded: I’m not quite ready to buy this prediction. After all, who’s to say whether today’s Orthodox babies will grow up voting Republican, Democratic, Green, or Libertarian. (or whether today’s Orthodox babies will stay Orthodox, become Renewal rabbis, or even succumb the Jews for Jesus subway ads) Still, it’s an interesting assumption that Orthodox communities will always produce kids and adults who vote according to Jewish self-interest, narrowly defined. Yeah, and who's to say whether the Democratic party will someday stand idly by as the radical left progressives of their party openly attacked not only Israel but also accuse Israel's supporters of dual loyalty?
Then there is the argument on how to even define, and measure, the Jewish vote.
Yossie Hollander, chairman of the Israeli Institute for Economic Planning, claims Contrary to popular belief, most US Jews support Trump.
His reasoning? No one is counting the Jewish vote correctly because they are overlooking certain components of the American Jewish population:
  • Israelis who emigrate to the US and are citizens with voting rights -- estimates of the size of this group range from 600,000 to one million. Pollsters do not know how to reach and measure this group and manage to measure only a very small percentage of it.
  • The ultra-Orthodox -- while people talk about them as a political component of the Jewish vote, Hollander writes that because the percentage of their children is relatively higher compared to the average population, the number of eligible voters is not the same ratio as in other populations, and so they end up not being surveyed.
  • Immigrants from the former Soviet Union and their children -- there are about 350,000 of them and for a variety of reasons, they are rarely surveyed. 
  • The "Southwest Belt" -- Over the past 30 years, there has been massive immigration in US population centers from the north to areas in Orange County California, San Diego County, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Atlanta, and Florida. Jews are part of this migration, and as a result, the Jewish communities there are growing rapidly, mostly in conservative areas. According to Hollander, most polling models still use the old population model. 
That is a criticism of the methodology behind the polls.  Compare that with political consultant Jeff Ballabon, who takes a more sociological approach and compares the Jewish vote with the Irish vote.
Ever notice that no one talks about politicians going after "the Irish vote?" To be statistically meaningful or politically relevant, a characteristic must impact voting behavior. For example, there are almost 35 million Americans of Irish descent, but it’s been decades since presidential campaigns engaged in sustained Irish voter outreach. That’s because it’s long been difficult to distinguish anything sufficiently unique – identifiably Irish - about their political behavior. Most vote precisely as their education, profession, income, and zip code alone would predict. The exceptions tend to be active, practicing Catholics who elevate concerns relevant to their faith...

The use of the term “Jewish” interchangeably to mean both ethnicity (like “Irish”) and faith (like “Catholic”) obfuscates it, but the same phenomenon is true for America’s Jews.  [emphasis added] According to Ballabon, a large segment of American Jews, like Irish Americans, are arguably not uniquely Jewish in their own political behavior: The American Left seethes with enmity towards President Trump and is thoroughly wedded to the Democrats. The vast majority of Jews who follow suit proudly confirm that they do so as progressives with universal concerns; not parochially – not as part of a “Jewish Vote.” Even when they profess concern over antisemitism, it’s glaringly limited to those alleged by progressives to be malefactors. [emphasis added] Whether radical groups put the word "Jewish" in their name or name their group after a popular saying in Pirkei Avot, that often appears to be the full extent of their identification with their fellow Jews.
Meanwhile, as for the latest fight for bragging rights to the Jewish vote, the results of this last presidential election seem to validate that the Jewish vote is no longer limited to being a Democratic cheerleading squad.
While Biden easily got the majority of the Jewish vote -- there are indications that Trump improved his numbers for the Jewish vote, which made it possible to win the state of Florida, where an AP exit poll indicated he received 43% of the Jewish vote compared to 56% for Biden. Nationally, exit polls indicated Trump received the highest percent of the Jewish vote for a Republican in decades (30%), while the Jewish vote for Biden was low for a Democrat (68%).
There are hints that the conservative element of the Jewish vote may finally be coming into its own -- and the same Jewish vote that helped Biden in some states was successfully siphoned off by Trump to win others.
But at what cost is the Jewish vote being split?
Jonathan Tobin writes that Jews in America are among Trump’s fiercest opponents – but also his most fervent supporters: For Jewish liberals, Trump is an ally of antisemites and a proto-authoritarian whose character and conduct, statements mark him as a unique threat to democracy. They can’t understand why even one Jew would consider voting for him.

...It’s not for nothing that the Jewish Democratic Council has produced ads that more or less accuse Trump of being a Nazi and, despite the offensive nature of these analogies, have found them resonating with many liberal Jews. Tobin points out that Jews, like the rest of America, are divided into 2 political cultures which feed off of different circles on social media -- circles that usually don't include the other side. The overwhelming majority of non-Orthodox Jews identify with the social justice agenda of the Democratic Party and think it forms the core of Judaism and place it higher as a priority than support for Israel. On the other hand, Orthodox Jews, and non-Orthodox Jews who identify as politically conservative, see support for Israel as a decisive issue.
At home, the Orthodox and conservative groups don't see Trump’s embrace of nationalism as a threat. Instead, they see it as the best way to defend Jews against the antisemitism of the intersectional left which is assuming a more prominent and vocal role in the Democratic Party. 
Even Jews who are members of the same, educated classes who find Trump so offensive, share the distrust that the working-class has for the mainstream media that made it their mission to defeat him, working together with the liberal social media to censor conservative views and unflattering stories about Democrats. The choice boils down to how much value you place on having a president who may be flawed, but is historically pro-Israel and supportive of a conservative political agenda, as opposed to the cherished hope of Trump opponents: that a moderate liberal like Biden can restore a sense of pre-2016 normalcy, while also keeping in check the Democrats’ radical wing. In comparison with everything we hear about the need to address the divide between American Jews and Israelis, this developing rift within the Jewish community itself, as reflected by the split in the Jewish vote, is being overlooked. 
But it is unlikely to go away.
Catégories: Middle East

Remember When Farrakhan Said Palestinian Arabs Were Bloodsuckers?

jeu, 19/11/2020 - 15:53
If Blacks are a minority and Jews are a minority, why is there such tension between them?

One element that caused this friction is the way social interaction between Jews and Blacks was structured in the 1960's.

According to the book "Israel in the Black American Perspective" (1985):
In the Black community Jews were frequently associated with wealth and "parasitism." Under the least propitious circumstances, Blacks usually met Jews as storekeepers and landlords--the most visible representatives of an oppressive economic system. Such meetings were not likely to promote good will and mutual respect. [p4] But if Jewish storekeepers and landlords are such a significant reason for how Blacks viewed Jews, why would that hatred seem to be so focused on Jews?

In a footnote to that paragraph, the book's authors -- Robert G. Weisbord and Richard Kazarian, Jr. -- point out that Jews were not the only storekeepers and landlords that Blacks had contact with:
In some cities, New Orleans and Newark to mention just two, Italian-black relations were acrimonious for similar reasons. Of late, "exploitative" Korean merchants in Harlem have aroused the ire of Afro-Americans, some of whom have responded with "buy Black" campaigns and organized boycotts of the Korean businesses.

And in Detroit, Arab grocers, mostly Iraqui [sic] Christians, have experienced picketing by Blacks who denounced profiteering outsiders. Burning and looting occurred in 1983 following the killing of a Black youth by an Arab storekeeper.

Antagonism to the Arabs in Detroit was rooted in the frustrations Blacks feel when confronted by the more rapid economic progress made by first and second generation immigrants. Black hostility to the Iraquis [sic] in the Motor City is strikingly similar to that directed at the Jews in Gotham and elsewhere. [p6. Text divided into paragraphs for easier reading. Emphasis added] Over the decades, Race Riots were not directed only at Jews:
Similar to the 1943 Detroit Race Riots that devastated the Jewish population, and the 1967 Race Riots that left hundreds of Chaldean [Iraqi Arab Christian] businesses destroyed, Koreans too dealt with a destructive riot in 1992 Los Angeles. The context for the 1992 riotsis the reaction to the verdict that cleared the police officers who were videotaped beating Rodney King, a year after a Korean store owner shot and killed a 15-year-old Black girl because he thought she was stealing a bottle of orange juice --
The nearly weeklong, widespread rioting killed more than 50 people, injured more than 1,000 people and caused approximately $1 billion in damage, about half of which was sustained by Korean-owned businesses. Long-simmering cultural clashes between immigrant Korean business owners and predominately African-American customers spilled over with the acquittals. [emphasis added] In Chicago, there was friction between Blacks and Arab immigrants too:
Common complaints about stores predominantly owned by Muslims from Palestine, Jordan, and Yemen, are that they only provide low-quality food and don’t take any ownership over their role in the community. “The reality is that Englewood is changing, and if you don’t improve your model, in time you will go out of business,” says Gunn. Yet despite tensions between Blacks and other groups -- tensions that let to riots -- have you ever heard Farrakhan attack minorities other than Jews?

Actually, he did.

In 1995, The Chicago Tribune reported about
comments Farrakhan made Friday during a television interview in which he was quoted as saying Jews, Arabs, Koreans and Vietnamese were "bloodsuckers" who set up businesses in the black community but never gave back to those neighborhoods. Arabs?
Not just any Arabs.

The Buffalo News had the full quote:
In an interview with Reuters Television aped Oct. 4 and made public Friday, Mr. Farrakhan touched on several sensitive subjects that previously outraged Jewish leaders and prompted accusations of anti-Semitism against him.

"When we use the term 'bloodsucker,' it doesn't just apply to some members of the Jewish community. That could apply to any human being who does nothing for another but lays on that human being to suck the value of its life without returning anything," Mr. Farrakhan said in the interview.

"Many of the Jews who owned the homes, the apartments in the black community, we considered them bloodsuckers because they took from our community and built their community but didn't offer anything back to our community.

"And when the Jews left, the Palestinian Arabs came, Koreans came, Vietnamese and other ethnic and racial groups came. And so this is a type and we call them bloodsuckers."[emphasis added] Later, Farrakhan complained about the media for misreporting what he said: "It is unfortunate that the media is taking words that were spoken out of context to create division."

He never did make clear what the proper context for "bloodsuckers" was.

But the next day, Farrakhan did a turnaround, equating the suffering of Black Americans with other minority groups in the US:
In an address at Operation PUSH headquarters, 930 E. 50th St., Farrakhan said African-American men are dehumanized in the United States in the same way Japanese, Germans, Italians and, more recently, Koreans, Vietnamese and people of Middle Eastern descent have been treated in the U.S. during wars involving Americans.
..."We didn't feel their pain because they were considered the enemy," Farrakhan said to the gathering of about 100 people. "Thanks to the media manipulation, we are seen now as the enemy." To understand Farrakhan's turnaround, you need to keep in mind:
  • His original comment was on a Friday.
  • His "correction" was the next day, on Saturday.
  • Two days later, Monday -- was his Million Man March.
Farrakhan's statement standing up for other minorities was a cynical move to avoid bad press for his upcoming Million Man March in Washington.

So why did Farrakhan have it in for Palestinian Arabs?

According to The Encyclopedia of Chicago, Palestinian Arabs started arriving at the end of the 19th century, and many settled in Chicago in particular --
By the early 1970s, they owned nearly 20 percent of all small grocery and liquor stores in Chicago, most located in African American communities, although Chicago's 30,000 Palestinians represented less than 1 percent of the city's population. By the 1990s, Palestinians had maintained this niche, but they also diversified into used-car dealerships, gas stations, auto repair shops, ethnic stores, and fast-food restaurants, remaining, however, primarily a community of small business entrepreneurs serving mostly “minority” communities. According to the 1990 census, more than 45 percent of employed Palestinians in the Chicago area worked in retail trade. The second largest concentration—some 14 percent—were professionals. [emphasis added] As with Jews, Arab Christians, Italians and Asian-Americans, there were Palestinian Arabs, too, who were store owners in Black communities.

This is not to minimize the problem of race relations or deny the validity of alleged discrimination. But the knee-jerk reaction of Farrakhan to accuse such a varied group of immigrants of being 'bloodsuckers' exploiting the Black community reveals more about Farrakhan than it does about the various ethnic groups he attacked.

Maybe that is why Farrakhan ended up focusing his hate on one group alone -- Jews.

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Catégories: Middle East

Nixon, Rabin and Trump: Unfinished Business In The Middle East

jeu, 19/11/2020 - 05:20
What is the hardest part of brokering a peace agreement?
-- Sometimes, it's just getting the two sides to sit down in the same room. -- Other times, the problem is getting the two sides just to talk. -- Even then, there is the problem of getting them to negotiate and be willing to make concessions.
And then there is the problem when you just run out of time.
Following the Yom Kippur War, in which Egypt and Syria were nearly victorious, a unique possibility for peace between Israel and Egypt presented itself. Nixon's airlift of crucial arms during the war was critical to Israel's victory -- and created an opportunity.
Richard Nixon. Public domain

Seeking to take advantage of this opportunity, in June 1974, Nixon became the first US president to visit Israel while in office.
As Rabin explained in a press conference after Nixon returned to the US: "Ever since the airlift of the Yom Kippur War, the Arabs have come to understand that America will not allow Israel to be weakened. A defeat of Israel is a victory for the USSR. Paradoxically, this is what has raised America's prestige in the Arab world, and has given Washington leverage. Today in the Middle East, Moscow is a synonym for instability and war, Washington for stability and negotiation." (Yehuda Avner, The Prime Ministers, p. 270)
Yitzhak Rabin. Public domain

This leverage as an honest broker would make it possible for the US to go beyond being a supporter of Israel's interests, and show that it was a strong and reliable ally to address the interests of the Arab world as well.
Meanwhile, Nixon began discussing with Egypt's Sadat the possibility of a final settlement, going step-by-step. On June 25, Nixon wrote to Sadat: Mr. President, I am convinced that we have witnessed in recent months a turning point in the history of the Middle East -- a turning toward an honorable, just, and endurinable peace -- and have ushered in a new era in U.S.-Arab relations. A direction has been set, and it is my firm intention to stay on the course we have chartered. (p. 271) Two months later, Nixon resigned.
The following month, Rabin was meeting with President Ford -- and Kissinger -- to continue what Nixon had started. The following year, in March, Kissinger came to the Middle East to conduct his "shuttle diplomacy," bouncing back and forth between Israel and Egypt. Kissinger pressured Rabin on a withdrawal from the Sinai, especially from the Mitla and Gidi passes, while Rabin wanted Sadat to commit himself to a "termination of the state of belligerency" with Israel.
Kissinger's efforts failed -- and he blamed Israel.
In the end, however, another attempt was made, culminating in an interim agreement known as Sinai II.
Just to get an idea of what Rabin was up against, here is an excerpt from the notes of a conversation between Sadat and Foreign Minister Fahmi with Ford and Kissinger. The context is the early warning stations in the Sinai that Rabin wanted to retain -- and Sadat's idea of a compromise, where they would be manned by US troops. Note the highlighted portions.

The term "honest broker" is overrated.
In any event, Rabin too ended up resigning because of the 'scandal' surrounding his wife, who had retained a bank account from the years when Rabin was Israel's ambassador to the US from 1968 to 1973. After that, the Israeli law forbidding citizens from holding bank accounts abroad came into play. However, another law prevented Rabin from resigning outright once the date for the next elections has been set. Instead, Rabin withdrew from the race as leader of the Labor Party, to be replaced from Shimon Peres to face Menachem Begin.
Begin became prime minister -- and it was during his term that a peace treaty with Egypt was signed. 
Rabin felt his role in making that peace treaty possible was never acknowledged, but at the same time he understood that was the way of things.
In his memoirs, Rabin wrote: When President Sadat made his historic visit to Jerusalem on 19 November 1977 I was no longer prime minister. Yet that visit -- and the subsequent moves toward achieving a peace treaty -- could never have come about were it not for the course my government adopted in signing the 1975 interim agreement. That our policy provoked the anger of Likud has not prevented Mr. Begin's government from reaping the fruits of our labors. Of course, that is how things should be, since the quest for peace is not a contest between political parties...The 1975 agreement with Egypt was never meant to be an end in itself. As its title implies, it was designed to advance the momentum toward peace, and in that sense it achieved its purpose. [emphasis added] (quoted in The Prime Ministers, p.302) Begin benefited from the foundation set by Nixon and the groundwork laid by Rabin, both of whom left their work unfinished. 
But that was not the last we heard from Rabin.
After serving as prime minister from 1974 to 1977, Rabin became prime minister again in 1992. And he was still focused on peace. In 1994, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in the Oslo Accords, along with Shimon Peres and Arafat. Rabin also signed a peace treaty with Jordan that same year.
In late 1995, Rabin described to Yehuda Avner his view of the Middle East, a description that 25 years later sounds familiar: Number one: Israel is surrounded by two concentric circles. The inner circle is comprised of our immediate neighbors—Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, and, by extension, Saudi Arabia. The outer circle comprises their neighbors—Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and Libya. Virtually all of them are rogue states, and some are going nuclear.

Number two, Iranian-inspired Islamic fundamentalism constitutes a threat to the inner circle no less than it does to Israel. Islamic fundamentalism is striving to destabilize the Gulf Emirates, has already created havoc in Syria, leaving twenty thousand dead, in Algeria, leaving one hundred thousand dead, in Egypt, leaving twenty-two thousand dead, in Jordan, leaving eight thousand dead, in the Horn of Africa—the Sudan and Somalia—leaving fourteen thousand dead, and in Yemen, leaving twelve thousand dead. And now it is gaining influence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Iran is the banker, pouring millions into the West Bank and Gaza in the form of social welfare and health and education programs, so that it can win the hearts of the population and feed religious fanaticism.

Thus, a confluence of interest has arisen between Israel and the inner circle, whose long-term strategic interest is the same as ours: to lessen the destabilizing consequences from the outer circle. At the end of the day, the inner circle recognizes they have less to fear from Israel than from their Muslim neighbors, not least from radicalized Islamic powers going nuclear.

Number three: the Arab-Israeli conflict was always considered to be a political one: a conflict between Arabs and Israelis. The fundamentalists are doing their level best to turn it into a religious conflict—Muslim against Jew, Islam against Judaism. And while a political conflict is possible to solve through negotiation and compromise, there are no solutions to a theological conflict. Then it is jihad—religious war: their God against our God. Were they to win, our conflict would go from war to war, and from stalemate to stalemate. [emphasis added] (p. 707) The context for this description of the Middle East is Rabin's response to Avner's question as to why he shook Arafat's hand at the signing of the Oslo Accords: He and his PLO represent the last vestige of secular Palestinian nationalism. We have nobody else to deal with. It is either the PLO or nothing. It is a long shot for a possible settlement, or the certainty of no settlement at all at a time when the radicals are going nuclear. With the growing threat of Islamic fundamentalism, negotiating with secular Palestinian Arabs made sense to Rabin.
Neither he -- nor then-President Clinton -- saw the potential in negotiating and working with other Arab states within those concentric circles. There's no reason they would, when all the contemporary thinking was focused on the Palestinian Arabs as a key to peace, a cold peace in line with the peace treaties signed with Egypt and Jordan with no thought of normalization. According to that thinking, it is either the Palestinian Arabs or nothing.
The Middle East achievements of the Trump administration this year took Rabin's outline and acted on it.
What Rabin might have further accomplished, we will never know.He was stopped again, this time by a bullet, from pursuing peace.
But like Nixon and Rabin, Trump too will not be pursuing his vision for peace to its full extent.

Catégories: Middle East

Some Black Leaders Supported Zionism Before Herzl Did

dim, 15/11/2020 - 01:11
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a reporter asked Golda Meir about African leaders that were cutting off diplomatic ties with Israel under Arab pressure. The reporter claimed this proved that Israel's African policy and the aid given was a waste of time. Golda Meir disagreed:
Because what I did for Africa was not just a policy of enlightened self-interest. I did it for the benefit of the African peoples, and deep in their hearts they know this to be true. It was an expression of my deepest historic instincts as a Jew, and a demonstration of my most profound and cherished values as a Labor Zionist. [The Prime Ministers, by Yehuda Avner, p. 236] Golda Meir was not the first Zionist to speak about helping Africa.

Herzl's novel, Altneuland, describes his vision of what Jewish Palestine would look like. At one point, one of the characters declares:
There is still one problem of racial misfortune unsolved. The depths of that problem, in all their horror, only a Jew can fathom. I mean the negro problem. Don't laugh, Mr. Kingscourt. Think of the hair-raising horrors of the slave trade. Human beings, because their skins are black, are stolen, carried off, and sold. Their descendants grow up in alien surroundings despised and hated because their skin is differently pigmented. I am not ashamed to say, though I be thought ridiculous, now that I have lived to see the restoration of the Jews, I should like to pave the way for the restoration of the Negroes. [Translated from the German by Dr. D. S. Blondheim, Federation of American Zionists, 1916, available online] Herzl's desire for Blacks to be restored to their homeland was mutual.

In fact, Black support for the Jewish State predates Herzl.

In their book, Israel in the Black American Perspective, Robert G. Weisbord and Richard Kazarian start with a chapter on early Black support for the Zionist idea.

As early as the post-Civil War era, when Blacks were still too focused on their survival and that of their families to concern themselves with foreign affairs, there were still a few Black intellectuals and leaders who kept abreast of events overseas.

Some saw parallels between their own situation and that of the Jews -- and others saw Zionism and the return to the Jewish homeland as the paradigm for the transplanted Africans in the US.

Here is a summary of what the book describes about some of those leaders --

Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832-1912) Blyden was born in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, which had a significant Jewish population, and later immigrated to West Africa in 1851. He was an editor, a prolific writer of books and pamphlets, a linguist, a professor of classics, secretary of state of the newly established republic of Liberia, Liberian ambassador to Great Britain and president of Liberia College.

Edward Wilmot Blyden. Public Domain
As he describes in his book, The Jewish Question, while traveling in the Middle East in 1866, Blyden wanted to travel to "the original home of the Jews--to see Jerusalem and Mt. Zion, the joy of the whole earth." While in Jerusalem he went to the Western Wall.

Keep in mind that Theodor Herzl wasn't even born until 1860. Instead, this was the time of 'proto-Zionists' like Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer, who wrote Derishat Ziyon (Seeking Zion), and Moses Hess, who wrote Rome and Jerusalem -- both published in 1862.

Weisbrod and Kazarian write:
In point of fact, Blyden in the 1860's and 1870's was much more of a Zionist than most Jews. He advocated Jewish settlement in Palestine, a phenomenon which, in his judgment would not have an adverse effect on the Arabs. Blyden reproved the sons of Abraham for remaining in the Diaspora and for not migrating to their ancient homeland, which the Ottoman Turks were misgoverning. Towards the end of the 19th century, with the resurgence of antisemitism in Russia, France and Germany, that political Zionism came into its own with Herzl and his publication of The Jewish State in 1896. The First Zionist Congress followed in 1897.

Blyden's booklet, The Jewish Question, was published the following year:
Blyden was familiar with Herzl's Jewish State and predicted that it propounded ideas which "have given such an impetus to the real work of the Jews as will tell with enormous effect upon their future history." Blyden also commented on the powerful influence of the "tidal wave from Vienna--that inspiration almost Mosaic in its originality and in its tendency, which drew crowds of Israelites to Basle in August 1897...and again in 1898." However, Blyden also thought that if the timing was not right, the Jewish State could be established elsewhere as well. He felt that because of the shared suffering of Jews and African Americans, they were specially qualified to be spiritual leaders in the world.

So he invited Jews to come to Africa --
Africa appeals to the Jew... to come with his scientific and other culture, gathered by his exile in many lands, and with his special spiritual endowments. As it turned out, when the British offered Herzl land in Africa in 1903 for a state, that invitation was nearly accepted.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)Booker T. Washington was such a celebrity during the latter part of his life that he was invited to have dinner with Theodore Roosevelt at the White House and to have tea with Queen Victoria.

He was born into slavery, but despite the hardships, he taught himself the alphabet, got an education and went on to found the Tuskegee Institute, which he headed for 35 years.

Booker T. Washington. public domain
From his childhood, Washington had an interest in Jews, based on his familiarity of Bible stories -- and drew parallels between the histories of Blacks and Jews. In a speech he delivered in 1905, Washington said: In Russia there are one-half as many Jews as there are Negroes in this country and yet I feel sure that within a month more Jews have been persecuted and killed than the whole number of our people who have been lynched during the past forty years. While Washington believed in thrift and hard work as key to Black equality, he also thought that progress could be achieved through racial solidarity -- just as it had helped Jews: There is, perhaps, no race that has suffered so much, not so much in America as in some of the countries in Europe. But these people have clung together. They have had a certain amount of unity, pride and love of race. Washington predicted success for Jews in the US, "a country where they were once despised and looked upon with scorn and derision" -- success that was achieved largely through dedication to education and enabled them to gain positions of power and preeminence.
He did not share the back-to-Africanism of Blyden, and did not see it as a solution to Black problems in the South. Similarly, while he was a friend of the Jews, Washington didn't see a Jewish State as much of a solution for Jews either. When asked if there was anything among Blacks that compared to the Zionist movement, Washington responded: I think it is with the African pretty much as it is with the Jews, there is a good deal of talk about it, but nothing is done, there is certainly no sign of an exodus to Liberia. Based on the lesser interest in Zionism in the US at the time, it is no wonder Washington was skeptical.
W.E.B Du Bois 1868-1963 Du Bois championed the cause of racial justice -- and of Zionism as well. He was born in Massachusetts and was educated at Fisk University in Nashville, at the University of Berlin and received a Ph.D from Harvard. He wrote historical treatises, sociological studies and essays on the important issues of the day. Du Bois was one of the founders of the NAACP.
He saw potential in the Balfour Declaration for a similar solution for Blacks. With the defeat of Germany in WWI,  his dream was an independent free central African state carved out of German East Africa and the Belgian Congo.
It didn't happen.

W.E.B Du Bois Public Domain

He believed that such an African state would have a mutually beneficial relationship with Blacks around the world, similar to the Zionist view of a Jewish state.  In 1919, Du Bois wrote an article in the NAACP magazine Crisis that The African movement means to us what the Zionist movement must mean to the Jews, the centralization of race effort and the recognition of a racial fount. To help bear the burden of Africa does not mean any lessening of effort in our problems at home. Rather it means increased interest. For an ebullition of action and feeling that results in an amelioration of the lot of Africa tends to ameliorate the conditions of colored peoples throughout the world. And no man liveth unto himself. Du Bois started a monthly magazine for Afro-African children around 1919 called The Brownie's Book. In it, he wrote about Zionism.
  • In the first issue, he told his readers about the new Jewish state planned "'round about Jerusalem"
  • Eight months later, he told them that a "great Zionist congress of the Jews is meeting in London"
  • He also noted proposals to "tax the Jews all over the world for the support of the new Jewish government in Palestine"
  • In January 1921, he wrote about the finished blueprints for a Hebrew university on the biblical Mount of Olives in Jerusalem o In 1929, he wrote about the "murder of Jews by Arabs in Palestine."
In 1948, Du Bois published "A Case for the Jews." In it, he described Zionism as a question of young and forward thinking Jews, bringing a new civilization into an old land and building up that land out of the ignorance, disease and poverty into which it had fallen, and by democratic methods to build a new and peculiarly fateful modern state. In June 26, 1948 the NAACP adopted a resolution that The valiant struggle of the people of Israel for independence serves as an inspiration to all persecuted people throughout the world. We havil the establishment of the new State of Israel and welcome it into the family of nations.'  Marcus Garvey 1887-1940 Born in Jamaica, Garvey was the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). He wrote that Africa needed to be transformed into a  Negro Empire where every Black man, whether he was born in Africa or in the Western world, will have the opportunity to develop on his own lines under the protection of the most favorable democratic institutions. His wife described his vision in a way similar to the Zionist goal of a Jewish state: Garvey saw Africa as a nation to which the African peoples of the world could look for help and support, moral and physical when ill-treated or abused for being black.
Marcus Garvey. Public Domain

In 1920, Garvey told a UNIA meeting that after WWI,  A new spirit, a new courage, has come to us simultaneously as it came to other peoples of the world. It came to us at the same time it came to the Jew. When the Jew said 'We shall have Palestine!' the same sentiment came to us when we said' We shall have Africa!' At the same time, the Jewish press was aware of what Garvey was doing and also saw the parallels between his pan-Africanism and Zionism. In the book, African Americans and Jews in the Twentieth Century, edited by V. P. Franklin, Hasia Diner notes in "Drawn Together By Self-Interest" that the Yiddish Press used the idioms of Jewish history to describe Marcus Garvey:

But Garvey was a complex -- and even contradictory -- figure when it came to Jews. There were statements he made that were antisemitic and when British Prime Minister Neville suggested in 1939 settling Jewish refugees in British Guiana, Garvey lashed out, claiming that British Guiana was a "Negro country" and criticized Zionism.
Walter White 1893-1955 In 1947, the UN voted on the partition of then-Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. It was an opportunity to finally create a Jewish state -- but a two-thirds majority was necessary to make it happen.
Enter Walter White.

Walter White. Public Domain
Zionists approached White, urging him to persuade two Black nations, Haiti and Liberia, to reverse their announced opposition to partition and to vote for it instead.
He was opposed to the idea of 'segregating' Jews from Arabs and resented the pressure Zionists put on him. Nevertheless, according to his autobiography, he helped "because Palestine seemed the only haven anywhere in the world for nearly one million Jews of Europe."
When the votes were cast, Liberia, Haiti and the Philippines all voted for partition -- and those votes were critical in achieving the 33 to 13 vote for partition.
Black leaders like these make for a sharp contrast to the likes of Sharpton and Farrakhan.

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Catégories: Middle East

Has New York City Learned Nothing From The Crown Heights Riots?

lun, 30/12/2019 - 15:37
A suspect has been arrested in connection with the stabbing of 5 Orthodox Jews in Monsey.

But even though this attack happened in Monsey, it is part of a growing and increasingly alarming pattern inside New York City.

And no one expects these attacks to stop soon.

One reason for the pessimism is the failure by the media, elected officials and social media 'celebrities' to address the fact that, contrary to the accepted media narrative, these attacks on Orthodox Jews are being carried out by Blacks -- not by "White Supremacists."

Elder of Ziyon has posted about the reluctance among leftists to mention this common link among the majority of the attacks on Jews, either out of fear of being labeled racist or accused of inciting violence against the Black community:
Most blacks are not antisemitic, although the percentage is roughly double that of whites (in 2016, 23% compared to 10%.) No one is saying that all blacks should be blamed. But the fear of being labeled a racist is the major reason there has not been any effective outreach to the black community to help solve this problem.But this is not the first time that the fear of addressing Black antisemitism has manifested itself and prevented the media and community leaders from speaking out.

Remember the Crown Heights Riots?

In 2016, Seth Lipsky wrote for The New York Post, 25 years later, we still haven’t learned the lessons of the Crown Heights riot -- and in the 3 years since then, matters have only gotten worse:
Crown Heights erupted after a driver in the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s motorcade lost control and killed a black child, Gavin Cato. For three days, historian Edward Shapiro would write, “bands of young blacks” had “roamed” the neighborhood, assaulting Jews. [Emphasis added]At the time, Yankel Rosenbaum, a Jewish student visiting from the University of Melbourne, was stabbed to death -- and his killer, Lemrick Nelson, was acquitted of murder by a New York jury. Two federal civil rights prosecutions were required before Nelson would be sent to prison, and in the end, he did 10 years on civil rights charges.

What stands out most for Lipsky is that during the Crown Heights Riots, neither the political nor the private leaders in the city could bring themselves to admit that the attacks on Jews were antisemitic.

Ari Goldman, who reported on those riots for The New York Times at the time, later wrote about the experience, noting the insistence by journalists at the time to frame the attacks as a result of a "racial conflict."

In Telling It Like It Wasn't, Goldman quotes AM Rosenthal, a former executive editor at The New York Times who said what others would not:
“The press,” Rosenthal wrote, “treats it all as some kind of cultural clash between a poverty-ridden people fed up with life and a powerful, prosperous and unfortunately peculiar bunch of stuck-up neighbors — very sad of course, but certainly understandable. No — it is an anti-Semitic pogrom and the words should not be left unsaid.” [emphasis added]Indeed, one journalist tweeted about the Monsey attack something similar - and later deleted their tweet:
The situation in NY (and let's be clear we don't know who perpetrated the Monsey attack yet) is *massively complicated* and a growing division among two communities. What we need right now is a way to find solidarity with each other against our shared enemy of white supremacy.Other tweets, in response to steps proposed by Mayor de Blasio last week to increase police protection of the Jewish community, were worse:
This sends a pretty stark message to non-Jews living in these neighborhoods that their safety matters less to @NYCMayor than the safety of their Jewish neighbors. That's really really bad for literally everyone except our common enemies, who benefit when we're divided.and
Worst move. One that many of us have been warning against for many months now. de Blasio has caved to the pressure of racist demagogues like Dov Hikind and now many young black men will be at risk.

This isn't about ending hate, it's transferring the violence to acceptable targets.We are seeing the same blind eye and lack of decisive action now that we saw 28 years ago.

Two years after the riots, in 1993, an exhaustive state investigation into the handly of what happened sharply criticized Mayor Dinkins for his failure to understand and act upon the severity of the crisis.

The Jewish community now is growing increasingly concerned that the current mayor does not understand what is happening any better.
Lipsky concludes his 2016 article pointing to attempts at reconciliation within Crown Heights, yet notes:Liberal elites have made no such progress. They have never lifted a finger for the Orthodox Jews. The animus that erupted as “Heil Hitler” in Crown Heights has broken out on some of our city’s finest campuses, which echo with “Zionists out” and “Long live the Intifada.”

And liberals are unalarmed that Black Lives Matter has begun to make common cause with the BDS movement against Israel. So 25 years after Crown Heights, it’s anyone’s guess where the next attacks will break out against the Jews. [emphasis added]These days, there is no longer any need to guess.

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Catégories: Middle East

Is Bernie Sanders Supposed To Be A Symbol of Jewish Pride?

lun, 23/12/2019 - 14:52
Last week, Peter Beinart described Bernie Sanders as "the most successful Jewish presidential candidate in American history"

After all, it is a 'thing' now to talk up how 'Jewish' Bernie Sanders is.

I responded to Beinart's tweet:

There were a few responses to what I wrote, but they avoided the question of whether Bernie Sanders actually embraces his being Jewish. Instead, they attacked Lieberman -- totally missing the point.

Or avoiding it.

The fact is that Bernie Sanders, despite the best efforts of Beinart and others, has not registered as a Jew in the minds of voters.

Back in 2016, a Los Angeles Times article reported that Bernie Sanders fares poorly against Hillary Clinton with fellow Jews, polls indicate
Sen. Bernie Sanders has gone further than any other Jewish candidate in a presidential campaign, but he’s not garnering much support from Jewish voters, polls indicate...

Now that the campaign has moved to New York, however, which has the nation’s largest Jewish population, the numbers are in, and they’re not favorable.

That shouldn’t be terribly surprising. Both Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton have long been popular among Jewish voters, and while American Jews tend to be liberal, they’re more often regular Democrats than the sorts of independents most drawn to Sanders.

On the other side, Sanders is not actively engaged in Jewish life. He has also been critical of Israel, although he lived briefly as a young man on a secular, socialist kibbutz. When asked about his faith, his responses have reflected a generalized commitment to liberal concepts of social justice as opposed to any specific link to Jewish ideals of equality. [emphasis added]The article is based on 2 polls: the Sienna College Poll, which found Clinton leading Sanders among Jewish voters by a 60%-38% margin and the NBC/Wall St. Journal/Marist poll,which found Clinton leading among Jews 65%-32%.

Putting aside where he stands on Israel, the fact remains that Sanders is not Jewishly involved and his inspiration is from socialism, not Judaism.

That is not a judgment on Sanders, just a recognition of where he stands.

In a presidential election pitting Sanders and Trump, Sanders would clearly get the majority of the Jewish vote, but that is because most Jews vote Democrat anyway and not because they think of him as a Jew.

Not only does he not embody Jewish pride, Sanders does not have a typical reaction to antisemitism either. At an event at the Apollo Theater in New York in April 2016, Sanders faced an antisemitic question:
“As you know,” opened the questioner, “the Zionist Jews–and I don’t mean to offend anybody–they run the Federal Reserve, they run Wall Street, they run every campaign.” As this unfolded, Sanders began wagging his finger in dissent, and interjected to deem “Zionist Jews” a “bad phrase.” His interlocutor, pressed to articulate a question, concluded by saying, “What is your affiliation to your Jewish community? That’s all I’m asking.”

“No, no, no, that’s not what you’re asking,” Sanders quickly replied, in a nod to the question’s underlying prejudice. “I am proud to be Jewish,” he declared, to cheers from the audience. But then Sanders did something odd. Rather than using the question as a teaching moment to address and rebuke its anti-Semitic underpinnings, Sanders instead immediately pivoted to his stump speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Talking about Zionism and Israel,” he said, “I am a strong defender of Israel, but I also believe that we have got to pay attention to the needs of the Palestinian people.” He never challenged the actual contents of the question, let alone labeled it anti-Semitic. [emphasis added]

It is tempting to compare Sanders' failure to address the clear antisemitism of the questioner with his making Linda Sarsour his surrogate. This is the same Linda Sarsour who in 2015 spoke at a Farrakhan rally. Then again, Sanders has met publicly with antisemite Al Sharpton.

Associations with Farrakhan and Sharpton don't seem to bother Bernie Sanders.

But that Sanders-Sarsour connection really is especially jarring.

And, as Ron Kampeas points out, that alliance of Sanders and Sarsour is self-contradictory as well.

Kampeas notes Sarsour's statement that:
Ask them this, how can you be against white supremacy in America and the idea of being in a state based on race and class, but then you support a state like Israel that is based on supremacy, that is built on the idea that Jews are supreme to everyone else?” [emphasis added]Kampeas then points out that:
[Sanders] notes the time he spent in Israel as a young man and says “It is true that some criticism of Israel can cross the line into antisemitism, especially when it denies the right of self-determination to Jews, or when it plays into conspiracy theories about outsized Jewish power. I will always call out antisemitism when I see it.” [emphasis added]This leads Kampeas to the point:
Is there wiggle room to reconcile Sarsour’s rejection of a “state like Israel that is based on [Jewish] supremacy” and Sanders’ label for those who deny “the right of self-determination to Jews” as antisemites?This is an issue that does not seem to bother Sanders.

So if he does not embrace his being a Jew and not does publicly react to defend his being a Jew -- why is there this attempt to emphasize that Bernie Sanders is a Jew?

It seems there is an attempt to not only redefine what is and is not antisemitism, but even to redefine what it means to be a Jew -- something that no other minority has to put up with.

Maybe it is an attempt to redefine the connection between Jews and Israel, in the way that small radical fringe groups like If Not Now try to do.

But whatever the reason, this attempt to sell Sanders as a symbol of Jewish pride is a symptom of the weakening of Jewish identity in general and the problematic connection of Jews in the US with Israel.

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Catégories: Middle East

Black Hebrew Israelites - Jewish Enough To Be Killed By Palestinian Terrorists

mar, 17/12/2019 - 03:03
Two Black Hebrew Israelites deliberately attacked a kosher grocery in Jersey City this past Tuesday.

We can leave it to the media to report who the Black Hebrew Israelites are.
There will be articles about just how Jewish they are, about their history and about their community in Israel.

But while they are not considered Jewish by the Israeli government, Black Hebrew Israelites are Jewish enough for Palestinian terrorists.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune in 2002, Death bridges gap for Black Hebrews:
Under a cool, clear sky and with a large crowd of mourners on hand, 32-year-old Aharon Ben-Yisrael Elis was buried Sunday in a new section of this town's cemetery.

He was the first of the Black Hebrews--a small group of African-Americans, most of whom came to Israel from Chicago more than three decades ago--to be born in Israel. He also was the first of the group to die from the terrorism that has haunted the Jews of Israel for years.Aharon Ben-Yisrael Elis. Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Because the group had their own religion, combining Judaism with other beliefs, the Black Hebrews were not fully accepted into Israeli society and were not granted citizenship.

But those differences were set aside in the face of the terrorist attack:
Yet Elis' passing at the hands of a terrorist provoked an outpouring of Israeli mourners, including Dimona's mayor, a member of the Knesset and the two top rabbis from this town in the northern tip of the Negev desert. Elis was killed Thursday, one of six people slain by a Palestinian gunman who had stormed a banquet hall in a northern town where a bat mitzvah, or a coming-of-age ceremony, for a 12-year-old Israeli girl was under way.

...Dimona officials talked about how the Black Hebrews had found a home in their community and were welcomed. Av Shalom Vilan, a member of the Knesset from the left-of-center Meretz Party, said he hoped that the death of a Black Hebrew as a result of Arab violence would open the hearts and doors of Israel's society for citizenship for the group, which the Black Hebrews have long sought.

Rabbi Shalom Dayan, the chief Sephardic rabbi of Dimona, summed up in a few words what the others said Elis' death meant for the Black Hebrews' long-term quest to win full acceptance into Israeli society.

"You have just sealed one of the most difficult pacts with our Israeli society," Dayan said.More than that, the Israeli government took action too.

Israel destroyed the Palestinian broadcasting center and Israeli tanks came up to Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. Israeli troops entered Tulkarem, where they searched houses, detained a number of Palestinian Arabs and put the city under curfew.

But that was then.

And it makes this week's tragedy even more bitter.

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Catégories: Middle East

Zionism As A Reflection of Jewish History Past and Present

mar, 03/12/2019 - 15:50
An interview with Alex Ryvchin, author of "Zionism: The Concise History"
(Originally posted on The Jewish Press)

Q: What do you see as the purpose of your new book, Zionism: The Concise History, and who is it for?

A: The whole concept of Zionism has been politically and strategically trashed by her enemies. The danger is that future generations will only know Zionism as an evil to be fought and the young people, whom we count on as the next advocates to tell the story of Zionism and defend it, today are generally apathetic or ignorant of this story. We hear people saying Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism or being Jewish, but I think Zionism is inextricably linked to Jewish history.

The story of Zionism is the story of the Jewish people. And if Jews don’t know that story and don’t take part in it, we will see greater rates of intermarriage and loss of identity.

For this reason, I’d like to see my book taught in schools and universities.

Q: One of the patterns in Jewish history is making questionable alliances with apparent enemies. You mention Herzl in this regard. Can you give an example, and do you think this is an unavoidable element of Zionism?

Herzl dealt with a lot of ardent antisemites like the Kaiser and the Russian Foreign Minister. He felt a cold synergy between the interests of Zionism and these rabid antisemites. Herzl thought that for the Jews to achieve the return to their ancestral land, these antisemites who are so keen to purge their countries of Jews would be accommodating. And indeed, many of them saw a benefit in a movement that could absorb a large number of Jews.

In any political campaign such as Zionism, there has to be a dose of realpolitik--to think not only about the idealism, but also how to practically achieve your goal. That means creating alliances with those you find unsavory. The danger is when you look at an alignment of interests as temporary and mistake that for good faith or long term alliances. To Herzl’s credit, he quickly realized he was not going to achieve the goals of Zionism through alliances with those who were fundamentally hostile to Jewish rights. That is why he shifted the Zionist movement from the European continent to Great Britain, where he found men who more driven by Christian ideals and a general passion for the idea of the Jews returning to their ancestral land.

Today, Israel has formed alliances with some nations that might really see a short term alignment of interests, but don’t harbor any great feeling of warmth towards the Jewish people. That is dangerous, but it is also the world that we live in. And as long as the Netanyahu government and the successive governments go into this with their eyes open, I think it is something that can and needs to be done. But at the same time, I think that Israel should act morally in this regard and call out antisemitism of far-right leaders around the world with whom they may have diplomatic relations. If those relations are genuine, they will withstand those criticisms.

Q: We know the Balfour Declaration favors the establishment of “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine and that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” -- but it also says nothing should be done to prejudice “the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” What was that issue?

A: The concern was that Zionism was not the universal position of the Jewish World. There was still discussion in the Jewish World what was best way to alleviate the suffering of the Jews was through assimilation. Not everyone was on the side of Zionism, particularly those who lived in liberal Democratic countries like the UK, Australia and the US. They did not see the need for a national movement to return to Palestine. They favored assimilation.

In order to assuage those concerns, that wording was put in, to say that basically, those Jews who preferred to live outside of the Jewish State would continue to live in the Diaspora with nothing to impede their rights. There was a concern that once the Jewish State was formed, Jews living outside that state would be viewed as alien, foreigners. That language in the Balfour Declaration was to protect them.

I am keen that people should read this book and apply its lessons to contemporary times. I think that is very important.

Bernie Sanders is different from those Jews in the early 20th century who were driven mainly by self-preservation. They were men who, despite being Jewish, soared to the heights of public life in the UK and Australia. They looked at Zionism, dedicated to liberating the Jewish people and alleviating their antisemitism and thought: what do I need this for; it will only have a detrimental effect on my standing!
Sanders is not motivated by that sort of calculus. He is an American Jew, deeply committed to perfecting American society, making it as just and equitable as possible the way he sees it. I think he views Zionism as a foreign project and doesn’t identify with it. Also, he is associated with the hard left who are rabidly anti-Zionist and has to placate them.

Alex Ryvchin, author of Zionism: The Concise History. Source: Screen-cap

Q: Originally, Arab leaders like Hussein ibn Ali and his son Amir Faisal allied with Chaim Weizmann and favored the re-establishment of a Jewish state. Then along came Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti, who incited riots and tried to prevent it. Today, are we seeing a shift back in the other direction?

A: Today the Arab states see the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and Jordan. They see if you don’t threaten Israel, it won’t harm you back, will be good friends and share technology. Israel can become a dependable strategic ally in the face of much bigger threats like Iran.

But at the same time, one thing that Zionism teaches us is that alliances come and go, they rise and fall, and cannot really be depended on. They need to be used at that point in time. As long as Israel is economically, militarily, and diplomatically strong, that is the most important thing. Let Israel choose alliances at that point in time, but it cannot depend on anyone.

Q: In the last chapter of your book, you discuss anti-Zionism, which started off as Jewish opposition to Zionism. How is that different from today’s anti-Zionism on college campuses and expressed by politicians?

A: Early anti-Zionism is virtually unrecognizable from anti-Zionism today. The anti-Zionist Jews at the time were overwhelming loyal, proud Jews who cared deeply for the future of the Jewish people, but they had a different view on how to solve the problem of antisemitism in the streets. Their solution was the full immersion into the societies in which they lived. It was a legitimate point of view, but ultimately disproven.

The anti-Zionist Jews of today do not care about Jewish rights. Instead, they use their Jewishness to attack their own people. Rather than stand up against their oppressors, they side with them.

But once the state of Israel exists, anti-Zionism becomes not merely a different political position or philosophy, it now becomes the opposition to the existence of the state of Israel--a state that has now existed for over 70 years. Anti-Zionism is no longer a morally tenable position. That is why you will not find in the ranks of anti-Zionist Jews someone who cares about the future of the Jewish people. Instead, overwhelmingly you find selfish people of low character.

Q: You trace Great Britain’s change into an enemy of Zionism to its being a declining imperial power, stretched thin and wearied by Palestine. Some might see that as a description of the US. Do you think there is a danger of Zionist history repeating itself here too?

A: I think so. That description of Great Britain in the 1940s could apply to the US today. There is a growing trend, particularly under the current president, of isolationism and rethinking US foreign policy solely in terms of US interests. It is no longer fashionable to think the US should bring the values of democracy to the darkest places in the world and be a force for good.

There especially a risk with the progressive Democrats who don't have that instinctive warmth for the state of Israel as establishment Democrats have in the past.

Governments and allies come and go. Israel needs to remain strong and independent to preserve its interests. We have seen this already in the course of its existence.

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Catégories: Middle East

The Left's Love For Ferocity Is Getting 'Progressively' Worse

lun, 07/10/2019 - 17:59
Last week, the controversial group Women's March informed us about a changing of the guard.

Gone were Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour. While Carmen Perez remained, the other three were replaced on the group's board by an assortment of new names and faces:

But one name stood out from the rest: Zahra Billoo.

Billoo's vile tweets were soon plastered all over Twitter, with different people offering their own personal collection of the Worst of the Worst of her attacks on Israel, Zionism and Jews.

Billoo combined unhinged accusations against Israel with whatever conspiracy theories were available:

Nor did Billoo limit herself to Israel, attacking Jewish rights groups that fight antisemitism, such as the Anti-Defamation League:

As a big fan of the terrorist group Hamas, Billoo came up with various analogies to defend the murder of Israeli civilians:

Like this:

And this:

And when her brother, Ahmed ibn Aslam, publicly wished in a fit of pique at Ben Gurion Airport that all Jews in Israel be killed...

...Billoo responded with her support for her brother against the evil Customs and Border Protection:

The uproar on Twitter was so loud and angry that Women's March dropped Billo from the board.

But not everyone was upset by Billoo's assorted vicious attacks.
Some saw Billoo's assault on Israel and Jews very differently.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace was ecstatic over Women March's new board and saw them all as a natural continuation of Sarsour, Mallory and Bland:

Somehow, vile and vicious attacks on Israel, Zionism and Jews are all part of being impactful, fierce and even inspiring.

What's going on here?

Last week, writing about the short-lived second wave of accusations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Peggy Noonan examined Why They’ll Never Stop Targeting Kavanaugh. More than a specific attempt to delegitimize the Supreme Court in order to head off an anticipated attack on Roe vs. Wade or a fixation on finishing off what Christine Blasey Ford started -- Noonan found a more general and pervasive issue underlying last weeks witch hunt:
the crazier parts of the progressive left increasingly see politics as public theater, with heroes and villains, cheers and hisses from the audience, and costumes, such as outfits from “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Because modern politics is, for the lonely and strange on all sides, entertainment and diversion. And one’s people must be entertained. [emphasis added]Based on the gusto with which the nasty comments were being tweeted and retweeted by the likes of Billo, Sarsour, Tlaib and Omar it was clear that people were reveling in these attacks on twitter -- not just the people carrying out the attacks and perpetuating them, but also the people on Twitter who were merely following on Twitter, and cheering them on in the comments.

It's almost like a sport.

Here is a video from 3 years ago of political commentator Cenk Uyghur talking with John Iadarola in the days leading up to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, discussing picking representatives for drafting the Democratic Platform. Uyghur personifies the sports metaphor for politics taken to its logical conclusion, referring to Sanders' picks as "the aggressive progressives -- the change gang," and calling the choice of Cornel West  "a bold pick." Uyghur refers to them as "a great crew...when you bring these all-stars."

Watch the first 2:30 of the video:

(As an aside, at one point, Uyghur worked for MSNBC, where he replaced Keith Olbermann, who actually switched off between sports broadcasting and news.)

On the progressive left, the value placed on the inspirational value of such attacks makes for the adoption of some unexpected heroes.

During a 2006 teach-in at UC Berkeley about the Israel-Hezbollah war, American philosopher Judith Butler was asked a "bundle" of 4 questions:
1. Since Israel is an imperialist, colonial project, should resistance be based on social movements or the nation-state?

2. What is the power of the Israel Lobby and is questioning it antisemitic?

3. Since the Left hesitates to support Hamas and Hezbollah “just” because of their use of violence, does this hurt Palestinian solidarity?

4. Do Hamas and Hezbollah actually threaten Israel’s existence, as portrayed in some media?She started off by talking about "The Israel Lobby." Butler made no mention of AIPAC at all, but named instead the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League -- the reference to that last organization being a precursor to the attacks to come a few years later by Billoo -- and Sarsour.

Butler's whitewash of Hamas and Hezbollah was just what the audience was looking for:
Yes, understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements. It doesn’t stop those of us who are interested in non-violent politics from raising the question of whether there are other options besides violence. [emphasis added]The terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah do not feel limited to military targets and have deliberately killed civilians.

But according to Butler, these are not terrorist groups.
They are merely not "interested in non-violent politics"
According to the text of her answer, her response was met with applause.

This is not a 21st problem.
It is an enduring one.

In his 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind, Harvard professor Allan Bloom writes:
I have seen young people, and older people too who are good democratic liberals, lovers of peace and gentleness, struck dumb with admiration for individuals threatening or using the most terrible violence for the slightest and tawdriest of reasons. They have a sneaking suspicion that they are face to face with men of real commitment, which they themselves lack. And commitment, not truth, is believed to be what counts. [emphasis added]Bloom is speaking to those like Vilkomerson who are enthralled by the ferocity of these attacks on Twitter, mistaking their attacks as a commitment worthy of emulation and adulation.

From Che Guevara and Yasir Arafat, the progressive left has now settled on Zahran Billoo, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

And Butler is no better, with her twisted excuses for terrorist groups as progressive social movements.

Like Bloom, the late Justice Antonin Scalia recognized the problem as well. In 2010, Scalia offered his advice during the commencement address at Langley High School, in Virginia, where his granddaughter was graduating:
And indeed, to thine ownself be true, depending upon who you think you are. It’s a belief that seems particularly to beset modern society, that believing deeply in something, and following that belief, is the most important thing a person could do. Get out there and picket, or boycott, or electioneer, or whatever. I am here to tell you that it is much less important how committed you are, than what you are committed to. If I had to choose, I would always take the less dynamic, indeed even the lazy person who knows what’s right, than the zealot in the cause of error. He may move slower, but he’s headed in the right direction.

...In short, it is your responsibility, men and women of the class of 2010, not just to be zealous in the pursuit of your ideals, but to be sure that your ideals are the right ones. That is perhaps the hardest part of being a good human being: Good intentions are not enough. Being a good person begins with being a wise person. Then, when you follow your conscience, will you be headed in the right direction. [emphasis added]Social media in general, and perhaps Twitter in particular, is a petri dish of a society where passionate attacks have long replaced any semblance of normal discussion.

And in this age of intersectionalism where a whole gamut of causes are being interwoven and championed with unheard-of ferocity -- Israel, Zionism and Jews are increasingly being targeted, with a reemergence -- and acceptance --  of antisemitism that we thought we would never see again.

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Catégories: Middle East

Why Is Bernie Sanders Such a Magnet For Antisemites?

lun, 07/10/2019 - 15:04
One thing you can say about Bernie Sanders.
He sure does have some unexpected friends and admirers.
Bernie Sanders and FarrakhanFarrakhan was very clear in 2016 that he was not supporting Bernie Sanders.
You won't find him supporting Sanders for president now either.

And yet in 2016 Farrakhan went out of his way not to attack him as one of those "Satanic Jews".
According to Farrakhan, Bernie Sanders is one of those "decent" Jews:
"I have to say this about Mr. Sanders: he's a Jew, not a so-called Jew. He's trying to be decent..."

Bernie Sanders and Sharpton
'Nuff said.
Bernie Sanders and Ilhan OmarEarlier this year, Omar attacked AIPAC and accused her Jewish fellow Congressmen of dual loyalty:

Bernie Sanders wasted no time. During a conference call hosted by James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, Sanders confirmed that he had talked to Omar that night to give her his support.

Of course, it did not take long for Omar to again accuse Jews of dual loyalty:

But that did not dissuade Sanders. In June, Teen Vogue had a piece on how Bernie Sanders Teamed Up With Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal on a Plan to Cancel All Student Loan Debt

Bernie Sanders and James Zogby
In Lovable Bernie Whacks Israel, Charles Krauthammer wrote in 2016 thattwo of Sanders' appointments to the 15-member platform committee are so stunning. Professor Cornel West not only has called the Israeli prime minister a war criminal, but openly supports the BDS movement (boycott, divestment and sanctions), the most important attempt in the world to ostracize and delegitimize Israel.
West is joined on the committee by the longtime pro-Palestinian activist James Zogby. Together, reported The New York Times, they "vowed to upend what they see as the party's lopsided support of Israel." [emphasis added]Actually, lopsided would an apt description of Zogby's defense of Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists.

In 2006, Zogby defended Hezbollah's use of human shield's:
Zogby: I've said from the beginning that [Hezbollah's] behavior was reckless and provocative. But Israel bears the responsibility. It's like saying what Mort is saying and what those who want to make that case is saying, the girl who wore the short skirt deserved to get raped--James Taranto commented:
Zogby's claim that Hezbollah bears no responsibility for civilian casualties is outrageous, and his likening of Hezbollah to a rape victim is scandalously so.Elder of Ziyon quotes this example and gives another, one of Zogby defending Yasir Arafat. In an interview with Paula Zahn on CNN:
ZAHN: Mr. Zogby, how much responsibility do you think Yasser Arafat should bear for the ongoing troubles in the Middle East?

ZOGBY: Well, listen, it's -- we live in a kind of an "Alice in Wonderland" world here, where Ariel Sharon is the man of peace and Arafat becomes the obstacle to peace. We've lionized one and demonized the other, and I simply don't think this picture is accurate. The man has flaws...Imagine a world where Ariel Sharon removes every last Israeli from Gaza and gives it, along with the infrastructure intact, to Hamas while Arafat rejects Clinton's attempt to forge a peace deal -- this is the "Wonderland" Zogby inhabits. Arafat did not have flaws -- he was responsible for the deaths of unarmed civilians because they were Jews.

Bernie Sanders and Cornel West
Krauthammer writes about Cornel West:West doesn't even pretend, as do some left-wing "peace" groups, to be opposing Israeli policy in order to save it from itself. He makes the simpler case that occupation is unconscionable oppression and that until Israel abandons it, Israel deserves to be treated like apartheid South Africa -- anathematized, cut off, made to bleed morally and economically.Like Zogby, Cornel West, a BDS proponent, also makes excuses for Palestinian terrorism, writing that  the actions of Hamas “pale in the face of the US-supported Israeli slaughter of innocent civilians.” West once accused President Obama of being “most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want.”
Of course, Bernie Sanders is different.
Bernie Sanders and Linda Sarsour

Last weekend, Sanders made Sarsour his surrogate, allowing her to campaign on his behalf, creating a unique situation considering, as The Jerusalem Post put it, "that Sanders is Jewish and Sarsour is known as an anti-Israel, antisemitic activist."

Actually, what does he have to lose?
The Democrats have the Jewish vote anyway.

With Sarsour -- as with Simone Zimmerman before her -- Sanders can tap into the energy of progressives with minimal cost to a Jewish base which sided with Hillary anyway during the last election and is unlikely to flock to him this time around either. A poll in May showed Biden getting 47% of the Jewish vote among registered Democratic voters, compared to 11% for Sanders and Pete Buttigieg is doing better than either of them in terms of Jewish contributions.

Now we find out that 2 months ago, Sarsour -- along with Bob Bland and Tamika Mallory -- left the Woman's March.

This has been misinterpreted by some as a setback for Sarsour, and by extension, for Sanders:

If you check the article at The Hill, all it says is:
Women’s March has cut ties with three board members who were accused of anti-Semitism and has created a new, diverse board of 16 membersIt does not actually say the reason for cutting ties was because of their antisemtism. The article in the Washington Post that The Hill refers to is more expansive on why Bland, Mallory and Sarsour left:
The Women’s March is replacing three inaugural board members who have been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism, infighting and financial mismanagement.That article also ties the issue of antisemitism not to Sarsour but to Mallory, who is a big supporter of Farrakhan.

Seth Mandel, editor of the Washington Examiner, was more on-target -- both Women's March in general and Sarsour in particular win:

Whether Sanders will benefit by this arrangement is an open question.
But Sarsour definitely has.

Bernie Sanders and Zahra BillooAmong those who will be replacing Sarsour is Zahra Billoo, a civil rights lawyer and the executive director of CAIR-SFBA.

She is also an antisemite.

As indicated by tweet

After tweet:

After tweet:

After tweet:

Check out Petra Marquardt-Bigman and Ryan Saavedra for many more such tweets.

And Billoo's hatred extends beyond just hatred of the state of Israel:
California imam Ahmed Billoo recently called for the mass extermination of Jews. Apparently impatient at the border-security protocols at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, he posted a prayer to Twitter with the hashtag "Zionists": "Oh God, reduce their numbers, exterminate them, and don't leave a single one alive."

Ahmed Billoo's sister is Zahra Billoo, director of the San Francisco branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). She is also an important figure in the Women's March movement, and has appeared alongside her brother at Women's March events.

...[Zahra Billoo] was curiously unwilling to offer any criticism when it came to her brother advocating mass-murder. On the contrary, Zahra Billoo made a heartfelt post to her brother on Facebook a mere few hours after he prayed for the extermination of Jews, apparently in relation to another public stand he had taken: "My brother makes me proud often, but there's a special kind of appreciation I have when he does this - puts his privilege to good use, asserting his rights, speaking out against border harassment, and thereby making it at least somewhat easier for those who are afraid or unable." [emphasis added]
And sure enough, Billoo is also a big fan of -- Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders is a convenient shield for antisemites.

He is Jewish -- but does not advertise that fact.
Sanders rarely talks about it publicly.

He may support Israel, but he adopts the progressive narrative about the extent of Gazan casualties during war between Israel and Hamas, as well as the narrative that makes armed Gazan rioters trying to break through into Israel as nothing more than peaceful protestors.

Sanders is also on-board when it comes to condemning and leveraging aid in order to push Israel (and only Israel) to "make peace".

He boils the conflict down to the simplest terms:
Israel has a right to exist in security, and at the same time the Palestinians have a state of their own.Who could argue with that?

To be fair, journalist Ron Kampeas finds Bernie Sanders to be typical of Jewish Americans:

Maybe Kampeas is right, and Sanders it typical.
But Sanders does come across as shy about his being a Jews and more defensive than most when it comes to Israel.

More to the point, I don't know if we can be so sanguine about this "norm" of Jewish American.
What really is so Jewish about being progressive?

Daniel Gordis writes that
most American Jews, having lost a sense of peoplehood and then a commitment to religion or Torah, have recently assumed an identity that is focused on little but politics. Yet as a form of politics, Judaism has, so far, found little to say that is uniquely Jewish. Gordis concludes the thought rather darkly:
And if we have nothing unique to say, does it really matter if American Jews do not survive?I would suggest that if we Jews in America cannot identify as Jews and feel unique as Jews, then there are those out there who will be only too happy to define our Jewish identity for their own purposes.

And the names of some of those people are on this page.

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Catégories: Middle East

It Is Absurd To Blame The West For Muslim "Honor" Crimes

mer, 11/09/2019 - 19:00
On Thursday, August 29, Israa Ghrayeb was murdered by her family.

They were angered by a video she posted on social media of herself with the man she was soon to be engaged to. Her brother claimed she dishonored the family by showing the two of them together before they were married. The father called on the brother to beat Israa, and while trying to escape, Israa Ghrayeb fell from the second floor of their home, suffering serious spinal injuries. Then, while she was at the hospital, Ghrayeb was apparently attacked a second time and died.

The family claimed she died of a heart attack.

Another honor killing.
But this one was different.

Ghrayeb's murder has sparked outrage.

The Arab News reported last week on the angry reaction to her death
The death of a young Palestinian woman in the West Bank has sparked widespread outrage across the Middle East amid accusations that it is nothing but another case of so-called honor killing.

The suspicious circumstances of 21-year-old Israa Ghareeb’s death in Bethlehem have also drawn attention to a practice increasingly seen as a stain on the conscience of Middle East societies.

...Soon afterwards, #WeAreAllIsraa began to trend on Arabic Twitter, with more than 50,000 tweets displaying the hashtag.
This anger is not only against the Palestinian government -- it is also against Jordan.

There has never been a sovereign Palestinian state in what is now referred to as the "West Bank". Before Israel recaptured it in the Six Day War of 1967, the area was under Jordanian rule after it claimed it as its own during the 1948 War, the validity of which was recognized only by Great Britain and Pakistan.

The law that allows Palestinian men to kill female members of their family with relative impunity originates from Jordan.

Here is the original text of the Jordanian law, in article 340 of the Jordanian penal code, before being modified in 2001:

According to Article 99, this allows for reducing the sentence (via Google Translate):

Part IV - Responsibility

Chapter II - in mitigating reasons

Mitigating causes

Article 99

If the case is found to be mitigating, the court may order:

1. Instead of execution for life or fifteen to twenty-five years.

2. A- Instead of life imprisonment, the same penalty shall be imposed from fifteen to twenty years.

(B) Instead of 20 years of imprisonment, the same penalty shall be imposed from twelve to fifteen years.

3. It may degrade any other criminal penalty by not more than one third.

4. Except in the case of repetition, it may also reduce any sentence of a minimum of three years to a minimum of one year imprisonment.

5. If the court takes the mitigating reasons, it is not obliged to go down to the minimum penalty.
This is so embedded in Jordanian law, that it was even applied to a Jordanian who murdered his American wife in the US in 1994:
Mohammad Abequa, a U.S. citizen born in Jordan, confessed Wednesday in an Amman courtroom that he strangled his estranged wife in her New Jersey apartment in July. Abequa, 46, said he killed his 40-year-old Turkish-born wife, Nihal, to protect his honor, an argument accepted by Jordanian courts as a reason for a reduced sentence. He is charged with murdering his wife, whose body was found July 4 in the apartment in the community of Parsippany Troy-Hills, as well as kidnapping his children, Lisa, 6, and Sami, 3. Abequa brought the children to Jordan after his wife's death. In what was seen as an effort to get a reduced sentence, Abequa told a crowded courtroom that he lost his temper when his wife told him that the man leaving her house as he arrived was her boyfriend. 'I asked her who the man was, and she told me it was her boyfriend and showed me a new tattoo on her thigh that he gave her,' Abequa said. [emphasis added]At the time, the article contended that though Abequa could face the death penalty in Jordan if he was found guilty of murder, he might be able to avoid execution if he could convince the court that it was an 'honor killing.'
But judicial sources doubted Abequa would receive a reduced sentence because the highly publicized case has been the focus of U.S. interest and personal attention from Jordan's King Hussein.Those sources were wrong.

In 2000, The New York Times reported:
It was troubling enough to the victim's family that Mohammad Abequa, who murdered his wife in New Jersey in 1994 and fled to Jordan with their two young children, was sentenced to only 15 years by a Jordanian court.

But then yesterday came the news that the confessed killer had been pardoned for his crime after serving five years in prison, and had been set free.So how to begin to deal with this tragic injustice embedded in Jordanian law?

Blame France.

In an interview with Reem Abu Hassan, a lawyer and former minister of Social Development in Jordan, we are told that honor killings have nothing at all to do with Islam.
“We discovered that (Jordan) had taken this article from the Syrian penal code, which was taken from the French penal code,” Hassan explained. “So the basis for it was France: French law, not Islamic, nor Arabic.”

She noted: “Of course, France had abolished this article, and honor crimes were never again a problem the French legal system had to face.”

I realized how damaging colonization has been.

I felt a surprising sense of pain — but also hope — at this revelation. It made me realize just how damaging colonization has been for the Middle East.Let's put aside the irony of the long history of the colonization by the Islamic expansionism that itself reached as far as France.

Is there a basis for Jordan blaming France?
Then how to explain how widespread honor killing is within the Arab world?

The Arab News article quoted above provides the following chart

Is the influence of France really that widespread?
Are these honor killings just another manifestation of the kind of abuse found the world over?

That is what Rashida Tlaib would have us believe:

Are honor killings just another form of domestic violence?

Phylis Chesler, an American writer, psychotherapist, and professor emerita of psychology and women's studies at the College of Staten Island, takes a closer look at the distinction between honor killings and domestic violence, noting that
The frequent argument made by Muslim advocacy organizations that honor killings have nothing to do with Islam and that it is discriminatory to differentiate between honor killings and domestic violence is wrong.She demonstrates that there are differences, and that honor killings are in fact to an alarming degree an Islamic phenomenon. One key difference between domestic violence and Islamic honor killings is that unlike honor killers who tend not to be condemned by Muslim society

the batterer-murderer is seen as a criminal; no one defends him as a hero. Such men are often viewed as sociopaths, mentally ill, or evil.Here is a chart from Chesler's 2009 article Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence? outlining the differences:

Honor Killings Domestic Violence Committed mainly by Muslims against Muslim girls/young adult women. Committed by men of all faiths usually against adult women. Committed mainly by fathers against their teenage daughters and daughters in their early twenties. Wives and older-age daughters may also be victims, but to a lesser extent. Committed by an adult male spouse against an adult female spouse or intimate partner. Carefully planned. Death threats are often used as a means of control. The murder is often unplanned and spontaneous. The planning and execution involve multiple family members and can include mothers, sisters, brothers, male cousins, uncles, grandfathers, etc. If the girl escapes, the extended family will continue to search for her to kill her. The murder is carried out by one man with no family complicity. The reason given for the honor killing is that the girl or young woman has "dishonored" the family. The batterer-murderer does not claim any family concept of "honor." The reasons may range from a poorly cooked meal to suspected infidelity to the woman's trying to protect the children from his abuse or turning to the authorities for help. At least half the time, the killings are carried out with barbaric ferocity. The female victim is often raped, burned alive, stoned or beaten to death, cut at the throat, decapitated, stabbed numerous times, suffocated slowly, etc. While some men do beat a spouse to death, they often simply shoot or stab them. The extended family and community valorize the honor killing. They do not condemn the perpetrators in the name of Islam. Mainly, honor killings are seen as normative. The batterer-murderer is seen as a criminal; no one defends him as a hero. Such men are often viewed as sociopaths, mentally ill, or evil. The murderer(s) do not show remorse. Instead, they experience themselves as "victims," defending themselves from the girl's actions and trying to restore their lost family honor. Sometimes, remorse or regret is exhibited. The difference is more than between the Arab world and the West. There is also a distinction between Islam and other religions:
Families that kill for honor will threaten girls and women if they refuse to cover their hair, their faces, or their bodies or act as their family's domestic servant; wear makeup or Western clothing; choose friends from another religion; date; seek to obtain an advanced education; refuse an arranged marriage; seek a divorce from a violent husband; marry against their parents' wishes; or behave in ways that are considered too independent, which might mean anything from driving a car to spending time or living away from home or family. Fundamentalists of many religions may expect their women to meet some but not all of these expectations. But when women refuse to do so, Jews, Christians, and Buddhists are far more likely to shun rather than murder them. Muslims, however, do kill for honor, as do, to a lesser extent, Hindus and Sikhs.A year later, in an article describing a study that she did on Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings, Chesler dug deeper. She did a study of honor killings, analyzing 172 incidents and 230 honor-killing victims where 100 of the victims were murdered in the West and 130 additional victims were murdered in the Muslim world.

Her findings reflected the Arab News graph in how widespread honor killings are in the Muslim world.

The perpetrators and victims lived in 29 countries or territories: Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Gaza Strip, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the West Bank.

The conclusion:In this study, worldwide, 91 percent of perpetrators were Muslims. In North America, most killers (84 percent) were Muslims, with only a few Sikhs and even fewer Hindus perpetrating honor killings; in Europe, Muslims comprised an even larger majority at 96 percent while Sikhs were a tiny percentage. In Muslim countries, obviously almost all the perpetrators were Muslims. With only two exceptions, the victims were all members of the same religious group as their murderers.You cannot pin this all on France.

Here is the Jordanian law in Article 340 again, this time with revisions made in 2010:

Now the law specifies that the killing has to be done "immediately," apparently to allow for this to be a crime of passion as opposed to being premeditated.

Also, now in the spirit of evenhandedness, the woman is allowed to kill her husband as well, but without mentioning other relatives as is allowed to the man.

But the point of all this is not about nitpicking.

This is about dealing with the problem of honor killing by addressing the problem itself. Treating honor killings as just another manifestation of domestic abuse just avoids the issue and fails to understand this for what it is. That is why these public grassroots protests are an important step towards attacking the problem. There is more to be done than just applying a bandage to the existing law.

Now there are signs that people are beginning to realize that.

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Catégories: Middle East

Israel Did Nothing To Create Hezbollah -- But Arafat Did

mer, 11/09/2019 - 16:01
With its recent clash with Israel, Hezbollah is again in the news. But for all of the attention Hezbollah gets, there are still elements of its history that remain ignored -- or just misrepresented.

Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has written extensively about Hezbollah as well as Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. Recently, Iran announced sanctions against the think tank itself.

In his article, The Secret History of Hezbollah, Badran writes that while the Hezbollah mythology claims that the group was founded in 1982, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, as a resistance group to the Israeli invasion that year -- the truth is:
Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran have been joined at the hip from the very beginning, even before the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Because Hezbollah's origins are directly tied to the origins of Iran's Islamic Revolution, the terrorist group's own beginnings go back to the rivalry between Iranian revolutionary factions that opposed the shah of Iran. The conflicts between these factions played themselves out not only in Iran, but among their followers in Lebanon as well.

Why Lebanon?

In Arafat and the Ayatollahs, Badran traces the relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the PLO back to the late 1960s, when Arafat rose to power. After the shah's crackdown in 1963, Iranian opposition groups adopted guerrilla tactics against the shah and by the end of that decade made contact with the PLO in Qatar, as well as Iraq -- where Khomeini had been living since 1965. Iranian guerrilla organizations looked for training and made their way to PLO camps in Jordan and South Yemen.

But during the early to mid 1970s, Lebanon was especially valuable as a training ground for these groups because of its weak government and lack of control:
Even before Lebanon’s own system collapsed, and the country plunged into civil war, fueled in part by Palestinian weapons and ambitions, the country had become a training ground for revolutionaries from all over the world, and a magnet for cadres of the main Iranian revolutionary factions, from Marxists to theocrats and everything in between.Iranian revolutionary activists gravitated to Lebanon -- not because of any interest in the fact that Lebanon bordered Israel, but because of the weakness of the Lebanese government. At the time, Lebanon was home to the PLO too, which had been kicked out of Jordan in 1970 following 'Black September'. The PLO was free to run their military training camps. Those camps made it possible for the anti-shah groups to get military training and weapons, contact other revolutionary groups, form alliances, and establish networks to support their fight against the Iranian regime.

Another plus for these Iranian factions, was Lebanon’s large Shiite population, which included the influential Iranian cleric Musa al-Sadr, who helped many of the Iranian opposition groups. Down the road, the networks of both Sadr and the PLO would continue to be helpful after the Iranian revolution, during the power struggle between Iran’s revolutionary factions that followed. Also among the Iranian groups operating in Lebanon at the time was the Liberation Movement of Iran (LMI). One of its leading figures was Mostafa Chamran, who together with the LMI worked closely with Sadr.

Sadr relied on the PLO for training his Amal militia -- but again, not for the purpose of fighting Israel. Instead, with the onset of the Lebanese civil war, Sadr wanted to protect his and the Shiite community’s interests from the other Lebanese factions.

In fact, both Sadr and Chamran were ambivalent about the Palestinians and the divide between Sadr and the PLO widened further:
  • In 1976, Sadr supported Syria’s entry into Lebanon, which the PLO opposed
  • At the same time, Palestinian attacks on Israel from the south of Lebanon endangered the Shiite villagers which worried both Sadr and Chamran.
Meanwhile, the other main faction of Iranian revolutionaries operating in Lebanon consisted of the followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. That group maintained close relations with the PLO, while mistrusting Sadr and the LMI. This is the faction would go on to become part of the Islamic Republic party after the Iranian revolution. Many of them also became top commanders in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

According to PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with the Iranian revolutionaries, Khomeini's group fear of a coup following their victory, led to the creation of the IRGC, for which he took personal credit, claiming he was approached specifically to draft the plan to form what became the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime.

According to Badran:
The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. One of those associated with this Khomeinist faction was Hojjatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashami, a student of Khomeini who would play a critical role in the emergence of Hezbollah. Another important figure, Mohammad Saleh Hosseini, played a key role in forming Hezbollah and was a founding member of the IRGC. Hosseini and the Khomeini's followers recruited young Shiites who were pro-Khomeini who became the nucleus of Hezbollah. The most famous of these was Imad Mughniyeh, who went on to become the group’s military commander and the mastermind of many of Hezbollah’s most notorious operations, such as the Marine barracks bombing in 1983.

The tensions between the Sadr and Khomeini camps in Lebanon played out back in Iran after the revolution. And then in August 1978, Sadr disappeared during a trip to Libya.

After Sadr’s disappearance, events accelerated. The shah was forced to leave Iran in January 1979, leaving the way open for Khomeini to return to Iran a few weeks later in triumph. Soon after, the Islamic Republic party was formed, bringing together Khomeini’s followers and the founding of the Islamic Republic. They began calling themselves Hezbollah, to distinguish themselves from their rivals, the LMI and allied factions.

By the summer of 1981, the Islamic Republic party finished taking sole control of the government, and called themselves “the Hezbollahi government.”

Mohammad Saleh Hosseini was assassinated in Beirut in April 1981, but by then the assets that he and the top IRGC leadership had been cultivating in Lebanon since the mid-70s were consolidated. Mughniyeh was summoned to Iran to discuss providing training for Hezbollah and in 1982, an Iranian delegation arrived in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

Badran writes:
In the conventional narrative of Hezbollah’s origins, it is the arrival of this contingent, the work it did there, and the men it trained that is typically said to signal the organization’s birth. However, by the time Dehghan, Mohtashami, and Mughniyeh engineered the October 1983 attack that killed 241 American servicemen, the Khomeinists had already been active in Lebanon for over a decade. [emphasis added]In effect, just as Khomeini and his followers took over control of the revolution in Iran, they did the same thing where it had all began, in Lebanon:
And now it was all coming full circle as Iran’s triumphant Islamic Republicans, Hezbollah, spawned their namesake in Lebanon.Arafat must have been thrilled.

His support for Khomeini and for Hizbollah seemed to bode well for the terrorist's influence with Iran. In fact, when he arrived in Tehran on February 17, 1979, he was the first “foreign leader” to be invited to visit Iran -- just days after the victory of the revolution.

Arafat and Khomeini, 1979
Arafat tried to exploit his new-found friendship, but just like he did in Jordan, Arafat soon made himself unwelcome.
  • Arafat tried to mediate the US Embassy hostage crisis, but his interference angered Khomeini, and made him suspicious.
  • The Iraq-Iran war only made things worse. Arafat could not afford to side with Iran against Iraq and risk losing the support of the Arab world that funded the PLO. He tried to mediate, but Khomeini refused to even see him.
In the end, Arafat's plans backfired:
By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned the Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.And Hamas, at least, seems to have made its peace with that.

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Catégories: Middle East

The Levels of Hypocrisy in BDS - And Will You Have Fries With That?

lun, 02/09/2019 - 16:06
In a recent post, Elder of Ziyon pointed out an ignored truth about the campaign to boycott Israel: BDS isn't about boycotts. It is about turning Israel into a pariah state.
Even BDSers admit that they choose their targets of boycott for maximum leverage and publicity, even as they use Israeli products themselves. The boycotts are indeed a sideshow to their real aim - to have average people associate Israel with racism and apartheid.

By repeating the lies that Zionism is racism, Israel is an apartheid state, Israel must be boycotted for human rights abuses, and so on - over and over again - it makes an impression on college students and people who don't follow Israel closely.

When an artist boycotts Israel, it makes a huge impression on people who want to identify as supporting social justice.

When an academic group calls to boycott Israel, it puts an aura of respectability on hating Israel.BDS is a tactic, it is not a movement whose goal is to remake Israel as the previous boycott movement was capable of forcing change on the level it did with South Africa.

And the strategy behind that tactic is publicity.

Now more than ever, especially in the age of social media, it is possible to reach people without having to engage the mainstream media, who in the past were the gatekeepers who could to a larger degree control who got access to the public audience.

When small groups like If Not Now want attention, they stand outside and say Kaddish for Hamas terrorists -- not Jews who were murdered by terrorists -- because that is what gets attention, and it is that attention that is the crucial oxygen to breathe life into the membership and create the attention that such movements need.

Recently on Twitter, it was pointed out that both Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar -- vocal supporters for boycotting Israel -- used Israeli technology, Wix, for their website:

But the fact that Tlaib uses Wix for her website was already pointed out back in February. This fact made the rounds back then, and to a lesser degree it has been pointed out now. But the fact that Tlaib has not bothered to redo the website means that other than perhaps metaphorically tweaking her nose, this apparent hypocrisy means nothing to her.

She has not bothered to comment.

But back in November 2015, the Times of Israel reported that when it was pointed out that the Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Denver used Wix for their website -- the students defended their actions and claimed to explain why this was not hypocritical
By combining the power of many around the world, boycotts shine a harsh light on Israeli settler-colonialism. Whereas Israel wishes these networks to remain inconspicuous, the BDS campaign uses the power of an organized consumer boycott to expose them, forcing the recognition of our different forms of connection with oppression and the oppressed. When we participate in an organized boycott of Israeli consumer goods, such as Sabra and Tribe hummus (whose owners financially support Israeli institutions of occupation and dispossession) or SodaStream kitchen appliances (made in illegal settlements under conditions of hyperexploitation), we choose to make visible the connections between Palestinians living directly under Israeli occupation and people living elsewhere. With these organized boycotts, this global economic structure, a largely hidden network of financial pipes and tunnels, acts as unwitting accomplice to members of Palestinian civil society in their call for self-determination. Boycotts therefore form a limited but necessary component of the BDS campaign. For supporters of the Palestinian call for BDS, boycotts serve as a tactic within a wider strategy to pressure Israel to change its policies and end its oppression. [emphasis added]The reference to SodaStream reminds us that this same logic that allows the BDS movement to use Israeli products while boycotting them -- also allows them to put Palestinians out of work for 'the cause' as well.

Putting Palestinians into financial distress through BDS boycotts is only for their own good.

How widespread is this use of Israeli products by members of BDS?
Consider Omar Barghouti, one of the BDS leaders.

He has a degree from Tel Aviv University, a blatant and rather public contradiction for someone supposedly embodying the BDS movement. He has been confronted with this on a number of occasions, and while Barghouti has offered a variety of excuses, he never quit the university -- or burned his degree in public.

But the BDS movement has given Barghouti lots of publicity, and any occasional questions about his hypocrisy have not slowed him down.

He falsely claims that he could not have gotten a degree any other way.
Tlaib could have used any number of other products to make her website.
Neither has confronted the contradiction head-on as the SJP students in Denver - and while that article in Times of Israel reports the students' use of Wix in November 2015, the group's explanation is dated November 2013.

Still, it is not hard to figure out that Wix is an Israeli product.
And it is not as if there are not lots of other products that could make a website just as well.

These days, that SJP site uses WordPress.
Maybe that hypocrisy finally caught up with them.

An article in Haaretz earlier this year addresses the larger hypocrisy in the BDS movement:
When push comes to shove, its activists prefer that others do the boycotting and make the sacrifices. Thus Caterpillar and in the past the security company G4s have been popular targets because, after all, how many ordinary people are going to ever be buying a earthmover or employ a security guard? It’s likewise painless to ask a university’s trustees or a big pension fund to divest Israeli shares from their portfolios because that’s someone else’s money.

The requirement to fight the good fight against Israeli oppression is supposed to be borne by others whether they are big, anonymous institutions or useful idiots who take the boycott call seriously. Meanwhile, a boycott campaign is being managed using Israeli website building tools. In the words of SJP Cornell, “BDS is not abstention, nor an absolute moral principle … it is a tactic.”And again, it is not just that the fight is borne by others, the effects have been borne by the actual people the BDS movement claims to be helping -- as in the case of the Palestinian employees of SodaStream.

These boycotts are not limited to big companies either. Boycotts of performers going to Israel are always guaranteed to draw attention -- and are sometimes successful.

Sometimes the boycotts are local: Dearborn burger franchise founded in Israel delays opening after backlash, threats:
A franchisee has delayed the scheduled opening of his Burgerim restaurant in Dearborn amid backlash from the Arab-American community over the popular burger company’s Israeli roots.

Sam Zahr, a Lebanese-American who lives in Dearborn, said he was too worried to open the restaurant on Greenfield Road after his kids were bullied and he received threatening messages from those opposed to the burger chain founded in Israel.

...A Burgerim location in Royal Oak also owned by Zahr has not experienced as much opposition, he said.
It's not clear if the issue is only boycotting or maybe also a desire to squelch any hint of normalization.

Based on Zahr's success in Royal Oak, maybe an Arab-Israeli business can make it in the US.

Burgerim seems to think so:

BDS can go ahead and make their claim to success.
Israel is opening up new battlefields.

Those SJP students say that BDS is more than a tactic; it sheds a light and sends a message.

Burgerim, an Israeli company, is sending a message too:

Dill pickle

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Catégories: Middle East

Is There Anyone From J Street Who ISN'T A Co-Founder of If Not Now?

ven, 30/08/2019 - 16:01
Just asking.

It seems there are various former members of J Street, some who served in leadership positions, who are now involved in If Not Now -- and some of them are apparently founding members.

For example:

Max Berger
Yonah Lieberman
Carinne Luck
  • Times of Israel identifies Carinne Luck as a co-founder of If Not Now.
  • Luck's website notes she was a founding staff member and Vice President for Field and Campaigns at J Street.
Simone Zimmerman
  • Simone Zimmerman identifies herself as a co-founder of If Not Now on her Twitter page.
  • In an article for The Forward, Josh Nathan-Kazis writes that Simone Zimmerman was the national president of J Street U’s student board in the 2012-2013 school year
Kara Segal
Emily Mayer
Sarah Beth Alcabes
Canary Mission lists Sarah Beth Alcabes as leading an INN disruption, in partnership with Taher Herzallah of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and also being an activist with J Street U at the University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley) from 2012-2014.
Times of Israel mentions Elianna Fishman, who was "heavily involved with J Street U Dartmouth" and who confirms "I interned for J Street, and helped set up a chapter on campus” before graduating and joining IfNotNow -- to which the article adds
In fact, many of IfNotNow’s leaders are alumni of J Street U.An article in Haaretz echoes this when it says:
[If Not Now] remains small, attracting several dozen participants, some of whom are leaders of J Street U, the group’s student-organizing arm.But the question remains: why have these, and other members of J Street, made the switch?

According to a Haaretz article from 2014, Gaza War Pushes Some to the Left of J Street. The logic, according to Haaretz, is that over time, J Street, even back in 2014, was becoming larger and more moderate, with the result that there were the beginnings of a limited exodus that benefited smaller more radical groups. One of those groups was If Not Now, described in the article as "an ad hoc group."

Of course, what the Haaretz article claims is a sign of J Street's moderation can also be seen as the failure in the eyes of some of its members, to become increasingly radical.

A similar theme to Haaretz is taken by Nathan-Kazis in the Forward also in an article from 2014, that in contrast to the more "moderate" tone taken by J Street, some members felt J Street was not doing enough:
Former high-ranking J Street staff members were among the organizers of a July 28 protest in New York City against Israel’s invasion of Gaza. They acted under the name #ifnotnow and made no mention of their former J Street affiliations.He writes about another protest just a few days earlier, launched by 4 activists that included high-ranking members Carinne Luck who had left J Street in 2012 and Daniel May, director of J Street U from 2010 to 2013 as well as Max Berger.

Other participants in one or both of those #ifnotnow protests included Isaac Luria, J Street’s vice president of communications and new media from 2008 until 2011 and Tamara Shapiro.

Some of that former J Street staff said they were not opposed to J Street’s long-term strategy -- but felt limited by its tactics. Others, like Luck, said they did not share J Street's "patience" with the "Jewish institutional community."

That is the narrative.
Daniel Greenfield of FrontPageMag.org isn't buying it.

He is cynical of claims that If Not Now was simply born of a break with J Street. In If Not Now, J Street's Latest Anti-Israel Front Group, he writes:
The official narrative is that If Not Now parted ways with J Street because the group was insufficiently opposed to the Jewish State and insufficiently supportive of Hamas. As a practical matter though this is how radical groups have always operated, with a front group that makes efforts to appear moderate while incubating radical organizations within itself that "split off" but still pursue the same agenda.

Despite claims of a split, If Not Now is just pursuing the exact same agenda as J Street U, protesting Jewish charities for supporting Israel, while claiming to be the voice of a new generation.

It's the same scam with a new brand and slightly less of a paper trail.

If Not Now is J Street...

...New organizations are constantly being created and destroyed. But they all share one agenda. The destruction of the Jewish State.If there is indeed an element of dramatic effect at work here, then this alleged break would be no more authentic than the recent break of Jesse Steshenko, who claimed to have been "a very ardent Zionist" who as a result of his recent J Street trip to Israel became "disgusted" with Israel.

Elder of Ziyon revealed that in fact as recently as 2016 as a member of Junior States of America, a mock Congress, he introduced a resolution calling Israel an apartheid state and demanding the recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as defined by the 1949 Armistice -- effectively depriving Israel of the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.

Actually, J Street itself has a history of being less than straightforward.
Carinne Luck's involvement in If Not Now is another reason for apprehension.

Here is a 2012 video of Luck explaining J Street's job:

The main takeaway from what Luck says:
  • A sizable percentage of J Street is not Jewish
  • J Street responds to the wishes "the Hill, the (Obama) Administration" which wants J Street to "move Jews"
  • The bulk of J Street resources are dedicated to this
  • There is an uneasiness about those in J Street leadership who are not Jewish who may present themselves as Jews
This idea of misrepresentation that Carinne Luck shares with the group -- without condemning -- is an issue that arises again with If Not Now, both in terms of questions about its connections with J Street but also in terms of its own claims to represent today's young American Jews.

We have seen there is a failure of J Street to live up to what it claims it does.
Should we be surprised that there are doubts about what If Not Now claims as well?
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Catégories: Middle East

IfNotNow Plans To "Bird Dog" US Presidential Candidates

mar, 27/08/2019 - 16:08
This post originally appeared on Elder of Ziyon on July 10, 2019

With the presidential campaign heating up and Democratic support for Israel apparently ebbing, the radical left-wing group IfNotNow has now reformed itself as a 501(c)(4) and is out raising money.

More importantly, IfNotNow has a new goal:
“Our focus is going to be trying to push the candidates past giving lip-service to a two-state solution,” said IfNotNow co-founder Emily Mayer, “without recognizing the underlying dynamics and explicit moves by the Israel government that are creating a one-state reality where Palestinians are denied basic rights.”

The organization is also taking a page out of the playbook of groups such as Black Lives Matter and the American Civil Liberties Union: It plans to “bird-dog” presidential candidates at public events to create viral moments and prod the Democratic Party leftward on the issue of Israel.In a MoveOn.org PDF on how to do bird-dogging, MoveOn.org describes it as

a great tactic used to directly engage or confront candidates and MoCs [Members of Congress] on our issues at their public events. It lets them know how important these issues are to everyday constituents. The goal of bird-dogging is to put tough questions to MoCs and force them to answer when they are in front of their constituents, voters, and the media.

Bird-dogging can be used to make sure MoCs can’t escape answering questions about important issues and to ensure that we are setting the terms of the debate.MoveOn.org's playbook provides a checklist on how to prepare for bird-dogging.

For example:
Craft your question.

Ask a yes-or-no question, not an open-ended question. Your goal is to get your member of Congress on the record about a critical issue. Here are some example questions:
■ “Do you understand that by voting to take away the Affordable Care Act, you are taking away my health care?”
■ “Can my fellow constituents and I count on you to vigorously oppose any cut to Medicare, including privatization, which would threaten my ability to retire?”These are manipulative questions that are meant more to put the person in a corner and pin them  down

The goal is supposed to be to push the Democratic candidates to take more left-wing positions against Israel, clarify their stands and draw public attention to the changing attitudes of the Democratic Party. In the Politico article, Emily Mayer -- a co-founder of IfNotNow -- considered Biden and Booker out of sync with the Democratic base on Israel.

IfNotNow started off with an easy one.

They caught up with Bernie Sanders while he was campaigning in New Hampshire. Considering the fact that Sanders has called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “racist,” getting the candidate to back their cause in condemning Israel was not going to be a problem

Not much of a challenge.

Last year in August, Corey Booker got caught doing something similar:

At the time, Booker claimed that he misunderstood the sign and thought it just had to do with Mexico. Since that time, Booker has continued to support Israel.

In Sanders' case, he didn't have to say a word. So the "confrontation" with Sanders was actually nothing more than a photo-op. 
But their next target was Elizabeth Warren.

Here are some snapshot excerpts of the 73-second polished video that went on Twitter, with the headline that
Sen. @eWarren says she’d push Israel to end its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank 

If you do a search online, you'll find there are all kinds of headlines now proclaiming that Warren has promised to end the "Israeli occupation."

But is that really what happened?
They did not pin Warren down with a yes-no question.

All they did was gush all over her and say "We'd really love it if you also pushed the Israeli government to end the occupation"
What they got in return was "Yes. Yes. So I'm there."

Whatever that means.

IfNotNow tried to capitalize on all this with a press release:
In the past, Warren has regularly spoken of Israel as a strong ally in a tough neighborhood and has appeared at AIPAC events and used right-wing talking points. But as her career has gone on, her views on the issue have grown to be farther in line with her progressive values: She was one of the 60 Democrats to boycott Netanyahu’s speech in Congress, she supported the Iran Deal, spoke out against the Embassy move, and opposes efforts to criminalize the BDS movement.Down the road, they may try to pin Warren down to specifics, but it's not clear what she said in the first place. Considering all the billion-dollar plans Warren is going around promising, saying yes to a vague question is not likely to cause her problems down the road.

Did Warren even pay serious attention to what they were saying?
Here is what happened, without the window dressing from the original 16-second video:

Two kids gushed about how much they admired Elizabeth Warren and she shepherded them into a photo op and quickly sent them on their way.

Considering the Democratic presidential field, IfNotNow is not likely to corner anyone who is not more than willing to agree on the issue of occupation.

On the other hand, if they instead ask more pointed questions that address other more controversial issues like the Gaza "protests", then we may see sparks fly.

The candidates are unlikely to be prepared for the simplistic one-sided questions that IfNotNow may soon be throwing at them.

While the media has made a point of not pinning down the candidates on how they plan to pay for the numerous plans they are proposing, the candidates may soon find themselves being held responsible for the stands they claim to take on Israel.

That may not be such a bad thing.

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Catégories: Middle East

Its Another Round of Omar-Tlaib vs Trump -- And Jews Are Caught In The Middle

lun, 26/08/2019 - 18:06
We've seen that Trump is determined to paint the Democratic party as the party of AOC, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

With the latest blowup over Israel banning Omar and Tlaib from entering the country -- Trump, Omar and Tlaib are at it again, but this time with not only Israel, but also the American Jewish community itself caught in the middle.

Yet some of the themes and some of the accusations being cast back and forth seemed oddly familiar, with a certain double standard being applied.

This is especially apparent on Twitter.

Deflecting Criticism With ImpunityIn the current situation, we see Omar deflecting criticism of her support of BDS and her and Tlaib's reliance on the viciously antisemitic Miftah, by claiming the criticism is really all about her and Tlaib being Muslim:

But oddly enough, we have seen that when there is even a hint that criticism of Israel is being deflected by claiming it is antisemitic -- there is an uproar that this is proof that defenders of Israel are evading the issue.
Do We Want Netanyahu To Have a Good Relationship With The US President?David Hazony points out that not so long ago we were told about the importance of Netanyahu having proper respect for the President of the United States:

That is an idea that Herb Keinon dwells on:
Netanyahu, and by extension Israel, were damned when they had a difficult relationship with the US president, and now Netanyahu, and by extension Israel, is damned for enjoying a good relationship with the US president.At Powerline Blog, Paul Mirengoff expands on this idea:
When Barack Obama was in office, Benjamin Netanyahu had a terrible relationship with the American president. Back then, as Herb Keinon reminds us, liberals and their media pals insisted it was crucial that the Israeli prime minister have a strong relationship with the president of the U.S.

These days, Netanyahu’s relationship with the American president could hardly be stronger. So what’s the liberal/media line now? Netanyahu is too close to President Trump.

Exhibit A is Netanyahu’s decision to cancel a visit to Israel by Reps. Omar and Tlaib — a visit that apparently was going to take place until Trump tweeted that it shouldn’t. But if the relationship between the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister is so important, why shouldn’t Netanyahu take Trump’s opinion into account when making what probably was a close call?Well, actually, strong relations with the president would be considered a good thing -- even with a Republican president -- but in this case, where Trump has been so thoroughly demonized by the Left and the Media, it really is no surprise to see Netanyahu criticized for having a good working relationship with him. After all, the ban is carefully framed as an example of Netanyahu giving in to Trump and being manipulated by him, which makes matters seem even worse.

Calling Jewish Loyalty Into Question Yet Again
Just when it seemed that the uproar over Israel refusing entry to Omar and Tlaib was beginning to wane, Trump stirred things up again:

Not that we haven't seen other politicians in Washington recently accuse Jews of disloyalty:

If there is a difference, it would be that Omar was accusing Jews of being disloyal to the US and being guilty of dual loyalty.

Trump, on the other hand, in his own sloppy way, seemed to be saying that Jews voting for Democrats were being disloyal to the Jewish community as a whole.

But as far as his opponents were concerned, it was a difference without a distinction and they are playing it up for all it was worth.

Lost in this kerfuffle, was the fact that another Democrat was throwing around accusations of disloyalty as well

Congressman Ted Lieu accused US Ambassador David Friedman of being disloyal to the US by defending Israel's decision to ban Omar and Tlaib.

It was a sharp attack and Lieu later deleted the tweet and gave an unapologetic apology:

But as pointed out on Legal Insurrection, Lieu's excuse in pleading ignorance was not altogether honest.

Just last month, Lieu indicated he understood full well the impact of being accused of having dual loyalties, both in general and to Jews:
The suspicion that immigrants are not to be trusted or are unpatriotic is not just wrong, it is un-American. And dangerous. Yet it has marred America's past, including with the 19th-century "Yellow Peril" hysteria, the internment during World War II of more than 110,000 people who happened to be of Japanese descent and accusations against Jewish Americans of harboring dual loyalties. [emphasis added]Even now, there are reports that as a result of the anger of Democrats, Israel’s ambassador to the US is done in the House, and the US ambassador to Israel may not be far behind.
Lost in all this is that Friedman, as ambassador, represents Trump -- not the American people.

When Cartoons Become Antisemitic Weapons
Remember when the Trump came out with this tweet, which he later deleted:

All that uproar over a star of David being used -- and Trump was again being accused of antisemitism.

But that kind of outrage is very selective.
As much as the media loves to jump at the chance to accuse Trump of antisemitism, that same media takes care to mute their criticism of Omar-Tlaib when they do something similar:

Batya Bungar-Sargon pointed out the problem:Oof. Looks like both Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib shared this awful Carlos Latuff cartoon in Instagram stories yesterday. In 2006, Latuff came in second in Iran's International Holocaust Cartoon Contest, which is a thing that exists, in case you thought the TL couldn't get any worse.Putting aside Latuff's history of antisemitic cartoons and his mocking of the Holocaust, this cartoon -- which Omar and Tlaib eagerly shared -- shows the arms of Trump and Netanyahu forming the stripes of the Israeli flag, with a Jewish star in the middle, implying a conspiratorial connection between Trump and Netanyahu, something we haven't seen in a cartoon since The New York Times graced its pages with this:
Not that The New York Times has learned its lesson and would call out the antisemitism of the Latuff cartoon:
The Times, after publishing an antisemitic cartoon in its international edition a few months ago, editorialized it is a “dangerous mistake“ to dismiss antisemitism as a fringe element in society, but on Miftah, Tlaib, and Omar the paper continues to fall painfully short of “unblinking journalism and the clear editorial expression of its values.” Or its values seem to require a certain amount of blinking.
Jews and/or Israel are accused of
Hiding behind claims of antisemitism to avoid criticism
o  Allowing Trump to dictate Israeli policy
o  Trying to influence US policy
o  Being accused of dual loyalty
o  Trying to control MuslimsAnd through it all, Jews are becoming ever more aware that the hatred of Jews that we read about happening in Europe has reached the US and is getting worse.

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Catégories: Middle East

What You Need To Know About J-Street's "Birthright" Style Trip

lun, 26/08/2019 - 06:16
This post originally appeared on Elder of Ziyon on July 4, 2019

The Birthright program is often in the news, mainly because of the tremendous work it does to strengthen the Jewish sense of identity of young Jews by creating the opportunity for them to visit Israel for free.

The Birthright trips have expanded over the years and now you can choose your own theme/itinerary:
  • Active: Dive-in to the ultimate outdoor adventure and get ready to hike, bike, and climb your way through Israel
  • Professional: Delve deeper into your professional industry by experiencing the best of Israel through an occupational lens
  • Culinary: Savor the flavor of Mediterranean cuisine and develop your palate and culinary skills alongside some of Israel's finest chefs
  • Spiritual: Embark on a meaningful quest through mystical Israel. Connect with the land, the people and yourself
  • Cultural: Get lost in Israel's thriving city centers and explore music, theatre and award-winning film
  • LGBTQ: Join like-minded peers on a curated tour of Israel's thriving LGBTQ culture
  • Study Abroad: Make the country your classroom and travel Israel for 12-14 days. You will experience all the best parts of our Classic trip and master a topic of your choosing earning 3 credits in the process
The goal of Birthright is

Birthright Israel seeks to ensure the future of the Jewish people by strengthening Jewish identity, Jewish communities, and connection with Israel via a trip to Israel for the majority of Jewish young adults from around the world.

Our hope is that our trips motivate young people to continue to explore their Jewish identity and support for Israel and maintain long-lasting connections with the Israelis they meet on their trip. We encourage our alumni to take active roles in Jewish organizations and to participate in follow-up activities worldwide. But Birthright also gets into the news because of the attempt by left-wing groups to politicize what the program does. These groups offer suggestions -- if not outright demands -- that the Birthright 10-day program includes a 'balanced' introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

J Street is among those left-wing Jewish groups, under J Street U, that want to tinker with the program
The J Street U campaign emphasizes that it is important for American Jewish students to be well-informed and to receive a full and nuanced picture of the challenges facing Israel today, including the threat that the occupation presents to its long-term future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. The petitions warn against the damaging consequences of excluding and omitting Palestinian voices and narratives from the conversation.So now J Street has started its own alternative to Birthright trips.

Why is this a concern?

Because of J Street's controversial agenda to use the US to impose its politics on Israel.

As J Street puts it:
Israel’s supporters have the right and the obligation to speak out when the policies or the actions of the Israeli government are hurting the long-term interests of Israel and the Jewish people.J Street presents itself as a more liberal alternative to AIPAC. But it is more than that. Unlike AIPAC, which advocates for Israeli policy independent of politics and who leads the Israeli government, J Street actively pushes its own agenda in the US in order to influence the policy in Israel. For example, unlike AIPAC, J Street actively involves itself in US elections and supports only Democratic candidates. Considering how Democratic candidates are moving the left and are less supportive of Israel, that is a major concern that needs to be addressed.

As the J StreetPAC site puts it on their About Us page:

While J Street notes the overwhelming Jewish support for the Democratic party, that does not explain J Street support for anti-Israel Democrats.
All this is consistent with past J Street activities, such as actively supporting the biased Goldstone Report, working for the Iran deal alongside the pro-Iranian group NIAC and bringing "Breaking the Silence" to speak at Princeton in 2017 during Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut.

While J Street U has put together its own "Birthright trip, this is not the first time J Street has tried this.

The blog Mystical Politics has a copy of the original press release from J-Street posted by J Street U director Daniel May on January 25, 2011, announcing a trip in conjunction with Birthright. (The press release has been removed from the J Street site):
J Street U is very happy to announce that we will be leading a free, ten-day Taglit-Birthright trip this summer titled, "Explore Israel: Progressive Zionism and Social Justice."

This trip is an incredible opportunity to connect with the Israel that isn't on the front page or in the guide books. Move beyond the headlines, and see what's really happening on the ground.

If you're Jewish, age 18 - 25, and have yet to take a peer group trip to Israel, we strongly encourage you to sign up and be the first to know when registration opens.

The trip is a chance to appreciate the vibrancy of Israel's history, culture and landscape from a perspective that acknowledges your Jewish and progressive values.

The best way to discover the richness of Israeli society and the full contours of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to travel around Israel and meet people from the diverse groups of the region. There is simply no substitute for seeing the land and connecting with the people.

On the trip, we'll speak with members of Israeli civil society working to advance the goals of democracy and human rights. Our itinerary will provide a cross-section of Israeli opinion.

This trip is a gift of Taglit-Birthright Israel and will be provided by The Israel Experience, Ltd. [emphasis added]The intended focus of the trip was political -- from a 'progressive' perspective, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and meeting representatives of human rights groups -- as opposed to Jewish identity and connection to Israel. That was, and is, their prerogative. However, the description does not seem like it would mesh with the Birthright goals of identity and connection

And mesh it didn't.

The blog FresnoZionism sounded the alarm: Action alert: Don’t let J Street exploit Birthright:
In other words, the phony ‘pro-Israel’ organization J Street, a group that takes money from people associated with Saudi Arabia, the Arab-American institute, Iranian interests, anti-Israel billionaire George Soros, a mysterious woman associated with the guy who beat the Hong Kong horse-racing track, and the Turkish producer of anti-Israel propaganda films; whose co-founder [Daniel Levy] called the creation of Israel ‘an act that was wrong’; and which facilitated meetings between members of Congress and Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the notorious Goldstone report that accused Israel of deliberately murdering civilians in the Gaza war — this organization has the chutzpah to use funds provided by Taglit-Birthright to sabotage its purpose!He contacted Birthright and encouraged others to as well, and in the end, the Birthright trip was canceled.

Moriel Rothman, President of the J Street U student board, issued a statement which read in part:
J Street U had planned our trip in order to forge an avenue through which liberal-minded college students – who may otherwise not engage – could develop a deep and lasting relationship with the Jewish homeland. The trip was to include the traditional highlights of a Taglit-Birthright experience – visits to Masada, the Kotel, and Yad Va’Shem – as well as opportunities for students to engage with Israeli human rights advocates, journalists, and politicians involved in the struggle to preserve the democratic future of the Jewish homeland.

...Despite their initial approval for a trip that would provide just such an experience, Birthright’s leadership has now decided that it is inappropriate for JStreetU to organize a trip because we are politically oriented. Nonetheless, comparable organizations with different politics than ours participate and help organize trips every year. For instance, AIPAC’s “Capital to Capital” Birthright trip is designed for Jewish political activists who are “significantly involved in the American political process.” Given that other such trips are regularly offered, we were surprised and saddened that our trip was suddenly deemed inappropriate. [emphasis added]Again, there are politics and there are politics. FresnoZionism in the same post makes reference to the politics of Moriel Rothman:
What is J Street U? Its National Board President U is a Middlebury College student named Moriel Rothman. Here is how he explains the controversy around the Sheik Jarrah / Shimon haTzadik neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Pay attention not only to his words, but his tone:
…the Jerusalem municipality has been bending to the will of fanatic Jewish settlers, and producing - based on archaic documents from the Ottoman period and manufactured Israeli law - eviction notices to a number of Palestinian families, and in some cases - such as with three families in Sheikh Jarrah- acting on those eviction notices by force and removing those Palestinian families from their homes. The municipality’s actions are hugely problematic from a moral standpoint: not only are Jews buying up and/or stealing Arab land in East Jerusalem, but Arabs are moreover unable to buy land in the primarily Jewish West Jerusalem… These policies are also hugely problematic from the standpoint of peace, as East Jerusalem must be the capital of the future Palestinian state, and the Clinton Parameters, which state that Palestine will get control of Arab neighborhoods and Israel will control Jewish neighborhoods, are made harder and harder to implement with each infiltration of Jewish settlers into Arab neighborhoods like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah. [emphasis in the original]This is the example set by a head of J Street U at the time.

In the end, it appeared that the provider J Street U was working with, Israel Experience, did not clear the arrangement with Birthright in advance.

J Street U's statement gave a hint of things to come:
J Street U students are petitioning Birthright CEO Gidi Mark to “provide more Birthright trips that speak to the values of social justice, democracy, and peace that are so important to young, progressive Jews. [emphasis added]An article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the time explained the Birthright position on politically oriented trips and why trips coordinated with AIPAC are different from what J Street proposed:
“We said such a trip, as described in a brief conversation with the Israel Experience, would likely be out of keeping with our longstanding policy of not conducting trips with a political orientation,” Birthright said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Birthright subsequently confirmed that the policy was adopted in 2009, when the organization decided not to partner any longer with groups that are “overtly political.”

Prior to 2009, Birthright trips were run in conjunction with the Zionist Organization of America and the Union for Progressive Zionists, the precursor to J Street U.

Birthright continues to partner with AIPAC, though references to the pro-Israel lobby group were scrubbed recently from the website of the Israel Experience. Birthright said AIPAC did not fall under the 2009 policy change because the organization does not generally seek to influence Israeli policy. [emphasis added]Birthright further explained the
For years, we have run a Capital-to-Capital trip through another trip provider, which focuses on the Israeli political system. The provider has been running this trip, with input from AIPAC, a mainstream Israel advocacy group, long before JStreet was established. It focuses on Israel’s political structure, with an approach similar to a political science class; the trip has never been tilted to one side of the political spectrum. [emphasis added]In the end, J Street went on the trip on their own.

How did it go?

In a J-Street U mailing no longer online, Daniel May, Director, J Street U, wrote on June 21, 201:1
I can tell that these two weeks are making a life-long impact on the participants. And amidst the painful stories of this conflict, that fact is giving me tremendous hope. But I don't want you to hear it from me. I want you to hear it directly from the students...

Simone Zimmerman, Berkeley ‘13 – Read her whole post here.
As aspiring peacebuilders, we have already been given so much to challenge us, and we have barely chipped the surface. I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility already, and a tremendous amount of privilege for being able to participate in this journey with J Street U. I’ve been to Israel many times in many different capacities, but this is my first trip where I am finding that I can, without contradiction, bring together my deep love for this country with my deep commitment to exploring the toughest challenges facing Israel today. [emphasis added]Here is a picture of Simone Zimmerman from during the J Street U trip
From J Street U Facebook Page
Zimmerman has since made a name for herself in expressing that "deep love" and "commitment":

Bernie Sanders staffer fired for anti-Netanyahu rant hired to run B’Tselem USA
After Zimmerman, a former J Street student activist, was hired by the Sanders campaign, it was discovered she previously wrote on Facebook, “Bibi Netanyahu is an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole,” according to the Washington-based Free Beacon.

She continued: “F-- you, Bibi, for daring to insist that you legitimately represent even a fraction of the Jews in this world, for your consistent fear-mongering, for pushing Israel in word and deed, farther and farther away from the international community, and most importantly, for trying to derail a potentially historic diplomatic deal with Iran and thus trying to distract the world from the fact that you sanctioned the murder of over 2,000 people this summer.”

She edited the post on March 3, 2015, changing asshole to “politician” and the second expletive to “shame on you.” She was dismissed by the Sanders campaign after being its Jewish outreach coordinator for only two days.
Simone Zimmerman. Screengrab from Haaretz video on YouTube
Considering the example of J Street's past activities against Israel, the attitude demonstrated in the past by J Street U leaders like Moriel Rothman and the activities of the products of J Street U leadership such as Simone Zimmerman -- who is one of the founders of the virulently anti-Israel If Not Now -- suspicions of J Street "Birthright-style" trips are natural.

According to the itinerary of the current 9-day J Street trip:
Day 6: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Occupation 101
Morning: Settlement Tour and Palestinian Village
Afternoon: Hebron
Evening: Group conversation
Overnight: Jerusalem

Day 7: Israel and Palestinian Perspectives Over the Green Line
Morning: Ramallah–Palestinian self-rule under occupation.
Afternoon: Conversation with Settlers
Evening: Israeli and Palestinian Peace Activists
Overnight: Ein GediThere is nothing wrong with criticism of Israel.

The issue is not criticism but rather J Street's record of undercutting Israel and its subversion of support for it.

  • We see it reflected in J Street statements
  • We see it reflected in J Street's actions.
  • We see it reflected in J Street's support for anti-Israel Democratic candidates
  • We see it reflected in J Street 'graduates'

J Street is a special interest group with its own agenda.

It is a political agenda that contrasts with AIPAC, just as its politicized idea of an Israel trip contrasts with Birthright trips that encourage Jewish identity and connection with Israel.

Neither AIPAC nor Birthright have a particular agenda that it imposes or politics it is trying to push onto others.

The same is not true of J Street.
The goal of its trip is just one more way for J Street to push its agenda.

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Catégories: Middle East

What Do Ordinary Palestinians Think About The Bahrain Economic Vision?

mar, 02/07/2019 - 15:48
Inon Dan Kehati leads a group known as The Home, a grassroots organization promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, working on the inside, with the people who are directly and personally affected. They see the problems blocking efforts towards peace created by outside interference of self-appointed peace envoys and promises of money coming from the United States and the European Union -- money that ends up lining the pockets of the Palestinian Authority.

And now they see Jared Kushner's peace plan, or at least the economic part of it: Peace To Prosperity
Kushner claims that the Palestinian Arabs have no reason not to trust Trump.

But is that true?

I asked Kehati about how, from his perspective, the Palestinian Arabs feel about the plan.

Q: what do you make of what is going on in Bahrain, especially the idea of dealing with the economic part and working from the ground up instead of trying to create a state first?

Kehati: I don't think it can bring any momentum or any progress to the (peace) process. Any foreign involvement here, especially western involvement, is just interfering.

Q: Among the people you work with, both Jews and Arabs, do they share a similar pessimism that Trump (and especially Kushner) are getting involved in things that are beyond their ability (and right) to try to control?

Kehati: Most Palestinians that I know, they want prosperity and definitely what Kushner says, that the Palestinian people want prosperity and want better conditions and economic grown and stuff is very true. But the way that it comes from the US -- most likely the PA will make an obstacle so that it will fail eventually. I don't see how it can work.

As long as the PA is there, nothing is going to change. The PA is also playing a double game because they are the Israeli arm regarding managing security in Judea and Samaria -- but it is a dictatorship at the end of the day.

Q: So the Palestinian Arabs actually are siding with Abbas against Kushner's "Peace To Prosperity" plan?

Kehati: Yes, the Palestinians, I am afraid, do agree with Abbas on this issue. Simply to speak about economic prosperity and about money that basically will not go downward to the people is something that does not appeal to Palestinians.

I think that Abbas might take advantage of this conference, and the fact that its basically speaking about economic issues that will definitely not go down to the people -- and abuse it to gain more support from the Palestinians, even though 9 out of 10 Palestinians don't see Abbas as their president or as their leader.

That is the western thinking that does not speak to the emotions and the basic needs of the Palestinian people, but speaks from a western financial perspective about something that is more complex. Again, a total failure to understand the deep motives behind the Palestinians.

The thing is about human rights -- we are not talking about political rights. Freedom of movement, freedom to travel and easing of the military rule: these are the things that speak more to the Palestinians. This is money that basically would go most likely to corrupt leaders or dictators or just corrupt people. This money will not flow downwards.Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli scholar of Arabic culture who works with Kehati and his group, has written about the conference in Bahrain along similar lines.

He addresses the question Why are the Palestinians so opposed to the 'Deal of the Century'?.

On the one hand, whether coming from the nationalistic claims of the Palestinian Authority or the religious perspective espoused by Hamas, neither group will recognize the validity of a Jewish presence in the land. Add to that the actions the Trump administration has taken in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and removing support for the "Palestinian refugees."

Palestinian resistance to western involvement is more than just a rejection of foreign involvement per se. Echoing Kehati, Kedar also sees a rejection of the western approach to solving these kinds of problems:
PLO spokesmen are up in arms because, in their opinion, dealing with the economic issues before solving all the other problems – Jerusalem, the refugees, borders, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, water, sovereignty – are a result of the American conception that money, work and economic development can solve everything. [emphasis added]Involving other Arab countries would seem to be the way around that problem. But according to Kedar, there is more to the Palestinian rejection than just opposition to the involvement of the West:
Another serious flaw in the "Deal of the Century" is that it involves additional Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. This is totally unacceptable to Palestinian Arab spokesmen because years ago, Arafat established the rule that "independence is a Palestinian decision," meaning that the Palestinians are the only ones allowed to decide on their own destiny and future. Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki also believes that that Trump administration doesn't get it and that the offer of economic aid is not going to work:
The administration makes a big mistake. It shows lack of understanding of the psyche of the Palestinians when it starts with material benefits as a carrot, so that Palestinians can see what they would be missing if they reject the political part of the plan.

This is something that is likely to create the exact opposite reaction among the Palestinian public that the administration hopes it will elicit.Not every analyst is as pessimistic.

Yoni ben Menachem, an Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, and a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center, thinks that Palestinian opposition to Abbas outweighs their opposition to the Bahrain Conference.

He has been commenting on his Twitter account, where he has expressed his belief that the Palestinian protests opposing the conference have been minimal:

Reporting on the protests have not been so clearcut. According to The Times of Israel, hundreds protested on Monday. On Tuesday several thousand took to the streets in Nablus to protest against the conference, but around Ramallah there were only about 30 who showed up. Similarly, in Bethlehem, the protesters numbered only in the dozens.

Ben Menachem believes that the corruption and incompetence of Abbas have in fact undercut his ability to disrupt the conference and the steps that will follow. In an article about The Palestinian Failure in Bahrain, he notes that Abbas originally called for a general strike, then instead called for 3 days of demonstrations instead, perhaps recognizing how little influence he really has.
The failure of Mahmoud Abbas has become the street talk in the territories, and he may give the Trump government the impetus to begin unilaterally implementing parts of the economic plan discussed at the Bahrain conference. Mahmoud Abbas did not go out of his way to thwart the Bahrain conference and acted as if he understood that the game was over and that he could not stop the gathering. The PA has not formulated a national plan to deal with President Trump's "bargain of the century" and is content to make do with denunciations and threats. [Translated from the Hebrew with Google Translate]Whether this is an overly optimistic view remains to be seen, with various factors in play along with the established traditional Palestinian suspicions outlined above. And as Kehati points out, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority will not make things easy.

Besides, there still remains the Arabs in Gaza, where Hamas -- which is no less corrupt and incompetent than the PA -- rules with a stronger hand.

I corresponded with someone who told me about a friend, a simple Palestinian Arab who doesn't care about Bahrain. The PA and the Ramallah NGOs do not speak for him, and he doesn't know what the Bahrain peace plan is. All he wants is a job and to bring home food for his family. These are the people, not the officials and those who join their protests in the streets, who will ultimately decide the fate of Trump's deal.

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Catégories: Middle East

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Doing Her Part For Holocaust Education

lun, 24/06/2019 - 15:15
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez certainly isn't the only one jumping at the chance to make absurd comparisons to the Holocaust:

But then again, this is not the first time Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has done this.

Last November, she compared the migrant caravan crossing the border from Mexico with Jewish refugees that the United States turned away before World War II:
“Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime,” Ocasio Cortez said Sunday on Twitter after US border agents repelled Central American migrants with tear gas. “It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany. It wasn’t for targeted families fleeing Rwanda. It wasn’t for communities fleeing war-torn Syria. And it isn’t for those fleeing violence in Central America.”And just 2 months ago in April, AOC used a Holocaust reference in defense of Ilhan Omar:
[AOC] also shared an image of the words of "First they came...," the famous poem by German theologian Martin Niemöller that was inspired by the tragedies of the Holocaust. (The words are mounted on a wall at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.)

The poem reads:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

"Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

"Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

"Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Ocasio-Cortez's tweet sparked major backlash, with critics accusing her of trivializing the Holocaust and slamming her for doing so in defense of Omar, who has repeatedly fought off claims of anti-Semitism.And now AOC is at it again.

She is trying to create this equivalency in people's minds in order to score political points.

And with the competition between Democrats for the presidential nomination heating up, the comparison may be catching on, as Beto O'Rourke has made the comparison back in April ("2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke compares Trump's immigration rhetoric to Nazi Germany")

Republicans have criticized AOC's manipulation of the Holocaust, all along the way -- as have some Jewish organizations.

But this time around -- the third time was not the charm.
Many people defended Cortez and attacked those who criticized her.

But some of her defenders were more cautious. Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar tried to apply Pelosi's defense of Omar in defending AOC -- she just uses words differently.

Bernie Sanders, who could use her support as Elizabeth Warren closes the gap in the polls, nevertheless distanced himself from the comment:
Jewish 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow progressive, distanced himself from her reference to concentration camps in a CNN interview Tuesday evening. “I didn’t use that terminology,” noted Sanders, subsequently repeating twice in the interview that he had “not used that word.”But others who you'd expect to defend Cortez, were more willing to criticize -- like mi
College students weigh in on Ocasio-Cortez’s concentration camp remarks:

“Owes a major apology to the American people”

“A bit extreme”

“A reach”

“Inflammatory…not good for public discourse”

“Embarrassment to Democratic Party”

“A little extreme”

Video via @Cabot_Phillips pic.twitter.com/tjON3CmwlO— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) June 21, 2019
NBC's Chuck Todd criticized not only Ocasia-Cortez -- he lambasted the Democratic Party as a whole:

NBC's Joe Scarborough agreed:

Democratic campaign consultant Doug Schoen came out even more strongly:

#AOC DOUBLING-DOWN on her comparison of U.S. migrant detention centers to concentration camps. Jewish Democrat @DouglasESchoen says it’s an OBSCENITY and she’s being REPREHENSIBLE! #TrishRegan pic.twitter.com/aSeglHafhj— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) June 20, 2019Not surprisingly, the Wiesenthal Center and Yad VaShem to come out with criticism of what Cortez said -- after all, that is to be expected.

What was not expected is that Poland, which has its own problems with the Holocaust and Poland's place in it, got into the act too:
With this letter, I am formally inviting @AOC to come to Poland,where Adolf Hitler set up the worst chain of concentration camps the world has ever seen, so that she may see that scoring political points with enflamed rhetoric is unacceptable in our contemporary Western societies pic.twitter.com/ivOTfmiCfo— TARCZYŃSKI Dominik (@D_Tarczynski) June 20, 2019You couldn't get a larger public discussion of the Holocaust if you tried - and discussion may end up bringing out more information, and more knowledge, of the Holocaust than any enforced book learning.

Bottom line, at a time that ignorance of the Holocaust is growing among millenials, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not only proving that point -- she is unintentionally helping to draw attention to the problem.

Thank you?

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Catégories: Middle East