Friday, December 31, 2010

Not my grandfather’s Camels
30 December '10
Posted before Shabbat

One of my earliest memories was of my grandfather sitting in his armchair, smoking his Camels and reading his Yiddish newspaper, the Forward (פֿאָרװערטס). It was a big deal in our neighborhood one day when he was elected to a post in The Union, and a tiny picture of him (with Camel, of course) appeared in its columns.

The Forward was always a socialist paper, but that was before this necessarily implied anti-Zionism. Today the Forward rarely misses an opportunity to dump on Israel. But I’m still shocked when what is supposed to be a responsible newspaper prints something which is obviously, demonstrably false:

From the moment the Goldstone Report was released in September 2009, its lead author has been subjected to fierce, well-orchestrated attacks by Israeli and American Jews who purport to be defending the legitimacy of the Jewish state and the safety of the Jewish people. Rather than discuss the contents of the report — which concluded that during the 2008-2009 Gaza war, Israel (as well as Hamas) may have committed war crimes — Israel’s defenders launched an all-points campaign to bury it. — Letty Cotton Pogrebin, “The Un-Jewish Assault on Richard Goldstone”

I don’t know what Ms Pogrebin was smoking when she wrote this, but it was definitely not my grandfather’s Camels!

The Goldstone report was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, a UN body dominated by countries belonging to the Islamic bloc. It was based on reports from hostile non-governmental organizations financed to a great extent by the European Union and left-wing foundations, and accompanied by Hamas representatives during their ‘fact-finding’. Hamas inventions were uncritically accepted as true reports, and casualty figures — especially civilians and children — were massively inflated. Worse, a vicious lie — the accusation that it was official IDF policy to harm civilians in order to ‘punish’ them for supporting Hamas was promulgated.

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Clueless Obama makes 'remarkably foolish' appointment

Israel Matzav
31 December '10
Posted before Shabbat

In an earlier post, I explained that the problem with President Obama's recess appointment of Robert Ford as US Ambassador to Syria is not Ford, but the very fact that any ambassador to the Assad regime is being appointed.

The Beirut Star's Michael Young agrees with me. He calls the appointment 'remarkably foolish' and the White House 'clueless' for making it. Here's why.

Against congressional opposition, the administration offered a lukewarm defense of Ford’s appointment, with officials stating that it would allow Washington to get its message to Damascus more clearly. Nonsense. There are plenty of ways to transmit messages to Syria without legitimizing the fact that in the five years since the previous ambassador was withdrawn, following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Assad regime has not budged on issues the US considers important—whether Lebanon, inter-Palestinian affairs, Iraq, Syrian cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah, and negotiations with Israel.

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Optimism, Israeli Style; Negativity on Israel, Western Style

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
31 December '10

Israelis are known for being gloomy about the political situation. In fact, they generally enjoy criticizing things (themselves above all). As a result, Israel's enemies often make the mistake of underestimating the country's ability to endure, struggle, and prevail.

A typical example came in a recent Arab newspaper article that claims the serious fire in northern Israel was a sign of the country's collapse. Not so fast!

So when very positive economic figures are released for 2010, Haaretz, the left-wing newspaper, has to put its own spin on them.

Actually, the numbers are really impressive: Israel's economy did better than predicted. It grew by about 4.5 percent in 2010 compared to only 2.7 percent for all of the other OECD (the club of developed) nations. While living standards went down in most of the West, in Israel they rose by 2.7 percent in Israel.

Pretty good, right?

So naturally, at the bottom of this article, Haaretz had to have the following:

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David Remnick Joins the Israeli Haters and the Leftist British Intellectuals

Ron Radosh
28 December '10

There used to be a time, in the 1940s and 1950s, when the term “New York intellectuals” was taken as a badge of honor, if one belonged to that small but influential group. The term referred to the small group of writers around journals like Partisan Review and later on the early Commentary, as well as Dwight Macdonald’s Politics. The group usually included the likes of Lionel Abel, Philip Rahv, Irving Howe, Irving Kristol, Daniel Bell, Mary McCarthy, William Phillips, Nathan Glazer and others. These were fiercely independent writers, many of them coming out of the Trotskyist movement. They had affection for “the old man,” as the exiled Bolshevik was called, but they soon left his orbit, viewing it as irrelevant to the American scene and highly sectarian to boot.

As time passed and the group grew old, its ranks thinned. Many influenced by them moved into the general orbit of anti-Communist liberalism, and over time, some of the group became the founding fathers of what came to be called neo-conservatism. Others remained anti-Communist liberals, while some still called themselves democratic socialists. Of the latter, the most fierce opponent of the Communists and fellow travelers, a thorough hawk on foreign policy and an ally of the new conservatives, was the philosopher and former Marxist, Sidney Hook. Hated by the entire left-wing, Hook generally regarded himself as one of the new conservatives. But to his dying day, he continued to call himself a socialist, although his allies — all of whom by now were thorough conservatives — ignored this and regarded it as a strange but unimportant eccentricity.

(Read full "David Remnick Joins the Israeli Haters...")

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Fictionalizing Facts on Pollard

By Kenneth Lasson, Angelo Codevilla, Lawrence Korb, and John Loftus
The Arizona Republic -
29 December '10

'Tis the season, apparently, for leaking and spinning government secrets, from both the right and the left.

Now comes retired Navy Capt. M. E. Bowman, who claims to know the real damage Jonathan Pollard, an American serving a life term for spying, caused the United States by passing on classified data to Israel more than a quarter-century ago. And the New Republic's Martin Peretz asserts Pollard "spied . . . for both Israel and Pakistan."

Both are entitled to their opinions, but not to fictionalize the facts.

Do either presume to know the particulars better than James Woolsey, former director of the CIA; or Dennis DeConcini, former chairman of the Senate's Select Intelligence Committee; or Michael Mukasey, former U.S. attorney general under George W. Bush; all of whom have publicly supported commuting Pollard's sentence to time served?

Do either have greater moral suasion from both sides of the political aisle than the Rev. Theodore Hesbergh of Notre Dame or Pastor John Hagee, each of whom have expressed similar sentiments?

It is now acknowledged by intelligence professionals that the vague, secret charges initially leveled against Pollard for somehow causing the then-unexplained loss of U.S. agents working in the Soviet Union were for crimes committed by two others: Aldrich Ames, who had been in charge of CIA counterintelligence for Eastern Europe but was actually a Russian mole, and Robert Hanssen, an FBI special agent who confessed having betrayed American agents. (Ames was finally caught and convicted in 1994, Hanssen in 2001.)

The intelligence community had been chasing a false trail. Moreover, its failure to realize Pollard lacked the Blue Stripe clearance necessary to betray our spy networks seriously impaired the subsequent search for the real traitors.

There is no credible evidence Pollard ever passed information to a third country. In fact, he kept his part of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors under which he agreed to cooperate fully with its investigation in return for a less-than-maximum sentence. By all indications the government did not. The judge ignored the agreement and sentenced Pollard to life in prison. Most who were there believe he was heavily swayed by secret declarations from then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

How Israel Can Win the Coming Diplomatic Offensive

Caroline Glick
30 December '10

On Sunday thousands of Israel haters gathered in Istanbul to welcome the Turkish-Hamas terror ship Mavi Marmara to the harbor. Festooned with Palestinian flags, the crowd chanted “Death to Israel,” “Down with Israel” and “Allah akbar” with Hizbullah-like enthusiasm.

The Turkish protesters promised to stand on the side of Hamas when it next goes to war with Israel. They may not have to wait long to keep their promise. Over the past two weeks Hamas has steeply escalated its missile war, launching over 30 missiles at Israel. Last week, a missile that narrowly missed a nursery school wounded a young girl.

Since Operation Cast Lead two years ago, Iran has helped Hamas massively increase its missile and other military capabilities. Today the terror group that rules Gaza has missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv. It has advanced antitank missiles. As Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said Saturday, “We are now stronger than before and during the war, and our silence over the past two years was only for evaluating the situation.”

That evaluation has not tempered Hamas’s aim of annihilating the Jews of Israel. As Obeida’s colleague Ahmed Jaabari said Saturday, Israel’s Jews have two choices, “death or departing Palestinian lands.”

(Read full "How Israel Can Win the Coming Diplomatic Offensive")

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How to Defame Israel - NPR edition

Elder of Ziyon
30 December '10

When it comes down to it, all of the anti-Israel agitators, protesters and complainers use the same method for their smears. It is easy, effective and sometimes even truthful.

The method is to simply compare Israel with their idea of perfection, and note where it falls short.

It is insidious, because when it is done well, it is difficult to argue against on a point by point basis, and that tends to make people think that Israel is guilty of horrendous crimes. It is criticism without context, calumnies without comparisons, arguments without considering the alternative.

A classic example is being broadcast today on NPR, on the very real problem of tens of thousands of illegal African immigrants who are sneaking into Israel:

(Read full "How to Defame Israel - NPR edition")

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Dopes of the Day: Fooled by Syria...Twice

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
30 December '10

Since I have written about how easily fooled Western politicians, officials, journalists, and academics are by Middle Eastern radicals, I'm going to try to provide examples in a regular feature called Dopes of the Day. This is a good starting point.

There is a newspaper in Lebanon called al-Akhbar. Curiously, while other newspapers are in decline or starved for funds, al-Akhbar is expanding. The New York Times reporter fell for the foolish notion that this newspaper is some model of independence and enterprise. In fact, it is not exactly a secret in Lebanon that it is a hard-line, Syrian backed newspaper that repeatedly slanders the moderate forces there as well as delivers propaganda for Hizballah. And that's where the money comes from.

So the Times is cheering a Syrian propaganda operation just as, not long ago, the Guardian went into rhapsodies about a supposedly wonderful publication in Turkey that is a front for the Islamists and producing false material that enabled the regime there to throw innocent people into prison on trumped-up charges of conspiring to overthrow the government.

Any serious investigation should have shown the true nature of al-Akhbar but the reporter couldn't even find anyone to quote on this point, apparently not even trying to produce a balanced article, much less an accurate one.

Instead here's what we get:

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Israeli forest fire singes Washington Post feature

29 December '10

An jarring irrelevancy appears in the middle of The Washington Post’s December 27 feature “Forest fire fuels review of Israel’s tree-planting traditions; Devastation has experts reassessing practice of greening the hills”. By Post special correspondent Joel Greenberg, the dispatch tells of Israeli forestry officials’ inclination to let the Mount Carmel woods reseed naturally rather than by traditional extensive planting.

Reporting on Israel’s worst forest fire, The Post says, apropos of nothing, that “Jewish National Fund forests, some planted over the ruins of Palestinian villages emptied during Israel’s war of independence [emphasis added], became popular picnic and recreation areas, providing shade and greenery in a sun-baked land.”

In “Storm socks East Coast; D.C. Area Is Largely Spared; Transportation delays strand many holiday travelers,” in the same edition, The Post reported that “flights were grounded at airports from the Carolinas to Boston, with more than 1,000 cancellations at New York City-area airports alone.” It did not write “flights were grounded at airports from the Carolinas to Boston, land largely emptied of its native American Indian population even before the U.S. War of Independence, with more than 1,000 cancellations at New York City-area airports alone.”

The latter would be read instantly as irrelevant editorializing in a news story. What accounts for the former?

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Delegitimizing the Jewish State

Bat Ye'or
Middle East Quarterly
Winter '11, pp. 3-14

In a move that caught the Israeli government and the Jewish world by complete surprise, on October 21, 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the Tomb of the Hebrew Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories," admonishing the Israeli decision to add these biblical shrines to the list of Jewish historical and archaeological sites as "a violation of international law."[1]

The United Nations has become a foremost purveyor of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement. Nowhere has this obsession been more starkly demonstrated than at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, held in September 2001 in the South African town of Durban.

What is less known, however, is that the driving force behind "the attempt to detach the Nation of Israel from its heritage" (to use Israeli prime minister Netanyahu's words)[2] was the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which pressured UNESCO to issue the declaration and drafted its initial version.[3] U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has recently described the OIC as "a strategic and important partner of the U.N."[4] In fact, it has been the OIC that has successfully exploited its marked preponderance at the U.N.—where it constitutes the largest single voting bloc—to turn the world organization and its specialized agencies into effective tools in the attempt to achieve its goals, two of which are to bring about Israel's eventual demise and to "galvanize the umma [Islamic world] into a unified body."[5]

(Read full "Delegitimizing the Jewish State")

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Palestinians’ UN Gambit Puts Both Israel and Obama on the Spot

Jonathan S. Tobin
29 December '10

The news that the Palestinian Authority is expected to try to use the United Nations Security Council to label any Israeli presence in the West Bank and Jerusalem “illegal” is hardly a surprise to those who have followed the PA’s continuous efforts to evade actual peace negotiations. Having rejected an Israeli offer of an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem in 2008, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas spent the first two years of the Obama administration doing everything possible to avoid actually negotiating with Israel. With even Obama starting to understand that the last thing Abbas wants is to sign a peace accord no matter how generous its terms or where Israel’s borders might be drawn, it’s clear the Palestinian’s goal is not a state but to escalate the diplomatic conflict. That will enable him to compete with Hamas for support among a Palestinian population that has never reconciled itself to peace with a Jewish state. The UN is the perfect forum for such a venture since it is a hotbed of anti-Zionist, as well as anti-Semitic, incitement.

Yet despite the mainstream media’s oft trumpeted claim that settlements are illegal under international law, Israel actually has an excellent case here. As David Phillips of the Northeastern School of Law detailed in COMMENTARY in December 2009, whatever one’s opinion of the wisdom of building in the territories, allegations of its illegality are unfounded in international law.

(Read full "Palestinians’ UN Gambit Puts Both Israel and Obama on the Spot")

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Hamas Admission And Judge Richard Goldstone's Silence Prove Goldstone Report Was Wrong

Daled Amos
29 December '10

On the first day of the war, Israel targeted police stations and 250 martyrs who were part of Hamas and the various factions fell." He added that, "about 200 to 300 were killed from the Qassam Brigades, as well as 150 security personnel."
Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad, Jerusalem Post, November 1, 2010

Pity no one seems to really be talking about the Goldstone Report anymore--seeing as even now facts surface that contradict it.

At the time when Hamas admitted that Israel was correct and a larger percentage of combatants were killed by Israel than what the Goldstone claimed, CAMERA noted, the Hamas admission directly undercuts the Goldstone Report's contention that Israel targeted civilians as well:

Hamad's admission gives greater credence to the assertion of British Colonel Richard Kemp that the Israelis acted with greater restraint than other military forces engaged in similar circumstances. The Israeli forces encountered an environment in which opposing forces were intermingled with civilian populations; distinguishing combatants from non-combatants was difficult. This difficulty was compounded by the intentional blending of civilians and combatants by Hamas. During the war, the New York Times reported that the Hamas leadership issued instructions for its fighters to shed their uniforms in order to blend in to the civilian population.

Alan Dershowitz also pointed out that Israel's version of the number of Hamas terrorists killed in Operation Cast Lead was vindicated:

(Read full "Hamas Admission And Judge Richard Goldstone's Silence Prove Goldstone Report Was Wrong")

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Why UNRWA isn't going away anytime soon

Israel Matzav
30 December '10

In the current issue of Commentary, Michael S. Bernstam makes a credible argument for abolishing UNRWA, the UN agency that handles 'Palestinian refugees' (Hat Tip: Elder of Ziyon).

Though pundits and foreign-policy experts focus on the question of settlements or the current temperature of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, UNRWA’s institutionalization of refugee-cum-military camps is, in my view, the principal obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The chances of achieving peace and security in the Middle East will continue to be remote as long as UNRWA is, in effect, underwriting a self-destructive Palestinian cycle of violence, internecine warfare, and a perpetual war against Israel.

The core issue is a phenomenon we can call “refugeeism.” For 60 years, UNRWA has been paying four generations of Palestinians to remain refugees, reproduce refugees, and live in refugee camps. It is UNRWA that put them in refugee cages and watched the number of inhabitants grow. The Palestinian refugee population in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza has exploded from 726,000 in 1950 to 4.8 million in 2010. About 95 percent live under UNRWA care. The unprecedented nature of this guardianship is rooted in the unusual nature of this institution. UNRWA is a supranational welfare state that pays its residents not to build their own nation-state, for, were they to do so, they would forfeit their refugee status and its entitlements of cash, housing, health care, education, credit, and other largesse.

(Read the "Why UNRWA isn't going away anytime soon")

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The Internationally Recognised State of Palestine – Not All it Seems?

Daphne Anson
30 December '10

The following article, obtained from the antipodean J-Wire news service, is by David Singer, a Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst, and is entitled "Palestine – Lawyers, Hot Air and no Clothes":

John V. Whitbeck – described as “an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team” – has recently written an article published in Al Jazeera* pointing out that 106 members of the United Nations have now recognized the State of Palestine, whose independence was proclaimed on 15 November 1988.

Whitbeck also tells us that such recognition covers between 80-90% of the world’s population.

Behind these apparently impressive statistics and the conclusion that Whitbeck draws from them – the story is strikingly different. Whitbeck’s claim of international recognition is pure window dressing bereft of any clothes. It amounts to hot air and nothing more.

What Whitbeck claims as fact is fiction, a state that exists in the mind rather than in reality, an ideal eagerly sought without any current prospect of being achieved.

The declaration of independence proclaimed on 15 November 1988 by Yasser Arafat was nothing more than a public relations stunt since the Palestine Liberation Organization then controlled not one single centimeter of former Palestine. Such declaration sought to be justified on the basis of the United Nations 1947 Partition Plan that had recommended division of Western Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab States. That recommendation had been unanimously rejected by the Arab League. Relying on it 41 years later seemed a hypocritical exercise in diplomatic peace making.

A large part of the world was however prepared to forget and forgive the Arab aggression that followed the rejection of the 1947 UN recommendation and grasp this 1988 lifeline in a further effort to bring about a resolution of the conflict between Jews and Arabs. It has proved to be a waste of time in achieving what the Declaration sought to supposedly accomplish.

(Read full "The Internationally Recognised State of Palestine – Not All it Seems?")

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Agenda: Israel’s Stepfather

Shmuel Lerman
The New Jewish Agenda
22 Tevet 5771
(29 December '10)

Israel’s dependence on the US does not stem from a need for monetary aid or support in the international arena. Israel can manage alone, but it does not want to: American aid fills its need for a moral and cultural “father”. The move from an asymmetrical protectorate relationship to a relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation depends on Israel’s ability to return to itself and to its unique culture. In this way, we will be able to conduct our relations with the US on the foundation of the alliance between the Jewish State and the “State of Jewish values.”

The relationship between the US and Israel is a mirror that can help us understand Israeli mentality. For a better understanding, it is important to analyze the ethical foundation upon which the United States was established and America’s current political and public approach to Israel. The result will be an anomaly; Israel has all the conditions it needs to conduct its relations with the world’s greatest power on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation. But in reality, the situation is just the opposite: The US exhorts Israel not to build in the Jewish neighborhoods in its capital; the US has imprisoned an Israeli agent for twenty five years; the US president puts his feet up on the desk when speaking with Israel’s prime minister – and makes sure that the picture gets out to the media. What are the underlying reasons for this situation?

America: “The Jewish Values State”

The Protestant foundations of faith in G-d and the Bible and the uncompromising drive for liberty and the willingness to fight for it created a special closeness between America’s founding fathers and Jewish heritage. The Jews’ redemption from Egypt became a source of inspiration for the American struggle for liberty and later, for the abolitionist movement; America’s founding fathers almost made Hebrew the official language of their fledgling country; countless American towns bear Biblical names like Bethlehem and Hebron.

(Read full "Agenda: Israel’s Stepfather")

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Everyone Does Not Know What Everyone Supposedly Knows

Rick Richman
29 December '10

For more than a decade, the guiding principle of the peace process has been that “everyone knows” what peace will look like: a Palestinian state on roughly the 1967 lines, with land swaps for the major Israeli settlement blocs, a shared Jerusalem, international compensation for the Palestinian refugees, and a “right of return” to the new Palestinian state rather than Israel.

A new poll conducted jointly by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace shows that the Palestinian public opposes such a solution by a lopsided majority.

The poll presented a package modeled on the Clinton Parameters: (1) an Israeli withdrawal from more than 97 percent of the West Bank and a land swap for the remaining 2-3 percent; (2) a Palestinian state with a “strong security force” but no army, with a multinational force to ensure security; (3) Palestinian sovereignty over land, water, and airspace, but an Israeli right to use the airspace for training purposes and to maintain two West Bank early-warning stations for 15 years; (4) a capital in East Jerusalem and sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods and the Old City (other than the Jewish Quarter and the “Wailing Wall”); and (5) a “right of return” for refugees to the new state and compensation for their “refugeehood” and loss of property.

(Read full "Everyone Does Not Know What Everyone Supposedly Knows")

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Go-it-alone lessons hard learned

TWO years ago this week, the Middle East once again reached boiling point when Israel launched a military incursion into the Gaza Strip.

Jeremy Sharon
The Australian
29 December '10
(h/t Elder of Ziyon)

The operation marked the breaking point of Israel's patience, having absorbed more than 6000 rocket and mortar attacks on the towns and cities of the south since withdrawing from Gaza in August 2005.

More importantly though, the brief but messy conflict in the dying days of 2008 marked for many Israelis the point at which they lost their faith in the notion of land for peace. For them, ceding land had led not to peace but simply to more war.

At a time when the international community is trying to revive the moribund pace process, primarily by pressuring Israel, it is important this sentiment is taken on board. A recent study conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel shows that prior to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, 60 per cent of the Israeli public supported the establishment of a Palestinian state. This year, that number barely reaches 50 per cent and working out the reason for this precipitous decline is not difficult.

In the three years following Israel's disengagement from Gaza, Hamas militarised the Gaza Strip, abducted Gilad Shalit, expelled the forces of Fatah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from the territory and launched more than 6000 rockets and mortars at Israeli towns and cities.

When considering the manner in which Hezbollah filled the power-vacuum left by Israel in the wake of its withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, the calculation for Israelis became clear. Two territorial withdrawals in five years had significantly and irrevocably damaged their security, and another pull-back, this time from the West Bank, might well be suicidal.

(Read full "Go-it-alone lessons hard learned")

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No Time for Israel

Time Magazine: November 2009 - November 2010

Honest Reporting
In-Depth Analysis
29 December '10

Executive Summary

When Time magazine published its September cover story, "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace", we were stunned by the bias of the article and its fundamental misrepresentation of Israeli attitudes. We wondered whether that article was a one-time failure of objectivity or if it represented a prevalent bias in Time’s reporting on Israel. So we reviewed Time’s reporting on Israel over an entire year. November 2009 –November 2010, 73 articles, photo galleries, and quotes of the day.

We found that while the cover story may have generated the most outrage from those who care about Israel, it was entirely consistent with the way Time interprets and reports on the conflict. Time’s dismissive attitude towards Israel’s peace efforts was just one example of an editorial bias that runs deep. The impression readers would get from reading Time is that the Israeli public and its leaders have no interest to making reasonable compromises that would satisfy the moderates in the region. The refusal of Israel to give in on demands for a complete settlement freeze and acceptance of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital at a minimum demonstrates (to Time at least) that Israeli peace overtures are not at all serious.

Palestinian officials such as Mahmoud Abbas are presented as peace-seeking moderates. A photo gallery shows Abbas traveling the world to shake hands with international diplomats in his quest for peace. Quotes of the day are attributed to the likes of Saeb Erekat who use the forum to place all the blame upon Israel for a failure to achieve peace. Meanwhile, extreme Palestinian demands and the continued daily incitement against Israel by official Palestinian Authority sources are ignored.

Any information that would counter Time's perspective is either omitted or misrepresented. They imply that Jewish claims to parts of Jerusalem such as the Old City stem from the 1967 War, rather than thousands of years of almost unbroken residency. Archeological sites that prove thousands of years of Jewish history in the city are labeled "ideological" and summarily dismissed. Space is given to those who level charges at Israel while often Israeli responses are simply left out of articles.

As a result, Time's reporting on Israel leaves readers with a distorted picture that was only amplified by the September 13th cover story. While that article was enough for us to award Time with our 2010 Dishonest Reporter Award, it was entirely consistent with the anti-Israel bias we found.

(Read full "No Time for Israel")

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Rockets are a terror weapon

What used to be a basic tenet of Israel's defense doctrine - that in war, the safety of the civilian population must be assured - has gradually been abandoned. Now, military spokesmen announce that in case of war, Israel's entire civilian population can expect to be hit by terrorist rockets.

Moshe Arens
28 December '10

Terrorists have used pistols and automatic rifles to kill individuals. They have used suicide bombers with pinpoint accuracy to kill groups assembled in places of entertainment. They have used aircraft to kill hundreds and thousands. But the most effective terror weapon has become the ballistic rocket. It is cheap and launched from a distance against civilian targets, allowing the terrorists to escape before the rocket lands.

For some years now, Israel's civilian population has been targeted by terrorist rockets: first Katyusha rockets in the north launched by Hezbollah terrorists, and then Qassam rockets in the south launched by Hamas terrorists. Initially there were tens of rockets, then there were hundreds. But now, the threat comes from tens of thousands of rockets directed at Israel's civilian population.

Moreover, at first only certain border areas were threatened. But now, the entire country is under the threat of terrorist rocket attacks.

What used to be a basic tenet of Israel's defense doctrine - that in war, the safety of the civilian population must be assured - has gradually been abandoned. Now, military spokesmen announce that in case of war, Israel's entire civilian population can expect to be hit by terrorist rockets. This is a fundamental change for the worse in Israel's strategic posture.

How have we allowed this intolerable situation to creep up on us? Were our leaders asleep, not aware of what was happening around us?

Israel goes along with 'Palestinian' double standard

Israel Matzav
29 December '10

There are two headlines in Tuesday's Haaretz and Wednesday's JPost, which look very bizarre when compared with each other.

On Tuesday, Haaretz reported that the 'Palestinians' were (sensibly) easing their ban on employment of 'Palestinians' by 'settlements' in order to ease their unemployment problem.

The Palestinian Authority has reconsidered a proposal that would have barred Palestinian laborers from working in West Bank Jewish settlements.

Although several PA officials, notably Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh and Prime Minister Salad Fayyad, came out in favor of such a move at the beginning of the year, it appears the PA has decided not to push for legislation on the issue because it is unable to offer the workers alternative employment.

(Read full "Israel goes along with 'Palestinian' double standard")

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HRW Founder: "Little Has Changed" With Group's Bias

Gilead Ini
28 December '10

Last year we drew attention to a remarkable Op-Ed by Robert Bernstein, in which the Human Rights Watch founder and former chairman publicly dissociated himself from the NGO's anti-Israel agenda.

At the end of our article, CAMERA senior analyst Ricki Hollander asked:

Now that Mr. Bernstein has issued a public disavowal of HRW for violating its own principles, will the organization continue to promote the biased and error-riddled Goldstone Report and to assault Israel with its one-sided criticism or will it return to its original purpose of seeking to alleviate oppression of peoples living under undemocratic, totalitarian and repressive regimes?

We now have an answer. Last month, speaking at the University of Nebraska, Bernstein noted: "It has been over one year since the op-ed appeared. Little has changed."

(Read full "HRW Founder: "Little Has Changed" With Group's Bias")

How the militants, fighters, insurgents and freedom fighters turn into terrorists

Arnold/Frimet Roth
This Ongoing War
28 December '10

The Guardian, one of the world's towering superpowers of political correctness, carried a little-noticed story this past Sunday about a disturbing turn of events emanating from our neighbourhood:

"Intelligence services throughout the Middle East and Europe are scrambling to track down more than two dozen fighters linked to al-Qaida who have recently left their base in southern Lebanon. The missing men are thought to have gone to Europe by a newly established route through Syria, Turkey and the Balkans, and multiple intelligence sources in Lebanon warn that the group appears to be operational and could be planning attacks in Europe in the holiday season... "We have received warnings of a significant militant plot in Europe during the holidays and we have been warned about these missing fighters from Lebanon"...

If you follow the link and view the article as published, you may notice that the word terror appears exactly once - in the headline: European terror attack feared as al-Qaida fighters disappear from base in Lebanon.

In the body of the article, these Al Qaida individuals are called "fighters", "missing men", "group", "militants" and even "a disparate group of freelance fighters and jihadists" which comes close to the heart of the matter. Not once are they called terrorists.

So what is it about the jihadists that causes this odd metamorphosis? So long as they remain in the Middle East - in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, and especially in the towns and villages controlled by the Palestinian Authority, by Hamas and by Hizbollah - these men, women and children are routinely described by the kind of circumlocution that is on display in the Guardian.

(Read full "How the militants, fighters, insurgents and freedom fighters turn into terrorists")

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The World's Conscience or Reflection?

Jon Haber
Divest This!
29 December '10

I was planning to write something on flash-mobs and bus ads next, but then again I had also planned to have been on a plane back home two days ago before 12-18 inches of snow decided to intervene.

With the latter problem solved, I’m going to postpone mobs and busses for one more entry in order to take part in an increasingly interesting conversation started in the comments section of previous postings.

I mentioned recently that someone who took part in a BDS project in California last Spring has been asking some serious questions and making some important points, most recently with regard to how Israel’s supporters can justify Israel’s actions, given the wide condemnations that routinely pour out from international bodies (such as the United Nations and International Court of Justice) directed at the Jewish state.

“Can the whole world be wrong?” was a question former UN leader Kofi Annan asked years ago when Israel challenged the legitimacy of some of the actions of the body Annan led. And this question rings out today, not just from partisans, but also from idealists who greatly desire there to exist an international system to check the excesses of the nation state and eventually (they, like many, hope) will lead to a global government which rules by international law.

Now one commenter with experience in international legal matters made an equally valid point that votes taken at organizations like the UN bear little resemblance to votes taken within various democratic parliaments upon which the UN General Assembly and other bodies were modeled. Most notably, the “voters” in the General Assembly are not elected leaders responsible and answerable to a particular constituency, but nation-states themselves. And if a majority of those nation states are not free or democratic, then the majority of votes taken within these world bodies are cast by the ruling class of each country, with no distinction between a vote by a democracy, a dictatorship or something in between.

(Read full "The World's Conscience or Reflection?")

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Palestinians Draft UN Resolution Against Israeli Settlements

Eli E. Hertz
29 December '10

Calls for a freeze on Jewish construction in disputed Territories - while Arab construction, which far exceeds Jewish development, continues unfettered - are clearly biased.

Arabs claim that Jewish settlements "change the status" of the Territories and represent a distortion of the Oslo Accords. The phrase applies to acts that change the political status of the disputed territory - such as outright Israeli annexation or a Palestinian declaration of statehood. Since Jewish settlements are legal, any halt in construction should be reciprocated.

The Oslo Accords do not forbid Israeli or Arab settlement activity. Charges that further Jewish settlement activity preempts final negotiations by establishing realities, requires reciprocity. If the West Bank and Gaza were de jure part of the British Mandate, and if the Mandate borders are the last legal document concerning this territory; and if Jews were forcibly expelled from the West Bank and Gaza in 1948 during a war of aggression aimed at them—then these Territories must be considered disputed Territories, at the least.

The Israeli-Palestinian border dispute is like every other major and minor boundary dispute around the globe. Since the West Bank and Gaza were redeemed in 1967 in a defensive war and are not "Occupied Territories" gained illegally by a bellicose power; and since this fact is recognized in the wording of UN Resolutions 242 and 338 that call for a settlement to institute "secure and recognized borders," calling for a construction freeze on Jewish settlements should, logically, be paralleled by a freeze on Arab construction in the West Bank.

According to a former policy planning official, the tempo of Arab construction is "more than 10 times the number of buildings under construction [in the Territories] than those approved [by the Israeli government] for the [Jewish] settlers."

(Read full "Palestinians Draft UN Resolution Against Israeli Settlements")

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Will Jan Helin And Aftonbladet Investigate The Story Of Hamas Trafficking In Stolen Organs?

Daled Amos
29 December '10

Back in August, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet came out with the libel Israel took the bodies of Palestinian children for their organs.

In defending what passes for journalistic integrity at Aftonbladet, the editor--Jan Helin--explained why Aftonbladet published the story without proof:

Helin explained he had sent reporters to the West Bank to ask the family if it stood behind its story. "There were many rumors about the truth of the claims and we wanted to refute them," he said. "It may not prove anything factual, but the claims remain and this is why we published the story."

When asked why the paper did not verify the claims with the IDF Helin answered, "This is not a news report, but the opinion of a reporter who looked at the situation and held a debate on what he thought. Organ trafficking is a question he thought worth investigating. It may be considered a good or bad idea, but it's not anti-Semitic propaganda."

Well, Jan Helin and Aftonbladet are in luck: the accusation of stealing organs has returned to the Middle East. This time, Hamas is being accused of trafficking in stolen organs:

Approximately 250 Eritrean refugees have been held captive and tortured for the past month by Hamas in northern Sinai, human rights organization EveryOne reported.

(Read full "Will Jan Helin And Aftonbladet Investigate The Story Of Hamas Trafficking In Stolen Organs?")

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The Goldstoning of Jonathan Pollard

Arye L Ben Harav
28 December '10

(Excellent! Y.)

I was amazed to find a young Jewish College student today who argued articulately for the case to just leave Jonathan Pollard in jail and that due to Pollard’s own actions he pretty much deserved whatever he got and we should not spend time or resources on extricating him from prison. To this fellow’s credit, as a second year college student, I am impressed with the depth of his knowledge and research on the subject and I offer my advice as a professional legal recruiter that he should consider obtaining a law degree and thereafter practicing litigation as a prosecutor for the state or federal government.

My friend’s problem with Jonathan Pollard is that the man is not ‘pure enough’. He is not innocent enough. If only my friend could get his hands on a clean cut case of “Innocent Man Incarcerated” then he would be willing to add his support to that noble cause. Pollard broke laws, he violated his agreement to keep quiet and all of his dealings are classified, and so we must assume that the Government has a good enough reason to consider him a traitor and to lock Pollard up and throw away the key.

This is, in some strange way, reminiscent of the 1960’s. Jews were at the fore of the Civil rights movement. We worked for the human rights, and particularly the judicial rights of non-Jews to insure that they, although poor and less socially connected than the average middle class white man, or middle class Jew , would get a fair shake in court. Countless Jewish students and attorneys spent decades in the 60’s and 70’s building cases for the benefit of the indigent, the wronged indigenous, the formerly enslaved, the poorly raised, the drugged, the drunk, the confused and the insane.

Alan Dershowitz, in his book , Chutzpah , describes how the judge for whom he clerked for would constantly beg Alan to find a little loophole, a little ‘Rachmones’ (mercy in Yiddish), for each poor soul who would appeal to his court. The judge took into account the fact that the defendant was poor, non-white, uneducated or had endured severe family hardships or a nasty childhood. It was only later when Dershowitz asked Angela Davis, (whom he had defended) an avowed anti American Communist, to assist with the case for Soviet Jews, that he received the standard anti Semitic slap in the face; the Jews in question weren’t worthy of support or defense based on their status as educated members of the upper class and obviously counter revolutionary, reactionary and anti Soviet (from whence came her political and monetary support). It is interesting to note that few of the Jewish individuals or groups involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s made efforts on behalf of 3 million Soviet Jews, who were systematically discriminated against in education, employment, housing and political positions. They were systematically denied the right to religious freedom and upon asking to leave the country were summarily fired from their jobs and left destitute and harassed by the KGB. Many were imprisoned. Natan Sharansky, former Israel MK and now head of the Jewish Agency was one who spent 8, (eight) years in solitary confinement in the Gulag. The first groups to make the plight of Soviet Jews into a worldwide Jewish struggle were Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Chabad , and Meir Kehanah’s group of followers. The State of Israel was indeed always active if mostly in a quiet way, on behalf of Soviet Jews during those years, if for no other reason than to try to convince a few more poor Jewish refugees to make Aliyah to the struggling Jewish State.

The Damning of Jonathan Pollard, by my friend, follows a litany of charges from treason to spying to outright avarice. His contributions to Israel’s security are insignificant to my friend and as for the reason he's spent so much time, that's his fault - his fault because he *didn't* keep his mouth shut , his prolonged sentence is now, his own fault. (“As for the reason he's spent so much time, that's his fault - his fault because he *didn't* keep his mouth shut not because he did.”) (“In exchange for violating his plea deal he received a harsh sentencing, as is usually the case when people violate their plea deals.) Yes, my friend, and there are those who despite having broken every single law and plea deal, have served little or no time and they are afforded attorneys at the expense of the state to defend and appeal their cases.

NGO and Goldstone Casualty Claims Contradicted

NGO Monitor
29 December '10

During and after the Gaza War (December 2008 - January 2009), the network of political advocacy NGOs joined in broad condemnations of Israel, through unsupported allegations that the vast majority of Palestinian casualties were civilians.

- B’Tselem claimed - 1,387 killed; 330 took part in the hostilities

- PCHR claimed - 1417 killed; 236 combatants

- Al Mezan claimed - 1410 killed; 234 combatants

Similarly, the UN’s Goldstone Report, which is based almost entirely on the NGOs’ claims without independent analysis, repeated the accusations of disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by Israel: “Only one of every five casualties was a combatant” (paragraph 361). In contrast, the Israeli military stated that of 1166 Palestinian deaths, 709 militants were killed in combat; the Israeli evidence was ignored or dismissed.

However, in a November 2010 interview given by Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad to the Al-Hayat newspaper, Hamad acknowledged that 600-700 Hamas members were killed in the Gaza fighting. This more than doubles the number of combatants published by the NGOs’ and Goldstone’s unreliable version of events, and is another example of false claims used to justify indictments against Israel.

Based on these admissions, Goldstone and the NGOs have the moral obligation to immediately acknowledge the degree to which their allegations against Israel are unsupported.

(Read full "NGO and Goldstone Casualty Claims Contradicted")

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Things You Need To Know About the Middle East, December 2010

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
29 December '10

(A regional roundup. Y.)

The Egyptian government so arranged the parliamentary elections that the share of seats held by the opposition declined from 20 percent for Muslim Brotherhood supporters alone to only 3 percent for all of the half-dozen opposition parties put together. In other words, the regime didn't just steal the election--which it does regularly--it over-stole the balloting. One can sympathize with the idea of the current government of President Husni Mubarak not wanting the revolutionary Islamists from taking power, and one can understand how the regime wants a nice stable situation for the succession next year presumably to Husni's son Gamal.

But they overdid it.

What is worrisome here is that by showing the Muslim Brotherhood that even if it bows its head to repression (with 1,000 members arrested in the days leading up to the election) it won't even get the tiniest crumbs from the government. And that seems to mean--judging from Supreme Guide Muhammad Badi's hardline statements even earlier (see here and here)--that the group may step up efforts to overthrow the regime. There's no question of violence in the near-term, but what about four or six or eight years down the road, especially if Gamal falters as president or the ruling elite splits in factional disputes.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that we've been told by some that the Brotherhoods are really moderate and deserve to be engaged in dialogue, the Jordanian branch has now called on Arab governments to send their armies to Afghanistan in a Jihad to kill Americans and other NATO forces there . When one actually looks at the materials in Arabic of the Egyptian or Jordanian Brotherhoods or their sister organization Hamas, one finds an extremist rhetoric not that much different from al-Qaida's ideology, though not that group's tactics...yet.

(Read full "Things You Need To Know About the Middle East, December 2010")

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Who's Afraid of Israeli Democracy?

Daniel Greenfield
Sultan Knish
28 December '10

Haven't you heard, Israeli democracy is in danger. That's the latest media talking point on Israel. And where is the threat to Israeli democracy coming from? From its democracy. Confused? That's probably because you think that the word 'democracy' has something to do with the popular vote and the right of every person, irrespective of their religion, country of origin or accent to vote for the party of their choice. As misguided as the vote may be. When it actually means the right of media pundits, academics and elitist judges to dictate how the country is run based on the values of a entitled upper class scrambling to hold on to power.

Out of their concern for Israeli democracy, the American media and the Obama Administration have been pressuring Netanyahu to "broaden" his coalition by replacing the Shas party of Middle Eastern Jews and the Israel is Our Home party of Russian immigrants, with the Kadima party. Traditionally calls for a broader coalition usually mean one that represents more of the country. But due to their fear for "Israeli democracy", this is actually a call for a coalition that represents fewer sectors of the country.

Liberals who usually value diversity in everything, want to close the door on a broad coalition in Israel. Why? Because Middle Eastern Jews and Russian immigrants tend to be right-wing, and diversity is only a legitimate value when it serves to promote the left. But when the right wins elections, suddenly the pundits rush to their keyboards to type out an urgent telegraphic warning. DEMOCRACY THREATENED BY DEMOCRACY. STOP. DEMOCRACY MUST BE ABOLISHED TO PRESERVE DEMOCRACY. STOP. But if democracy threatens democracy, it's not democracy that's under fire. It's the insistence of a small group of powerful people on getting their way regardless of what the public wants.

(Read full "Who's Afraid of Israeli Democracy?")

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Mr. Netanyahu, Just What Is "Clear", And To Whom?

Yisrael Medad
My Right Word
28 December '10

From PM Netanyahu's Channel #10 Interview (as communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Following are excerpts from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's interview yesterday evening (Monday), 27.12.10, with Israel's Channel 10 News:

...Prime Minister Netanyahu: "I have set very clear policy; I did this in my 14.6.09 Bar-Ilan University speech. There I said as follows: If the Palestinians recognize a Jewish State, if they shelve the idea of the Palestinian refugees' right of return, if they have a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state – I tell you here and now that I will go with this to the end and that no coalition consideration will stop me, and I have no doubt that a majority will support me."

I think the opposing side has been very clear in its opposition to this policy, its refusal to acknowledge Israel's inherent Jewish character, its refusal to permit Jews to reside in "Palestine" if it will ever be established, their refusal to yield on a supposed 'right of return' that doesn't exist, their unwillingness not only to become demilitarized but to surrender to terror option.

Mr. Prime Minister, isn't that clear?

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