Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rubin - The "Oslo Syndrome" and the Terror Attack in Norway

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
31 July '11

One of the most sensitive aspects of the very sensitive subject of the murderous terrorist attack in Norway by a right-wing gunman is this irony: The youth political camp he attacked was at the time engaged in what was essentially (though the campers didn’t see it that way, no doubt) a pro-terrorist program.

The camp, run by Norway’s left-wing party, was lobbying for breaking the blockade of the terrorist Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip and for immediate recognition of a Palestinian state without that entity needing do anything that would prevent it from being a terrorist base against Israel. They were backing and justifying forces that had committed terrorism against Israelis and killing thousands of people like themselves.

Even to mention this irony is dangerous since it might be taken to imply that the victims “had it coming.” The victims never deserve to be murdered by terrorists, even any victims who think that other victims of terrorists “had it coming.” This is in no way a justification of that horrendous terrorist act. It’s the exact opposite: a vital but forgotten lesson arising from it that can and should save lives in future.

Call it the Oslo Syndrome.

The Stockholm Syndrome is named after an incident in which hostages taken by a terrorist group then quickly became supporters of that group. A combination of intimidation (persuade these people that we’re friends or they’ll kill us); human psychology (get to know someone and hear their sad—whether or not true—story and sympathy arises); and ideology (having—or thinking you have—common ideas and interests with the terrorist movement).

Then there was the Oslo Process, the 1993-2000 effort to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In retrospect, it can be read as an attempt to solve a conflict by offering a great deal to those who instead rejected the offers, believing they could total victory through tactics including terrorism. Many in the West—especially Norway--think it only failed because not enough was offered and exculpating the terrorist side and strategy.

The Oslo Syndrome encompasses all of these things but goes a step further, for the most dangerous things you can do about terrorism is to make it appear politically successful and hence a great thing to do. For terrorism is not an ideology or a movement but merely a tactic: to murder noncombatants systematically and deliberately for political ends.

If you do this, will others, including the victims, be so terrorized as to give you whatever you want? Will they ignore the moral implications and support you nonetheless? Can you successfully make the argument that you are so oppressed as to justify terrorism, as the ambassador of Norway implied is true against Israel after the killings in the summer camp? Is it possible to engage in terrorism yet convince much of the world that your victims are the real terrorists?

Elder - Should Israel's policies be dictated by fears of becoming a "pariah"?

Elder of Ziyon
29 July '11

In my Twitter exchange with Jeffrey Goldberg yesterday, he pretty much admitted that Israel's giving up the West Bank would very possibly not bring Israel peace anyway. But he fell back to a second argument for Israel's withdrawal from the territory:

I believe, however, that Israel will become a pariah if the Palestinians aren't granted statehood, or the vote in Israel.

My point was that a Palestinian Arab state could exist while Israel still holds onto parts of the territories deemed necessary for security as well as areas that already have large Jewish communities.

But the issue he brought up, that Israel would become a pariah if it didn't act in certain ways, is worth exploring.

What makes Israel unpopular?

I would argue that it has almost nothing to do with Israeli policies. While certain Israeli actions cause Western opinion to temporarily go in one direction or another, the general trend of opinion is independent of Israeli actions.

The Western world liked Israel in 1967 and after Entebbe in 1976. It liked Israel immediately after the peace agreement with Egypt but that disappeared soon after. It liked Israel after the Gaza withdrawal but that disappeared when Israel acted to stop the rockets that still rained down. The world liked Israel a little after the withdrawal from Lebanon but that disappeared as well. It liked Israel after the Oslo agreement was signed but it was silent when suicide bombings flared up in years afterwards. In other words, world opinion is mercurial and the world has a short-term memory, driven by the most recent news.

(Read full "Should Israel's policies be dictated by fears of becoming a "pariah"?)

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Eydar - The politics behind the protests

Dror Eydar
Israel HaYom
3 July '11

Saturday evening we watched Channel 2 news anchor Yonit Levy turn into Marxist activist Rosa Luxemburg and compete with protest organizer Daphni Leef in encouraging and recruiting protesters. Channel 2, like most other media outlets, long ago stopped being a fair observer of events and became an active subverter of the elected government. In the studio sits the haughty crossword compiler Amnon Abramowitz, who lives in a black and white world. The bad guys are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the settlers, religious people, and the Jewish state. The good guys are members of the “white tribe,” for which Abramowitz is a loyal spokesman.

I am surprised that the public has not yet ransacked the studio building over this constant incitement by Abramowitz and his friends. As with all his broadcasts, in this one too he brandished his voodoo dolls of settlers and religious people. “Netanyahu talks about the periphery, but for 80 days of the year, there is no public transportation,” he said, referring to the closure of public transport on the Sabbath and on religious holidays. “This is the political price the religious people exact from us.” Listen to what he is saying: the Sabbath day is a political price! Perhaps it is for Abramowitz’s “white tribe.” The Sabbath day, like the Jewish state, is a political price. For most of the public, the Sabbath day is a value. This seems to be true even for some of the protesters in Tel Aviv.

Good and innocent protesters, you are just in your struggle, but you are being led by the nose. You have to differentiate between attempts to correct long-standing injustices, and attempts to destroy everything. Israel is not Egypt. The country cannot bear the responsibility for everything in our entire lives. We too have responsibilities. The social justice being discussed here now was tried for years in the former Soviet Union. Every immigrant from the former Soviet Union can attest to its failure.

The government has to deal not with the protest but with those behind it, forces who are cunning and cynical, some who are even experts in social engineering, media spins, and political subversion, who have a vision of a state belonging to all its citizens. Some of them are wealthy individuals, who ironically, despite the protest slogans, feel threatened by Netanyahu's government, which is currently investigating the concentration of financial wealth in the hands of a select few. Negotiations with the tycoons would be scorned by many, but welcomed by the tycoons and many in the media.

Slogans shouted out at the protests were filled with hate against the prime minister. Some called him a bloodthirsty dictator. One sign portrayed Netanyahu as the servant of the tycoons. How many lies can you feed the public? Netanyahu's government is the only one that has stood up to the tycoons: in the mobile phone market and in the revenues the state would get from the new gas reserves discovered off the coast, and now with the committee set up to investigate monopolies.

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) sat in the studio and said, “I am telling you that Netanyahu doesn't care. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He never saw an empty refrigerator in his life."

It is appropriate to mention this rude and provocative sentence, coming from the mouth of someone who aspires to be a leader in our society. In every place, after trying to hide the political drive behind the protests, it came out anyway and appeared in the middle of a city street. If the protest is indeed political, other groups will have something to say about it as well.

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Levick - On the Guardian’s characterization of Marwan Barghouti as the Palestinians’ Nelson Mandela

Adam Levick
CiF Watch
29 July '11

In a brief update on the region from the Guardian’s “Middle East Live” page on July 20th – their blogging on “Uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa” – Marwan Barghouti was characterized as “a Nelson Mandela for the Palestinians”.

Yes, really.

For those unaware: Barghouti, the founder of Fatah’s military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, is currently serving five life terms in Israeli prison for orchestrating suicide terror attacks which killed dozens of Israeli civilians.

He has referred to Israel as “the worst and most abominable enemy known to humanity and modern history,” and continues to call for armed “resistance” against Israeli civilians.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, it should be noted, is an organization designated as a terrorist group by the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union, due to their orchestration of dozens of suicide bombings and many more shooting attacks against Israeli vehicles.

Here are some of the group’s most notable attacks:

January 2002: Bat Mitzvah massacre, when a gunman killed six and wounded 33 in a Bat Mitzvah celebration.

March 2, 2002: suicide bombing in Beit Yisrael, Jerusalem - 11 killed.

January 5, 2003: Southern Tel Aviv central bus station – 22 killed.

January 29, 2004: Rehavia, Jerusalem, bus line 19 – 11 killed.

March 14, 2004: Port of Ashdod - 10 killed (together with Hamas).

To compare Barghouti to Mandela – that is, as a leader who can become a political catalyst to peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians - is an appalling, if unsurprising, Guardian moral inversion.

Barghouti is a terrorist leader who possesses no remorse for the dozens of innocent Jewish civilians his group has murdered.

The degree to which the Guardian can spin such a malevolent bigot as some sort of progressive force demonstrates once again the extreme pathos which informs the ideology known as the Guardian Left.

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Fresnozionism - NPR presents 4:16 of anti-Israel propaganda
29 July '11

Four minutes and 16 seconds on NPR’s premier daily news program, “All Things Considered,” is a major story. The longest one on Thursday, July 28′s program, about the difficulties facing the spouses of US military personnel, clocked in at 4:59.

Four minutes and 16 seconds were provided as a platform for Israel-bashing by one left-wing Israeli retired general, one Arab representing Fatah, the Arab terrorist organization that has killed more Israelis than any other — let’s call it what it is — and Daniel Levy, the co-founder of J Street who famously said (video here)

Maybe, if this collective Jewish presence can only survive by the sword, then Israel really ain’t a good idea.

Did I mention that these gentlemen are in the US on a tour sponsored by the same phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby, J Street? NPR did, but its piece didn’t talk about J Street’s funding from anti-Israel sources, or its history of lobbying against sanctions on Iran, for the Goldstone report, and for the condemnation of Israel in the UN Security Council.

As expected, the speakers blamed Israel for the lack of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and predicted disaster if Israel did not preemptively surrender to Arab demands. I won’t repeat most of it — you can read it at NPR’s site. But the most outrageous statement of all was made by Levy:

Rubin - If Anti-Israel Propaganda Becomes Too Ridiculous Will Nobody Believe it?

Barry Rubin
Rubin Reports
29 July '11

And if once-prestigious publications publish material that borders on satire will they be discredited?

This article in The Economist, once considered the world’s greatest international magazine for serious news and business analysis is so horrendous that I admit to laughing hysterically while reading it.

The opening sentence is priceless. Innocent Palestinian kids are just going to get water and for no reason at all Israeli soldiers start shooting them down in cold blood. If such an incident had ever happened, it would be everywhere in the mass media. Yet no date or place is mentioned, making it certain that this is fabricated or, more likely, the journalist merely writing down what he was told by Palestinians.

Then the reporter quotes an Israeli settler as saying that the soldiers should maim Palestinians more. No place, no date. This one the journalist himself must have made up.

That’s the best line I have read since a USA Today reporter (later fired for making stuff up) wrote of how a settler was going out to kill Palestinians so he put on his kipa before he went out the door. [Note: Orthodox Jews always wear a kepah or hat even when at home not murdering Palestinians.]

When the individual named in the USA Today article as having been at least an attempted murderer protested to the newspaper that it was ridiculously inaccurate, they ignored him only to find out later that the reporter did make things up on other stories (and fiddled his expense accounts, too) and fired him.

If The Economist has reached the level of bias once achieved in Germany during the 1930s, what possible hope is there for the mass media? Remember, it isn’t just a writer’s work but also the acceptance of it by editors and the use of that person in future employment.

All of this raises an intriguing question: If the lies become continually larger and more glaringly ridiculous will such stuff lose credibility? Will anyone in authority recognize that such incitement does lead to hatred, terrorism, and even murder (or its justification)?

I’m not answering the question, I’m just asking it.

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Bataween - Tel Aviv homeless upset at leftist hypocrisy

Point of No Return
29 July '11

With Israelis camping out in the streets in protest against a chronic shortage of affordable housing, who should jump on the bandwagon but Mya Guarnieri, al-Jazeera's woman in Tel Aviv. Guarnieri wonders why the media have been ignoring the good citizens of Kfar Shalem, an area of south Tel Aviv threatened with demolition which she wrote about in February.

Kfar Shalem may not be familiar to most Israelis but it is certainly known to readers of this blog, when Point of No Return covered the mostly-Mizrahi residents' struggle to fight eviction in 2007.

Young anti-Zionist radicals like Guarnieri can't resist politicising what is essentially nothing more sinister than the common man's universal fight against encroaching urban gentrification and redevelopment.

In her article for +792 blog, Israel has manipulated the poor Mizrahim for political ends, exploiting them to keep Palestinians from reclaiming their homes:

Once an economically depressed neighborhood of South Tel Aviv, Kfar Shalem, "was once a Palestinian village, Salame. Jewish forces ran the Arab residents out in early 1948, months before Israel was established and (what some refer to as) the War of Independence began.

The young state gave the empty Palestinian homes to impoverished Mizrachi Jews. The idea, some residents of Kfar Shalem admit today, was to discourage dispossessed Palestinians from returning. The Jewish occupants were to “guard” the houses.

These new residents also created facts on the ground and, after the 1948 War, the municipality of Tel Aviv annexed Jaffa and Salame—both of which were destined for a Palestinian state under the partition plan approved by the UN in November of 1947.

Not a word of course, about the Arab aggression that caused the 'War of Independence'. Nor is Guarnieri remotely troubled by the thought that the impoverished Mizrahi Jews could have themselves been dispossessed of their homes in their Arab countries of birth. For Guarnieri, Arabs can only ever be victims.

This blog has already drawn attention to the double standard among far-leftists for whom Arab property rights invariably trump Jewish rights, for example in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah. These leftists are only ever exercised by injustice against Jews when the Ashkenazi-dominated ruling elite can be blamed.

Curiously enough, however, this form of leftist hypocrisy has not escaped some of the residents of Kfar Shalem themselves: they obviously find the attentions of anti-Zionists like Guarnieri rather irksome. She herself admits, but was too cowardly to include in her report for Al-Jazeera:

.. many of the Jewish Israelis I interviewed were upset with their fellow citizens for not doing more to help them in their battle against homelessness. Some also expressed frustration with the Israeli left because they felt that such activists reserve their sympathies only for Palestinians and foreigners.

Good for you, residents of Kfar Shalem, for making a stand against the leftist manipulation of your grievances to advance their own political agenda.

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Tobin - Dragging Israel Back to Its Socialist Past

Jonathan Tobin
30 July '11

Just as the United States is solely focused on the debt-ceiling crisis, judging by press reports, Israelis seem equally oblivious to foreign policy this week. Protests about a housing shortage have been making quite a ruckus and forcing the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to scramble to deal with the problem. The housing demonstrations–on the heels of other complaints about the price of food–make it appear as if Israel is in dire economic straits. But by all accounts, Israel’s economy is in good shape. Economic growth continues at a steady pace, and the stewardship of the country’s finances by Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz have been widely praised.

So what’s behind this effort to undermine Netanyahu? Leftist commentator Gershon Gorenberg gives us a clue with his piece in the American Prospect. According to Gorenberg, the problem is not just this government, but the last two decades of efforts to transform Israel’s economy from a third world socialist basket case to the first world dynamo it is today. To this way of thinking, the inequities that can occur when free enterprise is allowed to create new wealth are abhorrent. His piece (which attempts to pick up the fraudulent theme championed last week by Ethan Bronner in which the protesters are seen as an echo of the Arab Spring), and the tone sounded by many of the protesters, reflect nostalgia for the good old days–when profit was a dirty word. Like the demonstrators in the streets of Greece, their goal isn’t a more prosperous Israel but an expansion of an already bloated welfare state.

Netanyahu understands the shortages of housing are not the fault of the greedy capitalists who are blamed by the Israeli left but the vestiges of the government-run economy that still acts as a brake on growth. He wants to eliminate regulations, while Gorenberg and the protesters want more regulation that would return the nation to its “social democratic roots.” That’s not just bad housing policy; it is, if applied to a broad range of criticisms of Netanyahu’s domestic policies, a recipe to put Israel in the position of a bankrupt state such as Greece.

As anyone who knows its history, Israel has already been there. If it is currently in the best economic shape of its short history, it is because its recent governments have understood there can be no going back to the “social democratic” nightmare that once created multi-year waits for phone installations and other vestiges of a largely state-run economy. As the Jerusalem Post notes in an incisive editorial, the protesters and those egging them on have no coherent program to offer as an alternative to the government’s policies. Instead, all they have are “empty populist slogans articulating nothing more than inchoate discontent.”

If Israel is to continue on its current path toward greater prosperity, Netanyahu should stand his ground. While there can be no denying that problems exist and must be addressed, those who care about Israel’s future should not give encouragement to those who are trying to drag the Jewish state back to its troubled socialist past.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

JINSA - Twisting Terror So That Israel Deserves it But Norway Doesn't

Shoshana Bryen
Senior Director for Security Policy
JINSA Report #: 1,110
July 29, 2011

It should be hard to pick on Norwegians and their government this week, but it is impossible to overlook Svein Sevje, Norway's ambassador to Israel. Trying to "outline the similarity and the difference in the two cases" (mass murder of Norwegians by a Norwegian and mass murder of Jews by Palestinians) the ambassador showed himself to be both ignorant and arrogant.

"We Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel," he said. First of all, who cares what Norwegians "consider"? Consider for a moment upon whom they have bestowed the Nobel "Peace" Prize. But beyond that, his point is that a political situation that the Palestinians don't like is an understandable - if not acceptable - reason to engage in terrorism against Israel. In other words, dead Jews are Israel's fault.

The Palestinians were offered a state at the UN in 1947, next to the State of Israel. The presumptive Palestinian state was aborted by Arabs who ended up in illegal occupation of most of where it should have been. Israel acquired the territory in a later attempt by the Arabs to erase the Jewish state. Israel, even after decades of war and terrorism is still willing to agree to a neighboring Palestinian state (an act of enormous forbearance and generosity) as long as the legitimacy of Israel is finally acknowledged and accepted by those same Palestinians. But it isn't. So killing Jews makes sense. Right?

Na'ava Applebaum and her father Dr. David Applebaum were murdered in a café the night before her wedding; six members of the Schijveschuurder family were massacred while eating pizza at a Sbarro restaurant; and 92-year-old Chanah Rogan was blown up at a Passover Seder. Their deaths, according to Ambassador Sevje, were "because of a defined (Palestinian) goal that is related to the Israeli occupation. There are elements of revenge against Israel and hatred of Israel. To this you can add the religious element to their actions.

"In the case of the terror attack in Norway," he continued, "the murderer had an ideology that says that Norway, particularly the Labor Party, is forgoing Norwegian culture," trying and failing to make sense of Anders Breivik, who blew up a government building and killed scores of children at a summer camp with a hunting rifle.

Let's see if we understand. The ideology that says Israel cannot be the nation-state of the Jewish people and Jews are expendable in the quest for Palestine "from the River to the Sea" is OK, but the ideology that says Norway should be for Norwegians of a certain sort and not for others is not OK.

Or - it is understandable for Palestinians to kill Jewish children but it is not understandable for Norwegians to kill Norwegian children. There are "elements of revenge...and hatred" in Palestinians who kill Jews, but that's because Jews are occupiers. There were no "elements of revenge...and hatred" in Anders Breivik. He just loved those Norwegian government employees and Norwegian children he killed. Or maybe the Ambassador meant that no one in his right mind would kill Norwegian children, so Breivik is demented. But you - or at least he - can understand how Palestinians could kill Jewish children, that act isn't demented, it is rational, caused by the damned Jews and their state. Breivik, by his theory, is a fluke in an otherwise nice, loving, rational, diverse, multicultural and superior Norway.

By Ambassador Sevje's accounting, Israel is a miserable occupier that deserves whatever it gets. "Those who believe [that terrorism against Israelis is the result of Israeli behavior] will not change their mind because of the attack in Oslo."

This man is a representative of the Norwegian government.

Ignorant and arrogant doesn't begin to cover it.

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Sherman - Into the Fray: Distorting democracy

Martin Sherman
JPost Column
28 July '11

The greatest danger to Israeli democracy emanates from those masquerading as its champions.

A great hue and cry has erupted recently in the wake of a number of parliamentary initiatives undertaken by what is usually characterized – pejoratively – as the “right-wing.”

The purpose of these initiatives was to place mildly onerous constraints on the hitherto unrestricted operational freedom of organizations usually characterized – favorably – as “left-wing.”

Grave concerns have been expressed as to what these initiatives herald for the future of liberal democracy in the country.

Echoes of these fears were reflected far and wide, finding expression in such influential outlets as The New York Times, whose editorial proclaimed that such initiatives were “not befitting a democracy” – although, curiously, they are not altogether dissimilar from measures that exist in the US.

However, there is indeed much room for concern.

Israel’s democracy is under assault. But this threat does not emanate from parliamentary inquiries into whether funds from official foreign sources are being channeled to domestic organizations to coerce the government to adopt policies it was elected to resist; or from decisions to restrict the unimpeded capacity to wage economic warfare against the country through boycotts, sanctions and divestment; or from moves to ensure transparency regarding the financing of groups endeavoring to mobilize international pressure against the country; or from legislation to preclude tax revenues being allotted to promote the public commemoration of the founding of the state as a regrettable – and it is hoped, reversible –”catastrophe.”

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ettinger - Time is Running in Israel's Favor

Yoram Ettinger
Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom
July 29, 2011

1. Time is running in Israel's favor, as evidenced by the "global economic walk" and irrespective of the "global political talk.": In 1948, Israel had no significant export. In 2010, Bank of Israel documented a $6.7BN current account (mostly trade balance) surplus, featuring the US, Europe, India and Turkey as the chief trading partners. The NY-based "Trading Economics" reported a $1BN Israeli current account surplus in the 1st quarter of 2011. Israel is a global leader in medical, telecommunications, software and defense industries.

2. Israel is NOT isolated or boycotted: 3.45MN tourists visited Israel during 2010 - proportionally equal to 138MN tourists visiting the USA (60MN tourists visited the USA in 2010, an all time record).

3. Israel-Turkey trade volume surged 140% since the Islamic party, AKP, assumed power in 2002: $3.45BN in 2010 compared with $1.4BN in 2002. The 1st quarter of 2011 features a 40% increase over the 1st quarter of 2010 (Hurriyet Daily News, May 30, 2011 and Oct. 31, 2009).

4. A game changer: From a nearly total reliance on imported energy, Israel will become – by 2014 - a major exporter of natural gas.

5. Silicon Israel: In 1992 there was no venture capital activity in Israel. In 2011 Israel's high tech attracts the leading global companies (e.g. Microsoft, GE, Intel, Siemens, IBM), VC funds (Sequoia, Greylock, OrbiMed, Accel), investment banks (e.g. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley) and private investors (e.g. Warren Buffett, Eric Schmidt) in the world. 2nd quarter 2011 investment in Israel's high tech grew 19% over the 1st quarter and 66% over the 2nd quarter of 2010.

6. In defiance of geopolitical constraints, limited natural resources and global economic turbulence, Israel sustains growth: 5.2% GDP, 3% (of GDP) budget deficit, 5.7% unemployment, 2.7% inflation, 3.25% interest rate, stable currency (the Shekel is one of the 14 globally-traded currencies), $75BN foreign exchange reserves. War and terrorism have been bumps on the road of an impressive growth.

7. Gallup wellbeing poll, April 19, 2011: Israel is rated 7th, following Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Australia and Finland, ahead of New Zealand, Holland, Ireland, USA, Austria, Brazil, Britain, Mexico, etc.

Shabbat Shalom and have a pleasant weekend,
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger "Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative,"
Jerusalem, Israel

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Bayefsky - UN Negotiators in New York Produce New Durban III Outrages

Anne Bayefsky
Eye on the UN
For Immediate Release:
July 28, 2011

This article by Anne Bayefsky appears today on Fox News.

Member states of the U.N. General Assembly are busy hammering out how to slam Israel and restrict human rights like free speech at “Durban III” – the racist “anti-racism” event to be held in New York on Sept. 22.

With the recent pull-outs by the Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands added to the previously declared boycotts by the United States, Canada and Israel, negotiations at U.N. Headquarters continued Thursday over how offensive the final declaration of Durban III can become without more countries following suit.

The Durban III conference will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the conference held in Durban, South Africa, in September 2001. That event produced the Durban Declaration, which accused just one country on earth of racism, namely Israel. No negotiations, therefore, can hide the fact that Durban III is a commemoration – in the words of the authorizing General Assembly resolution – of a conference and an outcome remembered most notably for its overt anti-Semitism.

Nevertheless, the U.N.’s idea is that since the General Assembly hall in September will be filled with heads of government already present for the Assembly’s annual opening, more than a hundred world leaders will embrace the Durban Declaration and its racist-Israel mantra for the first time. Durban I sported only a handful of such leaders – like Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro -- while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the only one to attend Durban II.

On the table Thursday was a draft of a “political declaration” to be adopted by the General Assembly at the end of the day on Sept. 22. Negotiations proved to be a toxic combination of U.N. members either pursuing a contorted cover-up strategy or preferring more open Israel-bashing.

The co-chairs from Cameroon and Monaco made the agenda painfully obvious. They insisted that the 2011 declaration will “not re-open previously agreed text” since their “mandate is clearly not to renegotiate the Durban Declaration.” On the contrary, Durban III will have the Durban Declaration “at its core.”

Goldberg - Israel’s epic chess game

Steven M. Goldberg
Op-Ed Contributor
24 July '11

The Palestinians are about to make a fatal error. Israel must not hesitate to declare "checkmate."

Israel is engaged in a war for survival that started even before its declaration of independence and continues to this very day. Its enemies have prosecuted this war militarily, economically, politically, diplomatically, legally and psychologically. Because of the length and complexity of this struggle, an appropriate metaphor is a game of chess – one in which the stakes for Israel are life and death.

Winning a game of chess is no simple matter. It requires strategy, patience, steady nerves, the proper balance between aggression and caution, and the ruthlessness to checkmate one’s opponent when the opportunity presents itself. Impulsiveness and emotionalism usually lead to defeat. When a grandmaster makes a mistake, he must not panic; instead, he must extract himself from danger with care and determination.

Israel’s leaders have not played like grandmasters.

Instead, they have mixed brilliant moves with blunders.

Among the former, the preemptive strike on Egypt of June 5, 1967, that led to Israel’s victory in the Six Day War and Menachem Begin’s decision to destroy Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Osirak in June 1981 stand out.

Both moves required boldness and careful preparation, and both were highly successful.

Kushner - From Israel: UNRWA and More

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
29 July '11

There's a great deal about UNRWA in the news these days, and I have no doubt that I'll return to this subject again before long. Now I want, first, to share a link to my latest report on the subject. This is more of a mini-report (my major reports can run 30 or 40 pages) -- an overview, with more information to follow. The subject: UNRWA's connection with Hamas.

In Gaza, members of a Hamas-affiliated group, the Islamic Bloc, go right into UNRWA schools and do programming with the goal of recruiting the next generation of members for Hamas.


Then, an article of mine that has just come out in Middle East Quarterly, which takes a close look at the anti-Israel statements of key UNRWA personnel:


I am sooo tired of Mahmoud Abbas. So tired of hearing of his conflicting statements and outright lies, and so tired of reporting them to you, when you are likely sooo tired of them. as well. Thus I will allude only briefly to the two following items:

Abbas is now calling for "peaceful resistance" in support of the venture in the UN. This is not a good sign.

First, because I've yet to see real peaceful resistance by Palestinian Arabs. He's riling the people.

And second because he's raising expectations of something really happening at the UN. When this turns out not to be the case, violence is likely to ensue because of frustration. The higher the expectations, the greater the violence is likely to be. That's the pattern, folks. And if he already called for "resistance" before the fact?


And then, Abbas is saying that it's not clear that the US rejects his statehood plan at the UN. "We heard about their opposition through mediators. The leadership has not received a clear American rejection of the idea to go to the UN." he told the PLO Central Committee.

This, reports Khaled Abu Toameh, "despite the fact that senior PA officials who visited Washington in the past two months clearly stated that the US administration had threatened to use the veto in the Security Council to thwart the PA plan."

Abbas is apparently waiting for a final go-ahead from the Arab League on August 4, but then expects to proceed to the Security Council. (What happened to skipping the SC and going to the General Assembly?)


There was a dry-run of sorts in the Security Council this week, when the Middle East was under discussion.

According to YNet, Palestinian observer Riyad Mansour called for the UN to recognize a Palestinian state, and then burst into tears.

Ron Prosor, our new Ambassador to the UN, then asked him, "On behalf of whom will you be presenting a proposal in September, Abbas or Hamas?"

See more here:,7340,L-4100584,00.html


You can see Prosor's full statement to the Security Council here (top item). It gives us perhaps a sense of what will transpire in September:


Honig - Between Tunisia and Tel Aviv

Sarah Honig
Another Tack
28 July '11

News flash: There’s cheap rental housing in Tel Aviv. Dirt cheap. So cheap, in fact, that illegals from Ghana and Nigeria, Guatemala and Columbia, Thailand and Outer Mongolia, can afford it. But that’s not where the privileged children of the well-heeled classes wish to fulfill fantasies of Friends, Sex and the City or Gossip Girl.

Indeed, the Old Central Bus Station environs, like the Shapira or Hatikva quarters, aren’t Tel Aviv’s equivalents of somewhere-fashionable-in-the-heart-of-Manhattan – where latter-day bohemians reside in style while posing as suffering artistes and empathizing with the downtrodden masses of the Earth.

The equivalents are “Heart-of-Tel-Aviv” neighborhoods (like the swanky Sheinkin drag), even select elitist edges of Jaffa and that glorified-gentrified Florentin niche. But topping it all for prestige and desirability is Tel Aviv’s “Old North,” radiating from the upmarket Habimah Theater-Mann Auditorium hub.

At that posh pivot, trendsetters and groupies pitched their tent city to campaign for lower/subsidized rents. We, wage-earners in the rest of the country, are presumably required to foot their extravagant bills and make Israel’s Manhattan ambiance more affordable. Since Manhattan is so overpriced, the affectation becomes more attainable in the homeland, in conditions of comparable comfort and proximity to social focal points – where it’s all happening.

That, however, as elsewhere in the world, is where it’s most expensive to rent the proper setting for the pretentious pipe dream. It’s location, location, location – the greater the demand, the higher the price-tag.

I personally know some of the Rothschild Boulevard protest-instigators. I also know their affluent families (whose incomes far exceed my own meager salary). They hail from my Sharon-region hometown and from even better-off nearby communities.

Kushner - From Israel: The Rest of the Story

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
28 July '11

In my last posting, I described demonstrations by those who are unhappy with the housing situation in the country.

Everything I wrote with regard to this situation is true. In fact, there is strong indication that the Israeli governments of the last several years (it's not just this government) have failed to involve themselves in ways that would have ameliorated the situation.

The Knesset Research and Information Center has just released a report comparing Israeli housing policies to those of the US, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Australia. Its findings are that these other countries act to moderate housing market fluctuations, via such things as construction subsidies for contractors offering cheap housing.

By contrast, successive Israeli governments over the last 10 years have decreased involvement in the housing market. In the last two years there has been a sharp increase in housing costs. In fact, according to figures from Bank Hapoalim, the real value of housing here has increased by 9.7% just in the last year, and by an astonishing 41% since 2007.


And yet... this is not the whole picture of what's going on now.

In Israel, everything is politics. This is no exception:

There is solid reason to believe that the housing issue is being used to coalesce people with the goal of bringing down the Netanyahu government. Which is not to say they will necessarily succeed.

"Im Tirtzu," a student activist group that is identified as right-wing, had originally joined the housing protest but then just over a week ago pulled out of the main tent city on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, because of questions about the political aims of the organizers.

Ronen Shoval, founder of Im Tirtzu, met with some of the protest organizers before the pull-out, and subsequently reported that they refused repeated requests to negotiate with the government to resolve the crisis.

“When one isn’t interested in having a conversation with the government, the problem won’t be solved. I was trying to convince them to speak to the government, but how many times can you try?

“Conversations with the Rothschild Boulevard organizers made it clear that the group is not looking for solutions; they are looking to protest.”

Fresnozionism - The rest of the story about Mohammad Bakri

Mohammad Bakri (left)
27 July '11

This is a long post. But if you get bored, please make sure you read the last few paragraphs where the rest of the story is presented.

The Israeli Supreme Court has dismissed a libel suit against Israeli Arab filmmaker Mohammad Bakri. Here is some background, from a post I wrote in 2009 when the suit was filed:


You may recall that in 2002, after a horrendous wave of bombings and shootings in which hundreds of Israelis were murdered and thousands injured, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank to root out the terrorists responsible for it. One of their strongholds was the city of Jenin, in Northern Samaria. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the period of 2001-2002, 57 Israelis were killed and hundreds injured by terrorists based in or directed from Jenin alone. During April 3-11, 2002, IDF soldiers fought a fierce battle in Jenin with members of Fatah’s al-Aqsa brigades, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

After the first day, the fighting moved to the adjacent ‘refugee camp’, which had been heavily fortified and booby-trapped by the Palestinians. Nevertheless, in order to reduce civilian casualties as much as possible, IDF soldiers fought house-to-house instead of employing artillery and air strikes. As a result — as ultimately attested to by the UN — only 52 Palestinians were killed, almost all combatants; but 23 Israeli soldiers were lost, 13 of them in one ambush on April 9.

After the battle, Palestinian spokesmen such as Nabil Sha’ath, Hassan Abdel Rahman, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Saeb Erakat, claimed that Israel had massacred hundreds of Palestinians, burying them in mass graves or leaving their bodies to decompose under the rubble. But unlike the situation in Gaza, the Palestinians did not control access to the area, and the truth ultimately came out (although, as CAMERA notes in the link above, the fact that they had lied through their teeth didn’t seem to hurt the credibility of the Palestinian spokesmen with the international press).

The anti-Israel media, particularly in the UK, took up the story of the ‘Jenin Massacre’ with glee, embellishing it with ever-more bloody details and accusations of wanton Israeli cruelty. Alleged body counts rose to the thousands. And Mohammad Bakri’s crude propaganda film won a film-festival prize for “Mediterranean Documentary Film-making and Reporting”.

The film consists of after-the-fact interviews with Palestinians who tell ever more horrible stories, and ‘visualizations’ of events such as tanks crushing Palestinians which even Bakri admits didn’t happen:

(Video) Palestinian Refugees - Human Rights Denied

28 July '11

Palestinian Refugees: An ongoing human rights scandal. Join the call for an end to the Palestinian refugee crisis. A betrayal artificially created by Middle Eastern governments for over 60 years.

See more at:

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Glick - No Prizes for Erdogan

Caroline Glick
27 July '11

Shortly after Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Recip Erdogan came to power in 2002, he began undermining Turkey's strategic alliance with Israel. Erdogan officially ended the alliance last May when he sent the IHH, an al Qaeda-aligned, Turkish NGO affiliated with his Islamist AKP Party to lead the pro-Hamas flotilla to Gaza.

Aboard the Mavi Marmara, IHH members violently attacked IDF naval commandos who boarded the ship in order to prevent it from breaking Israel's lawful maritime blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza coast. In the life and death battle that ensued, nine of the IHH assailants were killed.

By attempting to break Israel's lawful blockade, passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara and the rest of the ships in the flotilla were engaged in illicit acts of war against the Jewish state and providing illicit aid and comfort to an illegal terrorist organization. In supporting and arguably organizing the flotilla, including the Mavi Marmara, Erdogan himself was waging an unlawful war against Israel.

Erdogan reacted to the Mavi Marmara incident with enraged indignation. He demanded that Israel apologize for its commandos' actions and pay compensation to the families of the dead. He also demanded an international inquiry into Israel's actions.

Answering his call, the UN set up a commission to investigate last year's flotilla episode. The report has been ready since May. But its publication has been repeatedly delayed. According to media accounts of its findings, the UN commission agrees that Israel's blockade of Gaza is legal. It also claims that the naval commandos used disproportionate force in fending off the Mavi Marmara passengers' assault against them.

In a bid to salvage Turkey's ties to Israel and so increase waning Congressional support for Turkey, the Obama administration has been mediating talks between Israel and Turkey for the past few months. According to news reports, the administration is now pressuring Israel to agree to Erdogan's demand for an apology and to pay compensation to the families of those killed onboard the Mavi Marmara. The U.S. is also demanding that Turkey agree not to press damages or war crimes claims against Israeli personnel in international or other courts.

Given President Obama's expressed admiration and support for Erdogan, it makes sense that he is pushing this position. But the question remains, why is Turkey insisting that Israel apologize and pay damages for the IDF's lawful actions on the Mavi Marmara? What is he trying to achieve? And what would be the consequences if Israel were to bow to U.S. pressure and apologize?

Roth - Once more, they're firing at us again. Again.

Ashkelon: Choice target for the freedom
fighters (excuse the deep sarcasm)
of Hamas-controlled Gaza
Frimet/Arnold Roth
This Ongoing War
28 July '11

From Ynet, a report of an incoming rocket early this morning (Thursday), the 24th such attack this month alone:

"Relative state of calm in south breaks early Thursday as rocket hits open area; no injuries reported. Residents in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council woke up Thursday morning to siren alarm sounds. A Qassam rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel and exploded in an open area south of Ashkelon. No injuries or damage were reported."

Ashkelon is a city. An Israeli city. It's not a military base. It's not a dusty, pockmarked war-zone with shanties and bomb craters. It's a place filled with ordinary civilians, and the bustle of normal, constructive, peaceful lives.

Which is precisely why the Gazan jihadists and their thuggish Hamas masters find it so hard to desist from lobbing bombs and other explosives in the general direction of its many children and kindergartens. There are no innocent bystanders or victims caught in the crossfire when it comes to the terrorists. All of us are in their crosshairs. All of us are at war with them, whether we wish it or not.

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Failed Flotilla passengers will miss this year's UNRWA kite-flying World Record attempt

Love of the Land
28 July '11

In an effort to keep the members of the last failed "Flotilla" afloat with what they would have encountered, if they had arrived via normal channels (i.e Rafiach), today's latest event.

Thursday, July 28, 2011PRESS STATEMENT: UNRWA condemns attack on World Record facility in Gaza 

Statement by UNRWA Spokesman, Chris Gunness 

At ten minutes past midnight last night, ten men attacked and vandalised the Summer Games facility in north-west Gaza where later today UNRWA will attempt a world record for the largest number of children flying kites. 

The attackers damaged a large billboard, burnt a UN flag and torched part of the stage. None of the UN security personnel at the venue were harmed. 

We condemn this attack, which is an attack on the children of Gaza as much as on the United Nations. We call on the authorities in Gaza to investigate and bring those responsible to account. We will repair and rebuild the damaged infrastructure and go ahead with the event as planned today. 

Full details of the kite-flying World Record attempt can be found below. (H/T IMRA)

In any case, there might have been some time to take in the sights, relax poolside, visit luxurious restaurants, with all the ambiance needed to impress that significant other recently met aboard a flotilla yacht. Perhaps the Rais Resort would be just the right destination, but ...

From Ma'an News yesterday:

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Assailants burned a Gaza resort at dawn Wednesday, the manager said. Imad Al-Wazeer told Ma'an a group of 30 armed and masked men arrived at the Rais resort in Gaza and threatened employees.

The resort was damaged in Israel's Operation Cast Lead but Al-Wazeer says he reopened the facility in order to show Israel that the people of Gaza would live their lives in spite of the attack.

"This time, unfortunately, my resort was damaged by Palestinian hands," he said.

The resort cost some $120,000 to establish and has swimming pools, restaurants and other facilities. After the attack, however, 13 employees have lost their jobs, Al-Wazeer says. He held the police in Gaza responsible for the attack, saying they should provide security. "I asked the police several times to provide protection and security but no one paid any attention," he said.

Perhaps our failed "Flotilla" was not such a failure after all, considering what awaited them and others who wish to follow in their wake. Sorry guys! and Gals!

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Leibler - Israelis performing Wagner in Germany – a national disgrace

Isi Leibler
Candidly Speaking from Jerusalem
27 July '11

The Israel Chamber Orchestra on Tuesday performed Wagner’s opera Siegfried Idyll at the Bayreuth Opera Festival. It was the first time an Israeli orchestra had played Wagner in Germany.

The conductor, Roberto Paternostro, whose mother and other relatives were Holocaust survivors, agreed that “Wagner’s ideology and anti-Semitism were terrible, but he was a great composer.” He opined that Wagner’s worldview should be treated separately from his music. Paternostro conceded that not enough time had passed for Wagner to be played in Israel, but felt it was appropriate to do so in Germany. “The aim in the year 2011 is to divide the man from his art.”

The orchestra’s chief executive, Erwin Herskovits, went further, telling Reuters that “there is great pride and excitement… This is not just another concert. It is a once-in-a-lifetime concert.” With works from Jewish composers Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelssohn (banned by the Nazis) also being played, he said that “it was like a mission to be here playing Jewish music by Jewish musicians from the Jewish state… It was a victory concert.”

But Wagner’s history cannot be so summarily dismissed. He was a central pillar in the anti-Semitic character of Nazism. In fact, Wagner even coined the terms “Jewish problem” and “final solution,” which subsequently became central to the Nazi vocabulary.

In his notorious essay titled “Judaism in Music,” first published in 1851, Wagner expressed his extreme revulsion for what he described as “cursed Jewish scum” and declared that the “only thing [that] can redeem you [the Jewish people] from the burden of your curse [is] the redemption of Ahasverus - total destruction” - a code term for expelling Jews from society. In this essay, Wagner described Jews as “hostile to European civilization” and “ruling the world through money.” He argued that “Judaism is rotten at the core, and is a religion of hatred,” describing the cultured Jew as “the most heartless of all human beings” and referring to Jewish composers as “comparable to worms feeding on the body of art.”

Wagner’s family continued to promote his vile anti-Semitic ideology. His daughter Eva married Houston Chamberlain, an Englishman who crafted the ideology for Nazi racism in his notorious book, The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century. After his death, Wagner’s family became a central attraction for radical right-wing Germans.

Rubin - Palestinian “Moderate” (He Is In Relative Terms) Shows Why Real Peace is Impossible At Present

Barry Rubin
Rubin Reports
27 July '11

Nabil Shaath has given a fascinating and insightful interview that is well worth analyzing. But first let’s take a look at who Shaath is.

Supposedly, he is the archetypal Palestinian moderate. There was a time when the Western media ridiculed the Israeli declaration that he was a secret Fatah member. When Israel agreed to negotiate with non-PLO Palestinians, the PLO put his name forward although it knew, of course, that he was no such thing. Peace processors ridiculed Israel’s refusal to accept him.

Since 1994, he has held several high positions. He has been credibly accused, by Fatah militants who criticized Yasir Arafat’s corruption, of taking a lot of Palestinian Authority money for himself and his family.

Nevertheless, it is reasonable to call Shaath as moderate as anyone in the PA’s leadership, more moderate than the Fatah leadership. And what does Shaath say in an interview on July 13, 2011:

Nabil Shaath: The recognition of a [Palestinian] state…will make many things possible in the future. Eventually, we will be able to sign bilateral agreements with states, and this will enable us to exert pressure on Israel. At the end of the day, we want to exert pressure on Israel, in order to force it to recognize us and to leave our country. This is our long-term goal.”

In other words, the goal is not to come to a deal with Israel but to gain recognition from other countries which will pressure Israel and force it to give the PA what it wants. (Incidentally, this is pretty much Yasir Arafat’s strategy from 30 years ago, though he was using a higher level of violence in that process.)

But what does the phrase “leave our country” mean as a “long-term goal?” Does “leave our country” mean just the West Bank and east Jerusalem (pre-1967 borders without mutually agreed swaps) or wiping Israel off the map and replacing it with an Arab Muslim state? It’s ambiguous, isn’t it? So perhaps Shaath is a moderate (as advertised in the Western media? In this case, though, Shaath gives us an answer.

Hornik - Sinai: From Buffer to Badlands

P. David Hornik
27 July '11

“The main, immediate beneficiaries of what is known as the ‘Arab spring’ are Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai reported on Ynet the other day.

His and similar reports haven’t attracted much attention, and perhaps it’s understandable. There’s been a mass murder in Norway, and, in Israel, raucous public protests over housing prices. But the deterioration in Gaza is surely worthy of note, and, for Israelis, likely to be more significant than the cost of flats.

Ben-Yishai, noting the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt since Mubarak’s downfall, says “the group’s influence prompted Egypt’s government to completely halt construction” of an underground metal wall between Egyptian Sinai and Gaza. Built with U.S. assistance, it was supposed to block smuggling tunnels.

Now, though, “the Egyptian regime is making no effort to curb new tunnels and has virtually suspended its battle against smuggling…to the Strip.”

This is bad enough, but in addition, “Egyptian security forces preoccupied with domestic developments [have] completely lost their hold on the Sinai….” That means, along with the enhanced global jihad presence in the peninsula, that

[s]ome 300,000 Bedouins belonging to four or five large tribes are now the Sinai’s true rulers. These tribes’ main income is based on smuggling in general, and on smuggling to Gaza in particular, and they quickly exploited the security vacuum in the peninsula in the wake of the revolution.

Last February when the “Arab spring” was still young, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was in Cairo harshly berating Israel for not reacting enthusiastically. But if Israel wasn’t celebrating the events at that time, it has even less reason to do so now.

“As a result,” says Ben-Yishai, of the abandoned work on the wall and Sinai’s descent into a Wild West,

arms shipments to the Strip have been surging…: everything that has been sent by the Iranians and their emissaries in recent years and was hidden by the Bedouins…has flowed freely into Gaza in the past five months. Meanwhile, new shipments arrived and were transferred to Hamas and Islamic Jihad without delay or a need to hide them.