Many people in the middle east (and elsewhere, unfortunately) have refused to acknowledge the existence of the country of Israel ever since its creation in 1947. This attitude has been so strong that their gubmnts insist maps made of the middle east list only Palestine and not show Israel.
Oops... some mapmakers in Algeria seemed to have forgotten the prohibition of showing Israel on maps... and have faced outrage as a result. From the Elder of Ziyon (who cites numerous sources),
A map of the Middle East in an Algerian geography textbook that labels Israel by that name rather than with "Palestine" has evoked a public furor.
In response, the Ministry of National Education announced that the textbook would be removed from the seventh grade curriculum and that an investigation would be launched.
The offending map listing 'Israel' as opposed to 'Palestine'
Of course it is difficult to make maps of the middle east, with borders changing frequently and new ruling agencies like ISIS conquering and ruling various amorphous territories. But Israel has existed with its current borders for quite some time -- there no excuse for ignoring it.
What would happen if other countries printed maps that just lump Palestine in with Jordan and Syria, and put Gaza with Egypt?
I just read this piece on the Daily Alert.
- Iran: Israel's Annihilation Is Imminent
Speaking in Tehran on July 1, Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said: "Today, more than ever, there is fertile ground - with the grace of God - for the annihilation, the wiping out, and the collapse of the Zionist regime. In Lebanon alone, over 100,000 missiles are ready to be launched....These missiles will pierce through space, and will strike at the heart of the Zionist regime. They will prepare the ground for its great collapse in the new era."
"Tens of thousands of other high-precision, long-range missiles, with the necessary destructive capabilities, have been placed in various places throughout the Islamic world. They are just waiting for the command, so that when the trigger is pulled, the accursed bla! ck dot will be wiped off the geopolitical map of the world, once and for all."
"Today, unlike in the past, the potential exists to destroy this regime and to make it collapse. The Zionist regime does not have strategic depth on the ground for defense purposes. In some places, the regime has a depth of only 14-24 kilometers. In a single ground attack, its back will be broken." (MEMRI)
I generally find the material from MEMRI to be quite reliable.
Quoted from the Elder of Ziyon [EE: emphasis added]:
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Erasing Christian HistoryFor Palestinian Christians, the destruction of the ancient Byzantine church ruins is yet a further attempt by Palestinian Muslim leaders to efface both Christian history and signs of any Christian presence in the West Bank and Gaza, under the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. A growing number of Christians feel they are being systematically targeted by both the PA and Hamas for being Christians.
Bulldozers were used to destroy some of the church artifacts; some Palestinian Christians accused both Hamas and the PA of copying ISIS tactics to demolish historic sites.
"Where are the heads of the churches in Jerusalem and the world?... Where are the Vatican and UNESCO? Where are the leaders and politicians who talk, talk, talk about national unity and the preservation of holy sites? Or is this a collective conspiracy to end our existence and history in the East?" — Sami Khalil, a Christian from the West Bank city of Nablus.
The plight of Palestinian Christians does not interest the international community. That is because Israel cannot be blamed for demolishing the antiquities. If the current policy against Christians persists, the day will come when no Christians will be left in Bethlehem.
I have a strong sense that many of my pro-Palestinian friends use lots of arguments to be anti-Israel, but in reality they just don't think Israel has the right to exist. I wonder if these people would feel the same way if the Arab countries had accepted the 1947 borders and not attacked Israel.
But things like this continue to appall me. A Belgian crisis-line worker denies that Israel exists:
At least two Israelis were injured in the terror attacks in Brussels. Israel would like to fly them home and so in order to release them from the hospital, a Jewish volunteer called up the Crisis Center set up by the Ministry for Internal Affairs to ask about the procedure.
He was told that the Israeli victims could not be sent back to Israel, they can only be sent back to Palestine....
JTA adds:Michael Freilich, the editor-in-chief of Joods Actueel, said it “defies imagination” that a Belgian state employee would display the anti-Israel behavior that is commonplace in Arab countries. He also called for punishing the operator instead of issuing the “standard apology.”
The recording’s release follows at least four recorded cases in which people who either spoke Arabic or wore Muslim traditional garb, destroyed, concealed or removed Israeli flags at an impromptu memorial space set up for the attacks’victims at Place de la Bourse in Brussels. It features many flags, including of Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority.
UPDATE: The Crisis Center apologized and says it fired the employee.
Professors at Columbia University have taken sides, with some pro-BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] and other anti-BDS.
The Elder of Ziyon has an interesting take on the split:
Of the 69 Columbia professors who signed a pro-BDS petition. 15 of them work in the anthropology department, six in philosophy, 13 in Middle East studies, two in Gender & Sexuality Studies, four in art history, six in history and eight in English, and only one in law.
The pro-Israel petition, on the other hand, has 26 signatures from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, 75 from the Columbia Medical Center, 27 from the Law School, and many others in the engineering and other medical fields.
In other words, the professors who support Israel are overwhelmingly specialists in fields where the truth often means the difference between life and death, and the ones who are anti-Israel largely do their work in fields where truth is a quaint and elastic concept.
This explains a lot.
From the Daily Alert, summarizing/quoting the WSJ for one of many sources:
President Barack Obama announced two years ago he would curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state. But behind the scenes, the White House decided to keep certain allies under close watch, current and former U.S. officials said. Topping the list was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The National Security Agency's targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.
This account, stretching over two terms of the Obama administration, is based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former U.S. intelligence and administration officials and reveals for the first time the extent of American spying on the Israeli prime minister. One tool was a cyber implant in Israeli networks that gave the NSA access to communications within the Israeli prime minister's office. (Wall Street Journal)
And to speculate about the answer to my question in the title to this post, I would be surprised if the US doesn't at least try to spy on the the leaders and gubmnts of the other countries. And, if they do, why do we not read about it (or have I not been reading it in the places that I read the news?)?
Indeed the Daily Alert carries this addition:
But at the same time, why does the algorithm for Typepad (my blogging tool and host) not provide any links to such articles for me to include at the bottom of this post. In fact that algorithm doesn't even include links to articles about the US spying on Israel's leaders.
See also Amidror: "The U.S. Listens In on Everyone"
Former Israeli national security adviser Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror told Army Radio the allegations of U.S. spying were unsurprising. "The U.S. listens in on everyone; we don't need to get excited about it. Everyone knows - it's a fact," he sa! id. "Israel is careful not to carry out any spying operations in the United States, not even a little bit." (Times of Israel)
See also below Commentary: The Phone Call that Upended U.S.-Israel Relations - Patrick O'Connor and Adam Entous (Wall Street Journal)
I have long been opposed to proposed boycotts of Israeli and Jewish scholars by those who disagree with Israel's policies in the Middle East. I've been writing about my opposition off and on for over a decade on my blog. I even went so far as to acquire affiliations with Bar-iLan and Haifa universities.
I recently learned of a group of scholars that has been created and which reflects my views. Steve Horwitz writes,
I do not support the BDS movement's attempts to quash academic discourse, put a stop to intellectual exchange, and turn scholarly work into a political tool. I will not join their boycott of Israeli academics or those of any other country. Boycotts can be legitimate and effective tools, but not when they are used against innocent people to punish them for the actions of their governments.
Because of that, some friends and I made this. I know that not all of you will agree with us. I hope that those of you who do will sign your names and share this widely.
I urge others who share our views to join the group. Scholars without Borders.
From the Elder of Ziyon, an important contrast:
[T]he murder of the Henkins is like the murders of Mohammed Abu Khdeir or of the Dawabashe family. In those cases the victims were targeted.
And when you compare apples to apples, the difference between the morality of those Zionists h [sic] despises and the Palestinians he loves becomes crystal clear.
Because Israeli society, from the Prime Minister to the people on the street, rose as one to condemn the murder of Abu Khdeir.
Because Israelis raised cash to pay the victims of the Dawabashe arson/murder.
Because the vast majority of Israelis are naturally disgusted and ashamed at the thought that one of their own could be responsible for such depravity.
And how did Palestinians react to the murder of the Henkins? They celebrated. They shot off fireworks. The expressed uniform happiness on Facebook.
I could not find a single Arabic voice in any message board or social media. As of this moment, a single article from Al Quds about the attack - showing the faces of the victims - has 4,500 Likes and 650 Facebook comments, every one uniformly happy that they were murdered.
What does it say about Palestinian society that seemingly no one, from Abbas down to the streets of Nablus, can condemn the murders of the Henkins? What does it say about Palestinian society that the Khaled Abu Toamehs and the Bassam Eids and the Muhammad Zoabis and the Mohammed Dajanis, people who actually think of Jews as human beings, are so rare - and roundly hated?
This is the difference between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.
This is the difference between a moral society and one that is perverted.
That is the difference between a society that deserves respect and one that demands it.
From David Hirsh at Engage,
Labour leaders usually address both Labour Friends of Palestine and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) fringe meetings at Conference. Corbyn had a particular job to do at LFI: he needed to reassure the Jewish community and antiracists that he understands what it is about his record that is so concerning:
He has presented a show on Press TV, Iran’s propaganda channel. Iran wants Israel wiped off the map and has a public policy of Holocaust Denial.
Corbyn is a Patron of the “Palestine Solidarity Campaign” whose main business is to fight for a boycott of Israel. Corbyn has reaffirmed his support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel as recently as August 2015.
Corbyn has referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends” and he said that they are dedicated to the good of the Palestinian people and to social and political justice in the Middle East.
Corbyn has jumped to the defence of antisemites, Raed Salah who indulged in medieval blood libel and Stephen Sizerwho said that Israel was behind 9/11. He continued to support “Deir Yassin Remembered” even when it was well known that it was run by a Holocaust Denier. He has said that those who have raised these issues are making personal smears, not political criticism.
Corbyn sometimes says that he is for a two state solution but he also says, in a coded disavowal of such a solution, that the Palestinian right to return was “the key” to a solution.
So what did he say at the LFI meeting?
He refused to utter the word “Israel”. He refused to say that he was for the right of Israel to exist, even within the ’67 borders. [emphasis added]
It is difficult to say that Israel has a right to exist and not also grant it some other options to defend itself. I really have to wonder if Jeremy Corbyn is so anti-Israel that he thinks it has no right to exist. I suspect he is and does.
Another from the Daily Alert:
- Reykjavik, Iceland, Votes to Boycott Goods from Israel - Paul Fontaine
Reykjavik City Hall voted on Tuesday to ban the purchase of products from Israel. Kjartan Magnusson, an opposition councilperson, accused the ruling coalition of hypocrisy, pointing out that China still occupies Tibet, yet Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson has accepted trips to China at the expense of the Chinese government. There is also no known proposal to boycott goods from China.
Supreme Court lawyer Einar Gautur Steingrimsson said the move is unconstitutional and "goes beyond the city's role as a municipality." "This is just as illegal as refusing to do business with redheads," he said. (Reykjavik Grapevine-Iceland)
At least the city council is being called out for its racism and hypocrisy.
My guess is that Iran will have working nuclear weapons and missiles capable of "delivering" them within the next five or fewer years. (somehow using the verb "deliver" with launching a nuclear weapon cries for the use of quotation marks in my mind.)
My guess, also, is that the US and the West will do nothing more to impede this process, other than issue very strong and very meaningless proclamations and rhetoric.
I also am guessing that Israel would love to stop this but will be pressured by the West not to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.
As a result, I expect two things from Israel:
What if bombers in the air and a missile shield don't deter Iran?
My major hope is that the threat of mutual annihilation will deter the outbreak of a nuclear war in the middle east. I'm not entirely optimistic, though. Sometimes information is imperfect, sometimes errors in reasoning are made, and sometimes determination and beliefs affect decisions in unbelievable ways.
Blame the Jews? This report is shocking, maddening, distressing, and more.
Also see this in Haaretz:
In Greece, anti-Semitic viewpoints are aired frequently, particularly the notions that Jews control the global economy and politics. In 2012, when the Golden Dawn’s Kasidiaris read in Parliament from the anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the reading drew no condemnation from the other lawmakers present.
Nor was there public condemnation when Golden Dawn slammed the recent visit by the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, David Harris, as a trip to ensure further “Jewish influence over Greek political issues” and safeguard the interests of “international loan sharks.”
Golden Dawn hasn’t been alone in expressing such sentiments. ...
Even the mainstream political parties have long histories of using anti-Semitic tropes.
“Greeks are fond of conspiracy theories, as they are steeped in conspiracy on a personal level,” Euthymios Tsiliopoulos, a journalist and political commentator, wrote on the popular current affairs website The Times of Change in the wake of the Karypidis scandal.
“As so many things are conducted through under-the-table, backroom deals, most naturally assume that the whole world is run in this manner,” he wrote. “As such, there is willingness to believe that the hardships the country and its inhabitants have undergone throughout the centuries is due to the machinations of foreigners. After all, it’s easier to believe this than to fix the perennial ills plaguing Greek society.”
In social media I had seen this photo of a German who refused to give a Nazi salute, but I had never bothered to read the background story.
After his engagement to a Jewish woman was discovered, Landmesser was expelled from the Nazi Party.
Landmesser and Eckler decided to file a marriage application in Hamburg, but the union was denied under the newly enacted Nuremberg Laws.
The couple welcomed their first daughter, Ingrid, in October 1935.
And then on June 13, 1936, Landmesser gave a crossed-arm stance during Hitler's christening of a new German navy vessel. ...
In 1937, fed up, Landmesser attempted to flee Nazi Germany to Denmark with his family. But he was detained at the border and charged with "dishonoring the race," or "racial infamy," under the Nuremberg Laws.
A year later, Landmesser was acquitted for a lack of evidence and was instructed to not have a relationship with Eckler.
Refusing to abandon the mother of his child, Landmesser ignored Nazi wishes and was arrested again in 1938 and sentenced to nearly three years in a concentration camp.
He would never see the woman he loved or his child again.
The secret state police also arrested Eckler, who was several months pregnant with the couple's second daughter. She gave birth to Irene in prison and was sent to an all-women's concentration camp soon after her delivery.
Eckler is believed to have been transferred to what the Nazi's called a "euthanasia center" in 1942, where she died with 14,000 others.
For more on August Landmesser, check out the Wikipaedia page on him. What a tragic, disgusting, amazing story.
I love this statement, quoted in part by Steve Horwitz on Facebook with his introductory sentence:
Hey other traditionalist religious groups, this is how you do it in a pluralist liberal democracy (it's also why I'd never be an Orthodox Jew, but...):
"“In response to the decisions announced today by the United States Supreme Court with reference to the issue of legal recognition of same sex marriage, we reiterate the historical position of the Jewish faith, enunciated unequivocally in our Bible, Talmud and Codes, which forbids homosexual relationships and condemns the institutionalization of such relationships as marriages. Our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable. At the same time, we note that Judaism teaches respect for others and we condemn discrimination against individuals.
We are grateful that we live in a democratic society, in which all religions are free to express their opinions about social issues and to advocate vigorously for those opinions. The reason we opt to express our viewpoint in a public forum is because we believe that our Divine system of law not only dictates our beliefs and behaviors, but also represents a system of universal morality, and therefore can stake a claim in the national discourse. That morality, expressed in what has broadly been labeled Judeo-Christian ethics, has long had a place in American law and jurisprudence.
We also recognize that no religion has the right to dictate its beliefs to the entire body politic and we do not expect that secular law will always align with our viewpoint. Ultimately, decisions on social policy remain with the democratic process, and today the process has spoken and we accord the process and its result the utmost respect." [EE: emphasis added]
Now let's hope the processes they have given so much respect to give that respect back and allow them to have, in their words "appropriate accommodations and exemptions for institutions and individuals who abide by religious teachings that limit their ability to support same-sex relationships."
I do have some difficulties with the last paragraph, however. If a religious organization had discrimination against blacks or Jews as one of its tenets, on the one hand I would argue the state should dominate; on the other I would favour freedom of association. And that leaves me in a state of limbo. I expect the same might well be true in the case of religions that discriminate against LGBTs, or religious orders that admit only one sex into membership, etc.
If I were in England, I would go to Golder's Green on July 4th.... to buy bagels from Carmelli's. ... and just to be there just in case.
Addendum: to be clear, I'd be there to sit in the street or something to block/impede the anti-semites, not to be a part of their hate.
The US has certainly been drifting toward a less supportive position, for sure. Carolyn Glick pulls no punches here.
After going through the tired motions of pledging support for Israel, "when it matters," [US ambassador to the UN] Power refused to rule out the possibility that the US would support anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council to limit Israeli sovereignty and control to the lands within the 1949 armistice lines — lines that are indefensible.
Such a move will be taken, she indicated, in order to midwife the establishment of a terrorist-supporting Palestinian state whose supposedly moderate leadership does not recognize Israel's right to exist, calls daily for its destruction, and uses the UN to delegitimize the Jewish state.
In other words, the Obama administration intends to pin Israel into indefensible borders while establishing a state committed to its destruction.
A key to understanding this position is that the pre-1967 borders are, if not indefensible, certainly very difficult to maintain. Another key is that some Zionists favour continued expansion into the West Bank. But to demand that Israel give up its buffer zone is tantamount to asking it to commit suicide or, at the very least, to suffer continued huge losses trying to defend itself within those pre-1967 borders.
I don't agree with everything he says, but the Pope is right about the Armenian genocide. From Wikipaedia:
The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն Hayots Tseghaspanutyun),[note 3] also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally by Armenians, as Medz Yeghern (Armenian: Մեծ Եղեռն, "Great Crime"),was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects inside their historic homeland which lies within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, [emphasis added] the day Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. Other indigenous and Christian ethnic groups such as the Assyrians and the Ottoman Greeks were similarly targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government, and their treatment is considered by many historians to be part of the same genocidal policy. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities around the world came into being as a direct result of the genocide.
Raphael Lemkin was explicitly moved by the Armenian annihilation to coin the word genocide in 1943 and define systematic and premeditated exterminations within legal parameters. The Armenian Genocide is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, because scholars point to the organized manner in which the killings were carried out in order to eliminate the Armenians, and it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.
Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate term for the mass killings of Armenians that began under Ottoman rule in 1915. It has in recent years been faced with repeated calls to recognize them as genocide. To date, twenty-two countries have officially recognized the mass killings as genocide, a view which is shared by most genocide scholars and historians.
Pope Francis described it as the "First genocide of the XX century", causing a diplomatic incident with Turkey. The bishop of Romedefended his pronouncement by saying it was his duty to honour the memory of the innocent men, women and children who were "senselessly" murdered by Ottoman Turks 100 years before he became Pontiff. He also called on all heads of state and international organizations to recognize "the truth of what transpired and oppose such crimes without ceding to ambiguity or compromise." 
I'm not always keen on things published in Townhall, but this piece by Victor Davis Hanson merits consideration. He warns that the intense desire by Obama and Kerry to get a nuclear agreement with Iran, any agreement at all, is dangerously similar to the agreement struck in Munich with Hitler by Neville Chamberlain and the West.
Most Westerners accept that the Iranian government funds terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. It has all but taken over Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Yet the idea of stronger sanctions, blockades or even force to stop Iranian efforts to get a bomb are considered scarier than Iran getting a bomb that it just possibly might not threaten to use.
The U.S. and its NATO partners are far stronger than Iran in every imaginable measure of military and economic strength. The Iranian economy is struggling, its government is corrupt, and its conventional military is obsolete. Iran's only chance of gaining strength is to show both its own population and the world at large that stronger Western powers backed down in fear of its threats and recklessness. ...
By reaching an agreement with Iran, John Kerry and Barack Obama hope to salvage some sort of legacy -- in the vain fashion of Chamberlain -- out of a heretofore failed foreign policy.
There are more Munich parallels. The Iranian agreement will force rich Sunni nations to get their own bombs to ensure a nuclear Middle East standoff. A deal with Iran shows callous disagreed for our close ally Israel, which is serially threatened by Iran's mullahs. The United States is distant from Iran. But our allies in the Middle East and Europe are within its missile range. ...
Finally, the Iranians, like Hitler, have only contempt for the administration that has treated them so fawningly. During the negotiations in Switzerland, the Iranians blew up a mock U.S. aircraft carrier. Their supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, did his usual "death to America" shtick before adoring crowds.
I hope Hanson is wrong; I fear he is not.
From the Elder of Ziyon. The American Library Association recently partnered with the Sharjah International Book Fair in the United Arab Emirates. Some of the books promoted at this book fair are examples of extreme anti-semitism.
The anti-Semitic books for sale at the fair were listed alongside mainstream books in various categories. For example, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion was listed in the “Political Science” category. Among the other anti-Semitic books featured at the fair were:
- Blood for The Pie of Zion (The Jewish District) by Najib Al Gailany. This novel tells a story of a Christian priest from Damascus who was abducted by the Jews in order to use his blood for Jewish rituals. The story details how Jews danced and celebrated while Rabbis drain the blood of the elderly catholic priest. The book was listed in the “Novels” category and sold for 15 AED, or approximately $4.
- The Jews and the Secret Movements in the Crusades by Baha Al-Amir. The book, which suggests that the Jews played a role in the Crusades, includes an introduction in which the author claims that “God the almighty declares in his statement to the people that all wars were started by Jews.” The book was listed in the “International Affairs” category and sold for 50 AED (approximately $14).
- Human Sacrifices and Talmudic Slaughtering by Jews and Pagans by Fathi Muhammad Zughbi. The book was listed in the “Faith” category and sold for 83 AED (approximately $23).
- Mein Kampf by Adolf Hilter. This book was listed in the “General knowledge” category and sold for 20 AED (approximately $5).
The fair provided several grants and awards in various fields of literature. In the past, it reportedly gave a grant to Gilad Atzmon to translate his anti-Semitic book “The Wandering Who,” into Arabic. The other problem is that if you try to register for the fair, in the list of countries you can be from there is one that is missing. Take a wild guess....
The EoZ adds,
So the ALA is now explicitly partnering with an event that activley promotes anti-semitism and discriminates against Israelis,
In the past, when principled organizations and prominent personalities told the UAE that they would not participate in activities that excluded Israelis or Jews, the UAE was anxious to drop the ban and do whatever they needed to do in order to not be embarrassed.
Clearly the American Library Association has no such principles.
And the UAE is purportedly one of the more moderate, modern Arab-Muslim countries in the middle east.
Charles Krauthammer has an excellent column in the Washington Post explaining the situation in the Middle East. It is brief, and hence misses many nuances I am sure, but it summarizes a lot of my own views about Israel.
If you grant that Israel has a right to exist (I do, but I am quite certain some of my friends do not), and if you grant Israel has a right and even an obligation to defend itself, then it is hard to blame just Israel for everything that happens there.
I have news for the lowing herds: There would be no peace and no Palestinian state if Isaac Herzog were prime minister either. Or Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert for that matter. The latter two were (non-Likud) prime ministers who offered the Palestinians their own state — with its capital in Jerusalem and every Israeli settlement in the new Palestine uprooted — only to be rudely rejected.
This is not ancient history. This is 2000, 2001 and 2008 — three astonishingly concessionary peace offers within the past 15 years. Every one rejected.
The fundamental reality remains: This generation of Palestinian leadership — from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas — has never and will never sign its name to a final peace settlement dividing the land with a Jewish state.
But please, PLEASE read the entire column. It explains a lot of what lies behind my fairly strong pro-Israel views.
For my previous blog posts on Israel, click here.
A writer who opposes Israel's policies toward Palestine writes about his experiences at The University of Westminster, the alma mater of Jihadi John in today's Washington Post. Excerpts:
As a vociferous critic of the Israeli government, I have participated in demonstrations and activities supporting Palestine for many years. Yet in a discussion about the conflict, I was horrified to hear a fellow student, supposedly a scholar of international relations and politics, complaining about “the f---ing Jews.” What bothered me even more than such bigoted rhetoric was that the individuals who voiced these extreme positions appeared to do so with impunity. ...
From my experiences, I believe that the university is unwittingly complicit in perpetuating such radicalization, as it has often allowed Islamist extremism to go unchallenged. I don’t think the university itself is advocating extremism, but by failing to prevent the advocacy of such ideas, the institution is attracting students who are sympathetic to them. Students who do not identify with extreme Islamist ideology are being put at risk of discrimination, intimidation and potentially radicalization by the university’s failure to properly handle the situation. ...
I hope that the humiliation of having Jihadi John among its alumni leads Westminster to implement big changes to quell extremism. If it does not, I fear for how many new recruits the Islamic State might garner from the graduating class of 2015.
Most of us knew that the Crusades were undertaken to capture Jerusalem and Israel from the Muslims and that many, many Muslims were killed during those wars. What is less well-known is that the first major victims of the first Crusade were Europe's Jews.
This history is told eloquently here in the New York Times Sunday Review.
THE first victims of the First Crusade, inspired in 1096 by the supposedly sacred mission of retaking Jerusalem from Muslims, were European Jews. Anyone who considers it religiously and politically transgressive to compare the behavior of medieval Christian soldiers to modern Islamic terrorism might find it enlightening to read this bloody story, as told in both Hebrew and Christian chronicles. ...
Just as the Crusades were integrally linked to Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages, terrorist movements today are immersed in a particular anti-modern interpretation of Islam. This does not imply that a majority of Muslims agree with violent religious ideology. It does mean that the terrorists’ brand of belief plays a critical role in their savage assault on human rights.
Cultural ignoramuses portrayed President Obama’s references to the Crusades and the Inquisition at the recent National Prayer Breakfast as an excuse for Islamic terrorism, but the president’s allusions could and should have been used as an opportunity to reflect on the special damage inflicted in many historical contexts by warriors seeking conquest in the name of their god.
The details set out there are appalling: Jews were forced to pay protection money, forcibly converted to Christianity, or exiled. Thousands were killed even after having paid extortionate protection money.
The Crusades turned into campaigns of slaughter, rape, and pillage, and woe to the poor Jews in the way. Indeed, the Crusades mark the first large-scale European mob violence directed against Jews which is going to become, unfortunately, the pattern for the next hundreds of years. The later pogroms are just going to be a repeat of this idea.
The Jews were not the only ― and in fact, not the primary ― victims of the Crusaders. Muslims were. ...
[A]bout 30%-50% of the Jewish community of Europe met its end. Some 10,000 Jews of an estimated population of about 20,000-30,000 were slaughtered by Crusaders mobs.
And the conclusion from the Sunday Review article:
What we actually see today is a standard of medieval behavior upheld by modern fanatics who, like the crusaders, seek both religious and political power through violent means. They offer a ghastly and ghostly reminder of what the Western world might look like had there never been religious reformations, the Enlightenment and, above all, the separation of church and state.
Several friends have highly recommended this piece on ISIS in The Atlantic. I haven't finished it yet. It is about 10K words, a very lengthy essay.
For those who don't even want to start it, let me recommend this summary blog post by the Elder of Ziyon. It is lengthy for a blog post, but it's really the equivalent of only a page or two. Some highlights:
[A]s you read it, you see that outside of military annihilation, there is no way to defeat it anyway (although Wood thinks that containment can work over time, causing new recruits to become disillusioned at the failure of the caliphate to continuously expand.)
One major point is that their leaders are not crazy. Their beliefs are consistent and if you are willing to listen to them, they will tell you their strategy and tactics. ...
IS cannot be stopped by religious arguments - because their entire point is to bring Islam back to the 7th century, back to Mohammed's own practices. And any Muslim who argues that Mohammed's methods don't apply nowadays cannot win an argument against IS... [emphasis in the original]...
The author underplays the appeal of a non-hypocritical Islam, when Islam itself has no theological alternative to believing that Mohammed was the perfect prophet and example to mankind. Young people who embrace Islam will be far more likely to choose the strain that is the most internally consistent, and as it stands, that is IS.
In other words, neither arguments nor diplomacy nor military strength will defeat ISIS. It is difficult to pray for world peace under these circumstances, other than as a wonderful dream and hope. To follow this thought, read the Elder's post even if you don't read the more lengthy piece in The Atlantic.
In today's story about the Danish shootings, the New York Times headline reads,
Terror Attacks by a Native Son Rock Denmark
One might reasonably be led to believe that the most important characteristic of the shooter was that it was a Dane who shot up the free-speech meeting and the synagogue.
It is not until the 6th and 7th paragraphs that we read,
Though the gunman’s name and basic biographical details were still unclear late Sunday, he appears to have shared some traits with at least two of the militants responsible for the Paris violence, notably a criminal record and an abrupt transition from street crime to Islamic militancy.
The Danish news media identified him as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, but the Copenhagen police did not confirm his name. [emphasis added]
A native son, maybe, but also an Islamic militant.
Shootings in Denmark and now this:
France’s interior minister said Sunday several hundred tombs had been defaced at a Jewish cemetery in the east of the country, in what he called “a despicable act.”
The head of a U.N. inquiry into last summer's conflict between Israel and Gaza said on Monday he would resign after Israeli allegations of bias due to consultancy work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Canadian academic William Schabas was appointed last August by the head of the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead a three-member group looking into alleged war crimes during Israel's military offensive in Gaza.
In a letter to the commission, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, Schabas said he would step down immediately to prevent the issue from overshadowing the preparation of the report and its findings, which are due to be published in March.
Everyone knew of this person's biases long before he was appointed head the group. He had done paid work for the Palestine Liberation Organization and had gone on record as referring to Israel as his enemy.
And what timing!
The commission had largely finished gathering evidence and had begun writing the report...
So this person who is known to have extreme biases against Israel was left at the head of a commission until its work was nearly completed? How unbiased do you really think the report will be?
As the Elder of Ziyon says,
Everyone knew Schabas was biased. He referred to Zionists as "enemies." He participated in a kangaroo court against Israel. Even he admitted he was biased, but he claimed that he - unlike every judge on the planet - would be objective despite his having already formed his anti-Israel opinions.
This attitude was widely criticized by prominent lawyers, as are listed at UN Watch.
However, the sheer nerve that he shows here takes the cake. He finally decided to step down after Israel was ready to show evidence that he was paid by one of the sides that he was supposedly investigating. Instead of apologizing for hiding this very salient fact about his history when he was appointed to the commission, Schabas instead lashes out at those who exposed his utter contempt for the concept of impartiality.
Who just happen to be his "enemies."
The late-date move is a farce anyway. The commission has already written the majority of not the entire report by now. All of the evidence and testimony has already been slanted by Schabas' anti-Israel bias. If anything, his taking his name off of the commission might end up giving the slanted report a little more credibility after he has already poisoned it.
Here's one final question: If Schabas had planned from the beginning to be a new Richard Falk, and to use this UN commission to do everything possible to demonize Israel while paying lip service to the idea of fairness, would he have acted any differently than we have seen him act?
Scandalous and unacceptable. But not surprising, given the biases rampant throughout the UN.
Update: Check out the NYTimes bias in how they report it:
Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, were killed, according to the United Nations, with 100,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. On the Israeli side, six civilians and 67 soldiers were killed.
No mention of all the tunnels from Gaza into Israel and scant mention of the rockets fired from Gaza. What a way to conclude the article. Don't tell me the NYTimes is unbiased and a legitimate news source.
“Oh God, oh God,” he said, unable to control a rush of tears. “This is where they died. This is where they took them from us. I can see it. I can see it! Why? Because we were Jewish? I still don’t get it. I still don’t get the hate.”