The antisemitism of the intelligentsia, disguised as anti-Zionism

Media BiasA couple of recent articles caught my eye as I noticed a similar strain run through both pieces: the subject of antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism.

Haaretz, of all papers, has an article by Uzi Silber about The Jew Flu (h/t Elise Ronan), “the strange illness of Jewish antisemitism”.  The reason for my surprise at Haaretz’s article is that Haaretz itself is a prime source of anti-Israel material for all those foreign media outlets, diplomats and commentators who love to focus on Israel’s ostensible misdeeds.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

The 1930s Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson asked “Is there another People on Earth so emotionally twisted that they consider everything their nation does despicable and hateful, while every murder, rape, robbery committed by their enemies fill their hearts with admiration and awe?”

This is Jew Flu – the virus of Jewish Anti-Semitism, and its Jewish Anti- and Post-Zionist mutations, afflicting a small but inordinately loud minority of Hebrews.

Its modern symptoms are a rejection of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state and a dismissal of its right to defend itself militarily, while embracing the goals of its nihilistic Arab enemies. Those infected with the virus wildly inflate Israeli sins real or imagined, while excusing or rationalizing Palestinian anti-semitism and outrages against Jews.

What causes Jew Flu? Harvard psychiatrist Kenneth Levin argues for twin culprits: so-called ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, where “population segments under chronic siege commonly embrace the indictments of their besiegers however bigoted and outrageous”, as well as “the psychodynamics of abused children who blame themselves for their situation and believe they could mollify their tormenters if they were ‘good’.”

Suffice it to say that Noam Chomsky, Daniel Boyarin, Joel Kovel, Avrum Burg, Ilan Pappe, Steve Quester, Jacqueline Rose, Tony Judt, Naomi Klein, Michael Neumann, Ben Ehrenreich, (the apparently “outed”) Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and their ilk, spout pronouncements eerily similar to the propaganda routinely ejaculated by representatives of Fatah, Hamas or Hezbollah.

Please note that two famous names are blatantly missing from this miserable list. That’s right – Haaretz’s very own Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, two haters of Israel who would be more at home on the pages of the PLO’s internal screeds than in a national Israeli paper.  The malign influence of these two writers on the foreign media’s anti-Israel bias is hard to overestimate. It’s possible that had the author mentioned those names, Haaretz would never have agreed to publish the article.

Silber continues:

At the same time, a hearty “shout out” is due those who have made it their business to forcefully rebut the Jewish defamers, including Andrea Levin, Edward Alexander, Alan Dershowitz, David Solway and others. Those interested in a quick and free primer on Jew Flu should download Alvin Rosenfeld’s UJA-sponsored brief, “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism”.

The author goes on to give a history of Jewish antisemitism, from its roots in Soviet anti-Zionism through the New Left’s over-identification with the enemy, especially amongst the intelligentsia:

The infection among Israel’s cultural elites intensified through the Lebanon War and the two Intifadas that sandwiched the delusional Oslo era. As author Aharon Meged lamented in 1994, there existed “an emotional and moral identification by the majority of Israel’s intelligentsia, and its print and electronic media, with people committed to our annihilation.”

Epitomizing this “moral identification” were the certain prominent Jewish journalists who, according to Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea, crucially failed the so-called ‘lynch test’, by exhibiting an inability to ever criticize Palestinian terror, even following the widely televised gruesome execution of two Jews by a Palestinian mob in Ramallah In 2000.

As it turns out, the afflicted regularly engage in at least one of the following -Demonization (comparing Israeli actions to Nazism and referring to Arab refugee camps as Auschwitz);- Double Standards (singling out Israel for human rights abuses while ignoring the blatant human rights violators such as Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestinian Authority, North Korea, Cuba, China, Myanmar etc); and Delegitimization (denying Israel the fundamental right to exist as a Jewish state)

Jew Flu occurs even amongst religious Jews like Avram Burg or admirers of the late Prof. Yishayahu Leibowitz.

Silber then draws his own conclusions based on some interesting research:

David Brooks recently reported in the New York Times on research by a Haifa University team led by Reem Yahya who studied the brains scans of Arabs and Jews while showing them images of hands and feet in painful situations.

Brooks reports that “the two cultures perceived pain differently. The Arabs perceived higher levels of pain over all while the Jews were more sensitive to pain suffered by members of a group other than their own.”

The intriguing research out of Haifa suggests that Jews may very well be inherently altruistic. But while exhibiting more sensitivity to another group’s pain is one thing, embracing the goals of people openly committed to one’s destruction is a form of madness.

So here’s my ultimate theory for the cause of this nefarious virus: Jew Flu is a condition in which being “more sensitive to pain suffered by members of a group other than (one’s) own metastasizes into a malignant emotional and moral identification with people committed to (one’s) annihilation.”

Like any other virus, Jew Flu is contagious but containable. Yet ultimately incurable.

I find the article extremely interesting in an appalled kind of way. If it didn’t concern us, the Jewish nation and Israel, so directly, I’d be fascinated. As it is, it leaves me profoundly depressed despite the brave souls who work so hard to combat “Jew Flu”.

A related article starkly highlights the utter hypocrisy, not to mention the ultra-thin skin, of antisemitic Israel-bashers and boycotters.

Daniel Greenfield in Front Page Magazine tells us of The Amcha Inititative which has been working to identify and list those academics who call for a boycott or blacklist of Israeli academics – and the boycotters are whining at being boycotted!

There’s nothing anti-Israel academics love more than playing the victim. Given a choice between the fountain of youth and the opportunity to whine about how they’re being persecuted for their anti-Semitism, they will always choose the latter.

We dealt with their whining and cries of McCarthyism last month.

The Amcha Initiative put out a list of college faculty who support pro-terrorist boycotts of Israel. Its sources were mostly the boycotters themselves.

Apparently it’s not McCarthyism to boycott Jews. It’s only McCarthyism when Jews boycott back.

Now a bunch of professors have claimed that listing the names of BDS advocates is a blacklist. Either this whole thing is a promotion for the second season of The Blacklist or they think that boycotts should only go one way.

The professors, who include the repulsive Hasia Diner, denounce the denounciations as a threat to academic freedom. Somehow it’s not a threat to academic freedom to engage in BDS boycotts of faculty from the Jewish State.

But when someone says something critical about BDS PhDs, they have to be muzzled right away by the likes of Hasia Diner. That’s not a violation of academic freedom.

But here are Hasia Diner’s views on a BDS boycott of Israel.

“BDS is labeled anti-Semitic. Why is it that somebody can not take a political, moral, ethical stance and say, ‘I think the policies of the Israeli government are reprehensible and the only way to push Israel to change is to boycott their products’? I am not sure why that constitutes anti-Semitism, but they are immediately tarred with that feather. Among other problems, this means it is impossible to have a conversation about Israel or BDS because one is accused of being anti-Semitic.”

Those darn Jews. So if we can demand the destruction of the Jewish State and attacks on Jewish businesses and faculty members as a form of academic freedom… why can’t we have a conversation about BDS supporters without being accused of McCarthyism?

The antisemites, anti-Zionists, BDS bigots and general Jew-haters can certainly dish it out but they’re too pathetic to take it when it’s dished back at them.

Posted in Academia, Antisemitism, Media and journalism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sukkot 5775 – Chag Same’ach!

חג סוכות שמח Happy Sukkot!

The festival of Sukkot, the most joyous festival in the Jewish calendar, begins tonight, lasting for 7 days (8 outside of Israel), running straight into the Simchat Torah festival on the 8th day (9th day outside Israel).

Sukkot is the last of the Shalosh R’galim (three pilgrimage festivals). Like Passover and Shavu’ot, Sukkot has a dual significance: historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is sometimes referred to as Chag Ha-Asif Chag Ha-Asif (in Hebrew), the Festival of Ingathering.

Inside our Sukkah

Inside our Sukkah

On this festival Jewish households build a sukkah (pl. sukkot), a booth-like structure, where all meals are eaten, and people (usually the menfolk but not solely) even sleep there. The flimsy roof consists of leaves or branches, widely enough spaced so that one can see the stars at night, but close enough to provide shade during the day. It is considered “hidur mitzvah” – glorifying the mitzvah – if the sukkah is beautifully decorated, so of course this provides much entertainment, not to mention arts-and-crafts time, for the children to beautify their sukkah.

The sukkah is a commemoration of the flimsy huts that the Children of Israel dwelt in during their 40 years of wandering in the desert, with only the ענן הכבוד, the Cloud of Glory, to protect them by day and the עמוד האש, the Pillar of Fire, by night.

By leaving our safe and warm (or cool) houses just when autumn and the rainy season starts and going to live in a fragile hut for a whole week, it is also meant to remind us how fragile is our existence on this earth, and it is only by the grace and protection of G-d that we survive.

Arba Minim – the Four Species

On Sukkot we also bundle together the Arba Minim – “The Four Species” consisting of a Lulav (branch of palm), branches of Hadass (myrtle), Aravot (weeping willow) and an Etrog (a citron, related to the citrus family) and during Shacharit (morning prayers)  wave them together in all 6 directions to show G-d’s presence everywhere.  Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot the streets of Israel are packed with markets and stalls selling the Arba Minim and sukka decorations. Many people take extra care when buying their lulav and etrog, examining them minutely as if they were buying a precious diamond.

Examining a lulav

The weekdays of Sukkot, as on Pesach, are called Chol Hamo’ed (lit. the weekdays of the festival) which are a semi-holiday in Israel. Schools are closed, and many places of work are either closed or work half day, giving families the chance to go on trips, hiking or visiting. On the intermediate Shabbat (Shabbat chol hamo’ed) of Sukkot, Megillat Kohelet (the book of Ecclesiastes) is read in shul. We will have the pleasure of hearing our son reading the megillah in his shul this year, as in previous years.

As in previous years, former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger has provided a very useful Guide to the Perplexed about Sukkot. Here are some intriguing snippets:

2. The first recorded 7 day Sukkot celebration was – following the 5th century BCE Cyrus Edict – in Nehemiah 8:17: “And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Joshua the son of Nun (13th-14th century BCE) unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.”

5. Columbus Day is celebrated around Sukkot.  According to “Columbus Then and Now” (Miles Davidson, 1997, p. 268), Columbus arrived in America on Friday afternoon, October 12, 1492, the 21st day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, the Jewish year 5235, the 7th day of Sukkot, Hosha’na’ Rabbah, which is a day of universal deliverance and miracles.

Indeed there have always been rumours that Columbus himself was Jewish, a refugee from the Spanish Inquisition.

As in previous years, even the American TSA is cooperating with religious Jews and is permitting the import of the Arba Minim, overriding regulations that ban the import of plants to the US:

The Transportation Security Administration and the US Customs and Border Protection once again will allow the carrying of the four plants used during Sukkot.

However, travelers may be asked to open containers so that their religious items can be checked for invasive pests, according to the notice posted this week on the Orthodox Union website. Unlike in previous years, there was no similar posting on the TSA website.

The TSA regulates the transportation of plants to keep invasive pests and diseases out of the United States.

The four species permitted in airports, security checkpoints and on airplanes are a palm branches, myrtle twigs, willow twigs and a citron. Willow twigs from Europe are not allowed entry.

“We are gratified by the ongoing sensitivity of these agencies to the religious concerns of our community,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s vice president for federal affairs and its Washington director. “They are taking meaningful and appropriate steps to accommodate our religious needs.”

Chabad Sukkah-mobile in Manhattan

We’ve all seen and heard the Chabad Mitzva Tanks which bring religious necessities like Shabbat candles, tefillin etc. to any Jews they can find . Now Arutz Sheva has a cute article about Chabad Mitzva Cycles, bringing mobile Sukkot to Jews worldwide:

Look for Levi Duchman on a bike. Not just any bike, though; the 21-year-old Chabad yeshiva student of Brooklyn is riding around on a modified pedi-cab – an adult-sized tricycle that instead of having a set of seats in the back attaches to various holiday accoutrements.

For example, there’s a sukkah for Sukkot, a giant dreidel for Hanukkah, and a year-round customized display with a Chabad greeting.

Meet the “mitzvah cycle.” And it’s hitting the streets again this holiday season.

There are 50 of these around the world, including in Canada, Denmark, England, Australia, Holland and France, as well as in 14 states in America. The bikes can be spotted in Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, just to name a few locales.

Sukkah mobiles on patrol in Manhattan

Rabbi Ruvi New, co-director of Chabad of East Boca Raton in Florida, saw the bike advertised online and got one last year for Sukkot. “We are in a coastal area; it’s also a downtown area, so there’s pedestrian traffic,” he says, adding that the vehicle was a welcome alternative to a more full-sized truck.

In southeast Florida’s balmy weather, it can go to outdoor shopping centers and other places people congregate, and always seems to draw attention, he says.

“People, if they’re sitting outside a Starbucks, for example, will see it, and if they’re Jewish, it makes doing the mitzvah cool, sort of funky.” That makes it all that more appealing, according to the rabbi, who bikes around neighborhoods, pulling up in front of people’s homes to give them a chance to do shake the lulav and etrog, and do a mitzvah.

Kol hakavod to Chabad who always come up with unusual ideas to spread the beauty of Judaism while being practical at the same time.

Although the news from our region is unrelenting, posting will probably be very light in the coming week as I prefer to enjoy the chag rather than focus on the bad stuff.

I wish all those celebrating a chag Sukkot sameach!

!חג סוכות שמח

Posted in Judaism | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

ISIS spreads as the West stands by and lets Anti-semitism grow

Apologies for the lack of posts since Friday. I’ve been suffering from a severe case of over-bloggingitis (aka writers’ block together with an overdose of internet) combined with too many chagim.

To say that the Middle East is in turmoil is both an understatement and a cliché. The news seems to get worse every day, and yet nothing seems to be moving on the ground.  The main theme of the day for most of the international media is the ISIS crisis (I love the poetry in that).

Syrian Kurds cross the Turkish border in droves at Kobani

Jeffrey Goldberg has a heart-rending report in which he quotes a Kurdish intelligence official who says “A terrible slaughter is coming” in the Kurdish town of Kobani, on the border with Turkey:

I just got off the phone with a desperate-sounding Kurdish intelligence official, Rooz Bahjat, who said he fears that Kobani could fall to ISIS within the next 24 hours. If it does, he predicts that ISIS will murder thousands in the city, which is crammed with refugees—Kurdish, Turkmen, Christian, and Arab—from other parts of the Syrian charnel house. As many as 50,000 civilians remain in the town, Bahjat said.

“A terrible slaughter is coming. If they take the city, we should expect to have 5,000 dead within 24 or 36 hours,” he told me. “It will be worse than Sinjar,” the site of a recent ISIS massacre that helped prompt President Obama to fight ISIS. There have been reports of airstrikes on ISIS vehicles, but so far, Bahjat said that these strikes have been modest in scope and notably ineffective.

Kobani is located on the Turkish border, but Bahjat said he is receiving reports that Turkey is pulling its troops back, rather than risk armed confrontation with ISIS. “It’s unbelievable—Turkey is in NATO, so you literally have NATO watching what is happening in this town. Everyone can see it—the TV cameras are there, watching. It’s terrible.”

Kurdish fighters are outnumbered by ISIS, and they have no heavy weaponry. There are reports coming out of Kobani that at least one female Kurdish suicide bomber has struck at ISIS terrorists already. The situation is grim, growing grimmer, and one in which hesitation by the international community may not be easily forgiven.

What can explain this horrific situation where the world sits by and does nothing? Jerry Gordon at The New English Review attempts to explain why Turkey and the US Administration have doomed the Kurds in Kobani:

Perhaps  the most insightful analysis of this looming disaster in Kobani came from  former Reagan era OMB Director and veteran Wall Street banker,  David Stockman , in his Contra Corner blog commentary, The Siege Of Kobani: Obama’s Syrian Fiasco In Motion .  Stockman is as disturbed as many Americans about why the valiant Kurds in Kobani are being abandoned to their doomed fate.  He clearly is in command of Kurdish history in the modern era and the failure at the Treaty of Versailles following WWI to the present to recognize a non-Arab ethnic state of more than 30 million Kurds drawn from enclaves in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran.  Stockman is unforgiving about the current duplicity of the Islamist regime of President Erdogan of Turkey, the Saudis and the baleful failure of the Administration to exert leadership in the face of the provocative barbarism of ISIS and even its acolytes here in the US.  Stockman presents the real-politick behind the doomed plight of the PYG fighters trapped in Kobani.

Stockman blames the Obama Administration for not going in with boots on the ground or at least carrying out a massive sustained airstrike against ISIS.   As for the Turks:

For us, ISIL and the (Kurdish) PKK are the same,” Erdogan said in televised remarks today in Istanbul.

And that’s literally true because from Turkey’s vantage point the Kobani showdown is a case of terrorist-on-terrorist. The Kurdish fighters in Kobani are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK. The latter has waged a separatist campaign of armed insurrection and terror inside and around Turkey for 30-years and has long been considered Turkey’s top security threat. In fact, Turkey has received untold amounts of US aid, equipment and intelligence over the years to help suppress this uprising. That’s the reason that PKK is officially classified as a “terrorist” group by the U.S. and the government in Ankara.

The US Policy in Iraq that armed ISIS.

Washington’s foolish delusion that it was spending $25 billion to train and equip an “Iraqi army” added fuel to the fire.

“No Turkish politician can explain to the public why the government is aiding the PKK and its affiliated groups after fighting against it for 30 years,” he said by phone.

Likewise, the Saudi’s want to destroy the Assad regime because it is allied with their Shiite enemy across the Persian Gulf in Iran and because they fear their own abused Shiite populations which are concentrated in their oilfield regions. Consequently, they see the fight against ISIS as essentially a pretext for escalating their war against Damascus, and are not even interested in bombing the non-ISIS jihadi like the Nusra Front that they see as allies in the campaign against Assad.

What to make of the US led Coalition Air Exercise?

At the end of the day, Obama’s air campaign amounts to nothing more than a glorified international air force training exercise. Pilots and air crews from the UK, Denmark, Belgium, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan etc.  will get to run a few live fire sorties at politically correct targets. So the Brits will bomb in Iraq but not Syria; the Saudi’s will bomb ISIS targets close to Assad-held territories, but not Nusra Front positions; and the Qataris will go along for the ride pretending to help, even as they preserve deniability that they ever dropped an actual bomb for that day down the road when they seek to make a pipeline deal with the Islamic State.

Stockman’s Conclusion.

Never in recorded history has a fading imperial power conducted a more feckless, pointless, and strategically irrational war. Indeed, the real lesson is that by inserting itself into tribal and sectarian conflicts in these pockets of anarchy Washington only succeeds in generating more of the same. That is exactly what the siege of Kobani is all about.

The way the free world is milling about aimlessly without a serious coordinated action against ISIS has echoes of the way the Allies abandoned the Jews during the Shoah.

Parchin nuclear facility

Meanwhile at the centre of the web of Middle East violence in Iran, a massive explosion occurred on Sunday night at the Parchin nuclear facility:

Two people were killed in an explosion at a defense ministry plant east of Tehran for the production of explosives, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported Monday.

The Defense Industries Organisation, quoted by IRNA, said the fire broke out at the plant on Sunday night but it gave no further details.

The BBC, citing a report from the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), reported on Monday that the incident happened in an “explosive materials production unit” at the site south-east of the capital Tehran.

According to ISNA the blast was so powerful it shattered windows up to 12 kilometers away and the glare from the explosion lit up the night sky.

Several arms facilities and military bases are located east of the Iranian capital, including Parchin. UN nuclear inspectors have been seeking to visit the site to answer concerns about Iran’s atomic program.

The base lies at the centre of allegations of past Iranian research into sophisticated explosives that can be used to detonate a nuclear warhead.

Was it sabotage? Or just an accident? Will we ever discover the truth?

You would imagine that with all this mass murder and barbarity, not to mention the severe danger of a rogue nuclear regime, international academics would forget their obsession with demonising Israel. You would be wrong.

The latest anti-Israel tactic from the BDS bigots is an academic boycott by hundreds of anthropologists, including from such Ivy League institutions as Harvard and Yale:

Posted in Academia, Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Yom Kippur 5775 – Gmar Hatima Tova

Jews praying in the synagogue, by Maurycy Gottlieb (Wikimedia Commons)

(Reposting in part from last year)

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is upon us once again, beginning in a few hours time here in Israel, when we will be entering a 25-hour fast with day-long prayer services, composed of beautiful, spiritual and emotional prayers and songs, being held in shuls and community centers throughout the Jewish world. It is a day when we must ask forgiveness from our fellow man if we have wronged them, forgive those who have wronged us if they ask to be forgiven, and pray that Hashem will seal us in the Book of Life.

In Israel, traffic comes to a complete halt throughout the country, even in the most secular towns, and a serene and holy calmness pervades throughout the land. Even the international airport and public transport close down for the day, starting from a few hours before the fast until an hour or so after the fast ends.

You can read more about Yom Kippur at Aish.com who have a great Yom Kippur info-graphic.

Inside the Machpela Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron

This year, Yom Kippur and the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha coincide on Shabbat, giving cause for concern to the security forces. This has led to the rather unfair decision to close the Cave of the Patriarchs (Me’arat HaMachpela) to Jews, and to allow access solely to Muslims.  Hevron’s Jewish community – as well as Jews everywhere – are very upset, saying “they expected better treatment“:

The Directorate of the Cave of the Patriarchs announced Thursday that Yitzchak Hall will be closed off to Jews throughout Yom Kippur, and that Jews will only be allowed in on Yom Kippur Eve – the day before Yom Kippur – from about 5:30 p.m. to the end of the service. The reason for the limitations is the Muslim “Feast of the Sacrifice” that will be marked on the same day as Yom Kippur this year.

On Yom Kippur, the Yitzchak Hall will be closed off to Jews, and the Cave area will be open according to the usual pattern. On Sunday, no Jews will be allowed into the Cave of the Patriarchs, also known as the Cave of Machpela, because of the Muslim holiday.

Jews would most likely not have been allowed into the Cave on Yom Kippur Eve, either, were it not for Jewish Home Minister Uri Ariel, who intervened in the matter. “I was shocked to hear that the central part of the Cave of the Patriarchs will remain closed on Yom Kippur, and I congratulate the Minister of Defense on finding the formula that will allow Jewish worshipers to say at least some of the prayers in the Yitzchak Hall as well,” he said.

“The Cave of the Patriarchs is the cradle of the Jewish people’s existence,” said Ariel. “Buried inside it are the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the nation, and in our generation, we are fortunate to see it being filled again with tens of thousands of Jews who come to pray there,” added Minister Ariel.

The Jewish residents of Hevron remember that when the Cave of the Patriarchs was under Muslim control, the Jews were not allowed to enter any part of it. “We take a different approach and also respect other religions,” said a resident. “We are pleased that the Cave of the Patriarchs is a magnet for the representatives of all religions. We expect that the sanctity of the Jewish holidays, and especially Yom Kippur, be properly respected. It’s too bad that this was not done, but we will overcome.”

The pusillanimous response of the police to the perceived threat is disgraceful, but in the light of their ongoing caving in to Arab pressure, nothing surprises me any more.

The police have made preparations in other locations of potential trouble too:

Authorities have also come to agreements with the Jewish and Muslim communities in mixed Israeli cities on the timing of celebrations.

The clash of festivals has not occurred for 33 years, because the two faiths use different lunar calendars.

In East Jerusalem, additional police officers will be deployed around the flash-point al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP.

Thousands of Jews gathered for prayer at the Kotel on the night before Yom Kippur

The site — the third holiest place in Islam, and the holiest in Judaism — is the scene of frequent confrontations between police and stone-throwing Palestinian youths. [Those are no "youth" - they are terrorists, and not all are particularly youthful either. -Ed.]

In Acre, which saw riots on Yom Kippur in 2008 when an Arab resident drove through an observant Jewish neighborhood blaring music from his car stereo, local Muslim official Abbas Zakur said an agreement had been reached between the two communities on the timing of celebrations. Muslims would celebrate and feast on Sunday, but from Saturday small electric cars will be provided for those wishing to go to the mosque to pray.

In other cities, including the mixed neighborhood of Jaffa in Greater Tel Aviv, Muslim celebrations will be permitted from Saturday evening, just as the Jewish fast is due to end, Samri said.

I hope the peace can be preserved not only during Yom Kippur but also when it ends, as the Jews return home from the synagogue and when the potential for clashes is at its greatest.

To end this post on a more upbeat note, an archaeological dig under the Western Wall Plaza (the huge square in front of the Kotel) revealed structures dating back to Herod, from the time of the Second Temple:

Israeli archaeologists recently dug up an ancient subterranean structure, parts of which date back to Roman times, just meters from the Temple Mount, Channel 10 reported Sunday.

The interior of a Mamluk caravansary beneath the Western Wall plaza (screen capture: Channel 10)

“It’s one of the [most] impressive, beautiful and grand places found recently in Jerusalem,” Israel Antiquities Authority Jerusalem Region Archaeologist Yuval Baruch told the station.

“It is one of the most significant remains” found in Jerusalem in the last generation,” he said.

The ongoing excavations, which are taking place beneath the Western Wall plaza in the former Mughrabi Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, feature a Mamluk-era caravansary dating to the Middle Ages and remains of lavish public buildings from the Herodian period, over 2,000 years ago, some 20 meters (65 feet) from the Temple Mount.

Baruch explained that when digging began, the earthen fill reached the ceiling of the now-restored caravansary, and that archaeologists had no idea how large the structure was.

“We understood that there was something else here, in terms of size, in terms of grandeur,” he said.

The IAA has conducted the “most extensive preservation work ever done in Jerusalem” to restore the Mamluk building ahead of its intended opening to the public.

This is wonderful good news, especially in its timing before Yom Kippur, when in Temple times the main “action” of the day took place right there in the Temple.  I very much look forward to the site being opened to the public so that we can visit and see and touch our history.

Returning to present times, in the spirit of the day, I would like to ask forgiveness from anyone whom I might have offended or hurt.

To those who are fasting I wish an easy and meaningful fast.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers Gmar Hatima Tova – May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

גמר חתימה טובה

Posted in Israel news, Judaism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Hypocrisy, as demonstrated by the White House

White House hypocrisy

In this post I want to highlight the brazen double standards and utter screaming hypocrisy demonstrated by that ill-mannered hostile man who stands at the head of Israel’s ostensible best friend, America.

The White House exempts its airstrikes on Syria from the strict standards on civilian deaths:

The White House has acknowledgedfor the first timethat strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq.

A White House statement to Yahoo News confirming the looser policy came in response to questions about reports that as many as a dozen civilians, including women and young children, were killed when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria’s Idlib province on the morning of Sept. 23.

Remember the US outrage about the Gaza school hit by the IDF (or perhaps it was Hamas after all) and the world’s anger at the civilian casualties caused by Israel’s airstrikes despite the civilians having been warned to get away?

I’m not going to list all the dozens of incidents and world reactions. Just do a search for Gaza on this blog and you’ll have enough reading material for a year.

Blogger Ilya Myer at Times of Israel points out this double standard when he writes “when disproportionate force inexplicably faded from the vocabulary”:

The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”

Thus spoke US President Obama on the subject of IS.

The two-faced double-standard smugness of US President Obama and other world leaders renders you almost speechless. Just think about it:

Two (2) US citizens have been brutally murdered by genocidal racist IS Islamist terrorists. On a continent far, far away from the US homeland.

One (1) Frenchman has been brutally murdered by genocidal racist IS Islamist terrorists on an entirely different continent – Africa (France, as we know, is in Europe).

And yet the US and France have deployed massive “disproportionate force” (let’s use the same term that the US, France and other Western nations use when criticising Israel’s self-defensive measures against Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists). This disproportionate force consists of fighter aircraft, bomber aircraft, cruise missiles and killer drones despatched against IS.

They are hitting not just the “martyrs” and “freedom fighters” of IS (once again, let’s use the same terminology that is applied so freely to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Fatah), they are also deliberately targeting non-military, dual-role civilian infrastructure such as oil refineries that provide the fuel needed to keep power stations running for civilian use.

Do a quick calculation of how many UN resolutions have been supported by none other than the US and France, roundly condemning Israel for accidentally hitting non-military infrastructure in Gaza or for deliberately targeting dual-role civilian/military infrastructure that Hamas terrorists use to shield their rockets in blatant defiance of UN regulations…

Yet the US and France, currently bombing the life out of terrorists AND civilians in Iraq and Syria, harshly criticise Israel for taking defensive measures that are way, way more considerate than those currently being deployed by the US and France. Haven’t heard of any IDF-style leaflet drops, SMS text-message campaigns or automated phone calls to landlines and mobile phones warning people away from the area of imminent US and French bombing missions…

Where’s all the harsh criticism of “disproportionate force”, where’s the consideration for the “justified grievances of the militants” who don’t want “foreign interference” and “foreign occupation” of lands they consider their own?

What exactly is the difference between IS, who routinely and indiscriminately kill civilians who do not adhere to their religious and political beliefs, and Hamas/Islamic Jihad/Fatah who routinely and indiscriminately kill civilians who do not adhere to their religious and political beliefs?

You know the answer.

And when the same President Obama says “the United States of America will work … to dismantle this network of death,” he is referring to an Islamist network of death that he asserts has no grounding in Islam (a statement repudiated strongly by the followers of that religion) – but ONLY that part of the network that doesn’t target Jews or the Jewish state. THAT particular network of death – consisting of Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and 101 other radical, genocidal Islamist groups openly extolling the virtues of ethnic cleansing – THAT network of death is left alone to continue its work.

Well, not really left alone – it is actually provided with financial aid and diplomatic support from the UN and the EU to get the job done.

One wonders whether, his flowery language notwithstanding, President Obama actually understands any language at all. Because he seems to show a signal failure in his grasp of logic, ethics, morals and principles.

Edgar Davidson has created a very clever table showing how the media should report on attacks against Hamas and ISIS, perfectly illustrating the double standards used against Israel. Here are the first few lines, but go and read it all:

Event American/British attacks against ISIS Israeli attacks against Hamas
Military target destroyed in populated area Military target destroyed in pinpoint attack Mass destruction of civilian area in bombardment
Terrorists killed in populated area Militants killed in pinpoint attack Massive loss of life in bombardment of civilian area
Between 1 and 5 civilians accidentally killed No news value in this, so do not report Deliberate massacre of civilians
Over 5 civilians accidentally killed No news value in this, so do not report Genocide committed against the civilian population
Civilians used as human shields are killed Militants to blame as civilians used as human shields are killed Deliberate killing of civilians
No civilians on our side are killed on our soil Why would this even be considered as news? Lack of civilian deaths is proof of disproportionate and unjustified attacks by Israel
[ ...]
Enemy fuel resource is destroyed ISIS fuel resource destroyed Civilian population left without fuel after Israelis deliberately target resource

Read the whole thing. It’s so true.

A golden oldie. Nothing has changed for decades

Indeed Obama seems to have a serious problem with reading comprehension – and comprehension of Middle East realities in general. Once again Israel-US ties are “in crisis” because of regurgitated building plans for Jerusalem.

News that a Jerusalem planning committee had signed off on the final stage of approval for housing in a major new neighborhood of East Jerusalem — made public in a press release from anti-settlement group Peace Now just before the White House meeting — prompted the administration to issue some of the strongest language it has employed to condemn Israel, including the warning that Israel was endangering its relations with “even its closest allies.”

The comments from the White House and the State Department were issued after Peace Now revealed that the Jerusalem municipality last week okayed construction of some 2,500 homes for Jews and Arabs in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood. The US statements suggested that Washington felt deeply embittered and blindsided by the move, viewing Netanyahu as being disingenuous when telling Obama, at their press conference, that he wanted the US to help him win over Arab states to warm their ties with Israel and advance a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

The one small part of this story that mitigates my aggravation somewhat is that Netanyahu did not take this criticism lying down. In fact he rather undiplomatically hit right back at Obama:

Netanyahu rejected the American statements, telling reporters upon his return from the White House to New York: “I don’t understand this criticism, and I don’t accept this position.

Implying that the US had jumped to erroneous conclusions about the intended mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood, he added, “It’s worth learning the information properly before deciding to take a position like that.”

As for Jews moving into homes in the Arab Silwan neighborhood, also criticized by the US, he said: “Arabs in Jerusalem purchase homes freely in the west of the city and nobody says that’s forbidden. I don’t intend to tell Jews that they can’t buy homes in East Jerusalem.”

The American disingenuousness at being “blind-sided” (they really ought to get better glasses, multi-focals and not rose-tinted, for reading the Middle East) is ridiculous in the face of the fact that these plans are the same plans that were announced in 2011 and 2012, and probably will be announced annually until the end of days.

The American outrage continued to bluster:

Netanyahu said the US had been informed of developments in Silwan, but not updated about the latest phase of the Givat Hamatos approval process, which he said was merely a “statutory formality that does not require publicizing.” He said discussion of the settlement issue in the White House meeting was not heated.

But nearly identical, stridently critical comments on the Givat Hamatos building plans were issued by State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki and White House spokesman Josh Earnest, soon after Netanyahu and Obama completed their White House talks.

Psaki said the US was “deeply concerned” over Israel’s move to advance construction in the East Jerusalem neighborhood. “This step is contrary to Israel’s stated goal and it would send a very troubling message if they proceed with tenders or construction,” Psaki said, adding the move would “call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement.”

Acknowledging that the language she was using was “strong,” Psaki went on to say: “This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations.”

Earnest said the issue was discussed by Obama and Netanyahu, and used very similar language to condemn the move: “This development will only draw condemnation from the international community,” Earnest said. “It also would call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”

Wow.

“Condemnation from the international community” – been there, done that, expect no different.

“calling into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians” – Israel’s very existence and refusal to commit suicide calls into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

“Poisoning the atmosphere with other Arab governments” – now that’s a new one. For a moment I thought she was going to accuse Israel of poisoning the wells.

I’m just surprised the Americans didn’t accuse Israel of global warming too.

Really, I wonder if the Americans going overboard in their condemnations is connected to their onslaught on ISIS in Iraq and Syria? Nah, perish the thought! That would be hypocrisy!

Peace Now does recycling: The same Jerusalem building in Givat Hamatos was approved in 2011, 2012 and 2014

Another aspect in the article refers to the treasonous actions of Peace Now:

Earnest also condemned the recent move by a right-wing group to move Israelis into seven homes in the Silwan neighborhood of the capital in the dead of night.

“The US condemns the recent occupation of residential buildings in the neighborhood of Silwan by people whose agenda provokes tensions,” Earnest said. “It only serves to escalate tensions.”

It was Peace Now who went out of their way to advertise the building plans, davka in order to sour relations between Israel and the US, as the Israeli non-profit organization Regavim, which promotes building in the Land of Israel, reports on its Facebook page: (following is a rough translation):

A New neighborhood in Jerusalem, Givat hamatos.

^^ “Peace now” recycles materials once every year or two in order to create chaos. But why did they publicise the plans to build 2600 housing units at Givat Hamatos precisely now, knowing that this had already been announced in 2011 and again in 2012?

The simple answer is: Barack Obama.


Peace Now understood that they don’t have a way to succeed in their job in Israel. The vast majority of Israel opposes their activities and their methods. But they don’t give up and they will do anything to destroy. So now, when Netanyahu comes to his meeting with Obama, they bring up old news about building in Jerusalem (which is a terrible thing in their opinion…) change the date and try to spread the fire.

This is another trick from the radical New Israel Fund.

When will Israel ever be allowed to act like any other country, to kill its enemies and protect its citizens without fear of international committees of inquiry who have decided on the sentence before the verdict, and without fear of criticism even from its ostensible allies?

And when will it be allowed to build in its capital city and in its historical heartland without being accused of endangering alliances and poisoning the atmosphere? Not to mention global warming.

When will Israel’s foreign-funded NGOs learn that their first loyalty should be to their country and not to foreign entities hostile to their home country? (The answer is “never”).

I look forward to a Goldstone Committee examining the war crimes of the US, Britain, France and Australia. I think one of Israel’s own judges should chair the committee.

Posted in Defence and Military, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Media and journalism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Netanyahu’s UN speech: no new points, disagreement from the US

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered his speech to the UN General Assembly yesterday evening, and the verdicts are varied.  You can read the full transcript here.

He covered all the main points that we Israelis would wish him to make: he compared Hamas to ISIS, he stressed that the IDF is the most moral army in the world, and even brought out a photo of Hamas rocket launchers surrounded by children to illustrate his point; he condemned the UN Human Rights Council for their obsessive focus on Israel and its non-existent crimes when so many real war crimes were being committed by Islamic extremists and others around the world.

Watch the video and enjoy Netanyahu’s eloquent oratory which received loud applause in several places:

The speech was “vintage Netanyahu” according to the Jerusalem Post:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stood on the world’s grandest stage on Monday and delivered three key messages: Israel’s fight is your fight, the time has come to retire the 20-year-old template of direct negotiations with the Palestinians as the path to peace, and that his main historic role is to defend the Jewish state.

The speech was vintage Netanyahu. It had passion, it had soaring rhetorical flourishes, it had sarcasm. It even had a contemporary reference to retiring New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter.

And, finally, it had an appraisal of how Netanyahu views his role as a leader.

Toward the end of the speech, Netanyahu said that some in the world do not take Israel’s security concerns seriously.

“But I do, and I always will,” he said. “Because as prime minister of Israel I am entrusted with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the future of the Jewish people and the future of the Jewish state. And no matter what pressure is brought to bear, I will never waiver in fulfilling that responsibility.”

That theme has been woven more than anything else through all of Netanyahu’s major addresses. Some leaders, like Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Olmert, saw their ultimate role as being a peacemaker, and emphasized that in their keynote addresses.

Not Netanyahu. He always places the focus first and foremost on security. He sees his historic role as leader of Israel not necessarily as being the one who will bring peace, but rather the one who will ensure the country’s security, even if it means taking positions unpopular around the world to do so. One such position may be his signal Monday that he now prefers partnership with the Arab world as a way to reach some kind of accommodation with the Palestinians, rather than negotiations and peace with the Palestinians as the ticket to rapprochement with the Arab world.

He did that in his addresses to the UN in 2012 and 2013, focusing on Iran, and he did it again Monday.

This time the storm had two names: Iran and militant Islamic radicalism.

Knowing full well the world in which he lives, Netanyahu tried to draw parallels between Islamic State, which has the world up in arms, with the Islamic state of Iran, which he fears the world is willing to give a pass. Though there might be differences in their theological approach, he stressed, the aim is the same: world domination.

Netanyahu sees it as his role to shout from the mountain tops about the incoming storms. And he artfully shouted about them Monday at the UN. And if the world does not heed his warnings, he had another message as well – one that also always props up in his keynote addresses: Israel will always defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

The speech was damned with faint praise however by Arlene Kushner who called his talk about “historic opportunities”  a cop-out:

I would not say that Netanyahu’s speech was without good points. They were there, and they make Israel’s case. But they are points we’ve heard from him before:

But then… then he began to talk about “historic opportunity.”  We’ve heard this before as well: the new recognition of leading Arab states that they have concerns in common with Israel.  This has the potential for partnership.  These Arab states may help facilitate an Israel-Palestinian peace.

An Israeli-Palestinian peace?  The old template for peace must be updated to allow for Arab participation.

He is willing to make an historic compromise for peace.  Some territorial concession would be necessary. But what is important are “rock solid security arrangements.”  Withdrawal from Lebanon and from Gaza led to terrorist entities in these places.  We cannot allow ISIS into Judea and Samaria.

In any peace agreement, Israel has to be able to defend itself by itself.

This, I would presume, is Netanyahu’s way of countering Abbas’s proposal regarding “Palestine” to the 1967 line.  Such a formulation would not provide the strategic depth that is necessary for Israeli self-defense.  But he does not actually say this.

For me, this is insufficient, a cop-out.

What I had hoped to hear was a crystal clear statement that a Fatah that is joined with Hamas cannot be considered a partner for peace. That there can be no talk of negotiations, as fervently as Israel hopes for peace, until Fatah’s leaders renounce violence. As it is, just days ago, Abbas, right on the UN dais, defended Fatah’s right to violent resistance.  Before there can be peace, Fatah must demonstrate a genuine desire for it.  And this is something we’ve yet to see.

Did Netanyahu – always eager to please – feel the need to mention a willingness to compromise for peace because Abbas had accused Israel of undermining peace?  Truly do I hope that is not the case.

Me too, Ms. Kushner, and so many other Israelis as well.

The speech was not particularly well received by the US either. I guess it would have been too much to expect the US, officially our best and closest ally, to agree with Netanyahu’s comparison of Hamas and ISIS, or to concede the danger of a nuclear Iran:

The US State Department said Monday in a press conference that it disagrees with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s assertion during his UN speech on Monday that “ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.”

“Obviously, we’ve designated both as terrorist organizations, but ISIL poses a different threat to Western interests and to the United States,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “And that’s just a fact.”

Later on in the speech, Netanyahu said that Iran is still a great threat to Israel’s existence. He also warned that Iran is not actually willing to give up nuclear weapons but rather just wants to get rid of the sanctions against them.

In response, Psaki said that the US would like Iran to reintegrate into the international community by showing that their nuclear program is peaceful.

“I can assure anyone that an agreement reached would not be based on a charm offensive or how that impacts us, but on the facts and the details,” she said. “And we’re not going to agree to a comprehensive agreement that doesn’t meet our standards and meet our threshold.”

My blood runs cold considering the utter stupidity of Psaki and the Obama Administration if they think that Iran can demonstrate that their nuclear program is peaceful when it is so blindingly obvious that their aims are anything but.

In fact Obama himself, in his own speech at the UNGA last Wednesday, snidely rebuked the Israelis for being too ready to abandon peace:

“The violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace,” he said. “That’s something worthy of reflection within Israel. Because let’s be clear: the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza is not sustainable.”

What a chutzpah! And how patronisingly offensive to chide the Israelis that they need to “reflect” on abandoning peace! Especially after all that we have given up, all the precious lives lost, the traumatised civilians, the ruined economy of the south, and all the wars we have fought – including just one month ago – because we gave up precious land for that very peace which has proven so elusive.

If the man can be so wrong on the Israel-Palestinian issue, and can misread Israeli society so badly, how can he be trusted on anything as major as confronting ISIS or a nuclear Iran?

Arlene Kushner in her article above links to a withering critique of Obama’s speech by Ben Shapiro whose slightly immoderate language is rather amusing and spot-on.

You can also read here how Obama has changed his stance in the space of one year, with the implication that he got it all so wrong in 2013. It will be very interesting, if not terrifying, to read how much he changes again in 2015.

Posted in International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments