Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Guest Post: Can't Take A Joke?

"National Security Adviser James Jones, not the most pro-Israel member of the Obama Administration told a Jewish joke last week. It was made a couple of minutes into his speech at the 25-year anniversary gala of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel organisation. It goes like this, 
"A member of the Taliban was separated from his fighting party and wandered around for a few days in the desert, lost, out of food, no water. He looked on the horizon and he saw what looked like a little shack, and he walked toward that shack and as he got to it, turned out that it was a shack, a store, a little store owned by a Jewish merchant. And the Taliban warrior went up to him and said, "I need water, get me some water." And the merchant said, "I'm sorry, I don't have any water, but would you like to buy a tie? We have a nice sale of ties today."
Whereupon the Taliban erupted into a stream of language that I can't repeat about Israel, about Jewish people, about the man himself, about his family – and just saying "I need water, you try to sell me ties, you people don't get it."
And passively, the merchant stood there until this Taliban was through with his diatribe and said, "Well, I'm sorry but I don't have water for you and I forgive you for all of the insults you've levied against me, my family, my country, but I will help you out. If you go over that hill and walk about two miles there's a restaurant there, and they have all the water you'll need."
And the Taliban, instead of saying thanks, still muttering under his breath, disappears over the hill – only to come back about an hour later and walking up to the merchant and says, "Your brother tells me I need a tie in order to get into the restaurant."
Here's the video and it sounds like most people found it funny. But some people were offended by it.  There were accusations by an attendee who stated that it was "wrong in so many levels" and that it "demonstrated a lack of sensitivity." The attendee continued "Can you imagine him telling a black joke at an event of African Americans?" Truth be told, not really. Abe Foxman Head of the Anti Defamation League (ADL) told ABC news “It's inappropriate... it's stereotypic. Some people believe they need to start a speech with a joke; this was about the worst kind of joke the head of the National Security Council could have told.”  Okay, so some Jews weren't happy. But you know who else didn't like a joke last week?
South Park was celebrating its 200th episode with a special non-appearance by the prophet Muhammed. Apart from he was censored completely. How? Well by wearing a bear suit... Here is the plot.
In last week’s celebrity-studded episode “200", Tom Cruise threatened to sue the entire town unless they could arrange for a face-to-face meeting with the Prophet Mohammed, a taboo-for-parody figure who Cruise believed could make him impervious to being made fun of. The town’s citizens squabbled (“If he shows up here, we’ll get bombed”) and noted in a bit of meta-commentary that they couldn’t even circulate an image of the prophet because it was “completely off-limits and censored.” Finally, upon nabbing Mohammed, the town agreed that shuttling the prophet around in a windowless U-haul truck (while he wore a bear mascot costume) would be the only safe way to present him.
And then not only was there no image, Comedy Central went against the wishes of the shows creators and bleeped out any mention of the word Muhammad. And guess what happened next?
“We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show…This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.” Posted by the radical Muslim website RevolutionMuslim.com
P.s. there was also a bit with “Buddha doing a line of coke”. So to summarise. 
1. Make a Jewish joke and some people will condemn it. 2. Take the piss out of Buddha and disrespect him and nothing is said or done. (maybe Buddihsts dont watch South Park?) 3. Make a joke about not being able to make a joke about a Muslim prophet and you get a death threat. (But maybe they must secretly watch South Park? How else would they know? Do they really want to kill the people who gave them 199 episodes of quality comedy which they obviously loved? Do Muslims have agents who have to put their lives and morals on the line to monitor South Park episodes to protect the honour of their prophet? Some martyr he is!)
Now, can you see a member of the Obama administration making a joke about an Arab in Egypt? Saudi Arabia? No because the uproar would be like an earthquake. Everything in moderation people! Somewhere between the Jewish and Buddist complaint is about right!"

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

You Know When People Say Jews Have Nothing To Do With Israel...

Well I'm a Jew. Happy Independence Day, Israel!

Yom Haatzmaut is celebrated not on the English calendar, but on the Jewish date of the establishment of the State of Israel, which is the 5th of Iyar.

Israel's Independence Day is not just celebrated by Israelis, but by Jews of all levels of observance all over the world.* Because we know that the reason we still exist today is because G-d gave us Israel - a sanctuary and a means of defending and protecting the Jewish people, even the ones who don't live in Israel.

It is fitting that the day before Yom Haatzmaut is Yom Hazikaron, remembrance day for our fallen soldiers and victims of terror - this year comemmorating 22,684 - which is followed by Independence Day as a reminder that their lives were not lost in vain.

*except for Neturei Karta lunatics, who erase Yom Haatzmaut from their Jewish calendar in the way that some people try to erase the Holocaust from memory - which is ironic because if Israel didn't exist there may very well have been another Jewish Holocaust. But they don't see that.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Western Wall = Occupied?

In what is one of the most absurd, ridiculous, I-don't-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry, Israel-related stories that I've read (and I've read a lot); the UK's Advertising Standards Authority has banned an Israeli Government Tourist Office poster for depicting pictures of....
.... wait for it....
.... Jerusalem.
Specifically, the Temple Mount and the Kotel [Western Wall], as they are considered to be in East Jerusalem, what people call "the occupied territories"; and the ASA doesn't want people to assume that those places are actually part of the State of Israel, as that would be misleading, apparently.
My spoof story was barely an exaggeration.
The Kotel is at the centre of Judaism, physically, spiritually, emotionally, historically. It is not "occupied". The Kotel is Jerusalem; Jerusalem is Israel. The ASA may as well have said that Israel does not exist and the name on the posters should be replaced with "Palestine".
In another twisted story today, Just Journalism report on the Guardian's denial of and indifference to the Iranian nuclear threat. You would have thought that you'd have to be one or the other - either in denial of, or indifferent to - but the Guardian is a special newspaper that manages to be both at the same time. The really twisted part is that the Guardian is evidently more concerned about a potential Israeli strike to neutralise Iran, than about Iran's threats to destroy Israel. I call indifference, rather than denial or ignorance. Only someone in a coma wouldn't be able to confirm Ahmadinejad's words to "wipe Israel off the map". Only someone antisemitic wouldn't be concerned about it.
In good news, though, Britain's Charity Commission is investigating whether War On Want - you know, one of those "pro-peace" organisations that hates Israel and supports terrorists (a bit like those "human rights" organisations that only care about Palestinian, not Israeli rights) - breached regulations during an aggressive protest at a supermarket. More from Chas Newkey-Burden .

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Holocaust, Antisemitism And Nuclear Weapons

Today is Yom Hashoah, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day where we commemorate the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. "Never again". But there are some people who don't give those reassurances. In his speech today Binyamin Netanyahu highlighted Iran's active pursuit of a nuclear bomb and anouncement of their desire to destroy the Jewish state - and the world's subsequent shoulder-shrug:
"The world accepts Iran's declarations of annihilation yet we still do not see the international determination required to prevent Iran from arming."
President Shimon Peres added,
"It is our right and duty to demand of the nations of the world not to repeat their indifference, which has cost millions of human lives, including theirs. The United Nations must be attentive to the threats of annihilation coming from one of its members, against another member state."
Mr All-Talk-No-Action President Obama echoed that we must confront antisemitism and prejudice and work to prevent genocide and instead build a world of peace and justice. Does Obama know what the word "justice" means?
Appropriately, as a reminder of the every-present problem of antisemitism, Tel Aviv University released a report today revealing that here has been more than a 100% increase in global antisemitism in 2009, the highest level recorded in 20 years. In a recent incident in Canada, two Jewish students were targetted in an aggressive attack that could have left them seriously injured. Turkey's contribution to these issues was for the prime minister to declare himself "disturbed" by the world turning a blind eye to Israel's alleged nuclear weapons programme. I don't think he's ever said he feels "disturbed" at Ahmadinejad's nuclear weapons pursuit or desire to "wipe Israel off the map".

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Times: Human Rights Watch Corruption Revealed

The Times a week ago published an incredible article on Human Rights Watch, revealing their corruption and political bias, some of which I've already blogged on here.

Thanks to Elder of Ziyon for spotting the article when I didn't, even though the Sunday Times magazine comes right through my letter box. It's such an important article, so it's a bit disappointing that it's buried in the middle of the magazine when it should be shouted about on the papers' front pages.

The article reveals some of HRW's military expert Mark Garlasco's enthusiastic postings on Nazi memorabilia forums. The authour, Jonathan Foreman, quotes blogger Omri at Mere Rhetoric as wondering 

"if Garlasco’s 'obsession with anti-Semitic Nazi genocidal lunatics' was in any way related to his 'apologism for anti-Semitic genocidal Hamas lunatics'".
Then Foreman reveals hints of antisemitism at HRW, saying that as well as defending Garlasco's fetish as innocent, 
"HRW also went on the offensive. It accused those who raised the issue of Garlasco’s hobby of being part of 'a campaign to deflect attention from Human Rights Watch’s rigorous and detailed reporting on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the Israeli government'. It even used the word 'conspiracy': its programmes director, Iain Levine, later went so far as to directly accuse the Israeli government of being behind it. But he provided no evidence for the charge."
Foreman highlights that
"HRW has published five heavily publicised reports on Israel and the Palestinian territories since the January 2009 war. In 20 years they have published only four reports on the conflict in Indian-controlled Kashmir, for example, even though the conflict has taken at least 80,000 lives in these two decades, and torture and extrajudicial murder have taken place on a vast scale. Perhaps even more tellingly, HRW has not published any report on the postelection violence and repression in Iran more than six months after the event."
A human-rights expert told Foreman that he was
"'not surprised' that HRW has still not produced a report on the violence in Iran... 'it’s not a priority for them because Iran is just not a bad guy that they are interested in highlighting. Their hearts are not in it. Let’s face it, the thing that really excites them is Israel.'"
The article also references Noah Pollak's observation that HRW is less concerned about Palestinians if the perpetrators are Arabs rather than Israelis - for example in 2007 when the Lebanese army shelled a refugee camp killing over 100 civilians and displacing 30,000; HRW put out a press release but didn't produce a report.

It also cites HRW's founder, Robert Bernstein, as pointing out that "Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel… than of any other country in the region.”

The article mentions tha
"According to an interview Garlasco gave to Der Spiegel, he was a key player in an air strike on Basra on April 5, 2003 intended to kill Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, but which instead took the lives of 17 civilians.
In another interview, Garlasco said he was responsible for up to 50 other air strikes — none of which killed anyone on the target list but which accounted for several hundred civilian deaths."
There's more:
"In June 2006, Garlasco had alleged that an explosion on a Gaza beach that killed seven people had been caused by Israeli shelling. However, after seeing the details of an Israeli army investigation that closely examined the relevant ballistics and blast patterns, he subsequently told the Jerusalem Post that he had been wrong and that the deaths were probably caused by an unexploded munition in the sand. But this went down badly at Human Rights Watch HQ in New York, and the admission was retracted by an HRW press release the next day."
Whilst that reflects worse on HRW than Garlasco himself, the fact that he made the allegation in the first place without an investigation or evidence is very telling.
If all that is not controversial enough, the deputy of HRW's Middle East department, Joe Stork, 
"was a radical leftist who put out a magazine in the 1970s that praised the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. In 1976 he attended an anti-Zionist conference in Baghdad hosted by the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein."
Although those may be things he regrets now,
"when Stork was hired by HRW in 1996 he had never worked for a human-rights group, had never held an academic position, and had a history of anti-Israel activism."
Other staff in HRW's Middle East department are also known activists, including one from the extremist "Electronic Intifada".
It is not shocking then, that HRW's UK equivalent Amnesty International, has also had it's share of scandal when one of it's staff was sacked for criticising it's links with, even support for, Islamic extremists.
These scandals together with HRW's reaction to them - and which can be applied to Amnesty too, "has revealed an organisation that does not always practice the transparency, tolerance and accountability it urges on others." 
Hypocritical, and biased. No wonder their reports can be so easily dismissed.