Saturday, 19 November 2011

Yachad And Sephardis

Unfortunately, as long as Yachad still exist and spew out self-righteous "pro-Israel, pro-peace" commentary (that manages to demonise Israel and push peace further away by absolving Palestinians of blame for the stalemate), I cannot ignore them. 

Yachad were riled by a blogpost on the JC website, stating "you almost certainly will not find much love for Yachad in any Sephardi community", as 
"Jews from Middle Eastern descent, after living for years among Arabs, tend to know slightly more about the people Israel are dealing with. They understand the Arab ideologies which lead to persecution, violence and death of Jews. They understand Israel's need to protect itself."
It is undeniable that a Sephardi Jew who has experienced Arab persecution (or indirectly through relatives) would likely be more concerned about security needs than anything else. However there are always exceptions in everything so of course many Ashkenazis with no experience of Arab persecution still understand Israel's security concerns, and do not support Yachad; and there will also be Sephardis, whose very existence may only be due to their ancestors joining almost 1,000,000 Jews in fleeing for their lives, who still don't get it.

Yachad were defended in a post on their blog listing countries from where their Sephardi supporters have origins. I don't think anyone was in any doubt about the fans Yachad may have from these countries: Egypt (the Muslim Brotherhood), Turkey (the lovely Erdogan, who after sending Israel a ship of terrorists initially let his people die rather than accept aid from Israel when hit by an earthquake), Iran (Ahmadinejad, who wants the whole of Israel "wiped off the map", not just the settlements).

What the blogpost fails to address is "Sephardi Spirit's" challenge: 
"let's see Yachad tackle the more thorny problems such as incitement against Jews in Palestinian school text-books, or the medieval-style antisemitism coming out of the mouths of Hamas leaders, and their point-blank refusal to accept the idea of a Jewish state in the region. Those are the real obstacles to peace... Yachad has done absolutely nothing to demonstrate any sort of commitment to fighting the delegitimisation of Israel."

Going back to my last post about Yachad, since I wrote it I've discovered more about Yachad's favourite news-source, 972 Magazine, who Yachad continuously endorse and defend. Richard Millet blogged last week about some of their writers; Larry Derfner, who was fired from Jerusalem Post for justifying the Eilat terror attack in August which killed 8 Israelis; Joseph Dana, who said that a third intifada would be "unproductive" (never mind the terrorism aspect), and made one of the most ridiculous claims I've ever heard, that "Almost everything we can accuse Hamas of we can find the equal and sometimes worse situation inside of Israel". Yachad can hardly be accused of endorsing this claim, though, as they seem to ignore the existence of Hamas altogether.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Yachad's Search For Themselves

The left-wing, supposedly "pro-Israel, pro-peace" group Yachad have professed a disclaimer on their blog that "the views of the bloggers do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation", presumably hoping that with all the criticism they have had so far, at least they won't have to take responsibility for the content of their blog.
Regardless, the last two blog posts very accurately do reflect Yachad's confused, contradictory viewpoint. Which is fair enough, it's their blog. 
Darren Cohen starts off by mocking the "3 Ds", delegitimisation, double standards, and demonisation "that have become the archetypal regurgitation of many within the higher echelons of many Zionist institutions". Then, after acknowledging "the hypocrisy of much of the criticism and indeed hatred Israel receives", he compares the treatment of Israel by its enemies to Yachad's plight, applying the 3 Ds to Yachad, as though no criticism of them can be legitimate!
Cohen states that: 
"To safeguard the future of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State, it needs to act urgently to ensure that a viable two state solution is actualized and that the dream of peace can become a reality. This line of thought is now widely accepted by the mainstream and is nothing new. In spite of this, Hannah [Weisfeld] and the organisation she represents are still demonised as naïve at best and anti-Zionists at worse."  
Despite what Cohen may think, Yachad's critics are not anti-peace, or against the two state solution. We're just against what Yachad thinks is the right way to achieve this. Cohen has very shrewdly observed our concerns about Yachad - are they naive or are they anti-Zionist? It's hard to tell, and similar to the question we ask of a lot of Israel-bashers: are they ignorant, or are they antisemitic? There's another possibility, which I think applies to many Jewish critics of Israel - cowardice. Understandably many Jews are overcome by a need to fit in with society's majority to avoid being a target, and if that means having to be critical of Israel, so be it.
Cohen is offended by the accusation of 972 Magazine (who are strongly endorsed by Yachad) being pro-Hamas, "a slanderous and unsupported accusation", but he's obviously not done his research. 
On 972, Palestinian Aziz Abu Sarah wrote that Hamas’ “decision to reconcile with Fatah indicates their support of the PLO’s new approach [the bid for statehood]. Hamas has no better ideas to offer the Palestinian people on how to end the occupation. It had to make a choice between the status quo or actively working with Fatah and the other Palestinian factions on creating a Palestinian state.” Then he criticised that “The Israeli government ignored that Hamas had been giving clear signs of its willingness to accept to the two-state solution.” Israeli-American writer Mairav Zonszein, seemingly forgetting that Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organisation found it "perplexing" that they would condemn the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and wondered why they didn’t suggest instead that he should have been tried. (as though they privilege their own people with trials!) And it’s not only Hamas they support. Another writer, Roee Ruttenberg expressed support for last year’s flotilla, and the Turkish ‘charity’ who backed it, the IHH, who have links to terror.
Cohen then makes an extraordinarily absurd statement, that the double standards of Yachad’s critics were:
highlighted by the fact that a leading member of the American Zionist Organisation wrote a piece criticising Israel’s government for allowing the Gilad Shalit prison exchange and yet no one bat an eye lid. Apparently, it is unacceptable to criticise Israel for being too ‘right-wing’, but to criticise the government for a ‘left-wing’ deal that the vast majority of Israelis supported is deemed acceptable.
Gilad Shalit’s release was one of the most jubilant yet painful, emotionally charged events in Israel’s recent history. I have never in my life felt so torn in my emotions, so unbelievably relieved and happy that an Israeli soldier’s life was saved after five years of torture, but at the same time so grief-stricken for the families of terror victims who had to relive their horror all over again, sickened at the celebrations of terrorists with no remorse for their actions, and fearful for the future, for the safety of Israel’s citizens and soldiers, my family and friends in Israel, from Haifa to Jerusalem to Be’er Sheva. So I can understand those who were against the deal, even though, as I’ve explained, I supported it. I don’t look at it as a matter of politics, left or right wing; to me it was simply about taking the opportunity to save a life.
As for Yachad having “proven over and over again that it is a vociferous pro-Israel voice” and that “it is not acting to demonise or attack Israel”… where have they proven that? Because if I was ignorant of the conflict and got all my links from their Facebook and Twitter, I’d be worse than ignorant - I’d only know one half of the story.
Cohen’s second blog post again mentions the 3 DS, this time in describing how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is harmful and counterproductive.  Despite this, he commends boycotts as “non-violent resistance to oppression”. Yachad’s official line is that they do not support boycotts, but they were also very much opposed to Israel’s proposed anti-boycott law.
Yachad would do well to clear up their own confusion and contradictions, and save their critics the trouble. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Gilad Finally Home!

I am ecstatic that Gilad has finally been released and is home with his family, thank G-d alive and well.
As well as he could be under the circumstances; Hamas are capable of anything, so the fact that Gilad is alive and in good physical and mental condition is nothing short of a miracle. The symptoms of malnutrition and lack of sunlight is probably the best anyone could have dared hope for.
In the first stage, Gilad was taken to Egypt where he was forced into a torturous interview on Egyptian TV. His sharp breathing and discomfort were there for everyone to see, although it was only later that we found out there were actually armed Hamas men in the room with him. On top of that, the interview was interpreted wrongly, and of course the mainstream media repeated this false translation. When asked how he felt, Gilad replied "I don't feel so well", but this was translated as "I feel good". Asked if he would campaign for the release of other Palestinian prisoners, he said yes, as long as they stop attacking Israel, but was quoted as simply saying he'd be happy for them to go back to their families.
After that Gilad was turned over to Israeli care, where he underwent medical check ups,changed into an army uniform, and was then flown to meet Netanyahu, who took him to bereunited with his family, after which Gilad and his family were then all flown back to their homein the North of Israel.
Hundreds of Palestinian terrorists were released in exchange, some to Egypt, the rest to the West Bank and Gaza, where Hamas announced in a massive ceremony that they would continue trying to capture Israeli soldiers so they could use them to get more terrorists freed. Some media were bizarrely optimistic that the fact that Israel had to communicate with Hamas for the deal was a step forward that means they could negotiate in the future as well (?!).
Despite this, like I said previously, I still believe Israel made the right decision. Leftist critics of the deal though, have a strange logic. They complain about the "message" that one Israeli is worth 1000 Palestinians, and one Guardian reader even said "The Palestinians should have operated on a one to one exchange basis"! Can Israel do nothing right!
Jerusalem Post highlights several Jewish religious perspectives on the issue: "The Mishna prohibits redeeming captives 'for more than their monetary value' to foster 'society’s welfare' [tikkun olam]", whether literally an large ransom sum, or the cost by encouraging future kidnappings.
On the other hand,:
"Maimonides (1135-1204) states: 'There is no commandment as great as the redemption of captives.
"And Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575), in his Shulhan Arukh, notes: 'Each instant that one fails to redeem captives when it is possible to do so, it is as though one has shed blood.'
Meanwhile "Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has argued that in cases such as Shalit’s, the clear and present danger to the life of the hostage outweighs the potential danger to Israelis who might become the future targets of the freed terrorists."
Adrian Blomfield of the Telegraph discusses why so many Israelis supported the deal, despite the security risks and the political cost of bolstering Hamas. He quotes Avi Shavit of Haaretz, that:
"Israel's main asset in human and security terms is the sense of mutual responsibility that its citizens and soldiers feel towards one another. Without this feeling, there is no meaning to our lives here. Without this feeling, we have neither army, security, nor the ability to protect ourselves.

"Rightly or not, Shalit has become a symbol of mutual responsibility. And therefore his forthcoming release will not only be the redemption of a captive and the saving of a life and the return home of a son. Shalit's release will be the realisation of Israeli solidarity."
"This collective willingness to expose ourselves to the risk of a future terrorist attack, if necessary, to secure Shalit’s release speaks volumes about Israelis’ strong sense that we are all in this Zionist project together, in good times and in bad.
It’s not that we are insensitive to the feelings of past terrorist victims’ families and loved ones. Nor are we unaware that many, even most, of those who will be released will return to violent terrorism – and that by paying a ratio of 1 to 1,027 we are encouraging future kidnappings.
It’s just that none of these potential future dangers seems to be able to trump the fact that right now an IDF soldier’s life is being saved."
The past can't be changed and the future can't be predicted with absolute certainty, so I, like many, believe it was most important to focus on the present, and support whatever had to be done to save Gilad. And we did.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Gilad Shalit To Be Freed At Last

Israel has agreed a deal with Hamas to release over 1000 Palestinian prisoners/terrorists, in return for the release of Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive for over five years, in unknown conditions, with barely any contact between him and the outside world.
Anything can still happen, and even now it's not clear what condition Gilad is in, physically and mentally, but I am overwhelmed with joy at the thought of him finally returning to his family. At the same time, though, Israel is paying a high price for his freedom.

As if it's not bad enough that Israel is having to release hundreds of Palestinian terrorists, the Guardian readers can voice only concern for these terrorists, and their portrayal in the media, sympathising with the:
"thousand nameless, faceless Palestinians without identities, histories, or grieving families... where is the coverage of the Palestinian prisoners rotting in Israeli jails... inhuman treatment at Israel's hands".
..."William Hague reckons Shalit’s captivity was 'utterly unjustified'. How else would 1,000 Palestinians have obtained their freedom? When are Palestinians going to get some recognition as people, every bit as important as Israelis?"
Again we're faced with that question: are these people just ignorant, or are they antisemitic? If the Guardian did give these terrorists the coverage that they deserve, the details into what they did, the reasons why they're in jail, then would the Guardian readers reconsider whether these murderers deserve to "obtain their freedom" by holding an innocent boy hostage for five years, and whether they should be viewed "as important as Israelis"? Or would they still have sympathy for the murderers of innocent civilians? I fear it's the latter, but since they wondered about these "nameless Palestinians' identities", here are a few of those who will be released:

  • Abdel Hadi Ghanem, an Islamic Jihad terrorist responsible for the 1989 hijacking of Egged bus 405, driving it over a cliff edge, killing 16 Israelis.
  • Fahad Schludi, a terror operative who took part in the 1993 abduction and murder of IDF soldier Yaron Chen.
  • Bassam Abu Sneina and Riyad Asila, who are serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of yeshiva student Haim Kerman.
  • Nael al-Barghouthi, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1978, for murdering an Israeli security officer.
  • Yehiya As-Sinwar, who was one of the founders of Hamas’ security forces in Gaza and was involved in the abduction and murder of IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman. He is also the brother of one of the terrorists involved in Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping.
  • Jihad Yarmur, who was convicted of Nachshon Wachsman’s murder.
  • Ahmed Najar, former head of the Silwad terror cell, which killed 3 Israelis in six shooting attacks during the al-Aqsa Intifada.
  • Mohammed Hamada, who was convicted of planning a rocket attack on Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.
  • Ruhi Musteha, a senior operative with Hamas’ military wing.
  • Husam Badran, the former head of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank, who orchestrated the deadly terror attacks at the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium in 2001, at the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002 (which killed 30) and at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001 (which killed 15).
  • Muhammad Duglas, who was implicated in the Sbarro attack, and is serving 15 consecutive life sentences for the murder of 19 Israelis.
  • Amina Mona, a young woman who lured a lovestruck Israeli teenage boy by the name of Ophir Rahum to a Palestinian city over the Internet, only to have him killed by waiting terrorists.
  • Update: Some more terrorists who shouldn't be released: Walid Anajas, from Ramallah, a commander of Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades. He was given 36 life terms in 2002 for his involvement in a number of suicide bombings, including that of a Jerusalem cafe in 2002, in which 12 people lost their lives.
  • Nasser Yataima, who planned a suicide bombing which killed 30 people as they were about to celebrate the Passover festival at a hotel in March 2002, was sentenced to 29 life terms.
  • Khamis Zaki Aqel, a member of the Qassam Brigades, which carried out a string of suicide bombings and other attacks, was arrested in 1992 and sentenced to 21 life terms. It was not immediately clear for which crime he was sentenced.
  • Majdi Muhammed Amr, arrested in 1993, is serving 19 life sentences after being found guilty of coordinating the work of suicide bombers, including one who blew up a bus in the northern city of Haifa in March 2003, killing 17 people. [He also murdered David Cohen in a drive-by shooting in July 2001.]
  • Maedh Abu Sharakh was also sentenced to 19 life terms for his role in planning the Haifa bus bombing.
I have also read that other terrorists being released are those who with their bare hands lynched and murdered two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah in 2000, an incident so horrific, that leaves me feeling as sick and shaken by the memory of it as I felt when I watched the tv footage all those years ago, as well as desperately wanting never to have to remember or acknowledge it, that I could barely bring myself to type this paragraph. If anyone doesn't remember or know about that attack, if you have the stomach for it, please google it, it's probably even on youtube, but I can't and won't look for links.
Probably most of those being released feel no regret, and why would they when they're rewarded so much for their actions by their leaders - the Palestinian leaders who the world thinks Israel should reward for their incitement with land and a state.
But despite all of this, I still believe Israel is making the right decision. After all, there is no other choice. Perhaps mistakes were made in the past and opportunities wasted, but at this moment, we have to simply take whatever we can get, do whatever we can to free Gilad and not leave him languishing any longer.
As a plus side, some top Palestinian terrorists, who Hamas campaigned for in previous talks, are not being released:
  • Marwan Barghouti who was sentenced to five life sentences for his role in the murders of Israelis during the al-Aksa intifada
  • Abdullah Barghouti who is serving out 67 consecutive life terms for building the bombs that murdered 66 people
  • Ahmed Saadat who headed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and was responsible for the assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi
  • Hassan Salama, a Hamas leader who was convicted of murdering 67 Israeli citizens
  • Abbas a-Sayed, mastermind of the Park Hotel suicide bombing in which 30 Israelis were killed on the eve of Passover 2002
  • Ibrahim Hamed, who was found guilty of involvement in terrorist attacks that led to the death of 82 Israelis
It hardly even feels a victory, looking back at all the carnage and trauma they caused.
This is the most miserable, bittersweet I've ever felt writing a post, and it's not even over yet. Please G-d Gilad should be home with his family soon, alive and well, and every terrorist who ever caused pain and suffering to innocent people should feel a thousand times more what their victims felt.

Monday, 26 September 2011

On The Palestinians' Bid For A Terror-State

In a speech filled with lies, hatred for Israel, and a refusal to accept any responsibility whatsoever for the Palestinians' part in the conflict, Abbas on Friday made his bid to the UN for a Palestinian state, without negotiations, and without Palestinian concessions. 

It is interesting to note who is for and who is against the bid. Against includes The Times and J Street, because although obviously both are pro a 2 state solution, J Street explain “we do not believe that, in the current context, it [the bid for statehood without negotiations] will advance peace, enhance security and improve conditions on the ground.” Which sums up why most rational people are against it.

Meanwhile the UK version of J Street (but evidently a lot more stupid naive), the questionably “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group Yachad are for it, because they “believe it represents a historic opportunity to advance and expedite the peace process... to be recognised as a state will require the Palestinian leadership to take on the obligations of behaving like a state.” The Guardian of course, is also for it, as they appear not to want the Palestinians to have to make any concessions at all, whether engaging in land swaps, recognising Israel as the Jewish state, or tearing up their agreement with Hamas - you know, the antisemitic, genocidal terror organisation.

So let’s have a look at just some of the reasons why the Palestinian state Abbas asked for is, to put it lightly, a bad idea.

Robin Shepherd observes that:

There is one party to this dispute that most emphatically does not support a Palestinian state, if that means long-term acceptance of the State of Israel: the Palestinians themselves… opinion polls have consistently shown that the Palestinians only support the idea of a Palestinian state sitting side by side with Israel as a stepping stone to a future one state solution in which they rule over the Jews (assuming they are ruled over and not slaughtered or “driven into the sea” as they are wont to say)… a comprehensive poll by the Israel Project in November 2010 showed 60 percent of Palestinians agreeing with the proposition that: ‘The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state’”.
On the day of the bid, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, Abbas Zaki, told Al Jazeera that regarding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ bid for 2 states, “Abbas understands... everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go. If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall – what will become of Israel? It will come to an end. If we say that we want to wipe Israel out... It's not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don't say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.” This might seem like a stupid thing to say to an internationally aired news channel, but the truth is the mainstream media either don't make the effort to know, or don't care about the difference between what Palestinian officials say in Arabic and what they say in English.

Palestinians often depict a map of the whole of Israel as representing “Palestine”, whether in newspaper cartoons, or Fatah’s own logo, which was on Abbas' official document to the UN

Abbas himself, speaking for the Palestinians, will not recognise Israel as the Jewish state, as he has said numerous time, including on 27th August to the PLO Central Council: “Present to us something sensible, don’t present to us ‘The Jewish State’, we will never accept it... The Quartet cannot force upon us the character of the state [of Israel], or that we should recognize the nature of the Israeli state”.

And he didn’t change his mind between then and 22rd September, the day before the bid, when he told 200 representatives of American Arabs of Palestinian descent “we will not recognise the Jewish state...  we will only accept that Palestine be free of settlers and soldiers [i.e. Jews]”.

Which is what the PLO’s ambassador to the US, Maen Areikat, said on 13th September, that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews. He later explained he meant settlers and soldiers (so, still Jews then), but last year he made a similar statement during an interview with Tablet magazine. Asked whether “Any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave”, he responded “absolutely”.

Let’s not forget that Abbas is a Holocaust denier, he denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel, rewrites the history of the conflict, and is responsible for his government’s incitement of hatred and violence towards Israelis and Jews, through Palestinian childrens’ tv programmes, honouring and glorifying terrorists with processions, video tributes, naming streets, schools, town squares and youth groups after them; and rewarding the families ofterrorists with payment

About a year ago, the PA Minister of Prisoners’ affairs Issa Karake honoured a Palestinian woman, Latifa Abu Hmeid, with a plaque inscribed with the names of four of her sons who are serving sentences in Israeli prisons, all of them for their involvement in the murder of Israeli civilians in numerous terror attacks. Karake stated: “The Palestinian mother is a central partner in the struggle... It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honour.

Two weeks ago, Karake stated that "The recognition of the [Palestinian] state means... that the struggles of the prisoners [i.e. terrorists] are legitimized and legal according to UN Resolutions”.

So it isn’t surprising that last week the Palestinians’ statehood campaign began with Abu Hmeid, the mother honoured for giving birth to murderers, leading the procession to the UN offices in Ramallah, where she handed over a letter to the representative there of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon calling for the UN to recognise a Palestinian state.

Probably the most obvious reason why the statehood bid is a bad idea, yet people still need to be reminded of it, is that Israel left Gaza in 2005, uprooting thousands of Israeli citizens from their homes there. Hamas then took over, throwing out Fatah and firing over 10,000 rockets on Israeli civilians. Israel would need to ensure that the West Bank would be under the control of moderates, and that weapons would not be smuggled in, which would mean that practically every city in Israel would be in range.

Why could Abbas possibly object to negotiations with Netanyahu that would address these problems? And why would people, people who call themselves pro-peace and pro-Israel, support Abbas in this?

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Boycotts And Freedom Of Antisemitic Speech

Contrary to what some people may assume, I’m sadly not paid to blog by the Israeli government or anyone else, but I have just been preoccupied with more Zionisty stuff (that I’m also not paid for), and with my alter-life and job (which I am paid for!)
So, back to business.
There was a lot of fuss made about Israel’s supposedly undemocratic “anti-boycott law” passed in July, which allows victims of boycotts to sue the boycotters. Apart from the fact that the law simply enables Israelis to defend themselves and their businesses, the law is not dissimilar to some in other countries as well, including America. The most obvious point to make though, is the fact that the very premise of the boycotts is not only wrong but also mostly antisemitic (see section on Israel in the definition of antisemitism).
So the fact that the anti-boycott law might be seen as infringing on freedom of speech is pretty irrelevant, as it is in other cases. For example whilst most media will not allow a terrorist the airtime/column space to call for Jihad, many (see: The Guardian, Haaretz) will allow terrorists and lefties to express support and understanding for other terrorists, usually only if they’re Palestinian “freedom fighters” killing Israeli “colonialists” or something. But there’s a very, very fine line between understanding and supporting terrorism, and actively calling for it, so although media might be berated for restricting the former, and even firing a columnist for it, as the Jerusalem Post just did, most normal people will understand.
Anyway it turns out though that perhaps we don’t have so much to worry about with regards to the boycotts. When boycotters have highlighted the Israeli “settler” products they want people to avoid, those companies have reported an increase in sales, because the majority of people living in Israel are not lunatics and actually care about and support the country they live in. 
An interesting question is raised: “If Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli citizen currently living over the Green Line (making him a Settler) were to open a factory, would the Left call for its boycott too? Or are their calls to boycott actually racist and only targeting Jews?
The irony is that even most Palestinians don’t boycott Israeli products; as EoZ says, they just want to live their lives, they don’t obsess over politics the way the fanatical left do
On Thursday night anti-Israel activists staged a noisy protest inside London’s Royal Albert Hall, where the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra was playing. The music was disrupted several times by the protestors’ hysterical singing and shouting, and BBC Radio took the concert off the air. Success? Not really. The protestors were drowned out by thousands in the audience who booed them and chanted “out, out”, then cheered and clapped as they were removed. Perhaps many people in the audience support Palestinian rights, and oppose many Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, but anyone with an ounce of sense can see that essentially “terrorizing” an orchestra (in which people of all religions and nationalities, including Palestinian are or have been involved), is not a legitimate form of protest. It can only be antisemitism.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Gilad Shalit Billboard Campaign

A billboard of Gilad Shalit has been put up in Manhattan, for one month, near the headquarters of the UN, to mark five years that Gilad has been held by Hamas, since 25th June 2006..

I apologise that I didn't blog this earlier (I only opened the email from Gal Sitty, the campaigner, now), but thankfully the campaign succeeded in raising the $10,000 needed to fund the billboard. Please G-d this amazing campaign will succeed in bringing about Gilad's freedom soon and in good health.

More about Gal and the campaign here.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Amnesty "Debate": Yes, Israel Controls The Media

The Amnesty-MEMO event on "Complicity in Oppression: Does the Media Aid Israel" that took place on Monday sounds as bad as expected, and it can't really be called a debate when only one point of view is aired. All of the speakers believe that Israel controls the media, and Jonathan Hoffman and Richard Millet, who attended said that no pro-Israel questions were taken.

Millet points out that Amnesty's defence of the event doesn't really stand, that “Those who disagree with MEMO, or indeed any apsect of the event, are of course welcome to attend and make their point in a reasonable way.

Millet quotes Greg Philo (the author of the book that Tim Llewellyn, another speaker, endorsed in the Guardian) complaining that the BBC would say things like "Israel's attack on Hamas enters its second week" when it should say "Israel's attack on the Palestinians". Well, perhaps you could call that bias if Israel did deliberately target civilians. But, as all the evidence proves, Israel did not deliberately target civilians.

Philo also complains that:
"As a consequence [of the pro-Israel media bias] although the public had sympathy for the Palestinians, they wanted the Palestinians to stop firing rockets at Israel. He quoted a woman in one of his focus groups who said: 'When I saw the pictures of the dead children, it was dreadful. I was in tears. But it didn’t make me feel that the Palestinians and Hamas were right. I think the Palestinians haven’t taken the chance to work towards a peaceful solution.'"
So first Philo whines that people want the Palestinians to stop firing rockets at Israel, and then he whines that people think the Palestinians aren't doing enough to advance peace! Because in his mind firing rockets is advancing peace?!
Hoffman relays that when Abdel Bari Atwan spoke:
"The first thing he did – to prove that 'the Israel Lobby' was out to silence him – was to hold up the JC’s front page: 'How Was This Hatefest Allowed on Campus?' Atwan is convinced that the 'Israel Lobby' is to blame for the fact that he is not invited as a guest on TV shows, and he thinks he gets 'worse coverage than Adolf Hitler'."
Hoffman points out "Has he considered that it might just have something to do with the fact that he is an extremist who says that he will 'dance in Trafalgar Square' if Iranian missiles hit Israel?".

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Failed Attempts To Undermine Netanyahu's Speech

Criticisms of Netanyahu's excellent - and brutally honest - speech at Congress were varied, from the Palestinians, to the Liberal Intellectual Journalist, to the 'As A Jew' Jew:

Abbas' "moderate" Fatah interpreted Netanyahu's outline for peace as a "declaration of war", by which they actually meant "we're bored, we want to start a war". They would've had this reaction whatever Netanyahu said in his speech. Except, perhaps, if he said that all the Jews are just going to curl up and die to solve all the world's problems.

The AP's Josef Federman wrote a "Fact check", attempting to contradict Netanyahu's speech with "facts". To Netanyahu's statement "You don't need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves", Federman says that Israel receives military aid from America every year. Whilst America's assistance is undoubtedly helpful, Israel is painfully aware that we can't rely fully on others to defend us. A mere two years after the Jews were nearly wiped out in the Holocaust, the Arabs tried to do it again to the Jews in Israel, but our collective army succeeded in defending the Jews and Israel. The other point, which Honest Reporting makes, is that Federman is deliberately taking Netanyahu's statements out of context to fit his own agenda. In this case, Netanyahu's followed that statement by saying "You've been very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own."

At Netanyahu referring to Israel as a democracy, Federman objects that the Palestinians in the West Bank can't vote in Israeli elections. Well, why would they? They're ruled by a Palestinian government. I'm not allowed to vote in Israel either.

When Netanyahu called Hamas the Palestinian equivalent of Al Qaida, Federman protests that Al Qaida criticises Hamas as being too moderate. Oh, well if Al Qaida says it, it must be true! Federman also says that whilst Al Qaida preaches global jihad, "Hamas says its struggle is solely against Israel". First, even if that was true, does that mean Hamas can be excused for murdering Jews, as long as they're Israeli Jews? Second, it's not true; Hamas' charter calls for the murder of all Jews. Silly question for Federman: whose side are you on?! Obviously, he chooses Hamas; which is fine, each to their own. But don't pretend to care about the accuracy of the statements Netanyahu made in his speech ; Hamas certainly aren't bothered by that sort of thing, they have bigger issues, like the fact that Israel exists.

Predictably, the Guardian ran an article today criticising Obama by a token 'As A Jew' Jew, Jane Eisner. I think they have a cycle of whose turn it is to bash Israel. First it's a white person, then an Arab, then a terrorist (usually from Hamas), and then a self-hating Jew, and then it starts again. You can't say they aren't diverse!

Eisner starts off by making sure everyone knows she speaks for all American Jews: Netanyahu's "third audience was the American Jewish community. People like me."

She then, with admirable honesty, explains why she's writing this article in the first place: "whether the prime minister's spirited defence of the status quo and his reluctance to offer a way back to the negotiating table will be received well by the White House is an open question. And that puts American Jews in a difficult, uncomfortable situation." It's very rare for these type of Jews to admit that their criticism is because of fear of world opinion on Israel and Israel's supporters.

She states the obvious, that Jews want there to be harmony between the leaders of the US and Israel, but I give American Jews more credit than Eisner does. I think American Jews (and most Jews in outside of Israel)  don't take the easy way out when they find themselves in the "difficult, uncomfortable situation" where there is friction between the leaders. They stand up for what they believe is true and right - and like all of Israel's supporters, we'd rather be alive and hated than dead and loved.

Eisner doesn't seem to be in that camp though: The leaders' relationship "got awfully bumpy at times. I fear the impasse is only growing. It need not be this way". Her main concern is Israel's relationship with America; never mind the consequences for Israel if America's ideas don't turn out to be very good ones, never mind all the lessons we've learnt from the Holocaust and after, like how only we are able to ensure our own survival. As long as Obama likes us!

She then revels her own ignorance when she claims that many, like Obama have acknowledged that "the borders of Israel before the 1967 war, before the 43 year occupation, are the starting point for negotiations with Palestinians". They weren't borders, they were ceasefire lines. The land is disputed, not occupied. And it makes more sense that the starting point for negotiations would be for the Palestinian leaders to demonstrate an interest in peace, rather than continuous incitement to terrorism and rejection of Israel's legitimacy. As Netanyahu has explained, the 1967 lines are indefensible*, and "were not the boundaries of peace, they were the boundaries of repeated wars".

Eisner complains:
"Netanyahu's defiant stance puts us in a heart-wrenching conundrum. We can choose to support his view of the world, in which an aggrieved Israel bears no responsibility for the occupation and for the impasse in negotiations... But most of us don't want further procrastination but an end to the conflict, which has stained Israel's moral standing in the way that occupation and continued violence does to anyone". 
Well if that's how she sees the conflict, then it really shouldn't be a "heart-wrenching conundrum" for her. She claims "Most of us, I bet, hoped that Netanyahu would have issued a bold, creative speech that would have moved the process forward." Speak for yourself, Jane Eisner. Most of us just wanted Netanyahu's assurance of his commitment to the security of Israel's citizens. If the Palestinians want to talk about peace, we're waiting.

*That video is not a solution to the conflict, it is just to show how Israel would be most secure.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Abbas Extremism Continues

In the last few days we've seen Abbas demonstrate more and more extremist tendencies.

First he re-wrote the history of Israel in the New York Times, blaming the entire situation on Israel and absolving the Palestinians of an blame, ignoring all the peace proposals they have rejected.

Then he rejected Obama calling the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation an obstacle to peace, saying "Hamas is a part of Palestinian society".

Now, for anyone who was still in doubt about his views, he denied the thousands of years old Jewish connection to Israel, and said "Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history". As PMW point out, even the Koran makes no reference to a Palestinian people, whereas the Jewish history in Israel has been corroborated by archaeological finds.

Abbas' statements are not shocking, they're just idiocy, what's shocking is that he is taken seriously as the Palestinian leader. This blog post isn't about that though.

It turns out Abbas is worse than I thought. In 1984 (yes it may have been a long time ago but he was 50 years old), Abbas wrote a book in Arabic in which he denied that gas chambers were used to murder Jews in the Holocaust, and that it was a "fantastic lie" that six million Jews were murdered. He acknowledged that some were killed, but apparently this was because it was the aim of "The Zionist movement", who "led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule, in order to arouse the government's hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them, and to expand the mass extermination".

The fact that Abbas is a virtual Holocaust denier and crazier conspiracy theorist than he's appeared to be
just makes all his current actions make a whole lot more sense. I was thinking that maybe joining Hamas has started to affect him, but really he's just showing more of his true colours that he's been attempting to hide all these years behind his reformed, supposedly "moderate" character. Maybe that is the effect Hamas have been having on him, who knows. The only certainty is that Abbas is extremist and untrustworthy, and not a really great prospect as a partner for peace.

On BBC Bias

The Guardian really plugged the Israel haters yesterday; as well as publishing a letter from the senior editor of the pro-Hamas MEMO, they also published an article alleging that the BBC is biased towards Israel, by Tim Llewellyn, another of the speakers at MEMO's debate yesterday on the same subject.

Llewellyn's agenda is evident from the beginning. In the second paragraph he claims:
"The BBC coverage of Israel and Palestine, where another state continually kills and oppresses Arabs, is replete with imbalance and distortion".
His summing up of the conflict, as Israel intentionally and maliciously oppressing the Palestinians for no apparent reason is simply absurd and the fact that he follows this by lecturing the BBC on "imbalance and distortion" renders his entire article a joke.

He lists ways the media is supposedly biased towards Israel, according to a book co-written by Greg Philo, also a speaker at the debate:
"They find that the Israeli explanation of why it went to war on a mainly defenceless Gazan population is the one broadly accepted by the BBC. It was a 'response' to Palestinian rockets. The Palestinian case, that the Israelis violated a ceasefire that had held for nearly five months in November 2008, and that the Gazans had endured many years of intensifying siege and blockade, which had reduced them to stagnation and penury, was rarely put, if at all... The BBC repeatedly stressed the word [Israeli] 'retaliation'". 
But Israel didn't go to war on the "defenceless Gazan population", it targetted Hamas and the evidence is in the ratio of civilians to terrorists killed; much lower than in other conflicts, with Hamas confessing to over 700 terrorists being killed, all this bearing in mind all the precautions Israel took to minimize civilian casualties, and the fact that Hamas used the Palestinians as human shields. Also it is undeniable that the war was a response - Hamas fired about 200 rockets into Israel in November 2008. They are entirely to blame for the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, so Llewellyn's complaints are void.

"They cite a BBC reporter saying: 'Israel feels itself surrounded by enemies, with reason.' They add: 'We have not found a commentary noting that 'Palestinians feel themselves to be subject to a brutal military occupation, with reason.' Israel's official view is given as fact, they say, but the Palestinian view, on the rare occasions it is found at all, is not. Israelis 'state', Palestinians 'claim'."
The first point above is true, the media hardly ever cite the real reasons for the conflict, how aside from the fact that Hamas want to destroy Israel, they also constantly act directly against the Palestinians' best interests. As for the second point, it's just not true - Palestinians' lies are constantly repeated as fact (eg. Israel murdered a peaceful protestor with tear gas), and when the truth comes out (she wasn't even at the protest, she died of medical issues), the media never report what actually happened. On the rare occasion that they do say the Palestinians "claim", well, it might be because it's not unheard of for Palestinians to tell outright lies. (eg. Palestinians "claim" Israel eats Palestinian babies; Palestinians "claim" there is no Jewish connection to the land of Israel etc etc).
"Israeli attacks are always reported as retaliation to Palestinian violence or rockets, and the idea that Palestinian rockets, however ineffective, are armed resistance to Israel's hammering from land, sea and air is rarely broadcast. The daily indignities and brutalities of the siege and the occupation and the shelling and shooting of civilians are virtually absent from BBC consciousness unless an attack on Israel sparks interest."
Here Llewellyn shows that he views rockets targetted at innocent civilians as a justified "response" ("resistance") to Israel killing the terrorists who fire the rockets. That and the fact that he calls the rockets "ineffective" when just last month an Israeli schoolboy was killed, is insane and obscene. And whilst it is constantly reported when Palestinians are killed, whether they are terrorists, or civilians where terrorists had just fired rockets from their back garden, the most common, almost daily, Palestinian attacks deliberately targetted at Israeli civilians (whether by rocks or rockets, both can be fatal) are rarely reported, much less when they celebrate and boast about it.
"what is missing from the coverage is the view that the Palestinians are engaged in a war of national liberation, trying to throw off an occupying force. Any Israeli casualty is headline news, shown in high quality images. BBC teams are based in West Jerusalem, de facto Israeli territory, and are on hand. Arab casualties may be shown in reports of a funeral, usually agency film, the victim anonymous"
This is just so untrue I really wonder where they get their "evidence" for this. Again Llewellyn demonstrates that he views Israeli citizens, whether a three month old baby or a 16 year old schoolboy or a pregnant woman, as legitimate targets because they are "an occupying force". And again, his second point is a blatant lie. Not only are Palestinian deaths reported in great detail - both visually and in words - and often out of context (if it's civilians ignoring how they are used as human shields, if it's terrorists showing their families mourning), but Israeli deaths are reported with much of the focus on how it would be considered Israel's fault, for example where the victims are called "hardline" settlers as though it's ok to kill a baby just because she lives on land that the Palestinians claim is theirs.

When Philo and Berry interviewed students, they found that they:
"were largely unaware of the Israeli occupation, often believing the Palestinians are the occupiers. Few knew that Hamas had been democratically elected in January 2006. 'I had the impression they were a terrorist group from watching the BBC' said one respondent."
Which is a bizarre quote to use to try to back up their claims of BBC bias, because everyone know Hamas is a terrorist organistaion, even they don't try to hide it - and just because they were "elected" doesn't change that fact. Just Journalism "recently addressed how a BBC profile of Hamas downplayed the Islamist group’s targeting of civilians and its extremist ideology."
If all that wasn't bad enough so far, Llewellyn ends the article by claiming that after 9/11:
"Israel and its friends were quick to capitalise on 'terror' and 'Arabs' and massively enhanced their propaganda here, gaining access to BBC staff at all levels".
So not only is he accusing Israel (or the "Zionist/Jewish lobby") of forcing the media to report what they tell them; he also accuses Israel of exploiting "terror" in quote marks, as if it doesn't exist and Israel's never experienced the consequences of terrorism. It's more than just ironic that Llewellyn's antisemitic implication of Jewish control over the media claims that the media is afraid of being called antisemitic, because this very claim seeks to undermine defenders of Israel and balanced reporting as "playing the antisemite card".

I've found fisking this article to be totally surreal, I can't quite believe the lies I've read. And it's even more surreal that I'm having to write in defence of the BBC's reporting, especially considering that there are so many instances where they clearly are biased against Israel.

For example, Just Journalism found Wyre Davies' BBC:
"analysis of Israel’s negative response to the Fatah-Hamas unity deal declines to engage directly with the reasons why Israel might be perturbed by Hamas being brought into the process, alternatively choosing to portray a gleeful Netanyahu with a new ‘message’ to ‘take to the wider world...
Davies denigrates any treatment of Hamas as a terrorist group, making absolutely no reference to the organisation’s long history of killing and maiming Israeli civilians in targeted attacks, which is the basis for the application of the terrorist label. He makes no reference to, nor takes account of, high profile recent statements by Hamas leaders that they will never accept Israel and want to see it expunged from the Middle East."
Meanwhile I look forward to Philo. Berry and Llewellyn's defence of Press TV.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Obama's Speech And The 1967 Lines

The senior editor of MEMO (the pro-Hamas group who are tonight, hosted by Amnesty holding a debate called "Complicity in Oppression: Does the Media Aid Israel?"), Ibrahim Hewitt, wrote in to The Guardian complaining about Obama's speech; that negotiations on land would "reward Israel for its illegal settlement policy" (disputed, not illegal), that a non-militarised Palestinian state would be "at the mercy of the Israel Defence Forces" (not such a bad thing; it's an indisputable fact that if the Palestinians put down their weapons the conflict would end but if Israel put theirs down they would be destroyed); that Israel is a Jewish state and that the US is committed to Israel's security. How terrible. 

It's not surprising that the Israel-bashers are disturbed by Obama's professed support for Israel, but the speech wasn't all good. Hewitt says that since Israel accepted the two-state proposal in 1947, (which the Palestinians rejected, as Abbas forgot to mention in his NYT op-ed), Israel should have no case not to go back to what Hewitt calls the "1967 borders", which is similar to what Obama suggested: "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps". 

Obama correctly called it lines, unlike Hewitt, because they were never borders. But if Israel did go back to the pre-'67 lines, Gaza would be part of Egypt, and the West Bank in Jordan. There never was a Palestinian state. The most obvious point to make, which Netanyahu did, brilliantly, is that those lines are indefensible, leaving Israel only nine miles wide - "these were not the boundaries of peace, they were the boundaries of repeated wars". They were unsustainable, and the only reason Israel is (bli ayin hara) more stable now than it was then is because it can defend itself, because it won that land when the Arabs started the '67 war. 

Just Journalism point out that the coverage of Obamas' speeches about Israel (in The White House, and at the AIPAC conference) focuses almost exclusively on his demands on Israel rather than his condemnation and demands of the Palestinians, such as that 
"the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas poses an enormous obstacle to peace. No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction. We will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace: recognizing Israel's right to exist, rejecting violence, and adhering to all existing agreements. And we once again call on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, who has been kept from his family for five long years."
Meanwhile Honest Reporting observe that whilst Netanyahu's response to Obama was reported in the New York Times as "Netanyahu Responds Icily to Obama remarks", what didn't get that sort of coverage was Abbas' response, his complete rejection of Obama calling the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation an obstacle to peace, saying that after all, "Hamas is a part of Palestinian society".

It's quite frightening how since Abbas joined Hamas he's abandoning any pretence of wanting peace. He is just one step away from openly advocating terror attacks on Israeli civilians.