Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ethnic Religions. By Peter Berger.

Ethnic Religions. By Peter Berger. The American Interest, January 16, 2013.

Life After Blue. By Walter Russell Mead.

Life After Blue. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, January 16, 2013.

Better Elected Islamists Than Dictators.

Better Elected Islamists Than Dictators. Intelligence Squared Debates, October 4, 2012. Panelists: Reuel Marc Gerecht, Brian Katulis, Daniel Pipes, M. Zuhdi Jasser.

Israel Is Destroying Itself With Its Settlement Policy: Intelligence Squared Debate.

Israel Is Destroying Itself With Its Settlement Policy. Video. Intelligence Squared, January 15, 2013. YouTube. Debate chaired by Tim Franks. Speakers for the motion: Daniel Levy, William Sieghart. Speakers against the motion: Dani Dayan, Caroline Glick.

Bye-Bye London. By Caroline Glick., January 21, 2013. Also at FrontPage Magazine

Britain’s Little Anti-Semitism Problem. By Douglas Murray. Gatestone Institute, January 28, 2013.

Debate description:

Patriacide. Nationcide. Whatever you want to call it, that is what Israel is doing with its settlement policy: it is killing itself. If ever greater numbers of Jewish settlers are installed on land regarded by Palestinians as the basis for a state of their own, the possibility of a two-state solution grows ever more remote. Yet the single state alternative, involving annexation of the West Bank, would result in a country where Arabs vastly outnumber Jews and then you won’t have a one-state or a two-state solution: you’ll have a no-state solution. For those who love Israel and wish to preserve a democratic Jewish homeland, as much as for those who hate it, the settlements must stop. That’s what many left-wing Israelis and their friends say. But defenders of the settlements see things very differently. The two-state solution has long been a dead letter in their view: why stop building settlements in the name of a peace plan that is frankly unattainable? Whatever the eventual solution – it could even be a West Bank jointly governed by Jordan and Israel – there is no good reason why both Israelis and Palestinians shouldn’t both expand their settlements in the interim before an eventual peace deal.

Glick [Bye-Bye London]:

In an interview with Haaretz in November 2010, British novelist Martin Amis said the following about discussions of Israel in his motherland:
I live in a mildly anti-Semitic country, and Europe is mildly anti-Semitic, and they hold Israel to a higher moral standard than its neighbors. If you bring up Israel in a public meeting in England, the whole atmosphere changes. The standard left-wing person never feels more comfortable than when attacking Israel. Because they are the only foreigners you can attack. Everyone else is protected by having dark skin, or colonial history, or something. But you can attack Israel. And the atmosphere becomes very unpleasant. It is traditional, snobbish, British anti-Semitism combined with present-day circumstances.
After participating last week in a debate in London about Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines organized by the self-consciously pretentious Intelligence Squared debating society, I can now say from personal experience that Amis is correct. The public atmosphere in England regarding Israel is ugly and violent. 

The resolution we debated read: “Israel is destroying itself with its settlement policy. If settlement expansion continues Israel will have no future.”
My debating partner was Danny Dayan, the outgoing head of the Yesha Council.
We debated Daniel Levy, one of the founders of J-Street and the drafter of the Geneva Initiative, and the son of Lord Michael Levy, one of Tony Blair’s biggest fundraisers; and William Sieghart, a British philanthropist who runs a non-profit that among other things, champions Hamas. Levy has publicly stated that Israel’s creation was immoral. And Sieghart has a past record of saying that Israel’s delegitimization would be a salutary proces and calling for a complete cultural boycott of Israel while lauding Hamas.
We lost overwhelmingly. I think the final vote tally was something like 500 for the resolution and 100 against it.
A couple of impressions I took away from the experience: First, I can say without hesitation that I hope never to return to Britain. I actually don’t see any point. Jews are targeted by massive anti-Semitism of both the social and physical varieties. Why would anyone Jewish want to live there?
As to visiting as an Israeli, again, I just don’t see the point. The discourse is owned by anti-Israel voices. They don’t make arguments to spur thought, but to end it, by appealing to people’s passions.
For instance, in one particularly ugly segment, Levy made the scurrilous accusation that Israel systematically steals land from the Palestinians. Both Dayan and I demanded that he provide just one example of his charge. And the audience raged against us for our temerity at insisting that he provide substantiation for his baseless allegation. In the event, he failed to substantiate his allegation.
At another point, I was asked how I defend the Nazi state of Israel. When I responded by among other things giving the Nazi pedigree of the Palestinian nationalist movement founded by Nazi agent Haj Amin el Husseini and currently led by Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas, the crowd angrily shouted me down.
I want to note that the audience was made up of upper crust, wealthy British people, not unwashed rabble rousers. And yet they behaved in many respects like a mob when presented with pro-Israel positions.
I honestly don’t know whether there are policy implications that arise from my experience in London last week. I have for a long time been of the opinion that Israel shouldn’t bother to try to win over Europe because the Europeans have multiple reasons for always being anti-Israel and none of them have anything to do with anything that Israel does. As I discuss in my book, these reasons include anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, addiction to Arab oil, and growing Muslim populations in Europe.
I was prepared to conduct a civilized debate based on facts and reasoned argumentation. I expected it to be a difficult experience. I was not expecting to be greeted by a well-dressed mob. My pessimism about Europeans’ capacity to avail themselves to reasoned, fact-based argumentation about Israel has only deepened from the experience.
One positive note, I had a breakfast discussion last Wednesday morning with activists from the Zionist Federation of Britain. The people I met are committed, warm, hardworking Zionists. I wish them all the best, and mainly that means, that I hope that these wonderful people and their families make aliyah.
While their work is worthwhile, there is no future for Jews in England.


How bad must things get before people notice that their country has an anti-Semitism problem?
Three striking stories from recent days go some way to demonstrating that though Britain may not admit it, we have a problem.
Earlier this month the Israeli writer Caroline Glick came to London to take part in one of the Intelligence Squared debates. Intelligence Squared is a smart, up-market debating forum which attracts world-class speakers and a somewhat upper-echelon audience. The motion put before the audience on this occasion was: “Israel is destroying itself with its settlement policy. If settlement expansion continues Israel will have no future.”
There are good places and reasons to debate Israeli settlement policy. But it is, to say the least, questionable to make the one Israel debate in a debate series a discussion proposing that it is settlements that threaten Israel’s future. Rather than (plucking them off the top of my head) the promise of nuclear-bomb-owning Mullahs or say (admittedly old story) the seven-decade long refusal of any leading Palestinian to recognise the Jewish State? There is something obscene about presenting a debate in such terms. But debates need to be punchy and provocative. They also need to involve open minds. What Glick and the other Israeli guest on her side – Danny Dayan – had to witness was very far from a demonstration of that.
Glick rightly saw that the case for Israel needed to be made. But against her and Dayan were two young darlings of the London anti-Israel establishment. The undeservedly arrogant J-Street founder Daniel Levy enjoys a following in such London circles because of his father (Lord Levy)’s money. Meanwhile, the other member proposing the anti-Israel motion, William Sieghart, is a member of a prominent London family who did poorly in the family brains distribution and so has ended up promoting Hamas. Both are the sort of rich, privileged figures who mistake their own ignorance and stupidity for profundity with daring. Their careers are spent providing respectability to those who would erase the Jewish people.
Unfortunately, and predictably, the smart London audience sided overwhelmingly with the local idiots, heckling and shouting down points made by the visiting team. The hostility – heckling, booing and more – shown towards Glick and Dayan was unique and appalling. At the end the vote was 5 to 1 in favour of Levy and Sieghart.
In a searing response to what she had seen, Glick penned the article “Bye-bye London,” writing:
I can say without hesitation that I hope never to return to Britain. I actually don’t see any point. Jews are targeted by massive anti-Semitism of both the social and physical varieties. Why would anyone Jewish want to live there?
Of course this is the sort of thing that is reacted to angrily by most British Jewish spokespeople. They claim such sentiments are “over-the-top,” “unhelpful” or some other pseudo Foreign Office phrase.
Such panjandrums also point to the “successes” they have. These routinely include, for instance, the numbers of prominent politicians and “faith leaders” who take part in Holocaust Memorial Day events. Thus events around this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day have been particularly instructive. Take the scandal which enveloped one Liberal Democrat MP in the days before this year’s commemoration.
Until last week absolutely nobody had heard of David Ward MP. He is one of those one-man walking demonstrations of the need to have fewer MPs. But last week he became a minor figure when the ballsy “Commentator” website picked up on the fact that Ward had had a “Jihad-Jenny” moment. These are moments named after the disgraced Liberal Democrat peer, and former MP, Baroness Jenny “Boom” Tonge, whose track-record of slurs and libels against Jews and Israel mounted so significantly over many years, that finally even the Liberal Democrat party ended up saying she had gone too far.
Anyhow, in his “Jihad Jenny” moment, Mr. Ward was recorded saying:
Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.
Now Mr. Ward had a number of ways of explaining himself when a backlash against his comments got underway. But among them he explained that he had gone to Holocaust Memorial Day events in the past. Some people saw this as the anti-Semite's version of the old “some of my best friends are black” defense, famously made by racists caught on the back foot. It may, however, signify something else. Mr Ward was careful to stress that he had indeed taken something away from such events. And there is a serious problem: You may get someone to jump the low bar of attending a “commemoration” of the Holocaust. But they may still take from it – as Mr Ward clearly did – a profoundly anti-Jewish message. In a society that increasingly equates Jews with Nazis, it does not matter how many Holocaust “commemorations” someone has been pushed into going to. The culture has gone rancid.
This was further demonstrated by the fact that this year on Holocaust Memorial Day itself, the Sunday Times of London – bastion of the moderate center of British politics – ran as its principal cartoon a characteristically witless “satire” by Gerald Scarfe. With the caption “Will cementing peace continue,” the cartoon depicted a thuggish-looking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall made of bricks, blood and Palestinians. Perhaps Mr Scarfe attended the Intelligence Squared debate?
What these three things have in common is now unmistakeable – as are the conclusions we must draw from them.
Jews will continue to live in Britain, and in the main, continue to live perfectly peaceful and pleasant lives. But there will be a price. And that price will be the volume of their support for Israel. For the “decent” mainstream has made a decision: Israelis are now what the Nazis were then. The Israelis are the easy target for needed outrage, the focal-center of pretended morality and the diversionary enemy in an era where the real problems seem too large to tackle.
Naturally there will be enough people to continue for a while to demand the odd complaint about this or that. They may manage to force a backtrack here and there. But these will be forced not because anybody has been persuaded of the complete wrong-headedness of what they have said – nor because they have realized the unbelievable wickedness and inaccuracy of their claims – but simply because the “timing” may have been inappropriate, or it should not have been said in this way, or on this or that day, or to these or those people. What all these events have in common is that they demonstrate that the friends of truth are losing. Any wins on these terms are skirmish wins in a war which has turned against the Jewish people.

Party of Strivers. By David Brooks.

Party of Strivers. By David Brooks. New York Times, August 30, 2012.

Matt Yglesias: Sorry haters, Obama’s kids are worth more than yours.

Matt Yglesias: Sorry haters, Obama’s kids are worth more than yours. Twitchy, January 16, 2013.

Protection For Obama’s Kids, Gun-Free Zones For Ours? Video. NRA News, January 15, 2013. YouTube.

Lost Tribes. By Daniel Levy.

Lost Tribes. By Daniel Levy. Foreign Policy, January 15, 2013.

This Israeli election is not about Bibi. It’s about nothing.

iBennett. Video. Eretz Nehederet (“A Wonderful Country”). Mako. In Hebrew.


Israel’s most popular political satire show, Eretz Nehederet (“A Wonderful Country”), has caricatured him [Naftali Bennett] as a new software app: the iBennett, a modern version of the old settler model –“no beard, no crazy-mystical gaze, smaller kippa”—but with occasional glitches (the spoof iBennett character recognizes there are other nations in God’s promised land, sounding reasonable, but then reverts to type by claiming “God will strike them with a plague of frogs”).

Failing History: Colleges Neglect Core U.S. Principles. By Peter Berkowitz.

Failing History: Colleges Neglect Core U.S. Principles. By Peter Berkowitz. Real Clear Politics, January 15, 2013.

Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History? By Ashley Thorne, Peter Wood, and Richard W. Fonte. National Association of Scholars, January 10, 2013.

Israelis Await New Government Amid Old Security Perils. By Peter Berkowitz.

Israelis Await New Government Amid Old Security Perils. By Peter Berkowitz. Real Clear Politics, January 4, 2013.

Israel remains an “island of stability” among hostile Islamist movements. By Amos Harel. Haaretz, December 21, 2012. Also find it here.

The Brotherhood’s Agenda, Cairo’s Catastrophe. By Ilan Berman.

The Brotherhood’s Agenda, Cairo’s Catastrophe. By Ilan Berman. Forbes, January 14, 2013.