Monday, December 30, 2013

Children’s Hate Speech Against Jews Broadcast on PA TV Children’s Program. By Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik.

Children’s hate speech against Jews broadcast on PA TV children’s program. By Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik. Palestinian Media Watch, December 30, 2013.

PA kids: The Jews killed Arafat. Video. palwatch, December 30, 2013. YouTube.

Palestinian kids say the Jews killed Arafat on official PA TV. Video. palwatch, November 11, 2012.

Wrong on Both Counts: Academic Boycotts and Israel. By A. Jay Adler.

Wrong on Both Counts: Academic Boycotts and Israel. By A. Jay Adler. The Algemeiner, December 30, 2013.


In all these considerations we find the grounds for opposition in principle, with a clear and circumscribed exception, to academic boycotts. If one has no great interest in Israel, is even highly critical of Israel as a political actor, but retains a clear understanding of what academic freedom most profoundly means, then the argument in principle will serve and satisfy. But from the perspective of all who recognize the historicity of the Jewish people in Israel, who know the full history of Jewish willingness to compromise and accommodate competing claims, and who know, too, the contrary history of Arab rejectionism and rank anti-Semitism, who are not blinded by animus to Israel’s vibrant democracy, in contrast to the utter illiberalism surrounding it – for all such people, an argument in principle alone cannot be sufficient, is even a dereliction.
A boycott against Israeli academics and institutions is wrong not just because academic boycotts are very nearly always wrong, but because the argument for such a boycott applied to Israel is a moral outrage. While none actually argued in defense of South African apartheid – supported the philosophy or policy and upheld the moral character of the regime – free, good, and honest peoples all over the world recognize the nature of the Israeli state and the circumstances of its history and creation, and offer moral support against its foes. But it is in the nature now of those swept along by the kinds of political currents that so often rush over the intellectually fashionable not to recognize what it must mean that Israel, even beleaguered, has its true defenders among the democratic and free.
It is no matter of happenstance that Israel’s traducers have adopted, among a variety of slanderously false epithets, that of  “apartheid state.” They seek with characteristic dishonesty to tie Israel linguistically to that sole justifying historical precedent. Among the many deceptions embedded in the lie is the analogously false suggestion of any institutional nature to the separate treatment of Palestinians. It is, to the contrary, otherwise well known that the twenty percent minority Arab population of Israel is the freest Arab population in the Middle East, as free as any people in the world – free, too, to emigrate if they feel themselves persecuted.  In contrast, in the years after Israel’s re-establishment, nearly eight hundred thousand Jews fled Arab lands, leaving those lands, now, nearly absent of Jews, and it is the expressed intention of Palestinian Authority leadership – in contradistinction to another great lie, demographically refutable, of ethnic cleansing by Israel – that a Palestinian state would be, as the Nazi’s called it, Judenfrei.
The boldness of these lies, the magnitude of their departure from the truth and demonstrable reality, both stuns the imagination of Israelis, Jews, and all honest and informed people and serves, remarkably, as only the foundation for a swarm of monstrous lies. That where Palestinians do confront impediments to full autonomy, it is not within Israel, as an institutionally separated and oppressed population as was present in South Africa, but as a belligerent foreign population on disputed territories that has refused, amid a near century of anti-Jewish massacres, wars, and campaigns of terror, ever to make peace, by agreeing to the compromise and accommodation to competing claims that Israel has, for its part, numerous times offered. That the organized campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, with whose U.S. arm the ASA now allies in mutual support, has as its most well known founder Omar Barghouti, who is equally well known – in light of the ASA’s declaration to act in “solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom” – to have earned a masters degree in philosophy from Tel Aviv University. That Barghouti, far from seeking resolution to conflict, opposes a negotiated settlement to conflict and supports the elimination of Israel as a state.
The campaign of lies to which the American Studies Association has now allied itself in support still only begins with these examples. As the world’s current prevailing example of the infamous “big lie,” its provenance is the same, and now three American academic associations, of which the ASA is the largest, serve as purveyors of it. Influenced, in part, by theoretical constructs that have become, in application, completely untethered from reality, these academics add now not their scholarly contributions, but their measure of ill to the world. To counter this foolish contribution, this signal misguidance, it is no longer adequate to argue only from principle, however great we think that principle to be, that academic boycotts are wrong. It is necessary to argue firmly and clearly that an academic boycott of Israel is wrong. It is important to know and to state, without faltering, why.

Four Reviews of Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land.”

Zionism, Between the Real and the Ideal. By Daniel Gordis. Dispatches From an Anxious State, December 6, 2013.

Their Tragic Land. By Ruth Wisse. Mosaic, December 2013.

Understanding Two Views of Modern Israel. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, December 20, 2013.

Israel for Me, Not for Thee. By Elli Fischer. Commentary, January 2014.


My Promised Land is not, in the end, a historical account; it is a polemic. Shavit, a self-proclaimed romantic, idealizes pre-1967 Israel and laments what he perceives to be contemporary Israel’s lack of resolve, commitment, and community. For him, the excesses perpetrated by and in the name of Zionism before 1967 were acceptable collateral damage. But subsequent events—ones that make him unhappy—are the result of ideological overreach that has perverted Zionism.
The second half of My Promised Land chronicles the “seven revolts” that transformed post-1967 Israel. These revolts not only change Shavit’s Israel beyond recognition; they undermine his moral justification for the state’s existence. In its first 50 years, Zionism “was very careful not to be associated with colonialism and tried not to cause unnecessary hardship,” he writes. “It made sure it was a democratic, progressive, and enlightened movement, collaborating with the world’s forces of progress.” Shavit accepts the contention that the creation of the State of Israel was an exercise in colonialism, and that Zionism’s original sin was so profound that Israel itself could be defended only if it kept itself in line with anti-colonialist ideals. “Without the communal aspect of kibbutz,” he writes of that failed experiment in radical egalitarianism, “socialist Zionism will lack legitimacy and will be perceived as an unjust colonialist movement . . . moral camouflage of an aggressive national movement whose purpose is to obscure its colonialist, expansionist nature.”
This, he says, has proved “true and not true.” He is wrong. It is not true.
The identification of Zionism with colonialism is the key flaw of My Promised Land. To be sure, at times, the early Zionists made common cause with colonial powers—just as, when they felt it necessary, they went to war against colonial powers. In the decade before independence, they were at daggers drawn with the imperial British power governing the land they wished to inhabit. Shavit makes no mention at all of the 1939 White Paper issued by Great Britain that severely restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine and led Zionism into open conflict with British colonial authorities; in his vague telling, Britain eventually exits the stage because “His Majesty’s government has had enough of the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews.” The Zionists sought to bring a uniquely powerless and stateless people to its homeland before it was too late—the very opposite of colonialism.
There have been socialist, feudalist, and even fascist Zionisms, yet Zionism is neither socialism nor feudalism nor fascism. Zionism is the concrete expression of the Jewish people’s ancient yearning to go home. Shavit misreads the Jewish return to the hilltops of Judea and Samaria as a colonialist exercise when it is, in fact, an assertion that these territories are the Jewish heartland and homeland. A Jew need not justify his claim to his land by means of assertions of his moral superiority. That another people claims the land is an issue that must be addressed, to be sure. But that makes the matter a dispute between two peoples with ancient claims to the entire land. It is not a dispute between Eastern natives and Western occupiers.
Similarly, Shavit’s understanding of Zionism is limited by his dismissal of the central role of the religion of the Jews. In his view, the bold assertion of religious identity in Israel—by religious Zionists through the settler movement and by Sephardim through the Shas party—has contributed to the demise of a unified and cohesive state. He takes comfort in the economic protests in the summer of 2011, which had a leftist tinge and which he therefore sees as a return to unity and hope: “Neither the settlement nor the peace nor the Oriental Shas movements,” he writes, “was ever able to gather so many Israelis with such enthusiasm and broad-based support.” Shavit finished his book before the death of Shas leader Ovadia Yosef, the non-agenarian scholar and political agitator. Nearly a million Israelis attended Rav Ovadia’s funeral, approximately twice the number involved in the tent protests.
Shavit and the secular, social-democratic Ashkenazic tribe that created the state in their image and dominated the first three decades of its existence must be allowed to lament the loss of their Israel. My Promised Land is an elegy for that Israel, and here’s hoping that it offers catharsis, in the tradition of the great tragedies. But a growing majority of Israelis, the descendants of the millions who arrived as refugees in Ben-Gurion’s socialist state who have reasserted suppressed identities and sought a new direction for the country, do not lament. They are happy to accept Israel for what it is and will be, and feel no need to apologize.

It’s Going to Get Bad Fast Between Israel and the US. By Lazar Berman.

It’s going to get bad fast between Israel and the US. By Lazar Berman. The Times of Israel, December 29, 2013.


Pressuring Israel through the framework agreement is just what a weakened Obama needs to regain the adulation of his supporters.

Dysfunctional. Rocky. Frosty. There are a variety of terms pundits have used to describe the relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama over the past five years. Though the atmospherics improved somewhat after Obama’s 2013 trip to Israel, the relationship has chilled again in the wake of the nuclear deal with Iran.
And it’s about to get a lot worse.
Only five years ago, Obama was a political and cultural phenomenon, a transformative leader who millions of young Americans expected to usher in age of domestic unity and international cooperation. Famous singers turned campaign speeches into songs. His photograph became an iconic piece of pop art. Health care would become affordable and painless, supporters dreamed, America’s erstwhile enemies would sit down and find common ground with this new president, oceans would stop rising. The expectations even came complete with a Nobel Prize, which the award committee voted on only 12 days after he took office.
But five years is an eternity in politics, and things look very different in Obama’s second term. The rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature domestic achievement, has been an unmitigated disaster. A Democratic senator recently warned of a “complete meltdown” in the program. Obama’s approval ratings have dropped below much-reviled predecessor George W. Bush’s at this stage of his presidency, with 42% approving of his job performance in the latest poll, against 54% disapproving. The numbers were reversed a year ago.
Outside of America’s borders, the situation isn’t much better. The Arab sheikhs and kings in the Persian Gulf no longer trust Obama after he suddenly backed off a strike on Syria and cut a nuclear deal with Iran.
“There’s no confidence in the Obama administration doing the right thing with Iran,” said a Saudi royal, as another prince announced a “major shift” away from America.
After the US tried to prevent the military from toppling the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, then suspended key military aid, Cairo turned toward Russia, giving Moscow influence again in a country that expelled the Soviets four decades ago.
And in Europe, the continent where 200,000 people gathered in 2008 to listen to candidate Obama deliver a speech in Berlin, leaders are furious at the president. The man who lambasted Bush for his national security policies was, it turns out, presiding over a spying program targeting European citizens and leaders. Allies who had embraced Obama’s multilateralism turned on him in an instant. “We need trust among allies and partners,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the NSA’s targets. “Such trust now has to be built anew.” Sweden’s prime minister said the spying was “completely unacceptable,” while his Dutch counterpart called the charges “exceptionally serious.”
And with the 2014 midterm elections fast approaching, things don’t look good for the Democrats right now. Polls show Republicans beating Democrats for control of both the House and Senate on generic ballots, with independent voters breaking strongly Republican.
Obama needs a gamechanger. Something historic, an achievement that will justify that Nobel prize and the expectations of his legions of followers. A move that will turn him into a hero again in the eyes of American editorial boards and in the corridors of European parliaments. A move that would rescue his legacy.
He needs to find a problem the world takes a serious interest in, involving a country the administration still feels it has leverage over.
Thank God for Israel.
The president, like many officials in Europe, still sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a root cause of the Middle East’s troubles, with the settlements perched firmly at the heart of the problem. And given Netanyahu’s current isolation over his opposition to the Iranian nuclear pact, he is a prime target for US pressure.
And, right on schedule, Kerry will present the administration’s framework agreement to the two sides sometime in the next month.
The development, first brought to light by Meretz MK Zehava Gal-on, who said the US would be transitioning to “active intervention,” should raise warning flags in Jerusalem. Active intervention means quickly resorting to pressure if need be, and if the past half-decade and recent administration statements about settlements are any indication, the preponderance of that pressure will fall on Israel.
Kerry himself has already tried to force Israel’s hand by setting it up for blame if (it’s almost certainly when) talks fail in the spring.
“I mean does Israel want a third Intifada?” he asked during a November interview with Channel 2. “Israel says, ‘Oh we feel safe today, we have the wall. We’re not in a day to day conflict’,” said Kerry. “I’ve got news for you. Today’s status quo will not be tomorrow’s. . . ” Israel’s neighbors, he warned, will “begin to push in a different way.”
The secretary went on: “If we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis, if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel, there will be an increasing campaign of delegitimization of Israel that’s been taking place on an international basis.”
Kerry’s predictions themselves aren’t what make the statement so troubling, as Israel doesn’t need the US secretary of state’s prognostications for its intelligence assessments. It is rather the fact that when the Palestinians finally make enough new demands that Israel gives up on the talks, and violence subsequently rises, Israel will already be set up as the guilty party. Israel was warned, observers will say, and its stubbornness had led to the deaths on both sides.
And the peace talks, a White House initiative on which, out of the all the world’s problems, Obama has decided to exert concerted effort, have already begun to bear their bitter fruit for Israel. Since talks started in July, violence has risen steadily every month, climbing from 87 attacks in July to 167 in November.
What’s more, Israeli experts are expecting another spike in violence in April, when the talks are slated to end, most likely with no tangible agreement.
As Israel faces concerted pressure, lethal violence and international opprobrium because of the failure of US-generated talks that themselves have brought violence, the Jewish state can perhaps take some solace that at least one neighbor understands their predicament — their new kindred spirits in the Saudi royal family.
“He’s so wounded,” said influential Saudi Prince Alaweed bin Talal, referring to Obama. “It’s very scary. Look, the 2014 elections are going to begin. Within two months they’re going to start campaigning. Thirty-nine members of his own party in the House have already moved away from him on Obamacare. That’s scary for him.”
Not only for him, your Highness.

John Kerry Proposes Palestinian Recognition of “Jewish” Israel in Return for the 1967 Lines. By Elhanan Miller.

John Kerry Proposes Palestinian Recognition of “Jewish” Israel in Return for the 1967 Lines. By Elhanan Miller. The Times of Israel, December 29, 2013.

Senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath: “We will not recognize Israel as Jewish state.” Ma’an News Agency, December 28, 2013.

The Coming Intifada. By Ali Jarbawi. New York Times, December 25, 2013.

Rita Jahanforuz: There Is “No Quarrel” Between Iranian and Israeli People. By Christiane Amanpour.

“No quarrel” between Iranian and Israeli people, says singer with feet in both worlds. By Christiane Amanpour. Video. CNN, December 21, 2013. YouTube.

Rita Jahanforuz, Iranian-Born Israeli Singer, Builds Bridges Between Nations. NJBR, March 8, 2013. Articles and videos.

Why Is This Occupation Different From All Other Occupations? By Raphael Ahren.

Why is this occupation different from all other occupations? By Raphael Ahren. The Times of Israel, December 25, 2013.


The EU insists that Turks in Cyprus and Moroccans in Western Sahara “cannot be compared” to Israelis in the West Bank. Two legal scholars are fighting a losing battle to find out why.
. . . .

“The terseness of Ashton’s statement reflects the general moral superiority of EU officials toward Israel that I’ve encountered in my attempts to discuss these issues with them,” Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of International Law at Northwestern University added. “The attitude is that they are the judges, we are the suspect. How dare we accuse or judge them? As one senior EU official said when I brought these matters up with him, ‘We’re here to talk about you [Israel], not us.’ That is why they do not need to give their reasons: They do not have to explain themselves. We do.”