Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Monday, 31 March 2014

Peace & The Two State Solution (video)

Below, courtesy of Shalom TV, is a session from AIPAC's recent Policy Conference, regarding prospects for the Peace Process and the Two State Solution.  Participants are Ari Shavit, David Pollock, and Natan Sachs.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Kerry’s Credibility Crashes As Abbas’s Intransigence Increases, Argues David Singer.

"Palestine – Kerry’s Credibility Crashes As Abbas’s Intransigence Increases" is the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.

He writes:

US Secretary of State John Kerry has seen his reputation and prestige shredded to tatters over the past few weeks. On 13 March Kerry told members of the House Foreign Relations committee that:
1. international law has already declared Israel a Jewish state, and
2. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence on a public declaration of Israel’s Jewish character from the PLO was “a mistake” in the diplomatic process.
 Kerry also told a Senate panel:
“‘Jewish state’ was resolved in 1947 in Resolution 181 where there are more than 40-30 mentions of ‘Jewish state’. In addition, chairman Arafat in 1988 and again in 2004 confirmed that he agreed it would be a Jewish state. And there are any other number of mentions.”
PLO Chairman and President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas was unimpressed with Kerry’s knowledge of international law. On 16 March the New York Times reported:
'... Mr. Abbas, speaking before a meeting in the Oval Office, made clear that he was no closer to uttering the words that are a litmus test for the Israelis: that he recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.
“Since 1988, we have recognized international legitimacy resolutions” on Israel, Mr. Abbas said as Mr. Obama looked on, a hand on his chin. “And in 1993, we recognized the State of Israel.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that the Palestinians go further and recognize Israel as a nation-state for the Jewish people in order to get a peace deal. Mr. Abbas has flatly refused, and his comments on Monday suggested he had gone as far as he would.'
On 19 March Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at The City University of New York Peter Beinart [J Street's founder] provided this advice to Abbas:
“I have a suggestion for Mahmoud Abbas. The next time Benjamin Netanyahu demands that you recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” tell him that you’ll agree on one condition. The Israeli cabinet must first agree on what “Jewish state” means. That should get you off the hook for a good long while.
Israel has never been able to define the term “Jewish state.”
The good professor was obviously unaware that the term “Jewish State” had been defined for the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in evidence given by David Ben-Gurion on 7 July 1947:
“What is the meaning of a Jewish State? As I told you before, a Jewish State does not mean one has to be a Jew. It means merely a State-where the Jews are in the majority, otherwise all the citizens have the same status. If the State were called by the name “Palestine,” - I said if - then all would be Palestinian citizens If the State would be given, another name - I think it would be given another name - because Palestine is neither a Jewish nor an Arab name. As far as the Arabs are concerned, and we have the evidence of the Arab historian, Hitti, that there was no such a thing as “Palestine” at all: Palestine is not an Arab name. Palestine is also not a Jewish name. When the Greeks were our enemies, in order not to annoy the Jews, they gave different names to the streets. So, maybe the name of Palestine will be changed. But whatever the name of the country, every citizen of the country will be a citizen. This is what we mean. This is what we have to mean. We cannot conceive that in a State where we are not in a minority, where we have the main responsibilities as the majority of the country, there should be the slightest discrimination between a Jew and a non-Jew.”
Abbas rejected Beinart’s unsolicited advice for one simple reason – any state that contained the word “Jewish” or any suggestion of being Jewish would never be acceptable to Abbas. As Pinhas Inbari reported:

“On March 22, 2014, Abbas spoke before the Central Committee of the Fatah Movement. According to Nabil Abu Rodena, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority presidency, the Fatah body supported Abbas’ position of “non-recognition of Israel being a Jewish state.” The Palestinians did not release a complete text of Abbas’ Fatah speech.

At the Arab League summit in Kuwait on March 25, Abbas took this a step further. The official Arabic transcript of his speech before reveals how he has moved toward a more uncompromising diplomatic posture, opposing Israel’s stand that it be recognized as the nation-state of the Jewish people, just as it recognizes the Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people:
“Israel has invented new conditions that it did not raise before, like recognizing it as a Jewish state. This we oppose as well as even holding a discussion on this matter.”
The Arab League was more than happy to oblige Abbas and rebuff Kerry  – its final communiqué at the summit’s close stating:
“We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.”
Kerry  – left high and dry by this united show of Arab opposition to accepting what Kerry had trumpeted just 12 days earlier  – was suddenly forced to fly to Amman on 26 March to meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah in the afternoon and Abbas in the evening.

As Kerry’s credibility crashes, Abbas’s intransigence in refusing to recognize Israel as the Jewish State increases – a certain recipe for diplomatic disaster.

"A Campaign To Delegitimize & Ultimately Dismantle The State Of Israel”: In London, pro-Israel students condemn BDS motion

"What are you going to tell your children when they ask you why you did not vote for boycotting Israeli goods and services?”

Despite the fact that Israel is the one country in the Middle East in which women are not routinely viewed and treated as inferior beings, it was, bizarrely, a prominent campus feminist who posed the above question during a student vote on BDS in one of the University of London's constituents last week (25 March).

Granted, only 2.4 per cent of the 25,000-strong student body voted on the motion.  But it was a famous victory for BDS nevertheless, the adoption by the Students' Union at King's College London (KCLSU) of the motion by which the Union resolves
1. To carry out thorough research into KCL investments, partnerships, and contracted companies, including subcontractors, that may be implicated in violating Palestinian human rights as stated by the BDS movement
2. Pressure King’s College London to divest from Israel and from companies directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies;
3. To have a plaque in all KCLSU student centres acknowledging that KCLSU formally supported the BDS call, as was done when KCLSU showed solidarity to our sisters and brothers in their struggle against Apartheid South Africa with the following text: “KCLSU officially endorses the 2005 Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel until it abides by international law and ends it illegal occupation of Palestine. KCLSU is proud to follow the example of a similar call in the 1980’s, which successfully led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.
Moreover, thanks to energetic campaigning by the Israel-baiting side, the vote was decisive: 348 in favour to 252.

To his credit, KCLSU President Sebastiaan Debrouwere advised against the motion:
"I don’t believe that running the risk of alienating a large number of students … I don’t think that’s the right thing to do."
(Video here)

By contrast, Vice President Areeb Ullah advocated the motion:
"We don’t live in a bubble, we live in the world, a world ... where injustice happens, a world where oppression happens ..."
(Video here.  So true, Areeb: China, South Korea, Iran, in fact an entire clutch of Islamic states ... So, how about passing resolutions condemning those real oppressors in this world, eh!!!)

 According to one delegate Mr Ullah behaved inappropriately to students who expressed doubts about the wisdom of the motion by "spitefully" shouting at them "Shame On You!":
"Students he supposedly represents."
In fact, there have been subsequent calls for his resignation.

Adoption of the motion was greeted with wild scenes that left dejected pro-Israel students feeling overwhelmed: BDSers waving Palestinian flags and chanted "Free, Free Palestine” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free”:
"There is also little need to point to the tastelessness of the rampant jubilations of proponents of the motion in the face of Jewish and Israeli students reduced to tears. Tonight has seen a student community at King’s College London left bitterly divided and polarised. This is not an achievement to pride itself with. Tonight has likely created wounds that are not going to heal for a while."
Despite having voted in favour of the motion, KCLSU's Interfaith Officer observed:
"I’d just like to say that I was appalled by the reaction of some students to the passing of the BDS motion – what happened was both disrespectful and intimidating, and though it was a hard fought and won campaign, there is such a thing as a bad winner."
Reacting to the motion, the Israel Society at KCL captured the essence of the BDS Movement when it wrote:
"The BDS campaign, draped as it is in the language of human rights, is a seemingly-innocuous facade for a campaign to delegitimize and ultimately dismantle the state of Israel.  The thought that KCL students could support ‘joining’ this movement, as the motion states, is deeply troubling."
Similarly, the Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned
'the shameful scenes last night when the Student Union of King’s College London voted to support BDS.  Commenting on the vote, Board Vice President Jonathan Arkush said:
“When BDS supporters chanted “from the river to the sea” they sent a message of hate to Israel and once again demonstrated that the true agenda of BDS is not to influence Israel but to destroy it.  They succeeded in shaming their fine university and bringing it into disrepute.
 The motion was opposed by the Student Union President and was immediately disavowed by the academic leadership of King’s College London, who will now have to live with the consequences of such a hateful and divisive vote.
The Board strongly supports the courageous students from KCL Jewish Society and UJS who ran a strong campaign against the vote and stood up to the atmosphere of intimidation that has become the hallmark of the BDS bullies.”'
And three Jewish students at KCL who through no stretch of the imagination can be considered hawks have written, inter alia, of the BDS resolution:
"Instead of facilitating constructive dialogue, it has instigated an atmosphere of discontent and animosity. In no way can the impact of this motion be interpreted as a positive influence on academic discourse and free discussion at our university....
Astonishingly, the proponents of the motion claim it has opened a dialogue. By promoting a boycott, in reality it has achieved the very antithesis. It has spawned hatred and animosity, causing the worst elements of student politics to infiltrate our campus.
This is not South Africa in the 1980s, and a motion seeking to equivocate the two is based on a reductive and harmful misconception.  This conflict is far more complex than that abhorrent period in human history....
The proponents of this motion try to moralise to us by declaring that this is simply about human rights. It is pro-Palestinian but not anti-Israel, they tell us. As if we, mostly Jewish students, don’t know anything about human rights.
To those who shouted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, we question the sincerity of your call for human rights while you chant Hamas’s call for a genocide of Jews in their homeland.
We will not stand for this contradiction, and we will not be silent in the face of such behaviour...."
Read more here and  here and here and here

Incidentally, British blogger Edgar Davidson has a terrific post about responding to BDS here

Off-topic, but check this out!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Springtime, Piccadilly: Another Anti-Israel Bash At Lucy's Place?

On 20 May this year the London Anglican church that hosted the despicable anti-Israel "Wall" stunt, Rev. Lucy Winkett's St. James's Church, Piccadilly, is hosting an event in conjunction with the NGO Embrace the Middle East (formerly BibleLands), which is headed by an arch-critic of Israel, Jeremy Moodey.

To quote publicity material issued by the church and posted on the NGO's website:
"We are thrilled to announce that His Beatitude Gregory III Laham, the Syrian-born Patriarch of the Church of Antioch, will be the speaker at the Embrace Annual Lecture this year. Patriarch Gregory will be speaking on the role of Christians in Syria and in the Arab world and the challenges they face. The lecture will be chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan Mor Eustathius Matta Roham, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Jazirah and Euphrates...."
Now, it seems fair to say that in the West the 80-year-old Gregory is not exactly an household name, and information about him, in particular his attitude towards Israel, is seemingly sparse online.  Naturally, he, like Archbishop Roham, is centrally concerned with the welfare of Christians in the Near and Middle East, as this article indicates.

However, we might be forgiven for inferring, from some of the snippets of information that appear online, that he is, towards Israel, not the warmest of friends.

Wikipedia (providing footnoted sources for its statements) tells us that
'In December 2010, [he] was quoted by the Lebanon Daily Star as claiming that attacks against Levantine Christians, were part of a “Zionist conspiracy against Islam.” [He] reportedly stated that "All this behavior has nothing to do with Islam... But it is actually a conspiracy planned by Zionism and some Christians with Zionist orientations and it aims at undermining and giving a bad image of Islam.” He further added that media portryal of the attack the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was "a conspiracy against Arabs and the pre-dominantly Muslim Arab world that aims at depicting Arabs and Muslims in Arab countries as terrorist and fundamentalist murderers in order to deny them their rights and especially those of the Palestinians.”....'
So, will the event in May prove to be an anti-Israel bash?  It's futile to jump to conclusions, and we may be in for a pleasant surprise, but if I was a betting person, given that Gregory seems to have form on the issue and given who will or will in all likelihood be present, I'd wager that Israel will come in for its unfair share of attention.

As for the vicar of Virginia Water, who I understand is expected to attend the event, he clearly does not support Israel's right to exist as the sovereign country it is; anyone who still believes that he does, take note of this:

By the way, there's a nice simply-expressed clerical Kiwi rejoinder to Sizer's anti-Israel nonsense here

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

"Why Have The RIBA Voted To Focus On Israel As The Greatest Sinners In The World?": Prominent Architects Blast RIBA

Educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Stephen Games is an architect and founder of the New Premises think tank.  He has served as deputy editor of the organ of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), has made documentaries for BBC Radio 3, has written for The Independent, The Guardian, and the Los Angeles Times.  He edited the radio talks of celebrated British architect Nikolaus Pevsner and has edited several anthologies of poetry by John Betjeman.

Now, Mr Games has slammed RIBA's Council's support for Angela Brady's recent anti-Israel motion urging suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) from the International Union of Architects (UIA) (see my post here), in a letter to the president of RIBA, Stephen Hodder:
"I am not a member of any interest group within the RIBA but was nonetheless disappointed to learn of Council’s decision to call for the Israeli architects’ body to be suspended from the International Union of Architects. I had no previous knowledge that this was coming up for a vote, I have not seen it reported in the RIBAJ, and I have not had any documentation about it, otherwise I would have protested earlier.
I object to the vote for five reasons:
1.0  The vote was biased
1.1  Council’s decision is wrong and misconceived. I completely accept that the principle of Israel’s building on land won by Israel when resisting efforts by combined Arab forces to destroy it in 1967 is contentious, politically motivated and merits questioning. It is designed to provide housing for Israelis and to redefine future borders. It will however either cease when an agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority or will continue legitimately, either within a newly drawn Israel or a newly drawn Palestinian state. 
1.2  The fact that no such agreement has yet been reached reflects the fact that terms have not yet been drawn up that satisfy both sides. Council’s decision implicitly means that the RIBA blames Israel alone for the fact that an agreement has not yet been reached.
1.3  For the RIBA to blame one side for censure is inappropriate. The RIBA is not a political body, it has no special insight into the dispute, nor is there anything in its constitution that should lead it to be partisan. The RIBA’s proper role is to preserve neutrality. To do otherwise is to act outside its mandate as a royal body. 
2.0  The vote was intrusive and mischievous
2.1  The decision suggests that the argument about Israeli building needs to be specially highlighted. It does not. There is already vocal opposition within Israel itself to “settlement building”. Significant numbers of IAUA members are themselves opposed to such building and do not need or wish to be removed from international platforms such as the International Union. They themselves see this as unhelpful and unfriendly action by foreign busy-bodies, designed not to ameliorate conditions but to demonise one side and one side alone in the dispute.
2.2  Votes such as this do not resolve problems. They drive the opposed parties further apart.
3.0  The vote was unfair
3.1  In voting for the Israeli Association of United Architects to be suspended, Council is taking action that it has taken against no other country. The meaning of this is that the RIBA finds Israel uniquely reprehensible in the world, or more reprehensible than any other country, in terms of human rights abuse. This flies in the face of all evidence. In the most recent (2011) Observer human rights index, Israel did not appear in even the top 20 of human rights abusers, which were listed as (in order):
1. Congo   2. Rwanda   3. Burundi   4. Algeria   5. Sierra Leone  
6. Egypt   7. North Korea   8. Sudan   9. Indonesia   10. Yugoslavia  
11. Pakistan   12. China   13. Libya   14. Burma   15. Iraq  
16. Afghanistan   17. Iran   18. Yemen   19. Chad  20.  Congo (Republic).
3.2  In Iraq, gays are rounded up by police, thrown into prison and tortured; Israel, by contrast, serves as a haven for gays in the Middle East, even mounting an annual Gay Pride march, an event unthinkable elsewhere in the region.
3.3  Israel is a country of political and religious pluralism. Freedom of expression and worship is welcomed. Israeli Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, are a full part of Israeli society, and can and do serve as parliamentarians in the Israeli Knesset. In no Arab country, and in few Muslim countries, is the presence of Israelis or Jews even tolerated.
3.4  Israel’s architectural body is itself made up of Israeli Arabs as well as others. Nowhere does such reciprocity exist in Arab or Muslim countries.
3.5  If the vote against Israel is to stand, it must logically be followed by similar calls for architects in countries beyond the Middle East to be banned.
4.0  The vote was reductive
4.1  If Council wishes to support the aspirations of the Palestinians, it has an obligation not to do so at Israel’s expense. Politics should not be a zero-sum game: the RIBA should recognise that both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to end up with better outcomes. In Council’s vote, however, support for Palestinians was expressed in language defined entirely by vitriolic negativity towards Israel. This is utterly inappropriate and gives rise to reasonable speculation that the vote was as much about hostility to Israel as about support for Palestinians.
4.2  As the aftermath of the Arab springs has shown, Middle Eastern politics is far more complex than the simplistic “Palestinians-good/Israel-bad” formula that supporters of the vote in Council represented. The reductivism that Council has voted for is shameful in its effort to resort to pre-Arab Spring blindness about long-standing Middle East rivalries and hostilities, of which hatred of Israel is neither the biggest nor the most entrenched.
4.3  If Council truly wished to have a say only about the Middle East, it should be supporting all people in the region who are truly suffering victimisation and oppression. If the vote in Council is allowed to stand, it must therefore be followed by a huge programme of similar and more appropriate calls for suspension—especially against Egypt, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran—and especially against other countries whose treatment of Palestinians is much more reprehensible than that of Israel, but whose actions are deliberately ignored and veiled by obsessive opponents of Israel who wish only to use the Palestinian cause to damage Israel.
5.0  The vote disgraces the RIBA
5.1  For the reasons given, by allowing the vote against Israel to stand, the RIBA risks emerging not as a body that supports Palestinians but as a body with an in-built and unprincipled prejudice against Israel and legitimate Jewish aspiration.
5.2  For more than a thousand years, the Christian Church attempted to eradicate Judaism, either by mass killing or mass conversion. Were it the case that the majority of Council members came from Christian backgrounds, some observers might conclude that the vote continued a long-standing cultural prejudice against Jews within our society in general and within the RIBA in particular. 
5.2  The campaign to boycott Israel is also bound up with a much more insidious pan-Arab and pan-Muslim campaign to delegitimise Israel and eradicate it as a state. Thus, a millennium of opposition to Jews being Jews could be seen to be joining forces with a century-long campaign to prevent Israel being Israel.
5.3  In voting for Israel’s suspension, the RIBA could be seen as siding with the most vicious campaigners against not just boycott and divestment but against Israel’s legitimacy and its survival as a state.
No one could want to belong to a body that can be characterised as anti-semitic, nor is it appropriate that an institutionally anti-semitic body should retain its royal charter. 
In view of the above, I urge the RIBA to reverse its decision as soon as possible. If it does not, there will inevitably be a campaign calling for the removal of the royal charter, and this will involve much unnecessary expenditure of time and effort all round.
I am copying this letter to the press."
  Mr Games told the Architects' Journal:
"To demonise Israel at the expense of all other parties lacks a necessary even handedness and it ill behoves a statutory royal body to behave in this way.
If RIBA means to stand by this decision, it should either now call for masses of bans against other countries or renounce its royal charter.... No one could want to belong to a body that can be characterised as antisemitic, nor is it appropriate that an institutionally antisemitic body should retain its royal charter."
And Dan Leon of Constructive Dialogue, who was the first signatory to the email sent to members of the RIBA Council before the vote, urging them not to support Angela Brady's motion, is quoted by the same journal as saying, very pertinently:
'To single out Israel can only be seen as discriminatory and prejudiced.
Reviewing the other members of the UAI, I note Syria and North Korea are there - I trust there will be a follow up motion for the RIBA Council to condemn these countries too, along with Russia, Turkey, and China.
I would like to add that the motion notes the UIA as “international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession”. If they fulfil that role have they sanctioned architects in North Korea and Syria who have worked for their despotic regimes? Do they now intend to? Why have the RIBA voted to focus on Israel as the greatest sinners in the world?' [Emphasis added]

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

"We Must Massacre Them...; In Palestine...They Cannot Have The Status Of Dhimmis": Hamas MP

Here's one of those nice guys from Hamastan, an MP and cleric named Yunis al-Astal, telling on Hamas-owned Al-Aqsa TV earlier this month what should be done with the Jews, as derived from the Quran itself.

 From the transcript provided by MEMRI:
'In today's show, we will discuss the demand that the Palestinian people recognize [Israel] as a Jewish state, so that the occupation will graciously hand them out scraps. I would like to begin by quoting what Allah said about them: "The worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are those who disbelieve. They are the ones with whom you made a covenant, but they break their covenant every time....
The obvious question is: What is the solution to this gang of people? The Al-Anfal chapter of the Koran provides us with the answer. After He said: "They are the ones with whom you made a covenant, but they break their covenant every time," Allah added: "If you gain mastery over them in a war, use them to disperse those who follow them that they may remember." This indicates that we must massacre them, in order to break them down and prevent them from sowing corruption in the world. They are the ones who still spark the flame of war, but Allah has taken it upon Himself to extinguish it....
We must restore them to the state of humiliation imposed upon them. They should be dhimmi citizens. This status must be imposed upon them by war. They must pay the jizya security tax while they live in our midst....
However, in Palestine, where they are occupiers and invaders, they cannot have the status of dhimmis...."
Well-known American Islam-watcher Dr Andrew Bostom has an in-depth analysis here
(Hat tip: Vlad Tepes blog)

Monday, 24 March 2014

In Britain, Funky Fashion Goes Tastelessly Over The Top

"Dear H&M
 I have read about and seen a photograph of the grossly anti-Semitic T-shirt you are selling in your Oxford Street branch in London. You have reportedly said you do not mean offense and therefore will not be removing it from sale.
Perhaps you will rethink your knee jerk reaction to something that is evocative of Nazi era propaganda against Jews. I suggest you remove it and stop providing the BDS and PSC with propaganda material – unless of course you secretly support their cause, in which case please come out of the closet.

I remain hopefully yours
[Name suppied] One who continues to search how the Holocaust happened, designed and delivered as it was by a supposedly civilised European people of great culture and education. I’m beginning to realise how it happened as organisations like H&M join a bandwagon, even if without prior malice, to aid and abet the evil designers of genocide."

The above strongly-worded missive has been sent to the clothing retailer H&M by a British Jew outraged at the logo on this tank top on sale in the store's menswear section, which featured in a Times of Israel article yesterday.  (See this post by Elder of Ziyon too.)

The writer of the article, Eylon Aslan-Levy, Chairman of the National Council of the Union of Jewish Students, notes, inter alia:
'I doubt that there were anti-Semitic intentions on the part of the designer, but there is no escaping that the juxtaposition – no matter how accidental – of these two symbols is entirely inappropriate and offensive. The more I look at it, the more I am at a loss to explain how H&M commissioned or even approved this item. It is at minimum an extremely unfortunate oversight in the H&M department, which has displayed an egregious failure of cultural awareness and sensitivity. There is a long history of associating Jewish symbols with Satanic imagery, and this product inadvertently falls within this tradition.
H&M is so far refusing to withdraw this unpleasant item. Its customer services department assures me that it “did not mean to cause offence” and that it was certainly not the store’s intention to “represent a star with… religious connotations”: this assurance is entirely credible, and it would be a mistake to accuse H&M of anti-Semitism, but this design still has no place in British high street fashion, and the only appropriate response for H&M is to discontinue this item forthwith.
Freedom of speech is sacrosanct: the freedom to offend and upset, short of directly inciting violence or hatred, must be an unshakeable principle in every Western liberal democracy.... TIt is an abuse of power to censor people for saying things we deem tasteless but they deem important truths. But as H&M itself insists, the unambiguous resemblance of this design to a Star of David was not intended to prove a point, no matter how nefarious: so this is isn’t a free speech issue. This is a matter of H&M making a clearly unfortunate mistake and being unaware of having done so.
I encourage people who are concerned, therefore, to email to explain why this distasteful design should be taken off the racks.' [Emphasis added]
My own view is that the protest that I cite at the beginning of this post is, while an understandable reaction, too strident and likely to make the store dig its heels in.

Less counterproductive, I feel, would be something like this:
"I am writing to request that you kindly remove from sale the men's tank tops in your current menswear range that feature a skull superimposed upon a Star of David.  You may be unaware that such an image is extremely distressing for Jews.  It brings to mind the juxtaposing of Satanic imagery with Jewish symbols characteristic of some  truly obnoxious hardcore antisemitism both on the internet and elsewhere, while at the same time it brings to mind the extermination of millions of Jews in the Holocaust (who of course were compelled in Nazi-occupied Europe to display the Star of David on their clothing prior to being rounded up and sent to the death camps).
It is not unlikely that neo-Nazis will purchase and wear these tank tops in order to bait Jews and cause them affront and distress.  However, regardless of who purchases and wears them, the display of such a logo is tasteless and ill-advised, as I am confident you will agree.
Yours Sincerely,
I could add that the tank tops are likely to play into the hands of opponents of Israel and Zionism.  But making that point is probably neither wise nor worthwhile.

Incidentally, if the name Eylon Aslan-Levy rings a bell with you but you're not sure why, this will jog your memory!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

BDSers Come With A Whoop & A Faux Call (video)

At Northeastern University in the United States, BDSers whoop it up with a war cry taken from Gandhi, which has also been quoted in support of BDS by aged rocker Roger Waters as well as by other elements in the BDS movement.

Unhappily for them, it seems that the famed Indian pacifist didn't, in fact, say the words attributed to him.

Professor William Jacobson's Legal Insurrection blog has the background here.

Meanwhile, outside the Chelsea Football Stadium in London on Saturday, when Chelsea played Arsenal, BDSers campaigned against "Israeli Apartheid" and Israel's inclusion in World and European football tournaments:

The above video is by hardcore anti-Israel zealot Alex Seymour ...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The American Academic Boycott That Failed

This is a guest blog by Professor William D. Rubinstein.

He writes:

Recently, an academic body in the United States, the American Studies Association (ASA), voted to boycott Israeli universities. The vote received wide publicity, and what occurred is unusually interesting, with ramifications for the worldwide BDS campaign.

The American Studies Association is composed of university academics who study American society and culture. It is similar to many other academic bodies concerned with particular fields of interest. Normally these bodies publish a journal and hold an annual conference.

The most controversial discussion at these conferences is, usually, the menu at the conference dinner and who is going to have the chore of organising the next conference, while their respective AGMs are invariably taken up with lamenting the dire state of the body’s finances. Nearly all of these bodies are pluralistic and non-political. In contrast, the ASA is overwhelmingly composed of ultra-leftist academics, who have turned it into an extremist advocacy group.

From what I can piece together about the ASA, about one-third of its leaders appear to be unreconstructed Stalinists, still sitting shiva for Uncle Joe and the gulags, while about two-thirds are "post-colonialist" leftists who think that Israel is a colonising power.

Before proceeding, it might be worth considering the sheer hypocrisy of the American post-colonialists' stance. Every leader of the ASA – every man-jack among them – lives on land which was stolen from the local American Indian tribe.  Surely these thieves should put their money where their mouth is, and give it back, without delay.

Many of the ASA's leaders are, rather strangely, at New York University, on Manhattan Island.  The Dutch "bought" Manhattan Island from the local Indians for $24, and surely these NYU faculty members should lobby the New York City government to hand it back, in exchange for $24 (plus interest).

But we digress.

The ASA voted to boycott Israeli universities. Not those in North Korea, China, Iran, or (needless to say) China. Not those of Saudi Arabia, whose state is ruled by an ideology from the Dark Ages, or the Ukraine, or Egypt, which has had two violent coups in three years, or any of the forty Third World hellholes whose local dictators have sequestered their countries' wealth in their Swiss bank accounts.

To condemn Israel while deliberately and utterly ignoring human rights violations, often a thousand times worse, in other countries is antisemitism in the nastiest, most odious, most deplorable sense of that term, and is strong evidence of how the Far Left has now inherited the legacy of the pre-1945 Far Right.

It is also a complete non sequitur, since Israel’s universities have no control whatever on policy in the West Bank. It is as if a foreign group which doesn’t like the way Aborigines are treated in Australia's Northern Territory decided to boycott the academics in Melbourne or Sydney.

Moreover, as in all Western countries the academics at Israel’s universities consist overwhelmingly of wall-to-wall liberals and leftists, who almost certainly vote for the Israel Labor Party and parties to its left. The ASA has bizarrely targeted these people, not the West Bank religious settlers.

When the ASA passed its anti-Israel revolution, Mondoweiss, the anti-Zionist website, claimed that the vote represented a "tipping point" in the BDS movement. It was, but in a rather different sense from what the ASA hoped. In fact, significantly and unsurprisingly, the "tipping" occurred against the BDS movement, burying it under tons of rubble; the lessons to be drawn from this debacle (for them) are highly instructive.

Almost immediately, a tidal wave of non-compliance with the ASA resolution literally swept America’s universities. Over 225 university presidents have explicitly disassociated their respective institutions from the resolution, including every heavyweight, internationally-known school – Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Berkeley, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Chicago, MIT, and dozens of similarly renowned universities.

Many of these have reputations as bastions of the left, but have drawn the line at boycotting Israel, with that boycott’s clear smell of antisemitism. Twenty universities have left the ASA as a result of the boycott resolution, and the resolution has been condemned by a range of academic and professional bodies, including the American Council on Education (with 1700 colleges as members), the Association of American Universities, and the American Association of University Professors (with 48,000 members).

Professor William Jacobson of Cornell University, who has been leading the attacks on ASA (and whose Legal Insurrection website is a key source of information) is also seeking to have the ASA’s tax exempt status removed, since boycotting Israel is in clear violation of the stated aims of the ASA. Many other examples of the total rejection of the ASA’s antisemitism could also be cited.

The utter failure of the BDS movement in the the university sphere has its recent parallel in the US Congress.  Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives voted by 410:1 to approve the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, which designates Israel as a "major strategic partner" and allows Israelis to travel to the US without a visa.  The lone dissenting voice came from a neo-isolationist "libertarian" Republican (Thomas Massie, of Kentucky), not from a left-wing Democrat.

In all seriousness, a resolution praising George Washington would be unlikely to pass the US House of Representatives by a 410:1 vote, and is clear evidence that the BDS gang has no traction or salience outside of the Looney Left and, of course, of Arab and Islamic sources which are mistrusted – to put it mildly – by most Americans.  What the future holds cannot be predicted, but for the present, in the USA at least, BDS is a non-starter.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Kerry Risks Sacrificing Holy Land For Holy Dollar, Warns David Singer

Here is the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer; it is titled "Palestine – Kerry Risks Sacrificing Holy Land For Holy Dollar".

Writes David Singer:

“But now the holy dollar rules everybody's lives - Gotta make a million doesn't matter who dies” [Queensrÿche – Revolution Calling]

US Secretary of State John Kerry has increased the possibility of renewed conflict in the Holy Land with some very confusing remarks this week refuting his earlier demand that the PLO recognize Israel as the Jewish State. On 3 March – Kerry told the AIPAC Conference: 
“Any peace agreement must also guarantee Israel’s identity as a Jewish homeland.”
 Yet 10 days later Kerry told members of the House Foreign Relations committee that:
1. international law has already declared Israel a Jewish state, and
2. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's insistence on a public declaration of Israel's Jewish character from the PLO was "a mistake" in the diplomatic process. Kerry also told a Senate panel:
"'Jewish state' was resolved in 1947 in Resolution 181 where there are more than 40-- 30 mentions of 'Jewish state’. In addition, chairman Arafat in 1988 and again in 2004 confirmed that he agreed it would be a Jewish state. And there are any other number of mentions."
Accepting Kerry’s latest claims as being factually accurate – which they are not – Kerry needs to answer this question:
How can any agreement ever be reached between Israel and the PLO if the PLO is not required to guarantee Israel’s identity as a Jewish homeland?
Netanyahu has made it clear on many occasions that without the PLO making such a declaration – no negotiated “two-state solution” can ever be achieved.

Kerry’s contradictory statements appear to have cut the ground from under Netanyahu’s feet.

The PLO can now confidently expect that its rejection of this express Israeli demand would be supported by America as being:
1. reasonable and
2. allow the PLO to walk away from the negotiations because Israel unreasonably persisted with that demand.
Kerry’s comments fly in the face of President Bush’s written assurance to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a letter dated 14 April 2004overwhelmingly endorsed by the Congress on 23 June 2004: 
“The United States is strongly committed to Israel's security and well-being as a Jewish state.”
What reasons could Kerry possibly have for abruptly abandoning Bush and the Congress’s specific commitments – supported by Kerry himself at AIPAC? Kerry’s following remarks to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations on 13 March provide the possible answer:
“I also think we have to remember that foreign policy in 2014 is not all foreign. The fact is that we are, in the State Department, increasingly focused on economics, focused on building our strength here at home, on advancing American businesses, on creating job opportunities. Every time I speak to the Department of State, I talk about foreign policy as economic policy. And every Foreign Service officer today and every Civil Service officer now must also become an economic officer, and we have changed the training at the Foreign Service Institute in order to take all of our initial recruits and begin to structure ourselves differently than in the past.
Some people say there – some people express a skepticism about this. Well, let me just tell you: Our Embassy in Zambia recently helped create jobs in New Jersey. The patient advocacy of our diplomats helped an American construction company land an $85 million contract. They’re building 144 bridges, and they have the potential to do far more. There may be a follow-on, multi-hundred-million-dollar contract. Our consular staff in Kolkata – they helped bring Caterpillar together with a company in India to develop a $500 million power plant. When 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of our market, and when foreign governments are out there extremely aggressively chasing RFPs, requests for proposals, contracts, jobs, opportunities, and they’re backing their companies in a very significant way, we need to understand we’re living in a different world than we were in the Cold War when America was the single powerhouse economy of the world and everybody else was recovering from the war, World War II. Now, then you could make mistakes and still win; now, you can’t. It’s a different economic competitive – it’s a different marketplace.”
Maintaining commitments to long standing allies apparently now plays second fiddle to American business enterprises earning international dollars.

Lucrative contracts possibly falling into America’s lap to repair the damage and havoc wrought in Moslem countries such as Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq – much of it American induced – seems more important than incurring the wrath of the Council of the League of Arab States which had stated on 9 March that it absolutely rejected recognizing Israel as the Jewish State.

America brought to its knees economically by the global financial crisis and its disastrous forays into Iraq and Afghanistan is apparently – as a declared goal of American foreign policy – prepared to soften its support for Israel if this opens up new business opportunities for America in Islamic countries.

Kerry’s policy risks the Holy Land being turned again into an arena of violent conflict – as those who rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan are emboldened by Kerry’s remarks to contemplate again attempting what six Arab armies unsuccessfully tried to do in 1948 – eliminate the Jewish State.

Abandoning the Holy Land for the holy dollar is a recipe for another potential humanitarian disaster and an American foreign policy failure of massive proportions.

Will President Obama and the Congress allow this to happen?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

British Architects Make A BDS Move (updated; & further updated)

Former Royal Institute of British Architects president Angela Brady is to table has tabled the following motion at RIBA Council on 19 March (I guess the vote is taking place about now the vote has taken place, and it's not good news; here in Australia we are eleven hours ahead of Britain, and I'll update this post if I hear how the vote goes: UPDATE: RIBA Council voted to support suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects by 23:16:10.  I assume the latter figure means abstentions):
"The Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has paid no regard to the UIA Resolution 13 of 2005. The RIAS calls on the UIA, as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to take appropriate action. The UIA membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects should be suspended until these illegal projects end, and international law, the UIA Accords and Resolution 13 are observed."
In response, opponents of the move within the profession have sent the following email to the RIBA Council:
"Angela Brady’s motion to council against the IAUA is misguided and one-sided. 
While it is legitimate to criticise Israeli Government policy, it is dishonourable to single out Israeli Architects. 
There are architects in many parts of the world whom find themselves in conflict areas but are welcome in the IAU, making this motion discriminatory. 
A call to exclude the IAUA from the IAU would be a counter-productive move that would reinforce prejudices and encourage conflict, rather than supporting the very professionals that are best placed in the region to promote mutual understanding. 
Our energy should rather be focused on positive work that construction professionals can do to advance peace and coexistence. Many Israeli architects have used their experiences and knowledge to create projects that help the architectural community across the world, and we, as members of the RIBA, would like to see our international union building bridges/helping our fellow workers, not abandoning them. 
It is imperative not to transport the conflict in the Middle East into the architectural profession but rather use the profession and resources available to encourage dialogue and cooperation, especially during a time of peace talks.
Furthermore, the international committee has already stated that ‘it is beyond the role of the RIBA to push the IAU for a sanction against Israel’s architectural community.’...."
Read more here (and please alert me in a comment if you hear more details of how the vote went, with a link if possible).

Further update, from the report here:
'Former RIBA president Angela Brady’s motion, calling for the suspension of Israeli professional body from the International Architects Union (IAU), has been approved
The motion against the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA), which was tabled at RIBA Council yesterday (19 March), was carried by 23 votes in favour, with 16 against and 10 abstentions.
The move had already received the backing of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) last week, but had come under fire from members from Constructive Dialogue who claimed it was ‘misguided and one-sided’ ....
Brady commented: ‘It’s a great day for RIBA ethics in architecture. This was a focused motion at a key time -when the world wants this illegal building on occupied land by Israeli in Palestine to stop now - as it contravenes international law and Cameron, Obama and many others including all UN state this. 
‘We have added our voice in a strong way. This was a sensitive debate for justice and to add positive value.
 ‘This is not a boycott this is the affirmation that in terms of the UIA code of ethics and professionalism, architects should not practice in occupied territory.‘We as architects need to stand up for what is right. This will open the way for other similar issues to come forward.’""
Incidentally, I hear on the grape vine that the BDSers are hoping that the professional body of British town planners will emulate the architects...

See also my post of 26 March here

Fair Stands The Wind From France (includes video)

The beginnings of French Jewry can be traced to Roman times, and the beginnings of its possible end can be traced to ours.  Here is an indication why (hat tip: Vlad Tepes blog).

Needless to say, the far-rightist ultra-montane elements which figured so prominently in the anti-Dreyfusard movement that scarred the face of La Belle France just over a century ago, and which provided the core of Charles Maurras's Action Française movement, have been replaced by elements of a largely different provenance in the Jew-hatred that prevails in the French Republic today.

The background to the video below is explained in French here; there is a short precis in English on the Vlad Tepes blog.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Canadian Campus Bigots Turn Deaf Ears To Arab Israelis Debunking The "Apartheid" Slur

Rabea Bader (who's on the extreme right of this photo from the article cited below), is a member of Israel's 125,000-strong Druze community.  He is one of eight young Israelis from various backgrounds who has participated in the WorldSwap scheme, organised by StandWithUsCanada, designed to help debunk the outrageous "Israeli Apartheid" myth which bedevils so many campuses and has (see my post here) caused the undergraduates of one Canadian university, Windsor in Ontario, to vote in favour of BDS.

As the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) reports:
'The WordSwap team travelled to the University of Toronto, York University, the University of Windsor, the University of Guelph, the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, where they held tabling sessions and engaged students in informal conversation, answered challenging questions and shared personal stories about their service in the Israel Defence Forces.'
Mr Bader, who studies computer science and economics at Tel Aviv University, told the CJN that
'he met a number of people at U of T who were shocked to learn that Arabs live in Israel. “I said, ‘I’m living proof,’” he said, going so far as to converse with them in Arabic to convince them further. “I’ve travelled a lot, and I’ve been called [names] when they learn that I’m from Israel ... I see how Israel is misrepresented in the media… They’re accusing Israel of apartheid… and you know it’s not true, but if you don’t stand up and say it’s not true, a lot of people are going to believe these lies.”
 Muhamed Heeb, a young Bedouin postgraduate student at the University of Haifa (who participated in the scheme last year as well) told the paper:
“I wanted to meet the Canadian students and tell them the truth. Last year, I met a lot of students… I keep in touch with many of the students from last year, and this is one of my goals – to bring our image of Israel… Some did not know there are Arabs in Israel. A lot of people were surprised....
I asked them a lot of questions, but they didn’t answer any of them. They wanted to boycott Ben-Gurion University, so I said, ‘Listen guys, Ben-Gurion University has the most Arab girls, Bedouin girls, studying there, more than [schools in] Arab countries.’ I told them I was from the University of Haifa. I’m Arab. I’m doing my master’s, and my faculty would not be able to exchange the knowledge that we have. But they didn’t answer [me].”
 Indeed, according to Orit Tepper,  a co-organiser of the WorldSwap scheme,:

 'every time one of the WordSwap members took the microphone, organizers stopped recording. “They censored them. A member of our group said, ‘I’m an Israeli Arab, my grandparents have lived there, I’ve lived there, I have full rights, I’ve served in the IDF, I work in Tel Aviv, I don’t face discrimination, so how can you say that if you haven’t even been there?’”
 See more here

Meanwhile, across the herring pond, Kay Wilson, survivor of a dreadful Palestinian terror attack that left her with terrible wounds and her companion dead, has lent her support to the Sussex Friends of Israel's valiant campaign against BDS bigotry in Brighton:

She was there with the director of StandWithUsUK (to which organisation I owe the photo credit).

Monday, 17 March 2014

Putting The BS Into BDS

That inveterate campaigner against Israel and Zionism, the Reverend Stephen Sizer, has been participating in the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference which took place in Bethlehem.  (I blogged about it here, but do see, especially if you're American, this disturbing article)

The Rev. Sizer flew back to Britain yesterday, informing his Facebook faithful:

This must have been a joke (unwittingly a Purim joke), for surely the vicar cannot be under the delusion that the Arabs of Mandate Palestine owned and operated their own airline.  (The same cannot, with any high degree of confidence, be said of his followers.)

He surely cannot be among those who take a revisionist view of "Palestinian" history, although, after spotting this poster by Elder of Ziyon on my blog

he had this to say to his followers:

Whatever, the man who (note this, because it's not as generally known as it should be) not long ago declared that the time has come for a One State solution

 has returned from the Conference in fighting form.  He proclaims:

(Incidentally, the David Ruffell quoted above is yet another of Sizer's Facebook friends who makes one call into question the company that the vicar keeps on there; an apparent 9/11 truther, Mr Ruffell has posted such eyebrow-raising things as this:

Time to clean out the Augean Stables, vicar?)

Needless to say, Sizer and the rest of the anti-Christian Zionism brigade are unhappy with British prime minister David Cameron, who during his rousingly pro-Israel speech to the Knesset last week declared:
“I am proud to be pursuing the strongest and deepest possible relationship between our two countries.
From our trade – which has doubled in a decade and is now worth £5 billion a year to the world leading partnerships between our scientists, academics and hi-tech specialists.
Britain and Israel share a commitment to driving the growth of high-tech start-ups. In Britain we’ve introduced huge tax breaks on early stage investment and special visas for entrepreneurs and in just three and a half years we have grown our Tech City in East London from 200 digital companies more than 1300 today.
Israel is the start-up nation – with the second highest density of start-ups outside of Silicon Valley anywhere in the world. As the inspirational President Peres has put it: Israel has gone from oranges to Apple. There are now more than 60 multinational companies with research and development facilities in Israel.
Israel’s technology is protecting British and NATO troops in Afghanistan. It is providing Britain’s National Health Service with one in six of its prescription medicines through Teva and it has produced the world’s first commercially available upright walking technology which enabled a British paraplegic woman to walk the 2012 London Marathon. And together British and Israeli technical expertise can achieve so much more.
From our scientists working on stem cell cures for some of the worst diseases on the planet to our hi-tech specialists who are making a reality of the UK/Israel Tech Hub – the first of its kind in the world I hope this visit can lay the foundation for even more collaboration and even more business between our countries.
And to those who do not share my ambition who want to boycott Israel I have a clear message. Britain opposes boycotts. Whether it’s trade unions campaigning for the exclusion of Israelis or universities trying to stifle academic exchange Israel’s place as a homeland for the Jewish people will never rest on hollow resolutions passed by amateur politicians.
It is founded in the spirit and strength of your people. It is founded in international law. It is founded in the resolve of all of your allies to protect an international system that was forged in our darkest days, to put right historic wrongs. It is founded in the achievements of your economy and your democracy – a country pledged to be fair and equal to all its citizens whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian Arab or Druze.
It is your destiny. Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong.It’s abhorrent.
And together we will defeat it."
Predictably this has not been received well by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (its logo rather gives its endgame away, of course), while one of Sizer's anti-Christian Zionism friends Jeremy Moodey, CEO of Embrace the Middle East, has dashed off an "Open Letter" to Cameron, in which he says:

"....Finally, there was your blanket condemnation of all forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories as ‘delegitimising the State of Israel’ and ‘abhorrent’. These assertions, together with your claim that BDS would deny ‘Israel’s place as a homeland for the Jewish people’ (NB this is not the goal of BDS), are simply a parroting of the Israeli government’s self-serving line on boycott, which is that BDS is just another form of antisemitism...."
"Not the goal of BDS?" Mr Moodey may honestly believe that this is the case, but he is sadly deceived.

As for David Cameron's rousing words, they are, needless to say, very welcome.

However, Cameron in Scots Gaelic means "crooked nose".  There are many who believe the meaning, given its prime ministerial representative's track record, should mean, rather, "crooked mouth" (he tailors his comments to his audience, and is as likely to be as  unctuous towards an Arab gathering tomorrow as he is towards a Jewish one today) or "long nose" (he has a distinct habit of not delivering on his promises) as in Pinnochio.

Cameron is good at a phrase.  But words are cheap.

He is untrustworthy, as I observed in this post which drew attention to his ambivalent attitude to Israel.

And anyone who's inclined to take Cameron at his word should go on over to the blog of the fine pro-Israel British blogger Edgar Davidson for a splendidly candid cautionary view.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Mondoweiss & the Far Right?

This is a guest blog by Professor William D. Rubinstein.

He writes:

Mondoweiss, the fanatically anti-Zionist website run by Jews, has many open and demonstrable links (unsurprisingly) with the extreme Left, especially with the Center for Economic Research and Social Change (CERSC), which publishes the International Socialist Review and sponsored the “Socialism 2012” conference.

Significantly, Mondoweiss now appears to be developing links with the extreme Right.  A blog posted by Philip Weiss (co-editor of the site, for whom it is named) on 9 March this year, headed “Conservatives for Palestine” , gave an account of the “National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel Special Relationship”, which he attended and addressed.

The Conference was apparently wholly the work of extreme conservatives, ranging from neo-isolationists and old line “Foreign Office Arabists” to out-and-out ultra-right antisemites and Holocaust deniers.

After conceding that “the conference had its share of lunacy” Weiss asked in his blog:
"Does anyone really think that we can build a freedom coalition [sic] without these folks? Certainly we won’t unpack the special relationship with Israel without reexamining the human cost to the United States. That includes the attack on the USS Liberty ..., the 9/11 attacks, the murder of Robert Kennedy.'
I will return to these points below, but it would be useful first to consider the organisers of this conference.

Weiss notes that Grant Smith and Alison Weir “did a fabulous job of organizing the conference”. When I first read this, I feared that the latter might be the Alison Weir who is a well-known British author of popular histories, including such works as The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Traitors of the Tower, who had unaccountably developed a side interest in Israel/Palestine.

(Re the Balfour Declaration)
Thankfully, this is someone else entirely, an American of the same name, who has long had a fanatically anti-Israel blog and who has recently become head of the so-called Council for the National Interest.

Despite its neutral-sounding title, this Council has been described by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “an anti-Israel organisation that opposes U.S. aid to Israel and disseminates demonizing propaganda about Israel to academics, politicians, and other audiences”.

The flavour of Alison Weir’s stance on Israel (readily available on her blog) may be seen in her posting “Israel Organ Trafficking and Theft: from Moldova to Palestine”, which gained international notoriety when it first appeared. (It is still there.)

 It quotes Nancy Scheper-Hughes (Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of California Berkeley) as saying, about the international trade in allegedly stolen or bought organs: "Israel is at the top.  It has tentacles reaching worldwide."  Israel's motives, Weir quotes Scheper-Hughes as explaining, are “Revenge, restitution – reparation for the Holocaust. ...We’re going to get every single kidney and liver and heart that we can. The world owes it to us.’”

(The Jews have certainly diversified from the old days, when all they did was poison the wells.  And it is refreshing to know that all the Jews do now is to steal donor organs; in years gone by they kidnapped and murdered gentile boys at Passover, using their blood to make matzoh.)

So much for one of the principal organisers of the Conference.

Although his remarks are somewhat cryptic, Mr Weiss has apparently bought into the gutter conspiracy theories about the assassination of Robert Kennedy and about 9/11.  I frankly don’t know what precisely he has in mind regarding Kennedy.  I assume he is referring to the fact that assassin Sirhan Sirhan (who is still in prison, 46 years later), a Palestinian, is said to have acted because Kennedy, in a televised debate, promised to supply arms to Israel. And I assume that Weiss thinks there were dark forces (i.e., the Zionists) behind this claim.  What prompts the “9/11 attacks” remark I leave to your imagination.

Everyone knows that antisemitic conspiracy theorists claim that Jews were somehow behind the attacks (or the US government) – not Al Quaeda.  The “USS Liberty” reference is to an American naval ship which was accidentally attacked by Israeli forces during the 1967 Six Day War, in the mistaken belief it was an Egyptian vessel.  Thirty-four Americans were killed.  Israel immediately apologised and paid compensation.

Extreme rightwing and antisemitic sources (like this one) have brought up this tragic incident time and again, even after nearly half a century.  (They apparently can’t think of anything more recent, and of course need something to weigh against the countless Arab and Muslim terrorist attacks on American targets.

Mondoweiss now appears to be buying into this cesspool of madness and crackpot dementia.

It will be interesting to see how the site’s core supporters – of whom it is safe to say that 95 percent are on the extreme Left – react.

They say that the extremes meet.  This will be a test case.

Friday, 14 March 2014

David Singer: Palestine – A Stone’s Throw Away From Syria

Here is the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.

He writes:

'It boggles the imagination that Australia’s national broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) could have been involved in a joint investigation between its premier Public Affairs show – Four Corners – and one of Australia’s leading newspapers – The Australian – in producing a 45 minute television documentary – "Stone Cold Justice" – examining the treatment of Palestinian children in Israel’s military court system.

ABC News announced that:
“Children are being intimidated and forced into false confessions by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, according to allegations to be broadcast tonight on the ABC's Four Corners program.
A joint investigation between Four Corners and The Australian newspaper has examined the treatment of Palestinian children in Israel's military court system. Four Corners looks at claims the Israeli army is arresting hundreds of Palestinian children during night raids for alleged crimes, such as throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Israel's security services have also been accused by lawyers and youth workers of using Palestinian children to gather intelligence.”
The news item went on to reveal that:
“700 Palestinian children [are] detained each year by the Israeli army…”
Any allegations concerning the mistreatment or abuse of children should be vigorously questioned and exposed – but the allocation of substantial resources by the Australian taxpayer funded ABC to investigate allegations that relate to 700 children a year in the West Bank must be seriously questioned.

There are certainly far more serious abuses being suffered by children – most notably in Syria for the last three years – that deserve detailed investigation by national broadcasters like the ABC.

The impotency of the United Nations and its “humanitarian” agencies in allowing inhumane outcomes for children resulting from member states either backing the Assad regime or those seeking to overthrow it – has been starkly revealed in a report, “Under Siege: The devastating impact on children of three years of conflict in Syria” – issued by UNICEF this week

The Report reveals that:
1. Since March 2013, the number of children affected by the crisis in Syria has more than doubled from 2.3 million to more than 5.5 million.
2. The number of children displaced inside Syria has more than tripled from 920,000 to almost 3 million.
3. The number of child refugees has more than quadrupled from 260,000 to more than 1.2 million. Of these children, 425,000 are under the age of five
4. One in 10 children – over 1.2 million – have fled the country to become refugees in neighbouring countries. And these numbers are rising every day. By the end of January 2014, 37,498 Syrian children had been born as refugees.
5. As of January 2014, more than 10,000 children have lost their lives to Syria’s violence reflecting a blatant disregard for civilian lives by all sides to the conflict. Most have reportedly died in the last 24 months - and there is evidence that children are being directly targeted.
6. Boys as young as 12 have been recruited to support the fighting, some in actual combat, others to work as informers, guards, or arms smugglers
7. According to a recent UN report, children as young as 11 are being detained with adults. In some cases, they are being subjected to torture and sexual abuse to humiliate them, force confessions, or pressure relatives to surrender
8. According to UN field estimates- one in ten refugee children is thought to be working – whether as cheap labour on farms, in cafes and car repair shops or as beggars on city streets.
9. Malnutrition and dangerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies – so-called “hidden hunger” - have been slowly undermining children’s ability to develop and thrive over the last three years.
10. Since the confirmation of a polio outbreak in the governorate of Deir Ezzour in October 2013, 25 cases of the disease have been confirmed in the north and east of the country. Despite a massive immunization programme since - polio remains a threat, especially to an estimated 323,000 children under the age of five in areas under siege or that are hard-to-reach
Australia currently occupies a seat on the United Nations Security Council – positioning it to take a lead role in demanding that an armed UN force be sent to Syria to implement an imposed cease fire to end this mayhem and slaughter – if the warring parties do not agree on a cease fire within a specified time frame.

If Australia’s national broadcaster has been moved to investigate the abuse of 700 children in the West Bank – surely it should be similarly motivated to produce a series of 45 minute documentaries interviewing UNICEF officials and those on the front line in Syria named in UNICEF’s report detailing the abuses being visited on 5.5 million children.

Indeed, all national broadcasters – especially in those democratic countries forming part of the “The Friends of Syria Core Group of countries – the ‘London 11’” – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey – should be actively demanding a cease fire to end the suffering of these innocent children.

The other members of the London 11 – Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates must be prepared to join such an international force to end this genocidal assault on Arab children.

Russia, Iran and Hezbollah need to accept such a cease fire immediately.

The world must intervene without further delay.Syria is only a stone’s throw away from the West Bank – not on another planet.'