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)

Tuesday 30 November 2010

"Dignity" and the Dhimmi

Amid all the hype about the engagement of Prince William and press preoccupation with the Wikileaks scandal, a sinister piece of European Union legislation has passed virtually unnoticed. Making “certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia”a criminal offence, it has implications that should worry everybody who values freedom of speech, what remains of the sovereignty of nations shackled together in an increasingly bizarre and bureaucratic tyranny that Stalin would envy, and who fears the creeping islamification of the European continent.

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian who has been prosecuted for voicing anxieties about the rise of Islam – the indictment charges her with “hate speech” for asserting that “Sharia is a definite no-no. We want no gender apartheid, no ghettoes, no social and cultural discrimination, no polygamy, no theocracy, no hate…” – has warned eloquently about the implications of this dastardly piece of folly:

Now, I'm no lawyer, but as I understand the matter, the new legislation permits the state to be the sole arbiter of what is acceptable speech, and allows any state within the EU to prosecute those who are deemed to have run afoul of this new law. Since it institutes the principle of cross-border transfer, any EU member state may prosecute the citizen of any other for "hate speech", and the police of the accused's country would be obliged to deliver the individual to the complainant state to stand trial.

A vigilant EU-watcher remarked to me:
“It is one of the most scary documents of control imaginable. It is pretty much the complete adoption of the deepest desires of the OIC [Organisation of the Islamic Conference] into European Law. If Turkey were to ever enter the EU, this would place all of the EU's citizens under Sharia.
It is also possible, as increasing Islamisation takes place in various countries, that people will be tried and convicted in a territory with the harshest laws preventing criticism of Islam.
And ... imagine if one country in the EU issues an arrest warrant for an Israeli. Every member state would be obliged to arrest and transfer that individual.
I'm not sure that travel to any state in the EU is possible or wise for anyone who criticizes Islam regularly or has fought for Israel."
Turkey’s admission to the EU – the Islamic hordes in its hinterland notwithstanding – is certainly high on the agenda of British prime minister David Cameron. He's expressed his determination to achieve it.  And it seems that Sheik Fadlallah-loving Frances Guy (here she is, seated dhimmi-like, before the late sheik, a mastermind of terror) has taken a shine to Turkey’s Prime Minister.

In her latest blog (on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s official website) that contains her musings on the topic of “Dignity” - Britain's ambassador to Lebanon paid tribute to Erdogan’s “dignity” – just as she has to that of “The Palestinian veterans at our Remembrance service [who]carried themselves with great dignity despite all their difficulties and earned everyone's respect.” Her blog of 22 September, incidentally, expanded on the latter theme:
"There are nearly 60 Palestinian veterans in Lebanon who served with the British army during the 2nd World War. The tragic irony of their situation is heart-wringing. After loyally serving the Union Jack, in 1948 they were forced to flee their homes when the state of Israel was created.... Their quiet dignity in the midst of hardship and poverty is to be admired and respected.”
Maybe  these elderly gentlemen are more worthy of Ms Guy’s adulation than was the elderly sheikh about whom she blogged so effusively back in July (see my blog archive for two posts on that topic). But I wish she’d get it through her frequently hijabbed head that there’s no dignity in dhimmitude.
(To those to whom it is relevant, and despite the gloomy tone of the above post, I wish a Happy Chanukah!)

The Secret of Israel's Eternity

This is a cross-post by Avraham Reiss of Jerusalem.  It originally appeared at

You have deprived the Jews of air, they have thus been preserved from rottenness, you have strewn the salt of hatred into their hearts, their hearts have thus been kept fresh. You have imprisoned them for the whole long winter in a cellar, and stopped up the cellar door with dung; but you, exposed to the frost, were half frozen to death.”
- Ludwig Borne (1786-1837), as quoted from the historian Heinrich Graetz in his monumental History of the Jews (Volume 5, Chapter XIV, pages 539-540).
(View at:

Graetz says of Borne: "…Borne despised the Jews of his time, and spoke of them as if he were their arch-enemy" – but despite this, Borne (pictured, who was Jewish) seems to have captured the secret of the Eternity of Israel.

However, to delve more deeply into such a cosmic subject, we need to view authentic Toranic sources. And to define our targets of interest. What exactly are we looking for?
[Note: where we give years in BCE or CE terms, the absolute Jewish year follows in brackets.]

The Jewish Time Line Encyclopedia says that Bnei Yisrael – “The Children of Israel” crossed the Jordan into the Land of Israel in the year 1273 BCE (2488). Assuming the destruction of the Second Temple and start of the long exile in 69 CE (3829), and subtracting 70 years of exile after the destruction of the First Temple, we find that the People of Israel lived in the Land of Israel – Eretz Yisrael – for 1271 years. If we now add 100 years or so of the current Zionist Renaissance, then Am Yisrael has lived in its land for 1371 years, while it has been in exile for roughly 2000 years. (I haven't delved too deeply into the accuracy of the above numbers, but in principle they correctly portray the situation.)

We therefore examine the behaviour and survival of Am Yisrael in exile for two reasons:

(1) This was the longest period of its existence, and

(2) Survival in exile requires much more effort than survival in one’s own land, owing to all the external forces acting against it - both hostile and friendly – antisemitism and assimilation.

What was the reason for, and the purpose of the exile?

A number of reasons and purposes have been given.

(1) Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, in his book Orot (“Lights”) that has become the “flagship” of his modern Zionistic philosophy, contradicts the generally assumed understanding that the two Temples were destroyed because Am Yisrael sinned twice.

Rav Kook explains that when Am Yisrael sinned for the first time, and the First Temple was destroyed, it was then decreed that Am Yisrael would go into exile for two millenia. The reason being, says HaRav Kook, that Am Yisrael had become at least partially corrupt at the private, personal level, and had it maintained itself as a state, the corruption would have spread to the national levels. So the state was to be disbanded, Judaism would descend or revert to the individual level where it would correct itself at these levels. The individual level means no state, no army, courts of law, or any other of the components of a state.

However, it would have been impossible to send Am Yisrael into a 2000-year exile starting from the year 423 BCE (3338) – at that time the nation did not possess the tools, properties and capabilities that would ensure its long-term survival as a nation-in-exile. The Second Temple was thus built and served as a preparation for the long exile. It was at the time of the Second Temple that the Oral Law was written; this was the Mishna, which would be followed by the Gemara (Talmud), and would later – in exile – evolve through the Gaonim, Rishonim, Achronim and Poskim. Thus intense Judaic legal activity and creativity would accompany Am Yisrael through its long exile, its foundations having been laid during the period of the preparatory Second Temple.

We will return further on for additional commentary by HaRav Kook.

(2) From Orot (“Lights”) we now move to Or (Light”): The Or HaChayim (“The Light of Life”).

From Wikipedia – Chaim ibn Attar:
"Chaim ben Moses ibn Attar, also known as the Ohr ha-Chaim after his popular commentary on the Pentateuch, was a Talmudist and kabbalist; born at Mequenez, Morocco, in 1696. He was one of the most prominent rabbis in Morocco. In 1733 he decided to leave his native country and settle in the Land of Israel; died in Jerusalem July 7, 1743."
(BelowI have translated his words freely, and not literally, so that they will be more understandable. The same will be true for other translations in this post.)

Numbers Chapter 24, verse 23:

“He took up his parable and said, Alas! Who can survive these things from God?”
On this verse the Or HaChayim  comments as follows:

“The reasons for Israel’s exiles is to identify and gather the sparks of holiness that are to be found amongst the dwellers of the lands of exiles. And this is hinted at in Ecclesiastes 8,9 where it is written:'All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.'”
“To his own hurt”, says the Or HaChayim,
 “refers to the idol-worshipping oppressor who is ruling over another man, for the good part of the oppressor is taken by the oppressed, and the bad part of the opressed is transfered to the oppressor; and we have already said many times that absence of the good part of a person is his death, for it is the good part that maintains him in life, and the bad part is called 'death'”.
For wherever G-d places Israel, there they will remove from the residents all the sparks of holiness which are keeping them alive.”
[End of Or HaChayim's commentary.]

We emphasize here that the above refers specifically to oppressors of Israel.

(3) The same idea is expressed in the book Zidkat HaZadik by Rabbi Zadokof Lublin.

From Wikipedia: Zadok HaKohen:

“He was born into a Lithuanian Rabbinic family and then became a follower of the Hasidic Rebbe, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica … He is a classic example of a Litvish Jew turned Chasidic … In 1888, Zadok Hakohen agreed to take over the leadership of the Hasidim … Rabbi Zadok was a prolific writer in all areas of Judaism, halakhah, Hasidut, Kabbalah, angelology, ethics; he also wrote scholarly essays on astronomy, geometry, and algebra."
In article 256 of his book, pages 220-221, he says:

“Just as every nation has its own specific evil, so also does it possess a spark of holiness which is its force of life. And the exile (of Am Yisrael) is about this – to absorb the goodness (the sparks of holiness) for Israel, as it is written [in the wisdom of mysticism] that when (Am Yisrael is) in exile abundance goes to the nations of the world, and (from them) Israel absorbs the essence.”
[End of Rabbi Zadokof Lublin's commentary]

I add here a commentary I read many years ago and unfortunately cannot now find the source.

Exodus 12, 41:

”And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”
The commentary said that “all the hosts of the Lord” (which would have been better translated as “all the armies of the Lord”) refers to all the camps of holiness that existed in Egypt. And with the exit of all the “sparks of holiness”, what we have above termed “the good part”, Egypt collapsed.

(4) Returning to HaRav Kook, we now hear an explanation of our survival in exile that is based on a physical example.

In his commentary on the siddur (prayer book) Olat Rei’yah, vol 1, pages 230-231, HaRav Kook speaks of the physical problem of Perpetua Mobile – Perpetual Motion. There, Rabbi Kook says (in my free translation):
“Perpetual Motion could only become possible if all matters opposing the motion (such as friction with the air) that tend naturally to slow down the motion, could be ‘harnessed’ in such a manner as to add strength to the motion.
The qualities and character traits found amongst the nations, which have subdued and oppressed Israel, have been impressed upon Israel by them; these qualities and traits must serve holiness and perfection, such as bravery and revenge in the right places, and are extracted by Israel from the nations around it, thus honing Israel to general perfection.
Thus Israel achieves eternity by drawing strength from that which will oppose it, (enabling it to survive Babylon and other oppressing nations).”
I would clarify Rabbi Kook’s words by saying that each nation has a particular quality. For example, the British are polite, Americans generous, the Swiss precise, the Scots thrifty, the Germans – let’s not talk about them …

Israel amongst the nations thus absorbs these qualities whilst exiled amongst them, and will eventually become a nation possessing all the qualities that are spread around the world. (Elsewhere, Rabbi Kook says that G-d did a kindness with the world, by not concentrating all the national qualities and characteristics, as well as geological and geographic richness, all in one nation and in one land).

Sunday 28 November 2010

Princes in Israel ... and "Trembling Israelites"

For a Jewish community on the “Edge of the Diaspora”, to use the title of Suzanne Rutland’s history, that of Australia has produced more than its fair share of titans. Among its native-born sons have been such internationally-known figures as philosopher Samuel Alexander, composer Arthur Benjamin, First World War commander-in-chief General Sir John Monash, and two governors-general, Sir Isaac Isaacs and Sir Zelman Cowen. The community’s overseas-born sons have included Lieutenant-Colonel Eliezer Margolin, renowned for his service in Eretz Israel, German refugee Rabbi Herman Sanger, considered by his contemporary Sir Robert Menzies – no mean orator himself – to have been the greatest public speaker in the country, international jurist Julius Stone, who wrote, inter alia, on the Israel-Arab dispute, and a host of outstanding post-war communal activists of Eastern European background (including the grandparents of a certain Mark Regev), who turned a small and shrinking “Anglo” Jewish community threatened with extinction through apathy and intermarriage into the vibrant one that exists today.

For a quarter of a century, until he made aliya in 1999, the dominant communal leader in Australia was Antwerp-born Isi Leibler (pictured), who grew up in that country from the age of five. Having obtained a first-class honours degree in political science from the University of Melbourne, he embarked on a doctorate with the intention of becoming an academic or diplomat, but the early death of his father compelled him to take over the running of the family diamond business, and he subsequently headed his own renowned travel company, Jetset Tours.

A charismatic leader in the original, Weberian sense – one who dominates by the sheer force of his personality – Isi Leibler was long active in combating antisemitism and improving intra-communal relations as public relations supremo of the Board of Deputies in the State of Victoria, before serving for very many years as president of the community’s chief body, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, and in due course being elected senior vice-president of the governing body of the World Jewish Congress.

During his years as head of the Australian Jewish community the fearlessly frank and extraordinarily dedicated Leibler met many world leaders. In the nineteenth century, the Anglo-Jewish philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore, who headed the fledgling Board of Deputies of British Jews, made several visits overseas on behalf of oppressed Jewries. In the twentieth, it was Isi Leibler who, long before the cause of Soviet Jewry was taken up by others, strove for the rights of the trapped and persecuted Jews of the USSR. Owing to his endeavours, Australia became, in 1962, the first country to raise the issue at the UN, and his book Soviet Jewry and Human Rights (1965) –  which sits beside me as I type – forced the Jewish Left throughout the world, which had hitherto consisted of servile apologists for Soviet antisemitism, to reassess its attitude.

Alexander Lerner, Andrei Sakharov and Isi Leibler in Moscow
In 1967 a young Isi Leibler, representing Australia, received a standing ovation at the WJC in Strasbourg when he accused the WJC’s president, Dr Nahum Goldmann, of shtadlanut for opposing public rallies to publicise the cause and relying exclusively on unobtrusive overtures.

Over the years, Leibler made several visits to the Soviet Union, befriending refuseniks and Prisoners of Zion, and interceding on their behalf. “Even if I am not able to realize my dream of returning to my homeland in our lifetime, we are still happy to take part in this biblical event,” the late and noble Professor Alexander Lerner, dismissed from his job for applying to emigrate, once assured him in an effort to cheer him. “We feel we are involved in dedicating ourselves to our people and our country.”

In 1987, Leibler was invited by Moscow’s chief rabbi to address worshippers from the pulpit of the KGB-controlled Archipova Synagogue at Rosh Hashana . “Giving a Zionist address in broken Yiddish to a packed synagogue in the presence of refusenik friends ... was an unforgettable experience”, Leibler has recalled.  And in 1989, thanks largely to Leibler’s efforts, the first Jewish Cultural Centre since the advent of glasnost, the Solomon Mykhoels Centre, named for the celebrated Yiddish poet murdered on Stalin’s orders in 1948, was opened in Moscow.

These days, the man who as a young leader had the courage and the audacity publicly to berate Dr Goldmann for his “silent diplomacy” – and who has claimed many scalps in his time – remains frank and fearless, writing a much admired Jerusalem Post blog entitled “Candidly Speaking ...”

This summer Mick Davis , who chairs Anglo Jewry’s United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) – the principal fund-raising institution for Israel of the UK Jewish community – and also heads the so-called Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), a non-elected body composed of very wealthy individuals like himself – raised many eyebrows with his insistence that the Diaspora, as an “equal” partner, has a legitimate right to engage in the Israeli policy-making process.

Among those deploring this ridiculous notion, none was more eloquent or trenchant than Isi Leibler, who justifiably stated:
'We have grown accustomed to the ravings of the Jew haters of Zion - the loony left who identify with Hamas and Hizbullah rather than their own people, the post-Zionists who seek to undo the Jewish character of Israel and the bleeding heart liberals who make excuses for the criminality of our neighbors and condemn us for defending ourselves.
But what is more frustrating is an emerging new trend, involving even well-meaning friends of Israel, primarily liberals, who demand that as Jews and "partners" of Israel, they are entitled to partake in determining Israeli security and defense related policies....
Despite living thousands of miles away and not subject to the consequences of the policies they promote, they have the gall to insist that they are more sensitive to the security needs of the Jewish state than we Israelis. Being "genuinely pro-peace," they purport to be acting in our best interests by exercising "tough love" ... Their hubris and arrogance is mind-boggling.
....We all agree that Diaspora Jews have been and remain the most important partner of the Jewish state. No one challenges their right to provide input toward Israeli decisions which impact on the future of the Jewish people. But that principal was always accompanied by a caveat that campaigning against government policies affecting security was absolutely off limits for non-Israelis.
....We are one people. But Diaspora Jews and Israelis are not equal partners.
Whereas during the formative founding years of the state, the financial contribution of global Jewry was crucial, today Israel has evolved into a powerful economic entity and Diaspora support represents a minimal percentage of GNP. In many respects the principal benefit of Diaspora funding is that it represents a key element in maintaining Jewish identity by providing constructive involvement with the Jewish state.
However if Jewish philanthropists believe that contributing toward worthy causes in Israel makes them eligible to become involved in security related decision-making, they should retain their money. There is no question that ultimately only Israelis can determine security-related policy. It is we, our children and our grandchildren who will be placing our lives on the line, not Jews in New York, London, Melbourne or Rio....
Surveys show that the dropouts, the new liberals who are alienated from Israel, primarily originate from assimilated and intermarried families and those overwhelmed by the hostile culture and media surrounding them especially on the campus.
Instead of becoming obsessed with an urge to tell us how to run our affairs, Jewish activists should ensure that the new generation of Jews in high school and on the campus are imbued with an understanding of our history and heritage and above all exposed to the Israel narrative which will strengthen their morale and enable them to withstand the external onslaughts. That should be their primary objective, rather than groveling to left liberals who magnify every minor fault in our society while closing their eyes to the horrors that could engulf us if the barbarians at our gates succeed.'
And so, it is not surprising that, when Mick Davis made some truly egregious remarks this month, that again serve only to bring aid and comfort to Israel’s enemies (including the extraordinarily repellent assertion that “the government of Israel has to recognize that their actions directly impact on me as a Jew living in London ... When they do good things, it is good for me; when they do bad things, it is bad for me”) Isi Leibler –  never one to suffer fools gladly – should once more be in the forefront of the criticism:
‘Needless to say, Davis is fully entitled to say whatever comes to his mind. Nobody seeks to deprive him of freedom of expression.
Many Jews are critical of Israeli governments.
But for a person holding senior public office in a major Diaspora community to indulge in crude public attacks on Israeli leaders and relate to Israel’s security requirements in relation to their impact on his image in non-Jewish circles is surely bizarre and utterly unconscionable.
While occupying the role of chairman of the UIJA in a country in which hatred of Israel and anti-Semitism have reached record levels, Davis brazenly incites his fellow Jews to criticize Israel.
Resident in London, he had the chutzpa to berate the Israeli prime minister “for lacking the courage to take the steps” to advance the peace process, arguing that “I don’t understand the lack of strategy in Israel.” He also employed the terminology of our enemies, predicting an “apartheid state” unless Israel was able to achieve a two-state solution – unashamedly blaming Israelis rather than Palestinians for being the obstacle to peace.
His sheer arrogance was best demonstrated in his most outrageous remark: “I think the government of Israel has to recognize that their actions directly impact on me as a Jew living in London, UK.  When they do good things, it is good for me; when they do bad things, it is bad for me. And the impact on me is as significant as it is on Jews living in Israel... I want them to recognize that.”
Aside from implying that Israel is responsible for the anti-Semitism he is encountering, Davis is effectively warning that when considering defense issues which may have life-or-death implications for Israelis, the government must be sure not to create problems for him in his non- Jewish social circles. From his London mansion, he blithely brushes aside suicide bombers, rockets launched against our children and the threat of nuclear annihilation because his gentile friends might complain about the behavior of his Israeli friends.
.... It is telling that over recent years, Davis has not been renowned for condemning the shameful policies of British governments in relation to Israel. And it is no coincidence that immediately after the UK abstained from the UN vote on the Goldstone Report, Davis chaired a JLC reception at which former foreign minister David Miliband [pictured, who, by the way, has tweeted his approval of Davis’s latest comments, calling them “very brave and impressive”] was the key speaker. On that occasion, the “outspoken” Davis felt constrained not to express a single word of complaint or disappointment at the perfidious behavior of the British government in relation to this issue.
Admittedly, Davis’ latest outburst is neither intellectually challenging nor persuasive.
But emanating from a Jewish “leader” in the anti-Semitic UK environment in which campaigns to boycott and delegitimize Israel are at an all-time high, and at a time when Israel is under siege and fighting for its existence, it surely represents a level of unprecedented vulgarity.
In any self-respecting Diaspora Jewish community, Davis would have been obliged to tender his resignation immediately after making such outrageous remarks.
Not so in sunny London.
Instead of condemning him, the Anglo- Jewish establishment groveled. Many even seemed delighted that one of their leading spokesmen had distanced himself from what many of them may regard as the unsavory government which the people of Israel had democratically elected.
Anglo-Jewish leaders share a long tradition of burying their head in the sand, avoiding confrontation and displaying a determination not to rock the boat under any circumstances. One of their leaders actually wrote in The Jerusalem Post, proudly boasting how their pro-Israel advocacy approach was based on “whispering” rather than “shouting.”
Today, by lacking the courage to challenge the propriety of one of its most senior “leaders” indulging in coarse public condemnations of Israel, the trembling Israelite establishment has further undermined the standing of the UK Jewish community.
When one proudly recalls the outstanding contribution of British Jews to the development of Zionism, and the role played by leaders of the caliber of Chaim Weizmann, one is left with a sense of profound sadness. The Anglo-Jewish Zionist pioneers would turn in their graves were they aware of the irresponsible behavior of those who have currently assumed the mantle of leadership of their community.'
I would add that if Mr Davis and others of his ilk are so keen to see a change in Israeli policy, they should pack their bags and make aliya, in order to participate in the democratic process at the ballot box. 

For other biting criticisms of Mick Davis see:

Thursday 25 November 2010

Sounds Familiar: On the Hypocrisy, Ignorance, and Racism of the anti-Israel Left

Here they stand – a group of Irish “peace activists”; one of their posters (issued in 1936) reads “Visit Palestine”.  I wonder whether the irony is lost on them – or whether they and the other lefties who are deliberately appropriating that symbol of Zionism, the national liberation movement of a martyr-people, as a token of the “Palestinian” cause – realize that the poster and its set companions, all dating to the Mandate period, were designed by an Austrian-born refugee Jew named Franz Krausz who lost his brothers in the Holocaust but managed to avoid that fate by obtaining a visa for himself and his bride to Eretz Israel, where they arrived in 1934.

Little surprises me nowadays regarding the sheer ignorance that exists regarding the history and politics of “Palestine” – and the repellent perversity of the Left. Yes, the leftist attitude to Israel is rooted in shameful ignorance and utter hypocrisy – and even in antisemitism – and there are still some leftist voices unafraid to proclaim it so. Below I reproduce two eloquent condemnations of leftist anti-Zionism, by a Jew and a non-Jew.

Henryk Broder is a Polish-born German-Jewish journalist who blogs (in German) at Contemptuous of western appeasement of Islamism, he regards anti-Zionism as motivated by antisemitism. His career as the scourge of the German left , berating it for its hypocrisy – its revolting double standard towards Jews and Israel, was engendered by the hijacking in 1976 of an Israel-bound Air France airliner by members of the Baader Meinhof gang, who in a Nazi-like selection separated Jewish from non-Jewish passengers, eventually letting the latter go). When briefly resident in Israel, he contributed the following article to Forum on the Jewish People, Zionism and Israel (Winter 1981, pp. 109-117). It takes the form of an “open letter” to “my dear (more or less) leftist friends”, entitled bluntly “You are no less anti-semites than your Nazi parents”. It said, in part:

'The claim that a leftist cannot, by his very nature, be an anti-Semite, since that’s the domain of the right, is a popular claim, but phony as far as it goes....

Actually, why is it that a man of the Left cannot be an anti-Semite? Are leftist like yourselves better people? ....In the final analysis, your parents did such a good job with you that your anti-Semitic potential is “loose” and, as it were, free-floating, devoid of any specific target.... ...[T]here is still the Super-Jew – the State of Israel with which you stubbornly pre-occupy yourselves as though you had nothing better to do.

Your anti-Zionism is nothing more than a left-wing version of anti-Semitism. The same logic, the same methodology, the same vocabulary – only Jew has been replaced by “Zionist”. I don’t have to dissect the articles that appear in Unser Zeit, Rote Fahne, Neve, and Taz, etc. [Left-wing newspapers in Germany.] I don’t have to prove for the umpteenth time that Israel is judged by altogether different standards from other, non-Jewish states – just as Jews are judged by altogether different criteria than non-Jews.... And it works: the Jews are the Nazis, the Palestinians are the victims of the Jews ...

Today, your Jew is the State of Israel, just as your parents believed that they would be much better off without the Jews, so you believe there would be no strife in the Middle East without Israel. There isn’t a single Arab state which isn’t involved in an incessant quarrel with at least one other country in the region... But for you, Israel is the only warmonger in the area, the one obstacle to peace and socialism.

....In your ever-changing repertory, there burns only one constant fire: Palestine. No other strip of land is closer to your heart. The smell of gunpowder of no other conflict is closer to your nostrils. Your concern with Palestine is based on one fundamental consideration. The fact that it is Jews who are oppressing the Palestinians....

It’s the old game you always play in different guises: the Jews are allowed less than the others, but more is demanded of them. They are permitted to suffer blows and humiliation which they may, at best, complain about – but mustn’t hit back. And when the Jews behave as others always have, you foam at the mouth....

There is nothing new under the sun. In Poland or Russia, when a child disappeared just before Passover, everyone knew for certain: once again the Jews need Christian blood to bake their matzot. Usually this led to a pogrom. The Christian rioters were always disappointed when the “slaughtered” child was discovered, or when it became clear that an Aryan had caused his disappearance. In Poland, even today, they believe more in stories of this kind than they do in party communiqués.

... [U]p until now, that is, the Six Day War, not one Pope  called for opening up the Holy City to all faiths. Until then, the Jews were the one religious group which did not have free access to their holy places. Today, with Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty and open to the members of every religion, the supreme spiritual shepherd of the Catholics thinks he must call for the “freedom of Jerusalem”. And what’s worse – no one gets angry, or cries out in protest.

Anti-Jewish hostility is something like the urge for food or sex, it seems to have an almost anthropological base. At any rate, it is the lowest common denominator of western culture, something upon which everyone can agree, from the Vatican to the Kremlin.... The murder of the Christian children couldn’t be refuted by resorting to the real facts – just as the truth couldn’t demolish the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which were concocted by the Czarist secret police. When it suits your needs, you treat the facts with the same didain.

You don’t have a clue about anything, but your minds are made up about everything. You don’t know that Israel took in the same number of Jews from Arab countries as Arabs fled from it in 1948. You talk about Palestine and refer to the same coastal strip including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. You don’t know that, historically, the area east of the Jordan is part of Palestine and that it was only in 1922 that the British gave it to the Hashemite Dynasty .... Nor do you know that ... Abdullah [the present King Abdullah of Jordan’s great-grandfather] sought cooperation and peace between Jews and Arabs, and that for this he was murdered by Arab terrorists. You avoid anything which might shake your predetermined hostility.

....During the time I have been writing this letter, the January 1981 issue of Emma [a feminist monthly] has appeared. On the last page, there is an ad about what will be included in the magazine’s forthcoming issue. One of the stories is entitled “Palestine: Ingrid Strubl was there”. Where were you, Ms Strubl? In Palestine. For Emma there is no Israel. The second phase of the final soliution has been absolutely determined, and now it’s just a question of time. I asked Alice Schwarzer [the editor of Emma] what she was thinking when she inserted the ad in that way. She said she didn’t think anything. How obvious has the idea of the Jewish entity become – so obvious, that one no longer thinks about it.

Upon her return to Cologne from “Palestine” Ms Strubl announced that the Jews have no business being there, that it is, in fact, an absolute stupidity, just because this or that Hebrew tribe lived there 2,000 years ago. I didn’t even try to explain to her that there are historic, religious and metaphysical ties, ties which she is apparently incapable of grasping. I let it go with the simple argument that we had tried living without a state for 2,000 years and chalked up some terrible experiences along the way....

...As she sees things, the State of Israel is in and of itself an occupied state which should be dismantled, even if the territory under its control were to shrink to the environs of Tel Aviv. Her concern is not for a just Middle East settlement based on a mutual compromise by Israel and the Arabs, and a modus vivendi which they must find if they are not to destroy one another. For her, and for many others on the German Left, it is a matter of principle. The Jewish State must not be.'

Pilar Rahola is also a journalist with her ideological roots firmly in the Left. But like Broder she is appalled at the utter ignorance, hypocrisy, and moral bankruptcy of consensual leftwing attitudes towards Jews and Israel. Unlike Broder she is not a Jew writing about the betrayal of Israel by the leftist children of Hitlerite parents, but a non-Jew writing about the betrayal of Israel by the Left in her native Spain, and for that matter elsewhere in the West. These words of hers are separated from Broder’s piece, above, by nigh on three decades, yet how familiar they sound, and how justified they are:

‘.... Intellectual thinkers and international journalists have given up on Israel. It doesn’t exist. That is why, when someone tries to go beyond the “single thought” of criticizing Israel, he becomes suspect and unfaithful, and is immediately segregated. Why?

I’ve been trying to answer this question for years: why?  Why, of all the conflicts in the world, only this one interests them?  Why is a tiny country which struggles to survive criminalized?  Why does manipulated information triumph so easily?  Why are all the people of Israel, reduced to a simple mass of murderous imperialists?

Why is there no Palestinian guilt?  Why is Arafat a hero and Sharon a monster?  Finally, why when Israel is the only country in the World which is threatened with extinction, it is also the only one that nobody considers a victim?

I don’t believe that there is a single answer to these questions. Just as it is impossible to completely explain the historical evil of anti-Semitism, it is also not possible to totally explain the present-day imbecility of anti-Israelism. Both drink from the fountain of intolerance and lies. Also, if we accept that anti-Israelism is the new form of anti-Semitism, we conclude that circumstances may have changed, but the deepest myths, both of the medieval Christian anti-Semitism and of the modern political anti-Semitism, are still intact. Those myths are part of the chronicle of Israel.

For example, the Medieval Jew accused of killing Christian children to drink their blood connects directly with the Israeli Jew who kills Palestinian children to steal their land. Always they are innocent children and dark Jews.

Similarly, the Jewish bankers who wanted to dominate the world through the European banks, according to the myth of the Protocols, connect directly with the idea that the Wall Street Jews want to dominate the World through the White House. Control of the Press, control of Finances, the Universal Conspiracy, all that which has created the historical hatred against the Jews, is found today in hatred of the Israelis. In the subconscious, then, beats the DNA of the Western anti-Semite, which produces an efficient cultural medium.

But what beats in the conscious? Why does a renewed intolerance surge with such virulence, centered now, not against the Jewish people, but against the Jewish state? From my point of view, this has historical and geopolitical motives, among others, the decades long bloody Soviet role, the European anti-Americanism, the West’s energy dependency and the growing Islamist phenomenon. But it also emerges from a set of defeats which we suffer as free societies, leading to a strong ethical relativism.

The moral defeat of the left. For decades, the left raised the flag of freedom wherever there was injustice. It was the depositary of the utopian hopes of society. It was the great builder of the future.

Despite the murderous evil of Stalinism’s sinking these utopias, the left has preserved intact its aura of struggle, and still pretends to point out good and evil in the world. Even those who would never vote for leftist options, grant great prestige to leftist intellectuals, and allow them to be the ones who monopolize the concept of solidarity. As they have always done. Thus, those who struggled against Pinochet were freedom-fighters, but Castro’s victims, are expelled from the heroes’ paradise, and converted into undercover fascists.

This historic treason to freedom is reproduced nowadays, with mathematical precision. For example, the leaders of Hezbollah are considered resistance heroes, while pacifists like the Israeli singer Noa, are insulted in the streets of Barcelona. Today too, as yesterday, the left is hawking totalitarian ideologies, falls in love with dictators and, in its offensive against Israel, ignores the destruction of fundamental rights. It hates rabbis, but falls in love with imams; shouts against the Israeli Defence Forces, but applauds Hamas’s terrorists; weeps for the Palestinian victims, but scorns the Jewish victims, and when it is touched by Palestinian children, it does it only if it can blame the Israelis.

It will never denounce the culture of hatred, or its preparation for murder. A year ago, at the AIPAC conference in Washington I asked the following questions:

Why don’t we see demonstrations in Europe against the Islamic dictatorships?

Why are there no demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of Muslim women?

Why are there no declarations against the use of bomb-carrying children in the conflicts in which Islam is involved?

Why is the left only obsessed with fighting against two of the most solid democracies of the planet, those which have suffered the bloodiest terrorist attacks, the United States and Israel?

Because the left no longer has any ideas, only slogans. It no longer defends rights, but prejudices. And the greatest prejudice of all is the one aimed against Israel. I accuse, then, in a formal manner that the main responsibility for the new anti-Semitic hatred disguised as anti-Zionism, comes from those who should have been there to defend freedom, solidarity and progress. Far from it, they defend despots, forget their victims and remain silent before medieval ideologies which aim at the destruction of free societies. The treason of the left is an authentic treason against modernity.

.... [S]everal Spanish left-wing organizations tried to take me to court, accusing me of being a negationist, like the Nazis, because I deny the “Palestinian Holocaust”. They were attempting to prohibit me from writing articles and to send me to prison.

.....The United Nations is only useful to Islamofascists like Ahmadinejad, or dangerous demagogues like Hugo Chavez which offers them a planetary loudspeaker where they can spit their hatred. And, of course, to systematically attack Israel. The UN, too exists to fight Israel.

....Tolerant and cultural Islam suffers today the violent attack of a totalitarian virus which tries to stop its ethical development. This virus uses the name of G-d to perpetrate the most terrible horrors: lapidate women, enslave them, use youths as human bombs. Let’s not forget: They kill us with cellular phones connected to the Middle Ages. If Stalinism destroyed the left, and Nazism destroyed Europe, Islamic fundamentalism is destroying Islam. And it also has an anti-Semitic DNA. Perhaps Islamic anti-Semitism is the most serious intolerant phenomenon of our times; indeed, it contaminates more than 1,400 million people, who are educated, massively, in hatred towards the Jew.

In the crossroads of these defeats, is Israel. Orphan and forgotten by a reasonable left, orphan and abandoned by serious journalism, orphan and rejected by a decent UN, and rejected by a tolerant Islam, Israel suffers the paradigm of the 21st Century: the lack of a solid commitment with the values of liberty. Nothing seems strange. Jewish culture represents, as no other does, the metaphor of a concept of civilization which suffers today attacks on all flanks. The Jews are the thermometer of the world’s health. Whenever the world has had totalitarian fever, they have suffered. In the Spanish Middle Ages, in Christian persecutions, in Russian pogroms, in European Fascism, in Islamic fundamentalism. Always, the first enemy of totalitarianism has been the Jew. And, in these times of energy dependency and social uncertainty, Israel embodies, in its own flesh, the eternal Jew.

A pariah nation among nations, for a pariah people among peoples. That is why the anti-Semitism of the 21st Century has dressed itself with the efficient disguise of anti-Israelism, or its synonym, anti-Zionism. Is all criticism of Israel anti-Semitism? No. But all present-day anti-Semitism has turned into prejudice and the demonization of the Jewish State. New clothes for an old hatred.

Benjamin Franklin said: “Where liberty is, there is my country.” And Albert Einstein added: “The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” This is the double commitment, here and now; never remain inactive in front of evil in action and defend the countries of liberty.’

Wednesday 24 November 2010

A Century before Statehood: The Forlorn Land the Zionists “Stole”

One hundred years before the realisation of the Zionist dream, an English clergyman , Reverend A. G. H. Hollingworth, travelled in the Jewish homeland and surrounding region, and in 1849 published The Holy Land Restored. The following extract was printed in the London Jewish Chronicle (15 March 1850), and hardly depicts a land abundant with milk and honey.  The extract (to which I append a description of Tiberias at the same period) appears here with no further comment from me (the pictures are from another source):

All its ancient fertility has been obliterated. As if the earthquake had become its only tenant for centuries, its valleys and mountains are riven and dislocated, shattered and torn, heaped with rocks and gravel, deprived of soil and wasted, as if repeatedly burned with fire. The heart of the modern traveller becomes oppressed with a profound melancholy as he moves in silence over the vales. Or when standing on the summit of some precipitous range, he overlooks a wide and extended plain, his eye wanders gloomily upon the deserted face of this which was once the glory of all lands, and he turns in wonder to those pages that describe its original fertility....

If you turn towards the sea coast, the sea itself seems slowly to have retired from the melancholy spectacle of its woes, and has left many cities inland which we know were formerly on its shores. Rocky pinnacles, that existed as islands, stand up in sudden desolation amid the low levels of sand and stones, whilst an ominous silence, disturbed only by the solitary shriek of some bird of prey, reigns profoundly on all sides. The cities are cities of the dead. Tombs cover the land. The inhabitants are scattered from each other, and live in single hundreds, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of monuments, each witnessing to the populousness of former generations, and the present sterility. From millions the population of Syria has diminished to thousands; whilst, in some places, single families alone remain, to declare that the land is weary of its present inhabitants, and cals out for new tenants. The mystic Euphrates, which has been hitherto flooded by streams of Arabians and Turks, is fast drying up, and the way for the emigration of a new people to regenerate these kingdoms is rapidly preparing.

If you proceed into the interior, vast plains, covered with a succession of brilliant flowers, arrest the eye of the traveller. The soil is secretly pregnant with a hundred teeming harvests, yet there is no one to reap them, none to sow; and the villages, castles, palaces and ancient cities, meet the sight in every direction. Birds of prey soar in silent attention over these places. Wild animals of the chase make their homes among the relics of a nation’s greatness, and jackals and wild dogs howl from the depths of their old vaults and ruined habitations.

Now and then a few wild Arabs scour across the plain upon their noble horses, or a few oppressed and despairing villagers are seen in their old men and women, with melancholy movements endeavouring to gather in the scattered ears of wretched harvest whilst their sons and husbands have been driven away by force, to become the military slaves of a cruel master in Egypt and Turkey. The whole country seems abandoned to the robber Arabs, and their countless migratory tribes. Human life is insecure and uncertain. No one who sows knows who will reap their harvest, and those who hastily gather it, with their weapons by their sides, hurry it home like men who are stealing from a land which is not their own.

The traveller watches every distant cloud of dust, lest it should reveal the glittering gun-barrels or spears of a robber-horde. Rapine plunders and makes it a temporary home. Men of peaceful, commercial, or agricultural pursuits choose any country inhabited even by savages for their residence, rather than these the most ancient seats of civilisation, and the richest country. In the heart of the best portion of the world, at the head of the most renowned sea, with ports that were originally the mistresses of the most lucrative commerce between the east and the west, it is inhabited only by necessity, and a man snatches a hurried and feverish existence, without comfort or settled security, from its plains and mountains.

The desolation is almost complete, yet the population of late years goes on diminishing, and will do so until the mystic river of Turkish strength becomes “dried up”, and “the way of the kings of the east”, or Jews, shall be thus prepared. The rivers appear to have all diminished in volume and breadth. The springs which in ancient times flowed and wept for very joy in every ravine and on the sides of all the hills, are parched up and wasted; their rocky urns are filled with dust; and the repeated earthquakes have probably been the messengers sent to recall them for a time into their deep recesses, for they are no longer to be found.

Kishon, celebrated in the Scriptures for its rapidity, is only now an uncertain stream, foaming with sudden violence, or creeping as an insignificant brook along the plain. Yet rains are abundant. The houses, built of mud, are often carried away before the unexpected torrents, and springs burst out suddenly even within the bed-chambers, and are then as suddenly withdrawn. The roofs of the houses are frequently on a level with the mule-tracks, and the traveller in rainy seasons falls, to his astonishment, through the softened mud roof into the midst of the Arab or Jewish family below.

In no other country in the world is there such a mass of arid rocks, and without a particle of soil, as on these mountains of Judæa, which were formerly so renowned as the most beautiful and fertile gardens in the earth. The ancient terraces upon their sides are all in ruins. The violent rains wash down the mould into the valleys; and the rock, which is always in a state of decomposition, and this furnishes new soil, is yet at the same time so clean, and washed as if by the hand in every season, that it remains a hideous spectacle of barrenness and desolation...

The whole land thereof is of brimstone and salt and burning; it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth there ...

And here’s a view of Tiberias (Jewish Chronicle, 12 April 1850); author unrecorded:

The Jewish population of Tiberias amounts to 1,500 souls, Spanish and German. They have six synagogues and two colleges. Their houses have the appearance of comfort, and their synagogues and colleges are more spacious and kept cleaner than those at Jerusalem. Their own external appearance is also superior to that in the Holy City, as regards dress and cleanliness.

Besides the Jews, there are about 400 Mahometans, and 40 united Greeks, who have a small place of worship in the house of their priest.

During our residence at Tiberias we visited the much celebrated warm bath near the shores of the lake, about thirty minutes south of the town. Two young Jews accompanied us, who showed us their cemetery situated in that direction. As we walked along, we saw several remains of the ancient city.

When we were about half way, one of our companions pointed to a large stone in the lake, and said that this was Miriam’s well, by which the lake was formed. Near the baths is the tomb of the celebrated Rabbi Mayer [Meir], one of the doctors of the Talmud. Around the tomb there is a divan of stones, upon which the Jews of Tiberias are seated on the first of every month, to read certain prayers. Higher up the mount is the tomb of Rabbi Akiba, with his 24,000 disciples.

We visited, also, the tombs of Rabbi Jochanan, the son of Sacchi, Rabbi Asa, Rabbi Ama, and Maimonides. These tombs are about twenty minutes north-east from the town, and kept in very good repair. They are much venerated by the Jews, who visit them often. Higher up the hill are shown the tombs of Zilpah, Bilhah, and Zipporah, Moses’ wife.

We saw little of those rich productions of soil, of which Josephus speaks in such glowing language, as seen in his time.

No trees covered the environs of Tiberias; the olive, everywhere at home in Syria, is here a stranger. A few scattered palms, which bear no fruit, planted over the tomb of a Mahometan saint, were the only trees to be seen. Not that the ground had lost its fertility, for wherever the lazy Arab had sown the grain, its growth was luxuriant, and the wild grass stood often six feet high; and the finest oleanders, which were now in bloom, were to be seen in several places. A singular superstition is here connected with this plant. When we were about to gather some, our Jewish guide exclaimed, "Do not touch these flowers, for if you should smell them they will injure your sight", and you will become blind; and we afterwards heard the same confirmed by others.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Press TV Breached Impartiality Rules. Uh huh. So – What Else is New?

Former Respect Party MP and veteran Israel-basher George Galloway has a flair for a phrase. Years ago, he provoked a great deal of amusement and derision back in Blighty when, on a visit to Baghdad, he reportedly said to that old rogue Saddam Hussein “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability."

More recently, on Ahmadinejad’s satellite propaganda channel Press TV Mr Galloway (pictured, pretty in pink on a reality “fly-on-the-wall” British television show in which, catlike, he lapped milk from a pretend saucer formed by the cupped hands of comely actress Rula Lenska) described Israel as “a terrorist gangster state” and a “miscreant, law-breaking rogue, war-launching, occupying state”. Of last May's flotilla incident he observed: “Israel went into international waters to give a message to Iran and Turkey they can do whatever they want because of US support”.

Now, following complaints, the broadcasting standards watchdog and media regulator Ofcom has ruled that Galloway, presenter of the weekly phone-in hour-long “Comment” show, repeatedly breached impartiality with remarks of that kind, that "could be interpreted as being pro-Palestinian and highly critical of the actions of the Israeli government and its military forces". Ofcom found that Galloway’s show did not adequately provide the Israeli viewpoint on the flotilla incident, since when opposing views were included the material was used only "to give the opportunity for the programme to further criticise the Israeli government".

Furthermore, "The broadcaster failed to engage or debate with any point of view that was contrary to the view presented by George Galloway. Rather, Ofcom is of the view that George Galloway, in particular, used the alternative opinions made by the viewers, which were contrary to his own, only as vehicles to punctuate what could be classed as a form of ongoing political polemic, delivered by the presenter directly to camera and unchallenged." It added: "Alternative viewpoints were not adequately represented in the individual programmes or across the series as a whole."

Ofcom also found that another veteran Israel basher, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, failed to exhibit due impartiality when he appeared on Galloway’s show. Corbyn, who earlier this month met two Hamas officials in Jerusalem, declared: “Israel has been referred to the Security Council on so many occasions so it is time surely for serious economic sanctions.”

Under Section 5 of the Ofcom code, broadcasters must ensure that on such programmes “neither side of the debate is unduly favoured”. Ofcom said it would arrange a meeting for Press TV to discuss its impartiality procedure.

 In the meantime, it’s likely to have its work cut out for it, given all the western Israel-bashers who are on the Iran-backed channel’s payroll. Besides, in June last year, Ofcom ruled that Galloway breached rules on impartiality after he accused the Israeli government of using "a Nazi tactic", conducting a "brutal apartheid-style occupation" and committing "war crimes" in various editions of his discussion programmes.

 Let's face it, without poisoning public opinion against Israel and in other ways undermining the West, what’s Ahmadinejad’s station for?

Monday 22 November 2010

Still Crazy After All These Years

“We plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. . . . We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem”, declared Yasser Arafat. “Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations.”

 “Our goal is the total liberation of Palestine and any Palestinian who wants less is a traitor”, the President of the PLO Women’s Organisation told an American reporter in 1980. And that same year PLO spokesman Mahmud Labadi observed (Al-Jumhur, Lebanon, 3 October 1980): “Let us not forget that every political achievement opens new vistas for the military alternative.”

Leading Fatah activist Abu Iyad, disclosed in a press interview in 1981: “Even after we establish a state in part of Palestine, we shall continue to struggle for the unification of all Palestine within a secular democratic state, and the struggle will not be undertaken only through political means.”

More recently, in September this year, as reported by the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the Palestinian Authority’s envoy in Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah, observed "that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which have started in Washington, are not a goal, but rather another stage in the Palestinian struggle… He believes that Israel will not be dealt a knock-out defeat, but rather an accumulation of Palestinian achievements and struggles, as happened in South Africa, to isolate Israel, to tighten the noose on it, to threaten its legitimacy, and to present it as a rebellious, racist state. He noted that Israel faces international isolation with doubt cast on its legitimacy, because of its actions and the war crimes which it has carried out. He added, ‘Many Israelis in senior positions are afraid to travel to European countries lest they be put on trial for their crimes.'"

That the endgame for the Palestinians remains the end of Israel is suggested by of the results of a face-to-face survey of Palestinians conducted this October for the New Israel Project by the pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. There were 854 Palestinian respondents, comprising 538 residents of the West Bank and 316 Gazans. 38 percent of respondents agreed proposition that “Violence only hurts Palestinians and the days of armed struggle are over”, whereas 56 per cent of respondents agreed that “We will have to resort to armed struggle again”.

60 per cent of respondents agreed that “The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state”. By contrast, a mere 30 per cent agreed that “The best goal is for a two state solution that keeps two states living side by side”. A paltry 12 per cent supported the latter proposition “strongly”.

66 per cent agreed (42 per cent strongly) that “Over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state”. By contrast, just 23 per cent agreed that “Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people”.  55 per cent agreed that “A Palestinian state should be run by Sharia Law”, whereas 35 per cent agreed that “A Palestinian state should be run by civil law”.

Thus, a majority of Palestinians are willing to accept a two-state solution as a way station en route to a single state – in other words, the elimination of Israel and its replacement with a single Palestinian state – this goal to be achieved through both negotiations and violence.

In a magnificent speech at Bar Ilan University in June last year, just two months after taking office, Bibi Netanyahu spoke eloquently of his quest for a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians.

The question is, however – are the Palestinians genuine partners for a genuine peace?

Sunday 21 November 2010

Where the Elite Meet to Bleat Damaging Lies About Israel: The London Review of Books

Not being a member of the metropolitan (or, for that matter, non-metropolitan) left-liberal chattering classes, my taste in newspapers and journals excludes, most emphatically, The Guardian,  The Independent, and the London Review of Books. I’m more at home with the London Daily Telegraph – but, boy, do I mourn the demise of its previous proprietorship, when regular columnists included the splendidly realistic and pro-Israel Barbara Amiel and Mark Steyn – The Australian (arguably Australia’s most consistently pro-Israel newspaper, and home to the admirable foreign affairs specialist Greg Sheridan), and Standpoint magazine.

Barbara Amiel, in December 2001, revealed that at a private dinner party at the London home she shared with her husband, Conrad Black (Lord Black of Coldharbour), the French ambassador, Daniel Bernard, has blamed the insecure state of the world on what he termed “that shitty little country, Israel”.  Indeed, far from stoking sympathy for Israel given all of its horrendous experiences at the hands in terrorists, 9/11 has produced a similar reaction to Bernard’s among the chattering classes of the Western world.

At upper-class and upper-middle-class dinner parties all over London, we’re told, Israel is excoriated. I’ve experienced this myself, when I was a guest at a Pall Mall gentleman’s club (I wrote about this in July in my blogpost entitled “Watt Amann!”),  and a ferociously anti-Zionist seemingly haute bourgeois "as-a-Jew" who used to post Israeli-demonising nonsense with frenzied regularity on the Jewish Chronicle blogs has drawn our attention to it often enough with such jibes as “At middle class dinner parties these days no one has a good word to say about this Israel” and “Israel has become a dirty word, something you just don't mention at dinner parties”.

I reckon this elite crowd - who, after all, need to keep abreast of the latest received wisdom of the “intelligentsia” in order to maintain face when the dinner party conversations turn from the trite and the flippant and the gossipy to the deadly serious – have the LRB on their drawing room coffee tables and imbibe its Israelphobia along with their dry sherries and their gin-and-tonics. And what (save Al Grauniad and Al Beeb) serves as fodder for bitchery about Israel better than this periodical, which allows its namedroppers to give the impression that by quoting such a source they have a big brain too? (Unfortunately, however, I know that even some Jews who describe themselves as Zionists, albeit of the J-Street sort,  have been seduced by the LRB, as well.)

The LRB began publication in 1979.  Its editor for the past 17 years has been Mary-Kay Wilmers, an affluent Anglo-American socialite, now in her seventies, whose personal fortune, it’s said, is crucial to keeping the magazine afloat. Ms Wilmers (pictured) is Jewish. Yet, as Daniel Johnson (son of the distinguished journalist and author Paul Johnson, who wrote that much-praised A History of The Jews) put it in Standpoint magazine earlier this year, concerning Ms Wilmers :

‘On Israel ... she finds condemnation is all too necessary, having been converted by Edward Said. A list of her contributors reads like a roll-call of the anti-Zionist, anti-American Left, from Tariq Ali to Slavoj Zizek, from Eric Hobsbawm to Tom Paulin. Virtually the only Tory to have written regularly for the LRB was the late Sir Ian Gilmour, who hated Israel and Margaret Thatcher in equal measure. In an interview with Anne McElvoy, Wilmers was at least frank about her prejudice: "I'm unambiguously hostile to Israel because it's a mendacious state."
It was in the LRB that "The Israel Lobby" appeared in 2006. This article, by the American political scientists Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, has unleashed a flood of conspiracy theories. Thanks to them, the notion of an all-powerful network of Zionist agents, neocon think-tanks and Jewish plutocrats manipulating US foreign policy has now become received wisdom in left-wing circles on both sides of the Atlantic.
This overtly or covertly anti-Semitic propaganda is now parroted in senior common rooms, where the LRB is required reading for the academically ambitious. Its influence permeates British culture through the arts and the media. The editor who takes credit for the LRB's success must also take responsibility for its bigotry.’
“The London Review of Books, the house journal of a certain kind of intellectual, has long indulged in a particularly nasty form of anti-Israel propaganda  –  paid for by us, the taxpayer (it receives a £20,000 subsidy from the Arts Council)”, noted Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard on 26 January 2009 of the then current issue of LRB:
“[It] is even worse than I expected. The main piece is headlined: Israel's lies
And then, to put that into 'context', it's followed by commentary from Tariq Ali, David Bromwich, Alastair Crooke, Conor Gearty, Eric Hobsbawm, R.W. Johnson, Rashid Khalidi, Yitzhak Laor, Yonatan Mendel, John Mearsheimer, Ilan Pappe, Gabriel Piterberg, Jacqueline Rose, Eliot Weinberger and Michael Wood.
Every single piece - every one of the fifteeen commentaries  –  is pure Israel-bashing. Nowhere is there even the most basic attempt to explain Israel's position. Pure poison - poison paid for by you and me.”
Just how poisonous has been revealed in a thorough ansd systematic investigation of issues of the LRB over the past ten years, undertaken by Just Journalism and published on its website under the heading “London Review of Books - Ten years of anti-Israel prejudice". As summarised by Just Journalism itself, these are the main findings:

 A Freedom of Information request revealed that since its inception the LRB has received over £767,000 from Arts Council England, funded by the public purse;

 Between 2000 and 2010, over £188,000 was received by the LRB specifically for the purpose of paying contributing writers. In this period 92 articles on Israel-Palestine were produced by contributors;

 More than one third (36%) of articles were written by Jewish Israelis and more than half (53%) of all articles were written by people known to be Jewish. On only one occasion was a mainstream Jewish and Israeli perspective on the conflict showcased by this (or any) contingent;

 The LRB consistently portrayed Israel as a bloodthirsty and genocidal regime out of all proportion to reality, while sympathetic portraits abounded of groups designated as terrorist organisations by the British government such as Hamas and Hezbollah;

 While the Palestinian narrative was fully represented, Israel’s narrative on its legitimate security concerns, Arab rejectionism and terrorism was near absent.

“Many contributions are no more than pro-Arab propaganda”, comments Israeli historian Professor Benny Morris.  “On the face of things, it would appear that sending taxpayers’ pounds their way is misguided if not downright hostile toward Israel – which is not British government policy.”

Says Michael Weiss, executive director of Just Journalism:
“This comprehensive report reveals a stunning one-sidedness in the London Review of Books on a hugely complex issue. There is no effort to showcase a range of views on Israel-Palestine or to take Israel’s legitimate security and political concerns seriously. But more revealing is how truly fringe the LRB’s conventional wisdom is on this issue. Hezbollah rockets raining down on Israeli towns are depicted as symbols of ‘consciousness-raising’ about the injustice of Israeli poverty. Overt comparisons are made between Israeli military policy and the Nazi Final Solution. Hamas is seen as a big-tent party of spiritual progressivism and not as a totalitarian, anti-Semitic terrorist organisation.
The fact that taxpayers’ money is being used to pay for contributors to write these unremittingly hostile articles ought to prompt some sort of public debate about whether, particularly in today’s economic climate, this funding should continue.”
Read the entire report here: prejudice/
As the ever-pungent Melanie Phillips observes on her blogpost, entitled “The London Review of Bigotry”
“Until now, Wilmers and the LRB have never been held to account. All credit to Just Journalism for understanding that the peddlers of hatre towards Israel – including the Jewish peddlers of such calumnies -- have to be publicly exposed and shamed; and their discourse of obsessive and bigoted moral and intellectual inversion, both symbol and cause of the west’s suicidal pattern of attacking its allies while sucking up to its enemies, must be called by its proper name.”

Friday 19 November 2010

Eye-witness in Gaza, The Christian pogrom in Bethlehem and other matters

Blogger Ray Cook has written an absolutely stunning two-part series about British journalist Peter Hitchens’s recent visit to the Disputed Territories, which begins: “I’m not a great fan of Peter Hitchens but he has provided what is probably the most balanced view of the realities of life in Gaza.” Both parts are must-reads.

Part One, which is replete with Ray’s satirical asides, can be accessed here:

Below I give the beginning of Part Two – a most important and illuminating post which in its entirety should be required reading for Methodists and others who seek to apply BDS to the little Jewish State. I recommend it, too, to those Christians and "peace activists" who are planning, this Christmas, to sing the carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem" with Dr Stephen Leah's "alternative" lyrics that demonise Israel and the IDF.

Yesterday I wrote in (mostly) praise of Peter Hitchen’s recent MailOnline article about his visit to Gaza and the West Bank.

I covered his Gaza experiences but his West Bank one is equally as enlightening.

Hitchens begins describing Arab hospitality but soon we find:

once again I saw the outline of a society, slowly forming amid the wreckage, in which a decent person might live, work, raise children and attempt to live a good life. But I also saw and heard distressing things

‘Wreckage’? Not sure what he means here. The last war here was 37 years ago. Many Arab towns in the West Bank look like anywhere else in the Middle East. Presumably this is a psychological wreckage in terms of almost 40 years of direct conflict with Israel.

At least we see civil society beginning to form, and about time too.

Hitchens is quick to see the plight of Christians under Palestinian Authority rule:

I feel all of us should be aware of … the plight of Christian Arabs under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. More than once I heard them say: ‘Life was better for us under Israeli rule.’

Ah! Interesting.

One young man, lamenting the refusal of the Muslim-dominated courts to help him in a property dispute with squatters, burst out: ‘We are so alone! All of us Christians feel so lonely in this country.’ Substitute ‘lonely’ with ‘hounded’ and persecuted’.

It appears it isn’t just Jews some Muslims are uncomfortable with. Whilst denying any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, they now want to end 2,000 years of continuous Christian presence in the West Bank it appears. Will it be that a future Palestine is not just judenrein but christenrein as well.

This conversation took place about a mile from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where tourists are given the impression that the Christian religion is respected. Not really.

I was told, in whispers, of the unprintable desecration of this shrine by Palestinian gunmen when they seized the church in 2002 – ‘world opinion’ was exclusively directed against Israel. I will not name the people who told me these things.

I have also decided not to name another leading Christian Arab who told me of how his efforts to maintain Christian culture in the West Bank had met with official thuggery and intimidation.

There is no unsubstantial Christian presence in Bethlehem, as you might imagine. Hitchens tells us that it’s about 30,000 in the area but between 2001 and 2004 2,000 emigrated and if we assume that this migration will continue there may be no Christians at all in 10 to 15 years.

Arabs can oppress each other, without any help from outside. Because the Palestinian cause is a favourite among Western Leftists, they prefer not to notice that it is largely an aggressive Islamic cause.

Spot on, my man. This guy isn’t afraid to tell the truth.

Let’s digress here and look at the evidence for Christian persecution over many years. Let’s start with the Methodists current policy of a boycott of Israeli goods manufactured in the West Bank and their reason for it.

On their Conference website the most salient point for me is this:

The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches. A majority of governments recognise the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law.

I’m not going to get into the argument that the settlements are or are not illegal, what strikes me is ‘a call from a group of Palestinian Christians’. The fact that there are Israeli groups which favour boycotts is none of the Methodists business, but the Christians are.

Yet the Methodists are fixated on what Jews are purported to be doing to Christians but makes no equivalent criticism or boycott of many egregious Muslim activities where Christians are being murdered or expelled or persecuted.

Read the rest here: