Friday, May 30, 2014


The Happy Iranian Video

Michael L.

All right, I simply cannot listen to this tune again.  Sure, it's snappy, but if I never hear it again in my life that will be just fine.

In any case, this is the actual video that allegedly got these Iranians in trouble with the authorities.

Writing for the Gatestone Institute, Avideh Motmaen-Far tells us:
After repenting on the national television, they were released on bail. The video, showing six Iranian young men and women dancing a carefree dance to Pharrel Williams' popular song, "Happy," was released in YouTube around a month ago. The initial impression was that this video was a "homemade" production. Soon after, an unusual wave of media attention was directed to this video. In an interview with IranWire, one of the youngsters who had danced in the video stated that the clip had been made with the aim of promoting the idea that Iran is a better place than many people in other parts of the world think.

In addition, Reihaneh Taravati, the art director of this video -- who was recently arrested and then released on bail -- had earlier criticized those who show the situation in Iran as "dark." She produced as evidence the very fact that a number of youngsters had been able on their own to release such a video while living in Iran. It was later revealed, however, that the video was not homemade, and that the director of the video was none other than Sasan Soleymani, the person who had made Rouhani's presidential campaign clip and had chosen purple as his electoral campaign color.

Parallel to this, on May 3, 2014, a campaign, named "My Stealthy Freedom," was launched on Facebook by the Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad. This campaign encourages Iranian women to unveil in desolate places when there is nobody around -- hence, "stealthy" -- take pictures of themselves, and post them on their Facebook profiles. However, Alinejad also claims that the word stealthy is used deliberately to show that women are discriminated against in Iran...

None of this happened without warning. As soon as the "Happy" video appeared on the internet, for instance, Reza Parchizadeh, a political analyst and scholar at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, warned against being fooled by such propaganda, and called it an attempt by the Rouhani administration and its advocates to show to the world that they have made good on their promises. As he later wrote on his Facebook page: "These days it seems that there is a covert war going on between the reformist faction and the conservative faction of the Islamic Republic, with the people being its cannon fodder. The regime has reached a point where both sides sacrifice people for their own sake: one side encourages the people to do unconventional things to show that the situation has changed and the other side suppresses them to show that nothing has and neither is going to change."

Events and campaigns such as these, while claiming to be protests against the Islamic Republic, are really just caricatures of protest. Whereas in Tunisia and Egypt social media were used to mobilize the people to protest in public and overthrow tyrannical regimes, campaigns and events such as "Happy" and "My Stealthy Freedom" only scare away the people from public protest by directing them to do the undoable far from the public eye. One does not achieve freedom by dancing on rooftops and unveiling in desolate places. Freedom is only accomplished by standing eye to eye with the forces of oppression.
So, according to Avideh Motmaen-Far the whole thing is basically a political hoax designed to put a smiley face on a sinister regime.

What I would argue is that, whether or not this is true, it still represents a good sign.  My understanding, limited as it surely is, is that Iranian society, irrespective of their government, is among the more open and sophisticated cultures in the entire Muslim world.  Of course, that is not really saying much given the fact that the entire Muslim world is notoriously closed.

I suppose I still have enough lingering counterculture influences within me to think that young women dancing in a video made within a repressed society like Iran is a positive thing.  Obviously, we do not want to make too much of this particular little story, but it seems to resonate with people and definitely does so with me.

For those of you who anticipate listening, yet again, to "Happy" with all the enthusiasm that one normally reserves for root canal surgery, you can skip it and just get a sense from the picture below.

Not a burka in sight.


And, I have to say, if this was a PR stunt by the Rouhani administration then it was brilliantly done.

They definitely fooled me... but who says that is difficult?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Comparing Mideast Coverage to Media Coverage of Other Matters

Sar Shalom

gestaltIt is well known that the media get many key facts wrong when portraying the Middle East, whether accepting false claims presented by the Palestinians, omitting crucial context, or qualify verifiable Israeli claims as being Israeli claims. However, one problem with raising these issues is that doing so would come across to an uninformed audience as though we're responding to a message we don't like by attacking the messenger. With that in mind, I would like to compare the media's misrepresentation of the Middle East to the media's coverage of another topic, a portrayal of the media that would resonate with most liberals.

Paul Krugman's most recent column deals with a comparison between the United States and Europe in job creation. According to Krugman, American free-market ideology holds that America's lower taxes and less generous welfare state should lead to greater job creation than in European countries like France. Yet, the employment ratio of prime working-age adults is higher in France than it is in the US, and has been since the Bush administration. This discrepancy between what the theory predicts and the empirical facts is dealt with by ignoring the empirical facts. This recent article is the latest of a recurring theme raised by Krugman in which misfortune is blamed on economic policies that the press doesn't like, with earlier examples being how fiscal profligacy are responsible for the economic crisis in Southern Europe.

Another writer, Thomas Mann, wrote recently on the causes of political dysfunction in this country. Among Mann's notable lines is, "most mainstream journalists and political reformers refuse to even acknowledge or take seriously the case for asymmetric polarization. It makes us uncomfortable because some people will characterize the idea as partisan, even if it accurately captures reality." In other words, even-handedness has a higher priority than accurately portraying the story, and one side is exploiting the media's fixation on even-handedness to the hilt.

Krugman carried this further with an earlier blog post responding to queries about why he doesn't write about any reasonable Republicans. There are two points to note from this post. One is that describing a Republican as reasonable just to describe some Republican as reasonable is a form of bias. Along this line, Krugman regularly writes against the media's fawning treatment of Paul Ryan because they see the slightest indication of reasonableness and declare that they have found their reasonable Republican. The other is that the few Republicans who actually are reasonable, Krugman cites the examples of Bruce Bartlett and David Frum, were excommunicated from the Republican establishment because of their reasonableness.

So what ties all these together? Essentially, in each of these cases, the media settle on a frame before gaining an understanding of the facts of the issue. Subsequently, every claim that conforms with the frame is accepted as accurate, no need to verify, while any claim contradicting the frame, no matter how verifiable, has to be qualified as coming from so and so contrarian. Thus, in the Eurocrisis it is clear that the southern European economies are depressed. The media view this through the lens that they know, just know, that the southern European depression is the result of a morality play playing itself out where the desserts of yesterday's profligacy are today's economic misery. Thus every pundit claiming that it is the result of running deficits, including in Spain which was running a surplus until the crisis hit, is accepted uncritically, while anyone suggesting an alternative is dismissed, even when this alternative is in agreement with the IMF. Likewise no one would dispute that the Palestinians have less than ideal living conditions, even if the scale of Palestinian misery is up for debate. The media look at these conditions and know, just know, that those conditions arise from Israel's brutal occupation of the Palestinian people. Thus, whenever the Palestinians present any information conforming to that frame, such as the Al Durah killing, it is accepted uncritically. However, whenever anyone presents anything contradicting the frame, such as ballistics testing showing that Israel could not have killed Al Durah, it is dismissed without showing one flaw in the forensic work as "of course Israel would reach that conclusion," as 60 Minutes characterized that study.

One frequent term in the media's description of the Middle East conflict is the "cycle of violence." The use of this term implies that Arab violence and Israeli violence are equivalent, in the same manner that Mann laments that the media treat Republican extremism and Democratic extremism as equivalent. Similarly, Krugman's lament of the media's frenzy to declare some Republican as a moderate is analogous to their frenzy to declare some Palestinian leader as a moderate, hence everyone declaring Abbas as a "man of peace." As with Republicans who challenge conservative orthodoxy, any Palestinian who goes against the Arab narrative will be ostracized the way Prof. Daoudi was expelled from his union for leading a trip to Auschwitz. In domestic politics, calling out the lack of candor from a "reasonable" Republican is often dismissed. Similarly, the media dismiss suggestions, and all supporting facts, that Abbas is less than serious about peaceful coexistence.

In addressing the issue of media bias, it would help to build a frame of reference that the audience will understand. Since the right is less moved by the sympathetic portrayals that the media present of Palestinians, the audience we will need to convince is mostly on the left. Accordingly, the audience whose frame we need to adopt is the left's. Along these lines, pointing out the mendacity of the right on economic issues is red meat to the left, as is pointing out the media's inability to recognize it because they know, just know, that every pathology is found in equal measure on both sides. The media do the same thing in portraying the "cycle of violence" in the Middle East and other distortions relating to Israel. The fallacies that lead to one distortion are the same fallacies that lead to the other. It is time that we highlight that fact.

This Gets People Thrown Into Prison in Iran

Michael L.

ABC News tells us:
Pharrell23Pharrell Williams says everyone should be able to celebrate their joy — including Iranian youths who were arrested for posting an Internet video of them dancing to his song "Happy."

Some in Iran see the video as promoting the spread of Western culture. Iranian laws ban women from dancing in public or appearing outside with their heads uncovered.

Williams says he has "the utmost respect for people's religious views" and doesn't know much about Iranian law.

But he added: "The present is a gift, and if you just want to celebrate your happiness, you should be allowed to do that."

Speaking at an exhibit opening in Paris on Monday, he said, "They are just dancing."

Dog Joy.

Monday, May 26, 2014

So, Just What is a "Palestinian," Anyways?

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under, Love of the Land, and the Times of Israel.}

phil1The Philistines, of course, were a seafaring people of the Aegean islands.

They were one of the rivals for regional dominance competing with the ancient Israelites along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea over one thousand years before Jesus of Nazareth walked the land.

They were, needless to say, not a people from the Arabian peninsula and were in no way the forebears of those who conquered the Land of Israel in the seventh century.

This is to say that the ancient enemy of the Jews, the Philistines, are in no way related to the contemporary Arabs who have, for some reason, taken a Latin name that refers to a Greek people.

Furthermore, Palestinian-Arab authorities sometimes claim to be either descendants of the Philistines or descendants of the ancient Canaanites or descendants of the little known ancient Jebusites.

The areas of Judea and Samaria, and all the Land of Israel, was renamed Syria-Palestina by the Roman Emperor Hadrian around the year 135 CE for the explicit purpose of erasing Jewish history on the land of the defeated indigenous Jewish population upon the failure of the Bar Kochba Rebellion.

From that day to this the traditional homeland of the Jewish people was generally referred to as either "Palestine" or the "Holy Land" or "Eretz Israel," depending upon among whom, when, and where the conversation was taking place.

By the time that the Zionist project was well under way in the early part of the twentieth-century the terms "Palestine," to refer to the region, and "Palestinian," to refer to the Jews of the region, were commonplace in the west.

Throughout the first half of the twentieth-century a "Palestinian" was generally considered a Jew or, in official British terms during the period of the mandate, anyone, without regard to race or religion, who resided within the mandate, itself.  This definition, in my opinion, is probably the only one that actually makes sense from a liberal perspective.

As is often remarked, the Jerusalem Post was originally dubbed the "Palestine Post."  It was not until after the Jews relinquished the designation of "Palestinian" that the local Arabs picked it up. This is why Golda Meir could famously tell the the Sunday Times in the summer of 1969:
There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.
This is because "Palestine" was a regional, not a national designation.  The above quote is sometimes employed by the hard-left to suggest that Meir was racist, but the hard-left considers Israel to be a racist country, in any case, and all of its leaders from the past, including Golda, herself, to be fascistic.

KeffiyahThe idea of "Palestinian" to refer specifically to the local Arabs only gained significant credence among Arabs, themselves, during the 1960s with the rise of Arafat and the PLO and with it, for the very first time in human history, an allegedly distinct ethnicity emerged for the specific purpose of robbing another people of sovereignty and self-defense on their own land.

For the Jewish people, therefore, the keffiyah resonates in a manner similar to a Klansmen's hood.

In a certain kind of way, this answers the question of just what is a "Palestinian," anyway?  You could accurately answer like this:
A "Palestinian" is an Arab residing on Jewish land whose cultural identity is largely dependent upon the effort to eliminate Jewish sovereignty and self-defense in Eretz Israel directly after the Holocaust
This definition, however, only makes sense if the Palestinian-Arabs do, in fact, represent a distinct national group.  While I understand about Benedict Anderson's criticisms of nations as "imagined communities," nonetheless for a distinct national group to be a distinct national group there must be significant cultural distinctions between that group and the larger related communities.

In the case of those whom we call "Palestinian" the distinctions are virtually non-existent. This is not the case between, for example, the Japanese and the Chinese because even non-Asians can readily observe the many cultural distinctions between these neighboring far east Asian peoples.  The "Palestinians," however, share the same cuisine with other Arabs. They share the same religion with other Arabs. They share the same language with other Arabs. They share similar honor / shame codes.  Customs.   Culture.   Language.   Food.   Traditions.

All more or less the same.

The reason for this is because Palestinian-Arab nationalism was merely a recent response to the fact that the Jews had finally released ourselves from dhimmitude and we would simply no longer allow ourselves to be forced into second and third-class non-citizenship under Arab-Muslim domination. 

Thirteen centuries was more than enough, thank you very much.

So, if "Palestinian" does not represent a distinct nation or ethnicity then just what is a "Palestinian"?

The truth of the matter, of course, is that "Palestine" is simply another name for the Land of Israel, but one foisted upon it by a malicious Roman conqueror.  Just as Jewish people have no moral obligation to recognize a "Palestinian" people who came into existence, as an allegedly distinct people, within recent decades for the specific purpose of doing Jewish people harm, so we have no compelling reason to resurrect the Greco-Roman name "Palestine" to refer to our homeland.

If the Arabs want to take a big bite out of Israel in order to create a criminal-terrorist entity on Jewish land, we've certainly given them every opportunity, but as Abba Eban famously said after the Geneva peace talks of 1973, the Palestinian-Arabs "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

"Palestine," it must furthermore be understood, refers to a region, not a nation.  Just as "Saharan" is not an ethnicity and "Californian" is not an ethnicity, so "Palestinian" is not an ethnicity. Everyone who lives in California is a "Californian."  If you are resident of the state of California then, whatever else you may be, you are very definitely a Californian.

The same is true for everyone who lives in the Land of Israel.  They are all "Palestinian" in the sense that they all live in what was the British Mandate of Palestine.

A "Palestinian" might be an Arab and he or she might be a Muslim, but there are all sorts of "Palestinians" who are not Arab. The Palestinian Authority is willing to accept the idea of an "Arab Christian" as "Palestinian," but that is where the door shuts closed. All others, despite residing in the region for perhaps generations, can never be considered "Palestinian" in the hard-right racist manner that the PA determines such things.

At the end of the day, however, everyone who lives in Eretz Israel is a "Palestinian," if we need to even use such terminology, just as every citizen of the State of Israel is an Israeli, without regard to ethnicity or religion.   There are Arab-Israelis and Jewish-Israelis and Rosicrucian-Israelis and, presumably even, Chinese-Buddhist-Israelis, just as there are Arab-Palestinians and Jewish-Palestinians and Rosicrucian-Palestinians and, presumably even, Chinese-Buddhist-Palestinians.

The Arabs may represent a significant portion of what was once the British Mandate of Palestine, but they obviously never represented all of it.  The Jews were always willing to share, just as the Arabs were always determined to prevail in a zero-sum contest against their formerly persecuted subjects.

But if one is an all-or-nothing kind of person and if you cannot grab it all, you very often get nothing.

This is something that Mahmoud Abbas might well keep in mind.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Government Competence and Faith in Illusion

originally posted at oldschooltwentysix

reality1Jeff Jacoby is a critic of Barack Obama. To some, that ends the matter. To foster some notion of "tolerance" means whatever he may say is simply not worthy of utterance or consideration. Same for Daniel Greenfield, who is cited below. Actually, this type of dismissive attitude seems to foster ignorance.

Not much more to add other than to recommend Jacoby's latest column, Obama fails to show his vaunted ‘competence.' It is a critique that encapsulates in stark terms the obvious disconnect between the image and the reality, the type of disconnect that many Obama supporters, fueled with rage for Republicans, largely ignore.

Perhaps because they believe more in the image, what it presents, and what it says about themselves? As Greenfield said in a recent piece, Obama, Hillary and Kim Kardashian, also recommended:
[W]anting to do something is what makes you a good person. It doesn’t matter if what you’re doing does any good. It doesn’t matter if you succeed. ... [It is] less concerned with changing the world than with being good people by wanting to change the world. That’s what Obama received his premature Nobel Peace Prize for, not for what he did, but for what he talked about doing.
In the matter of competence, the disconnect seems apparent to many, but not to progressives that tout science as the final word yet engage in a long held messianic faith (see here and here). The ability to make the government work for people is what people need from an administration, not illusion that it is doing so, reinforced by appearances on Ellen and hashtag diplomacy, or staged events in front of pre-screened supporters that now qualify as transparency in government.

As John Stuart Mill famously said:
He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
Rather than predictable preemptive rejection of the likes of Jacoby or Greenfield, their ideas should be duly considered, even if then refuted. Overemphasis on a mentality forged in an echo chamber may lead not only to a narrow intolerance, but false perceptions where theory runs afoul of result.

Sunday Column for the Elder

The Elder was kind enough to publish my latest Sunday column entitled, Killing "Oslo" and Validating Arab Anti-Jewish Racism.

Here is a snippet:
Barack Obama killed the Oslo Accords and validated Arab anti-Jewish racism from the very beginning of his administration.

He did so directly out of the gate in 2009 by demanding a total "freeze" on the building of Jewish homes in Judea thus laying the framework for Palestinian-Arab rejection for any possible conclusion of hostilities. While it is obviously true that previous American administrations opposed "settlement activity" it was only the Obama administration that turned "settlement freeze" into a precondition for ending the ongoing violence against the Jewish people in that part of the world.
In the news, it turns out that two of the three people killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels were Israelis.

RivasLior Zilberstein and Itamar Eichner writing in Y-Net tell us:
Emanuel (54) and Miriam (53) Riva from Tel Aviv, an Israeli couple from Tel Aviv, were killed in the shooting at the Brussels Jewish Museum Saturday, the Foreign Ministry cleared for publication on Sunday. The couple left two daughters behind - 16 and 15 years old.  
A third casualty was a French volunteer at the museum, a woman in her 60s. A 24-year-old Belgian man, who suffered critical wounds to the face and neck, is still fighting for his life. 
"They were an amazing couple, good people, truly salt of the earth," a family friend of the couple said. "I don't know people like that, who were of great stature. They were also patriots - worked at the Finance Ministry and other government corporations for years. It was just two years ago that they returned from Germany after a mission in Berlin, where they worked as accountants at a government corporations."
From the comments:
Arvin ML 
well, you terrorize other people and now you get terrorized. whole world hates you lol .
Thirteen hundred years of persecution under Arab-Muslim imperial rule and the moment that we finally free ourselves people like Arvin tell us that we are the persecutors and deserve whatever beating that we get, up to, and including, murder.

Arvin also tells us this:
Arvin ML 
Do you suppose this will prompt David Harris-Gershon to write a piece in opposition to anti-Semitism?  I doubt it.  He already wrote a piece justifying anti-Semitism to a progressive-left audience and this is precisely where anti-Semitism leads.  It is different from other forms of racism because, in its heart, anti-Semitism is genocidal.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Being Liberal and Zionist

Sar Shalom

beinartAs he began his campaign to reconsider what it means to support Israel, Peter Beinart described the problem facing the Jewish community thusly, in asking the next generation to sacrifice its liberalism on the altar of Zionism, the next generation instead is sacrificing Zionism on the altar of liberalism. This raises the question of what does Beinart mean by liberalism, and does he mean the same thing by liberalism in both parts of the proposition. As an extreme case, substituting these definitions of liberalism would convert Beinart's statement to this, the establishment is asking the next generation to sacrifice its notion that the Palestinians are humans on the altar of Zionism and instead the next generation is instead sacrificing Zionism on the altar of accepting every claim the Palestinians make in the course of their narrative.

Herein lies the crux of the Zionist-liberal, that is of the leftists who don't come out and claim to be anti-Israel, platform, they conflate recognition of the Palestinians as humans with acceptance of their narrative and the facts they cite to support it, using the same term to describe both.

Beinart probably would deny that liberalism requires accepting the Palestinian narrative without question. However, his actions demonstrate something else. Two examples demonstrate this. One is Beinart's citation for praise of the Israelis protesting the eviction of the al-Kurd and other families in Sheikh Jarrah for what Beinart calls making another plot available for Jewish settlers. Here, Beinart is clearly accepting the Palestinian narrative that the disputed properties in Sheikh Jarrah belong to the al-Kurd and other Arab families. However, this claim can be independently checked. According to Wikipedia, the issue is one of whether or not the Jewish deed from the late 19th century is valid. Further inquiry would show that since 1967, the Israeli courts recognized that the disputed properties in Sheikh Jarrah are owned by Jews, but held that the Arab residents there would be able to retain their residence by paying rent to the owner. However, in the 00's the residents received word that the Jewish ownership deeds were invalid and stopped paying rent. That led to the court case and ultimately the Israeli Supreme Court ruling that the deeds were valid. When the Supreme Court ruled on the ownership of the properties and the tenants continued to withhold rent, they were evicted.

If Beinart want to make the case that the Israeli courts erred in ruling that the Jewish deeds are valid, any facts supporting that claim would be welcome. The issue is that Beinart does not see that the Jewish deeds have to be recognized. Instead he latches onto his frame that Jews are gobbling up land and the investigation into any issue touching on the matter ends when it comes across the first fact consistent with that frame. The issue is Beinart's accepting the Palestinian narrative, and their factual claims supporting it, even when externally verifiable information can be compared against it.

A second area where Beinart accepts the Palestinian narrative irregardless of externally verifiable data concerns Susiya. The issue that Beinart raises in Susiya is that Israel refuses to give the Palestinians permits and then when the Palestinians build in Susiya without the permits that Israel withholds, Israel tears down the structures. What Beinart misses is that Susiya is in a part of Area C not far from Area A where Israel exercises no control over the Palestinians' right to build. Further, aerial photos from 15 years ago show that there was no historical community where the Palestinians are trying to build now. Instead of trying to satisfy their need for housing, which can be done within Area A, or reestablishing an historical community, which doesn't exist, the Palestinians are trying to establish facts on the ground in order to force a change in the border between Area C and Areas B/C.

By all means, we should not let our support for Israel to cause us to forget that the Palestinians are humans. This means that when there are genuine outrages committed by our side, such as "price-tag" attacks committed by Jews (that is, not actions done by the Arabs to frame the Jews), we must condemn the actions. However, we must also be vigilant in not allowing recognition of the Palestinians' humanity to be conflated with accepting every claim they make. Given their pattern of disingenuousness, both in terms of presenting details that did not happen and of obscuring details that would change a reasonable person's understanding, we should press that Palestinian allegations not be automatically accepted at face value.

More Dead Jews in Europe (Updated)

by oldschooltwentysix

dead1UPDATE: Four are now dead.

Over the news wire comes the story of three people killed and one in critical condition following a shooting at the Brussels Jewish Museum on Saturday.

Many people I know are well meaning, but ignorant. They can say without hesitation that claims of persistent and increased antisemitism are overblown. So many of them are not Jewish and exempt from feeling it, and they are immune from most other ills that trouble humankind. They are insulated and from their safe perch it's hard for them to see Jew hatred unless it shows its violent side. Even then, they are apt to call it a reaction to Zionism or occupation or due to oppression or poverty.

Ironically, lots of these same people call themselves "anti-racist" and are ever so quick to find the slightest whiff of "microaggression" when directed toward others not Jewish. They see no disconnect in the way they apply ideas. To them the tiny Jewish minority is among the privileged, the oppressors like themselves. Discrimination toward Jews is just not the same as with other minorities.

The privilege concept involved here is a recent social construct, seen as motivation of all behavior to create a system of oppression, like by the Founders, for example, and white people generally through history. To illustrate, the Enlightenment was not about the introduction of science to further human knowledge and understanding, but privilege. America was not about religious freedom and liberty, but privilege. Slavery, through the eyes of these privileged, was only a Western sin, and the West can get no credit for acting to end it.

Other instances abound where one can show how skewed perceptions have become. Current notions and norms are used as the criteria to judge what occurred in a different time. But did man invent the wheel or the plow for the sake of this notion of privilege?

Back to the subject, there are less than 14 million Jews worldwide. Six million were exterminated less than 100 years ago, while the world mostly watched. Christian and Muslim antisemitism is not a social construct, but fact. In this environment, one hopes that more people will understand that warnings of antisemitism are real and should not be dismissed, especially by claims of intent to silence critics of Israel. Jew haters say that all too often. Others should disassociate from that view, not reinforce it, and accept that, though they are not bigoted toward Jews, others definitely are, and in numbers much greater than they imagine.

Friday, May 23, 2014


What Part of "NO"...?

Michael L.

no1All the major Israeli dailies, including Y-Net, the Times of Israel, and the Jerusalem Post are reporting that Benjamin Netanyahu, with the encouragement of Naftali Bennett, is mulling over the possibility of a unilateral disengagement of much of Judea and Samaria.

In the Times of Israel we read:
Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) said Friday that he supports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s talk of Israeli unilateral action in the West Bank as an alternative to negotiating with the Palestinians. While it was not clear whether Netanyahu was talking about annexing mainly Jewish-settled territory or withdrawing from mainly Palestinian areas, Bennett made plain he was backing annexation

“The era of negotiations has come to an end. I’m hearing talk about unilateral action on Israel’s part and I support that,” Bennett wrote on his Facebook page.

Bennett made the remark following an interview Netanyahu gave to Bloomberg, published overnight Thursday-Friday, in which the Israeli head of state hinted that Israel may have to consider taking unilateral steps with regard to the West Bank after laying blame for the collapse of peace talks on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
We are all aware of what happened with Gaza after Ariel Sharon withdrew from the area.  As much as the Palestinian-Arabs dislike negotiations with Palestinian-Jews they tend to like autonomy even less.  When Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip it opened the region to full-on control by Hamas who used the area as a launching pad in efforts to murder Jews.

It is fully understandable, therefore, that many Jewish people, or those who may care about the well-being of Jewish people, are reluctant to endorse Bennett's route.  Bennett wants to annex some modified version of Area C and call it a day... at least for the moment.

I have been arguing in favor of something similar for a long time.  I make no suggestions about just what the shape of Israel should ultimately look like because that should be up to the Israelis, but I very much encourage the government of Israel to finally make that decision and to do so without negotiations with the Palestinian-Arabs.

It is obvious that the Palestinian-Arabs have no intention whatsoever of coming to a negotiated conclusion of hostilities with the Palestinian-Jews and, therefore, Israel needs to take matters into its own hands.
"Let me be clear - negotiations are always preferable. But six prime ministers since Oslo have failed in their pursuit of a negotiated settlement. They've always thought we were on the verge of success, and then Arafat backed off, Mahmoud Abbas backed off, because they can't conclude these negotiations," said Netanyahu.
Indeed.  At this point there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that dictator Abbas has no interest whatsoever in a negotiated conclusion of hostilities.  We are constantly told that a subsection of the great Arab majority in the Middle East, the Palestinian-Arabs, are persecuted by the Jewish minority in that part of the world.  And, yet, somehow that allegedly persecuted Arab subsection simply cannot bring itself to accept autonomy and peace for itself and its children.

Oh, well.

That being the case, Israel has every right to simply declare its final borders and remove the IDF to behind those borders.

Perhaps the single, foremost problem facing the Jewish people today is that of Arab-Muslim Supremacism in the Middle East.  Given Israel's technological and military superiority over the impoverished and hostile Arab majority, Bennett is probably correct.

A unilateral disengagement will not, of course, end genocidal Arab-Muslim hostility toward the Jewish minority in the region, but it is certainly preferable to this endless process of begging the Palestinian-Arabs to accept Jewish autonomy on historically Jewish land.  They have said "no" over and over and over again since at least 1937, when they rejected the Peel Commission Report.

What part of "no" do we not understand?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lessons About Arab/Muslim Historical Treatment of Their Jews

Sar Shalom

{Editor's note - I could hardly be more pleased with Sar Shalom's debut piece for Israel Thrives.  There is a great deal to mull-over in Shalom's discussion, not the least of which are tactical considerations in how we criticize the historical Arab treatment of the Jews of the Middle East.  I would recommend that you guys give this one a considered reading. - ML}

Since I was introduced to this blog through a comment I made about the Muslim's historical treatment of their Jewish subjects, I thought my first post should deal with what we should learn from that treatment about Muslims today. A popular theory about Muslim opposition to Zionist activity is that it is a continuation of Muslim oppression of the Jews since the Muslims conquered the Middle East which in turn is dictated by sharia law.

There are a couple truthful elements to this theory. One, there have been multiple occurrences of brutal persecution by the Muslims of their Jewish subjects, spanning both time and space, that have resulted in the deaths of many Jews and the conversion to Islam of countless more. Furthermore, there are Muslims today who are engaged in similar repression or attempted repression against the Jews, many of them justifying their activity by sharia law. The issue is, is today's Islamic repression of the Jews a continuation of their practice from centuries ago, or is it a new phenomenon? Answering that question will require a look at the record beyond just what the Muslims did from 700 to 1800 CE and what they are doing now to look and what transpired in between those two eras.

One of the problems with drawing a connection between actions done centuries ago and actions done today is that we have to distinguish between a causal connection and a coincidental similarity between actions. One factor to consider in assessing which of these more accurately describes the relationship of past to present actions is what connection there is for other groups. While anyone who is familiar with the reality of Muslim-Jewish relations from the origins of Islam to the late Middle Ages can tell you about the oppression the Muslims visited upon their Jewish subjects, complete with occasional massacres, the Christians of that era often treated their Jewish subjects worse.

The question this raises is why did Christianity change in this regard whereas Islam did not? Another complication to the theory that current Muslim actions are merely a continuation of past actions is there was a time period during the early Yishuv when Arabs and Muslims were not almost universally hostile to Jews or to Zionism. For instance, it was not an aberration for Ahmed Zaki, a leading Egyptian intellectual of the 1920s, to declare, "The victory of the Zionist ideal is also the victory of my ideal." Even among the Palestinians, support for the uprisings against the Yishuv was not universal at the beginning of the 1920s, but became so by the 1930s, according to EoZ's psychological history of the Palestinian Arabs. Furthermore, a theory for the popularity of judeophobia and anti-Zionism in today's Arab world would need to explain why it is shared by the Christian-Arabs and the non-Islamist Muslims.

Given all this, what explanation is there for the Muslim world's actions towards the Jews and Israel? Via Michael Totten comes an article by Samuel Tadros in The American Interest that explores the nature of today's judeophobia in Egypt and its origins. Tadros traces this development to the Arab world's encounter with European culture as follows:

When Napoleon swept through Egypt, the Arabs began to realize how far behind Europe they had fallen. The initial way to catch up had been to imitate the ways of the West. However, Britain and France did not uphold their domestic standards of liberalism in their imperial holdings, setting the stage for a reassessment.

This reassessment was facilitated by Nazi Germany, assisted by their spokesman to the Arab world, Haj Amin el-Husseini. Even after the Nazi regime was eliminated, it maintained its influence in Egypt by means of refugees from the military tribunals [augmented by official Soviet cooperation in later years]. The message from these actors was that Egypt's failure to catch up with Europe was not due to a shortcoming in Egypt, rather, it was a Jewish conspiracy.

Now, how should we discuss the factors underlying the prevailing Arab judeophobic attitudes? In a way, unless we are trying to change those attitudes, we can ignore discussion about causes and focus on the supremacist attitudes. The important thing is that our audience come away with an understanding that this supremacist doctrine is the prime obstacle to arriving at a peaceable agreement. This means that convincing the Arabs, not just Muslim-Arabs, to abandon their supremacist doctrine without convincing Israel to yield to the maximalist demands they present to the West will produce peace, but that convincing Israel to yield to their maximalist demands as presented to the West without convincing them to abandon their supremacist doctrine will not produce peace.

While the underlying cause is beside the point, it can provide something equivalent to a motive in helping to sell the notion of their supremacist doctrine. In this case, we should endeavor to identify an underlying cause to which our audience would be receptive and thus be more likely to accept that the lack of peace is due to Arab supremacism. With that said, a committed anti-racist would have trouble accepting that merely accepting the five pillars of Islam commits one to the supremacist doctrine. If there was no other other motive to cite and identifying a motive could be avoided, this would be a chance worth taking. However, there is another motive to cite. It is Husseini's translation of Goebbels into the language of Islamic piety. While citing instruction from the Nazis runs the risk of being accused of running afoul of Godwin's Law, we can summarize it as indoctrination by European anti-semites and leave discussion of the Nazis to the details of how they were indoctrinated.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"fizziks" and the Problem with Acknowledging the Obvious

Michael L.

oliphantIn a recent piece for the Progressive Zionist entitled, simply, False, our friend, "fizziks," gives his answer to the following central question:
Is it true, or is it false, that the primary venues of BDS and anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the West today primarily come from the progressive-left, including the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic Party?
That is the question that is on the table and it is a question that is central to our comprehension of the aggression pointed at the Jewish people today.

In response to the question, "fizziks" writes:

It's as simple as that. In what follows, I will restrict the analysis to antisemitism and anti-Zionism in America, because that is how I assume the question was intended, given that it specifically mentions the Democratic Party.
The question, of course, was not limited to the United States, which is why it specifically refers to "anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the West today."  If the question was concerned with "anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the United States today"  that is precisely how it would read.

The problem out of the gate, therefore, is that "fizziks" simply does not answer the actual question under discussion, but a related question that is more easily answered in a way that suits his political predispositions.

That answer, by the way, the one that "fizziks" puts forth, puts him in serious disagreement with Professor Robert S. Wistrich, the Neuburger Professor of European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the head of the University's Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.

Wistrich is considered the foremost scholar of anti-Semitism in the world today and is the author of From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel.

Nonetheless, let us consider "fizziks'" point of view.

He writes:
First of all, the focus on BDS is misleading. While BDS in indeed is a scheme cooked up to appeal to stupid leftists and liberals, and rears its head in left-leaning forums and organizations, we must not lose sight of the fact that BDS is only one small and very particular aspect of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

If the question is about the problem of antisemitism or even anti-Zionism generally, then focusing on BDS in particular is like having a bad baseball team and focusing on the third base coach. It is not intellectually honest...
This is what I like to think of as "intellectual shadow boxing," but it is more commonly known as a straw-man argument.  {It is also a deflection from the actual question.} The fact is I have not given precedence to BDS over the more general phenomenon of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism of which BDS is the main organized political manifestation.

"fizziks" makes the claim so that he can then diminish the significance of BDS and thereby seek to obscure the fact that the primary venues of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the west, today, come out of the progressive-left, including the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party.

Those who concern ourselves with rising progressive-left anti-Semitic anti-Zionism are not ignoring the other aspects beyond the BDS movement and suggesting otherwise will not relieve the progressive-left of the mounting criticism toward it viz-a-viz its shabby treatment of the Jewish State of Israel.

"fizziks" goes on to make this claim in bold lettering:
When antisemitism and anti-Zionism are considered in their totality, the primary venues in America are, quite simply, NOT the progressive-left and/or the netroots.
There is no evidence offered to back up the assertion, while there is plenty of obvious and direct evidence to make the opposite case.  In fact, it is precisely when anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are considered in their totality that we see the contemporary progressive-left roots of the phenomenon today.

He then goes on to say that while some of us involved in this discussion come out of a miserable experience from the progressive-left political blog Daily Kos:
BUT... The stuff at Daily Kos is child's play compared to the antisemitism / anti-Zionism that can be found in right-wing forums. Spend any time browsing through right leaning forums and you will encounter antisemitism so bad it will make you want to run and hug Sandra Tamari screaming "Thank you for being so moderate!"
This is an example of what is generally referred to as "false equivalency."

First he diminishes the trend of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism to a fringe blog and then claims that we see even worse examples on the political right and goes forth to give us fringe right-wing examples of anti-Semitism.

"fizziks" refuses to accept the obvious fact that anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the west today primarily comes out of left-wing venues.  These include media outlets such as the BBC, the New York Times, the UK Guardian, the Huffington Post and the New Statesman, among others.  This is not to say that these venues are inherently anti-Zionist, although one certainly wonders about the Guardian, but that they represent significant centers for the distribution of hatred toward the Jewish State of Israel and, thus, toward the Jewish people, more generally.

It also includes almost all the universities in Europe and many of the universities in the United States including San Francisco State University, the University California System, Vassar, and Brandeis - to mention just a few in which pro-Israel folks are currently seeking to stand up for the Jewish people - and any number of other college campuses where young Jewish men and women are abused by left-wing anti-Zionists at Apartheid Day rallies, which obviously are not being sponsored by Young Americans for Freedom.

It also includes the various NGOs and "human rights" organizations that take money from the European Union in order to demonize the Jewish State of Israel.  I feel reasonably certain, for example, that we can classify the New Israel Fund as "left-wing."

And then, of course, there is the EU, itself, which, as an organization, promotes BDS and is quite obviously left.

So for "fizziks" to take the western press, western "human rights" organizations, the western educational system, and the EU and to compare all of that to some schmuck ding-a-linging on some obscure sexist website is to demonstrate partisan loyalty more than it demonstrates a reasonable analysis of the sources of the delegitimization of the Jewish State of Israel.

What I am claiming is true on its face:
the primary venues of BDS and anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the West today primarily come from the progressive-left, including the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic Party.
BDS is, of course, not the entirety of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, however it is the foremost political activity of that movement.  It is not the western right that champions BDS, but the progressive-left - most obviously including the Europeans - and the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party that does so and I say this as someone who comes from the left.

This is not a matter of partisanship, or interpretation, but of fact.

Only someone blinded by partisan political loyalties could deny that which is staring him so directly in the eye.

What most strikes me about this conversation, however, are the lengths that people are willing to go in order to protect their political homes and perceived political allies.  The fact that anti-Semitic anti-Zionism comes primarily out of the political left today is revealed by the very simple fact that the primary venues that support anti-Semitic anti-Zionism are of the left.  In fact, it is not even close.  It is not just that the majority of anti-Zionist venues in the west derive from the left, but almost the entirety of significant venues come from the left.

All those well-known magazines and NGOs and universities.

In response "fizziks" points to something called Return of Kings, which is apparently some Guys Guy magazine that I have never even heard of and that "fizziks" will not link to because it is apparently too dirty to touch.

new stateThe anti-Zionist movement, which is an anti-Semitic movement, did not just drop out of the sky and there is no equivalency between Return of the Kings, whatever that is, exactly, and the UK Guardian or the Huffington Post or the popular and mainstream left-leaning British political magazine, the New Statesman, that ran a cover showing a Star of David skewering a supine Union Jack.

In its contemporary iteration, anti-Semitic anti-Zionism derives from a variety of specific and significant political venues.  The vast majority of those venues, outside of the Arab-Muslim Middle East, emerged in recent decades from the western progressive-left.

It is not as if there is much in the way of historical disagreement around this fact.  It is not a controversial position, but one that is well accepted among professional historians, and other scholars, who concern themselves with such things.  One need only read the relevant scholarship among such people as Barry Rubin, Richard Landes, Edwin Black, Bat Ye'or, Phyllis Chesler, Matthias Küntzel, Ruth Wisse, and Paul Berman, among many others, to understand the contemporary challenges facing the Jewish people today are no longer among right-wing Country Club Racists out of Mad Men, or behooded Klansmen from a bygone era, but the rise of political Islam and its western-left apologizers.

In conclusion, I want to say that none of this is meant as an attack on "fizziks."  I have met the man and, in fact, he was once kind enough to actually give me a lift home from a panel discussion on Israel that I spoke at.  As I recall, we had a perfectly pleasant conversation during that buzz between Berkeley and Oakland.

Nonetheless, we cannot even begin to reform the progressive-left and the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party until we acknowledge the problem.

For the moment, at least, that is what I am looking for.

A simple acknowledgment of the problem as it is.

So long as pro-Israel Democratic partisans refuse to even admit the nature of the problem, then it can never be honestly addressed... at least, not by them.


By the way, the cartoon that leads off this page was drawn by the famous political cartoonist Pat Oliphant who published the obnoxious anti-Semitic slur in that hard-right, fringe, political journal known as the Washington Post.

It did not, however, appear in Return of Kings, thank goodness, because that might really have caused problems.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Latest Sunday Column for the Elder


The Elder was kind enough to publish my latest Sunday column entitled, Intermission.

Here is a snippet:
We have touched upon the ways in which the so-called "Palestinian Narrative" has colonized Jewish minds and the manner in which Palestinian-Arab nationalism blatantly seeks to erase actual Jewish history for the purpose of replacing it with some fake and insidious historical doppleganger in which all things Jewish magically become "Palestinian." Jesus, therefore, becomes the first "Palestinian shaheed," for example. Or we get images of Anne Frank in a keffiyah, with the clear implication that just as the "Palestinians" are the New Jews, so the Jews are the New Nazis.

The point in introducing these concepts and this material is to lay out some relevant progressive-left ideological trends, and thus backdrop, to the behavior of the Obama administration viz-a-viz the State of Israel and Middle East policy, more generally...

What I will consider next, therefore, will primarily be Obama administration behavior concerning the peace process and its relationship to the State of Israel. We will also discuss the Obama administration's reaction to the "Arab Spring" and its failure to force the Muslim Brotherhood down the throats of unwilling Egyptians. We will discuss how the Obama administration had Hamas's back during Operation Pillar of Defense and the ways in which the Obama administration leads from behind in the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish State.
For the moment, at least, I am using the column to work on the On Settlements and Stupidity project.

By the way, I assume that you guys have noticed that Harris-Gershon has a piece on Daily Kos justifying Arab and Muslim violent hostility toward Jews.

See, the reason that people are sometimes anti-Semitic, according to Harris-Gershon, is because the Jews are bad people.  The reason that the Palestinian-Arabs are the most anti-Semitic people on the planet is because the Jews are mean to them.

This is what it comes down to and this is what he believes.

Of course, people like fizziks maintain, on the one hand, that BDS is a significant and toxic political movement that needs to be confronted, yet, on the other hand, is really only a matter of a small number of hard-left bloggers, like Harris-Gershon, who merely have a "toe-hold" in the progressive-movement and grassroots / netroots of the Democratic party.

sheep1In any case, I hope you guys will check out my Elder of Ziyon piece and have an absolutely terrific rest of your weekend.

Oh, and by the way, speaking of Harris-Gershon, our own JayinPhiladelphia - if he does not mind me saying so - is planning to meet the guy very soon for a chit-chat over a couple of beers.  My suspicion is that Jay will find Harris-Gershon to be amiable enough in person, but let us not forget that this is a guy who favors BDS, and thereby supports anti-Zionism - whatever his claims to be supportive of Israel - and just today has a piece justifying violent hatred toward Jews.

Harris-Gershon is a wolf in sheep's clothing... whereas, of course, I am a sheep in wolves' clothing.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

US official: Obama blames settlements for failed talks

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under and the Times of Israel.}

mirror1In the Times of Israel we read:
Earlier this month, anonymous American officials personally involved in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks – special envoy Martin Indyk presumed to have been among them – provided a harsh assessment to a respected Israeli journalist of why negotiations failed, highlighting Israel’s continued settlement construction as the issue “largely to blame.”

A senior Obama administration official told The New York Times on Thursday, however, that the assessment may as well have been provided by the US president himself. The official claimed that the White House had “cleared the interview” with Yedioth Ahronoth’s Nahum Barnea, and that “the critical remarks faithfully reflect the president’s own views.”

The unnamed senior official said that Obama believes, more than any other factor, that Israeli announcements of construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem throughout the nine months of talks led to the negotiations’ collapse.
This, of course, was highly predictable.

In December of 2009 in a piece entitled, The End of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, I wrote the following:
As I have written before, Obama’s big mistake, if he was hoping to actually bring about peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, was calling for a total settlement freeze in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The demand for total settlement freeze, even within blocs that would likely end up as part of Israel, has resulted in a number of negative consequences that undermine even the slim possibility of a negotiated settlement.

The first negative consequence is that by calling for a total settlement freeze, Obama placed a precondition on negotiations at a time when he should have avoided any move that might decrease the likelihood of the two sides sitting down at the negotiating table. When Obama called for total freeze, Abbas took it as an opportunity to avoid negotiations and insisted that the Palestinians would never sit down with the Israelis until Israel met that demand.
There are two things further to note about the demand that Jews cease building housing for themselves in Judea and Samaria.  The first is the vile bigotry against the Jewish people embedded in the very notion of it.  In fact, it is flat-out racism against Jews, but we know that the Arab-Muslim world is absolutely rife with hatred toward Jews which is why we have the conflict in the first place.

This prejudice against the Jewish minority in the Middle East by the Muslim majority is why the Palestinian-Arabs are demanding that any future state of "Palestine" must be Judenrein. What is remarkable is not that Palestinian-Arabs despise Jews, but that educated and intelligent westerners, like Barack Obama, go along with it.  Jewish people marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., and supported both the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist Movements of the 1950s and 1960s by margins well-exceeding most other non-African-American minority groups.

And now we have an African-American President of the United States, who the Jewish community by large margins supported in both recent presidential elections, yet who believes that Jews must live on historically Jewish land according to where the PLO demands where we may be allowed to do so.  Which, I have to say, is something that I find remarkably odd.  Can you imagine if when Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were driving down that road in Mississippi that Mr. Chaney could possibly have held the notion in his mind that an American president should have the right to tell Jews where we may be allowed to live in the Land of Israel?

I do not think so.

Yet, here is the first African-American president in U.S. history who thinks precisely that.  And, it must be noted, in doing so justifies Mahmoud Abbas's prejudice against us.

The demand for "total settlement freeze" was nothing more than an obviously bigoted means by which the PLO could avoid a negotiated conclusion of hostilities.  By going along Obama revealed strategic and diplomatic ineptitude.  He demonstrated a clear misunderstanding of Palestinian-Arab political culture, as well as a terrific ignorance concerning not only the long history of Jewish submission under Arab-Muslim imperial rule, but even an ignorance of the conflict in its most recent phases.  And, if that was not bad enough, Obama also shamelessly affirmed toxic Arab anti-Jewish bigotry.

How well-meaning progressive-left diaspora Jews could go along with this, as did I, initially, is fairly remarkable.

Ultimately we threw our brothers and sisters in Judea and Samaria "under the bus," as they say.  We should have been standing with them from the beginning, but instead we justified Mahmoud Abbas's prejudices to the entire western world.  We actually agreed with the Arab League and Fatah and the PLO and the Palestinian Authority that Jews should be allowed to live (and thus build) in some places but not others, and one of the main places that we are supposed to not live (or build) is Judea.

While virtually everyone points the trembling finger of blame at the Israelis, it is long past time for us to take a good, long, hard look in the mirror.

Liberal diaspora Jews, such as myself, not only justified a wholly counterproductive policy, we justified a wholly counterproductive policy that was also bigoted and entirely unjust toward our fellow Jews in the Middle East.

{With apologies to Yosef and Melody.}

Friday, May 16, 2014


Obama Backed Boko Haram

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under and the Times of Israel.}

terror1Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner writes the following:
When congressional leaders asked the State Department to tailor American assistance to Nigeria in a way that would protect Christians from religious persecution at the hands of Boko Haram, an extremist group that kidnapped hundreds of Christian girls last month, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's team dismissed the idea on the theory that the organization was not motivated by religion.

"This religious tension, while real, should not be mistaken as the primary source of violence in Nigeria," David Adams, assistant secretary of legislative affairs, wrote to Congress in an Oct. 4, 2012 letter. "Similar to the United States, Nigeria's religious diversity is a source of strength, with communities working across religious lines to protect one another."
In other words, as late as 2012 the Obama administration considered Boko Haram to be just another religious group that comprised the rich tapestry of spiritual life in Nigeria and that, as part of the splendid diversity of the country, it represented a source of strength.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this sunny assessment.

Writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, retired Colonel Dr. Jacques Neriah tells us the following:
Over the past three years Boko Haram has killed more than 1,500 Nigerians, mostly Christian citizens in the predominantly Muslim northern part of the country.1 Boko Haram has sowed havoc and destruction by attacking government facilities, jails, police stations, universities, and schools. It has even carried out attacks in the capital, Abuja. Boko Haram struck the UN headquarters in the city on August 26, 2011, and it has dispatched car bombers to busy bus stations in the vicinity of the capital. The only places spared so far are the country’s airports and the commercial capital, Lagos.  
The international community, however, ignored all this, and only reacted when the girls were abducted.
Given the nature of this horrendous organization one would assume that the Obama administration would approve Nigerian government efforts to eliminate the group, but even as early as a year ago this was not the case.

A Nigerian newspaper, The Nigerian Voice, in an article dated May 2013, tells us this:
SAN FRANCISCO, May 02, (THEWILL) – The United States Government has withdrawn military assistance to Nigeria citing various human rights violations by Nigerian security forces, particularly the military which is currently engulfed in a controversy over the killing of dozens and destruction of hundreds of residences in Baga, a town in Borno State during a clash with members of the Boko Haram.
Yet again the Obama administration finds itself in a foreign policy dilemma in which there are no good options and I have no doubt that the Nigerian government is at least as capable as Boko Haram of carrying out bloody massacres, which is why they are being defunded to begin with.  Like with Egypt and Syria and Libya there are no "good guys" for the US to back.  It always seems to be a question of largely secular vicious authoritarians fighting largely theocratic vicious authoritarians - and both blaming the Jews for everything wrong under the sun.

madBut how is it that in case after case the Obama administration always ends up on the side of the Islamists?

That is the question that I still do not have a reasonable explanation for.  I do not believe that Barack Obama is a crypto-Muslim seeking to deceive the American people.

I do not think that Barack Obama in the quiet of the night, as he lies in bed next to Michelle thumbing through an old copy of MAD Magazine, thinks to himself, "If only I could introduce al-Sharia into the United States.  If only Americans understood that groups like al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood and Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Boko Haram are actually humanitarian organizations that want nothing but the best for everyone involved, particularly Christians and Jews... and women and Gays."

Of course, he does not. But, then, what explains the fact that he always seems to come down on the side of political Islam?

In Egypt he backed the Brotherhood and got beat, but back the Brotherhood he did.  He bolstered their prestige at the expense of long-time president Hosni Mubarak during his famous Cairo speech.  He sent Clinton at the head of a U.S. delegation to ensure a smooth transition to an Islamist government that probably was not fairly elected.  (Certainly reports that Copts were sometimes prevented from voting at rifle point would mitigate the notion that the Brotherhood came to power in free and fair elections.)  He then provided the new Islamist government with both financial aid and heavy military equipment.  And he did all of this after a Muslim Brotherhood election year rally for Morsi, with Morsi in attendance, in which the crowd screeched to the heavens for the conquest of Jerusalem.

Nonetheless his apologists will still tell me with a straight face that he does not support political Islam and did not support the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ideological filters and confirmation biases are funny things.  We all have them, including me, that is much certain, but for some of us the veil becomes so thick that nary a glimmer shines through.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Say "Hello" to the New Miss Israel

Michael L.

Rethink Israel tells us:
missisrael1This 6-foot beauty captured not only the attention of the judges but also the world when she was recently crowned Miss Israel. Soon after, another dream was fulfilled when 21-year-old Yityish “Titi” Aynaw was invited to dine with President Barack Obama. It was in celebration of his most recent trip to Israel.

Titi, the first Ethiopian immigrant to win the Miss Israel title, says she’s come a long way in less than 10 years. Born in a tiny African village where things like staircases didn’t even exist, Titi suffered the tragic loss of both her parents by age 12. She then came to Israel and created a new life.

Today, an estimated 121,000 citizens of Ethiopian descent are living in Israel.
Actually this is slightly old news, as it turns out.  Ms. Aynaw was named Miss Israel last year, but I just discovered it at Rethink Israel.

The next time someone calls Israel an "apartheid state" clobber him over the head with this one.


Oh, and by the way, she apparently likes Barack Obama.

Heck, nobody is perfect.

Pregnant Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

Michael L.

Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali writes the following for the Times of Israel:
HARTOUM, Sudan (AFP) — A Sudanese judge on Thursday sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, despite appeals by Western embassies for compassion and respect for religious freedom. 
Born to a Muslim father, the woman was convicted under the Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death. 
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, is eight months pregnant and married to a Christian national of South Sudan, which separated in 2011, human rights activists say.  
“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged,” Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa told the woman, addressing her by her father’s Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.  
Khalifa also sentenced Ishag to 100 lashes for “adultery.” Under Sudan’s interpretation of sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous.
And this is precisely why we need to speak out against political Islam and al-Sharia.

If we cannot bring ourselves to stand up against the single most vicious, fascistic and rising political movement in the world today then we have no business referring to ourselves as "liberal" or "progressive."

I am not saying that we need to wage war against the forces of political Islam throughout the Muslim world.  What I am saying is that we need to speak out against this movement and we need to stop funding and supporting Islamist organizations like the Brotherhood and possibly, soon, Hamas.

It is just a matter of basic human decency and common sense.  How it is that the Obama administration thought that funding the Big Daddy of all Islamist groups in Egypt - the Brotherhood, of course - and providing them not only with diplomatic cover, but heavy weaponry, was a good idea?

And here is another question:

How is it that pro-Israel supporters of Israel do not conceive of Obama administration support for the Muslim Brotherhood as representing support for the Muslim Brotherhood?

I find it exceedingly odd.

Obama gave money to the Brotherhood.

He gave weaponry to the Brotherhood.

He invited them to various soirees and discussions.

He provided them with diplomatic cover and even sent Secretary of State Clinton to Cairo to ensure a smooth transition to an Islamist government.

And, yet, I have been told by highly intelligent people that Obama does not, and did not, support the Muslim Brotherhood or political Islam.

It simply defies the imagination.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Quick "Thank You" to Fizziks

I want to thank "fizziks" for taking the time to address my piece entitled, The Fizziks Ostrich.

And while he did an admirable job explaining why it is that he prefers Democrats to Republicans, he did not actually address the question.

The question is this:
Is it true, or is it false, that the primary venues of BDS and anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the West today primarily come from the progressive-left, including the grassroots / netroots of the Democratic Party?
What is the answer?


Who will give a clear and simple answer to an obvious question?

Love of the Land Links

Michael L.

Haaretz is anything but an unwitting accomplice

Dear John, 'Apartheid' Isn't On Israel's Agenda

Opting for humanity in an ocean of savagery

Promoting Revisionist Israeli History at the Economist

It is important that we continue to stand with our friends and relatives who live within the Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria.

This whole notion, which U.S. special envoy Martin Indyk has recently been repeating, that a Jewish presence on 3,500 years of Jewish land is such an understandable abomination to the "indigenous" Arab-Muslim population that of course Jews should not be allowed to live, and thus build housing for themselves, in Judea.

The shear bigotry of it is profound and the fact that this bigotry against the Jews of Judea and Samaria also gets spread by Jews within the diaspora, at the behest of the Obama administration, leads to a slight retching in the back of the throat.

In any case, we here at Israel Thrives continue to wish our friends Yosef and Melody in Hevron nothing but the very best in this world.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Love the Big Bang Theory

Michael L.

This speaks for itself and good for Mayim.

{And a Big Tip 'O the Kippa to the Elder.}

Say "Hello" to Scott Smith

Michael L.

One of the great things about commenting upon the Arab-Israel conflict is that often people comment back and sometimes those people have some very interesting things to say.

In that regard I would recommend my readership to the comments of Scott Smith beneath my piece for the Elder entitled, The Erasure and Confiscation of Jewish History.

Scott has a number of interesting criticisms and questions, but for the moment I want to take just one.

He writes:
there were instances in history in which Islam was highly repressive of the Jews and there were few if any instances in which Islam accorded American like freedom to its Jews, by the low standards of pre-enlightenment Christendom, pre-modern Islam was usually an improvement.
This idea has been prominent in the historiography for a long time, although I am uncertain of the truth of it.  I am not an historian of the Middle East, but what most historians of the Middle East would agree upon is Scott's central assertion.  The Jews generally had it better in the Middle Ages under Islam than under European Christianity.

What I worry about, however, is that this truth - if it is, indeed, true - will be used to white-wash the fact that for 1,300 years the Jews of the Middle East lived as second and third-class non-citizens under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperialism.  Upon freeing ourselves from the system of subservience known in Arabic as dhimmitude in the twentieth-centuryvia the movement for Jewish Liberation (Zionism), the Arab world launched a war against the Jews of the Middle East that continues to this day.

I would ask Scott to consider this quote from Efraim Karsh (Head of the Middle East and Mediterranean Studies Programme, King's College, London) in his Palestine Betrayed:
At the time of the Muslim occupation of Palestine in the seventh century, the country's Jewish population ranged in the hundreds of thousands at the very least; by the 1880s, Palestine's Jewish community had been reduced to about 24,000, or some 5 percent of the total population. 
(Efraim Karsh, Palestine Betrayed, Yale University Press, 2010, pg. 8)
Just how is it that if the numbers of Jews living in the Land of Israel at the time of the Muslim conquests was in the hundreds of thousands, why were there only around 24,000 by the 19th century?

Just what transpired over the course of 12 centuries that might account for the almost never-remarked upon brutal decimation of the Jewish population of the region?

Depending upon the conclusions that we draw from this question, we might consider incorporating those conclusions into our understanding of the long Arab-Muslim conflict against the Jews in the Middle East.

The truth of the matter is that the Jews in that part of the world were nearly wiped out between the arrival of Muhammad's armies and the rise of the Movement for Jewish Liberation, otherwise known as Zionism, in the nineteenth-century.

So, yes, I have clearly drawn my conclusions.

And Peace to You, Jimmy Baby

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under.}

jimmy1Former American President, Jimmy Carter, has an op-ed in the Washington Post today entitled, United Palestinian government may provide new opportunities for peace.

He writes:
The Palestinians’ plans for the coming months are relatively clear: to form a new unity government and expand involvement in the United Nations. Although condemned by some, the decision by the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas to reconcile their differences and move toward elections can be a positive development. In the past, similar efforts have been abandoned because of strong opposition from Israel and the United States, but the resolve to succeed is now much stronger among leaders in the West Bank and Gaza. This reconciliation of Palestinian factions and formation of a national unity government is necessary because it would be impossible to implement any peace agreement between Israel and just one portion of the Palestinians.
It is hard to fathom how anyone could think that folding a genocidally anti-Semitic organization into the PLO is a good thing.  It is obvious, of course, that Israel can reach no meaningful peace agreement with only a portion of the Palestinian-Arab people, but it is equally obvious that an organization that calls not only for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel, but for the genocide of the Jews, represents a sworn enemy, not a partner for peace.

Hamas has made no gestures that would suggest that they are interested in two states for two peoples.  Quite the contrary, Hamas opposes a negotiated conclusion of hostilities, yet a former President of the United States, a nuclear engineer, no less, thinks that it is in the best interest of the Jews of the Middle East to recognize and uplift an organization that screams to the hillsides for Jewish blood.

The wrong-headedness of such a notion goes well beyond casual naivety.

As anyone who knows anything about this tumor that emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza knows that they encorporate a particular part of one of the hadiths into their charter.
The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.
That is what Jimmy Carter believes that the Jews of the Middle East have a moral obligation to negotiate with?

apartheid1And considering the damage that Carter has done to Israel and to the Jewish people via the Apartheid Smear, would not a wise individual choose to remain quiet?  Surely Carter knows that his reputation among very many Jewish people is rather shaky.  The reason for this, of course, is that of all the countries in the world, and all the atrocities that they collectively commit, he declares the one, lone, sole Jewish country to be immoral.

What, after all, is apartheid if not a form of state sanctioned immorality?  And if Israel commits apartheid on the allegedly indigenous Palestinian-Arab population, what does that say about those of us who support Israel?  It says that we, too, are immoral and in support of an immoral country and an immoral people, the Jewish people.

Of course, as a huge fan of the Hamas charter this is my favorite part:
With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.
The Freemasons?  Really?  Rotary Clubs?  And, I have to say, I had no idea that the Detroit Lions football team was in anyway involved in the Vast Zionist Conspiracy to Rule the Universe.

Here is a question to ask:

How is it that a political organization could write such wild and genocidal nonsense directly into their charter and a seemingly rational former President of the United States reaches out his hand to such people?

Can anyone imagine Carter reaching out to any white European organization that claimed that the Jews seek world domination and thereby need to be eliminated?

Some say that Jimmy Carter is an anti-Semite, although I have never drawn that conclusion.  What  I think is that Carter remains entrenched within the kind of left-leaning, soft-hearted, soft-minded, Vietnam War era sensibility that vilified western imperialism and romanticized anti-imperialist forces of any sort - however violent, however vile - so long as they represented "people of color."

How else to explain Carter's equanimity with Hamas's articulated genocidal intentions?

How else to explain that he honestly believes that murderous lunatics make for good negotiating partners?

I tell you what.  I have a better idea.  Instead of folding Hamas into the PLO - which, itself, is a terrorist organization, of course - why do we not defeat Hamas and thereby make it go away?

I know that wishing to actually defeat one's mortal enemies is today considered dangerously hard-right radical, but I feel reasonably certain that Franklin Roosevelt approved of the notion.